Emil is buying a round of drinks, so stick around. Comment on anything you wish. As for me, I am surprised at the vacuousness of questions (we offered some good ones) and debate facing prospective Phoenix City Council candidates. I am surprised that the city is moving forward with the short, ugly, hot Sprawl Needle. I am the eternal optimist-naif. And speaking of architecture, news arrives that the John Roll Federal Courthouse has been completed in Yuma. Take a look. With all due respect to the builder: That's it? Let us hope the finished building at least has screening from the merciless Yuma sun. Judge Roll was universally respected. He was among those murdered during the — tho' we dare not call it thus — political assassination attempt on Rep. Giffords. It's too bad we couldn't honor him and grace Yuma with a structure more inspiring than a suburban super Wal-Mart.
On the national front, here's an interesting piece from John Cassidy about why the GOP needs to lose the presidency for a third straight election. But embedded in it is anything but triumphalism for the other side:
Thirty states—including seven of the ten most populous—have Republican governors, and twenty-nine have G.O.P.-controlled legislatures. With this firm grip on local power, the party is able to gerrymander Congressional districts to assure itself of continued success in the House of Representatives. Despite opinion polls showing the last Congress to be one of the least popular on record, there was never any real prospect of the Democrats overturning the G.O.P. majority. And in next year’s midterms, the Republicans may well gain more seats.
More conversation starters may be found on Arizona's Continuing Crisis. Now, I turn the saloon over to Emil, who has a Kook Watch update:
Local Rogue readers may recall Linda Turley, the iceberg who served as a news anchor on KPHO (Channel 5) a couple of decades ago. She retired to the "East Valley" but has kept busy in local Republican circles agitating against moderation. Back in 2011, in a column supporting then Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce for reelection during his recall campaign, Turley grossly exaggerated Arizona's job growth and credited Pearce for taking Arizona from 49th to 2nd in job growth.
"Search for 'We are Republicans' on the GilbertWatch home page; discover important facts. Find info there on Governor Brewer’s visit with the IAF (Industrial Areas Foundation), which was 'established in 1940 by Saul Alinsky and trains community organizers in the tactics of revolutionary social change'. According to Wikipedia Barack Obama learned left-leaning politics from Alinsky philosophies."
Now calling herself an "Arizona syndicated columnist" (though it's unclear to me what syndicate, if any, distributes her material), her My Turn column, appearing in the community insert for Central Phoenix, attempts to raise the profile of several conservative websites and publications, rallying the faithful onward to support conservatism in the state Republican Party. GilbertWatch, the source cited above, is featured prominently:
"I regularly follow GilbertWatch. Founder Anita Christy stays at the helm day and night, keeping conservative vigil. Christy is a published author in the American Thinker. And, among other awards, this year she received the Ronald Reagan Outstanding Achievement Award by the Maricopa County Republican Committee."
In case you weren't sure, that's American Thinker (as opposed to Foreign Thought: the Journal for Lefty Political Saboteurs). You gotta love the way conservatives claim a copyright on all things American, wrapping their kook agit-prop in a mantle of patriotism. Enjoy these excerpts from Turley's essay, interleaved with my attempts at sane response:
"Conservatives and TEA Parties are continually branded ‘extreme right wing.’ However, we are, very simply, Republicans who stand firm for Republican principles."
Well, no: "Extreme right wing" would include the National Socialist Movement of J.T. Ready as well as some of the more militant "militia" groups. The claim is, however, typical of the hypersensitivity and tendency toward ridiculous exaggeration which characterizes conservatives, who often refer in print to liberal Democrats (or even center-left politicians like President Obama) as "extreme left wing." Complaining about Medicaid expansion, she writes:
"If you’re among those in the East Valley who care about the poor and believe they can be aided without enslavement to government..."
Again, this is absurd hyperbole: "enslavement" does not include free or heavily subsidized medical care. The provision of essential services might conceivably be called a "sop" by the politically cynical, but giving people something of fundamental value scarcely constitutes "enslavement."
Two problems with conservatives is that they are overemotional and intellectually lazy. Let's examine this from a logical standpoint:
Premise: Medical care (an essential service) is expensive.
Premise: Poor people can't afford expensive things.
Conclusion: If poor people are to receive the essential service of medical care, someone else has to pay for it; someone with the money (i.e., the non-poor).
Premise: Voluntary contributions to strangers (i.e., charity) are inadequate to systematically and reliably fund medical services for the poor.
Conclusion: Contributions by the non-poor must be involuntary (i.e., paid for with taxes and/or mandatory fees).
I would have a lot more respect for conservatives (while still disagreeing with them) if they weren't so intellectually dishonest. At base their real objection isn't that poor people receiving essential services are "enslaved by government"; it's that they don't want to pay for the essential services of strangers and resent being forced to do so.
But it's very difficult to hold the moral high-ground, or be persuasive in public policy debate, if your argument is that self-interest trumps basic social obligations. That's why Randian libertarians are rare and "compassionate conservatism" is common. That's why absurd hyperbole such as "enslavement to government" is used to describe such things as the provision of medical care to those unable to afford it.
As the Rogue Columnist has written in his seminal overview of Arizona conservatism: "Arizona became a state at the height of the Progressive Era -- a political movement that sought to curb the influence of the wealthy and the corporations, empower average citizens and use government as a tool for social and economic progress. . . . The state voted for FDR every time. It was largely a Democratic state, heavily unionized even into the 1950s..."
While there is no sign whatsoever that the Republican majority will be overturned in either house of the state legislature (claims to the contrary typify conservative paranoia and exaggeration), it should be remembered that Republican control of state politics is neither consistent with the vision of the state's founders, nor the historical norm for Arizona.