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April 16, 2015

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Thank you Rogue.

Kook Government doesn't build, it destroys. This well funded reactionary movement attacks weakness in any US state, but it is particularly deadly in Arizona with the state's exceptional population churn. Other states infected with this political virus suffer much irreparable damage to the state and its institutions, but a more stable population has a chance to fight off the cancer once the electorate has passed through the denial stage.

There is no hope of this in Arizona. Stage IV Kookocracy.

Everyone in Arizona should have an exit plan. The reactionary Kooks behind the movement certainly do.

Jon,
You hit the nail on the head, as usual. Too bad it's not the head of the kooks.

Regarding term limits, quite right. Ignorance abets dogma, and unthinking dogma is an element of most extremist positions whether on the left or the right.

It's easy for members of the general legislature to remain insulated and ignorant since most of their legislative duties involve making or (less frequently) listening to party-line speeches or casting party-line votes.

The real education comes from membership in legislative subcommittees which deal in the concrete, practical, nuts and bolts of specific issues. Dogma is by nature a set of inflexible but general philosophical positions; scrutiny of the mechanics of specific issues often exposes the limitations of dogma and, over time, tends to moderate it. Committee members, unlike general legislators, are forced to some extent to listen to the testimony of witnesses with opposing or at least more nuanced views.

The leadership of an experienced committee chairman is also important. He has more seniority and experience and can be a better judge of which bills are worth exploring and which are just political grandstanding and a waste of everyone's time.

Experienced committee members and chairs have their limitations but these tend to be less extensive.

A constant churn in subcommittee membership tends creates the same problems over and over because every new member starts at the beginning of the learning curve. Even permanent staffers can't make wise men out of new pupils overnight.

Regarding Arizona's clean elections system, I'd like to look into the details and think a bit before commenting. The functionality of a specific system depends on its details. Rogue suggests several loopholes but there may be more to it additionally.

P.S. Most legislative bills die because they are never reported out of the committee(s) they are assigned to, not because they are put to a floor vote and defeated. This gives a handful of committee members leverage over the general membership of the legislature. Its a bottleneck. Committees run by kooks for kooks report kooky bills to a kooky general legislature membership.

And the converse: committees run by experienced and comparatively informed members whose initial dogmatism has been tempered by a long educational process from committee staffers, witnesses giving testimony, and experienced committee leadership, take bills introduced by kooks and sit on them.

Regarding clean elections:

There are very few independent members of the Arizona legislature, so party affiliation is clearly important to getting elected.

In Arizona, there are thirty districts and the same population in each one elects one senator and two representatives. So, district composition tends to produce consistent results for both legislative houses, by party, for each district. This means that legislative redistricting can tilt the legislature pretty heavily toward the party controlling the committee which controls the redistricting process, simply by concentrating registered voters of the opposing party in a smaller number of districts (from which a smaller number of legislators are therefore elected since there are three per district).

Party affiliated candidates must be nominated at the district level by the district party machinery. It does not take a lot of money to run for the district party primary, so easily available public funds do not typically enable extreme candidates.

While it might seem that in a general election extreme candidates from one party might be vulnerable to defeat by candidates from the opposing party, because of district jerrymandering and the noncompetitive districts that result, asking for this result is equivalent to asking the party faithful to consistently vote against the candidates put forth by their own party: something that is statistically unlikely.

So, what really determines the election of a large body of extreme candidates is: (1) Control of district party nomination process by extreme elements of the party; (2) jerrymandered district maps drawn by a committee controlled by one party (if only by a single deciding vote).

It's easy to see how local seizure of the district party's apparatus (e.g. through district officers) can allow extreme elements to leverage their influence by giving the nomination to party members who are likely to be elected by virtue of mapping controlled by mainstream party members for their own benefit.

P.S. While district primaries are decided by party primary voters, not district committeemen and other officers, the district party apparatchiks control mailing lists and get out the vote primary organizing as well as bureaucratic hurdles that can be made less or more difficult as they see fit.

Party primary participation is already tilted toward party purists; add to this the organization of primary voters orchestrated by extremists who have hijacked the district primary apparatus, and you have a serious potential for bootstrapping extremism into the elected party body, with the further potential to multiply itself and increase its influence.

I've earned a small tangent. Fun and games in the Chinese stock market (but see also the reference to the American ratio of total market capitalization to GDP):

http://m.scmp.com/business/markets/article/1766839/china-stock-market-bubble-will-burst-rally-not-grounded-economic

the az experiment makes our state more democratic and less 'senatorial'. unfortunately real democracy amidst the slumbering hooples means 12 wolves and 3 sheep voting on what's for dinner...

Budget cuts in recent times: related to state pension costs? Don’t know, but I think there’s a relationship.

From this article:

http://www.city-journal.org/2015/eon0326sm.html

” Thanks to poor stock market performance and an inability to reduce its pension benefits, the city of Tempe has seen its public-safety pension costs rise nearly ten-fold in a decade, from $1.9 million annually to $18.3 million, while Mesa’s will reach $41 million this year, up from $6 million a decade ago.”

I don’t know this for a fact, but I think all city, county and state employee pension are administer via a single state pension system. So Az. State budget costs would mirror the city pension cost rises.

This could also be part of the motivation for the, as you would say,” the charter school racket, the private prison racket”

So Arizona compares to Iowa?

Arizona Public Safety pension system originally was for cops and fire fighters only. Now includes some judges and corrections officers. For years Public Safety pension system has fought to keep out real estate and venture capital investments as land fraud has been rampant.

Think of Arizona government as a venereal disease, say Syphilis. It starts out slow and over time it destroys everything and reduces the body to a pile of sludge, kind of like what Arizona is slowly becoming.

In cities with high population growth "over the decade" (whatever that means), pension costs should be expressed as a percentage of revenue, since population increases require more fire, police, and other city workers and pension costs thus rise; but revenues rise also.

Other reasons pension costs might rise include governments skipping pension contributions and borrowing to make them up later, as wkg's interesting link points out. This increases taxpayer pension costs in three ways: first by adding interest costs to service the loan; second by decreasing the capital available to pension funds to invest, which decreases both their earnings and accumulated balance in subsequent years. Also, when the inevitable next downturn in the economic or business cycle occurs, pension funds which have been shorted this way are already behind where they should be and their position going into a recession is worse than it would be; and sick pension funds require greater government injections of cash to make up the shortfall.

P.S. One other component of rising pension costs that is often ignored: baby boomer demographics. As this population cohort ages and retires pension funds face greater outlays, not only because more individuals are drawing retirement income but also because pension funds paying retirement medical benefits have increased costs for an elderly population of pensioners.

Arizona Public Safety retirees 1n 1975 were granted the right to retire after 20 years at half pay with occasional COLA’s. A few medical benefits were also retained. Longevity Stats in the mid 70’s for firefighters was 55 and 6 months, for cops it was 56 years. In 76 Firefighters good management and required physical fitness increased the life expectancy and overall health for fire fighters. During my time at PPD I fought for strongly enforced Mandatory physical fitness standards for police officers. I lost that fight. You can see the results by taking a look at many out of shape law enforcement personnel on the streets (including the Nation) today. The current murder by Tulsa reserve Deputy Bates is a prime example of out of control policing. On the flip side police Militarization has brought us Robo Cop and the Incredible Hulk. These officers are primarily assigned to Selective Enforcement Units ( SEU -Think SWAT). Most police departments do require SEU officers to maintain strict physical fitness standards including running certain distances in measured times.
(Except for tank drivers –Naw just kidding)

Many current Public Safety retirees pay $7000 or more per year for medical benefits. Dental for retirees covers most of two teeth cleanings per year and about 50 percent of other dental costs.
Most Valley Firefighters have great physical fitness programs and standards, including places to work out that include on duty medical and other fitness personnel to deal with advice and issues.

Many Police agencies are not there. And police officers are among the leaders of alcoholism, heart disease and divorce among other problems.

Thanks to Cal for providing valuable historical perspective. But the terms of many public pension programs have changed since the 1970s. So has life expectancy on the job with many innovations in safety measures and methodology (e.g., better protective vests and the requirement to use them.

Bates is a volunteer deputy, similar to an MCSO posse member. Fitness standards are not the same.

I walk nearly everywhere and even though cops do not occasionally they get out of their vehicles to conduct police business or to buy food or drink at Quick Trip or other convenience stores. I cannot recall the last time I saw a fat patrol cop or even supervisor. They give the impression of general fitness.

Re observed police fitness that's City of Phoenix.

I helped with signatures and money in the Arizona
Clean Elections Initiative campaign in 1998, which
barely passed the Arizona electorate 51-49; i ran
statewide for the Arizona Corporation Commission
(Utilities and securities regulation--where i was the
policy advisor/assistant to Commissioner Renz Jennings
from 1985 to 1999) in 2002 as a "clean" candidate for
one of 3 open seats on the newly expanded to 5
member ACC with 2 other losing Democrats:
Jim Walsh--when he was in the legislature in the 70s, a reporter who covered the legislature said he had more brains than the rest of the legislature combined. Walsh barely lost to a "clean" though scandal-ridden Republican incumbent.
The other team member was George
Cunningham, who had served as a legislator from
Tucson for several years, as Chief of Staff for
Gov. Rose Mofford in the 80s, and after barely
losing in 2002, George became the budget person
for the newly-elected Governor Janet Napolitano.

The Democrats Renz Jennings and Marcia Weeks
had a majority on the Commission from 1985 to
1997 and were elected with moderate
amounts of small/medium contributions running
against the corporate and utility-financed Republicans,
of which both Jennings and Weeks made an issue.
But no Democrat was elected running as a
"Clean Elections" candidate from 2000 up to 2008,
as the Republican ran "clean", too, and the Republicans
had a 6 point registration lead statewide. So equal
amounts of money (about 5 cents per voter per
ACC candidate for both primary and general)
with both candidates being "clean" means that the
party with the most registered voters wins--almost
always.

Unless there were some changes in Clean Elections
(primarily, not giving money to candidates
to hire PR spinmeisters, but
giving candidates the oportunity to appear side-by
-side in radio and TV spots from 30 secs up to
90 minutes [for Governor and Attorney General]
with an empty chair for candidates running non-clean,
I would not run again as a candidate in Az
under the current Clean Elections system there.

The Arizona legislature is made up of legislators made up of legislators representing largely non-competitive "bullet-proof” districts, where the election is the primary election. Extreme Republicans tend to win primary elections now.

Reserve and Posse members should be held to the same standards. If not no guns or taster 's, just cell phones and police radio contact.

Well Emil what U see and what U think about police physical fitness appears to have a narrow focus? On numerous occasions i have observed officers that I believe would have serious difficulty in a foot pursuit. I know you love to employ your saber capabities but I m not here to fight just share my observations and opinions and hopefully good humor which I know U R capable of.

PS there is also a big difference in the professionalism of police reserves of cities where the police chief is appointed and Posse members that are used by elected Sheriff's.

Cal you're being generous, retiree health benefits can be $18,000 or more. The question of reserves and posse members being involved in law enforcement can be a slippery slope. If you carry a gun and a badge the training, expectations and proficiencies have to be the same as regular officers. The failure to update the Arizona public safety plan is the fault of the State Legislature and participating employers. Their lack of fiduciary oversight and engagement is a huge reason the Arizona pension plan is suffering today and employers are being hit with huge increases in contributions.

Mr. Talton writes:

Term limits were a fad in the early 1990s, ostensibly meant to eliminate a permanent political class.

Could be. I admit to being dim on that. A few clicks could chase the history down, and I bet it is fascinating. I'd be curious to know what Party or Ideology thought it a winning idea. And also: Why Mr. Talton thought it important to use the word "ostensibly"? I'm sure he had a reason.

On the other hand....

I can take good advantage of my ignorance here. Why not examine the idea with a clean mind that hasn't the foggiest notion of past political agendas? Ostensible or otherwise?

With all that as introduction: I think I can expose "term limits" as witheringly dumb in 5 sentences.

1) It undermines Democracy (with a capital D) by assuming voters aren't smart enough to rid themselves of pols they find hurtful.

2) It undermines Democracy (with a capital D) by assuming voters don't deserve the right to return to office pols they find valuable.

3) At worst, undermining Democracy (with a capital D) feels like an inherent evil to this citizen.

4) At best, undermining Democracy (with a capital D) is a dangerously slippery slope to tread onto.

5) Conclusion drawn from sentences 1 thru 4: QED.


I agree, Cal, that police volunteers like Bates should be restricted to non-emergency, non-investigatory work. Why he was on the scene with a gun and a teaser when a take-down of a criminal suspect was underway is a mystery that remains to be explained. Bates said in an interview that he normally comes on scene afterwards to take photographs and statements, but even that is too much for someone without forensic training and experience.

Observations about police fitness that are different from mine are exactly that: there is nothing to argue about. But I'm talking about PPD patrol officers and field supervisors, not detectives or administrative personnel. And because you live on the fringes of the desert (Apache Junction?) I merely ask if you're talking about PPD or county deputies.

Roland James wrote:

" The Arizona legislature is made up of legislators made up of legislators representing largely non-competitive "bullet-proof” districts, where the election is the primary election. Extreme Republicans tend to win primary elections now."

Thanks for that and other insightful remarks and reminiscences, Roland.

It's been a while since we crossed paths. I seem to recall having lunch (Chinese) with you back in the early to middle 1990s. You were a vegetarian as I recall and may have had the garlic beans (or something along those lines).

Wish I could remember what we chatted about; but at the moment it's lost in the mists of time. Policy stuff of some sort, discussed on amicable terms.

As I recall, koreyel, term-limits had cross-partisan appeal. The idea was that legislators become too cosy with special-interest lobbyists; and that politicians who develop a relationship as fixers with those they are supposed to regulate, fall into quid pro quo relationships in which they give special breaks to special interests in exchange for campaign finance support and/or cushy and lucrative private sector jobs once they move on from public office.

All of that is probably true, but Tea Party types who only spend a short time in office already have all the philosophical and opportunistic motivations they need to do that.

In Arizona term limits apply only to the House o Senate not to the legislature as a whole. So as Rogue points out they can just shuttle back and forth. This is particularly easy since in Arizona Senate and House seats for a district share the same voter base: voters who put X in office in one might be pushovers for putting X into the other.

Maybe this explains the term" ostensibly".

Another fly in the term limits ointment is that committee staffers tend to constitute a permanent bureaucracy which remains in place while legislators change. After all, they're the real experts until legislators accumulate years of experience on committee assignment, so they have a lot of influence. Democrats and Republicans have independent committee staffs but in either case they are often the real motive force behind the figureheads.

Side-note: a new reply to "Mark in Scottsdale" has been posted in the previous (Gov. Raul Castro) thread.

To understand the importance of redistricting in determining Arizona state legislative outcomes, consider that in 1990, when the state legislature still controlled the redistricting process, there were 27 Democrats and 33 Republicans in the House; and in the Senate, 17 Democrats and 13 Republicans.
;
This means that Republicans had only two votes more than Democrats in the legislature as a whole. Those two votes were of critical importance for two reasons, however: first, 1990 was the year of the decennial (every 10 years) Census, which triggers redistricting; second, the state legislature controlling the redistricting process approved the new map by a simple majority vote. This means that a party line vote enable Republicans to jerrymander the map with a two-vote legislative majority.

By the time of the next election two years later, the Democrats had lost five seats in the Senate and two in the House. By 1994 the party composition of the two chambers had settled into numbers which would remain essentially unchanged for the rest of the decade:

House: 22 Democrats and 38 Republicans

Senate: 12 Democrats and 18 Republicans

http://www.allcountries.org/uscensus/469_composition_of_state_legislatures_by_political.html

P.S. The fact that Republicans gained 10 legislative seats almost overnight after the 1990 Republican controlled redistricting and the fact that the new party composition numbers remained stable for the rest of the decade, shows that it was redistricting and not ordinary political flux which was responsible.

Another factor behind extremist (kook) lawmaking in the Arizona legislature recently, is the supermajority which Republicans enjoyed from 2010 to 2012. This enabled them to pass damn near anything they wanted over the objections of both Democrats and the Governor.

The 1990 redistricting had already given Republicans a supermajority in the state Senate and left them just two votes short of one in the House, yet it took another ten years for them to gain this small additional critical mass. Perhaps this is because the 2000 redistricting process was conducted by a five member special commission (two Democrats, two Republicans, and one independent) which left previous jerrymandering essentially unchanged, at least in terms of effects.

The supermajority was only broken in 2012, the year of the first state legislative eection after the 2010 redistricting. That process redrew maps according to a generally 3-2 vote (on lawyers, map consultants, and the maps themselves) in which the independent commission member sided with the Democrats.

The process could tilt the other way in 2020. Republicans may already be gaming the applicants so as to increase the chances of getting an "independent" they like.

One jerrymandering technique involves the creation of so-called minority-majority state legislative districts. This concentrates minority voters into a district where they are the majority. Since minorities typically vote Democratic this political ghottoization reduces the number of legislators they can elect by reducing the number of voting districts where they have significant influence.

This is one reason why the growing number of Hispanic voters may be less of a threat to state Republicans than is commonly supposed. Another reason is that Hispanics born into and raised in districts that are already controlled by Democrats will not increase Democratic influence unless they migrate in mass to districts that are Republican controlled. Since most young adults settle in the same district they grew up in or in a district with similar (familiar and comfortable) demographic or socioeconomic composition, this means that Hispanic population is likely to remain concentrated even without additional jerrymandering.

P.P.S. In case I haven't made it perfectly clear above (a couple of typos obscured the point a little), the decennial Census occurs in the first year of the decade (xxx0); then the finalized results are released; then the legislature (or since 2000 the five member redistricting commission) hashes out the new map structure; so that the first state legislative election with the new state district maps in place occurs two years after the Census, which is to say in xxx2.

" Republican-led states in recent years have interpreted the Voting Rights Act to mean that they can’t reduce the percentage of black inhabitants of a majority-minority district even by the slightest amount —and in states where voters are polarized politically along racial lines, that has allowed them to draw districts that are more Republican."

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/supreme-court-alabama-redistricting-ruling-116384.html

Substitute "Hispanic" for "Black" and the Arizona parallel becomes clear.

The Politico story involved a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision ostensibly making it harder for Republicans to cite the Voting Rights Act as an excuse to maintain already existing jerrymandered minority-majority district. But the high court merely remanded the case back to a lower court that approved Republicans' approach; it didn't rule the districts unconstitutional; and the decision was a narrow 5-4 ruling.

It is also unclear to me what effect if any recent efforts to relax Voting Rights Act restrictions on Arizona would have on Republican redistricting strategy.

The main thesis: the GOP takeover in Az. can be traced to term limits and “clean elections”. A third has been appended: redistricting.

How about this one instead: In 1960 there really wasn’t all that much difference between Center-Left and Center-Right positions. Both have drifted leftward since then; but the Center-Left has moved way to the left while the Center-Right has only moved slightly. This has resulted in the Dems solidifying certain blocks but ceding much of the Center to the GOP.

This goes beyond mere ideas. On most issues, there is not necessarily any difference to what constitutes a problem. The real difference is in how a problem is to be addressed. Too often the Left’s answer is BIG programs NOW. The Right’s is SMALL changes over a longer period of time (or sometimes no change at all – the solution is worse than the problem).

Re: Emil and “One jerrymandering technique involves the creation of so-called minority-majority state legislative districts. This concentrates minority voters into a district where they are the majority.” Yep this happened in several states here in the Deep South. GOP connivers? Nope the U.S. Justice Department. The result has been what you posit.

In case you missed this (Posted by Instapundit)

WAIT, I THOUGHT CALIFORNIA’S DROUGHT WAS DUE TO GLOBAL WARMING: In California, a Wet Era May Be Ending. “Scientists say that in the more ancient past, California and the Southwest occasionally had even worse droughts — so-called megadroughts — that lasted decades. At least in parts of California, in two cases in the last 1,200 years, these dry spells lingered for up to two centuries. The new normal, scientists say, may in fact be an old one.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/14/science/californias-history-of-drought-repeats.html?ref=science&_r=0&assetType=nyt_now


@Cal: John Wayne movie “McLintock” was shown by the Grit Movie Network. John Wayne plays John Wayne as a rancher/land baron in late 1800’s Southwest. I happened to glance at it during a exterior shot and I thought: “I’ll bet that’s what the Valley looked like in those days. Went to Wiki for details and got this:

The film was shot at Old Tucson Studios, west of Tucson, Arizona and also at San Rafael Ranch House - San Rafael State Natural Area South of Patagonia, Arizona.

The movie is just so-so, but the scenery is worth the time.

Wkg claims that the Justice Department, not the GOP was responsible for jerrymandering minority voters into political ghetto districts from which they could elect fewer state representatives. If he had bothered to read the Politico article linked to instead of responding with reflexive conservative contrarianism, he would have seen this:

" For partisan advantage, Republicans have historically tried to “pack” minorities into districts, while Democrats have attempted to “crack” majority-minority districts in the redistricting process to spread minorities into more districts to boost Democratic candidates, even at the expense of providing safer seats for minority candidates."

He also would have seen that the lawsuit that made its way to the Supreme Court was filed by Democrats (and Blacks) not against the Justice Department, but against the GOP which actually drew the redistricting maps.

Wkg also wrote:

"In 1960 there really wasn’t all that much difference between Center-Left and Center-Right positions. Both have drifted leftward since then; but the Center-Left has moved way to the left while the Center-Right has only moved slightly."

I have to remind myself that wkg isn't being deliberately infuriating, but simply occupies the same alternate universe as many of his fellow Republicans, who are regularly told by talk-radio and FOX News that Obama is the most liberal president in the history of the United States, that the New York Times is a "far Left" media organ, and that the "liberal media" is out to get them.

Rogue only recently wrote a blog about President Nixon, whose environmental, regulatory, and guaranteed minimum income initiatives would be regarded as left-liberal or even" socialist" today.

Conservatives who regard today's media as particularly liberal have either never read or have forgotten the muckraking style of journalism pioneered by Seymour Hersh and others in the 1970s.

Conservatives who regard the Obama Justice Department as being hostile to the nation's intelligence apparatus to the point of national security, despite his refusal to even considering opening criminal investigations regarding CIA use of torture, are obviously unfamiliar with the numerous high profile hearings, reports, and revelations of the Church and Pike committees.

The obviousness with which the political center has consistently moved to the right since the 1970s, including the" New Democrats" of the Clinton era, cannot rationally be denied.

Also, wkg, I did not ascribe Republican extremism in Arizona solely to redistricting. If Tea Party and other right-wing Republicans had not hijacked the precinct (and by extension district) party apparatus, Republican redistricting alone would merely have insured the dominance of mainstream Republicans in the state legislature.

This is a method of subversion from the bottom up and by technical means that the Bolsheviks used to great effect against other Marxist competitors (e.g. Mensheviks) striving for control of the Russian Marxist party to which they both belonged: get control of local bodies that allow delegate packing to the higher level congresses which have the power to shape policy.

Note that mainstream Arizona Republicans are well aware of this dynamic and, at least where congressional (as opposed to state legislative) districts are concerned, have been taking countermeasures:

" Team McCain’s goal? Unseat conservative activists who hold obscure, but influential, local party offices. Under the byzantine rules of Arizona Republican Party politics, these elected officials, known as precinct committeemen, vote for local party chairmen. The chairmen, in turn, determine how state and local GOP funds are spent, which candidates are promoted in an election year, and which political issues are highlighted — all matters of central concern for McCain heading into 2016, when the threat of a primary looms. Prior to Aug. 26, when the races for the party offices were held, the vast majority of the 3,925 precinct slots were filled by people McCain’s team considered opponents. Now, after an influx of candidates were recruited by the senator’s allies, around 40 percent of those offices — 1,531 to be exact — will be held by people McCain’s team regards as friendly. They will have the power to vote down hostile Republican chairmen in each of their respective localities…"

http://hotair.com/archives/2014/12/30/mccains-team-quietly-purging-arizona-gop-of-tea-party-foes-before-2016-reelection-bid/

Typo correction (several emendations to the following paragraph, which appears in the corrected version below:

" Conservatives who regard the Obama Justice Department as being hostile to the nation's intelligence apparatus to the point of jeopardizing national security, despite his refusal to even consider opening criminal investigations regarding CIA use of torture, are obviously unfamiliar with the numerous high profile hearings, reports, and revelations of the Church and Pike committees."

P.S. The text about McCain's campaign to purge precinct committeemen of his Tea Party opponents (I.e. most of the precinct committeemen) came from a Tea Party blogger. While that blog article is definitely worth reading in whole for its prophecies of doom for the Tea Party movement, Rogue readers who don't trust that source should know that the quoted material originally came from a Politico article. Here is the link to that:

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/john-mccain-arizona-tea-party-113849.html?ml=tb

P.S. Note that the long delayed Senate report on the CIA torture program is a model of diplomacy by comparison to Pike et al. Their quiet, almost apologetic criticisms, as well as the absence of high profile public hearings, also contrast markedly with 70s era investigation, showing how far to the political right even a Senate controlled by a Democratic majority has moved. Their report has already dropped out of sight and is gathering dust in the digital equivalent of the Indiana Jones warehouse.

I've seen old paper copies of declassified CIA and FBI documents from the day when" public transparency" meant something, in federal depository libraries, and the stuff they made available is amazing. It took some balls and considerably different sensibilities to force the release of material like that and then publish it openly for anyone to see.

Speaking of CIA torture and whether it works, it is often wrongly assumed that the first chance to stop the September 11 attacks was when the FBI dropped the ball in July 2001 when they failed to properly make use of the infamous "Phoenix memo" submitted by FBI special agent Ken Williams.

But the Philippines National Police gave critical details of the plot to U.S. authorities way back in 1995. From a CNN transcript dated 2001 (online link given at end of transcript excerpt):

CNN's Maria Ressa has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARIA RESSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A small fire in an apartment in Manila six years ago led investigators to a plot that may not have been taken seriously enough at the time. Ramzi Yousef, the man behind the first bombing of the World Trade Center, was planning to recruit pilots to hijack U.S. jetliners and crash them into government buildings. That apartment fire tipped off police to Yousef's hideout. He fled, but agents caught his right-hand man, Abdul Hakim Murad. And Murad soon was telling a chilling tale.

RODOLFO MENDOZA, JR., PHILLIPINE INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: (INAUDIBLE) Murad narrated to us about a plan maybe (INAUDIBLE) cell in the continental U.S., to hijack a commercial plane and run it to the CIA quarters in Langley, Virginia and also the Pentagon.

RESSA: Investigators also found evidence targeting commercial towers in San Francisco, Chicago and New York City.

RIGOBERTO TIGLAO, PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN: The targets they listed were CIA headquarters, Pentagon, Transamerica, Sears and the World Trade Center.

RESSA (on camera): Investigators in Manila say the information was turned over to the FBI in 1995. Those who worked on the case here say the story sounded far-fetched then, until much of it became all too true a week ago.

(voice-over) Ramzi Yousef once listed his occupation as "international terrorist" on an ID card. He has long been considered a disciple of Islamic militant leader Osama Bin Laden. It is Bin Laden whom the U.S. considers the prime suspect behind the hijackings of the jetliners flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the deadliest act of terrorism in history. Yousef's right-hand man in Manila, Murad, was a pilot who admitted he had been trained in Afghanistan, as well as the U.S.

AVELINO RAZON, PHILLIPINE NATIONAL POLICE: He was principally recruited by Yousef's group and Bin Laden's group to undertake a suicide mission.

http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0109/18/tpt.00.html

In his book Triple Cross, author Peter Lance notes that the 9/11 Commission disregarded the years old Yousef connection solely on the basis of information given by Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who had been tortured.

You get the picture: (1) Resist torture to make interrogators think that they forced a confession; (2) "Break down" eventually; (3) Give a combination of true information that interrogators either already have or which can no longer do them any good (e.g. out of date operational details), together with false information that cannot be disproved and which actively misleads; (4) laugh your ass to sleep every night.

Re Gerrymandered voting districts: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed as follows: On May 26, the Senate passed the bill by a 77-19 vote (Democrats 47-16, Republicans 30-2); only Senators representing Southern states voted against it …. Later that night, the House passed the Voting Rights Act by a 333-85 vote (Democrats 221-61, Republicans 112-24).

Note the bill contained “coverage areas”: The bill contained several special provisions that targeted certain state and local governments: a "coverage formula" that determined which jurisdictions were subject to the Act's other special provisions ("covered jurisdictions"); a "preclearance" requirement that prohibited covered jurisdictions from implementing changes to their voting procedures without first receiving approval from the U.S. Attorney General or the U.S. District Court for D.C. that the changes were not discriminatory; and the suspension of "tests or devices"….. These “coverage areas” were basically the states of the CSA.

I, for a fact, to not know when voting districts were gerrymandered for racial reasons alone, other than it was a long time ago. Only in recent times has the “New Confederacy” to use Rogue’s term, gone monolithically GOP – except for carved out districts. As it turns out, the carve-out worked for the GOP and will strive to keep it. That’s call politics. The Dems where they rule do the same thing.

Might I point out that even in the reddest of the “New Confederacy” the urban districts are reliably Demo.

But that’s all history.

I believe I referred to “drift” from those days (1965). Agreement then = voting rights, public accommodations, and other forms of racial discrimination were “just not right”; and everyone Left and Right still does.

Well what’s become of “civil rights” since? Well, in no particular order: school busing, affirmative action, quotas, “minority” set aside, etc. Most of which were never voted on by anybody.

Well let me give you a report from the “alternative universe” I inhabit. In my universe FOX leans right, ABC/NBC/CBS left. WSJ right/NYT left. I’m sure that you and Rogue will (honestly) swear that you are “middle-of-road”. (An aside: I do find you to be remarkably rational for a lefty).

Wkg, restrictions on states subject to the Voting Rights Act govern voting law changes as you pointed out. Those might include a requirement to obtain ID to register that was not previously required. It does not prevent state legislatures from redrawing districts; but it does in some cases require the redrawn maps to be submitted for federal approval. The main concern has traditionally been a dilution of Black or other minority voters in a way that divides them up among Whites so that they never have enough numbers in districts to change the political balance or outcome by virtue of their numbers.

So, the courts have traditionally not been concerned about district concentrations of minorities which allow them to determine their own political representation.

It doesn't matter whether in jerrymandering districts to "pack" minorities, race was the only criterion cited, or one of many, or not explicitly mentioned at all. When a source like Politico describes packing as a long-time Republican practice and the opposite practice, cracking, as a long-time Democratic practice, in an article published in 2015, that should clue you in that the description is both uncontroversial and extends through recent decades into the present. You can easily verify this from other online news sources generally accepted as honest. Just google keywords like packing, cracking, and redistricting, then select some big name, reputable sources. Saying that you are unfamiliar with something is not necessarily evidence. Did you think Politico made this up as part of a liberal media conspiracy?

The fact is that minorities tend to vote Democratic and so there is a logic behind Republicans doing things like redistricting which concentrates minorities in fewer districts, from which they can only elect fewer representatives. No one says it is motivated by racism per se, just politics.

I have already delayed certain personal errands to reply here and must leave your remaining points for another time.

Read about Politico, its owners, content, partners, and accusations from the left of "Republican tilt":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politico

Wkg, rather than argue about which of the issues you named civil rights practices you listed were voted on or not, lets agree that any which weren't the product of Congress were the result of court decisions, ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court.

That court was already liberal in the 50s and 60s since it was still packed with FDR era appointees. I don't know any informed opinion on the left or the right which doesn't acknowledge that the high court has moved well to the right since then, as evidenced by their restrictions on race based equal opportunity practices and conversely their removal of restrictions on campaign finance contributions from wealthy institutions and individuals.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page leans strongly to the right but its news reporting does not. The NYT editorial page has a strong Democratic bias but their news reporting does not. In fact, the NYT was so gung-ho in reporting Bush/Cheney lies in the run up to the Iraq war and in its early days that they were eventually forced to apologize for their credulity in supporting the Bush administration version of events. As I recall their news coverage of the sanctuary movement and the Contras early on also left much to be desired. (When I talk about reputable and honest newspapers I mean only that they meet certain industry standards most of the time, not that they're always accurate or unbiased.)

I agree that FOX leans way to the right. MSNBC does so to the left. CNN is centrist and frankly the national broadcast network news usually is too. Give me a recent example from personal experience indicating a habit of left bias in traditional network news coverage. Most of what conservatives call liberal bias is just failure to demonstrate conservative bias.

I don't know why you expect Rogue to describe himself as middle of the road. He's written more than once that "the facts have a left leaning bias" (paraphrase). Nor would I describe myself thus in general terms. But I guess you were being ironic, huh?

P.S. If asked to name a newspaper whose news reporting leans well to the right, it wouldn't be the Wall Street Journal; it would be the International Business Times or the Washington Times, neither of which I take seriously.

Similarly, I've seen a lot of good, unbiased reporting in Bloomberg Business News and in the Financial Times.

Emil wrote:

Another fly in the term limits ointment is that committee staffers tend to constitute a permanent bureaucracy which remains in place while legislators change. After all, they're the real experts until legislators accumulate years of experience on committee assignment, so they have a lot of influence.

Very true. Which I suspect is just as much a good thing as a bad thing. So maybe not a maggot in the porridge, but rather, earthworms turning earth and crapping soil.

Another argument is that essentially "term limits" seeks to "regulate" whom I can and cannot vote for.

So for example "Randy" Paul , is both a term limits guy and simultaneously vehemently opposed to government regulations. So counterpoised, he needs to explain to me why he thinks his vision of government has the right to "regulate" my voting options.


Rogue- did you do a stint in Charlotte?
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/business/biz-columns-blogs//article18771834.html

Emil- Charles P. Pierce http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/ has a feature called "things In politico that make me want to guzzle antifreeze." BTW if I had to read only one national political blog, it would be Pierce. on target and funny as hell. Talton can probably produce as much worthwhile material 5 days a week. I doubt that many can do so. I don't think that Pierce would bother with Politico if he didn't think it was influential.

Koreyel, I agree: bureaucracy isn't always a bad thing in every way, as some claim. In the case of legislative committee staffers, it's a good thing that the state legislature has some sort of institutional memory and some degree of technical expertise while term limits produces a churn of generally ignorant legislators spouting junk because they haven't been around the block and don't know any better. One imagines the staffers looking on and quietly whispering" Aren't they adorable?" while their respective political charges play the Leadership Game.

The problem is that it's these same legislators who call "Walkies!" before putting their respective staffers on the leash and yanking them off to the next hunk of concrete every time they find a lush patch worthy of exploration.

Dawgzy, I got the infamous 404 error (file not found) when I went to check out the Charlotte Observer link. That plus our host's silence in answering your question makes me wonder if Deadline Man has been kidnapped by the Suits, his very words erased from the pages of history. Or maybe he sent them a memo?

I checked out Charles Pierce to the extent that my slow Wi-Fi and balky mobile software allowed. Good stuff. Now if only we could get Charles Fort to write political commentary, we'd have something truly recherche.

"The little harlots will caper, and freaks will distract attention, and the clowns will break the rhythm of the whole with their buffooneries--but the solidity of the procession as a whole: the impressiveness of things that pass and pass and pass, and keep on and keep on and keep on coming."

Dawgzy, I was the Executive Business Editor of the Charlotte Observer for five years and then a columnist before I foolishly accepted the offer to come home and be a columnist for the Republic.

Incidentally, I'm reading a book called Work Like A Spy by a former CIA officer who among other things worked on the CIA's weapons of mass destruction team in Iraq; subsequently becoming an investigator for the National Labor Relations Board,; then a job for a well known consumer goods company overseeing the company's newly implemented supplier compliance program in the wake of scandals involving the company's overseas suppliers' labor practices.

The book contains a fascinating anecdote about an Iraqi facility strongly suspected of being a biological weapons facility on the basis of satellite imagery and in depth analysis of the facility's communications with numerous organizations thought to be part of Iraq's WMD program, run by a PhD biochemist and under heavy guard.

In person investigation revealed that it was unquestionably a salt factory. As in table salt. There was an innocent and compelling explanation for all the red flags. For example, the overqualified woman biochemist had a tough time getting good jobs in Iraq's male dominated society and took what she could get. The guards were a post-invasion precaution against looting (which was then rampant).

Something to consider next time the government or hysterical politicians explain why we have to bomb someone or something.

The private sector labor compliance oversight job gave a number of astonishing insights that liberals concerned with effective regulatory oversight and social justice ought to know. Too much to type up on mobile though.

This actually happened in the Gulf War (Bush Sr.) run up to the Iraq War (Bush Jr.):

" Near the end of the first week of allied bombing of Iraq, a nondescript building in a Baghdad industrial park was heavily damaged by U.S. air attacks. Iraqi officials said it was the only factory in the country that made infant formula, and had no military purpose whatsoever. They took CNN reporter Peter Arnett to the plant and let him film the damage, and Arnett brought Iraq's accusation to the outside world on Jan. 23.

Later that day, however, Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Gallagher told reporters in Saudi Arabia that "this facility . . . has military guards around it, barbed-wire fence; it has a military garrison outside. And numerous sources have indicated that the facility is associated with biological warfare production."

In Washington, Gen. Colin L. Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, "It was a biological weapons facility, of that we are sure."

Yet in subsequent press accounts and interviews this week with The Washington Post, the French contractor who built the factory in the late 1970s, said it was constructed as an infant formula factory, and that the equipment could not have been used to make "chemical" products.

At the same time, New Zealand technicians who have visited it repeatedly said they saw it "actually canning milk powder" as recently as last May, and have raised other questions about parts of the U.S. account."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/fogofwar/archive/post020791_2.htm

No mention of casualties or what happened to countless babies when the country's only infant formula factory was destroyed.

WKG, I will be in San Rafel country for a few Days. Been there a number of times, once commissioned a painting of house and windmill. Currently even the the state and the Nature Conservancy are responsible for maintaining the area for tourists the Border Patrol has taken it over and last time I was there and went past the no trespassing sign I was asked to leave. I objected to no avail.
I also Know two families that were involved in ownership over the years. Also I have heard that Raul Castro may have had some involvement in the San Rafel Land grant on the Mexico side.

Emil, I read Triple Cross a number of years ago and found it to be in line with the info that many in the "community" had heard since 1992, that there were going to be attacks and that it planes were a likely weapon.

Jon before I head south. With all due respect to Hayden and Rhodes I think the CAP was a huge mistake as was Glenn Canyon dam, Hoover Dam and the Roosevelt Dam and subsquent dams on the Salt and Verde rivers.

@Cal: Your views on water projects well known (and mirror those of your favorite writer – whose name escapes me right now. He wanted to blow up the ones that already exist, if I remember correctly). Anyway, I think it’s an argument you’re going to lose – regardless of the rightness or wrongness of the position.

The only reason I bring this up is to reference the NYT article on a recent paper about tree growth rings/rain in the Southwest. I’ll assume that the article and paper are correct for the time being.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/14/science/californias-history-of-drought-repeats.html?ref=science&_r=0&assetType=nyt_now

I don’t bring this up to debate any current policies, plans, etc. I just can’t help but think that there are implications to Indian history in the Phoenix area.

For example, several times there have been references (here) to canals built by an Indian nation that apparently fell into disuse. Perhaps there was a really bad drought that made them useless and the Nation had to move somewhere else. Or maybe they just slowly decayed away.

Assuming conditions necessitated the mass movement of various tribes, they had to go someplace else. Well the tribes in that “someplace else” aren’t going to be too happy about that at all. This sort of thing has happened all over the world throughout history and result is almost always very bloody warfare – often to the extinction to one of the participants. This could explain why the Comanche’s and Apaches are particularly skilled and aggressive fighters.

Emil- the infant formula had to go into water, of corse. No doubt that the factory's destruction had a severe and lasting impact on Iraqui children ( btw, who are helpless human beings.) prior to Iraq war 1, iraq was a fairly well off 2nd world country, with good health, electrical and water/hygiene infrastructure. The water and sewage systems got the shit bombed out of them, so to speak. One consequence of that was that water-borne diseases ran rampant, with mobid effects on the medically vulnerable. The WHO I think it was estimated that 50,000 kids from birth to 5 years died annually as a result. Clinton, et al refused to allow the sanctions regime to remediate this. M. Albright when asked whether the death of half a million kids was acceptable, said something to the effect that it was in light of international security. Clinton was impeached over BJs and this was acceptable to almost all sides in the USA. Disgusting.

AND ANOTHER THING ! During the impeachment Clinton did a little bombing via cruise missiles. At the time I thought that it was a very cynical ploy in reaction to his domestic troubles. See Barton Gellmans' pieces in the WaPost and Atlantic about it. It turns out that Billy had a monthly principlals only meetings with secs of state, defense, nsa, via, Fabio, etc about al quaeda and OBL. Clinton wanted him dead. Apparently the bombs into Afghanistan missed him by hours. When Sandy Berger tried to hand this matter over to C. Rice, she demurred indicating that they had " different priorities."
IIRC there wasn't a similar meeting among W's people until late August 2001. And the it was undersecretary, assistant to status.
Anyway, what makes me recall this is what happened with the othe cruises in Africa, Sudan I think it was, there was a pharmaceutical plant that CIA determined, based on soil talen from near the plant covertly, was manufacturing chemical weapons. So we bombed the shit out of it too. Turns out that it made antibiotics, anti malarial sand AIDS treatment for much of sub-Saharan Africa. OOPS!
Sorry for typos, doing this on a pad with lousy skills to begin with.

Oh and no chemical weapons I might add.

I would be fine with this column if "Extreme Right" were replaced by "Extreme self-interest." There's nothing "conservative", for example, about trying to micromanage how counties and local municipalities raise funds or otherwise govern themselves.
I can testify from personal experience that the movement to put relative "moderates" in control of the Republican party at the precinct and district level is real--I'm proud to be a part of it.
There's plenty of room ideologically speaking for one to disagree with Jon Talton and still not be a "kook." However, in this case, many of Jon's points were valid. Term limits rob legislative bodies of institutional memory--or leave it in the hands of unelected staffers (which in my opinion is less desirable than electeds serving multiple terms)
I thought the inclusion of Ken Bennett was a cheap shot--it's too bad that he and Scott Smith split the LDS vote in the primary--either would have made a better governor than Ducey.

I am totally demoralized, living in Arizona. I see no hope that things will change.

WKGINBHAM It's called Wilderness. Also something the planet will lose because of engineer's. Or U could be one of those folks that believe the planet renews itself. Or god will take care of you all.

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