Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Nelson Campaign: Can’t “Remember” Arguing Against Death Penalty for Convicted Double Murderer; Says Death Penalty Undermines “Public Safety”

Caught flat-footed by revelations that he argued against the death penalty for a convicted double-murderer County Attorney candidate Tim Nelson’s campaign is suggesting Nelson doesn’t remember the memorable arguments he made. And the campaign is stating that death penalty prosecutions undermine public safety.
From politickeraz.com, September 29, 2008:
1) According to Joshua Kilroy, Nelson's campaign manager, Nelson is "trying hard to remember how all of this happened."
2) " Arizona has executed two prisoners in the last 19 years," said Kilroy. "It just doesn't happen that often. From the point of view of a prosecutor, deciding to devote such a huge amount of resources to this set of cases, Tim's concern is it might end up compromising public safety."

Nelson defended Jose Ceja, who brutally murdered a Phoenix couple. He shot the wife two times in the chest before dragging her to another room and shooting her four more times in the
head. He shot the husband four times. He kicked the victims as they lay dead or dying. He later threatened to kill his own wife.

Ceja was convicted and sentenced to the death penalty.
Nelson volunteered to represent Ceja, and to fight his death sentence even though Ceja’s own wife wanted him put to death.
Nelson argued that Ceja had already endured “torture” by spending so much time on death row. He said the death penalty wasn’t warranted after Ceja had allegedly exhibited his “non-violent behavior by living without incident on death row,” and with “honor and dignity.”

This, despite Ceja’s wife reporting publicly that he had threatened to kill her from death row. This, despite Department of Corrections records listing 18 disciplinary actions for Ceja including “throwing objects” and “rioting.”

“Nelson deceived the public and the media regarding his position on the death penalty. What’s even more outrageous is that he fought it for a convicted double murderer. Now he claims that he can’t remember doing this and the death penalty undercuts public safety. While he argued to give a convicted double murderer a break I think the public and I are saying ‘give me a break,’” County Attorney Thomas said.

Thomas’ campaign is prominently featuring Nelson’s opposition to the death penalty in advertisements.

Liberal columnist E.J. Montini admits County Attorney Thomas has kept his promises so will be reelected

On campaign pledge, there's no doubting Thomas
When I spoke to Thomas on the phone recently, I said that he may be the only politician in Arizona - maybe the entire country - who did exactly what he told voters that he would do.

That kind of thing just doesn't happen. Read rest of article

Monday, September 29, 2008

Outstanding article by State Treasurer Dean Martin on the bailout

Martin explains how the federal government got us into this mess. Some excerpts -

The lack of transparency in bundled mortgages made it difficult to know how many subprime loans were inside. Therefore, all mortgage securities were treated as toxic. Investors avoided all mortgages to prevent accidentally buying subprime.

It's like the adage: "One bad apple spoils the barrel." So it was with subprime spoiling the entire mortgage market.

New accounting rules designed for liquid markets now began to put the squeeze on banks even though more than 90 percent of Americans are still paying their mortgages.

Despite nearly a year of promises, after the markets closed, the government reversed its position. It would not provide the same backstop as Bear Stearns to Lehman Brothers, an investment bank with positive net assets of $26 billion. It forced a company that was "A" rated on a Friday to file bankruptcy the following Sunday.

Panic gripped the financial markets. The forced bankruptcy of Lehman destroyed insurance company AIG's balance sheet. As fear ravaged investment portfolios, the government reversed itself again. It seized control of AIG, nationalizing it and pouring in $85 billion. By week's end, the government had spent more money trying to contain the firestorm it unleashed by reneging on Lehman than it would have cost to support its sale.

Read the entire article to find out Dean's solution.

AZ Republic: The Goldwater Institute - 20 years later

Great story in the Republic yesterday featuring the Goldwater Institute. Darcy Olsen, President and CEO, Tom Patterson, Chairman of the Board, and Clint Bolick, Director of the Center for Constitutional Litigation, were interviewed. Some excerpts -

Once known mostly for its brain, the conservative think thank lately is showing some brawn, with its year-old litigation center keeping governments in check. We are the first free-market policy organization in the nation to establish a litigation center.

We are, to toot our horn a little bit, by far the most-quoted think tank locally and draw the most interest on our Web site (www.goldwaterinstitute.org) by about a factor of 2 over all the others.

We're privately supported. We've been growing by 15 to 20 percent a year for the past seven years and hope to continue on that positive trajectory.

We have suits not just against the city of Phoenix, but right now (against) Mesa, Tempe, the Arizona Corporation Commission, gone after some regulations by the Arizona Department of Education, so it's a broad effort to rein in government whenever and wherever it oversteps it constitutional boundaries.

Nationally, the conservative movement has really lost steam, direction and unity. Nothing could be further from the truth here in Arizona, where to the extent that we are just chock full of ideas. I believe it is our side that is defining the agenda, to a large extent. We've got initiatives on the ballot that are absolute cutting edge and, I think, can serve as models to the nation. Many of things going on here at Goldwater are emulated across the country.

Tom Jenney on the bailout and economy

Part I: Policy Analysis

Part II: Policy Recommendations

Part III: Personal Recommendations (Main item: Don’t panic)

Part I: Policy Analysis

As Congress and the Administration flounder about, looking to slap together some kind of trillion-dollar bailout plan, there appears to be only one individual in the entire Congress who really understands the root cause of the crisis. In any case, he was the only individual in Congress who has been on public record for years predicting the current crisis. He also predicted the dot-com implosion years before it occurred. His comments are pasted below my signature.

The reason that lone Congressman understood and predicted the dot com and mortgage lending crises is that he has a strong grounding in the Austrian school of economics, and specifically, the Austrian theory of money and credit, and the effects of government interventions in those markets. (It is called the Austrian school because most of its founders, including F.A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, were from Austria.)

The short story is that this is a government-created crisis, from start to finish. Although spinners from the major parties are doing their best to pin the blame for the crisis on the other party, this is mostly a nonpartisan problem.

The root cause of this crisis—as with nearly every macroeconomic crisis—is governmental manipulation of the supply of money and credit. Since 1913, governmental monetary mischief has mainly been conducted by our central bank, the Federal Reserve System. Before 1913, the government manipulated the supply of money and credit through other means (google “Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890” for details).

Here is how it works, in ten easy steps:

Step 1) Credit Expansion. By creating artificial credit expansions (google “fractional reserve banking” for more details), the Federal Reserve System (“Fed”) expands the money supply available for loans used for consumption and investment, which lowers interest rates below the natural free-market rate.

Step 2) Malinvestment. With money easier to borrow, firms and entrepreneurs make more investments—and more erroneous investments—in the production of future goods and services than they would if faced with a natural, free-market interest rate. This is what the Austrian economists call “malinvestment.” (Some of the most highly-visible examples include: excessive and erroneous investments in radio and automobile companies in the 1920s, excessive and erroneous investments in dot-com startups in the 1990s, and excessive and erroneous investments in real estate from 2002 to 2006.)

Step 3) Disconnect between Production and Consumption. The main problem with artificial credit expansion is that the consuming public has not actually saved enough money to be able to afford all of the goods and services that result from the investments. (If the public had actually saved enough money, there would have been enough available money in the banking system to make the free-market interest rate low enough to make those investments viable, without the Fed’s “help.”)

Step 4) Minor Recession. At some point, the producers of goods and services notice that consumers are not interested in buying their products. They begin to cut back on production, shutting down operations, cancelling projects, and laying off workers. Facing a lack of adequate returns on their investments, investors sell stock shares. Stock market indices begin to fall. A recession has begun. The Blame Game often begins here (see Step 9 below).

Step 5) Central Bank Options. Seeing that a recession has begun, the Fed has two choices:

A) Stop the Expansion. The Fed can stop increasing the supply of money and credit, allowing interest rates to rise, and allowing overextended banks and firms that made bad investments to suffer losses or go bankrupt. This “liquidation” process allows factor and asset prices to fall until they reach realistic levels that make them attractive to firms and investors seeking to continue or to expand production. (At this point, the business cycle is over, until the Fed once again engineers an expansion of credit beyond natural levels.)

B) Continue the Expansion. The Fed can continue to increase the supply of money and credit, keeping interest rates artificially low so that: i) overextended banks can continue to lend money, ii) malinvested firms can continue to produce goods and services at artificially high levels of output, and, iii) consumers can borrow money to keep buying artificially large amounts of goods and services.

Step 6) Re-Inflation. The Fed, under pressure from Congress, the President, and Wall Street, typically chooses option 5B, which is to have some “hair of the dog” in the hopes of curing the hangover. The problem is that the Fed has to accelerate the increase in the supply of money and credit to keep the game going. By pumping even more money into the economy, the Fed begins to generate accelerating inflation. Sometimes, the extra money flows heavily into a few “hot” sectors of the economy (often causing stock market and real estate bubbles). Eventually, as the Fed becomes more desperate to keep the party going, the extra money generates an economy-wide inflation, with rapidly rising prices in all sectors (see the 1970s for details). (To keep this explanation relatively simple, I am not going to get into the mitigating and exacerbating effects of foreign currency exchanges and trade imbalances.)

Step 7) Stagflation. At some point, even massive credit inflation and printing of money cannot keep the game going. Prices go up, but the economy stalls (“stagflation”). Unemployment is somewhat high, and wages do not keep up with rising prices.

Step 8) Contraction. To avoid hyperinflation, the Fed has to allow for a monetary contraction. It’s the same scenario as 5A, but much involves more unemployment, because factor and asset prices need to fall a lot farther to reach realistic levels. Lots of banks, savings and loans, and investment houses start going bankrupt. Fed chairman Paul Volcker led the country through a tough contraction from 1981-1983. It’s not a pretty picture, but the alternative is to become a hyper-inflation/devaluation basket case, like many of the Latin American economies were in the 1970s and 1980s. During contractions in recent decades, the government has resorted to using taxpayer money to bail out depositors, lenders, and/or borrowers. When overly inflated sectors begin to contract, that’s when the Blame Game really gets going.

Step 9) The Blame Game. When things get tough, accusations begin to fly. Some are grounded in reality, many are not. Some accusations are made in earnest, many are simply forwarded for short-term partisan advantage:

A) Blame the “Free Market.” Regulatory enthusiasts from both parties blame the “free market” and a lack of adequate regulation for the failures. They usually ignore the fact that the markets were not able to regulate themselves because government had created “moral hazard” situations. If the government has promised to bail out lending institutions (explicitly, through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or implicitly, through credit reflation and public-private bailouts), we should not be surprised to see lending institutions taking crazy risks.

Of course, the regulatory enthusiasts never seem to lose faith in regulation. Instead, they whine about Regulation Q (during the S&L meltdown), the loosening of the Glass-Steagall firewall, and the lax oversight of the SEC with regard to mortgage-backed securities. The reality is that in an artificial credit expansion, there is no way for government to prevent even a small fraction of the bad investments. (You would need to put a government regulator in every other S&L, I-bank, and mortgage re-fi operation in the country—and that assumes that regulators would know more than the lenders about how far credit can safely be extended.)

B) Blame high interest rates. Some Wall Street boosters continue to blame the Fed for failing to keep interest rates low enough. Just a little more hair of the dog, and we can get through this hangover…

C) Blame government regulations. Conservatives blame heavy-handed government regulations. Those accusations do not get to the root cause of the crisis, but they at least contain grains of truth. For example, it is clear that the Community Reinvestment Act and the lending policies of the quasi-governmental Fannie and Freddie did result in the extension of credit to many individuals who had no realistic ability to pay back loans. But with too much credit in the whole system, someone was going to get bad loans—it was just a question of who and how much.

Another conservative accusation that contains a substantial amount of truth is the claim that government regulators and bailout managers have disrupted the orderly liquidation of bad investments. In the current crisis, the “marked-to-market” accounting rules are forcing some companies to sell their assets at the bottom of a stalled market. In the wake of the S&L debacle, the government-created Resolution Trust Corporation in many cases forced S&Ls to sell off their assets at the worst possible moment, even though the asset prices would eventually have rebounded to higher levels, making losses not so severe.

D) Blame Wall Street. Middle Americans naturally pin much of the blame for the business cycle on “greedy” Wall Street stockjobbers and speculators. In doing so, they are supported by macroeconomists of the Keynesian school, who see the investment world as ruled by the “animal spirits” of greed and fear. The problem with that notion is that simple greed cannot cause markets to soar very high in the absence of an artificial credit expansion—there simply isn’t enough cash around to place a lot of bad bets. And fear can’t do much to create a severe contraction if consumers have saved enough to buy an adequate portion of the goods and services produced by investors and firm.

E) Blame foreigners. Middle Americans frequently blame foreigners and interest groups connected to foreigners. They blame the trade deficit, foreign competition, and immigration for America’s job losses during the contraction. And yet, nearly everything that is wrong with the American economy is self-caused: most of our systemic problems are the result of tax-and-spend-and-inflate government policies.

Step 10) Congress and the Administration Experiment. Because they do not understand the monetary origins of the crisis, or because they are hoping for a “free lunch” that will avoid the pain of a corrective contraction, Congress and the Administration begin casting about for policy options, trying to buoy the markets and convince the public that they have the situation under control. Most of their policy “cures” make the disease worse:

A) Price supports. During a contraction, when prices and wages need to fall for a proper liquidation, politicians often become desperate to prop up prices and wages. That was the heart of the Hoover-FDR reactions to the contraction that began in 1930. Most of the policies they enacted—the campaigns to keep wages high, the raising of tariff barriers, the cartelization of industries, quotas and price supports in agriculture, the confiscation of private gold stocks—were designed to prop up factor prices. Those policies were highly counterproductive, resulting in massive unemployment and destruction of social wealth. Further, the government’s hyperactivity (FDR’s “bold, persistent experimentation”) served to spook investors, consumers, and business leaders, who had no idea what the government would do next. As a result, Hoover and FDR turned a typical American depression (which tended to last from one to three years) into a double-dip depression that lasted at least ten years (it may not have actually ended until 1946).

B) Compulsive regulation. At the very point when many businesses are struggling to keep going, Congress enacts redundant or pointless new regulatory regimes (such as the Glass-Steagall Act in 1933, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002). At best, those regimes cause firms and investors to waste time and money in compliance. At worst, those regimes weaken financial institutions, making them more vulnerable to shocks. (Glass-Steagall broke up universal banks into deposit banks and investment banks, even though the universal banks, which were better-diversified, did not fail nearly as often as depositor banks during the 1920s.)

C) Moral hazards. Congress often reacts to crises by establishing institutions that explicitly or implicitly promise government bailouts for persons and firms that make unwise investments. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (which guaranteed bad bets by S&Ls) and Fannie Mae (which is at the center of the current mess) were created during the New Deal. With the current wave of bailouts, Congress and the Administration are telling future gamblers that the federal government stands ready to cover their bets.

D) Spending huge amounts of taxpayer money. Of course, covering all those bets requires a source of money. That money comes out of the paychecks and bank accounts of taxpayers. The same is true of Keynesian fiscal “stimulus” packages. As economic historian Robert Higgs has noted, government fiscal stimulus is like taking water out of the deep end of the pool, dumping it in the shallow end, and expecting the level of water to rise.

E) Tax increases. America’s heavy personal and corporate income taxes already punish work and discourage saving. The low savings rate means a smaller supply of loanable funds, which in turn means less investment and slower economic growth. That is one of the reasons that the Fed feels compelled to push interest rates to artificially low levels: to create the illusion of having the supply of loanable funds that would be available if people actually saved more. Any increases in taxation will make the problem worse.

F) Debt and Inflation (= Taxation). When the government spends more money than it collects from taxpayers, it begins to run deficits and accumulate debt. The federal government is already in massive debt, so it must borrow even more money in order to bail out Wall Street and Main Street. And bear in mind that the American government’s unfunded liabilities (the benefits we have promised to people, for which we have no foreseeable revenue stream) for the next 75 years are already at least $60 trillion (more than four times the nation’s yearly income, or $200,000 for every man, woman and child in the country). At some point, Congress and the Fed are going to have to crank up the printing press in earnest, so that they will have more pieces of green paper with which to pay everyone what has been promised. Because the green paper in people’s pockets will be rapidly losing its value, the result will be the same as if the government had levied a massive, growth-strangling tax.

Part II. Policy Recommendations

For what it’s worth, I recommend that Congress and the Administration do none of the above (see Step 10, A-F). As for positive steps, I recommend the following:

1) To address the short-term financial market crisis, Congress and the President should suspend taxes on private capital in order to allow private investment groups to rescue failed entities and/or buy their assets. (That’s a realistic option.)

2) Congress and the President should immediately reduce the annual rate of growth of all federal spending, including entitlement spending, to no more than three percent annually in nominal terms. (Chances of that are slim. We got down to about four percent under Clinton and the Republican Class of ’94, and that was during a period of abnormally low rates of inflation…)

3) As budget surpluses materialize, Congress should begin paying down the debt. (Very slim.)

4) Once the debt is on a steady path toward elimination, Congress should reduce and simplify federal taxes. (Again, very slim chances of that happening.)

5) Congress should move America toward a sound, inflation-proof monetary system—ideally, a system in which federal notes are redeemable in gold. (Fat chance. There is only one guy in the entire Congress who is talking about sound money. As the country’s biggest debtor, the federal government and tax-taker interest groups have a vested interest in maintaining a regime of permanent inflation.)

6) Congress should get the country off the recurring rollercoaster of credit inflation cycles by moving America toward a system of free banking, in which the free market determines the supply of money and credit, and in which the government is prohibited from bailing out banks that become overextended. (Again, fat chance. Of course, those who are wealthy enough and mobile enough to get their assets offshore already have access to a version of free banking, in that they can choose among dozens of competing national currencies when it comes to denominating their assets and conducting business. But most of us are stuck riding out the dollar…)

Part III. Personal Recommendations

First and foremost, don’t panic. We’re not going to have anything like the Great Depression. The main reason is that very few of our modern politicians seem to be seeking the kind of wholesale cartelization programs that FDR and the New Dealers unleashed on this country during the 1930s. (And in any case, even New Deal-style economic chaos would occur at a much higher level of economic development, so people now would suffer less than people did in the 1930s.)

Even deflation (which is unlikely) is no cause for panic, especially if the government does not hurt productivity through massive tax increases and/or regulatory excesses. One of the greatest periods of growth in American history occurred during the deflation from 1869 to 1896 (it did help that people’s expectations were set for hard money). Hong Kong has had deflation since 1997, but has grown at an average of four percent annually during that time. Even the comparatively sclerotic Japanese economy muddled along okay through a decade-long deflation (which can actually be good for persons on fixed incomes).

That said, we may be in for tough times in the next few years. I seriously doubt that the Fed will suddenly change course and allow for a clean contraction and liquidation (which is what it should do). If the Fed proceeds with an aggressive credit/monetary expansion, it will probably result in a small boost, followed by stagflation, followed by a tougher contraction, in the style of 1971-1983. But every cycle is a little different, and I don’t have a crystal ball.

Speaking of which, I would like to be able to make some financial recommendations, but I am like everybody else: I don’t really know what is going to happen in the short run. I believe that we are in for significant inflation in the years ahead, so that would argue for gold, but you never know for sure.

For the medium to long run, we all need to increase our savings, especially in assets with values that can keep up with inflation. For those who are not in the habit of saving, it will be hard to change course, especially if you get laid off from work. And, as I said above, federal tax policies constantly undermine our efforts to save.

Other than saving, we should keep doing the basics: work hard, take care of our families, look out for our neighbors. I strongly suggest joining a church or another form of mutual-aid society, and helping people out (it’s the right thing to do, and you never know when you’ll need them to return the favor).


September 25, 2008

Dear Friends:

The financial meltdown the economists of the Austrian School predicted has arrived.

We are in this crisis because of an excess of artificially created credit at the hands of the Federal Reserve System. The solution being proposed? More artificial credit by the Federal Reserve. No liquidation of bad debt and malinvestment is to be allowed. By doing more of the same, we will only continue and intensify the distortions in our economy - all the capital misallocation, all the malinvestment - and prevent the market's attempt to re-establish rational pricing of houses and other assets.

Last night the president addressed the nation about the financial crisis. There is no point in going through his remarks line by line, since I'd only be repeating what I've been saying over and over - not just for the past several days, but for years and even decades.

Still, at least a few observations are necessary.

The president assures us that his administration "is working with Congress to address the root cause behind much of the instability in our markets." Care to take a guess at whether the Federal Reserve and its money creation spree were even mentioned?

We are told that "low interest rates" led to excessive borrowing, but we are not told how these low interest rates came about. They were a deliberate policy of the Federal Reserve. As always, artificially low interest rates distort the market. Entrepreneurs engage in malinvestments - investments that do not make sense in light of current resource availability, that occur in more temporally remote stages of the capital structure than the pattern of consumer demand can support, and that would not have been made at all if the interest rate had been permitted to tell the truth instead of being toyed with by the Fed.

Not a word about any of that, of course, because Americans might then discover how the great wise men in Washington caused this great debacle. Better to keep scapegoating the mortgage industry or "wildcat capitalism" (as if we actually have a pure free market!).

Speaking about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the president said: "Because these companies were chartered by Congress, many believed they were guaranteed by the federal government. This allowed them to borrow enormous sums of money, fuel the market for questionable investments, and put our financial system at risk."

Doesn't that prove the foolishness of chartering Fannie and Freddie in the first place? Doesn't that suggest that maybe, just maybe, government may have contributed to this mess? And of course, by bailing out Fannie and Freddie, hasn't the federal government shown that the "many" who "believed they were guaranteed by the federal government" were in fact correct?

Then come the scare tactics. If we don't give dictatorial powers to the Treasury Secretary "the stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet." Left unsaid, naturally, is that with the bailout and all the money and credit that must be produced out of thin air to fund it, the value of your retirement account will drop anyway, because the value of the dollar will suffer a precipitous decline. As for home prices, they are obviously much too high, and supply and demand cannot equilibrate if government insists on propping them up.

It's the same destructive strategy that government tried during the Great Depression: prop up prices at all costs. The Depression went on for over a decade. On the other hand, when liquidation was allowed to occur in the equally devastating downturn of 1921, the economy recovered within less than a year.

The president also tells us that Senators McCain and Obama will join him at the White House today in order to figure out how to get the bipartisan bailout passed. The two senators would do their country much more good if they stayed on the campaign trail debating who the bigger celebrity is, or whatever it is that occupies their attention these days.

F.A. Hayek won the Nobel Prize for showing how central banks' manipulation of interest rates creates the boom-bust cycle with which we are sadly familiar. In 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, he described the foolish policies being pursued in his day - and which are being proposed, just as destructively, in our own:

Instead of furthering the inevitable liquidation of the maladjustments brought about by the boom during the last three years, all conceivable means have been used to prevent that readjustment from taking place; and one of these means, which has been repeatedly tried though without success, from the earliest to the most recent stages of depression, has been this deliberate policy of credit expansion.

To combat the depression by a forced credit expansion is to attempt to cure the evil by the very means which brought it about; because we are suffering from a misdirection of production, we want to create further misdirection - a procedure that can only lead to a much more severe crisis as soon as the credit expansion comes to an end... It is probably to this experiment, together with the attempts to prevent liquidation once the crisis had come, that we owe the exceptional severity and duration of the depression.

The only thing we learn from history, I am afraid, is that we do not learn from history.

The very people who have spent the past several years assuring us that the economy is fundamentally sound, and who themselves foolishly cheered the extension of all these novel kinds of mortgages, are the ones who now claim to be the experts who will restore prosperity! Just how spectacularly wrong, how utterly without a clue, does someone have to be before his expert status is called into question?

Oh, and did you notice that the bailout is now being called a "rescue plan"? I guess "bailout" wasn't sitting too well with the American people.

The very people who with somber faces tell us of their deep concern for the spread of democracy around the world are the ones most insistent on forcing a bill through Congress that the American people overwhelmingly oppose. The very fact that some of you seem to think you're supposed to have a voice in all this actually seems to annoy them.

I continue to urge you to contact your representatives and give them a piece of your mind. I myself am doing everything I can to promote the correct point of view on the crisis. Be sure also to educate yourselves on these subjects - the Campaign for Liberty blog is an excellent place to start. Read the posts, ask questions in the comment section, and learn.

H.G. Wells once said that civilization was in a race between education and catastrophe. Let us learn the truth and spread it as far and wide as our circumstances allow. For the truth is the greatest weapon we have.

In liberty,

Ron Paul

Crime Free AZ: Slumlords

Friday, September 26, 2008

Good post on Liberty's Apothecary regarding prosecutors endorsing Tim Nelson for County Attorney

Hat tip to our friends at Liberty's Apothecary for pointing out that Nelson's so-called prosecutor support is coming from a few elected or appointed liberal desk prosecutors who oppose prosecuting illegal immigration.

Video: Why Alice Lara is running for Healthcare District Board

Don't forget to attend Alice's fundraiser tonight from 4-6pm.

Launch in external player

John Shadegg for Congress fundraiser next Saturday

click to enlarge

County Attorney Thomas Trumps Opponent Endorsements w/Major Police/Dem/Arpaio Endorsements

Frontline Crime Fighters, Democrats and Independents Show Support For County Attorney Thomas
Fraternal Order of Police, Border Patrol Agents, Sheriff Arpaio, Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, Former Democrat AG Nominee All Back Thomas

As crime and illegal immigration have decreased in Maricopa County, endorsements from Arizona’s leading law enforcement associations have come in for County Attorney Andrew Thomas. Leading Democrats and Independents involved in the fight against crime also have endorsed Thomas for reelection.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the National Border Patrol Council, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) have all announced their endorsement of Thomas.
“I’m very grateful for these endorsements from fellow leaders in the fight against crime,” Thomas said. “Law enforcement professionals know that as long as I’m county attorney, our office will continue to seek tough sentences for criminals and to fully enforce our immigration laws.”
Also announced today was the endorsement of several prominent Democrats and Independents, including Georgia Staton, Democratic nominee for Attorney General in 1990 and County Attorney in 1988; Jerry and Donna Neill, co-founders of the anti-crime community organization NAILEM; and Linda Kleiner, founder of Together Against Graffiti (TAG).
Thomas added, “I’m gratified that leaders from across the political spectrum recognize my commitment to protecting our neighborhoods. We need to continue to build on the progress we’ve made in reducing both crime and illegal immigration.”
"On behalf of 3,000 Border Patrol agents in the state of Arizona, I am honored and proud to endorse your candidacy for Maricopa County Attorney,” Edward Tuffly II, the president of Local 2544, National Border Patrol Council, told Thomas recently. “You have consistently fought against the vocal special interest groups who have attempted to undermine your aggressive stances on crime and illegal immigration. We believe that under your leadership, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office has become a model organization."
Staton stated, “Andy is a rare public official. He actually keeps his promises. He said he was going to be tough on criminals and he has kept his word. I urge all who believe in law and order to support his re-election.”
“Partners in police work are essential in providing safe and effective police protection in our communities. County Attorney Andrew Thomas has proven to be a consistent, credible, and creative police partner in protecting Maricopa County residents and the citizens of Phoenix. Mr. Thomas’ commitment to the rule of law is clearly seen in his tough stance in holding criminals accountable. We believe that continued support for Andy Thomas is continued support for front-line police officers and investigators,” said Mark Spencer, president of PLEA.
PLEA represents over 2500 rank-and-file Phoenix Police Officers and Detectives.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

CAP: Don't Miss David Barton this Saturday

Standing for Truth
Featuring David Barton
What the mainstream media won't tell you about America's history and your ability to influence its future.
Saturday, September 27
8:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Bethany Bible Church
6060 N 7th Avenue, Phoenix
Learn to influence the policies under which we live. Help shape our state's and nation's future!
Tickets as low as $15!
Walk-Up Registration Begins at 8:00 a.m.
Personal Faith, Public Policy - Issues facing Christians
Accident or Intention? - Christianity's role in America's founding
Why and How - Standing for one man-one woman marriage
Christianity's Role in the public square
Making a difference in Arizona
David Barton - WallBuilders President
Tony Perkins - Family Research Council President
Jordan Lorence - Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) Senior Counsel
Alan Sears - Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) President
Cathi Herrod -The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) President

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Goldwater Institute: AHCCCS Director misleads public on Prop 101

by Clint Bolick

A nearly perfect gauge of the wisdom and importance of a policy proposal is how loudly special-interest groups howl in opposition. By that measure, Proposition 101-the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act-must be a great idea.

The initiative would amend the state constitution--not to change anything about Arizona's present health-care system--but to protect against future schemes that would restrict individuals' "freedom of choice of private health care systems or private plans of any type," the "right to pay directly for lawful medical services," or freedom to participate or not participate in health insurance programs. Essentially it would codify the choices we can exercise today.

Central in the opposition's campaign is the state's Medicaid program, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). A memorandum by AHCCCS director Anthony D. Rodgers-listing Governor Janet Napolitano's name on the letterhead-parades a series of what I call the "mighty mights": terrible things the initiative might do to AHCCCS. Similar legal "analyses" are being widely circulated, and enormous pressure is being placed on private health insurance companies that participate in AHCCCS to fund opposition to the initiative.

The claims are based on a tortured interpretation of the proposal's language. But when Arizona courts interpret initiatives, they do not indulge flights of fancy; rather, they attempt in good faith to apply the framers' intent. That intent is unambiguous: as the initiative's own website proclaims, "The Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act will not in any way impact the funding of, or functioning of AHCCCS."

What AHCCCS should be worried about is the state's legal ban on using taxpayer money to influence voters. We sent AHCCCS a public records request regarding the preparation and distribution of its "unintended consequences" memorandum. If the agency is engaged in electioneering, the consequences will be anything but unintended.

Clint Bolick is the director of the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.

Learn More:

Goldwater Institute: Response to Andy Gordon's Memorandum Regarding the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act

Secretary of State: Prop 101

Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act: Yes on 101

The Daily Dispatch: New ballot measure could wipe out AHCCCS, chief says

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Maricopa County Attorney says he’s set a national standard for law enforcement

Good interview in the Capitol Times. Some excerpts -

We’ve set a national standard for fighting violent criminals, career criminals and sex offenders. Maricopa County leads the nation in setting up innovative and successful strategies for fighting illegal immigration.

Yes, the cost of outside counsel has gone up, but we also happen to be winning for a change. You get what you pay for. You hire good lawyers, you take plaintiffs’ lawyers to court and you beat them.

Costs will go up in the short-run, but in the long-run, as insurance companies have learned, they go down because you send a deterrent message to the plaintiffs’ bar that you are not just going to roll over when somebody files a lawsuit against you.

The Sheriff’s Office has won 11 cases in a row. That’s a phenomenal record. I’ve done my best to hire the best attorneys and given them the marching orders to fight frivolous claims and beating plaintiffs’ lawyers in court. Those folks do not like me very much because I am denying them money.

We had a 16-percent drop in the violent-crime rate last year in the county. I don’t take all the credit for that, but I don’t think that is a coincidence.

Plea bargaining now takes place on the lower level of the office and goes up to the division-chief level, and I don’t get calls unless it is a major case. I don’t take calls from well-connected lawyers or people who have given me money or judges so I can curry favor with them.

Why would we want to go back to the system in which everything is negotiable and the county attorney is personally involved in cutting deals? It’s a terrible idea.

County Attorney: Record Number of Career Criminals Sent to Prison

Crime Rate Falls as More Criminals Are Locked Up

As the County Attorney’s Office sets records for the number of repeat offenders sent to prison, County Attorney Andrew Thomas notes that the crime rate in Maricopa County is falling—and it’s not a coincidence.

The office’s newly formed Repeat Offender Bureau has achieved staggering figures. According to
statistics compiled by Phoenix Police Department’s Repeat Offender newsletter, 108 Career criminals were sentenced to a total of more than 854 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections from mid-June through the end of August.

The Repeat Offender Bureau has been in operation since June 16, 2008. Previously one bureau handled both gangs and repeat offenders. The increased numbers of cases coming from law enforcement prompted the expansion.

More Time, Less Crime: A Graph that Speaks for Itself:
Sources: FBI Uniform Crime Report/US Census/County Attorney Database

The Repeat Offender Program is based on a Rand Corporation Study that finds that 20% of the criminals commit 80% of the crimes. Police agencies submit cases against defendants and work directly with prosecutors in the Repeat Offender Bureau to target repeat offenders for lengthy prison sentences. Tough repeat-offender policies imposed by Thomas ensure that all second-time felons go to prison. Previously, the County Attorney’s Office had allowed the courts to determine whether they received prison time.

Many repeat offenders also face the office’s “plead-to-the-lead” policy, which requires defendants to plead to the most serious charge or take their chances at trial. Other policies ensure defendants cannot simply receive probation instead of being locked up, or require especially long prison sentences for certain career criminals.

As a result of these policies, the number of convicted criminals sent to the Department of Corrections from Maricopa County has increased by 29% from 2004 to 2007. Many are repeat offenders. At the same time, the crime rate in Maricopa County continues to decline despite a rising county population. Overall crime rates in the Valley’s metropolitan areas are down 12.5% since 2004, despite a 6% increase in the overall population. In 2004, 6150.2 crimes were committed per 100,000 people. In 2007, that number fell to 5377.4.

County Attorney Thomas stated, “The crackdown on repeat offenders has worked because of the dedicated men and women in law enforcement and the dedicated prosecutors in our Repeat Offender Bureau. These combined efforts take career criminals off the streets, making neighborhoods safer.”

Number of convicted criminals prosecuted by Maricopa County Attorney’s Office sent to ADOC
2004-- 6,943
2005 --7,221
2006-- 7,146
2007-- 8,974

Source: County Attorney Database
In addition, between 2005 and 2007 14,211 convicted criminals received jail time.

Thomas added that he has enforced his repeat-offender program despite protests from Governor Janet Napolitano and the Arizona Department of Corrections, which objected to the cost of incarcerating these inmates in the state prison system. The downturn in crime rates, Thomas said, vindicates his hard-line approach to crime control.

Joining Mr. Thomas at today’s news conference were :

• Donna Neill, founder and director of NAILEM, a community safety and education group that was
formed in 1996 which now has 45 thousand members
• Tony Piraino, founder and director of Northwest Block Watch Coalition, a crime prevention group that formed in 1992 to assist neighborhoods in creating block watches and educating
neighborhoods about public safety and graffiti
• Linda Kleiner, founder and director of Together Against Graffiti, a two thousand member
community group formed in 2005 to combat graffiti and the problems associated with it
• Ann Malone, founder and director of Require the Prior, a crime prevention group formed in 2007 to shore up crime prevention in the Indian School corridor and city wide/179 businesses and 45 hundred households are members

For more information contact:
Mike Anthony Scerbo, Public Information Officer
(602) 506-3170 (office) or (602) 489-6913 (cell)

ADF: Spotlight on the Pulpit

On Sunday, select pastors from across the country will boldly speak from their pulpits.
Learn more.

Many of you are hearing about an Initiative we're undertaking here at the Alliance Defense Fund, starting with an event this Sunday, September 28, called Pulpit Freedom Sunday. We are excited about this opportunity that will, God-willing, give us the opportunity to fully restore First Amendment rights to our nation's spiritual leaders.

It's not hard to hear about it. This Initiative's been covered in hundreds of daily newspapers including, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and highlighted on national and local television news programs. The extensive media coverage brings the benefit of sharing our cause, at the risk of creating confusion.

Curious about why we're doing this? Click here to learn more and hear from ADF ministry friends who support this cause.
Marriage on Appeal - September 23, 2008
The Alliance Defense Fund is leading the charge in this country, when it comes to upholding marriage as the union God intended – exclusively between one man and one woman. Voters in three states — Arizona, California, and Florida — will have the opportunity to vote on marriage amendments in November, and ADF and its allies have played an important legal role in ensuring that voters in those states have the opportunity to express their will on same-sex "marriage." New York, however, is proving to be just as active a battleground, even though the issue is not on the ballot there and its courts have continually rejected legal attempts to fabricate same-sex "marriage."

Questionable Classifieds - September 16, 2008

Pulpit Freedom - September 9, 2008

Goldwater Institute: Sunrise review for property restrictions would fill in Prop 207 gaps

by Nick Dranias

The City of Scottsdale wants to pass a new zoning law that prohibits check-cashing stores from being located near each other or near "sensitive uses." But this is not just a minor zoning issue. It is most fundamentally a deprivation of property rights-and an illustration of why the fight for property rights in Arizona did not end with the passage of Proposition 207 in 2006.

Proposition 207 requires governments to compensate property owners if a regulation reduces the value of their property. But very little legal protection exists against regulations that nibble away at the number of legal ways owners can use their property, without an immediate or quantifiable impact on land value. Seemingly innocuous land use restrictions are free to multiply, eventually having a significant cumulative impact on land values.

Property rights in Arizona still run the risk of "death by a thousand cuts." The bleeding can only be stopped by demanding rigor in the creation of property regulations. Advocates of regulation at every level of government should be required to marshal evidence demonstrating that public health, safety, or welfare will be protected by any new land use regulation they propose. This is even more important when they target legal, but politically disfavored, businesses.

Requiring this kind of scrutiny before a law is passed is often referred to as a "sunrise review" provision. No restriction or deprivation of peaceful property uses should be enforceable absent a sunrise review.

Learn more:

Secretary of State: Prop 207

East Valley Tribune: Council should hold off on payday loan store quest

AZ Right to Life: Prolife leader training seminar, 40 Days for Life, & volunteers needed

Arizona Right to Life
3700 North 24th Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85016

Dear Friends of Life,

This fall offers all of us unprecedented opportunities to devoting ourselves to the care and protection of innocent human life. Here are three ways that you can become involved in the coming weeks:

1. Learn: Are you tired of conversations about abortion that turn into pointless shouting matches? Do you want to move beyond hurt feelings and learn how to compassionately defend the pro-life viewpoint when talking to friends, family, and co-workers? Then join us at the ASU Newman Center where we will be presenting our Pro-life Leader Training Seminar on Saturday September 27th from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Through moving video presentations, expert testimonies, and dynamic role-play exercises, you will learn how to confidently defend your pro-life beliefs. Don't miss an opportunity to learn how in a loving, Christ-like way you can witness the sanctity of innocent human life to others and take practical steps to defend life in your own community. There is a $10 registration fee, which includes the price of lunch and a 90-page pro-life leader workbook for you to take home. For more information about the September 27th pro-life leader seminar at the ASU Newman Center please email azrtl@azrtl.org or call our office at 602-285-0063.

2. Pray: 40 DAYS FOR LIFE BEGINS TOMMOROW! So sign up for one of Arizona's 40 Days for Life campaigns and join in solidarity with over 170 other cities to end abortion in America. 40 Days for Life is a community-based campaign that draws attention to the evil of abortion through the use of a three-point program:

* Prayer and fasting
* Constant vigil
* Community outreach

40 Days for Life takes a determined, peaceful approach to showing local communities the consequences of abortion in their own neighborhoods, for their own friends and families. It puts into action a desire to cooperate with God in the carrying out of His plan for the end of abortion in America.

If you want to take part please email:

Phoenix - 4417 N 7th Ave: Email Beth Straley at bethvs-40daysforlife@cox.net or call 602-814-0741; or email Kelly Townsend at ChristianChildbirth@yahoo.com or call 480-295-9438

Tempe - 1250 E Apache Blvd: Email Mary Piorkowski, mp40days4life@earthlink.net or call 602-299-3866; or email Debbi Gambert at deb_40daysforlife@earthlink.net or call 480-705-0323

Glendale - 8822 N 43rd Ave: Email Curt Gustafson at curtg123@yahoo.com or call 623-329-7244

Tucson - Contact Sunny Turner at 520-908-9765 or Ann Downey at aedowney@earthlink.net

Flagstaff - Contact Mary Waechtler through email at mrwaechter@gmail.com

3. Act:
Arizona Right to Life is very thankful for those who have already committed to volunteering for us at our pro-life booth at the State Fair. This event, which runs from October 10th - November 2nd, requires 150 friendly volunteers who are willing to pass out literature and courteously engage fair visitors in conversation about respect for human life.
However, we still need 90 volunteers to complete this event so if you want to make a difference in someone's life, or save an unborn child's life (as has happened at previous fairs) then please email us at azrtl@azrtl.org or or call our office at 602-285-0063.

Finally, the registration deadline for the November 4th general election is October 6th so be sure you, your family, and your friends are registered to vote! You can register online at: http://www.azsos.gov/election/voterregistration.htm

Thank you for your commitment to the worthy cause of defending the weak, the voiceless, and the oppressed. Arizona Right to Life will continue to keep you informed of the different ways you can take part in rebuilding a culture that protects innocent human life and respects human dignity, before and after birth.

For more information please visit the: