Saturday, April 24, 2010

Actions Have Consequences

A partial listing of Arizona based companies:

Best Western HQ Phoenix

CSK Auto HQ Phoenix
  • Shucks Auto Supply
  • Checker Auto Parts
  • Kragen Auto Parts
  • Murray’s Discount Auto Stores

Cold Stone Creamery HQ Scottsdale

Dial Corporation (soap) Headquarters Scottsdale

Discount Tire Company. (America’s Tire Company) HQ Scottsdale

Fender Musical Instruments HQ Scottsdale AZ

Giant Industries HQ Scottsdale (gas stations in NM, CO, AZ)

Go Daddy HQ Scottsdale

Harkins Theaters HQ Scottsdale

KPX (Tractors, backhoes, wood chippers) HQ Phoenix AZ

Kroger HQ Tolleson

  • Fry’s Food And Drug Stores
  • Smiths Food and Drug
  • Fry’s Mercado
  • Not connected to Fry's Electronics

Mesa Air Group HQ Phoenix

  • Mesa Airlines
  • Go!
  • Freedom Airlines

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro HQ Phoenix

Pet Smart HQ Phoenix

Ping Golf HQ Phoenix

Poore Brothers (potato chips) HQ Goodyear AZ

  • Boulder Canyon
  • Crunch Toons
  • Tato Skins
  • Bob’s Texas Style
  • T.G.I. Friday’s potato chips
  • Burger King onion rings
  • Cinnabon Cookies

Shamrock Foods/Farms (multiple brands) HQ Phoenix

Taco Time Restaurants (Kahala Corp) HQ Scottsdale

U-Haul. HQ Phoenix

US Airways. HQ Tempe

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Radical Republicans

Republican leaders this week in New Orleans continue to describe Obama and the Democrats in inflammatory hyperbole. Having lost repeatedly on the issues they have regressed to name calling, a tactic enthusiastically received by the activists driving their agenda. Since the party has abandoned the center and is courting the extreme right wing, even fellow Republicans look like radical socialists. Here are some examples of Republican policies and programs to which today’s Republicans would say “Hell, No!”

Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty Richard Nixon 1972: Recognizing that such systems decrease stability and security, Nixon negotiated the treaty that banned general deployment and all testing of defensive systems against ICBMs. In his first term he lobbied Congress for funds to develop an ABM system, but it was only a ploy to bring the Soviets to the table.

Proposed giving Soviets US military technology, Reagan 1982: To advance his goal of anti-missile defenses, which violated the ABM treaty, he argued that creating an effective shield for all nations would make the world safer. Therefore, he argued, sharing anti-missile technology with the Soviets, as compensation for abrogating the ABM treaty, would create a word wide shield that would make ICBMs obsolete.

Created Environmental Protection Agency by executive order, Richard Nixon 1970: Prior to the establishment of the EPA, the federal government had no comprehensive structure to regulate the pollutants which harm human health and degrade the environment. The EPA was assigned the task of repairing the damage already done to the natural environment and to establish new criteria to guide Americans in making a cleaner, safer America.

Strategic Arms Reduction Talks, Ronald Reagan 1981: Reagan often talked of his desire to eliminate all nuclear weapons. The US had over 6000 nuclear bombs and warheads, and the Soviets had a similar amount. That’s far more then would ever be needed under any imaginable scenario. Reagan continued the process of negotiating weapons reductions started by Nixon (SALT talks)

Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, GW Bush 1991: Removed 80% of strategic nuclear weapons then deployed. Among the provisions was the chopping up of 365 B52 bombers and leaving the hulks in the desert for Soviet satellites to verify.

Savings and Loan bailouts, GHW Bush 1989: Spent $124 billion bailing out failed S&Ls without raising taxes or cutting other programs to pay for it. Despite campaigning for reducing bureaucracy, Bush created a new federal bureaucracy to regulate S&Ls..

Nominated the most liberal supreme court judge (Stevens), Gerald Ford 1975: Of course, Stevens was considered a moderate on that court. The court has now shifted so far to the right of Stevens that he has openly expressed his astonishment at their decisions and written scathing dissents.

Nominated the most activist justice on the Supreme Court, GW Bush 1991: Clarence Thomas voted to override the clause in the Constitution that gives states exclusive right to conduct Presidential elections. He was the only justice who agreed with the Fourth Circuit that Congress had power to authorize the President's detention of US citizens who are enemy combatants.

All these Republican presidents sought the office because they wanted to serve their country. Once they sat in the Oval Office they put their country ahead of their party’s ideology and pursued policies to make the country more secure and to improve the lives of all Americans. Obama has clearly done the same. His centrist policies have found critics on both ends of the political spectrum. Those who claim he is a radical socialist out to take away our liberties, confiscate our property, and sell us into slavery are either misinformed or cynically putting their own ambitions ahead of our country’s welfare.

A few other “radical” Republican ideas and programs: Nixon proposed universal health care and allowing people to buy into Medicare. Gingrich et al proposed universal health insurance coverage and limitations on exclusions to counter Clinton’s healthcare plan. Mitt Romney implemented universal health care in Massachusetts. While GHW Bush was setting new records for annual deficits, every Republican, led by Newt Gingrich, voted against the Debt Reduction Act of 1993 (which eventually produced the budget surplus GW Bush gave away). Reagan and Bush reduced taxes, while increasing spending, thus doubling the annual deficit. And don’t forget Reagan granted amnesty to illegal aliens.

Calling the opposition "radicals" or "socialists" or "dictators", and using terms like "Armageddon" or "the end of democracy" is not a rational technique. It does not present any argument and seeks to denigrate the opposition while avoiding discussion of the real issues. It may "excite the base", but it does not appeal to the moderates and independents. It is time for all Americans to say, "Hell, No!" to such divisive rhetoric.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Be Careful What You Ask For

What do the census, medical marijuana, Obama’s presidential campaign, and Republican court challenges to improved health insurance have in common? They are all examples of the old adage “Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.

The constitution requires Congress to enumerate the population every 10 years in order to establish congressional districts. By 1880 the US population had grown so large that it took 7 years to complete the census. Realizing that the 1890 census might not be completed before 1900, the Census Department invested in technology to speed the “enumeration”, which lead directly to the punched card reader, mechanical tabulation machines, and, eventually, computers. By the 1980’s another problem arose. It was clear that the census was missing a large number of citizens, particularly minorities in the inner cities. This meant that the cities were losing representation and dollars for Federal programs. By then reliable statistical techniques had been developed that would enable the census to get as accurate a count as they desired without actually counting every person. Hopwever, Republicans strongly opposed every effort to use statistical techniques, insisting that the wording in the constitution meant that only people actually counted could be included in the census. They made Obama’s nominee for the head of the Census Bureau promise not to use statistical techniques in 2010.

Fast forward to 2010. A large, emotion based, reactionary movement within the Republican ranks are resisting returning census forms. Return rates in Texas, for example, are running about 30% below the national average. If this trend continues Republicans could actually lose congressional representation. The undercount could easily be modeled and corrected statistically, but the Republicans have ruled out such techniques. Be careful what you ask for.

The Democrats fielded two strong candidates for the presidential nomination in 2008. It was a long and hard fought campaign that wasn’t settled until just before the convention. Many expected the financial strain and factional divisions of this hard fought battle to weaken the winner and divide the party, making it easier for Republicans to win in November. Some pundits on the right suggested people should change registration to vote in the Democratic primaries in order to extend the fight and weaken the party.

Obama understood that the Democrats failed to win in 2004 because they blamed their loss in 2000 on Republican tricks rather than understanding their own failures and mistakes. Therefore his campaign focused on honest analysis of their failures in order to correct their mistakes. For example, the Obama campaign thought they had an excellent get-out-the-vote plan for the NY primary, but Clinton won. Analysis showed that too many Obama supporters had not made it to the polls. This lead to improved methods for getting voters to the polls. In many such ways the long primary struggle actually strengthened Obama’s campaign. In November he received a record number of votes and won by the widest margin in decades. Be careful what you ask for.

In 1996 California legalized medical marijuana. Several other states followed. The Bush administration, despite its alleged concern for state’s rights, refused to acknowledge the right of states to set their own standards for medical care. They prosecuted individuals for medical marijuana use and successfully defended their policy in the Supreme Court (Gonzales v. Raich et al). The majority of the court, all Republican nominated judges, ruled “The Supremacy Clause unambiguously provides that if there is any conflict between federal and state law, federal law shall prevail…[N]o form of state activity can constitutionally thwart the regulatory power granted by the commerce clause to Congress.” The court held that this applies even if Congress is factually wrong about the classification of marijuana.

In 2010 Democrats passed sweeping reforms to improve health insurance coverage. The Republicans had stated that defeating this reform would be “Obama’s Waterloo” and made a pitched battle to derail this initiative, rather than guide and improve it, because defeating Obama, rather than governing, was their primary focus. Despite their effort the initiative received 60 votes in the Senate to end debate and was passed by a majority in both chambers in accordance with all rules and laws. Due to strong resistance from the right a single payer insurance system was never included in any of the proposals. Instead of imposing a universal system paid through payroll deductions Congress mandated Americans choose a private insurance plan.

The Republicans immediately initiated legal challenges alleging that the bill violates the commerce clause of the constitution. As we have seen, the Republican packed Court has already strongly upheld the right of congress to regulate commerce. The Republicans argue that by imposing penalties on individuals for not purchasing insurance this act exceeds the authority the court has allowed. If this argument prevails, then Congress could simply pass a single payer plan much like mandatory Social Security, which has already passed court challenges. Be careful what you ask for.