Arizona voters reject bill that would solidify two-party system

landscapeArizona residents gave third parties some good news last November as state residents rejected Proposition 121 that would have excluded any third party from the general election in the state of Arizona, a result that the Libertarian party says is proof that informed voters are generally supportive of challengers to the status quo.

From the Chairman of the Arizona Libertarian party, Warren Severin:

“It started as an uphill fight and it stayed that way, all the way. And, we won!” Severin said.

“Mid-summer of 2011, an ex-mayor of Phoenix decided that what was good for California surely must be good for Arizona. So, he began a ballot initiative to amend the Arizona Constitution to replace much of Arizona’s election code (‘Title 16’) with a top-two system. Unlike a legislative change, a constitutional amendment is the way to get something implemented so that it isn’t easily reversed a few years down the road, when folks figure out it was a bad idea. And, a ballot initiative is a sneaky way to implement a Constitutional amendment. Instead of requiring a two-thirds majority to pass in the legislature, it takes a mere 50 percent of voters at the polls.

“There was serious money, by Arizona standards, behind the duplicitously named ‘Open Government Committee’ and their Proposition 121. Overall the committee spent over $1.3 million to get the measure on the ballot and publicize it.

“Arizona’s major media outlets, including the Arizona Republic, lined up behind Prop 121, running favorable editorials and letters to the editor throughout the campaign.

“The pro publicity was extremely effective. In November 2011, one year before the election, Arizona State University Morrison Institute for Public Policy conducted a poll to gauge the support for such an initiative. The poll showed that voters who had an opinion were 2:1 in favor of the initiative.

“Opposition to Prop 121 started with a heads-up email from then-LNC chair Mark Hinkle to me, the Arizona state chair, noting that a top-two ballot proposition had been filed with the Arizona secretary of state the day before. Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News, quickly made contact with the Arizona LP (AZLP) to offer his help. A joint meeting of the AZLP and Arizona Green Party (AZGP) boards was quickly convened in my living room. Richard Winger flew in for the meeting. At that meeting, it was agreed that AZLP and AZGP would join forces in opposition to the proposition. While we would not speak for each other, we would at every opportunity reinforce our joint opposition, and we would collaborate on opportunities to do so. We very quickly found another ally, the League of Women Voters of Arizona.

“There was tight communication between these groups for the duration of the fight. All opportunities for speaking and written opposition were quickly communicated among us. We all took every opportunity, whether online or in the printed press or public speaking. Winger provided documentation and historical context. Before long, the press took note that there was tightly knit opposition. In Arizona, the secretary of state publishes a booklet of pro and con statements about the various resolutions, mailed to every voter. The AZLP alone was responsible for three separate statements in that booklet.

“Reinforcements began to arrive. Meetings with local Tea Parties were fruitful. Mark Rogalski, a local activist lawyer, joined the team. Mark successfully petitioned the secretary of state to have the wording of Prop 121 on the ballot and in the voter guide changed to something fair to both the proponents and opponents.

“This was critical to informing voters of what they were voting for. Wording that favored proponents in the California and Washington ballot initiatives may be the biggest reason they passed in those states.

“Americans for Responsible Leadership, a group of conservative Arizona business leaders, formed a group called Save Our Vote Arizona. This group and Michael Liburdi provided legal counsel during the summer. Court challenges were launched on two fronts — the constitutionality of the proposition in regard to Arizona’s ‘single subject’ rule for ballot propositions as well as the legitimacy of the signatures on the petitions. Although both actions failed, they raised public awareness.

“Local Ron Paul supporters began to see the detrimental effects that Prop 121 would have on the broader Freedom Movement and took up the fight against top-two.

“Christina Tobin and her Free and Equal Elections Foundation were valuable. Christina herself made a tour through Arizona in opposition to Prop 121, speaking at the Goldwater Institute and a host of other venues all across the state.

“By late summer unofficial polls rumored that Prop 121 might be in trouble. Then, the icing on the cake — in October, Save Our Vote Arizona put $400,000 into a final anti–Prop 121 mail advertising campaign.

“On election day, the results were profound. The proposition that had started a year earlier with 2:1 voter approval lost by a 2:1 margin, despite the fact that the proponents outspent the opposition by 3:1. We all pulled together with good communication and cooperation, and the electoral process performed as it should. Sometimes I think the system might just work.”

No need to apologize, Phil; taxes plague us all

phil-mickelson-298x300Professional PGA golfer Phil Michelson released a statement apologizing to his fans and those who felt insulted after the left-handed golfer said that due to extremely high state taxes in California, some “drastic changes” are looming in the near future, including a possible move out of the state.

“Finances and taxes are a personal matter, and I should not have made my opinions on them public,” Mickelson said in a statement. “I apologize to those I have upset or insulted, and assure you I intend not to let it happen again.”

A couple weeks ago, Mickelson had broached the subject of politics during a Pebble Beach Pro-Am conference call.  After his final round last Sunday, Mickelson was asked to elaborate on what he meant by his comments.  “There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state, and it doesn’t work for me right now,” he said. “So I’m going to have to make some changes.”

Is there anyone out there who would honestly feel insulted by another person expressing discontentment with having to pay more than 60% of his or her income to the state?  Our tax system is a disgraceful mess and  incomprehensible by the majority of Americans.  As a taxpayer, I would be more insulted if nobody found fault with our clearly lopsided progressive system of taxation.

The public was both supportive and critical of Mickelson’s comments.  Some mocked the golfer, who pulled in close to $45 million last  year, for complaining about taxes while making so much money.  But Mickelson has no reason to apologize for “insulting” anybody.  While talk of politics is probably not the best course of action for any public sports figure, milking the rich out of their money has no place in a free society and it is perfectly natural for people to protect their earnings.  If Mickelson does end up moving, it once again proves a point that we’ve made plenty throughout SmallGovTimes.com – that if you milk the rich, you lose the rich.  And what state doesn’t want their tax revenue, or in the case of business owners, their jobs?

Rich Perry has already invited Mickelson to move to Texas, which has no state income taxes.  Many golfers live in Texas or Florida because neither state collects income tax.  Tiger Woods admitted to moving to Florida for precisely that reason back in the middle 90s.  Mickelson, a native of San Diego, lived in Scottsdale, AZ for several years before moving back to California.  California residents are the highest taxed in the nation.

Actress wants to ban all “semi-automatic” guns

After another school shooting in the Lone Star State that left three people injured and both suspected shooters in custody, actress and so-called human rights activist Mia Farrow called on Congress to take decisive action and ban all semi-automatic guns.

“That gun-shooting is ‘fun’ doesn’t cut it anymore. And delusional paranoia is not a justifiable reason to keep weapons. Ban semi-auto guns,” wrote Farrow in a series of Twitter posts.  American’s second amendment rights, she also believes, must be adjusted.

Little does Farrow probably know, but semi-automatic guns cover just about every gun short of hunting rifles.  A simple revolver, for instance, is semi-automatic.

As shootings continue to get play in the media, some in Hollywood apparently hold the belief that Americans should only be allowed to own guns that were available in their very own western movies.  To them, no American needs a gun that reloads by itself.  If only killers had to cock their weapon manually between each shot, the mentality of today’s psychopathic killers would suddenly change.

At least Farrow acknowledges the fact that the second amendment exists.

But to believe banning a large majority of the weapons available today to be a solution is mind-numbingly silly.  Even if we were to pretend that the second amendment did not exist, such a wide ranging, sweeping ban of firearms would be met with a sophisticated underground network of gun distribution.  Then, tracking and controlling guns becomes infinitely more difficult.  Our problems only get worse.

Blue Monday for a reason: Obama sworn in for second term

130120124035-07-inauguration-0120-horizontal-large-galleryThe third Monday of January is often labeled “Blue Monday” to supposedly denote the most depressing day of the year.  Although widely considered to be pseudoscience, Barack Obama’s inauguration to officially begin his second term as president might just give the phrase a new truthful meaning.

Why so depressing?  Barack Obama’s average job approval rating during his first term as president was 49% according to Gallupamong the worst of any post-World War II president.  Only Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford saw lower approval ratings through their first terms in office.

During Obama’s first term, the national debt increased by nearly $6 trillion dollars, or $50,521 per American household according to numbers published by the Census Bureau.  This number exceeds the combined debt increases from George Washington through Bill Clinton.  Today, the national debt sits at $16.4 trillion.

During Obama’s first term, food stamp recipients skyrocketed nearly $16 million, bringing the number of Americans who receive food stamps up to more than 47.5 million.  According to the Department of Agriculture, that amounts to an additional 11,133 participants everyday.

During Obama’s first term, the number of Americans receiving disability insurance increased nearly 1.4 million, bringing the total up to 8,827,795.  Today, one out of every 13 people working full-time is on disability and receiving taxpayer funded government checks.

Unemployment went nowhere during Obama’s first term – percentage-wise, it’s exactly the same (7.9%).  654 new bills were signed into law.  The president spent 72 days at Camp David, went golfing 113 times and addressed the nation on 8 different occasions.  The president made 22 pardons, visited 44 states and held 58 town hall meetings.

As Obamacare slowly becomes enforced during Obama’s second term, taxes for nearly all productive Americans will increase.  January 1st of 2013 ushered in the first set of increases, mainly for more wealthy Americans and the healthcare industry in general (read: increasing the cost of healthcare for everybody).  New taxes on medical devices and the elimination of several health-related deductions will hit companies beginning this year.

The maximum income tax rate is set to go up on Americans, bringing the new percentage to 39.6% (up from 35% in 2012).  Capital gains tax rates will increase from 15% to 20% along with a new Medicare wage tax of 0.9%.  A slew of other tax increases will hit all Americans during Obama’s second term, such as the payroll tax, gift tax, estate tax and GST (Generation-skipping Transfer) tax.

There is good reason to be blue.

Libertarian round-up: party expands, candidates set to increase

1000px-Libertarian_Party.svg_Over the last week (and a couple days), the Libertarian party has seen encouraging news that party members have not given up the goal of unseating the two-party system.  In fact, numbers show significant grow in party members and potential political candidates.

Libertarian Adrian Wyllie to run for Florida Governor

As reported earlier, Chairman of the Florida Libertarian party officially announced his bid to unseat current Governor Rick Scott in the state of Florida.  Wyllie promises his campaign will focus on issues of individual liberty and freedom from government control and intrusive state policies that infringe on state resident’s constitutional rights.  “We’ve tried Coke. We’ve tried Pepsi.  It’s time for some pure spring water called liberty.  That’s what I’m offering,” Wyllie said.

Libertarians gain official status in Pennsylvania

Although Libertarian Betsy Summers lost her bid to become the state’s auditor general, she – along with other Libertarian candidates – managed to pull in the required 2% of the vote in November to be officially recognized as a Pennsylvania state “minor” political party rather than simply a political” body” through the 2014 election cycle.

Libertarian party candidate requests expanding nationwide

Each year, the Libertarian party tracks the number of requests received from those who wish to run in local elections under the Libertarian party ticket.  Since the November elections, the party has received 370 requests, which amounts to more than twice the number received in 2008 and 2010, according to Libertarian Party Executive Director Carla Howell.  At this pace, the party may receive over 1,100 requests by year’s end.  “2012 was a great year for Libertarian Party candidates. And a great year for liberty,” remarked Howell.  The Libertarian party is preparing to double the number of party candidates by the 2014 elections.

Libertarians lead fight to ease gun restrictions in Kansas

Several cities in Kansas implemented more stringent gun control measures than those enforced by the state with severe “open carry” restrictions.  However, thanks to efforts lead by the Libertarian party within the state, cities have begun modifying their open carry laws so they fall in line with that of the state, which currently allows residents to carry openly.  The Libertarian party will begin discussions with three more cities next week and has filed a lawsuit against three other cities that have refused to modify their open carry laws.  “People are identifying the Libertarian Party as one of the authorities when it comes to Second Amendment issues in Kansas,” said Al Terwelp, Kansas Libertarian party chair.

Libertarian party started a petition to end dangerous “gun-free zones”

Available at libertarianpetition.com, the Libertarian party has started an online petition to elicit support to end all so-called gun-free zones in the United States, citing several examples of where gun crimes were halted due to law-abiding citizens who carry firearms.

Libertarian officially enters Florida Governor’s race

adrian-300x200Florida Libertarian Party Chairman Adrian Wyllie officially announced his bid to unseat current Florida Governor Rick Scott and challenge presumptive Democratic contender Charlie Crist last week in a campaign that the chairman promises will be focused on freedom, liberty and the Constitution.

“I promise that, if elected, I will defend all Floridians from any unconstitutional Congressional act, executive order or United Nations mandate,” said Wyllie.  Although he admits his candidacy is a long shot, Wyllie believes Floridians are growing tired of the two-party system and are looking for a change.

“Our debt is unsustainable, our currency is becoming worth less every day. The Tea Party says the government is to blame. The occupy movement says the bankers are to blame.”  Wyllie thinks they are both right.  “We’ve tried Coke. We’ve tried Pepsi.  It’s time for some pure spring water called liberty.  That’s what I’m offering.”

The 42-year-old Florida native was elected Chairman of the Florida Libertarian party in 2011 after serving as the media director in 2010 for Libertarian Senate candidate Alexander Snitker.  Wyllie and Snitker partnered in 2010 in the formation of the “1787 Network”, a radio program that airs on several AM radio stations in eight states, including Florida.

Wyllie is also well-known for encouraging Florida law enforcement to arrest any TSA agent that violates either the United States or Florida Constitutions in their screening of passengers in airports.

Visit Wyllie’s Facebook page to follow his candidacy.

D.C. prosecutor: Gun bans increase violence, create false security

Gun1Author and attorney Jeffrey Shapiro wrote an eye-opening piece in the Wall Street Journal this week about the effect that strict gun control legislation had on our nation’s capital.  Numbers clearly show an increase in gun violence when gun controls are in effect and a decrease when law-abiding citizens can protect themselves with firearms.

“As a former prosecutor in Washington, D.C., who enforced firearms and ammunition cases while a severe local gun ban was still in effect, I am skeptical of the benefits that many imagine will result from additional gun-control efforts.”

Although Shapiro admits to personally disliking guns, the city numbers do not lie, and they paint a picture that does not bode well for the nation as regulations on guns become more restrictive.

A 1976 law in Washington D.C. banned firearms from everyone except police officers.  This ban included residents of D.C. keeping firearms in their homes, although some were allowed to keep their firearms under the condition that they remain disassembled or trigger-locked.  According to the city, broken guns were sufficient for private, law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.

Over the years since the ban took effect, gun violence rose.  “It emboldened criminals because they knew that law-abiding District residents were unarmed and powerless to defend themselves. Violent crime increased after the law was enacted, with homicides rising to 369 in 1988, from 188 in 1976 when the ban started. By 1993, annual homicides had reached 454.”

Gun violence nearly tripled during the ban, and people’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms was clearly trampled on.  In 2007, a D.C. appeals court ruled  the ban unconstitutional and subsequently repealed the law, allowing people in D.C. to once again take advantage of their 2nd amendment right.  Gun violence decreased sharply since the law’s repeal.  In fact, less than 100 murders took place in the city in 2012, a far cry from the number of murders during the gun ban.

“The urge to drastically restrict firearms after mass murders like those at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month and in Aurora, Colo., in July, is understandable. In effect, many people would like to apply the District’s legal philosophy on firearms to the entire nation. Based on what happened in Washington, I think that would be a mistake. Any sense of safety and security would be a false one,” Shapiro wrote.