Category ►►► Politics - California
November 17, 2009
An Insidious "Loan"
Because it takes a two-thirds majority of the legislature to raise taxes in California, the lawmakers and the governor last summer came up with something called “an involuntary tax-free loan” from you and me to the State. That did not require a two-thirds majority.
All of us who get paychecks now find that our state withholding tax is ten percent higher than it was last month. That’s not enough to notice for most people, which is the first reason why it’s insidious. And of course, next year we “might” be able to get the money back when we file our state income tax returns.
This might also be called “theft,” except that the State has general police power; presumably, even if the state government decided to confiscate all of our money, it could still be called “an involuntary tax-free loan.” It’s not real theft unless the man with the gun says it is.
Reminds me of Alfonse Capone’s avuncular saying: “You can do more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word.” So how does Governor Arnold and his fellow Democrats in Sacramento differ from Scarface Al?
Earlier this year, some of us who had tax refunds coming from the State were issued state warrants, i.e. IOUs. Even when the State said that it was going to make good on the IOUs my bank refused to let me deposit the warrant. So I was forced to open an account in Escondido just to get my hands on a few hundred dollars of my money. Oh and to my bank: thanks!
Which brings up the second insidious thing about this “loan.” Many people who file next year may be paid with state warrants. Some of those will, because the amounts are so low, just say “to heck with it,” and not try to cash the darned things. (Kind of like when you get a rebate from AT&T and they require you to do so many things to claim it that statistically only half of the people will actually qualify.)
A hefty percentage of the state’s residents will just let the State keep the money. So the involuntary loan becomes an involuntary gift.
Merry Christmas, Arnold!
November 10, 2008
What on earth was California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger thinking? (Don't worry, I'll tell you.)
Understanding Arnold is not easy in the best of circumstances -- and I'm not even talking about that thick Teutonic accent that he practices into a tape recorder every night. He almost epitomizes the cult of macho, and he's very pro-business; but on the other hand, he's a typical handwringing Hollywood liberal on every soft-hearted, soft-headed social issue you can imagine.
On the specific issue we're on about today, same-sex marriage (SSM), he's been all over the map: He first said he was opposed to SSM but supported domestic partnerships; in fact, in 2005 he famously vetoed SSM legislation passed by the California legislature on the grounds that the people of the state had spoken in Proposition 22 five years earlier, and the will of the people was paramount:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today delivered on his promise to veto legislation that would have given same-sex partners the right to marry, but said he would not support any rollback of the state's current domestic partner benefits.
But today, after the people spoke yet again -- this time with a state constitutional amendment, Proposition 8 -- Schwarzenegger suddenly decided that the will of the people is not paramount -- not when it conflicts with the vision of the judicially anointed. He called upon the California Supreme Court to declare the constitutional amendment unconstitutional... which I think might be a first:
Reporting from Sacramento and Lake Forest -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sunday expressed hope that the California Supreme Court would overturn Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that outlawed same-sex marriage. He also predicted that the 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who have already wed would not see their marriages nullified by the initiative.
"It's unfortunate, obviously, but it's not the end," Schwarzenegger said in an interview Sunday on CNN. "I think that we will again maybe undo that, if the court is willing to do that, and then move forward from there and again lead in that area."
The theory, evidently, is that an amendment to the constitution is unconstitutional if it conflicts with any previously adopted section of the constitution... including whatever section it amends! If you follow this reasoning, it means that no constitution can ever be amended, except to add new rights that never previously existed. (For example, the Twenty-First Amendment is "unconstitutional" because it repeals the Eighteenth Amendment allowing the prohibition of alcohol.)
Schwarzenegger is very politically savvy; given that Proposition 8 passed handily, primarily due to the votes of Hispanics and blacks, isn't it a rather peculiar flip-flop for Schwarzenegger to undertake? What in the world is going on here?
All right, I said I would tell you what he's doing; here we go. There are a few California facts you must bear in mind:
- California has term limits for governor, and Arnold Schwarzenegger must leave office following the 2010 election. He still has aspirations for national elective office, however.
- At the same time, longtime Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA, 90%) has been dropping hints all over the place that she plans to run for governor in 2010, when she wouldn't have to face the Schwarzenegger juggernaut. (Her term doesn't expire until 2012, but as governor, she could appoint her successor -- as Gov. Pete Wilson did following the 1990 gubernatorial election.)
- Here's where it gets interesting... if Feinstein is vacating her seat to run for governor, and Schwarzenegger is vacating his seat because of term limits, then it makes perfect sense for each of them to grab for the other's seat. It's the best chance for both of them to strike for an open seat, rather than trying to knock off a longstanding and popular incumbent.
- But there's a problem: The Republican brand is at a pretty low ebb in California right now. And in any event, Feinstein is certainly not going to appoint a Republican to replace her.
So my prediction is this: Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to switch parties and then run for Dianne Feinstein's Senate seat in 2012; he might even lobby her to appoint him in her place, if he agrees to caucus with the Democrats for the first two years. Then he would endorse her and campaign for her as governor.
Even if she won't appoint him, he will still have a very good shot at winning in 2012, since whoever replaces her will not have the name-recognition and built-in base that Feinstein enjoys.
Now, it would be ludicrous for Schwarzenegger to switch from Republican to Democrat immediately after campaigning for the GOP nominee for president; so my prediction is actually that he will switch parties to independent after he leaves office, then run for the Senate two years later -- either as the incumbent, if Feinstein appoints him, or as the challenger of an unelected appointee.
Eventually however, probably after the 2012 election, I believe Schwarzenegger will caucus with the Republicans; he will become our Joe Lieberman.
The change in his stance on SSM, then, can be seen as an "olive branch" to the left-leaning independents and moderate Democrats in this state. He assumes he'll retain most of his Republican base anyway; after all, they know he's been a liberal Republican (on social issues) for a long time -- no surprise there.
So I predict that Arnold Schwarzenegger will switch to independent and run for Dianne Feinstein's Senate seat. Just remember, you read it here first!
October 27, 2008
Calling a log a wagon doesn’t provide it with wheels, and calling the union of two men or two women a “marriage” doesn’t make it in any real sense a marriage.
Words have meanings, and their meanings matter. One of the basic tenets of liberalism is that there are no absolutes, no black and white, everything is relative; so, in the liberal world, it’s OK for a man and a man to say they are “married,” even though the definition of marriage has never included that meaning.
Actually, the traditions of marriage, and even the continued practice of marriage in some Moslem nations, say that a man can have more than one wife, sometimes multiple wives. Are we prepared to allow that? Are we prepared to allow an adult to marry a child? What about a man or a woman marrying a dolphin or a dog?
To call this a “civil rights” issue is to cheapen and demean the civil rights struggles of the last century. You are violating someone’s civil right if you treat them differently than other people because of what he or she inherently is.
Gays can marry; they just can’t live together and call that marriage, any more than someone who has a bicycle license can use that license to drive a car.
Words have meanings. Marriage is a sacrament, but it also has a civil meaning. If words are to mean what they say, then we need to support Prop. 8 and overturn the California Supreme Court’s decision that itself overturned the overwhelming will of the people of this state.
October 26, 2008
Marriage - a Fundamental Liberty?
In short, no, it isn't... and I don't care what the Supreme Court (U.S. or California) says: Any claim that marriage is a fundamental right or liberty contradicts itself. For the most obvious examples, if it were a fundamental right, then how could it be illegal for a brother to wed his sister? Shouldn't "strict scrutiny" apply to laws against consanguineous marriage, polygamy, polyandry, and even marriage with minors? After all, even kids have freedom of speech under some circumstances. Yet no court has ever even hinted at any such ruling. Any court that has ruled marriage a fundamental liberty is confused, contradictory, biased, bewitched, bothered, and bewildered.
But what about judicial rulings striking down laws against miscegenation? Isn't that just the same as striking down laws banning same-sex marriage? After all, isn't sexual preference beyond individual control, just as race is?
First, we don't know that that is true; but leave that aside. The more important point is that the courts were not acting in a vacuum in the racial case... there was already a long history of anti-racial-discrimination law enacted by the people, which the courts finally decided (in the mid-twentieth century) to enforce. "We the people" held that racial color-blindness was a civil right and liberty, and we signaled this decision by enacting the Civil Rights constitutional amendments (the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution).
If properly enacted, using the accepted procedure, either a California or a federal constitutional amendment or statute stating that same-sex and opposite-sex relationships (not just people) must be treated the same, then I would think it reasonable that courts begin enforcing such constitutional rights; but we haven't, so they shouldn't.
So if the analogy of same-sex marriage to interracial marriage is improper and invalid -- as it clearly is, in the absence of any corresponding constitutional amendment -- then what is the proper analogy? After long thought, I think I finally have the answer: There is none.
No, seriously. I talked it over with Friend Lee, and we jointly concluded that marriage is sui generis; there is no proper analogy between marriage and any other human institution or activity, nothing we can point to as a model for understanding what would happen to marriage if you monkey with it.
But it is also sine qua non for Western civilization... at least so far as we know. For those very two reasons, it deserves to be let alone.
Let's go a bit deeper and think about this. Religious marriage is clearly a fundamental liberty protected by the First Amendment; nobody should be able to tell you to whom or how many you should be married... in the eyes of your faith. If you worship Ra, and you want to consider yourself religiously married to your sibling, who are we to tell you No?
But civil marriage -- legal marriage -- is a creation of the State, for the purpose of advancing civilized society. Legal marriage is State-sponsored discrimination in favor of a particular kind of relationship, that which most benefits our civil and religious Western society. It's the State sanctioning, rewarding, and cheering one specific type of relationship, which we have believed for more than two thousand years is a bulwark of our civilization: opposite-sex monagamy with a person over the age of consent and not too closely blood-related.
The essence of discrimination is exclusivity: If we are to discriminate in favor of a particular relationship, other relationships must be excluded from the rewards offered for the privileged relationship. If we don't, if everyone is equally special, then as Dash says in The Incredibles, that's the same as saying that no one is special. (This is a "duh" moment.)
There are only two questions that need answers anent civil marriage:
- Who within the society has the authority to decide the rules that define that exclusivity? Who gets to decide what is right and what is wrong?
- What relationships should that person or class of persons decide is right? Which relationship should get privileged, while all others are deprivileged?
Answer these, and you have defined a huge chunk of your civilization.
As to question number one, it was already answered 232 years ago by better men than I. See if this sounds familiar:
Thomas Jefferson and his co-conspirators saw as "self-evident" that the only class within society that has the authority to decide the rules that define the most fundamental unit of society -- the family -- is the class of "the governed," that is, the people. It is the most basic, most fundamental right of all. (Governments that rule against the consent of the governed have a special name; we call them tyrannies.)
The people can express their will in two ways: By direct vote, as with California's Proposition 22 back in 2000 or Proposition 8 this year; or by vote of their elected officials.
But not by judicial decree. The judiciary's job is to decide individual cases and occasionally to pass judgment on whether laws comport with the state and federal constitutions... not to make fundamental, deep, and long-lasting changes to society to fit the whims of the "enlightened" and "progressive" judges themselves... the anointed who have "the vision," as Thomas Sowell puts it.
As to the second question, I have made my arguments; just search on this topic, Matrimonial Madness, for a long list. I believe that "opposite-sex monagamy with a person over the age of consent and not too closely blood-related" is still the best relationship for Western civilization, even after thousands of years for us to think about it collectively.
But the only proper issue anent Proposition 8 is the first question. Judicial conservatives believe the people, the "governed," should decide what constitutes marriage; judicial activists think anointed judges should make the call, as they are more enlightened and progressive than the lumpenproletariat voter who lacks even class consciousness. That is the great divide.
Judicial conservatives, of which I am one (despite differences with other judicial conservatives over whether "liberty" interests include the right to sleep with whom one chooses), believe that the people have the authority to choose to extend marriage rights (and rites) to same-sex couples... but they are not compelled to do so, merely because has-been singer Barbra Streisand, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, and California Chief Justice Ronald George demand it.
If the people want to change the rules of marriage to "anything goes," they can jolly well do so under the normal procedures... which in California means proposing, qualifying, passing, and then enacting a citizens' initiative to overturn Proposition 22. Prop 22 passed overwhelmingly (61-39) in 2000; it reads, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
Judicial activists on the California Supreme Court had a different opinion, however; led by Chief Justice George, they simply declared Proposition 22 null and void, waving away the will of the people (and the consent of the governed) as irrelevant and immaterial, like Hamilton Burger objecting to Perry Mason introducing direct evidence of his client's innocence.
Now we have Proposition 8 to vote upon a week from Tuesday. By a strange twist of fate, Proposition 8 reads: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." If it passes, then the only option available to judicial activists will be -- to declare the California constitution unconstitutional under the California constitution -- a circumlocution that would be unprecedented and breathtaking in its absurdity.
If it fails, then we may as well conclude that the people have consented to same-sex marriage. I will think it a wretched decision; but the people have the right to make wretched mistakes.
I will accept the decision of the voters. Will the Left? Somehow, I doubt they will extend us that courtesy... and if they did, it would be unique in the annals of their own history. If Proposition 8 passes -- it currently leads in the polls -- then look for a jaw-dropping series of legal maneuvers to once again silence the tongues of the people, in preference to the vision of the anointed.
May 15, 2008
Californichusetts - bumped from March pending new post
Surprise, surprise, the California Supreme Court is currently deciding (yet again) whether to tell California voters to go to hell, and to order the era of gender-neutral marriage... just as Massachusetts did! Thanks; I always wanted us to take our lead from Hyannisport.
So let's put on our manly gowns, gird our loins, and pull up our socks: It's time to deal with this invitation to cultural suicide once more.
It boils down to two questions:
- Doesn't the "equal protection" clause of the state constitution require the legalization of same-sex marriage (SSM) as a state constitutional right?
- Even if there is no "right" to SSM, isn't it a good idea to expand marriage to be more inclusive?
On a nutshell, he answer in each case is No -- it doesn't and it isn't. The rest of this post explains why.
How equal is "equal protection?"
In California, it's not just the state legislature that has defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman (explicitly in 1977, implicitly earlier); the people themselves did so in 2000 via Proposition 22, which added Section 308.5 to the state's California Family Code:
The citizen initiative passed overwhelmingly. If a court overturns it, it had better be because the court found it violates a clear, undeniable, and unambiguous right... not just because four justices voted against it seven years ago, and now they have their revenge.
But the only legal argument ever offered is that the rule violates the "equal protection" clause of the California constitution, Article I, Section 7:
Proponents of SSM say equal protection is violated for a homosexual, because he cannot marry the person that he wants to marry. But of course, a heterosexual also cannot marry the person he wants to marry if one of them is already married, they're too closely related, or one of them is too young. Throughout human history, marriage has always been strictly limited to certain types of unions; it has never, in thousands of years of human history, been an unrestricted right.
Gender is just one of the restrictions; if the others don't violate equal protection, then neither does the gender restriction. And if it does violate equal protection... then what's the legal rationale for banning polygamy?
Cat got your tongue? "But my four wives and I really love each other!"
With all restrictions dropped but the declaration that "we love each other," what's to stop gang members from all marrying each other, so that none will be able to testify against another? How do you prevent an entire building full of spinsters marrying the same guy, so each can receive Social Security? How do we prevent one American citizen from marrying five hundred Argentinian women and men to bring them all here as permanent residents?
Marriage needs restrictions: Without them, it's no more special a relationship than a bowling team or union membership.
So you're in favor of banning interracial marriages too, huh?
A ban on racial intermarriage has never been a piller of Western civilization; racism itself (per Dinesh D'Souza's the End of Racism) dates only to the sixteenth century. And most of the miscegenation laws in California were passed from 1901 onward, during the "Progressive Era" -- they were Jimmy Crow Lately laws.
Miscegenation laws were not repealed not by the courts, which never found any equal protection violation; in fact, they found no problem with them at all. It was the people, speaking through their state legislature, who rejected racism in the marriage laws in 1948 (after the Progressives and other socialists made those laws progressively restrictive through 1945).
Why did the legislature repeal those laws? Because society decided that there was no significant difference between the races; the differences are purely cosmetic. Thus, there was no compelling reason why a black man could not marry a white woman, or a white man marry a Hispanic woman.
However, nobody except self-described "queers" (radical "gender-free" advocates who proudly use the term on themselves) believes that there is no significant difference between males and females. In fact, we're discovering new differences every year, including distinctions in thought processes, temperment, and styles of exercising authority.
Unlike marriage between black and white, a marriage between two men or two women is completely different in character from a marriage between a man and a woman.
It has a great effect on child rearing -- the correlation between fatherlessness and violent crime and other antisocial behaviors is admitted by every sociologist -- and even on the behavior of the spouses themselves. When men mix only with other men, or women with other women, all the negative traits of each sex are magnified. But when men marry women, both parties moderate their behavior, and we achieve at least some union between yang and yin.
(As kids who grow up with divorced parents now, having two fathers can be terribly confusing and can also lead to the kids playing one Dad off the other. Fatherlessness and overfathering are both very sub-ideal.)
Finally, experience teaches that cultures that allow polygamy, such as traditional Moslem cultures, end up devaluing women and girls to the point where the papa will kill his own wife or daughter if he thinks (or imagines) she has shamed the family name. It's much, much rarer for a father to kill his teenaged son for such imagined shame, because males are so much more important in polygamous cultures. (They may encourage sons and daughters alike to become suicide bombers, but that is completely different: Radical Moslems consider that to be enhancing the family honor. It's like sending sons off to war. But the father rarely murders his son as punishment for shaming the family.)
Societal survival is a compelling interest
Thus, society does have at least three compelling interests in restricting marriage to one man and one woman: The effect on getting and raising children, moderating behavior of individual men and women, and promoting the full equality of the sexes. And equal protection is not violated, because every resident, regardless of sexual preference, may legally marry anyone he wants, provided both meet society's qualifications anent age, sex, number, family relationship, and of course willingness.
If we ever decide to change any of those restrictions, it must come from the people themselves... via the legislature or directly by citizen initiative. The courts should never drive society willy nilly towards the utopian leanings of the judges. That is the difference between leftists, who favor totalitarian, top-down rule by "experts" in all areas of life (from economics to religion to marriage)... and those of us on the right, who prefer individualism, Capitalism, and democracy, where the women and men in society get to decide for themselves, through the ballot box, what axioms define society.
For a perfect example, let me explain why I absolutely support Lawrence v. Texas (the U.S. Supreme Court case that struck down anti-"sodomy" laws across the nation) -- yet I oppose with equal fervor Goodridge v. the Department of Public Health, the ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts forcing the state legislature to legitimize SSM.
Simply put, Lawrence is individualistic and democratic: It does not require you to accept gay relationships as the equal of heterosexual relationships -- it just prevents you from throwing them in jail for it. It's one aspect of "the right to be let alone." Thus, Lawrence is individualist and conservative... modern conservatism has always recognized freedom of conscience in principle, even if some individual choices carry enough "ick" factor to tempt conservatives to make an unwarranted exception.
But Goodridge is totalitarian and leftist: It requires you to treat SSM exactly the same as mixed-sex marriage, and to hell with your deeply held religious beliefs. That is not the role of the courts.
SSM supporters twist words to impose a total, top-down transformation of society to fit the utopian ideology of the Left, using the phrase "equal protection of the laws" as a weapon to overthrow the democratic process -- quite literally, in the case of California and our Proposition 22. So on to question two...
What's so bad about SSM anyway?
This section will be briefer than it could be -- I could write an entire book! -- because I'll just sketch the argument; if you want more specifics, type "same-sex marriage" into the search box in the right sidebar and read my earlier posts.
Simply put, here is the syllogism on which I operate:
- Our society ultimately rests on a small number of irreducible axioms: inalienable rights, government by consent of the governed, etc.
- One leg of the stool of Western civilization is the marriage of one male to one female. This has been the definition in our society going back thousands of years. It encourages the interaction of male and female and the civilization of boys, female equality and women's rights, and the rights of children. It has dramatically shaped our culture.
- But not irreversibly shaped; if you knock out one leg of the stool, it may still appear to stand; but it becomes ricketier, less stable, and more prone to topple over when hit by something external... such as militant Islamism, to pull a random example out of my hat.
- While many people (especially the young) are eager to "change everything," a certain level of stability is vital to society, both culturally and legally. Our experience of societies that have a different set of axioms -- such as the Moslem and African cultures -- warns that treasured rights and privileges that we take for granted would not survive such ham-fisted tampering.
- So for God's sake, don't do it!
Here's what's so bad, wise guy...
The law of unintended consequences applies in full force here. For example, the easier we make it for any group of two or more people to be legally considered "married," the less special is the marital relationship; as it becomes less special, it attracts fewer people. Fewer marriages means fewer children, hence a waning, dying culture (cf. Northern Europe, esp. Scandinavia).
Fewer marriages also mean kids who are born are more likely to grow up in fatherless homes. Looking at America's black population, we see an extraordinary rate of out of wedlock births (69.3% of all births, compared to 31.7% of white babies - Table 14) and fatherless households (60%, compared to 22% for white children). If we compare that disparity to the disparity in violent-crime offender rates between blacks and whites (blacks were nearly three times times as likely, 2.8:1, to commit violent crime in 2005 as whites; Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000 Census), we see a strong correlation between out of wedlock birth and fatherlessness on the one hand and the commission of violent crime on the other. This is hardly surprising; a strong and law-abiding male role model teaches boys how to resolve problems peacefully and legally.
That correlation should tell us that the very last thing we should be doing is discouraging heterosexuals of any race from getting married: Raising kids in an intact, married family makes them much less likely to become either violent criminals or the victims of violent criminals. But diminishing the "sacred specialness" of marriage by opening it up to any and all groups of people who declare "love" for each other does exactly that: If marriage means nothing, then why get married?
The West is the best
Our Western culture is unique in many ways: It's the strongest and most economically successful culture in human history; it's the freest and most respectful of individual rights; and it's also the most conservative culture on the planet, in the sense of conserving the virtues and mores of the classical liberalism of the nineteenth century -- derived from Enlightenment philosophers such as John Locke and first enshrined into law by the American Founding Fathers at the tail end of the eighteenth century.
Asian cultures (excepting Japan, which is completely Western) are mostly radical socialist cultures (Socialism includes both Marxist and fascist versions), still vainly trying to transform the world and create the New Socialist Man. And Moslem cultures are too often reactionary, trying to recreate the days of the Prophet -- more than thirteen centuries ago.
The Western culture converted to what we now call "traditional marriage" more than two thousand years ago; traditional African and ancestral American cultures never enforced "traditional marriage;" the socialist cultures of the East rejected spiritual unions (marriage) in favor of civil partnerships many decades ago; and traditional misogynist Islamic law still treats women like cattle.
Why on earth would any sane person want to monkey with the Western marriage model?
Jonah swallows the whale
Finally, I love this very appropos passage from Jonah Goldberg's new masterpiece, Liberal Fascism (pp. 133-4), which perfectly captures those radical activists trying to transform America into their own utopian vision:
Anybody who has ever met a student activist, a muckraking journalist, or a reformist politician will notice the important role that boredom and impatience play in the impulse to "remake the world." One can easily see how boredom -- sheer, unrelenting ennui with the status quo -- served as the oxygen for the fire of progressivism because tedium is the tinder for the flames of mischievousness. In much the same way that Romanticism laid many of the intellectual predicates for Naziism, the impatience and disaffection of progressives during the 1920s drove them to see the world as clay to be sculpted by human will. Sickened by what they saw as the spiritual languor of the age, members of the avant-garde convinced themselves that the status quo could be easily ripped down like an aging curtain and just as easily replaced with a vibrant new tapistry. This conviction often slid of its own logic into anarchism and radicalism, related worldviews which assumed that anything would be better than what we have now.
A deep aversion to boredom and a consequent, indiscriminate love for novelty among the intellectual classes translated into a routinized iconclasm and a thoroughgoing contempt for democracy, traditional morality, the masses, and the bourgeoisie, and a love for "action, action, action!" that still plagues the left today. (How much of the practiced radicalism of the contemporary left is driven by the childish pranksterism they call being subversive?)
Sadly, that is exactly what's going on here and now; and our enemies without and within call it "historically inevitable" that they will succeed. If so, fellow right-wingers, then it's our bounden duty, as William F. Buckley, jr. wrote in the National Review mission statement in 1955, to "stand athwart history, yelling Stop."
So to all those leftists who are screaming, arguing, threatening, cajoling, extorting, commanding, and suing to cram same-sex marriage down Californians' throats, and most particularly to the California Supreme Court...
March 14, 2008
The profligate ways of the Democratic legislature in Sacramento and the RINO in Sacramento (the governor) have finally reaped the economic whirlwind -- a $16 billion plus deficit. Unfortunately those that are left to inherit that wind are local school boards who are forced to issue pink slips to employees.
The legislature and Gov. Schwarzenegger made a devil’s bargain the last few years that they finally could not sustain in 2008. Each year they have jacked up the budget, including the education budget, even though the state has seen declining enrollment for the past three years. What law of the universe says that you must increase your budget when you are educating fewer children?
Each year the governor and Democratic leadership claim that they are required by “mandates” to increase funding. To help pay for this toga party the state has floated more and more bonds, putting it all on future taxpayers to bear. But as Senator Tom McClintock, one of a few honest politicians in Sacramento points out, most of those mandates can be suspended by a two-thirds vote of the legislature, just as the budget itself requires a two-thirds vote each year.
The governor and the lawmakers at any time could rein in spending. They just don’t want to. The Democrats in particular don’t want to make any significant cuts.
Now that this spending has finally caught up with them, the Democrat leaders are predictably calling for more taxes.
We must not let them get away with it.
When you see teachers losing their jobs because of irresponsible “leaders” your heart aches and you want to do something to help. But the worst thing we could do is signal the Democrat leadership that it is OK to start their mouths writing checks that their constituents, i.e. you and me, must cash.
They need to cut back on a budget that has been growing out of control for several years to the point where we are actually worse off than when we recalled Governor Gray Davis and put Arnold in his place to supposedly control spending!
Don’t let your empathy for our teachers prod you into doing something stupid, like supporting higher taxes.
January 28, 2008
Props to Caleefornia’s Hornful Governator
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is so full of baloney that it is almost coming out of his ears! We could make sandwiches!
The governor who promised that he would never raise taxes is now engaged in an elaborate game of hocus-pocus -- now you see it, now you don’t -- that will end up tacking a 1.25% “fee” or “surcharge” onto all of our homeowner’s insurance payments in order to pay local fire districts back for money that he is going to swipe in order to balance the budget!
He calls it a fee, or a surcharge, although, of course, it’s a tax! Don’t get me wrong. Ronaldus Magnus as governor said things he had to back off from. In his first term he said that his “feet were set in concrete” about his opposition to a tax increase. Later, when he had to back down on that, he announced something to the effect that the “noise you hear” was the concrete cracking around his feet.
That’s honest. What Schwarzenegger is doing is dishonest. It’s in line with other dishonest statements he has made (perhaps the most egregious of his dishonesties is his assertion that he’s a Republican!).
For instance, he’s supporting the top Democratic hacks in Sacramento, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perrata, who put Prop. 93 on the ballot to give themselves four more years in office. Under current law they would be term-limited out of office at the end of 2008. But under the Byzantine provisions of Prop. 93, which Schwarzenegger supports as term limit “reform,” both pols, and quite a few other legislators, would be grandfathered in and able to continue screwing up the budget for several more years.
According to our RINO (Republican in Name Only) governor:
The current system of term limits -- which allows members of the Senate to serve two terms (eight years) and members of the Assembly three terms (six years), with a total maximum of 14 years -- is contributing to Sacramento's problems rather than fixing them. I am endorsing Prop. 93, which would lower the total number of years a member could serve to 12, but also allows him or her to divide them between the houses as they choose. I am convinced that this would result in the people of California getting a more experienced, more independent Legislature.
And it gives two corrupt hacks four more years to cut deals with Schwarzenegger!
Aside from the pig’s breakfast that is the combined Republican and Democratic primaries on Feb. 5, there are several other interesting items on the ballot. Most are concerned with Indian casinos and their compacts on the ballot this time.
Props. 94, 95, 96 and 97 are tossing Indian gaming compacts to the voters -- compacts that the legislature was unable to act on last year. They were negotiated between Gov. Schwarzenegger and the Pechanga, Morongo, Sycuan and Agua Caliente bands. These tribes own large casinos that they want to make even larger, with 5,000 slot machines for two casinos and 7,500 slots for two other casinos, as the upper limit. The state would get a larger percentage of the revenues than it has gotten from the original compacts signed in 2000 that limited tribes to 2,000 slot machines.
None of that money would come to local communities. It would just go to fill the bottomless black hole that Arnold and Fabian Nunez have created in the state budget. The new compacts would also require the tribes to work more closely with the state on addressing environmental concerns.
Many voters will look upon these four propositions as a referendum upon California Indian gaming itself. I can’t argue with someone who roundly hates Indian gaming because it has increased traffic or because he feels it has degraded the quality of life. People have a right to their opinions. But voting against these propositions won’t make Indian gaming go away -- and it won’t affect it a jot locally. It might make you feel better.
Ironically, if the voters reject the compacts, the governor will just go back to the drawing board and try to get something that will pass muster with the legislature, which mainly dragged its heels because of union opposition.
Prop. 91 would prohibit gasoline taxes from being used for anything other than transportation and would require that if the legislature borrows money from the fund to pay it back the same year. If you think you’ve voted on something like this before, you have -- a couple of times. Prop. 42 in 2002 protected fuel taxes from being raided except in an emergency. Of course, the legislature got around that by declaring a fiscal emergency on a regular basis.
So people who had put Prop. 42 on the ballot started to collect the signatures for Prop. 91. Meantime, Schwarzenegger and the group that collected the signatures for Prop. 91 were able to include the protections they sought in Prop. 1A. But too late to stop Prop. 91. So the folks who put Prop. 91 are no longer supporting it, although some small splinter group says that Prop. 91 would tighten the loophole even more. I say that anything that forces the legislature to spend gas taxes on roads and only roads is worth voting for -- so that’s the box I’m checking.
Prop. 92 would limit fees for students attending community colleges to $15 per unit. That would have the effect of increasing state spending on education. My personal feeling is that if your community college costs too much to attend, see if your local 7-Eleven has an opening so you can get a second (or even a first!) job. That’s what I did when I was younger.
October 6, 2006
It Just Keeps Getting Better and Better
In my previous post, Judicial Tyrants Teetering On the Brink, I discussed the California state appellate court that overturned the ruling by a San Francisco court requring same-sex marriages (SSMs) in this state, regardless of the 2000 ballot measure that restricted marriage to one man, one woman. I rather gloomily (and perhaps prematurely) wrote the following:
The sad part is that it was evidently an integral part of the ruling that in California, domestic partnerships are virtually the same as marriages.
In this, I foolishly relied upon the Associated Press story, which stated in unambiguous terms:
In reversing the March 2005 ruling of a San Francisco trial judge, the 1st District Court of Appeal agreed with the state's attorney general, who argued that California's ban on same-sex marriage does not discriminate against gays and lesbians because of the state's strong domestic partner law.
Lawblogger Xrlq was skeptical, however. Having at least skimmed the primary source (the court's opinion), he commented that "What I've seen so far indicates that the principal holding was that marriage is what the legislature/voters say it is - not that gays have a fundamental right to marry, but that right is satisfied by the domestic partnership law."
Intrigued (and more hopeful), I scurried after later, completer articles, and I found this Reuters piece. It completely backs Xrlq's position; if anything, it goes even farther... the state circus in fact enunciated a ringing endorsement of democracy over judicial tyranny:
"The Legislature and the voters of this state have determined that 'marriage' in California is an institution reserved for opposite-sex couples, and it makes no difference whether we agree with their reasoning," the California Court of Appeal held.
"We may not strike down a law simply because we think it unwise or because we believe there is a fairer way of dealing with the problem," it said in a majority opinion written by Justice William McGuiness....
The appeals court reversed a lower court, which had overturned California's ban on gay nuptials in a lawsuit triggered by the marriage licenses San Francisco briefly issued to same-sex couples in 2004.
"Courts in this state simply do not have authority to redefine marriage," the appeals court said.
It said a voter initiative or legislation would be required to legalize same-sex marriage.
This is a tremendously stronger slapdown of the SSM crowd than AP reported, and I am correspondingly much happier with it. However, one of the judges, Justice J. Anthony Kline, dissented. I hesitate to characterize his dissenting argument on the basis of a media account ("once bitten..."); but since Reuters seems to have gotten the rest of the story right (that is, it matches Xrlq's read of the opinion), I'll go for it.
Kline dissented on the grounds that domestic partnership laws constitute an unconstitutional "separate but equal" institution:
In its ruling Thursday, the court noted gay couples in California have rights comparable to married heterosexuals thanks to domestic partnership laws.
But gay rights activists said comparable rights are not equal rights, and, citing Justice J. Anthony Kline's dissent, they said the majority carved out an unconstitutional "separate but equal" standard for gays by supporting domestic partnerships, which Kline compared to laws enforcing racial segregation.
The domestic partnership act is "a form of pseudomarriage that stigmatizes homosexual unions in much the same way 'separate but equal' public schools stigmatized black students," Kline said.
"Like separate educational facilities, domestic partnership and marriage are 'inherently unequal,"' he said.
This is an emotionally powerful argument, but it's logically flawed. Let me take a few thousand words to show why that's obvious...
Origins of desegregation
First, what is the point of the Civil Rights Amendments and the racial desegregation they ulimately spawned? Prior to the Civil War, North America had a 250 year history of racial slavery stretching back long before the founding of America; and the West had an even longer tradition of racial slavery. (So did the Arabs and Turks, but that's irrelevant to this point.)
The Civil War was fought, whatever Southerners might absurdly argue, to end the practice of slavery. There were proximate causes, but that was the underlying one. But why is slavery wrong? Why should we put 600,000 soldiers into the ground just to end an institution that had stood in this place for two and a half centuries?
The Civil War was fought over the unique and unprecedented proposition that underpinned the very founding of our country:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
In the end, no argument for slavery, no matter how recondite, could batter down this simple, "self-evident" truth... if all men are created equal, then how can a whole race of men be condemned to slavery merely because of their skin color?
Once the nation finally accepted that argument (with the Civil War as a resounding exclamation point), desegregation was the inevitable result: because people being what they were, segregated public institutions, even if they began as equal, would in short order become very unequal.
But not all inequality is wrong, let alone unconstitutional. We do not outlaw income disparity; nor do we follow the lead of Kurt Vonnegut's seminal short story "Harrison Bergeron" and handicap the talented so that they're no better than everyone else. What we hold to be "self-evidently" equal is the essence of personhood; and the laws we strike down are those that discriminate solely upon what a person is, not what he chooses to do.
Thus, the actual corollary to the segregation laws for gays would be a law that said, for example, that children determined to have "homosexual tendencies" were required to be educated in separate schools from those other kids who have "heterosexual tendencies."
So the first error in Kline's argument is that the marriage laws do not discriminate in such a fashion; they don't even mention heterosexuality or homosexuality -- and such a distinction is necessary for a law to discriminate against a person, rather than against an action: without a detailed description of the subset of humanity that is to be put down, how would anyone know who to discriminate against?
Segregationist laws always included a legal description of what makes a person black or white. The marriage laws contain no such distinction between heterosexual and homosexual... so right away we know Kline's argument is off base.
Moreover, the laws are exactly the same for all genders and sexual preferences.
Jon Davidson of the gay rights group Lambda Legal said the California law was unfair, and legal analysts expect lawsuits over same-sex marriage will continue for years across the United States.
"This violates a fundamental right that all people have in California, which is to marry a person of their choice," Davidson said.
But this is nonsense; there is no such right "to marry a person of their choice." There are many rules:
- You can only marry a person of the opposite gender --
- Who is not already legally married --
- Who is not too consanguineous to you --
- Who is of legal age --
- And who consents to marry you;
- In addition, you must obtain a marriage license first.
(There may be other restrictions as well.)
Note that the exact, same rule applies to men and women, to gays and straights, and to all races. There is no extra restriction on gays; a gay man can marry any woman who fits the above requirements, just as a lesbian can marry any man who qualifies as above... just as with straights.
Not even SSM advocates actually argue that the law is different for people with different sexual preferences; what they really argue is that it's easier for straights than gays to obey it. It's a disparate-impact argument, not an equal-rights argument: since it's harder for gays to find an opposite-sex person they want to marry than it is for straights, they argue, it should be unconstitutional.
But it's likewise harder for swingers to find a single person they want to marry; they would prefer to marry half a dozen folks together. So does that mean the Constitution requires we legalize polygamy?
At this point, I start to get out of my legal depth: I only play a sea-lawyer on the web... I'm not really an attorney! Even so, it's my understanding that "disparate impact" theory is based in statute -- specifically, Title VII of the Civil Rights code, which relates specifically to employment discrimination. Beyond the obvious (marriage is not an employment contract), there is also the fact that even if some statute could be stretched to apply a disparate-impact theory to marriage, it would be a general statute... and there is a more specific statute, the Defense of Marriage Act, that explicitly restricts marriage (in federal cases) to one man and one woman; in addition, nearly every state has a similar act either as state law or in the state constitution.
The specific trumps the general, so this argument collapses upon inspection. Marriage laws are not in any way "unequal;" and if they have a disparate impact on people who prefer to marry members of the same sex -- or who prefer to marry their first cousins or marry two women at the same time, or marry a woman who doesn't want to get married -- that's too bad for them, but it doesn't make marriage law unconstitutional.
Finally, there is the ultimate question: who controls society? Another element of the Declaration of Independence -- which is actually federal law, by the way, one of the "Organic Laws of the United States" -- makes the answer to that question very clear:
To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
In no state of the United States have "the governed" ever consented to SSM; but if they did, I would argue that they do have that right: if the good people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts were to enact through referendum (or through their legislature without the lege being compelled by the courts) laws allowing gay marriage, sibling marriage, or polyamorous marriage, I say fine; that is the job of the democratic arms of government, not the judicial.
When the courts order SSM, they usurp power that rightfully belongs to the voters. There is no clause nor amendment to the Constitution or any state constitution that says people have a "fundamental right" to "to marry a person of their choice;" some courts simply made that up, like the "right" to an abortion.
So there is a clear separation of powers argument against SSM that I doubt Justice Kline even considered.
The end -- at last!
As usual, it takes a powerful lot more argument to knock down a crazy theory than to propound one. But this is a nutter idea, that denying the "fundamental right" of gays "to marry a person of their choice" is the legal and moral equivalent of the discredited "separate but equal" doctrine. Such an argument results from the muddled and narcissistic emoting that masquerades as ratiocination at university today, where what matters is not what folks do -- but how they feel about themselves.
It has no place in a court of law.
See? I told you it was obvious!
October 5, 2006
Judicial Tyrants Teetering On the Brink
The campaign by gay activists to force "gender neutral" marriage down our throats via judicial fiat suffered a catastrophic setback today. The 1st (state) District Court of Appeals overturned the ruling by a San Francsico state judge (a year and a half ago) that the state's marriage laws were unconstitutional because they restrict marriage to "a man and a woman."
The sad part is that it was evidently an integral part of the ruling that in California, domestic partnerships are virtually the same as marriages.
In reversing the March 2005 ruling of a San Francisco trial judge, the 1st District Court of Appeal agreed with the state's attorney general, who argued that California's ban on same-sex marriage does not discriminate against gays and lesbians because of the state's strong domestic partner law.
I would hope the court would have overturned the earlier ruling even if we didn't have any domestic partnerships at all; after all, there is no question more clearly left to the people than which relationships they will accept as "marriage."
Alas, I suspect that the court would have ruled differently. But at least they went this far upholding the 2000 ballot proposition by which the people of this state overwhelmingly limited marriage to one man, one woman.
But this is the part I find so amusing, indicating (as it does) that the Left no longer even remembers that the people in a democracy have any say at all:
The ruling does not guarantee, however, that same-sex couples will not ultimately be able to get married in California.
Of course; the voters could vote on a ballot proposition any time they want to allow same-sex marriage. Oh, wait -- that's not what the Associated Press had in mind. Here is the rest of the story:
The ruling does not guarantee, however, that same-sex couples will not ultimately be able to get married in California. Gay marriage advocates said beforehand that they would appeal to the state Supreme Court if the intermediate court did not decide in their favor.
What AP meant was that there was no "guarantee" because a higher court might overturn the appellate court and by golly go back to forcing it upon us willy nilly, whether we like it or not.
September 12, 2006
Hackers, Slackers, and "Hot" Latinas
Following up on our earlier post about California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's comments on the only Republican Latina in the state Assembly, Bonnie Garcia, in a privately recorded conversation that was released to the media a few days ago:
[Schwarzenegger's Democratic chief of staff, Susan] Kennedy offers praise for Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, the lone Latina Republican in the Legislature. The governor and Kennedy debate her ethnicity, and Schwarzenegger opines that whether she is Cuban or Puerto Rican doesn't matter much.
"I mean, they are all very hot," the governor says. "They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it."
In our first post, we opined that there was nothing intrinsically offensive in the comment, nor was Garcia offended; in fact, she says she describes herself as a "hot-blooded Latina" all the time, and she has specifically used that phrase to describe herself to Schwarzenegger.
But this does beg an interesting question: how did the audio tape get into the grubby paws of the LA Times in the first place? That conundrum, at least, has now been answered... it came from campaign officials of Phil Angelides, Schwarzenegger's opponent in his reelection bid November:
Democrat Phil Angelides' gubernatorial campaign acknowledged Monday that it downloaded the digital audio file containing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's controversial private remarks on ethnicity, but said it did nothing inappropriate and accessed the recording through the governor's "publicly available" Web site.
But Schwarzenegger's legal affairs secretary, Andrea Lynn Hoch, said earlier that the access was "unauthorized" and that an internal audit discovered the six-minute audio file was hacked from the private computer system of the Governor's Office on Aug. 29 and 30.
After some fum-fahing, the Angelides camp finally admitted yesterday that they downloaded the audio file and sent it to the Times, according to ace Bee-blogger Daniel Weintraub. But they have a defense:
Angelides campaign manager Cathy Calfo admitted a few minutes ago that the Angelides campaign was the source of the Los Angeles Times story revealing a privately recorded conversation involving Gov. Schwarzenegger and his top aides. But Calfo says the audio file was downloaded from a link in a Schwarzenegger press release, and no one on her staff “hacked” the governor’s Web site or accessed a password protected area....
Calfo said the staff members, a press aide and a researcher, followed a link in an Aug. 29 press release that included a recording of the governor’s comments at CSU Long Beach regarding the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina....
Calfo said the staff “backed up” on that link to see the entire directory of files available (also not possible today) and downloaded more than four hours of material. She wouldn’t release those recordings Tuesday nor say what they contained.
Weintraub says (in a different post) that if it turns out the Angelides campaign workers actually "hacked" (in the legal defintion, which requires breaking a password scheme) the site to get the private audiotapes, then they'll be in trouble; but if it turns out they were available on the site without busting security, but with some monkeying around in areas known to be private, then they're off the hook.
I completely disagree. If we follow Weintraub's reasoning, that means if I forget and leave my front door unlocked, you have the legal right to burgarize the joint.
Morally and ethically, whenever an unauthorized person is trolling around the private area of someone else's website, he is hacking -- whether security was adequate or not. It's completely irrelevant, no matter what the law says.
The lack of good security procedures does not release Democrats from the necessity to act in a morally responsible way, any more than the lack of a good lock releases them from moral responsibility for black-bagging Republican campaign offices and Xeroxing donor lists.
Am I an anachronism? Is it now the general belief in America that it's morally acceptable to lift anything not literally nailed down? That if there isn't a secure enough lock, then it's all right to steal? Is that the logical end result of teenagers "ripping" music they want to hear but don't want to pay for?
If so, I'm hardly suprised to see California Democrats in the vanguard of defending such a despicable worldview.
September 8, 2006
Oh, THAT'S What Arnold Meant
So the newest hysteria here in the golden state (or the granola state, take your pick) is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's verbal "assault" on a Latina Republican assemblywoman, Bonnie Garcia. This is the only part I had heard until now:
[Schwarzenegger's Democratic chief of staff, Susan] Kennedy offers praise for Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, the lone Latina Republican in the Legislature [that is, she calls Garcia a "ball buster"... but in a nice way]. The governor and Kennedy debate her ethnicity, and Schwarzenegger opines that whether she is Cuban or Puerto Rican doesn't matter much.
"I mean, they are all very hot," the governor says. "They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it."
(Hat tip to Ryan Sager of Real Clear Politics, in between plumping for that mayor guy from New York City, whatever his name is.)
I assumed -- as I now assume most people assumed, if they heard only this part, which was the only part broadcast on the radio story I listened to -- that Schwarzenegger was making a sexual inuendo; I mean, the guy has a history of that sort of thing.
But for the first time today, I read the very next sentence, which casts the entire imbroglio in a different frame of reference:
[Gov. Schwarzenegger] goes on to recall a former weightlifter and competitor, Cuban-born Sergio Oliva. "He was like that," Schwarzenegger says.
Now, Schwarzenegger may have had a bit of a tough time keeping his hands off the starlets when he was just a movie star; but that's not even unusual in Hollywoodland. However, of all the things Arnold has been accused of, not even the Los Angeles Times has ever insinuated that Arnold Schwarzenegger is homosexual.
Therefore, I can only conclude that he did not mean "hot" in a sexual context. He meant passionate, enthusiastic, high-energy... all terms that a go-getting politician would love to have associated with her (and which I would be very puzzled about if anyone ever applied them to me).
But what about Assemblywoman Garcia? As the feminist Left insists ("shrieks" would be an apter word), sexual harassment is not determined by what the speaker meant, but rather whether it offended the target. Well... did it?
Garcia said the conversation didn't bother her in the least. She called herself an "unpolished politician" and said Schwarzenegger had shown nothing but respect for her.
"I love the governor because he is a straight talker just like I am," Garcia said. "Very often I tell him, 'Look, I am a hot-blooded Latina.' I label myself a hot-blooded Latina that is very passionate about the issues, and this is kind of an inside joke that I have with the governor."
So yet again, the whole election-year brouhaha boils down to the Schwarzenegger-hating Los Angeles Times trying to make a mountain out of a mohawk. I swear bedad, not a day goes by that I don't thank my lucky scars that we canceled our subscription to that "newspaper" three years ago.
September 5, 2006
Schwarzenegger Will Veto California HillaryCare
According to famed Bee-blogger Daniel Weintraub, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will veto the ghastly socialized-medicine bill enacted by the sinister California legislature.
Thank goodness. There is no way the legislature can override the veto, and I doubt they'll even try -- as that would give the Republicans running for the Assembly and state Senate another good campaign issue.
As the dumb-looking guy in a fedora says (and I don't mean Roger L. Simon!), "developing...."
August 30, 2006
As anyone who reads Captain's Quarters knows, the California Assembly just approved a bill, SB-840, which was previously approved by the state Senate, to implement "HillaryCare" style socialized medicine throughout California.
The bill was voted out of both chambers on essentially party-line votes, and you can find the complete text as amended here. The next stop is the state Senate again, where approval is pro-forma, and then to the desk of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger... who is widely expected to veto it, thank goodness.
I'm astonished that there has been so little reporting about this. I live in California, and I had heard nothing about it until I read Captain Ed's piece, which he picked up from SFGate.com, which is the web version of the San Francisco Chronicle. Aside from the Comical:
- The bill and vote was covered by the Sacramento Bee (Sacramento is the state capital), and it was covered by various other small newspapers;
- But as of this moment, I can find absolutely nothing on the website of the Los Angeles Times, the largest newspaper by far in the entire state. (I'm sure Patterico is shocked at the utter incompetence of the L.A. Slimes);
- The San Diego Union Tribune published an opinion piece in favor of this socialized-medicine bill by a representative of the main group that wrote it, Health Care For All - California; but I cannot find any actual news story about its passage;
The San Jose Mercury News put a story up yesterday -- under the marvelously opaque headline, Demo bills highlight contrasts. Yeah, that sure makes clear that the subject is socialized medicine!
The other bill referred to by the Mockery News, just passed by the state Assembly, was -- no, really, I'm not making this up -- a bill to allow illegal aliens to obtain California drivers' licenses. In case anyone here doesn't know or has forgotten, that is the issue, more than any other, that led to the recall of our previous governor, Gray Davis. California Democrats... the gift that keeps on giving;
- I can't imagine this wasn't carried on AP, Yahoo, and Reuters -- or at least on Agence France-Presse -- but darned if I saw it on any of the feeds I read, and I can't find any reference via Google... except for a press release from another "consumer rights" group that supports socialized medicine, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, which Yahoo ran on Monday.
It is astonishing how low this bill and the illegal-alien drivers' license bill have flown under the radar. I make no doubt of the reason why: because Californians, while leaning liberal, notoriously despise both HillaryCare and also giving illegal aliens a government ID card they can use to fake legal residency. So no wonder the elite media -- which "has bones in the fight," as a (legal) immigrant friend of mine said a long time ago, when she was still learning English -- are doing their bestest to keep mum about the bills.
The Democrats will happily tout their leftism at the appropriate venues: fund raisers, rallies, and speeches to the nurses and prison-guard unions. No reason to let real voters find out just how radical their own state senators and assemblymen are!
It is absolutely critical that the governor veto this bill.
The following is an e-mail I sent to the Office of the Governor, where I hope it will buck Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger up to veto this monstrosity of a bill (all emphasis added, since the e-mail form used by the Office of the Governor does not allow HTML code, for obvious reasons):
Dear Gov. Schwarzenegger;
I voted for you in 2003, and I intend to vote for you again -- but only if you veto this despicable socialized-medicine bill that just came out of the Assembly, SB-840. It's already been passed by the Senate once, and I'm sure it will be again... but even your opponent, Phil Angelides, opposes it!
It was sponsored by one of the most left-liberal state senators we suffer, Sen. Sheila James Kuehl. I loved her as "Zelda Gilroy" on the old Dobie Gillis TV show; but she's been a walking cat-5 hurricane in the legislature... and this bill is probably the worst thing she has ever foisted upon us long-suffering residents of the golden state.
As I'm sure you know, the bill establishes a "single payer" health-care system (that is, socialized health care)... but you may not have been told that it goes a lot farther: it actually BANS all private health-care plans and health insurance in the state. Don't believe me? This is from the actual text of the bill, pages 1-2:
The bill would prohibit health care service plan contracts or health insurance policies from being issued for services covered by the California Health Insurance System.
In other words, for any type of health care covered by California HillaryCare, my wife and I and every other Californian would be barred from obtaining any private health care plan or insurance. The moment it goes into effect, we're locked in; we lose our Blue Shield coverage and have only the government to turn to.
The bill "guarantees" that we can pick our own doctors and health-care facilities; but once the weenies in the lege gain total control, how long do you think that will last? How long until they decide that "cost containment" requires them to implement Hillary Clinton's original idea of "health-care alliances," which would decide which doctor to assign to each California resident?
This horrific bill -- passed by the Democrats on a party-line vote -- completely repudiates the entire theory of capitalism and competition: with one buyer (the state), we're just stuck with whatever coverage the Democrats think is best for everyone... "one size fits all."
If you happen to have needs not envisioned by the state legislature, tough. If you prefer less coverage in one area and more in another, too bad. You can't shop around, you can't change plans, you'll take what the Democrats give you -- and you'll like it.
Or else maybe you'll just get nothing at all.
Please, Governor, for God's sake, veto this abomination! The last thing California needs, in health care or any other arena, is a big, lumpy dose of Swedish-style socialism. Or does Sen. Kuehl have some wonderful examples in mind where more socialism solved an economic problem?
If you want to insure the poor, fine: insure the poor! Don't take choice away from everyone else in the name of "equality"... unless your idea of solving a problem is the Democratic way: make everyone equally poor and equally miserable -- and equally "socialized."
I am very sure that Schwarzenegger will veto this bill; and there are not enough Democrats in the Assembly, or (it appears) in the state Senate, to override a veto.
According to the story in the San Francisco Comical, the vote in the Assembly was 43 to 30; currently, the California State Assembly comprises 48 Democrats and 32 Republicans, with one vacancy.
Overriding a veto requires 2/3rds of each body, I believe, just as with the U.S. Congress. That requires 54 votes in the Assembly; but there are far fewer Democrats than that -- and not even all of them voted for this despicable bill: even assuming all 30 of the Nays were from Republicans, that means five Democrats (at the very least) abstained or failed to show up. If more than two Republicans failed to vote against SB-840, that means even more Democrats demurred.
Still, however, the main bulk of the Democrats don't want Sachi and me to be able to get the health-insurance plan that we want, but instead want to tell us what we'll get, good and hard.
The state Senate is dicier; but even there, with 40 members, you need 27 Ayes to override... and there are only 25 Democrats. There were 25 votes in favor of SB-804, and I wouldn't be surprised if those two groups, Democrats and Ayes, were coterminous.
Thus, for either body to vote to override a Schwarzenegger veto (assuming he's mensch enough to veto), the Democrats would have to lure some Republicans over to the dark side, to embrace socialism as the solution to our health-care woes, such as they are.
And really, the woes are neither deep nor wide: very few people are unable to find adequate health insurance; considerably more are unwilling... and as I noted in a previous post, given the current system, this may be a rational response for young singles or even married couples with no children and a reasonably high income.
And nobody has made a good argument why consolidating all health-care plans into a single buyer, that buyer being the state government, would make health insurance cheaper. The only pseudo-rationalization is the "argument by repeated assertion" used by the various socialist groups who push "health care for all": that everything will be cheaper because socialism eliminates all the "wasteful competition" you find in capitalist systems.
Yup; and it's worked great in Sweden, Mexico, Canada, Japan, the Democratic People's Republican of Korea, and of course the old Soviet Union, all of which have become absolute economic powerhouses. In fact, the only quasi-socialist countries with strong economic growth that I can think of are China and India... and both of those economies started growing only when they jettisoned much of their Marxist, Maoist, and fatalist socialist systems and embraced a significantly more robust capitalism than you find in the failed European social-welfare states of Scandanavia.
So yeah; brilliant conclusion, Mr. Democrat: let's solve our economic problems by becoming more like the economic basket cases of the world. That makes perfect sense -- to a liberal: if socialism fails everytime you try it, then the natural reaction is to redouble your efforts.
Let's hope that a single man, Arnold Schwarzenegger, a self-made capitalist, can see clearly enough to veto this bill... and the illegal-alien drivers' license bill as well.
July 6, 2006
California Marriage: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
California is often so far ahead of the rest of the country, we may as well be on another planet. Fortunately, we're usually not the bellwether.
(Curiously, twenty years ago, I wouldn't have characterized that as "fortunate." But that was then, this is now: twenty years ago, California was at least planted on one of the inner planets fairly near Earth's orbit... not the frozen gas giant we evidently orbit today.)
The "far-out"-ness of my home state is especially true anent same-sex marriage... though at least this time, we're not the Judas goat: that "honor" falls to Massachusetts, still the only state actually to enact same-sex marriage -- albeit at judicial gunpoint.
Still, California's liberal legislators are itching so hard to foist "gay marriage" upon us that I'm taking up a collection to buy the state legislature a gigantic vat of Calamine lotion. They tried once already last September, notwithstanding California's Proposition 22, enacted overwhelming in 2000 (61% to 38%), which restricts marriage to a union between one man and one woman.
But now, a state judge has ruled that Prop. 22 is unconstitutional, and the appellate courts -- and possibly the California Supreme Court -- may uphold that ruling. To that end, a couple of different groups are circulating petitions for initiative constitutional amendments to define marriage as one-man, one-woman; it would take a constitutional amendment actually to protect traditional marriage from the rampaging Democrats in this state.
Note that I do not argue the case for traditional marriage or against same-sex marriage in this post; the case is assumed. I've argued it before -- for example, in a column here, and in this blog in The Mythical Three, With This Ring I Y'All Wed, and The Value of Uniqueness -- and will do so again.
But this post is solely about the Machiavellian matrimonial machinations and madness currently sweeping the state: the good (and personal), the bad (and judicial), and the ugly (very legislative).
So abandon all hope, ye who enter here. Slither on, dude...
First the unalloyed good news (without even Sergio Leone's question mark), which is probably of only the most academic interest to the rest of you: my sister Julie is getting married on Saturday. Three cheers! Mazel-tov! (And about time!) She's marrying her long-term boyfriend Aaron; and of course Sachi and I will be in the wedding party.
For some reason, Julie turned down my offer to be a bouncer at the wedding; but I'll be doing something, I suppose. Sachi won't be a bridesmaid; she has some other role, but we won't be enlightened what either of our tasks will be until the rehearsal tomorrow night.
Almost four months ago, on March 14th, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer gave his ruling in the case Woo v. Lockyer, overturning California's Proposition 22:
On March 14, 2005, Judge Richard Kramer of the Superior Court for San Francisco County, in a decision on six consolidated cases, ruled unconstitutional the two sections of California’s Family Code (sections 300 and 308.5) barring same-sex couples from access to marriage. Judge Kramer based his decision on the equal protection clause of the California constitution, concluding that California’s prohibition on marriage for same-sex couples failed to survive rational basis review, the test of legislation most deferential to the state. Furthermore, he concluded that the marriage law was subject to, and failed, the strict scrutiny test because it involved a “suspect classification,” namely gender, and a fundamental right under the California constitution, the right to marry.
The case was appealed to the Court of Appeals, First District, in San Francisco, where it's supposed to be argued on July 10th. Judge Kramer's ruling is stayed pending the appeal, of course. If the appeal fails and the ruling is upheld, then presumably the state Supreme Court will hear arguments next year (I cannot imagine they would refuse). But both the appellate court and, to a lesser extent, the state Supreme Court are liberal -- and it's entirely possible that Prop. 22 will be struck down.
Après ça, le déluge. The state legislature already passed a same-sex marriage bill in September, 2005, which was vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger precisely because it flew in the face of Prop. 22; if the latter were struck down, the legislature would immediately act to pass the same bill again... and this time, especially if it were after the November election, Schwarzenegger would have no reason not to sign it (he personally favors civil unions but hasn't really said what he thinks about same-sex marriage).
Thus, if Prop. 22 is struck down and not replaced by a stronger initiative constitional amendment, Californians will wake up to having become the second state to have legal same-sex marriage (the first to do so without being forced)... and likely very quickly also polygamy, as the same proposition banned both -- and as most of the lefty activists advocating "gay marriage" also agitate for polygamy and group marriage. If Judge Kramer isn't willing to so rule, some other, even more liberal San Francisco judge will be found; it's not hard.
Traditional marriage in California is at grave risk... and nobody on the Left is paying any attention to what the citizens themselves want (now, there's a shock).
Interestingly, on the larger canvas, two states, New York and Georgia, dealt a blow today to supporters of same-sex marriage and other weird variants:
Activists had hoped to widen marriage rights for gays and lesbians beyond Massachusetts with a legal victory in liberal New York, but the Court of Appeals ruled 4-2 that the state's law allowing marriage only between a man and a woman was constitutional....
In Georgia, where three-quarters of voters approved a ban on gay marriage when it was on the ballot in 2004, the top court reinstated the ban Thursday, ruling unanimously that it did not violate the state's single-subject rule for ballot measures. Lawyers for the plaintiffs had argued that the ballot language was misleading, asking voters to decide on same-sex marriage and civil unions, separate issues about which many people had different opinions.
Excuse me... can we borrow the New York or Georgia courts, please?
Given the concerted attempts to subvert the will of California citizens and voters by ramming same-sex marriage down our throats, in spite of the overwhelming vote against it in the 2000 initiative statute Proposition 22 (it won by nearly 23%), it's not surprising that those of us who strongly support traditional marriage and vehemently oppose same-sex marriage (as well as "domestic partnership" laws that are marriage in all but name) want to put another initiative on the ballot... but this time as a constitutional amendment, so a San Francisco judge cannot simply brush it aside.
(It didn't occur to anyone in 2000 that an amendment that read, in its entirety, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California," was in danger of being declared unconstitutional.)
The initiative process, however, is about as ugly as they come. All it takes is a few signatures -- 598,105 -- by an arbitrary deadline, after first crashing through the thicket of court rulings designed to prevent citizens from horning in on the parade of professional legislators.
The high signature threshold itself requires that any petition be backed by substantial money to hire professional signature gatherers... and that's just to get it on the ballot. Once there, millions will be required to pay for commercial advertising for traditional marriage; otherwise, the Democrats will redefine it into oblivion. (Did you know that anyone who supports traditional marriage hates gays, wants to restore the ban on interracial marriage, and engages in ritual human sacrifice?)
Despite the danger and despair, there actually is a ballot initiative circulating that would do just that. Unfortunately, there is also another ballot initiative circulating that would also do just that, and the authors appear to be quite unfriendly towards each other.
One group, Vote Yes Marriage, is led by Larry Bowler, Ed Hernandez and Randy Thomasson; their website is Vote Yes Marriage. The other, Protect Marriage, is led by Ivan Megediuk, Nikolay Bugriyev and Richard N. Otterstad, Jr.; they can be found at Protect Marriage... however, the front page hasn't been updated since January (!), so I'm not sure what their status is.
There is a tussle going on between these two groups. The Protect Marriage initiative favors using very simple language in their proposed amendment:
This is simple and easy to understand and very likely to get overwhelming approval from the voters. However, the Vote Yes Marriage campaign worries that it will be pecked to death by the ducks of the California judiciary, trying to find loopholes; they favor a more legalistic and complicated version:
Both initiatives would ban not only same-sex or polygamous marriage but also overturn California's civil-union law, which is basically marriage in all but name. I would certainly actively support and campaign for either or both. (If both pass on the same ballot, then the one with larger number of votes prevails.)
But I'm torn which is the better; there is no question in my mind that the first, shorter version is more likely to pass. But I agree with Vote Yes Marriage that it's also more likely to be twisted into a pretzel by the California courts. What I hope is that both campaigns combine and offer both propositions on the ballot: let the people decide by voting.
According to the website of California's Secretary of State Bruce McPherson (a liberal-to-moderate Republican), the long-form version by Vote Yes America failed to get on the ballot for the 2006 general election in November.
Daniel Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee (and the excellent Bee-blog California Insider) tells me via e-mail that it failed because of insufficient signatures... which makes me believe it's having money problems, possibly because of the kerfuffle with Protect Marriage. There are certainly enough supporters that they should have been able to clear the 600,000-signature hurdle.
Vote Yes Marriage is circulating another petition to get it on the ballot for 2008, for which the deadline is listed as November 27th.
Protect Marriage is also circulating a petition on their own short-form amendment for the 2008 election; their deadline is August 21st.
2008 is actually a better year than 2006 would have been: the appellate court should rule on Judge Kramer's challenge to Prop. 22 by early October (90 days after they hear oral arguments on July 10th, assuming that isn't delayed). If they strike 22 down, then the California Supreme Court will probably take up the appeal and rule either in late 2007 or early 2008. Thus, the insane California legislature could not pass a same-sex marriage bill until then; and we would know before the 2008 election whether or not the California government still believed in real marriage.
Prospects for passage -- if proponents can ever get either iniative on the ballot -- are good: even the Field Poll finds support for traditional marriage strong, with 51% opposing same-sex marriage to 43% supporting it, unchanged from 2004 and 2003.
This would undoubtedly rise if the courts struck down Prop. 22: everyone who voted for it back in 2000 will be even more determined to do so again, since they would feel the courts had just backhanded them in the mouth.
(Note that the Field Poll also notoriously underreports support for traditional marriage; in 2000, just before the election, the Field Poll found 54% of likely California voters supporting Prop. 22; a week later, it was passed 61.4% to 38.6%.)
Interestingly enough, the same Field Poll found 50% oppose amending the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as one man-one woman (40% support). While this may seem like a dichotomy, it's actually in line with other polls: according to Polling Report (ignore the first poll, which is about flag burning and mistakenly put in the wrong category), most Americans -- myself included -- believe the question of same-sex marriage should be decided by the states, not by the federal government.
And on the state level, we proponents of traditional marriage are winning big time. Initiatives defining marriage as one-man-one-woman have passed in every, single election they've been offered, in every state that has ever allowed its citizens to vote, from the deep South to Oregon to Michigan to the Midwest; no state's voters have ever rejected such a referendum: we're twenty for twenty.
The only two state legislatures that have ever voted for same-sex marriage are Massachusetts (which was responding to a direct order from the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts) and California (which has no excuse, but which was at least vetoed by the governor).
Currently 20 states define marriage traditionally in their state constitutions (by referendum), while 43 do so in statutory language (mostly overlap, since we don't have 63 states). Only five states "do not have statutory or constitutional language preserving the traditional understanding of marriage": Connectucut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island. (The Heritage Foundation says six, but that's because they were including New York... whose appellate court just upheld the state's marriage definition.)
In addition, initiative constitutional amendments are on the November ballot in six states and pending in an additional five, while legislation is pending in the state houses of six states.
The End -- At Long Last!
So that's the good about traditional marriage and the bad and ugly about same-sex marriage in California: if the two petition-circulating groups -- Vote Yes Marriage and Protect Marriage -- can get their acts together (literally) and get something on the ballot, it will pass. But this may be after Proposition 22 is struck down and the legislature rushes to legalize same-sex marriage in early 2008.
And this would be a tragedy... not because it would stand; it won't. With that spur, either of the initiatives would pass by 65%. But it would be a tragedy to those poor souls who actually believe that the liberals in the Assembly and state Senate care a snap about them -- other than as a stick to bash Republicans. Many gay couples would rejoice at the law and rush to get married, only to see their marriages annulled just a few months later.
That will likely embitter and enrage them, and it would set back a gay-rights agenda by years... which of course is exactly what the Democrats want. They revel in hatred, anger, and despair, because that plays into their divisive campaign strategy.
Liberal Democrats believe that all permanently aggrieved minorities who feel "disenfranchised" will automatically vote for the Democrats. Enacting same-sex marriage will give nothing to gays but heartache; but it will scrape up a few more hopeless, bitter-end Democrats, so it's a good thing.
(Note that I support gay rights, such as the Supreme Court striking down "sodomy" laws in Lawrence v. Texas; but I argue that legal marriage is not a right but an acclamation that cannot be forced.)
But in the end, the people will have the last word... unless the California Supreme Court finds a way to find the California constitution itself unconstitutional.
June 7, 2006
Although it's likely that Brian Bilbray will fail to reach either 50% (which I anticipated he would) or a 5% margin over Francine Busby (which I actually predicted) -- with 100% of the precincts reporting, the semi-official tall stands at 49.33% for Bilbray, 45.46% for Busby -- we still can't close this one out just yet. If you look at the very top of the page at the link, you will read this little cautionary note:
There are approximately 68500 Absentee / Provisional ballots still to be counted
That total is for all of San Diego County, I believe; obviously, only a small portion of those ballots are for the 50th district special election. Even so, a movement of 0.67% upward (or downward) is entirely possible.
(There was also a 50th district primary for November; the tallies are in, and the nominess are -- wait for it -- Francine Busby and Brian Bilbray! This will be the third of three rounds in the Busby-Bilbray title match, winner leaves town.)
Typically, absentee ballots tend to favor Republicans (though that's changing), while provisional ballots tend to favor Democrats (though that's changing). It is unlikely in the extreme that those ballots will change the outcome of the race; Busby is not going to wake up in a few days and find herself the winner.
But it wouldn't take many ballots, especially in such a low-turnout election as this (126,000 ballots cast), to add or subtract a fraction of a percent to either candidate... and in fact, that is guaranteed: whatever the final results, they will not be exactly 49.33% and 45.46%.
Currently, the two are separated by about 4,872 votes. If Bilbray were to add a net 850 to his total out of however many absentee and provisional ballots have not yet been tallied in this race, that would probably do it; 900 for sure.
It will take a few days to finally resolve all of the provisional ballots, and I doubt California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson is going to change the results page again until he can announce the final final results. Bilbray is very close to a majority (less close to my 5% prediction, alas), and he might well achieve it when the smoke clears.
I know a person can grow old just waiting, but sometimes that's the only thing to do.
In evaluating this race, it's important to pay attention not only those who voted for the Democrat or the Republican, but also those who voted otherwise... especially when trying to prognosticate.
While Bilbray got only 49.33% (semi-final, remember), another candidate, William Griffith, got 3.67%; Griffith is an ultra-hard-right conservative who ran against Bilbray by calling him too liberal.
Here's a profile of Griffith.
In addition, the Libertarian Party candidate, Paul King, took 1.53%. There are two kinds of LP members: those whose primary focus is drug legalization, who are apostate Democrats; and those whose main focus is to shrink the government, who are renegade Republicans. (There is a nonzero intersection of people for whom those are equally important, but it's smaller than you would imagine.) King clearly seems to be in the latter camp; he may support drug legalization, in a vague way; I don't know enough about him. But what brought him into the race, he says, is shrinking the government.
Even without adding King, the clear "right-wing" vote in this election was 53%... which is just about what we calculated as the total vote among all the Republicans voting in the April preliminary. I suppose that some of those who voted for a far-right Republican (like Eric Roach, 14.46%, or Howard Kaloogian, 7.45%) just didn't find Bilbray conservative enough for them, so they voted for Griffith, who was barely an "also-ran" (0.82%) in the prelims -- running as an Independent (specifically, the hard-right American Independent Party), as he did yesterday and probably will in November.
If you add King in as a (probable) small-gov Libertarian (as opposed to a pot-puffing Libertarian), that would make it 54.5% voting to the right; there were no candidates running to Busby's left... she got all the Democrats plus all the Leftists who voted.
That means the Right vs. Left vote in CA-50 was 54.5% to 45.5%, just about how the district voted in the 2004 presidential contest (55-44 Bush), despite the huge drop in Bush's job approval since then. Again, this is not a good sign for Democrats in November.
(By the way, centrist Democratic Rep. Jane Harman (70%) easily held off her primary opponent, Leftist Marcy Winograd; Harman won more votes in her hotly contested primary than did Republican Brian Gibson in his uncontested primary -- 26,670 to 20,455. I think Harman is a shoetree for reelection in November.)
A Bird In the Bush Ain't Worth Much
It's looking more and more like Brian Bilbray won the critical California 50th district race to succeed former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who currently resides in prison. But it's not yet clear whether the second half of my prediction will come true; at the moment, with 96% counted, Bilbray leads by only 4.2%, not 5%... but it wouldn't take much to add an extra 0.8%, so we'll have to wait a day or two to see whether I get a full point or only a half.
But a win is a win, in any case.
However, this retention shines a big, bright light on the Democrats' dilemma: their strategy for taking back the House relies upon winning a bunch of races -- many of which just don't look at all likely to fall to them. They must win virtually every open seat, and they must wrest a number of seats away from Republican incumbents... one more, now that the Cunningham seat will remain with the GOP up through the election.
The main unifying theme of the Democrats this year has been the Republican Kulture of Korruption; but if it's going to work anywhere, it would have to be either in Cal-50 or in Tex-22 (Tom DeLay's erstwhile seat). The Democrats just lost Cal-50 when it was open; I don't think they're likely to win it in November, when Bilbray will be the incumbent. (In fact, he'll probably do better... the power of name recognition, which works even for former congressmen being re-elected in a different district).
And as far as the Texas seat goes, the biggest boon that Democratic candidate Nick Lampson had going for him was that he was running against the indicted Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX, 88%).
But now he's not; DeLay is resigning from Congress this Friday, and presumably his brief replacement in the 109th Congress will be chosen by a special election (open, anyone can run). Thereafter, the Republican parties in the four counties that have voters in the 22nd district (Fort Bend, Harris, Galveston, and Brazoria) will select a nominee to replace DeLay on the ballot for the 110th Congress.
But with DeLay himself, the lightning rod, gone from the scene, it's very likely that Tex-22 will stay in Republican hands in both the special and the general elections.
So where does that leave the Democrats? They staked everything on winning Cal-50 and Tex-22, and it looks pretty unlikely that they'll win either one. There is only one other Republican congressman who is in serious legal jeopardy: Bob Ney of Ohio (88%). And Ney is very unlikely to be indicted before November, if he is at all.
So far, all that the Democrats have against him is rumor and inuendo, and that's nothing like indictment (as in DeLay's case), and certainly nothing like conviction and la calabooza, as with Cunningham. If the Democrats can't make the Kulture of Korruption theme work in those two cases, I'm very skeptical they can make it work for a smoke-but-no-fire-yet representative like Ney.
When all is said and done, I doubt that this election is going to turn on charges of Republican corruption -- especially with the various Democrats who have suddenly found themselves on the wrong end of the law. I believe it will turn on other issues: policy issues, such as immigration, taxes, and the Iraq war.
It's still possible for the Democrats to take the House back; but they will need to have a real campaign after all. Yet so far, they haven't even made the effort to come up with an agenda, let alone a "Contract With America."
And perhaps even more important here in California, the "Meathead" Amendment, Proposition 82 -- taxing the rich to pay for "free" preschool for all California kids, pushed onto the ballot by Rob "Meathead" Reiner -- went down in flames. Go, team!
This is the ballot proposition where Reiner was caught red-handed (shouldn't that be blue-handed?) funneling at least $23 million of taxpayer money into an ad campaign for his pet Proposition 82; so at least in this case, crime did not pay.
May 24, 2006
Stop the Party - Crack Those Books!
We neglected to comment on the May 12th decision by a goofy California state judge to overturn the rule in the public schools requiring students to pass an "exit exam" before they can receive their high-school diplomas. (It was the press of other issues, honest!)
High school seniors who flunk the controversial state exit exam may be able to graduate next month anyway, according to a judge's tentative ruling issued late Monday.
Setting the stage for heated debate in court today between supporters and opponents of the California High School Exit Exam, Alameda Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman said he is likely to rule that the test cannot take effect this year as scheduled....
The court's preliminary injunction against the state would allow students to graduate this year if they've met all requirements for graduation - other than passing the test of basic math and English skills. It would mark a huge setback for state officials, who are eager to implement the test they see as the cornerstone of California's school accountability system.
What's worse, the judge refused to stay his own ruling while an appeal was heard. He clearly hoped the wheels of law would grind so slowly that it would be impossible to require the class of 2006 to actually know what they had been taught.
The basic problem, according to Judge Freedman, is that the test is "discriminatory" -- because predictably, different groups will perform differently on the test. But this same argument can be made for any test in any class, any grade, any imaginable method of evaluating the progress of students: some students will perform well, others will not.
Any evaluation whatsoever is fundamentally based upon "discrimination": discriminating between those who have learnt the knowledge and those who have not. And sadly, so long as different racial subgroups have different, culture-based attitudes about schooling -- and so long as boys are different from girls -- those differences among students will tend to clump into racial and gender classifications.
To be perfectly blunt about it, black and Hispanic male students whose subculture is less oriented towards sedentary study and more towards aggressive, even violent interactions will not do as well on the test (as a group) as Asians, and Jews, whose subcultures are precisely the opposite on this issue... or even black and Hispanic female students, who perform markedly better at this level. The performance of white students will be somewhere in the middle. So far, at least, nobody has found a way to change this.
Thus, for any academic test, Asians and Jews will perform the best (again, as a group), whites and black and Hispanic girls in the middle, and black and Hispanic boys at the bottom. But often, teachers are appalled at the pattern they see... and they use grade inflation to make up for this disparity. Many teachers -- perhaps unconsciously, perhaps in response to school rules -- will "re-norm" black and Hispanic male students upwards, awarding them grades that they do not deserve by their individual performance.
Many of those unfairly re-normed students (and of course individual, poorly performing whites, Asians, and Jews as well) have gone all the way through 13 grades of kindergarten, primary, and secondary schools, received a high-school diploma -- yet have been unable to read, write, or compute at even a middle-school level.
The solution of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit is to keep doing that, but more and harder:
If the tentative ruling stands, "this will be a historic ruling for all children in California because Freedman is telling the state, 'You cannot deny a student a diploma if they have not received adequate classroom materials,' " said Arturo Gonzalez, a San Francisco attorney representing students who have failed the exit exam but passed all other graduation requirements.
"You just can't do that," he said. "Its unfair, and it's illegal."
One of the major purposes of the California exit exam is to serve as a last chance to smoke out those students who have managed to duck education for years... aided and abetted by soft-hearted, soft-headed parents, teachers, and school administrators. When these kids fail the exit exam and realize they won't be graduating until they learn the material, it puts huge pressure on these students to take remedial classes and actually bring themselves up to the standards.
That good benefit was lost when Judge Freedman removed the requirement; he became the chief "enabler" of the cultural rejection of learning. Fortunately, however, some of the adults in the California judiciary are less interested in enabling destructive attitudes that in making sure kids are actually, you know, educated. Today, the California State Supreme Court itself issued a preliminary stay on Judge Freedman's ruling... and they did so in plenty of time to make the requirement possible for this year (since the test has already been given).
The California Supreme Court on Wednesday reinstated the state high school exit exam as a graduation requirement for this year’s senior class, leaving 47,000 high school students who failed the test in danger of not graduating.
The high court ordered a state appeals court to hold hearings in the case, but with schools ready to hold commencement ceremonies as soon as this weekend, a resolution appeared unlikely before then....
This year's class was the first in which passing the test of 10th grade English and eighth grade math and algebra was required for graduation.
Five of the seven justices sounded very skeptical of Freedman's decision:
Still, the justices said they were not convinced that Freedman ruled correctly. "At this juncture this court is not persuaded that the relief granted by the trial court's preliminary injunction ... would be an appropriate remedy," five of the seven justices wrote.
The case itself was not decided; it still must work it way through the appellate courts, and only then will one side or the other appeal it to the Supreme Court. But this still is very encouraging; such a clear signal that the State Supreme Court is likely prepared to strike this decision down should make the appellate court less sanguine about upholding it.
Accountability and responsibility must be integral parts of education; because in the end, education is not about teachers teaching... it's about students learning.
Keep your fingers dry and your powder crossed....
May 5, 2006
A Herculean Effort to Kick Wal-Mart In the Shins
The city of Hercules, CA, a San Francisco suburb just north of Oakland and located on San Pablo Bay (which connects to San Francisco Bay), is the latest example of a city abusing powers of eminent domain to seize property from one commercial interest to sell to another. But in this case, it appears to be a purely political move out of condescension towards the current owner: Wal-Mart.
The Hercules City Council will consider whether to use eminent domain to wrest a 17-acre property from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. after the nation's largest retailer rejected a city offer to buy the site with views of San Pablo Bay, city officials said Thursday.
Briefly, Hercules decided it was going to build a major, upscale "neighborhood shopping center." When Wal-Mart heard that, it decided it would be good to have a Wal-Mart store there too; so it bought some adjacent property and submitted a plan to the city council.
But the Bay Area liberals decided that a Wal-Mart was too déclassé for their aristocratic image.
(Hercules sits in Contra Costa County, which in 2004 went for Kerry over Bush by 26%. Maybe they just liked Jean le Kerry because he was more of an aristo than Texas George?)
Wal-Mart wants to build a store in the booming East Bay town of Hercules, but critics there say the giant discount retailer would be too lowbrow for upscale locals.
On Thursday, opponents publicized an economic impact analysis that said Wal-Mart serves shoppers with a typical annual income of less than $50,000 -- far less than the nearly $90,000 average in Hercules.
"They (the stores) don't have to be totally upscale, but we need some better things," said opponent Tom Petersen, a psychologist who lives in an area of million-dollar plus homes called Victoria by the Bay.
Aghast at the thought of a vulgar Wal-Mart among the prize doves, the city council was poised to reject the plan, when Wal-Mart withdrew it. In response, the city council quickly tried to buy the land away from the lowbrow company... but Wal-Mart refused to sell.
Instead, it offered a new plan that was more in keeping with the overall design for the upscale Waterford District:
On March 31, however, Wal-Mart submitted a new application that it said substantially conforms to city requirements. The same day the company submitted its revised proposal, Councilwoman Charleen Raines was hardly welcoming, although she said she had not read it.
"What the council has said is that we want to buy the property,'' she said, describing the tussle with Wal-Mart as a "David and Goliath'' struggle. "At this point, we're concerned about moving ahead on this property. It's been hanging over us for a long time.''
(In this case, "a long time" means four months, since Wal-Mart originally bought the property in November, 2005.)
Outraged that Wal-Mart would not take the back of Hercules' hand for an answer -- there'll be floggings, I can assure you! -- the city has now moved to institue eminent domain and take the property by force.
This is precisely what we all feared when the Supreme Court decided the Kelo v. New London case: that cities would begin using eminent domain, the seizure of private property for public use, simply as a weapon in negotiations for buying property: Hercules offers some amount less than Wal-Mart wants for the land; but if Wal-Mart refuses, Hercules will simply seize the property and pay whatever they decide it's worth... possibly less than they originally offered.
It is, quite simply, legalized extortion... for which we have to thank the liberal faction of the Supreme Court of the United States.
So what is the state of California going to do about it?
April 12, 2006
Legacy of a Duke: Republicans Rock!
No, not the Duke; the other Duke, disgraced and convicted former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, once R-CA.
Yesterday, an election was held to fill the congressional seat vacated by Cunningham (on the specious grounds that a criminal can't serve in Congress -- as if that hadn't happened before!) The race was touted as an important bellwether of the fate of the Republican majority in the Congressional elections next November.
Let Jay Cost of Real Clear Politics explain the importance of California's 50th District:
If the Democrats are going to net 15, they are going to have to do very well with the open seats. There are only about 7 of them, including CA 50, that are on the table for the Democrats. Unseating incumbents is a very difficult job these days. They will need to take all 7 of these open seats to take the House - thus, they will have to take CA 50. Losing CA 50 means that they will have to defeat 11 to 14 incumbent Republicans. That sounds easy, but putting together an 11- to 14-person list entitled "Republicans Who Will Definitely Lose" is very hard to do.
This is not to say, however, that CA 50 is a sufficient condition for the Democrats to capture the House. In other words, winning CA 50 is not a sign that the Republican majority is doomed, or even is in serious jeopardy. [Emphasis added]
Cost notes several points in the Democrats' favor in CA-50... advantages which make the district atypically likely to flip from R to D (which is why it means little for the Democrats to win but a lot if they lose):
- The district used to be strongly Republican; but lately, it has barely trended above the national average of Republican sentiment. Thus, the other seats Democrats must take to regain the House are by and large more conservative than is CA-50.
- This is a district (as we all know) whose Republican representative turned out to be a crook... as in indicted, pled guilty, sentenced, currently enjoying a hundred-month stretch in Butner Fed. Obviously, that should tend to depress the Republican turnout; even if the Democrats take it this year, they could easily lose it again in 2008.
Finally, here's one that Jay Cost didn't note. I don't know where he lives, so perhaps he doesn't know that the California Republican Party is peculiarly incompetent; it comprises the most bumbling bunch of simpletons of any state GOP in the United States.
It's a biannual astonishment that they even manage to win their safe seats, let alone the difficult ones. They are not representative of Republican Parties in other states, whose leaders don't actually pick fleas off each other and peel bananas with their feet, as ours do.
There was only one strong Democrat running in the race, Francine Busby, a member of the Cardiff School Board. The other Democratic candidate, Chris Young, barely registered in polls.
There were a bunch of Republicans, however: fourteen to be exact. Because of multiple candidates, there were only two likelihoods:
- Francine Busby might win more than 50% of the vote; if so, she would be elected immediately to fill the remainder of the term.
- Busby might win only a plurality; in this case, there would be a runoff on June 6th -- the same day as the primary for the November election.
Possibility (1) was the best hope for the Democrats, of course, since they would have the seat immediately; while (2) was the best that Republicans could hope for: with so many of them running, there was no chance that any would get more votes than Democrat Francine Busby. The real question, however, was how many votes would fall to each party.
For example, it was entirely possible that Busby might win only a plurality... but her votes combined with Chris Young might top 50%. Alternatively, it's possible that the Democrats, Libertarian, and Independent might together deny the Republicans a majority. Either of these would have made the June 6th runoff very dicey indeed, as the top Republican would have to pull votes from other parties to have a chance of winning.
The final results are now available; note that we have highlighted all the Republican candidates in bright blue type:
|Candidate||Party||Percent of the Vote|
|Brian P. Bilbray||Republican||15.15|
|Victor E. Ramirez||Republican||0.66|
Here is the breakdown by party:
- Libertarian: 0.60%
- Independent: 0.82%
- Democrat: 45.24%
- Republican: 53.33%
This party breakdown tells us two things: first, that the "third parties" in fact played no role at all in this election; their performance was less than pathetic. But second and most important, in the race between the Democrats and the Republicans, the GOP outpolled their rivals by more than 8%.
In fact, even if we only count those Republicans who finished ahead of the number-two Democrat, that still adds up to an absolute majority of the vote (51.62%). This bodes very well for the Republicans retaining the 50th District of California... hence, by Jay Cost's analysis, of retaining the House of Representatives.
The runoff will be between Francine Busby (D) and Brian Bilbray (R), the two top vote getters; if the Republicans rally behind Bilbray, the seat is easily held.
If the Democrats cannot collectively get to 50% -- or at least hold the Republicans below 50% -- in a district that is so stacked in their favor as this one is... they will have a long, uphill battle ahead of them to capture Congress.
April 5, 2006
Lest We Forget
In case any of us was in danger of forgetting the real agenda of the Democratic Party, Phil Angelides, one of the two California Democrats a-joust to oust Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in November, has openly called for a staggering, massive state tax increase of between $8 billion and $10 billion to "balance the budget"... and to pay for a huge increase in public spending.
According to Daniel Weintraub's Bee-blog California Insider:
Phil Angelides made news today by directly and strongly attacking his opponent in the Democratic primary, Steve Westly. His main point: Westly stood with Schwarzenegger when Angelides was standing up for “the people.” That’s what will probably lead the newspaper stories tomorrow. But I think he made even more substantive news in a quick question and answer session with reporters afterward. In response to a question, he laid out, for the first time, a plan to raise between $8 billion and $10 billion in taxes to balance the budget and pay for his priorities in expanding it.
For any of you who disliked the wild spending of the Republicans so much that you're toying with the idea of just sitting out this election -- remember Phil Angelides. If you sit out 2006, you will only help the Democrats get more of their folks into Congress. And if you think spending is bad now under the Republicans, you will be in absolute medical shock when you see how fast the liberals can fling money out the window.
Folks who complain that the Republicans "spend more than the Democrats did in 1993-1994" are not really taking the huge growth in the gross domestic product into account. According to Steven Slivinski of the Cato Institute,
Total government spending grew by 33 percent during Bush’s first term. The federal budget as a share of the economy grew from 18.5 percent of GDP on Clinton’s last day in office to 20.3 percent by the end of Bush’s first term.
But his own numbers show that despite this increase, total federal expenditure in 2005 remains significantly below that of 1993, as a percent of GDP: 21.4% in 1993 compared to 20.3% in 2005.
There is no question that since 2001, Republicans have proven to be almost as big a batch of overspenders as the Democrats of the early 1990s; but proposals made by current Democrats indicate that this is still far below what we would have had under the Democrats of the 2000s. And if those Democrats -- the ones from today, not from a dozen years ago -- get back in power, you will see the spending and taxation curves bend almost asymptotic, like an F-16 Fighting Falcon taking off on full afterburner.
As Hugh Hewitt is fond of saying, "if you're worried about too much spending, electing more Democrats is not the answer."
Just ask Phil Angelides.
March 10, 2006
It Takes a Village Meathead
Here in California, actor-director Rob Reiner has been caught red-handed diverting $23 million of taxpayer money to an ad campaign supporting universal, government-funded preschool -- at the very time that a Reiner-crafted initiative that would set up universal, government-funded preschool began gathering the signatures necessary to get on the ballot.
Actually, this has become a national story, mostly due to the efforts of blogger/broadcaster Hugh Hewitt and reporter Bill Bradley of the L.A. Weekly, a free, left-leaning newspaper that nevertheless is often more insightful, honest, and accurate than the Los Angeles Times. The Sacramento Bee's Daniel Weintraub is also on this story... and his Bee-blog California Insider directed me to this smoking-gun memo.
Here is Weintraub:
The controversial preschool-for-all ad campaign paid for with public funds and timed to coincide with the unveiling of Rob Reiner’s universal preschool initiative had its roots in a 2002 memorandum that laid out a detailed strategy for changing the public’s mind on the issue.
The memo, which you can see in pdf form here, was prepared by GMMB, the same ad firm whose principals have close ties to Reiner and created the $23 million campaign that began airing late last year just as Reiner and his allies began to seek signatures for the initiative that will appear on the June ballot as Proposition 82.
This political ad campaign was paid for by money from the tobacco tax under the control of the Reiner-headed California Children and Families Commission; the money was supposed to be used to "fund education, health, child care and other programs to promote early childhood development for expectant parents and children up to age five." (Reiner continues to function as the CCFC's chairman, even though his term expired a long time ago; Gov. Schwarzenegger has not found occasion to name a replacement yet.)
While it may fall within the mission of of the CCFC to promote preschool, it certainly is not part of the mission -- and cannot by California law be part of the mission -- for the publicly funded CCFC to agitate for passage of an initiative. Taxpayer money cannot be used in political campaigns, not only here but probably in every state in the Union.
That campaign is now so radioactive that even Democratic politicians are calling for a full-blown investigation. Reiner abruptly took an indefinite, voluntary leave of absence from a job that he does not legally still have; and the campaign manager for Prop. 82 has just resigned, after it was disclosed he was simultaneously being paid as a consultant to the CCFC... with (surprise!) taxpayer money:
The campaign manager for Proposition 82, the universal preschool initiative on the June 6 ballot, is stepping aside from his position amid a growing controversy about tax dollars spent on ads supporting preschool.
Campaign manager Ben Austin became a source of controversy for collecting $110,000 as a consultant for First 5 California, a commission chaired by Proposition 82's leading backer, movie director Rob Reiner.
So what ties this all together? Just because a man works both for a political campaign and also for a state-funded agency doesn't necessarily mean that the latter is financing the former, does it?
Enter the memo. This is a memo written by and circulated within the advertising agency that was paid by the CCFC -- clearly spelling out that the purpose of the ad campaign is to get people to support universal preschool as envisioned in Proposition 82.
Here are some juicy tidbits. Remember, the entire campaign that arose from this 2002 memo is paid for by taxpayer dollars [underlining and bolding is their emphasis; blue highlighting is ours -- the Mgt]:
In the past, the campaign has sought to inform parents and caregivers about how and why to improve the early development of their young children. Now we will seek to persuade all adults in California that maximizing early childhood defvelopment benefits everyone, and that they should therefore support state efforts to provide universally available early learning programs....
We must create demand by creating awareness of the problems caused by insufficient attention to the early years. Currently, not enough people see the need for the state to do more, because they don't see a problem. If we offer people the solution to a problem they are not aware exists, they will reject it. We must educate people that there is a problem, thereby leading to demand for improvement....
We must continue our efforts at parental education. It is crucial that we continue to build upon the work we've already done in educating parents and caregivers about the difference they can make in the way their children develop, not just because it is important in and of itself, but also because it will also help to create more demand for improved programs from the state. The more we communicate about the relationship between the early years and future outcomes -- especially in K-12 -- the more we will create demand for a greater level of service from the state....
We must explicitly make the case that all children would benefit from a greater state role in early education -- not just lower income children....
Throughout the research process, it has been clear that the answers we got from respondents depended entirely on how the question was framed.... We must define the issues in the ways most likely to generate support for greater state involvement in early learning....
[W]e want to do everything possible to help people reach their own conclusions, rather than simply force-fed them the information. One of the options we intend to explore are ads that frame questions (e.g.: At what age should formal education begin? What outcome would you expect when one child enters kindergarten able to read, while another cannot?) and then lead people to develop the correct answers on their own.
At this point, the Democrats who control the state of California are still stalling the investigation.
Unfortunately, the audit is going to take four or five months from the time that it starts, and no one knows when it will begin. A vote to expedite the audit fell one vote short of passage in the [Audit] committee.
In addition, state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, refuses either to represent the CCFC or to investigate it, citing a conflict of interest in both cases. We remember the bizarre tactics Lockyer used last year to try to prevent the redistricting proposal from ending up on the ballot; it eventually had to be forced on by the courts over Lockyer's furious objection (it lost anyway). It's difficult not to see a pattern here: attempts by the Audit Commission to stonewall an investigation into CCFC and Rob Reiner, the attorney general refusing to involve himself on any side.
Considering how much money Reiner and his Hollywood friends have spread around the California Democratic Party, it's still an open question whether Reiner's misuse of taxpayer money will ever be investigated at all... despite the clear evidence of intent found in this 2002 memo.
February 9, 2006
January 16th, 2006:
Feinstein: Alito filibuster unlikely
[Sen. Dianne] Feinstein, a California Democrat and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said yesterday that while she considers Alito too conservative and will vote against him, his views are not so far outside the mainstream of U.S. politics to merit a filibuster.
"I don't see those kinds of egregious things emerging requiring a filibuster," Feinstein said on CBS' "Face the Nation" yesterday. "I might disagree with him. That doesn't mean that he doesn't have credentials to serve on the Supreme Court."
January 27th, 2006:
Sheehan to Feinstein: Filibuster Alito, Or I'll Run Against You
By Melanie Hunter
CNSNews.com Senior Editor
January 27, 2006
(CNSNews.com) - Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan has threatened to run for Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) seat unless Feinstein filibusters Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.
January 30th, 2006:
Feinstein today voted no on the cloture, the procedure to end voting on Alito's nomination, according to her spokesman Howard Gantman.
February 9th, 2006:
Sheehan Won't Run Against Feinstein After All
By Melanie Hunter
CNSNews.com Senior Editor
February 09, 2006
(CNSNews.com) - Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan has decided not to run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), one of California's most popular politicians.
Well! Now we know the price of "one of California's most popular politicians."
January 14, 2006
Michael, not Gerhard -- though of course I have no problem with dumping the latter from the Russian payroll, too.
Daniel Weintraub, on his excellent Sacramento Bee-blog California Insider, says that the former chairman of the California Republican Party -- did you know there was one? -- is urging Cal-GOP to dump Gov. Schwarzenegger and support someone else for the governor's race this year:
Former California Republican Party chairman Michael Schroeder says Schwarzenegger should not run again, and if he does, the Republican Party should withdraw its endorsement. He was, Schroeder says, a "longshot who failed to work out."
I'm thinking Dan Lungren is ripe for another turn around the block, or maybe we should see if Bill Simon or Matt Fong is interested. Perhaps we could offer an inducement -- an annual pass to Disneyland and Universal Studios, say -- and attract some interest from Alan Keyes. But of course, there are numerous cookie-pedaling Girl Scouts, middle-school kids in Needles, and marauding marsupials in the LA Zoo who haven't had their shot yet (and who would probably do better against Phil Angelides than any of the Republicans that Schroeder prefers).
I should note for those outside the Golden State that if the Cal-GOP's position had prevailed, and their preferred candidate, Tom McClintock, had been the only Republican running in the 2003 recall, that almost certainly means we would have Gov. Cruz Bustamante today -- along with species-neutral marriage, no capital (or non-capital) punishment, a state income tax higher than the federal one, and a state Department of UFOs, Bigfoot, and Other Cryptozoological Phenomena. We would currently be negotiating with President Vicente Fox over whether we kept Sacramento or returned it to Mexico with the rest of Southern California. (Bustamante is a rotten negotiatior: Fox's position would prevail, and we would be forced to keep it.)
Great strategy, Schroeder! If we carefully follow your advice from here on out, I'm sure we can move from being a minority party to a nonexistent party in just a few short months. So the Cal-GOP leadership is proficient in at least one area -- fratricide!
UPDATE: One of the Freds notes that Schroeder's op-ed on the subject, which I didn't notice that Daniel Weintraub had linked, is This governor should be terminated (free registration required). Thanks, Xrlq!
December 28, 2005
A Kennedy We Perhaps Can Live With
I'm certain I am not alone in my willingness to give Schwarzenegger's new chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, the benefit of the doubt for a while... but you sure wouldn't know it by reading the blogosphere, left or right. It seems that everybody has an opinion on the gal, and every opinion is negative: the left thinks she's Beatrice Arnold, while the right thinks she's just a cat's paw for Phil Angelides. I recall Hugh Hewitt being particularly scathing about her on his radio show, though I can't find anything about her on his website.
But today's New York Times profile of Susan Kennedy just confirms me in my Kennedy agnosticism: if she's telling the truth, then her appointment implies no "leftward drift" at all in Schwarzenegger's agenda. (If she's lying, well then, she's lying.)
There are some amusing paragraphs, however....
"You should know our sellout Susan Kennedy is having lunch at Chops right now with [the Cal-GOP] party chairman - probably re-registering," the blog, Flashreport, reported recently, quoting a Democrat as one of two informants about the lunch.
Er, excuse me, Mr. Report, but what did you expect the incoming chief of staff of a Republican governor to do? Tell the state Republican Party chairman to go soak his head?
Here are the basics of the argument for Ms. K:
But Ms. Kennedy said she had decided to join the Schwarzenegger administration because she believed in the governor's agenda. She said rebuilding the state's infrastructure, including its pocked freeways and woefully inadequate public transportation system, without raising taxes ranked at the top of their shared priority list.
Though a lesbian who was, as she frequently describes it, "married" to her partner in a 1999 commitment ceremony on Maui, she supported the governor's veto this year of a bill that would have allowed same-sex marriage in California. She cited the voters' support for defining marriage as between a man and a woman in a statewide ballot measure several years ago and suggested that pushing the gay rights envelope too far could prompt a backlash.
Both Ms. Kennedy and the governor also say they support the death penalty and abortion rights. They are both pro-business, and they both insist that the time has come for the state, entrenched in a vicious partisan divide, to set aside party labels and create what Ms. Kennedy described as "a new kind of politics."
Clearly, she is not a conservative; but then, neither is Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he did not run as a conservative, either. We had a conservative in the same recall election in which the Governator was elected: Tom McClintock. He came in third, with less than half the votes of the ultra-liberal, MeCHA-supporting Cruz Bustamante.
As Arnold Schwarzenegger himself put it,
"I'm not stuck on my philosophy in a groove, like some people are - like the Republican or right-wing philosophy," he said. "I look at a Republican or a Democrat idea, and what it tells me about whether it's the right decision."
All of which makes the following attitude -- shared by every right-of-center political commentator I've heard or read -- pretty hilarious. Or it would be hilarious, if I didn't have to live in this furshlugginer state:
Some conservative Republicans have indicated they may not support the governor for re-election in the Republican primary next June.
Mike Spence, president of the California Republican Assembly, a conservative organization, said the Kennedy appointment had prompted a flurry of e-mail messages from "thousands" of disenchanted members.
"We were betrayed," Mr. Spence said. "We were loyal during the special election, loyal when he was criticized, and he turns around and puts a liberal partisan Democrat in charge."
Loyal? During the 2005 special election? It is to laugh! It was precisely the mulish refusal of the conservatives to turn out and vote that caused the catastrophe of that election. They couldn't even find the huevos to show up and vote for some minor restrictions on abortion, for the love of Mike! Let alone the truly crucial issues of defunding the Left and taking redistricting out of the hands of a state legislature that has so abused its authority that in 2004, not a single state Senate or Assembly seat changed parties.
Who do they plan to support in the 2006 primaries? McClintock again? And when Schwarzenegger wins the nomination (of course), will they once again stay home in droves, handing the victory to ultra-liberal Phil Angelides... who will certainly immediately sign a "genderless marriage" bill the moment the state legislature hands it to him again (they handed it to Arnold, but he vetoed it), and to hell with the will of the state voters. A Gov. Angelides will likely outlaw the death penalty, remove any and all restraints on abortion, and funnel tax money straight into the state Democratic Party coffers. But at least the California conservatives will be morally pure.
What clods the California Republican Party elite are. What ineffectual dolts. They are usless lumps of protoplasm who have been able to win only two major statewide election contests (two out of eleven) since 1994, both for the relatively powerless office of Secretary of State: Bill Jones' reelection in 1998 and Bruce McPherson's election last year (Arnold's victory in the 2003 recall came in spite of the Cal-GOP's lack of support.) No regular-election GOP wins for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, or either U.S. senator in ten years. The California Republican Party is one of the biggest running jokes in the country... especially considering that California is not a wildly liberal state, the way Massachusetts and Vermont are (both of which currently have Republican governors elected in regular elections; the Cal-GOP couldn't even beat Gray Davis, who won in 2002 with an approval rating of about 30%).
There is some hope that Susan Kennedy will at least be given the opportunity to show whether she is a hero or a goat, however:
"I am hearing from Republicans from both the Senate and the Assembly, as well as activist Republicans in the governor's office who are interacting with Susan regularly now, and what I'm hearing is they are impressed," Mr. [Jim] Brulte said.
Republican Brulte is the former state Senate minority leader, and he is probably still in contact with many Republicans in office here. Evidently, they feel a bit constrained from speaking out in public in support of Ms. Kennedy; but if Brulte is to be believed (and I don't know why not), they're more supportive in private.
I'm taking a wait-and-see on this appointment; I really think those assailing her are doing her -- and the state -- an injustice. They're trying to destroy her before she even begins. In other words, the California GOP is once again acting like the Democrats.
Too bad they can't win any California elections like the Democrats do.
December 27, 2005
Son of Give 'Em Hell, Arnie
Just a fast addendum to my post of eight days ago, Give 'Em Hell, Arnie. In that cheery missive, I noted that a coalition of Greens, Pink Helmets, and two Reds in Arnold Schwarzenegger's home town of Graz, Austria, had scheduled a vote to strike his name from the local sports stadium to punish him for doing his duty as California governor and not stopping the execution of the execrable Stanley "Tookie" Williams. But the Governator beat them to the punch, sending official word (on official stationery) that he was revoking Graz's right to use his name in any way -- and was even returning the town's "friendship ring," since evidently the town council were no friends of his.
I noted in that piece,
Mind, it wasn't the citizens of the town... it was the city council that decided to make a big stink, thus ingratiating themselves with the internationalist Left and the U.N. toadies.
Well sho' nuff, today the New York Times dropped the other shoe:
[Wolfgang Benedek, a professor of international law at Graz University and a leader of the anti-Schwarzenegger faction] allows that there is an element of elite versus popular opinion on this matter. A poll by the local newspaper found that over 70 percent of the public opposed removing Mr. Schwarzenegger's name from the stadium.
This adds to a practical consideration very much on Mr. Nagl's mind: that Graz will no longer be able to count on using its special relationship with the governor to promote its image.
Heh. No kidding, bub.
I also love this bit of Grazian boosterism:
"We had the great classical culture on the one side," Thomas Rajakovics, the mayor's spokesman, said, referring to other important figures who are associated with Graz, from the astronomer Johannes Kepler to the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Erwin Schrödinger, to the conductor Karl Böhm. "And on the other, we had Arnold Schwarzenegger and the popular culture. These were the two poles for us, but we're not allowed to use his name any more."
Yeah, well Kepler was born and grew up in Weil der Stadt; his only connection with Graz is that he got a job there later. Schrödinger was born and grew up in Erdberg and attended university in Vienna; he too got a job in Graz at one point in his life, which is his only connection with that city.
Of those three great men to be proud of, only Karl Böhm was actually born and raised in Graz. He was also an ardent supporter of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. I'm not exactly sure this is the image the town really wants to convey.
Better stick with Schwarzenegger!
December 19, 2005
Give 'Em Hell, Arnie!
For all his mistakes and missteps, his moderation, and even his Kennedy of a wife, this is why I can't help loving this guy!
Schwarzenegger to Hometown: Remove My Name
by Jennifer Coleman
Associated Press Writer
Dec 19th, 2005
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday told officials in his hometown in Austria to remove his name from a sports stadium and stop using his identity to promote the city. The governor's request came after politicians in Graz began a petition drive to rename the stadium, reacting to Schwarzenegger's decision last week to deny clemency to condemned inmate Stanley Tookie Williams. Opposition to the death penalty is strong in Austria.
So a bunch of self-righteous, narcissistic lefty politicos in Graz decided to grandstand by circulating a petition to remove Schwarzenegger's name from the Liebenauer Stadium in Arnold's home town; in fact, the petition was to rename the stadium the Stanley "Tookie" Williams Stadium.
Mind, it wasn't the citizens of the town... it was the city council that decided to make a big stink, thus ingratiating themselves with the internationalist Left and the U.N. toadies. Arnold evidently decided he'd had enough -- so he called their bluff:
In a letter that began "Dear Mister Mayor," Schwarzenegger said he decided to spare the Graz city council "further concern" should he be forced to make other clemency decisions while he's governor. Another inmate is scheduled to be executed in California Jan. 17.
"In all likelihood, during my term as governor, I will have to make similar and equally difficult decisions," Schwarzenegger said in the letter. "To spare the responsible politicians of the city of Graz further concern, I withdraw from them as of this day the right to use my name in association with the Liebenauer Stadium."
The Governator is making it as plain as the bulbous nose on the mayor's face that Graz needs Schwarzenegger a thousand times more than Schwarzenegger needs Graz. The only successes that he had in Austria were winning a couple of junior regional bodybuilding championships there in the 1960s; virtually everything he is today he owes to his new country, America. He is forcefully reminding them of that point.
Schwarzenegger is such an American!
He even upped the ante:
In the letter, Schwarzenegger also said he would no longer permit the use of his name "to advertise or promote the city of Graz in any way" and would return the city's "ring of honor."
The ring was given to him in a ceremony in Graz in 1999. At the time, Schwarzenegger said he considered it "a token of sincere friendship between my hometown and me."
"Since, however, the official Graz appears to no longer accept me as one of their own, this ring has lost its meaning and value to me. It is already in the mail," the governor wrote.
I'm guessing that what Arnold is pushing for (without coming out and saying so) is for the fine citizens of Graz to rein in the condescending councilmen, tell them to go stuff themselves with bratwurst, and demand that the city apologize to Schwarzenegger... likely the only really famous person ever to come from "the forgotten city of Austria" (the remembered city of Austria is of course Vienna).
(I just looked it up: the only other "famous" person is conductor, cellist, and violist Nicholas Harnoncourt; now there's a name to conjure with! But even he only moved there; he was born in Berlin, Germany.)
Wake up, Graziaks: leeching off the celebrity of Arnold Schwarzenegger is a privilege, not a right.
December 11, 2005
Tookie In a Coal Mine
Simply put, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's decision on clemency for Stanley "Tookie" Williams will be a harbinger of next year's campaign.
We already know that the Governator is running for reelection... but we don't know as what. So here is my prediction:
- If Arnold denies clemency, he will run for reelection as a Republican;
- If he grants clemency, then he will leave the Republican Party and run for reelection as an Independent.
I sure hope for the former; but if the latter happens, we'll all have the enormous satisfaction of saying "I told you so!" to Daniel Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee-blog California Insider, who has argued for several days now that Arnold's appointment of liberal Democrat Susan Kennedy shows that Schwarzenegger is bringing Democrats over to his cause -- not that Ms. Kennedy has been moving Arnold Schwarzenegger over to hers, as most conservatives believe.
I suppose it won't be too long before we find out who's right.
November 16, 2005
Fre-School For All
The elfin Daniel Weintraub reports that Rob "Meathead" Reiner has paid for enough goons to gather a million signatures for his socialist initiative to give "free" pre-school to all children in California -- subsidized by "the rich," of course; Weintraub avoided using those prolix and tendentious adjectives, however, so you may find the Big Lizards take more exciting.
Every four-year-old child will receive "free" pre-school, paid for by a special tax on individuals earning $400,000 or couples earning twice that. If this succeeds, I'm sure Reiner will next move an initiative to give every child breakfast and lunch, new, fashionable clothing, a G4 Power Mac, and in high school, a brand new car (hybrid, naturally).
Presumably, children who don't actually need pre-school because they can already read will be told to forget everything they have learned and sit through the stultifying classes anyway. Big Bother has spoken.
Weintraub also dryly notes that the money required for this safari into deepest, darkest nanny-statism -- about $2.4 billion per year -- has already been earmarked by state legislators for higher spending on K-12 education and also earmarked by California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides for paying down the massive California budget deficit. In other words, this now would be the third way that same money would be spent.
The first problem is that California's state income tax is already one of the highest in the nation... and every rise sends another huge batch of wealthy job-creators fleeing to other states, thus reducing the tax base and increasing the misery index. But liberal do-gooders like Rob Reiner never care much about the actual consequences of their bursts of taxpayer-subsidized generosity: what matters is the good intentions; the actual grubby effects are left to someone else, someone less "creative" and more proletarian to sort out. It is enough that Reiner is willing to dig down deep, deep into the pockets of some other guy's trousers to show his compassion for those downtrodden, uneducated ignoramuses who don't even know the whole alphabet by the time they're being potty trained.
But of course, as Karin Klein argues in a Los Angeles Times op-ed,
We don't need this. Preschool is already more "universal" in California than you might think. Somewhere within that patchwork are an estimated 70% of all the 4-year-olds in the state — about 63% in preschool centers, and a handful in family child care. The universal-preschool crowd hopes to raise that to 80%. So to get an additional 10% enrolled, taxes would pick up the bill for the other 70% as well. California's nonuniversal system already covers a bigger percentage of its 4-year-old population than Georgia's universal pre-kindergarten system, now in its 12th year. [Emphasis added]
She also argues that the standardization envisioned by the Reiners of the world would likely decrease, not increase, the positive effects of such pre-kindergarten education:
Consider Doggett's description of what happens in a quality preschool class:
A little boy is happily building with blocks. The teacher (who has a bachelor's degree, of course) comes up to talk with him about the structure he's building. She suggests that he bring some model cars over to incorporate with the blocks. If the blocks make a roadway, how would the cars get to the road? In this way, Doggett says, the child is engaged in critical thinking on how to build a ramp. (In reality, he probably decides with the perfect wisdom of his age that cars can fly.)
Some parents might love this little "teachable moment" scenario. I feel like screaming, "For pity's sake, can't 4-year-olds play with blocks anymore without some teacher trying to turn them into future transportation planning administrators, GS-12, Level B?"
The Reiner initiative's "statewide preschool content standards" would be devised by the state schools' superintendent. These would be "aligned with statewide academic standards" and carried out and supervised by county education departments. It makes you want to weep for those tots.
It makes me want to weep for my home state.
So I guess the rule is that four year olds are best taken away from their parents to be
indoctrinated educated by the government -- while fourteen year olds are best taken away to give them abortions without the parents even being so much as notified.
Am I the only one who detects a pattern here?
November 10, 2005
"In But Not of" California
Here are some thoughts, in no particular order, upon further reflection on the California elections.
Where were you conservatives?
Hugh Hewitt rightly points out that Arnold Schwarzenegger has not really reached out to the conservative base of the California Republican Party:
Name the conservative icon upon whom you depend and to whom you go for solid advice? There isn't one.
Name the single conservative cause with which you are associated.
Spending restraint? Private property rights? Limits on abortion? Second Amendment advocacy? Judges?
You have picked fights with all the right people, but over what? Redistricting that might have cost the GOP crucial seats in D.C., a spending cap that wasn't, teacher tenure tweaks? Again, mixing it up with the public employee unions was fine, but off-year elections aren't exactly gladiator time, especially when the budget got passed because your advisors didn't want a show-down in the summer....
Bring in some senior advisors with pedigrees on the right and listen to them. Ask Bruce Herschensohn to spend a couple of days a week in the offices, as a "minsiter without portfolio." You don't have to do a thing he recommends, but there is no more respected figure on the California right than Bruce. Associated with Bruce, but also with Reagan, is Ken Khachigian. Ask Ken to take up a post somewhere on the battlements. And raid Hoover --get Robinson to convene a three day idea-fest with the folks who haven't spent their lives trading quarter percents with Sacramento's lobbyists.
But this is a rare moment when I'm really going to take Hugh to the woodshed. All right, Mr. Smarty-Pants Political Mavin... where the hell were Bruce Herchensohn and Ken Khachigian in this bloody ballot fight?
What is Hugh's point? That Herschensohn could have helped us out, but that he sat on his hands and did nothing because he didn't get a personal invitation from the governor? Well for God's sake, neither did I: but I did everything I could to push for these initiatives, in particular the two most important ones: Propositions 75 (paycheck protection) and 77 (redistricting reform). Just click on the Politics - California topic on the right (it's under Politics).
I'm sure those posts must have bored a lot my non-Californian readers. But I wouldn't give up; this is my state, and I'm not going to hand it over to the corrupt Left without a fight.
Evidently, Brush Herschensohn made a different choice.
If "there is no more respected figure on the California right than Bruce," then why the hell can't I find him on the front lines? Or even the rear guard? Did he even write a column about these initiatives? I sure didn't see it, and I can't find one now.
How about Tom Campbell? Bill Simon? Where was everybody? For that matter, where was Hugh Hewitt? The only California story I recall on Hugh's site in the past few weeks, the very time that the initiatives started to have trouble, was about the UC San Diego student who made a porn film. I listen to Hugh's radio show pretty religiously (I don't mean I don phylacteries; I mean I listen every day), and I don't recall any segments devoted to, say, paycheck protection, or even to Proposition 73, that would have required a waiting period and parental notification before a minor got an abortion. If there were, it wasn't enough for me to notice, let alone Hugh's readers who weren't sure whether they would vote. I guess Hugh Hewitt is "in but not of" California.
It's nice he found time to lecture Schwarzenegger about why he lost; but why couldn't Hugh find time to fight for the initiatives while he still had a chance to change the outcome, when he could have fired up the base? In fact, damned few California bloggers or pundits pitched in to help, and almost no well-known conservative (or at least Republican) politicians. Where were Pete Wilson and George Deukmeijian?
How many people did the Cal-GOP bus to the polls? How many did they call and remind about the election, urge to vote? I know I got exactly ZERO phone calls from human beings urging me to support these initiatives; I did get a couple from Democratic activists trying to talk me into voting against them. I even called the local Glendale GOP headquarters myself several times, asking what I could do to help the election: they said "we'll get back to you," and of course they never did.
This is Dan Lungren and Matt Fong all over again. This was a very low-turnout election. Had the conservative base turned out and voted, we would have won -- at least on a few of the initiatives, including the most important one, Proposition 75 (paycheck protection).
Look, Arnold Schwarzenegger is not a conservative. He has never claimed to be a conservative. Yet he has done many things for conservatives in this mixed state in the past two years: for example, he vetoed the same-sex marriage bill, despite the fact that he supports same-sex marriage, because the voters had voted against it.
He refused to raise taxes, even when that would have made it much easier to cut a deal with the Democrats in the legislature. And he pushed an initiative onto the ballot that was undeniably conservative -- a big one, too: Proposition 75 would have required public-employee unions to get written permission before using any membership dues money for political purposes. Not only that, but the Governator also endorsed Proposition 73, which put restrictions on abortion. Conservatives can maybe argue against Propositions 74 (teacher tenure reform), 76 (state spending restrictions), and 77 (redistricting reform) for not being "pure" enough conservatism... but 73 and 75 were purer than Ivory Soap.
And of course, since no good deed goes unpunished, how did conservatives respond? By sitting on their hands and refusing to turn out and vote. Great strategy, guys! Now guess what? Hugh's advice to Schwarzenegger has become garbage, because the governor is now the lamest of all lame ducks. As Daniel Weintraub noted, the reason Schwarzenegger went to the ballot box in the first place was that the Democrats in the State Senate and the Assembly refused to negotiate in good faith. So he went over their heads to the people.
And because the conservatives refused to turn out, they turned the governor's threats into idle smoke. Now Schwarzenegger has absolutely nothing to bargain with, nothing he can threaten, and the only things he can offer is Liberalism Lite.
Gee... how much good-faith negotiating with Governor Schwarzenegger do you suppose the Democrats intend to engage in now? How much of the conservative agenda do you think will get enacted? Smooth move, Ex-Lax.
Sometimes I completely understand why we're so often called "the stupid party." I know many of you weren't thrilled with every initiative Schwarzenegger was pushing, and you're angry that you can't get a hard-core conservative governor in this blue state, and you wish he were Ronald Reagan. But for God's sake, even Reagan knew enough to understand that if half a loaf is all that you can get, you take it and be glad... then you start bargaining for the other half.
But you know what we have now? Crumbs. Bupkis. And now there's about a 50-50 chance we'll have Governor Angelides by January 2007. Let's do the math: ultra-leftist state legislature + left-liberal governor = what?
I suspect conservatives who sat home and sulked may soon come to feel like the Sunnis shortly after that first election. The only difference is, we won't get a Mulligan.
November 9, 2005
Same Old Same Old
Post-Mortem and Dead-Dog Party
Well, very disappointing results in California. I tend to be optimistic (have you noticed?), so it's always a shock to me when Republicans get in a "mood," sit home, and sulk, ceding the election to the Democrats -- and then complain that Gov. Schwarzenegger isn't doing enough conservative stuff!
But taking the long view across the nation, what we saw was a "status-quo" election: voters everywhere decided not to change anything. That was bad for Republicans in California, New Jersey, and Virginia (two liberal Democratic states and one mixed state), but good for them in New York City, Texas, and Ohio.
- California: every initiative failed -- the Governator's four, parental notification, both the consumer activist phramaceutical plan and the one pushed by the pharmaceutical companies, and even energy reregulation, a big deal with the California Democrats. Short-term fallout: bad news for Arnold; unless he creates a huge turnaround in GOP support (or the Dems nominate a doofus), he's a dead duck in 2006. But the legislative Democrats don't fare any better.
- New Jersey: Sen. Jon Corzine won as governor; ho-hum. This one was never in any doubt. And of course, NJ was already in Democratic hands before the election, so it's not a crushing defeat for the Republicans or a "harbinger" of 2006, no matter what the MSM tries to sell you. Short-term fallout: Corzine may now fancy himself a serious contender for the presidency, having been both a senator and a governor. But massive vote buying ($60 million to buy his senate seat, another $30 to buy the governor's mansion) may play well in Sopranos territory, but it's not the righteous stuff to get elected president.
- Virginia: I thought we had a shot in this one; Jerry Kilgore started out the campaign strong, but he was a weak finisher, and he was hurt by Republican apathy in the wake of the various setbacks of the first year of Bush's second term. Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, buoyed by the stratospheric approval ratings of Mark Warner (the outgoing Democratic governor), finished strong, persuasively beating Kilgore by five points. Note that, again contrary to the MSM spin, Virginia is not a "red state," at least as far as the governorship goes. As Rich Galen points out, four of the last six governors of Virginia have been Democrats. Short-term fallout: Mark Warner's stock for 2008 significantly improved, which may cause problems for La Hill, giving her another strong competitor to the "moderate" mantle she is (falsely) trying to claim. I don't believe she will even be nominated, and this is just one more straw on her camel's back.
- New York City: the huge surprise was that Mayor Michael Bloomberg got only 59% of the vote, instead of 99%. This is the fourth straight election in which Democrats have been thumped in the city they have long thought of as their capital... and it's the most decisive drubbing in modern New York City history, larger even than Fiorello LaGuardia's 1937 landslide of 19%. Short-term fallout: shellshocked New York Democrats will huddle to decide whether they would have better luck running a Chupacabra in 2009.
- Texas: another entry in the "I saved traditional marriage" sweepstakes! There are now nineteen states (I believe) that have passed explicit constitutional amendments defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Short-term fallout: one out of every twenty-three left-liberals in the country will spontaneously combust.
- Ohio: curiously, in Ohio, it was the Democrats who were desperate to have someone other than the legislature draw the district boundaries. I have no idea if the Ohio redistricting (State Issue 4) was as egregious a gerrymander as the one in California -- it's hard to top "perfection" (not a single seat changing parties in 2004). But in any event, the voters rejected the identical change whether it would benefit Republicans (California Proposition 77) or Democrats (Ohio). Short-term fallout: nothing changes (same with 77). Ohio State Issue 4 was rejected by an even bigger margin (70 to 30) than was California Proposition 77 (59-40)... and three other significant, Democrat-backed changes to Ohio elections procedures (State Issues 2, 3, and 5) were likewise turned back.
So not a great day, but not a catastrophic one, either. Basically, everything was put on hold by the voters until 2006 (or 2009, in the case of New York).
November 8, 2005
Vote Early, Vote Often!
All of the polls on the important California ballot inititatives have turned south, but I'm not buying their turnout models. For one thing, the idea that Californians would vote down an initiative to require that before minors can get an abortion, they merely have to notify (not even get permission from!) their parents is troubling to me. Well, we'll see how it turns out.
There are two initiatives that are worth the entire rest of the ballot put together: Proposition 75 (paycheck protection) and Proposition 77 (redistricting reform). The first is slightly leading or trailing, depending on the poll, and will definitely be decided on turnout: if we do better than expected, we'll win this one!
Prop 77 is dicier: it will take every concerned Republican to go and vote for us to pull this one out... but arguably, it would have been a slam-dunk, were it not for the lying, tendentious campaign against it. A campaign that was so scurrilous and tricky, it actually sucked in some well-known neocons to rail against the silly caricature of Proposition 77 that the Left put out... including David Horowitz as the prime "useful idiot!"
Horowitz was somehow led to believe that it was "judicial activism" to allow retired judges to draw the proposed district lines -- which would then have to be approved by a vote of the people before it could be used. I understand now why Horowitz was so easy to convince that in the 1960s that Marxism was the wave of the future: he's just plain gullible.
All we need to do is beat expectations, and we'll win this election. If we live down to the sniggering presumption that Republican bumpuses won't bother to show up and vote -- I guess we're too busy picking fleas out of each others' hairy pelts and peeling bananas with our feet -- then we'll lose. It's as simple as that.
But even if you are a Democrat, you should vote for both of these: why should unions be able to extort dues from members then use them to promote policies and candidates that the member hates? That's just plain nuts. Vote YES on Proposition 75 to force the unions to get prior written consent before using a member's dues for that purpose. That is as fair as can be.
And second, right now, your vote counts for nothing -- even if you are a Democrat! This is because right now, there is exactly zero incentive for any strong challengers in this intensely gerrymandered legislature. It makes no difference how you vote; they don't need to listen to you, and they don't care about you.
They don't have to care: their seats are all assured. In 2004, despite scores of seats up for "election," not one single seat changed parties!
Vote YES on Proposition 77 -- erase all these "safe" seats and bring back competitive districts, as God and the Founders intended.
November 2, 2005
The latest surveys from various sources are still mixed -- but now they're virtually incomprehensible. As always, Daniel Weintraub leads the way with his Sacramento Bee-blog California Insider.
The disappointment is SurveyUSA, which consistently had all four of the Schwarzenegger initiatives up; now it has Proposition 73 (Parental Notification Before Abortion) winning by 55-44, 77 (Redistricting Reform) losing by 44-53, and 74 (Teacher Tenure Reform), 75 (Paycheck Protection), and 76 (State Spending Limitation) all dead even.
One caveat: SurveyUSA uses short, punchy descriptions of the ballot initiatives. But they did a "split ballot" on Proposition 76 this time and noticed that the longer their description was, the worse the initiative did: with the original description of 36 words, the measure ties 49-49; with a longer description of 51 words, Proposition 76 loses by 42-56; and with the third description of 54 words, it loses by a whopping twenty-five percent: 36-61!
Bear in mind, these descriptions are all read to the respondents over the telephone (by a recorded voice); they do not have them in written form before them. It's entirely possible that the longer a description that the respondents have to listen to on the phone, the more lost they become -- and when they get lost, they tend to vote No. Interestingly, SurveyUSA noted that the longest description they read is similar to the descriptions read by the other two phone pollsters, the Field Poll and the PPIC poll... both of whom showed strikingly similar results for Proposition 76: losing by 28% and 32%, respectively.
By contrast, a new Knowledge Networks Poll conducted by the Hoover Institute of Stanford University shows a kinder picture, with only Proposition 76 (State Spending Limitation) losing, by 10 points (45-55). The other initiatives are all winning.
Once again, the...
Table 1: Justifiably World Famous Big-Lizards Vote-At-a-Glance Table
Survey USA (in bold); Stanford Knowledge Net Poll (in italics)
- Prop 73: Parental Notification Before Abortion
55 yes, 44 no (2% undecided) lead: +11
58 yes, 42 no (0% undecided) lead: +16
- Prop 74: Teacher Tenure Reform
49 yes, 50 no (1% undecided) trail: -1
53 yes, 47 no (0% undecided) lead: +6
- Prop 75: Paycheck Protection
50 yes, 49 no (2% undecided) lead: +1
64 yes, 36 no, (0% undecided) lead: +28
- Prop 76: Limit State Spending Growth
49 yes, 49 no (2% undecided) Tie: 0
45 yes, 55 no (0% undecided) trail: +10
- Prop 77: Redistricting Reform
44 yes, 53 no (3% undecided) trail: -9
55 yes, 45 no (0% undecided) lead: +10
(The Knowledge Net Poll is a "forcing poll," where respondents do not have the option of voting "no opinion" or "undecided;" just as with the real ballot, they can vote Yes, vote No, or skip the question -- in which case they are not counted for that question. That is why all questions have 0% undecided above.)
I have one reason to be somewhat skeptical of the Knowledge Net Poll -- and one reason to consider it more reliable:
- My back of the envelope calculations indicate the poll may have oversampled Republicans.
Assuming that roughly the same people voted on each question, taking the first three questions, turning everything into matricies and inverting, I ended up calculating 42% Republicans, 25% Independents, and 34% Democrats. Now, bear in mind that the initial sample was probably closer to the state party percentage; it's possible this simply represents a "side prediction" that turnout will be higher among Republicans. But I'm still a bit worried, and this makes me somewhat skeptical about the results.
Therefore, I recalculated all the question results using two alternative turnout models; see Table 2 below.
- On the other hand, unlike the other polls, the Knowledge Networks Poll is not a telephone poll. Instead, respondents vote on a simulated paper ballot, just as they would vote in the voting booth.
The ballot descriptions are there in front of them, and they can read and reread as necessary, rather than just listening over the phone. This makes it a better simulation of the actual vote than a telephone poll.
As in the 2003 California Recall Election Surveys conducted by Stanford University and Knowledge Networks, the wording from the actual ballot was presented to survey respondents. Therefore, there was not provided to respondents a category to capture “undecided” or “not sure” responses. Respondents were forced, as in the actual ballot, to make a “vote” decision or to skip a ballot question. Also, as in an actual vote decision, the interview simulated conditions in the ballot box in that an interviewer did not administer the ballot questions; the questionnaire is self-administered.
(Daniel Weintraub opines that during the 2003 California Recall election, both the SurveyUSA poll and the Knowledge Networks Poll "pretty much nailed it.")
Here is a table contrasting what you get with the original mix, as above (in bold); then after correcting the percentages of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats to 37.5%, 25%, and 37.5% (equal numbers of Rs and Ds, italics); and then finally correcting again to flip the percentage of Rs, Independents, and Ds to 34%, 25%, and 42% (ordinary Roman text):
Table 2: Knowledge Networks Poll, Three Turnout Models
- Prop 73: Parental Notification Before Abortion Robust Lead
58 yes, 42 no -- lead: +16
56 yes, 44 no -- lead: +12
55 yes, 45 no -- lead: +10
- Prop 74: Teacher Tenure Reform Shaky Lead
53 yes, 47 no -- lead: +6
50 yes, 50 no -- Tie
48 yes, 52 no -- trail: -4
- Prop 75: Paycheck Protection Robust Lead
64 yes, 36 no -- lead: +28
61 yes, 39 no -- lead: +22
59 yes, 41 no -- lead: +18
- Prop 76: Limit State Spending Growth Loser
45 yes, 55 no -- Trail: -10
41yes, 59 no -- trail: -18
39 yes, 61 no -- trail: -22
- Prop 77: Redistricting Reform Good Lead
55 yes, 45 no -- lead: +10
52 yes, 48 no -- lead: +4
50 yes, 50 no -- Tie
I define an initiative as having a "robust lead" if it wins in all three turnout models; it has a "good lead" if it wins in two of the three; it has a "shaky lead" if it leads only in the first; and one initiative is a "loser," losing in all three turnout models.
So that's my story, and I'm sticking to it!
November 1, 2005
Defund the Thugs
Of the five major initiatives on the California ballot this year -- I don't consider either of the two drug-cost initiatives all that important; I voted for one and against the other -- the two with the most long-term urgency are Proposition 77, Redistricting Reform, of course... and Proposition 75, Paycheck Protection.
For a perfect example of why we so urgently need to sever the automatic pipeline from the employee's wallet to the public-employee unions' campaign coffers, just take a look at this video, courtesy of Daniel Weintraub's Bee-blog, California Insider:
(This video is work safe; it's off the KCAL Channel 9 News, and is fairly short.)
(Apologies to Daniel for hot-linking the video, but as his is a corporate (newspaper) site, and I deliberately waited a day to give him the scoop, and his site doesn't accept comments or trackbacks anyway -- I thought it was reasonable to link directly. By the way, do you notice how often I link California Insider? Take the hint and start reading him every day!)
The video shows an anti-Schwarzenegger rally by a small crowd of union members. One of the Governator's initiatives would force public-employee unions to first get written permission from each member before using any of his dues money for political purposes... and they don't like the restriction one bit.
Nor do they like anyone who supports it. In the video, a lone woman, identified as Gene Vieve Peters, showed up at the rally with some pro-initiative, pro-Schwarzenegger signs. You will see the crowd surround her, intimidate and harass her, and then violently lay hands on her, seizing her materials and destroying them. Even one of the "security" guards (orange Security vest) snatches the woman's signs and proceeds to tear them into pieces with a visceral hatred that makes me wonder how little more it would have taken for that woman to have torn up Ms. Peters instead of her campaign placards.
It is a videotape of sheer wanton union thuggery, nothing less. And this picture makes the case better than ten thousand words why we need, ultimately, to defund the thugs.
Yes on 75 -- no on political violence. This isn't Iraq or Russia or even France... this is America the free and California, the Golden State. For God's sake, haven't the unionistas even enough wit to rationally answer one lone woman at a rally of hundreds of their own supporters?
I hope this gets played every day in the news from now until the vote on Tuesday, November 8th. If it is, we win in a landslide.
October 28, 2005
Survey Says... Whaddit Say?
Today, Big Lizards offers a delectable Smorgasbord of poll results... take your pick!
Daniel Weintraub's Bee-blog California Insider links to a poll by the left-leaning* Public Policy Institute of California; he previously linked to Survey USA's poll of the same race; and he quotes from Governor Schwarzenegger's team on their internal polling on the four issues the governor put on the ballot. This table compares all three sources. Note that the governor's campaign polling did not issue actual figures, but they characterized them.
Frankly, I'm inclined to go with the third, the governor's version: first, it's in between the other two; second, campaign polling is often the most accurate of all -- unless they're lying about it, of course. But it doesn't sound like it, or they would have said they were all leading (since then Survey USA would give them cover).
In any event, I'll post 'em all here, so that everybody on all sides can feel depressed and anxious!
Survey USA (in bold) has all the measures up! Public Policy Institute (italics) has all of them down! The Governator's campaign polling (ordinary Roman type) has the results mixed!
- Prop 74: Teacher Tenure Reform
53 yes, 45 no (1% undecided) lead: +8
46 yes, 48 no (6% undecided) trail -2
- Prop 75: Paycheck Protection
56 yes, 42 no (2% undecided) lead: +14
46 yes, 46 no, (8% undecided) dead even
- Prop 76: Limit State Spending Growth
54 yes, 41 no (5% undecided) lead: +13
30 yes, 62 no (8% undecided) trail -32
- Prop 77: Redistricting Reform
54 yes, 41 no (5% undecided) lead: +13
36 yes, 50 no (14% undecided) trail -14
Well... now you know why I tend not to take polling very seriously!
* "Left leaning Public Policy Institute of California": in the poll, 60% disapprove of George Bush, but only 29% disapprove of Barbara Boxer. There are a lot of liberals in California, but not that many! If there were, then why did the 2002 gubernatorial election go down to the wire with Gray Davis winning only 47.4% to 42.4% against one of the (let's face it) geekiest major electoral candidates ever, Bill Simon?
October 25, 2005
The Great Debate on the Fate of the State
It ain't too late!
Daniel Weintraub live-blogs the debate last night in Walnut Creek (just across the bay from San Francisco) between legislative Democrats and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. They each bobbed and weaved and managed to slip many audience jabs; but in the end, voter information was inadvertently generated -- to the advantage of the Governator, in Weintraub's expert scoring.
Start here, then just keep reading and clicking the "forward" links (the ones that include ">>") until you get to the post titled My take.
Lotsa fun and laffs!
October 19, 2005
Everybody's Gone Survey, SurveyUSA - Page 2
Daniel Weintraub notes in his Bee-blog, California Insider, that the leads enjoyed by Governor Schwarzenegger's five ballot initiatives for California' special election on November 8th have narrowed from their Olympian heights two weeks ago; but they are still considerably ahead.
According to SurveyUSA's latest poll, four of the five still hold commanding, double-digit leads; only Proposition 74's lead (reforming teacher tenure) has dropped into single digits, down to 8% from 11% two weeks ago.
Here are the current results:
Results of SurveyUSA Election Poll #7189
Filtering: 1,200 California adults were interviewed 10/15/05 - 10/17/05. Of them, 963 were registered voters. Of them, 609 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 73. 613 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 74. 609 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 75. 594 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 76. 600 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 77. Crosstabs reflect "likely" voters. Voter interest in this election has increased: in an identical poll of 1,200 California adults 2 weeks ago, at most 529 voters were judged to be "likely" to vote on any question. No change was made to the way voters were filtered or the way questions were asked.
Questions on Propositions 73, 74, and 75 have a margin of error of 4.0%; questions on Propositions 76 and 77 have an MOE of 4.1%.
- Prop 73: 60 yes, 38 no (2% undecided) lead: +22
Parental Abortion Notification
- Prop 74: 53 yes, 45 no (1% undecided) lead: +8
Teacher Tenure Reform
- Prop 75: 56 yes, 42 no (2% undecided) lead: +14
- Prop 76: 54 yes, 41 no (5% undecided) lead: +13
Limit State Spending Growth
- Prop 77: 54 yes, 41 no (5% undecided) lead: +13
My own speculation is that much, if not all, of the movement comes from Democrats "coming home" to oppose the measures, following the many, many millions of dollars spent on attack ads by the teachers unions and other hard-left sources, ads that skirt as close to flatly lying as the FEC and FCC will allow. We'll see if the ads produced by the governator and the Cal-GOP ads that will debut next week can bring these waverers back into line.
October 17, 2005
Paycheck Protection Initiative Endorsed By -- the Los Angeles Times?!
In an astonishing burst of good sense, decency, and even courage, the Los Angeles Times has actually endorsed Proposition 75, the initiative that would ban public-employee unions from using member dues for political purposes without the prior written consent of the member. This according to the ever-reliable Daniel Weintraub at the Sacramento Bee, whose Bee-blog, California Insider, is a daily must-read at Big Lizards central.
Weintraub links to the LA Times editorial:
IN 1998, THIS PAGE OPPOSED Proposition 226, the so-called paycheck-protection measure that sought to bar labor unions from spending a member's dues for political activities in the absence of that member's consent. We considered that initiative a disingenuous "good government" move aimed at diminishing the voice of only one side on public policy debates, and we would oppose such a proposition again if it were on this year's ballot.
But contrary to some of the arguments being mustered both for and against Proposition 75, this election's version of "paycheck protection" is significantly different than Proposition 226: It applies only to public employee unions. We support this more narrowly tailored initiative primarily as a means of lessening the power of public employee unions in Sacramento, but also as a way of reinforcing the right of union members to insist that their hard-earned income not be diverted to political causes they don't endorse.
Ah, the world, which had been wobbling on its axis, has steadied itself: the Times supports the initiative, but for a silly and contradictory reason! They support, among other things, "the right of union members to insist that their hard-earned income not be diverted to political causes they don't endorse." But they nevertheless opposed Prop. 226, which would have upheld "the right of union members to insist that their hard-earned income not be diverted to political causes they don't endorse."
So evidently, they only support the right of public employees to be free of such odious misuse of their paychecks!
(The Times cites the thoroughly discredited canard that a similar restriction on private-employee unions would be wrong because corporations would still be able to contribute money without asking shareholders. But this is absurd: shareholders can register their disapproval by dumping their stock; I dumped my Disney stock some time ago because I despised the politics Michael Eiser was funding, and I suffered no financial setback. But absent such an initiative, the only way for an employee, public or private, to stop his union money going to causes he loathes would be to quit his job and go on the dole.
(There already is a law, on paper, "allowing" members to specifically tell the union not to use their dues for politicking; but union thugs have a habit of "hatting" and beating anyone who tries to use it.)
The Times supports the First-Amendment rights of conservatives, but only in a limited fashion... and only because even politcos like Antonio Villaraigosa despise the teachers unions.
Sanity is restored. I am glad to have the Times on my side for a change, but at least I don't have to rethink the fundamental nature of reality!
October 11, 2005
Teachers Union Spending Tomorrow's Dues Today
Both Daniel Weintraub, on his Sacramento Bee-blog, and Brit Hume on Fox News Channel report that the California Teachers Association, the state's largest teachers' union -- in fact, at 335,000 members, the largest union in the state, and the local affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA) -- has already blown the $50 million they had budgeted to fight against all four of Governor Schwarzenegger's ballot initiatives:
- Proposition 74 - teacher tenure reform
- Proposition 75 - paycheck protection
- Proposition 76 - limit state spending growth
- Proposition 77 - redistricting reform
(For an example of how unbiased is the union's political use of member dues, come gawk at their web site!)
That $50 million was taken from a union-dues surcharge; it is, of course, precisely the sort of political spending of member dues that would be banned under Proposition 75, paycheck protection. So now that they have spent all the money they could afford, and the initiatives are doing better than ever in the polling, what is the "poor" union to do next?
Simple: since they know they won't be able to spend dues tomorrow, after the initiative passes, they've decided to spend tomorrow's dues today. The CTA is arranging a $40 million line of credit to continue spending every dime of their members' money that they can shake loose, with complete disregard for the political leanings of those teachers.
But it's even worse than that: on Monday's Special Report With Brit Hume, Hume reports that the union has already borrowed as much as $34 million for their previous spending spree:
The group has already spent the $50 million it raised to fight the initiatives — which would make it easier to fire teachers with tenure and increase restrictions on unions using members' dues for political campaigns.
Now, the CTA is asking for an extra $40 million in credit to keep up the fight — on top of $34 million in loans the union is already paying down.
If maths were not your long suit, that works out to $90 million of union dues going to fight against a ballot initiative that would restrict the use of union dues for fighting ballot initiatives! Plus enough previous debt to raise the total debt to $74 million. Now that's what I call painting yourself into a hole!
And be sure to note that the CTA is not only opposing Propositions 74 and 75, which arguably affect teachers, but also 76 (which simply caps state spending growth) and even 77, which changes how the legislature is reapportioned; neither of these two have any direct connection with teachers, schools, students, or education whatsoever.
[Hat tip to Cloud Master for catching a typo in the last paragraph!]
They also support Proposition 79, one of the two prescription-drug price-control initiatives, and Proposition 80, to completely re-regulate the electrical grid. I have a hard time seeing what any of that has to do with teachers, either. The fact that both initiatives are heavily supported by the Democrats in the state legislature (and Schwarzenegger's initiatives are opposed) is the most likely explanation for the CTA's cheerleading.
The message is clear: never argue with a union that buys red ink by the barrel!
October 4, 2005
Everybody's Gone Survey, SurveyUSA
Daniel Weintraub's always-excellent California Insider flagged new survey results on various California state ballot initiatives.
In an abrupt and rather stunning turn-around, SurveyUSA, the newest poll of the five California initiatives being pushed by Gov. Arnold Schawarzenegger, Propositions 73-77, shows all of them running ahead for the first time.
The smallest lead is held by Prop. 74, which requires teachers to serve for five years before getting tenure, rather than the two years they have to serve today; Prop. 74 leads by only 11%. The largest leads are held by Props. 75 and 77, both of which lead by 23%: Prop. 75, Paycheck Protection, requires prior written approval by a public-employee union member before the union can use any part of his dues for political purposes; Prop. 77, Redistricting Reform, requires districts to be drawn by a 3-judge panel and approved by voters, rather than allowing the legislature to draw the district lines, as they do today.
Results of SurveyUSA Election Poll #7043
Filtering: 1,200 California adults were interviewed 9/30/05 - 10/2/05. Of them, 989 were registered voters. Of them, 529 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 73. 528 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 74. 529 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 75. 507 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 76. 517 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 77. Crosstabs reflect "likely" voters.
All survey questions have a margin of error of 4.3%, except for Prop. 76, where the MOE is 4.4%.
- Prop 73: 59 yes, 39 no (2% undecided) lead: +20
Parental Abortion Notification
- Prop 74: 55 yes, 44 no (2% undecided) lead: +11
Teacher Tenure Reform
- Prop 75: 60 yes, 37 no (3% undecided) lead: +23
- Prop 76: 58 yes, 36 no (6% undecided) lead: +22
Limit State Spending Growth
- Prop 77: 59 yes, 36 no (5% undecided) lead: +23
SurveyUSA breaks down the vote by various demographics; their site is pretty cool and well designed -- if you have a recent browser -- I have no idea how well it would work on Internet Explorer 4.0!
This is truly excellent news. Previous polls had shown the measures limping towards defeat, but in each case with very large "undecided" respondents. I almost blogged about this earlier, but I wasn't sure how to explain it: the problem in the earlier polls were lengthy, hard-to-parse questions and no explanation of any of the measures. I was certain that most people's reaction was "huh? I don't get it," and that was artificially lowering the Yes vote.
But in the SurveyUSA poll, the measures are clearly, succinctly, and impartially explained. For example, Prop. 75, what I call Paycheck Protection, is explained thus:
Next, Proposition 75. Proposition 75 prohibits public employee unions from using union dues for political purposes without the written consent of union members. If the special election were today, would you vote Yes on Proposition 75? Or would you vote no?
And my favorite, Prop. 77, which I call Redistricting Reform:
Finally, Proposition 77. Proposition 77 changes the way California draws boundaries for Congressional and legislative districts. District boundaries would be drawn by a panel of retired judges and approved by voters in a statewide election. If the special election were today, would you vote Yes on 77? Or would you vote no?
Surprise, surprise on the Jungle Cruise tonight: when these simple and obvious reform measures are actually explained to the voters, the voters are overwhelmingly enthusiastic.
So chin up, folks; I think we're going to see some significant changes in the structure of California in just a few years. Redistricting Reform alone will break up the Democratic gerrymander and make a great many seats in the Assembly and State Senate competitive again.
September 22, 2005
UPDATE September 23rd, 2005: Most recent Field polling added; see end
(Not to be confused with Arnold's Abs, which we haven't seen since he became governor... and probably for good reason!)
Governor Schwarzenegger has finally debuted a television ad supporting his four major initiatives for the upcoming special election, to be held on Tuesday, November 8th, 2005 -- just shy of seven weeks from today. You can view the ad by following the link from Dan Weitraub's California Insider MSM-blog.
The initiatives proposed by the governor are the following; note that the titles are mine (more concise than the ones given on the ballot), but the brief, bulleted descriptions are straight off the California Secretary of State's website:
Proposition 74: Teacher Tenure
- Increases length of time required before a teacher may become a permanent employee from two complete consecutive school years to five complete consecutive school years.
- Measure applies to teachers whose probationary period commenced during or after the 2003–2004
- Modifies the process by which school boards can dismiss a permanent teaching employee who receives
two consecutive unsatisfactory performance evaluations.
Proposition 75: Paycheck Protection
- Prohibits the use by public employee labor organizations of public employee dues or fees for political contributions except with the prior consent of individual public employees each year on a specified written form.
- Restriction does not apply to dues or fees collected for charitable organizations, health care
insurance, or other purposes directly benefitting the public employee.
- Requires public employee labor organizations to maintain and submit records to Fair Political
Practices Commission concerning individual public employees’ and organizations’ political
- These records are not subject to public disclosure.
Proposition 76: School Spending
- Limits state spending to prior year’s level plus three previous years’ average revenue growth.
- Changes state minimum school funding requirements (Proposition 98); eliminates repayment requirement
when minimum funding suspended.
- Excludes appropriations above the minimum from schools’ funding base.
- Directs excess General Fund revenues, currently directed to schools/tax relief, to budget reserve, specified
construction, debt repayment.
- Permits Governor, under specified circumstances, to reduce appropriations of Governor’s choosing,
including employee compensation/state contracts.
- Continues prior year appropriations if state budget delayed.
- Prohibits state special funds borrowing.
- Requires payment of local government mandates.
Proposition 77: Redistricting Reform
- Amends process for redistricting California’s Senate, Assembly, Congressional and Board of Equalization districts.
- Requires panel of three retired judges, selected by legislative leaders, to adopt new redistricting plan if
measure passes and after each national census.
- Panel must consider legislative, public comments/hold public hearings.
- Redistricting plan effective when adopted by panel and filed with Secretary of State; governs next statewide
primary/general elections even if voters reject plan.
- If voters reject redistricting plan, process repeats, but officials elected under rejected plan serve full terms.
- Allows 45 days to seek judicial review of adopted redistricting plan.
The single ad so far (which covers all four initiatives) is pretty good, well produced: it reduces the argument down to the short and pithy version that is easily conveyed and long remembered. Once this ad and the ones that follow begin running in earnest, I expect to see support increase significantly for these initiatives -- which have been battered for weeks now by relentless attack from the Democrats, financed by the bottomless pit of money created by exactly the problem that Proposition 75 is trying to end.
To me, the two most critical are Propositions 75 and 77; they are the ones that strike most directly into the anti-democratic, corrupt campaign manipulations of the Left:
Paycheck Protection, to prevent labor unions from hijacking required union dues to spend on partisan campaigns, invariably supporting the left side of the aisle -- especially on social issues that have nothing to do with workers, such as abortion and same-sex marriage; and
Redistricting Reform, to break the steel-cage gerrymander, which shields the radical, New-Left Democrats from the opinion of the California electorate and immunizes the legislature from election results. If any incumbent in the legislature actually had to worry about how the voters might vote, the legislature would never have voted for half the loony-Left nonsense they have routinely enacted in the past.
I will keep you apprised of election-related issues as they pop up, starting with a before-and-after snapshot of the polling, once some respected post-ad polls have been released. (At the moment, prior to this ad, all these initiatives are running either behind or neck and neck; we'll see if the ad makes a difference.)
UPDATE: Latest Field Poll on the four initiatives
I don't know how well this will come across. I constructed the table in Dreamweaver, then just imported the code to Movable Type 3.2. If you can read it, I will be somewhat astonished!
|Prop. 74: Teacher Tenure||
|Prop. 75: Paycheck Protection||
|Prop. 76: School Spending||
|Prop. 77: Redistricting Reform||
Actually, the numbers aren't too bad (except for Prop 76, which reduces education expenditures). They've drifted slightly away from the Schwarzenegger position; but then again, they have been subject to at least three weeks of intensive and expensive television attack ads with nothing on the other side. All in all, they've fared pretty well: Teacher Tenure and School Spending were subject to the most blistering attacks, and they've taken the biggest hit; but making it harder for teachers to get tenure is still in positive territory.
By contrast, the two I consider the most important -- Paycheck Protection and Redistricting Reform -- have barely budged. As the pro-initiative ads start to flow, I expect to see both move back towards the positive side. Paycheck Protection is strongly ahead, and Redistricting Reform is only moderately behind, well within striking range.
I believe there is a good chance for all to pass except for cutting education spending; but I'm not willing to make any predictions until I see some more polling.
September 19, 2005
California Linking Rings
Two great issues divide the most populous state in the Union. But they are inextricably linked together... and for those of us who support a California ruled by the people, not by professional liberals, it is vital that we win on both of them.
The first will also come to a head the quickest: the drive to take redistricting out of the clutches of the Democratic dominated legislature, which has gerrymandered the state so severely that the ordinary functions of democracy have been stifled. In the 2004 election, not one single seat in the legislature changed hands from Democrat to Republican -- or from Republican to Democrat. We remain encased in amber, like the hundred million year old mosquito in Jurassic Park.
The second great issue is longer term, and it will not be resolved this year; but it has a much greater potential to damage Western Civilization so severely it may never recover. That issue is the defense of traditional marriage from leftist suggestions for "improvement," such as "gender-neutral" marriage, polyamory, or the abolishing of marriage altogether.
Both of these issues will soon burst forth: the first in this November's special election, and the second in either the primary or the general election in 2006. And the two are linked, because it is the gerrymandered legislature, which has lost all fear of the electorate, which is trying to force same-sex marriage down our throats.
Not every blog has a focus, but some do: Power Line became the central blog in the Dan Rather-60 Minutes forgery; Captain's Quarters is the go-to blog for the news on Able Danger (and before that scandal broke, CQ was the blog of record for the Canadian parliamentary shenanigans); and of course, Patterico's Pontifications absolutely owns the Los Angeles Times -- or as he used to call it, the L.A. Dog Trainer.
Ordinarily, I'm not a "theme" guy; but these two issues are so important to me -- and to California, and I believe to our country -- that I will return to them again and again. So today, I only want to set the stage.
Note: This post is a rewrite of a Scaley Classic that was first posted on Patterico's Pontifications under the title Dafydd: Only a Brief Respite. It's longish, so read on only if you care anything about the culture you live in, you Philistine. (Not that I'm trying to load any guilt on you; if you don't care about anything, I'll just sit here in the dark and suffer. Oy.)
Earlier this month, Gov. Schwarzenegger announced that he would veto the same-sex marriage bill, which had been greased through the legislature by the underhanded Democrats while real Americans were distracted by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. This gave the state some breathing room. But make no mistake: this is not victory for those who support keeping the traditional definition of marriage (that would be about 61% of the California electorate); it's only a brief reprieve.
His reason for the veto is not any heartfelt objection to same-sex marriage but rather the obnoxiousness of the legislature trying to enact same-sex marriage just five years after the electorate voted overwhelmingly to ban it. Proposition 22 passed with 61.4% of the vote; it read: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." Simple, direct, straightforward... but not to a leftist who knows better.
Schwarzenegger has since announced that he is running for reelection; but the odds that he'll win reelection in 2006 are at best 50-50; on the flip of a coin, the Democratic nominee may be the new governor.
California is not fundamentally a liberal state; but it's a split state with the Democrats stronger than the Republicans. And the California Republican Party is in such disarray -- probably the worst in the country -- that Democrats consistently win nearly all statewide offices. Arnold's win in the Davis recall election was a fluke; he was an outsider to California politics, and approval of the insiders was at its lowest ebb that I can recall since I was old enough to notice politics.
But now Schwarzenegger is an insider, too; add to that his abysmal job-approval numbers (unfair in my opinion, but my opinion is irrelevant), and the stage is set for the governorship to return to the party of Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi, unless Arnold can pull another Hasenpfeffer out of his hat.
The Democrats have made themselves clear: the moment one of them is in the governor's mansion, the state senate and assembly will immediately (possibly on the first day of the new session) approve same-sex marriage, and to hell with the voters. The bill will quickly be signed by the new Democratic governor. There will be a donnybrook in the courts; maybe we'll win... maybe we won't.
So for anyone who believes it's important to stop the recognition of same-sex marriage, it is now more important than ever before to enact a traditional definition of marriage into the state constitution in the 2006 election (primary or general, depends on when the initiative petitions are filed).
I will not here explain why same-sex marriage is so dangerous. But I will post an article this week to this site (and excerpt and link it on this blog) that argues, from a completely secular viewpoint, why traditional marriage must be preserved and must be the only form of legal relationship specifically approved by the state. Patience the way of the Jedi is!
That still will not protect us from the numerous "Thelton Hendersons" infesting the federal district courts in California and the 9th Circus Court of Appeals. For that, we need a strong and conservative Supreme Court ("conservative" in the sense of ruling on the basis of what the Constitution says, not what they wish it said). But a state constitutional amendment will protect us from rampaging state judges, who tend to be far more numerous and aggressively prejudiced than their federal counterparts.
There are three initiatives to protect the special status of traditional marraige that are in various stages of preparation; they will shortly go to the people for signatures and eventually, I hope, be placed upon the ballot. Two of them also ban (or at least discourage) so-called "domestic partnerships." There was a time when I supported domestic partnerships; but since the California Supreme Court ruled that the state had to treat such relationships exactly the same as marriage, I changed my mind. To the court, it's just marriage under another name. I argue my case here.
Proposition 77 - Fair Redistricting
It is also vital to change the redistricting rules to have the lines drawn not by the state legislature but by retired judges. This is the crux of Proposition 77, which has already qualified for the ballot in this November's special election. (State Attorney General Bill Lockyer -- a Democrat, of course -- pulled a dirty trick to force Propl 77 off the ballot; it took the state supreme court to overturn the unjust appellate-court decision and restore the people's right to vote on the initiative.)
Under ordinary circumstances, I would be on the other side; I don't like judges, even retired ones, intruding into the democratic process. Alas, the California state legislature is so mind-bogglingly partisan, patrician, and pandering, that we no longer have a democratic process in this state. The legislature is under the complete dominance of the Democrats... and they have used their majority to lock in the gerrymander to end all gerrymanders. It is currently impossible for the Republicans to make any gains, no matter how close the parties grow... and indeed, even if the Republicans were to become the majority party, the Democrats would remain the majority in the legislature -- and would therefore control redistricting in 2010, as well, allowing them to protect their gerrymander.
That is why the Democrats are so willing to spit in the faces of the California voters: they know they are immune. There is virtually nothing voters can do about them, because the election process itself has been rigged. So long as the Dems pander to their überleft base, Republicans are locked out. And the Democrats have shown, time and again, that whenever they have the power to draw the lines, they will gerrymander to the fullest extent.
Therefore, the power to redistrict must be taken out of the hands of the corrupt legislature. Paradoxically, we must shift it to the undemocratic decision of retired judges in order to restore democracy.
Anatomy of a Gerrymander
How does a gerrymander work? Simple example. Let's say a state has 1,000,000 residents. And let's say each resident either votes Democratic or Republican. 530,000 are registered Democrats, and 470,000 are registered Republicans. Assume 80% of each party always vote for their guy, while 20% of each comprises swing voters who might vote either way.
Now, this is a 53 to 47 split, fairly close; if there are ten districts, 100,000 residents each, you would expect to find 5 Democrats in the legislature, 4 Republicans, and one seat that is usually D but sometimes R. (Assume a unicameral legislature, just for simplicity.)
But check this out; the Democrats get a chance to redistrict, and they create the following districts:
- 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
- 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
- 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
- 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
- 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
- 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
- 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
- 15,000 Ds and 85,000 Rs;
- 15,000 Ds and 85,000 Rs;
- 17,000 Ds and 83,000 Rs;
Since 80% (loyal Democrats) of 69,000 is 55,200, which is 55.2% of the vote, the Ds are guaranteed to win 7 of the 10 seats, even if the 20% of swing voters defect. Whatever the Ds want passes the state legislature every single time... and they even have more than 2/3rds, enough to override the governor's veto, if they must. So a tiny advantage is converted into total and eternal domination, all by clever use of their redistricting powers.
Actually, it's even worse: suppose Democrats go absolutely off their rockers, and this results in the Republican Party growing stronger. Let's say that 5000 Democratic residents of each district convert to the Republican Party. Then each of the seven Democratic districts would have 64,000 Ds and 36,000 Rs, while each of the three Republican districts would have 10,000 Ds and 90,000 Rs (actually, one would have 12,000 Ds and 88,000 Rs, but that's not important).
In this case, Republicans would outnumber Democrats statewide by 520,000 to 480,000, almost the reverse of the first example... yet the Democrats would still control those same 7 out of 10 districts. This is exactly what happened in Texas, resulting in a strong majority of Republican voters -- but an equally strong majority of Democratic legislators. It took political dynamite (and a powder-monkey named Tom DeLay plus many years of fighting) to finally correct that ludicrous situation.
Although this is a simplified example, this is basically the situation we're in right now, except the Democrats don't quite have enough guaranteed seats to override a veto, thank goodness.
Thus, even though the Dems would still have a legislative majority under fair districts, it wouldn't be as overwhelming as it is now... and it would be much harder to enact insane, hard-left legislation, because there would be a lot more districts whose voters were moderate and could flip either way. Seats would flip from Democratic to Republican, and that itself will force moderation on the Democratic Party.
In most other states, I agree the legislature should draw the district lines; but when the majority proves itself to be functionally incapable of behaving in a democratic fashion, they should not have the power to predetermine the results of the very elections that are the only way to redistribute power. It's like electing a party whose main platform is to abolish all future elections; if you do it, you're sunk.
The two quests are tied together, because if we don't fix the shattered redistricting process, we'll have to face the same challenges to traditional marriage over and over, every election cycle, ad nauseum. And if we allow same-sex marriage to be crammed down Californians' throats, then there will be such bitterness and disgust within the Republican base that many will just drop out of politics altogether (or move out of the state) -- which is exactly what the Democrats hope for. (I would say "pray for," but, you know -- Democrats are to prayer as Superman is to Kryptonite.)
We need unassailable victories on both fronts. We need to win both of these for the Gipper.
© 2005-2013 by Dafydd ab Hugh - All Rights Reserved