Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Curmudgeon's Guide to the Cali Primary

OK, it's time for me to tell y'all how to vote, although in all honesty, my heart is less in it this time. I am too late for those who have voted absentee anyway. I begin to doubt if it matters much anymore. Last time around in 2006, when I said that if Tom McClintock didn't win, we could stick a fork in California and turn it over, I meant it. And what was worse, Ah-nold stabbed Tom in the back, along with the rest of the California Republican Party.

Frankly, it was a mistake to do the recall of 2003. The real problem with California wasn't Gray Davis. It was, and still is, a cabal of wretched State Senate and Assemblycritters, gerrymandered to stay in power no matter what, also protected by incumbency and by bogus "Campaign finance reform" laws that make it difficult for challengers. The mostly moderate Gray Davis actually used to restrain these radicals with vetoes, before his political instincts deserted him and he decided to sign off on drivers licenses for illegal aliens, which was what set the recall drive in motion.

Samples of these wretched radicals are Don Perata in Oakland, Fabian Nunez (and the rest of the "Reconquista" politicians) in LA, Marco Firebaugh in Fresno, and Sheila Kuehl in San Diego. I could include Mark Leno in San Francisco, but his district isn't gerrymandered; the problem there is San Francisco, plain and simple.

To fight all of this, too many California Republicans, myself included, thought that we could short-circuit the process of fighting district by district and initiative by initiative. All we needed, so we thought, was a charismatic Governor to face the State Senate Soviets and Assembly Apparatchiks down, and so we got one--one who has led us right over a cliff. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it....

Governor Ah-nold has championed an orgy of bond spending that probably cannot be paid for. The long-expected budget crisis has formed up in detail over the last few months. Gov. Ah-nold Schwarzenegger has tap-danced his way to the end of the fantasy budget road. He managed to sidestep a lot of potholes, but his luck ran out: the subprime mortgage meltdown punctured the housing bubble and revealed the disastrous extent of California's shaky finances and a history of irresponsible choices.

Meanwhile, here on the Left Coast, we have seen the Mexifornia future and it doesn't work. An economy built on the "cheap" labor of millions of illegal aliens, which isn't cheap once we factor in the billions of tax dollars in welfare and other public service costs, is not a viable system.

California's deepening budget hole from berserk spending, no thanks to the Governator, simply cannot be papered over any longer. The massive costs of supporting a massive unskilled and often illegal foreign population now threaten basic services.

But oh well, let's get on with the initiatives.

California Initiatives:

Proposition 91: Transportation Funds - Oh Hell YES

This measure flatly prohibits Sacramento from raiding the special revenue fund, of gasoline taxes specifically meant for road repairs and other transportation, in order to paper over their budget deficits. When a watered-down version of Prop. 91 was adopted by the legislature, its sponsors dropped this measure, even after it qualified. Now they are telling us to vote NO. But vote YES anyway. If you want to genuinely protect our transportation taxes from being raided, Prop 91 is the Real McCoy.

Proposition 92: Community Colleges. Funding. Governance. Fees - NO, although backers DO have a point.

This can best be described as the extension of the Prop. 98 (back in 1988) Guaranteed Funding Law to community colleges. Proposition 98 of 1988 mandated a certain level of spending for K-12, for California's State Universities, and for the University of California system. It also mandated some spending for Junior Colleges. However, this spending was based upon K-12 enrollment, not upon community college enrollment. Proposition 92 replaces this single spending requirement with two spending requirements: one for K-12 education and one for community colleges. It also gives community colleges a larger share of the Proposition 98 "pie" so to speak.

Now part of me really hates this and that is why I had to vote NO. This proposed law mandates more spending, guaranteeing the Junior Colleges a growing level of funding from the state's tax revenues regardless of their performance or the state's fiscal condition and priorities. If you like fiscal straight-jackets, you'll love Prop. 92. Mandated spending levels from the General Fund are a bad idea.

NOTE: Spending mandates are different from Special Revenue Funds, which in my view are quite good. If they want to tax our gasoline more specifically for the roads and transit, or if they want to have a lottery to benefit the schools, then dagnabbit, the proceeds from such taxes should be spent only on that purpose. But mandating a certain level of spending from the General Fund no matter what is a dangerous fiscal straight-jacket to put on the body politic of California.

Interestingly, the opponents of Proposition 92 are not just the usual anti-tax organizations like Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Organization, but also K-12 teachers unions, K-12 school administrators, and the bureaucrats of the California State University and University of California systems. Why? Because the Junior Colleges are demanding their share of the education pie and are tired of being treated like the Cinderella stepchildren.

And that's the part of me that makes me want to vote YES. Community colleges have a point--even if mandates are a bad idea, why shouldn't they take advantage of the Proposition 98 mandates too?

Dan Walters, one of the few good writers left at the Sacramento Bee (Ess), has a great article on the subject.

So I am torn. Funding mandates are a bad idea, but if they are to exist, why not account for the community colleges as well.

The community colleges are clearly being shafted, and I totally sympathize. In fact, if I could do it all over again, I would have gone to a community college for my lower division undergrad, and then transferred to Big Name University, saving myself and my folks a pile of money, worries about crime, political crap, and general trouble. I would have received a lot more personal attention as well. At Cal, professors were more often than not busy with grad students and undergrads were just nuisances they put up with.

Proposition 93: Changing the Term Limit rules on Legislators - Oh Hell NO

Tom McClintock says: "Current term limits are a maximum of 14 years in the legislature: six in the Assembly and eight in the Senate - which is why you see so much office-hopping. Prop. 93 reduces the maximum to 12 years in the legislature, but allows them to be served in the same house. Since I've only served eight years in the Senate, Prop. 93 would give me one final term; if it fails I must retire this year. Because I have a conflict of interest, I'm staying out if it." You have to admire that honesty.

What is so awful about this initiative is that it takes away incentive for legislators in the Assembly to behave themselves so they can then go on to the Senate when their Assembly term ends. If you are term limited to 12 years in either House, then why *not* stick your hand in the till and go hog wild?

The Ethically Challenged Twins, Fabian Nunez and Don Perata, thought they would have a free ride to extend their reign in the Capitol. The effort by the ethically challenged to be allowed to stay in office 4 to 6 more years has stalled and now fortunately looks like a loser. Nunez and Perata promised the people of California and the Governor they would have an honest redistricting measure on the same ballot. They don't, they lied--again. These are the same folks who promised the budget they passed in late August was balanced--that wasn't true either. How many times will Nunez and Perata lie to us? As long as we allow them to stay in office. Vote NO on 93 and tell the Ethically Challenged Twins we won't go for it anymore.

Remember that the First Law of Ecology is "everything is connected to everything else." That especially applies to election laws as well as the environment. Term limits came into being because of voters' frustration with gerrymandered districts. Unfortunately, some misguided people championed "Campaign finance reform" laws that only entrenched the incumbents further, because most of the time a challenger has to spend more than an incumbent. We cannot examine any election law or term limit or campaign spending law alone in isolation, we must look at it in the context of all other existing laws.

Proposition 94-97: Gaming Compacts - YES to all

The compacts will bring in large revenue to the state. If you are morally opposed to gambling, realize that a NO vote will not stop gambling and will probably produce worse compacts in the future that are not as favorable. Meanwhile, California needs the revenue--badly.

Frankly, I am not happy with the propaganda pushed back and forth on this issue. On the Pro side, there is the old fallacy that "The Big Nevada Casinos" are opposing this. In reality, the Big Nevada Casinos have done and continue to do well by Indian Gaming, because the Indians hire them to manage the Indian Gaming. The Big Nevada Casinos are the only ones who have the administrative skills, equipment, infrastructure and know-how that make the Indian casinos work. So who is really opposing these ballot initiatives? The Big Nevada Casino UNIONS, because Indian casinos are non-union. But I guess the backers think it's easier to demonize casinos rather than their unions.

Meanwhile, these unions make the absurd claim that "there is no guarantee that the revenues raised will go to education". Well, DUH, because Indian Gaming Revenues go to the *General Fund*. (NOTE: The California Lottery, on the other hand, is a Special Revenue Fund, where proceeds are spent on education only). The fact is that the more revenues go into the General Fund, the easier it will be for ALL programs, educational or not.

President: Mitt Romney.

Why Mitt? A good editorial in the Sacramento Union outlines reasons.

But moreover, I add reasons of my own:

1. He is a former or current Governor. Senators and other legislators just don't make the Presidency, at least not directly. (Yes, being NYC mayor could count as being = governor of a small state, but Rudy has dropped out now).

2. He is someone from the Northeast or West Coast. Just as the Demunists are weak in the South (and it's no accident that ALL Demunist Presidents in recent history have come from the South), we need someone who doesn't write off the Northeast or the Left Coast.

3. He is someone with an impeccable scandal free clean cut personal background. Rudy was out of the running from the get-go here....

4. Because I don't like anti-Mormon prejudice.

I have heard some "I could never vote for a Mormon" remarks--coming from CATHOLICS. It wasn't that long ago that people doubted we could have a Catholic President. In fact, there are still one or two fundamentalist Protestant backwaters in the USA where Catholics are denounced as "spiritual vampires and cannibals". (The whole "body of Christ / blood of Christ" consubstantiation vs. transubstantiation thing, remember?).

Aren't we BEYOND this? Unless someone's private spiritual beliefs affect his public policies, they should not be held against him or her. Which is why Muslims are so taboo---it's NOT because they make pilgrimages to Mecca or don't eat pork or drink booze; it's because they want to *kill* the rest of us. Mormons who believe in baptisms for dead ancestors and other relatives? We can live with that. Mitt for Prez.

5. I have misgivings about John McCain, the likely primary winner if Mitt doesn't pull it out on this upcoming Super Tuesday. John McCain really reminds me of "The Manchurian Candidate".

Is that unfair? Perhaps. But some of his policy positions make me wonder if the communists did a "number ten" on him in the Hanoi Hilton.

The three most egregious ones:

A. McCain's support of the bogus "comprehensive immigration reform", amnesty scam: "OK, I'll build their damn border fence if they want it so bad..." Sadly, too many Republicans DO NOT GET IT when it comes to this issue.

--Partly it is cheap labor greedheadedness among some Republicans, who are out of touch about the law enforcement and societal costs and other externalities, which they do not pay for (or if they do, very very indirectly).

--Partly it is because some Republicans foolishly believe in the Karl Rovian delusion / myth of "Hispandering" to victory. Of course we should support that "talented third" of Latinos just like we support that "talented tenth" of African Americans. But too many Republicans actually sadly think they can win a welfare pandering contest.

--Partly it is immigration romanticism among some Republicans.

B. McCain's support of bogus "Campaign finance reform". Not only has this entrenched incumbents, this has also obscured campaign financing. And it really stopped big spenders, didn't it? Somewhere, George Soros, a modern-day Ernst Stavro Blofeld if there ever was one, laughs his head off.

C. McCain's support of the bogus "Global warming" hoax.

A funny song parody, sung by a McCain impersonator to the tune of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side", sums up the problems many of us have with John McCain.

As does this cartoon (see attached at bottom):

So they say that Romney has flip-flopped? Which is another way of saying that conservatives can bully Romney into being conservative but can't bully McCain. Advantage: Romney.
"Now say "border wall",' Romney. Say it. Nope, louder. I said, LOUDER. Good. Now tell me again that you're opposed to global warming regulations. Good, but this time without whimpering. Heh. You can go make me a sandwich now."
Nevertheless, in spite of any GOP infighting, I am remarkably chipper about the GOP candidate's prospects for November. Why? Because in spite of all infighting, there is a remarkable amount of pragmatism.

Two examples: Televangelist Pat Robertson and "Minuteman" immigration controller Jim Gilchrist.

Jim Gilchrist endorsed Mike Huckabee for the same reasons that Pat Robertson endorsed Giuliani. Gilchrist wants a real border solution, but he thinks (realizes?) he has to get the Jesuslanders who have Christian guilt ("oh, we are so rich and the Mexicans are so poor, boo hoo hoo") on board if he wants a real border solution. Likewise, Pat Robertson thinks (realizes?) he has to get the somewhat sinful businesspeople (some of whom may have had abortions or their children did, and many of whom have had messy divorces) on board if he wants to get any social conservatism at all.

Which is funny, given that both Robertson and Gilchrist have been demonized by the liberal media as "extremists". But that's the liberal media for you.

In reality, there is much more pragmatism in the GOP than we realize, thank goodness.

The only exception to this seems to be the Wall Street Journal greedheads, who insist on border chaos no matter what, cheap gardeners and maids being paramount to them, screw the middle class.

And despite all my misgivings about John "The Manchurian Candidate" McCain, I will still prefer him by far over either Hillary "Nurse Ratchet / Mommie Dearest" Clinton or Barack Obama!

Their campaign platforms are friggin identical: socialism, sodomy, and surrender,the only differentiation between the 2 assclowns is color, gender, and choice of hair care products.

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