Because California’s not in enough financial trouble

I’m trying to think of something snarky and clever to say, but I’m actually rendered speechless by this one:

Taking the lead where Washington has wavered, California on Thursday is expected to adopt the nation’s most ambitious plan yet to curb global warming.

The California Air Resources Board is all but certain to vote to approve comprehensive “cap and trade” regulations designed to cut greenhouse gases. The regulations would impose limits, or “caps,” on emissions from large industrial polluters through permits, or allowances, that could be traded on a market.

Those pushing the bill claim that it will be a boon for Silicon Valley.  I’ll believe it when I see it.

As it is, someone might want to mention to an agency that seems to have run amok that (a) climate change is dead and (b) California is broke.

I’ve lived most of my life in this state.  The Bay Area climate works really well for me, and I love my small community.  That makes it very upsetting for me that I’m pretty much watching my state committing suicide.

For more on California’s self-inflicted death (ah, I guess that could also be called a “suicide”), read Victor Davis Hanson or watch this video.

California politics still bad news for America

Laer Pearce is one of the sharpest political observers out there.  He blogged for many years at Cheat-Seeking Missiles, and gathered a loyal following, myself included.  He put the blog on hold, though, to write a full length book about a subject near and dear to his heart — the insanity that is California.  I miss his daily posts, but he’s still doing s0me regular writing, the most recent example of which can be read here, at The Daily Caller.  Laer warns that California, broke and dysfunctional as it is, still has the ability to provide a leadership role for Progressives all over America, all of whom are equally anxious to drag their states down to the same level of dysfunction.

A morning after post *UPDATED OFTEN*

I feel as if I should say something profound, but I don’t really have that much that is profound to say.  I do have a few observations, and then I’ll start compiling a running list of good post-election posts (so check back often):

I’ll repeat what I said yesterday:  it irks me when elections are called before the vast majority of votes are counted.  Projections are not votes.  If my vote is not counted because a projection shuts down the process, I’ve effectively been disenfranchised.  That’s just wrong.  (And as an extreme example, remember that early returns from Phillie had Joe Sestak winning by a mile.  It was only when all votes were counted that it was clear that Toomey won.  And a big yay for that, by the way.)

California gave the governorship and the Senate to Boxer.  Whitman was an awful candidate, so that’s kind of less surprising in a Democratic state.  Fiorina, though?  I don’t get it.  I liked her and her positions.  I think her problem was that she had quite possibly the worst ads in political history, which is really amazing, considering the kind of material she had to work with in Boxer.  If you’re going to run that lousy a campaign against such an easy target, I guess you deserve to lose.

On the other hand, since it’s likely that California is going down in flames anyway, especially since California voters turned down Prop. 23, which will allow the economically disastrous Prop. 32 to go forward, better that it goes down under Democrat leadership, which brought it to this point anyway, than under Republican.  (And yes, I know that Ah-nold is theoretically a Republican, but he’s such a RINO, the R after his name looks more like a typo than an intentional political designation.)

A lot of conservatives are crowing about Senatorial losses in Nevada, Delaware and, possibly, Alaska as proof that the Tea Party is a failure.  I beg to differ.  The House races show that the Tea Party is a wild success.  The other races show some different lessons:  First, with fewer seats up for grabs in the Senate, there was simply less margin for error.  With tons of House seats available, voters could weed out the more wacky Tea Party candidates and still elect Tea Party affiliated candidates in droves.  In the Senate, despite doing proportionately better than the Dems, there simply wasn’t enough margin to cross the BIG finish line and take over the Senate.

Second, the fact that there were fewer Senate races, and that Senate races are more high profile, meant that the media focused on them with ferocity.  As far as the media was concerned, it was “2008 and Palin” all over again when it came to the Nevada and Delaware races.  Voters are slowly wising up to what the media is doing, but if you’re told relentlessly by every local and national outlet that the Republican candidate is a freak, and that the Democrat candidate is a genius, that’s going to affect you, even if only subconsciously.  I know that, when I’m in the grocery store, old jingles still float into my mind as I debate which brand of hot dogs to buy.  It’s hard to resist those subliminal messages, unless you make a hard effort.

Ultimately, the Tea Party did spectacularly well on its first political outing.  If it learns from both its failures and successes, it will indeed mark a signal change in American politics.

Finally, I can’t resist sharing with you what my liberal friend said:  “Put this day on the calendar.  I predict that it will mark the beginning of America’s destruction and the rise of fascism.”  My friend is steadily resistant to the notion that fascism, and all other dangerous -isms have one thing in common:  Big government.

***

And now for a list of interesting posts, which I’ll update throughout the day:

Bruce Kesler on the meanings to be divined from the California results.

Big Lizards has some thoughts on California’s outlier status too.

Thomas Lifson notes that California Dreaming, sadly, is becoming a reality — a nightmarish reality.

You can’t go wrong reading Jennifer Rubin’s recap.

Erick Erickson thinks that, even if the outcome wasn’t as good as the most optimistic predictions, it was still a tsunami.

And here’s a link to my own blog:  Danny Lemieux explains why he’s optimistic.  I feel much better after reading his well-reasoned post.

An astute reader points out that, if you look at the numbers, “As of 1130 Wed there were NO DEM pickups in the Senate, and a measly 3 in the House.”

Fred Barnes has a solid rundown of the Republican landslide.  It’s a reminder that the party of “old white men” elected blacks, east Asians, Hispanics, and lots and lots of women, all bound together by two significant common denominators:  their love for this country and their believe in individual freedom.

Rosslyn Smith notes a huge trend:  State houses have gone Republican (except in California, of course).  Considering that states that have Republican governance do better economically, this shows great wisdom on the part of many American voters (except in California, of course).

Victor Davis Hanson helps understand Obama speak, with a funny lexicon.

On its home page today, the New York Times has a very cool, and quite honest, assessment of what happened yesterday, in the form of a bunch of graphics.

An observation based on reviewing the NYT’s graphics:  Despite a few aberrant states, the message is clear — conservatism was an overwhelming national trend.  Our only hope now is that the conservatives don’t blow it.  The biggest thing will be if their years in the wilderness, and especially the Obama experience, have taught them not to drop and pander instantly when their political opponents start accusing them of non-PC behavior (i.e., racism, homophobia, sexism, etc.).  That is, those words could always stop conservatives in their tracks.  Maybe they’ve now lost their magical power.

Apropos my rant about the fact that the counting should stop only when there are so few ballots left that they cannot affect the outcome, please recall that those ballots most frequently ignored come from overseas troops — the ones willing to fight and die so that the rest of us can vote.

I liked Michael Steele very much when I first became aware of him, and was terribly disappointed by his missteps as RNC chairman.  Jay Nordlinger suggests that his performance last night indicates that he may finally have found his footing.  I hope that’s true.  Like the little girl in the poem, When he’s good, he’s very, very good; and when he’s bad he’s horrid.

If you want an insight into all the wrong-headed things Obama piled into his first post-election interview, read Peter Wehner.  I’m not surprised, of course.  I’ve been predicting since the Year 0 in the Obama administration that this narcissist will find it impossible to concede that he had something to do with his regime’s failure.

Could California go red? *UPDATED*

I wouldn’t have thought so, but AJ Strata thinks it’s an actual possibility.

What’s bizarre to me, a native Californian, is that nobody in California seems to have figured out that California’s golden years coincided with Republican governance and its years of decline coincided with Democrat control of either the assembly or the governorship (or both).

UPDATE:  I should clarify here that, when I say “Republican governance,” I guess I really mean more old-fashioned governance that was not focused unrelentingly on welfare; savage attacks on business; open borders; environmentalism that goes beyond stewardship and into outright hostility to human-beings; unsustainable taxes; pension plans; etc.  In the old days, before the 1970s, whether a Democrat or a Republican occupied the governor’s seat, and whether Democrats and or Republicans controlled the assembly, California was still governed within fairly traditional parameters — and it thrived.

California’s Prop 21 is the most perfect example of wacky liberalism I’ve ever seen

As it’s being sold, California’s Prop. 21 is meant to gladden the hearts of all who love open space, wildlife, natural beauty, etc. I know I do.

Even better, the proposition seems so reasonable: For just $18 per car per year, which is less than most people, even poor people, spend on coffee (or chocolate) per week, California’s state parks (and many of them are truly wonderful) will be protected from California’s current swift slide into bankruptcy. However, much as I love the parks, there’s a little bomb hidden in the proposed legislation that turns me off it entirely.  The bomb is the “State Parks Access Pass.”

Here’s how it works.  The monies collected from this tax (for it is a tax) will be applied to park operations, improvements, restoration, upkeep, etc., all of which is to be expected.  In return, the state will automatically issued a “State Parks Access Pass” to all who are forced to pay this mandatory $18.00 tax.  The Pass functions as an admission pass to the park system:

5087. (a) All California vehicles subject to the State Parks Access Pass shall have free admission to all units of the state park system and to designated state lands and wildlife areas as provided in this chapter.

(b) For the purposes of this section, “free admission” means free vehicle admission, parking, and day use at all units of the state park system and shall be subject only to those limitations as the department deems necessary to manage the state park system to avoid overcrowding and damage to natural and cultural resources and for public health and safety. Other state and local agencies shall designate those lands whose management and operation is funded pursuant to this chapter for free vehicle access where that access is consistent with the management objectives of the land. As used in this subdivision, free admission does not include camping, tour fees, swimming pool fees, the use of boating facilities, museum and special event fees, any supplemental fees, or special event parking fees.

5087.1. The department shall issue rebates of the State Parks Access Pass surcharge to veterans who qualify for a park fee exemption pursuant to Section 5011.5.

In other words:  Everyone who drives a car in California has to fund the state parks, but the people who use the state parks get a full refund in the form of free admission to a place they’d intended to visit in any event.  This means that, as to California taxpayers, the only ones who actually end up paying for the parks are the ones who don’t use them, while the ones who use them get a free ride.

This is an exceptionally sleazy little bit of elitist legislation when one considers who uses the state parks:  elites.  While I have no statistics to back me up, one of the main things I’ve noticed over my many, many years of traveling to California’s state parks is that there are almost no blacks there; almost no Hispanics there; and, aside from Japanese tourists, almost no Asians there.  There are also no really poor people there.

Judging by clothes, cars, and general presentation, state parks tend to be a white middle- and w0rking-class phenomenon.  If my observations are correct (and please feel free to challenge them), Prop. 21’s passage would mean that the whites of a certain socioeconomic status who “get” nature, will have their pleasure funded by the working class, ethnic stiffs who don’t share their appreciation.

By the way, Free Will has a nice round-up of voting suggestions for Californians.  Check it out.

J.E. Dyer provides a comprehensive California voting guide

If you’re in California, it’s easy to figure out which people should get your vote:  Fiorina over Boxer, Whitman over Brown (and yes, that’s something of a nose-holder), anyone over Pelosi, etc.

It gets much more confusing when you get to the numbered items on the ballot.  Prop. 23 is easy:  Vote for that unless you want the state bankrupt in a couple of years.  But all the other numbered ones, the ones about taxes and fees and assembly majorities, are ridiculously confusing, especially since some of the tax and fee propositions appear virtually identical in wording for the confused voter, but will have markedly different outcomes if passed.

Fortunately, someone sane has stepped into this confusion.  J. E. Dyer, a former military analyst, and current blogger at Commentary’s Contentions, Hot Air’s Green Room and Patheos, also has her own blog, and it’s there that she spells out the numbers. (And yes, I did mean to be silly with my words there.  This is such a serious time that a teeny bit of humor is a nice safety valve.)

If you are a California voter, and you haven’t yet cast your vote, I urge you to study Dyer’s post very, very carefully.

Whitman finally has a fantastic campaign ad against Brown

If you have friends in California, send them this ad before Tuesday.  That’s all you should have to do:

San Francisco sign threatens Fiorina and Whitman — by guest blogger Ms. GW *UPDATED*

UPDATE from Bookworm: Poor Enrico’s. Because its name features prominently on the building, people are assuming it posted the sign. It did not. From Enrico’s facebook page:

You may have received an email about a sign that says “FU (spelled out) Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina” asking you to call Enrico’s Restaurant to complain. Enrico’s is not responsible for the sign. It was put there by the Law offices of Tony Serra who has offices above Enrico’s. Enrico’s,like most businesses, doesn’t take political stands and is not responsible for the sign.

And now back to Ms. GW’s original post:

San Francisco sign threatens Fiorina and Whitman

This vulgar sign, spotted in San Francisco above a prominent restaurant at the corner of Kearney and Broadway, raises the same question one more time:

Why must the Left continue to demean female conservative candidates? How desperate is the Left?

To help answer the question, here’s some insight from a licensed psychotherapist who wrote on this very topic after observing the Left’s attacks on Sarah Palin two years ago:

As every woman knows, leering looks, lurid words, and veiled threats are intended to evoke terror. Sexual violence is a form of terrorism. In the wilding of Sarah Palin, the Left shows its true colors. Rather than shield the vulnerable, Leftists will mow down any man, woman, or child who gets in their way.

So: Leftists are bullies, plain and simple. The Left has been in power for two years, but apparently that’s not enough. Using vulgar language is a simple, common tactic to intimidate, repress and silence others. A “f*** you!” says plenty, and its recipient is instantly diminished. Words hurt and vulgar ones stop any conversation cold and do nothing to advance civilization. As our moms used to tell us, “People use bad words when they want attention or lack the language or creativity to express themselves.”

Interestingly, although it doesn’t show up clearly in this photograph, the sign bears the name of J. Tony Serra, a well-known San Francisco criminal defense attorney who has defended Huey Newton and the Black Panthers, Chol Soo Lee, Ellie Nesler, and other “society outcasts,” according to Serra’s website. Notably, Serra’s own website says, “Tony Serra has always known how to express the poetry of the law, while fighting in the ditches and dark alleys of legal practice.”

Poetry of the law, huh? Fighting in the ditches and dark alleys? If Serra did authorize this sign, most civilized folks will find nothing poetic or courageous in the threat of sexual violence against Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina. Let’s hope Tony Serra and the restaurant are not behind this sign . . . talk about desperately wanting attention.

And by the way, where’s the outrage from San Francisco’s politically correct women? Where’s the outrage from the San Francisco’s politically correct media? Where’s the National Organization for Women when we need them?

Ms. GW is a long-time Bay Area resident and woman who is appalled and offended by the Left’s attacks on any female candidate, conservative or  liberal.

UPDATE II from Bookworm: Please also check out the article on this subject that Ms. GW wrote for American Thinker’s blog. It’s similar, but raises some slightly different points you may find interesting.

Californians: Vote a straight Republican ticket

My friend Sally Zelikovsky says it in the clearest words possible:  Unless conservatives in California vote for the Republicans, we will have a Sacramento government made up entirely of San Francisco Democrats.  If that horrible outcome sounds painfully obvious to you, you don’t know California.

There are two dynamics in California that are a problem.  First, conservatives don’t like the Republican candidates.  (They’re right not to.  Fiorina is lovely — and may she get well soon — but the others are “eh” at best.)  This means California conservatives may be tempted to (a) sit this one out or (b) vote for a write-in or minor candidate.  Those are luxuries of ordinary elections, though.  In California, this election is not about a favored conservative candidate winning; it’s about making sure the Democratic candidate loses.  And the only way to do that is with vast numbers of votes for the Republican, even if that requires some nose holding.

The other dynamic is Prop. 19, the initiative to legalize marijuana.  Have you wondered by George Soros is promoting it?  Do you think George Soros gives a flying whatsit about whether Californians have legal marijuana?  I can assure you that he doesn’t.  But he knows one group that does care a great deal, and it’s a group that votes reliably Democrat:  young people.  Yup.  Prop. 19 is a “get out the youthful Democrat vote” effort.  This means that, while most young people around America are sitting out this election, there is a very good chance that California’s young people will be heading to the polls.

So if you’re a Californian, and you have memories, increasingly faint memories, of a true Golden State, VOTE and VOTE REPUBLICAN.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

“Call me unemployed”

Funny, funny David Zucker video challenging Boxer’s arrogance and cavalier approach to American money:

Call Me Senator from RightChange on Vimeo.

If you’re in California, this year you have a real choice: vote for Carly Fiorina. She’s a true conservative and a dynamic, effective individual.

My mom, who can’t quite let the MSM go, has been programmed to dislike Fiorina and Whitman (well, I actually agree, ’cause I don’t like Whitman much either). I’ve told her it doesn’t matter, even though Whitman is a RINO — because both Brown and Boxer are so much worse, not to mention being rubber stamps for the Obama agenda. You can’t sit this one out; you can’t let personal feelings dictate your vote; nor can you run from the RINO when the opposition is a Leftist dodo. Anything but an affirmative vote for Fiorina and Whitman constitutes active support for the massively damaging Obama/Boxer/Brown ultra statist agenda.

About Meg Whitman’s maid *UPDATED*

I keep meaning to blog about Meg Whitman’s maid, and then I don’t.  Factually, it’s an insanely stupid story, although the lurid headlines in California’s lefty papers may be enough to confuse some independents into abandoning any vague ideas they may have been having about voting for Whitman.  In other words, the story is ridiculous (at best), but still potentially important.  Meaning that really should blog about it . . . but, as I said, I don’t.

Fortunately, Dafydd, at Big Lizards, has paid attention to Gloria Allred’s nasty pro-Brown campaign, so if you’re interested in all that you need to know about the story, check out his post.

UPDATE:  Another good summary of this sordid (from the Brown side) story, along with a good question:  Do Californians still have the critical reasoning skills to understand that they are being conned?

A new website that is, in my humble opinion, a MUST

My friend Laer, who started blogging at Cheat-Seeking Missiles (which is now on hiatus), has created a new website devoted to the insanity that is California.  It is called, appropriately enough Crazifornia, and is part of his ongoing project to document (ultimately, in best-selling book form) what happened in California.  This matters, not just because California went from the greatest state in the union to being a total wreck, but because the problems in California too often spread to and infect other states.

Laer views the project as collaborative, and seeks help:

You can help! Via the “Contact Crazifornia” button above, or by email to crazifornia @ laer [dot] com, send me your own story about how Crazifornia’s ridiculous regulations, ludicrous legislation or puerile policies are driving you crazy.  If I use your story, you’ll get a mention in the acknowledgments of my upcoming book,Crazifornia – How California Ruined Itself and is Poised to Take the Rest of America with It.

As you’ll see when you visit the site, I’ve already shared with Laer some of my “crazy in California” stories.

Bob Stephens for California Assembly

[To keep things clear, unless I explicitly preface a statement by saying “Bob said” or “Bob pointed out,” or something similar, the opinions expressed in this post are mine, and reflect my understanding of Bob Stephen’s approach to governance, as well as my view about California’s myriad problems.]

I went to a party last night held to introduce Bob Stephens, the Republican candidate to represent Marin in the California assembly.  Bob is a courageous man.  How courageous?  Marin is so overwhelmingly liberal, he’s the only person willing to try to run as a Republican against Jared Huffman, the Democratic incumbent.  Even the good news that registered Marin Republicans have swelled from approximately 26,000 to approximately 31,000 since Obama was elected means that, in a county with about 100,000 liberals, he’ll have a hard time finding a winning majority.

Still, if anyone can penetrate Marin’s liberal hegemony, Bob might be the one to do it.  He’s got a straightforward political platform, which is really predicated on a single issue:  California is broke and going broker.  Politicians like Huffman who tinker with green this and green that, are essentially putting make-up on a soon-to-be corpse.  Bob explained that, unless the climate is made more business friendly, unless the bureaucracy is cut, unless pensions are controlled, and unless out-of-control spending is stopped, there will be no California left at all.  As it is now, Bob pointed out that Moody’s bond ratings place California, once the wealthiest state in the union, at number 50 out of 50.  (Hurricane ravaged Louisiana ranks higher than we do.)  Bob also reminded the party’s attendees that, in education, California, which was once the top-rated state in the union, is now 48 out of 50.

California’s government infrastructure is so bloated it has to be seen to be believed.  To make this point, Bob unfurled seven pages of paper, taped together (meaning they are taller than I am) listing, in single space, without hard returns, and without paragraph breaks, California’s many agencies — more than 500, in fact.  Bob acknowledged that many are necessary for a functioning state, such as the Department of Transportation and the Department of Education (although I’d seriously clip the latter’s wings).  Others, however, are duplicative or of dubious necessity (or both).  Bob brought our attention to a perfect example of overkill in the consumer protection realm:

Surely those can be consolidated? As it is, each of those agencies, which serves the same constituency (people who buy things in California) has its own staff and budget.

It’s clear that, whether or not he is associated with the Tea Party movement, Bob is a tea partier insofar as he is a fiscal conservative who believes that taxpayers should not and cannot be forced to pay for a bloated, ineffective government that sucks up money without generating conditions within which wealth can be created.

My major concern about Bob after hearing him speak is that he is manifestly a really nice guy.  As the RINOs in Congress show (nice guys all, I’m sure), nice people can easily be intimidated by Democrats who have no compunction about smearing people as racists, if they oppose illegal immigration or out-of-control welfare spending; or as murderers, if they point out the necessity of cutting back on programs that benefit children and the elderly.  Bob told me that he can handle this heat.  He explained that he is not a career politician.  At 75, he’s entering politics to try to salvage California for his children and grandchildren, not as a means of starting a glorious political career.  With a focus on the bottom line, he says that he refuses to get sidetracked by name calling.  In his mind, the answer to every gratuitous swipe is an obvious demand for one vital piece of information:  “Show me the money.”

And with that last statement, Bob made me see why it’s possible that, in today’s bizarre political climate, a Republican might be able to win in Marin.  You see, unless the Assembly has mastered Rumpelstiltskin’s trick of turning straw into gold, all the Leftist name-calling in the world won’t trump California’s new reality, which is that we’re broke.  If Bob, who is a good communicator, can help Marin voters understand the reality of that bottom line, he stands a better chance with worried people than does Huffman, a man who seems committed to spending taxpayer money so that green, wealthy Marin, can be green long after the wealth is gone.

(By the way, on the point of green, one of the guests at the party told me that Huffman is less green than he appears.  Three of his pet projects — SMART rail, a desalination plant, and a consolidated energy plan — will inevitably result in significant low-income, Democratic-voting population growth along the new train corridor in Marin.  This will bring about 500,000 extra people in Marin, turning Marin from a wealthy, green oasis into yet another California community of, bland, back-to-back, ticky-tacky houses crawling across cement covered hills.  I’ll blog more about this, with greater coherency, if this guest sends me the information he promised on the subject.  Otherwise, this may be all I have to say on the subject, so I throw it out here for what it’s worth.)

Why California is in deep, deep doo-doo

Numbers can lie, but the numbers here are consistent with the same numbers I’ve seen in dozens of other places, and the numbers are consistently drawn directly from government sources.

If you want to know one reason why California has gone from the most extraordinary state in the Union (something I vaguely remember from my early childhood) to a banana republic, this will spell most of it out.  Add to that a political climate that treats businesses like pedophiles, not wealth creators, and you’ve got the answer to California in a nutshell.

The problem of self-perpetuating bureacracy

In the movie Wall-E, the little robot had a task, and it did the task, long after the task’s necessity had passed.  Like a funded bureaucrat, Wall-E just kept going and going and going.

In California, the Department of Transportation was given a mandate and a task, and now, long after the money has gone and the efforts proven fruitless, it’s still going and going and going, sucking up nonexistent funds and making expensive and pointless changes (emphasis mine):

In hopes of luring the endangered steelhead trout into the Santa Monica Mountains, California’s transportation agency is planning to spend $935,000 to pave over part of a popular beach with cement and boulders to build a freeway of sorts for fish.

The project is the latest, yet far from the most unusual, steelhead recovery attempt by government agencies that have spent millions of dollars on concrete fish ladders, cameras, fishways and other contraptions to allow seagoing trout to spawn in Southern California streams.

The problem, even some conservationists say, is that there is little evidence construction efforts since the 1980s have done anything except absorb taxpayer dollars. The work to save the species has led to about a dozen concrete fishways at a cost of more than $16.7 million.

A $1 million fish ladder — a structure designed to allow fish to migrate upstream over a barrier — may cost $7.5 million in stimulus funds to rebuild. Another fish ladder would require fish to leap 8 feet to reach it. Studies alone for replacing a third ladder have cost an estimated $3 million.

Read the rest here. Taxpayers and steelheads alike are weeping.

The above is a perfect example of the problems inherent in vesting too much power in government.  I’m perfectly sure that the various individuals involved in the project are good people.  Nevertheless, the bureaucracy for which they work has taken on a life of its own.  For these people to secure their jobs, they have to just keep working.  As long as they “look busy,”* they’ll keep getting funding, regardless of the fact that their task is pointless and costly.  Government never shrinks; it just grows.

How much better it would have been to have created a goal, and then tasked the marketplace with achieving that goal.

_____________________

*In my family, the phrase “looka busy” ties in to a very bad old joke my Dad used to tell, which is why I put “look busy” in quotation marks.  Here’s the joke, and please pardon the pathetic 1960s Italian-style accent that’s a part of the joke:

On a hot summer’s day, two Italian monks are working in desultory fashion along the roadside, pulling weeks.  Suddenly, the first monk gets a look of wonderment on his face.  “Hey!  Looka there.  Itsa Jesus Christ himself, a-walking to us.”  The second monk grabs his hoe and replies.  “Don’t just standa there.  Looka busy.”

See, I told you it was bad.  I was a little girl when I first remember Daddy telling it, and he spent an inordinate amount of time explaining to me the whole principle of looking busy around the boss.  I think that’s why the joke stuck in my brain.

Help curb voter fraud in California

One of the things the last few elections has revealed is escalating voter fraud in America, fraud of the type that aligns us more closely with a banana republic than with a traditional Western nation.  Thus, we know that groups such as ACORN have registered thousands of non-existent people.  And because America has traditionally had an honor system at the ballot box (“If you say you’re Minnie Mouse, than I guess you’re Minnie Mouse.  Please, go vote.”), little has been done to stem the impact at the ballot of those fraudulently registered voters.

There is now a ballot initiative circulating in California that officially concedes that the honor system no longer works.  It will require all California voters to show photo ID at the polling place, and it mandates steps to protect against voter fraud in absentee ballots too.  Lastly, as a little extra benefit, it allows an extra 15 days for votes sent in by overseas troops.  In other words, the whole ballot is meant to slow down fraud and allow every vote to be counted.

I only heard about this ballot initiative today, but I can assure you that the Democrats will hate it.  They’ll waffle on about the fact that poor people just can’t manage to obtain government ID, making this an impossible hurdle between themselves and democratic participation.  That this argument is demeaning is obvious.  It also makes no sense when one considers that these same people are able to handle the system with some level of skill when it comes to collecting government benefits.  (And I speak with solid second hand knowledge about this, since someone close to me lives at that level, as do her friends.  Whacked out on perpetual 60s head trips they may be, but they know how to get their welfare checks and food stamps.)

If you are a California voter who is interested in making this initiative a reality on California’s ballot, go here, print-up the petition you’ll see, sign it, and mail it to

Vote SAFE
925 University Avenue
Sacramento, CA  95825

A couple more things:  First, time is of the essence, since all petitions must be received 131 days before the election.  Second, each petition is written so that two people from the same county can sign it.  Of those two (or even if there is only one signatory), though, one must not only sign it, but also fill out the “circulator” declaration.

More on Tom Campbell and Israel

Bruce Kesler spoke with Tom Campbell directly about Israel, and the responses are more nuanced and less hostile than other reports indicate (see my earlier post, for example).  Please check it out.  The best voter is a fully informed voter.

Giving the Democrats more power in California — is that what we really want?

A friend emailed me with a question about an initiative poised for California’s November ballot, called the “Simple Majority” initiative.  I’ll let the Wall Street Journal explain:

Two groups are pushing ballot initiatives they say would purge that chaos from Sacramento’s budget process. A bipartisan group, California Forward, is pushing a reform to let legislators pass budgets by a simple majority instead of the current two-thirds threshold. Repair California, which is affiliated with a pro-business group, is gathering support to hold a constitutional convention to rewrite state laws. Such a convention could alter the budget process and other facets of governance in California.

The recession has pinched state budgets across the nation, prompting legislatures to enact tax increases and spending cuts. California has an especially tough time solving its fiscal woes because it is one of only three states that require at least two-thirds of its state legislators to approve a spending plan. That means budget negotiations usually stall as Democrats, who make up 64% of California’s legislature, struggle to win Republican votes.

[snip]

California Forward hopes to place a measure on the November ballot that would alter the budget process both for the state and local governments. It would let state legislators pass budgets by a simple majority, while maintaining the two-thirds vote requirement to raise taxes. The measure would also institute what is known as a pay-as-you-go system, in which lawmakers must identify funding sources for any new programs.

“We just have to stop the madness of these IOUs being issued and these horrible budget delays,” said Bob Hertzberg, a former Democratic speaker of the California Assembly who is co-chair of California Forward. “It sends a message…that California is dysfunctional.”

The local-government part of the proposal would make it easier for municipalities to raise sales taxes, by one percentage point, to fund education and other services. It would also prohibit the state from tapping the coffers of local governments during budget emergencies, as it did last year.

My response to my friend was that, because the Democrats are the majority in the California legislature, anything that gives them a simple majority gives them powers that have the potential to be imminently destructive to our economy. While the initiative, on its face, looks as if it would force Democrats to keep their budgets in line because they wouldn’t have concurrent taxing power (with tax increases still requiring a 2/3 majority), I’m suspicious.

Think about what’s happening in San Francisco.  As I blogged yesterday, San Francisco’s school district, which is facing a huge shortfall and is considering cutting all sorts of academic programs, is simultaneously seriously considering a significant budget increase in the form of a program that would collect statistics on gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual students, as well as helping education discrimination. The current level of discrimination is not from assaults from other students, or insults or discriminatory treatment from teachers. It’s verbal taunts, especially from the elementary school crowd – ungracious, hurtful and mean-spirited to be certain, but hard to use to justify this kind of expensive government intervention during a time of financial crisis.

It’s this fantasy PC rule-making that makes me loath to make it even easier for the pro-government crowd to pass more insane budgets. Even if they have less money, they’ll still spend it foolishly.

I’m not the only one suspicious that this is a Trojan horse that will redirect public spending away from infrastructure and towards politically favored victim groups. Republicans are also worried:

Statehouse Republicans will fight California Forward’s initiatives, said Tony Strickland, the state Senate’s Republican assistant minority leader. If the budget-approval threshold is lowered, then Republicans would lose their outsized influence in the statehouse because Democrats could pass budgets without GOP votes. The California “Central valley, the farmers, agriculture”—constituencies typically represented by Republicans—”will lose their voices,” Mr. Strickland said.

The antitax Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association will oppose any effort that would ease local governments’ ability to raise taxes, said Jon Coupal, the group’s president. He and Mr. Strickland said they will also oppose Repair California’s constitutional convention because it could result in a repeal of Proposition 13, a 32-year-old law that caps property-tax rates.

If you’re a Californian, I’d urge you to think very seriously before voting yes on this initiating, assuming that it makes it onto the ballot. The only thing that’s truly going to save California is for voters to throw the Democrats out (along with any spend, spend, spend Republicans). Unless California brings down its spending, most of which goes for government employee pensions and politically correct funding, nothing will save us.

Feelings, nothing more than feelings — the Prop. 8 trial in San Francisco

One of the things I’ve been watching is the trial attacking Prop. 8 in California.  As you know, in November 2008, California voters, by a solid majority, passed Prop. 8, which states affirmatively that, in California, marriage is between a man and a woman.  Two gay couples sued in federal court, alleging discriminatory intent.  To that end, the plaintiffs have been trying to prove, through discovery and through testimony, that the people who put the initiative on the ballot had discrimination in their hearts.  I’ve found these personal attacks bewildering, since it seems to me that what you really have to show is that the 54% (or so) of California voters who passed the initiative all had discrimination in their hearts.

Charles Winecoff has also been following the trial, and he’s very dismayed by the “feelings, nothing more than feelings” on display in the court room:

The curtain went up on Monday, January 11th.  Olson opened the show by declaring that “domestic partnership has nothing to do with love” – essentially admitting that the two couples are seeking legal recognition of their feelings. Then the complainants took to the stand to deliver a string of what even the Los Angeles Times called “emotional accounts,” proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that non-celebrities no longer need Oprah (or Jerry Springer) to validate their existence.

First, Jeffrey Zarrillo testified that ”the word marriage” would give him the ability “to partake in family gatherings, friends and work functions as a married individual standing beside my parents and my brother and his wife.  The pride that one feels when that happens.”  Does he mean that, like Michelle Obama and her country, he never before felt pride being with his partner?  In their nine years as a couple, did they never attend any of those events together?

If “the word” means so much, why not just call yourself married?

Similarly, when Olson asked Berkeley lesbian Kristen Perry why she was a plaintiff in the case, she replied, ”Because I want to marry Sandy [her partner, also of nine years]… I want the discrimination to end and a more joyful part of our life to begin…  The state isn’t letting me feel happy.  The state isn’t allowing me to feel my whole potential.”  Yet “the state” never prevented Perry and Stier from making a home together, or from raising four boys in that home.

Rule number one: make yourself happy.

What Winecoff might not know is that, in California, feelings matter — at a constitutional level.  Few people who aren’t lawyers (and even few lawyers) know that the California Constitution pretty much guarantees Californians happiness:

All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.

Some people are rolling their eyes at this moment and saying, “Well, I have the same right under the federal Constitution.” Au contraire, my friends.  Our United States Constitution, wisely, says nothing whatsoever about happiness as a legal right.  Instead, the only mention of happiness in a seminal American document is the statement, in the non-binding Declaration of Independence, that all people have the right to pursue happiness:

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.

That, in a nutshell, sums up the purpose and effect of individual freedom.  But it’s no guarantee that any given individual will be happy.

If you’ll cast your eye back up to the California Constitution, you’ll see something very different.  Strip away the extra verbiage, unrelated to happiness, and you get this promise to its citizens from the California government:

All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are . . . pursuing and obtaining . . . happiness . . . .

Live in the land of perpetual sunshine, and you are guaranteed the right, under the law, to obtain happiness.  If the state does something that makes you unhappy, well, the state had better remedy that problem.

Sadly, the California Constitution does not explain what it’s supposed to do when a given law brings happiness to some (for example, those who believe marriage is a male/female thing) and unhappiness to others (those who believe the word “marriage” is the only thing that can make their relationship a real one). I am reminded of a quotation, the source of which I can’t trace, to the effect that “The real tragedy is not the conflict of good with evil but of of good with good.”  As Dorothy L. Sayers says, in Gaudy Night, “that means a problem with no solution.”

Calling all Californians: Last ditch effort to help save California’s economy

California AB 118 will be going to committee on Monday, January 11, 2010.

AB118 would repeal AB 32, CA’s job-killing global warming bill.

We need patriots to call their Assemblymember or, if possible, attend this committee hearing in SacTo. You have the right to go up to the microphone and announce your SUPPORT to AB118. Progressive special interest groups have been doing this for decades.

If you can attend the meeting:

Hearing on AB 118 (suspension of AB32), Assembly Natural Resources Committee
Room 447 in the State Capitol
Monday, January 11, 2010
1:30 PM – 3:30 PM

All you need to say is: Good morning, my name is __________________, and I live in (name your city of residence).

I am asking ________________(the Assemblymember) to please vote yes on AB 118 at the Monday afternoon committee hearing. Thank you!

If you can’t attend hearing, but still want to call or email your representative, here is contact information (although you need to know who your own rep is):

Nancy Skinner – Chair-(916) 319-2014, 916-319-2114 fax
Assemblymember.Skinner@assembly.ca.gov

Danny D. Gilmore – Vice Chair- (916) 319-2030, 916-319-2131 fax
Assemblymember.Gilmore@assembly.ca.gov

Julia Brownley-(916) 319-2041, 916-319-2141 fax
Assemblymember.Brownley@assembly.ca.gov

Wesley Chesbro- (916) 319-2001, 916-319-2101 fax
Assemblymember.Chesbro@assembly.ca.gov

Assemblymember.deLeon@assembly.ca.gov
Kevin de Leon- (916) 319-2045, 916-319-2145 fax

Jerry Hill- (916) 319-2019, 916-319-2119 fax
Assemblymember.Hill@assembly.ca.gov

Jared Huffman- (916) 319-2006, 916-319-2106 fax
Assemblymember.Huffman@assembly.ca.gov

Steve Knight- (916) 319-2036, 916-319-2136 fax
Assemblymember.Knight@assembly.ca.gov

Just a quick thought about the UC tuition hike

The UC regents voted for a steep increase in tuition.   Some have pointed to the unedifying spectacle of whining middle class students taking to the streets to protest the tuition increase, since they prefer to have California’s working class, most of whom will not attend the school, bear the financial burden.  Although I agree in principle about California’s spoiled brats, I’m not sure that’s the right argument for the UC problem.  The point of public education is that everyone pays so that some may benefit — on the theory that those who benefit will contribute to society for the benefit of all.  Of course, what we actually have in California is a punitive tax system that means that those who actually benefit, if they’re smart, promptly leave the state, taking their skills, education and tax dollars with them.  But still, the theory is that the tax payers get a secondary benefit from having an educated class within their midst.

The real problem, I think, is the UC system itself.  I’ll freely admit that I last attended a UC college more than two decades ago, but I’m assuming the situation then has gotten worse, not better.  With the exception of three hugely talented teachers who brought their subjects alive, my Berkeley professors could easily be lumped into a single descriptive class:  Except for the three mentioned, none could teach worth a damn — that is, those who bothered teaching at all, as opposed to handing the task off to grossly underpaid graduate students, many of whom had only a limited grasp of the English language.  The professors would read from yellowed notes, or waffle on in monotones, sucking the life out of everything.  Despite their manifest limitations, because they published (remember:  publish or perish), they were tenured, and their pathetic inability to teach was irrelevant.

The beauty of tenure was that they were paid sooooo well.  Professors didn’t live middle class lives — they lived upper middle class lives.  They had houses in the Berkeley hills with expansive views of the San Francisco Bay.  Their kitchens were cleaned by the Hispanic help and their gardens groomed by the Japanese.  The fact that so many of these professors were Marxists was irrelevant to these delightful living arrangements.

If one queried the lavish way in which these state employees lived, one was told that Berkeley, to keep its world standing, needed to compete with such private facilities as Harvard or Yale.  I don’t know about that, but I do know that many professors at City College in San Francisco were doing a much better job teaching.  At the same time I took a mind-numbing art history class at Berkeley, my mom took the identical class (at least in terms of subject matter) at City College.  My teacher was a mumbling, boring drag.  Her teacher was a dynamo, who brought the class to life.  Whenever I had time, I’d go to his class, not my own.  He wasn’t at a world class institution, but he was a world class teacher — and there were so many like him.  Unburdened by the cachet of Berkeley, and the “publish or perish” imperative, these people simply got down to the job of actually teaching.

Another problem with Berkeley and tuition is the absolute garbage being taught.  Should anybody be paid to teach, on the taxpayer’s dime, the politically correct effluvia that flows from the Gender Women’s Studies department:

The Department of Gender and Women’s Studies offers interdisciplinary perspectives on the formation of gender and its intersections with other relations of power, such as sexuality, race, class, nationality, religion, and age. Questions are addressed within the context of a transnational world and from perspectives as diverse as history, sociology, literary and cultural studies, postcolonial theory, science, new technology, and art.

The undergraduate program is designed to introduce students to women’s studies, focusing on gender as a category of analysis and on the workings of power in social and historical life. The department offers an introduction to feminist theory as well as more advanced courses that seek to expand capacities for critical reflection and analysis and to engage students with varied approaches to feminist scholarship. The curriculum draws students into interdisciplinary analysis of specific gender practices in areas such as feminism in a transnational world, the politics of representation, feminist science studies, women and work, women and film, gender and health, and the politics of childhood.

The department offers an undergraduate major and minor. It also houses an undergraduate minor in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies, a program whose courses overlap productively with feminist and gender studies. Faculty in the department collaborate with an extensive group of extended faculty through the Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality, which provides graduate students across campus with a site for transdisciplinary learning and teaching. The department is now in the process of developing a Ph.D. Program in Transnational Studies of Women and Gender, which will involve faculty from a range of departments. The department fosters connections with scholars in feminist and sexuality studies throughout the campus by cross-listing courses, collaborating in research, and participating in the Gender Consortium, which links research and teaching units that focus on gender.

African Studies is equally bogus, functioning, not as a way for African-Americans to learn about their culture, but as an umbrella for Marxist theory. You don’t have to believe me.  You can convince yourself with a visit to the UC Berkeley African-Studies Events link.  Scroll down and click on “Robert Allen Celebrated: A 40th Anniversary Tribute to Black Awakening in Capitalist America.” I optimistically thought this would be a program about the benefits of capitalism for African-Americans (because I believe capitalism benefits all people, just as a rising tide lifts all boats). Silly me. At that link, you can hear audio files from the celebration. I know you’re hungering to hear about:

“Malcolm X and Robert Allen on Domestic (Neo-)Colonialism and Revolutionary Nationalism, and Black Awakenings as a seminal bridge between the ‘organic’ and ‘traditional’ intellectual traditions of activist-scholarship.”

or perhaps

“Colony Over-the-Rhine: Gentrification and Econocide.”

or even

“Social Justice and state crisis: Lessons for the future from the 1960s Black Liberation movement.”

This scholarship isn’t about enabling blacks, at taxpayer’s expense I might add, to advance in American society. Instead, it’s firmly intended s to keep blacks locked in the perpetual victim servitude of identity politics.

This kind of “academic material,” if I can dignify it with that title, is for hobbyists and obsessives, not for people nominally being educated for the benefit of (and at the expense of) the people of the State of California.  It’s equally easy to attack the other “politically correct” departments that populate the school, all providing the “mick” classes (i.e., Mickey Mouse or easy classes) that people with a high tolerance for BS will take, and that have absolutely nothing to do with a classical education of great thought, science, languages, history and, perhaps, world culture.

Students and taxpayers alike would benefit substantially if the UC system, rather than repeatedly imposing an ever greater burden on students and taxpayers alike, would actually examine its own flaws.  It should purge those who can’t teach (or at least stop pretending they’re teachers), and it should peel away the politically correct classes that weigh down the curriculum (at great expense) and focus on core education that benefits, not just the students, but the long-suffering people of California.

Here’s the way I would do it:  I would create a two tier UC system.  The bottom tier, primarily funded by taxpayers, would offer the same core curriculum that existed before the free speech movement, before Marxism and before political correctness ate away like a canker at the heart of the system.  This tier would focus on science, mathematics, history, languages, etc.  It would pretty much resurrect the 1958 (or thereabouts) catalog.  In this way, the state would still get the benefit of an educated class that, in theory, would then raise the whole tone of the state.

All other classes at UC would be a la carte, with students interested in them paying extra for the privilege of learning something outside of the core curriculum.  Those who want a basic education would get it.  Those who want more, would pay, either out of their parents pockets or, if they approached college as I did, by getting a job.  This approach would bring the marketplace into the mix, and allow the Regents, the state and the taxpayers see just how many people are actually willing to dig into their own pocket for “womyn’s studies” and Afro-centric Marxist victim classes.

Somehow, though, I think both taxpayers and students are going to be gouged in perpetuity in order to fund a significantly large group of Marxist professors intent on teaching identity politics papulum to our poor, vulnerable youth.

Further evidence of the problems in California (as if we needed it)

Side by side headlines on the SF Comical’s online front page today:

Rage at UC fee hike in L.A., Berkeley protests
– Nanette Asimov,Jill Tucker

State budget drowning in red ink for next year
– Wyatt Buchanan