Saturday, September 30, 2006

Government Is Too Important for Politicians 

Over at Capitol Hill Blue, Doug Thompson provides a lot of insight into how being a Republican operative for many years stole his soul, and how it showed him why the political system doesn't work.

Which brings me back to an idea that I've posted here before, but which is an absolutely serious suggestion for saving this country from the madness of our illusory two party system. Ask yourself this: why is it that, in order to get elected to higher office in America, it's de facto that a candidate be a millionaire? And -- how many millionaires do you know? Could you afford to even run for mayor in your town? Probably not, and that's the problem.

We already entrust one of our most sacred civic duties to a random system. Every court in the land draws its jury pool from a random sample of citizens, chosen by who-knows-what formula, and it works. And, given the total mess that Congress and most State Houses have made of this country, I can't help but think a lottery system couldn't be worse than what we now have.

It would work like this: first, on the local level, people are chosen by random drawing to serve as Mayor, City Council, Supervisor, and all other local elected offices, on a city and countywide basis. Next time around, they're replaced by another lottery, but also entered for the next level up -- State Rep and State Senate. Repeat again; State Reps and State Senators are entered in the Governor, House of Reps and Senate lottery. Next cycle, replace everyone again, with the Governors, Reps and Senators entered in the President, Cabinet and Supreme Court lottery. Once a person has served on that level, their duty is done and they retire, with full pension.

We can't possibly come up with anything worse than we've elected otherwise, and chances are we'd do better. And, ultimately, we'd break the power of the PACs and lobbyists, and eliminate special interest politics forever. Sure, we'd be left at the whims of the special interests of whoever won office for a term. On the other hand, they'd be limited to a single term. No running for re-election, no pandering, no bullshit. No one would be too powerful, because the demographics of the elect would match the demographics of the citizens, and political parties would be a thing of the past. Congress would be composed of a truly reflective balance of moderates, conservatives, liberals, raving fascists and rabid anarchists. Just like real life. Just like this country. (Anyone who claims that Congress has no nutjobs now hasn't been paying attention.)

And, finally, it would be a true government by the people, for the people and of the people. With the longest possible term of service being the six years given to a US Senator (or eight years to a President if they get an automatic two terms), no one person would be able to do too much damage, and it could be quickly undone.

Bonus points: the lottery draws could be the biggest reality show in town, replacing election coverage, drawing enormous ratings and raising beaucoup money.

"And the next president of the United States is... Ethel Schaumberg, from Kearny, Nebraska..."

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Truer Words 

"He that would make his own life secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression, for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach himself." -- Thomas Paine

"Liberty has never come from Government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of Liberty is a history of resistance. The history of Liberty is a history of limitations of Governmental power, NOT the increase of it." -- Woodrow Wilson

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed -- and thus clamorous to be led to safety -- by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." -- H.L. Mencken

"When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong. The minority are right." - Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926)

"All laws which are contrary to the Constitution are null and void." -- Marbury v. Madison § 5 U.S. 137, 176

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Wake. Up. Now! 

I couldn't have put it better myself than Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque. Go read his whole piece, but here's a good quote from it:
We (are) not looking at "our generation's version of the Alien and Sedition Acts" as the (New York Times) puts it; things are much farther gone than that. What we are looking at is the death knell of the constitutional republic of the United States. Bush has long claimed dictatorial powers in secret; if Congress writes these liberty-gutting strictures into law, then the fundamental nature of the American state will be transformed. It will not be, in any sense – not even formally – a free country anymore. All of our rights and liberties will be the "gift" of the President, who can bestow them – or revoke them – as he sees fit.
And I offer this quote from a very dangerous and seditious document:
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 to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. [emphasis added]
That bit of radical literature is, of course, The Declaration of Independence. And it's time for a new one, and time for all like-minded States to say "Enough," and declare themselves independent of the Despot in the White House and the Rubber Stamp Monkeys in Congress. Those who wish to stay can call themselves the Red States of America. The rest of us? The Free States of North America.

And does anyone else see the irony in Red being the official Republican color when, for so many years, Republicans decried the "Reds", i.e., Communists? What are they trying to tell us here?

Anyway... in Vermont, they're already talking secession, and I'm sure California would be interested. Hell, right this moment, if California became an independent country, it would have the fifth largest economy in the world, and a population bigger than Canada or Australia, along with at least 193 other countries. And, instead of sending a big chunk of its workers' money to Washington to never be seen again, it could lower overall income taxes for its citizens drastically, raise its own tax rates and be floating in cash -- or abolish all corporate and income taxes in exchange for a higher sales tax and still come out ahead. (The state could double the gas tax, for example, and still charge exactly the same as Californians pay now). Compare that to the present alternative, in which populous California's tax money gets flushed down the drain of states with tiny populations -- and I'm looking at all you fucktard sheepfuckers in Wyoming, thank you very much.

Additionally, California is a very purple state, with pockets of blue. On balance, probably more liberal than the country as a whole, but also much more diverse than anywhere else. Language studies have shown that, if there's a large pocket of people speaking a rather uncommon foreign language in the US, all of them are in California, and most of them are in Los Angeles county. That's a good thing, because it's hard to single out any one group of people as "bad" when so many of them are your friends or neighbors.

And, finally, the biggest incentive for secession -- it sends the clear message to the terrorists that "We are not involved." We do not wish to meddle in the affairs of your country. We do not wish to bomb your women and children and drive more and more of your surviving men into the despair of violent action. We only wish to live our lives in safety and security without having to arrest and strip search and "disappear" anyone with a funny foreign name, without having to give up our liberty; we only wish you to live your lives without fear of American or Israeli missles blowing your homes and bodies to pieces; to live them as you wish, as long as you leave us alone as well.

The last time Habeas Corpus was revoked in this country was during the Civil War, by Abraham Lincoln, a Republican. But he did it legally, as provided by the Constitution, seeing as how the country was in the middle of a Civil War at the time, and that was one of the conditions the Founding Fathers foresaw as a valid reason for dumping the most Holy Writ of our Laws. This time around, W. had to piss on the Constitution (thereby violating his oath of office), and force Congress into bending to his will. And all of the Republican Senators and too many Democratic Senators just rolled over and gave it to him.

Sic Semper Tyrannis.

And make no mistake about it. Today's vote of the Senate just handed W. his Crown and Sceptre. We might as well dissolve Congress and the Supreme Court right now, declare W. as King George III, with Jeb, Prince of Crocs, as heir apparent, and the Princesses Jenna and Barbara the new darlings of the paparazzi. Greetings, Prime Minister Cheney. Hello, Chamberlain Condi.

And remember, you Democrat turncoats who voted Yes -- monarchies have no opposition party. They just have executions.

"...whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government..."

They just did, and we damn well should.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006


Congress has just agreed to destroy the Constitution and turn W. into a dictator. In passing his Torture Bill -- and that's what it is -- they have betrayed the American people and deserve to be impeached and forever banned from elected office.

It's not a surprise that every single Republican Senator voted Yes on S3930. But here are the Democrats that need to be replaced in their next election -- with any independent, non-Republican candidate -- if not hounded out of office in disgrace immediately:
Carper (D-DE), Johnson (D-SD), Landrieu (D-LA), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Lieberman (D-CT) [what a surprise], Menendez (D-NJ), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), Rockefeller (D-WV), Salazar (D-CO), Stabenow (D-MI).
That's the dirty dozen. Democrats who don't deserve to call themselves that. If you live in their state, give them a call and give them hell.

Yes, had they all voted the other way, the end result would have been 53 to 56 in favor, but it would have sent a strong message to the American people. The Republican Party is the Party of Torture.

Remember that, and the next time someone quote's W's inane "The Democratic Party is the Party of 'Cut and Run'", throw this right back in their face.

September 28, 2006. The day that Congress put the final nail in the coffin of the American Experiment. Thanks a lot, gang. You make Benedict Arnold look like George Washington.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Oh, This Will End Badly... 

More proof that the Republicans hate our soldiers. New York City is screwing them -- and the police and other city workers -- over and over. From the (no link 'cause of their registration BS) New York Times:
When they were called up for military service in the wake of 9/11, hundreds of uniformed city workers in the Reserves faced the suspension of their city health and pension benefits. The city offered them an option: it would keep paying their salaries and continue their benefits, but when they returned they would have to repay the city their city salary or their military pay, whichever was less.
Read the article for more, because it's a total bolloxing up of their lives. This is such a heinous abuse that I wouldn't be surprised if Congress got involved. (Paging Senator Clinton: this is your territory. Do something about it.)

What the city should have done in the first place was just continue the damn benefits and suspended the salaries for the duration. Or, more honorably, realize that these guys were risking their live to go and fight for us, and so should get every concession on a silver platter.

But Republicans don't think that way, because they hate our men in uniform, they really do.

Once upon a time, soldiers returning to this country from wars received benefits out the wazoo. Remember the "American Dream" surburban home-owner aberration of the 50s? That was largely the result of soldiers returning from WWII and receiving great benefits on home loans, education, health care, etc. They plowed those benefits back into the economy, and it was boom time.

Remember all those Vietnam vets who came home to the hate of their fellow citizens and who were all but ignored by their government? Remember how many of them wound up homeless, insane, drug-addicted or dead? Iraq I and II vets being billed for their health care or "lost" equipment?

Or being dumped on by the City of New York? This is particularly shameful because, of course, New York was one of the two cities hit on 9/11 -- and its Republican administration has just basically said that the memories of those victims and the well-being of those who fought are worth nothing.

Well, fuck them. And this is a perfect Democratic campaign issue for Charles Schumer and Hilary Clinton to pick up and run with right now. "See how the Republicans treat our fighting men and women? Shame, shame, shame!"

If you're in New York, or even if you're not, might want to drop them a line or two right now.

Otherwise, besides dumping on our soldiers, NYC has also dumped on their own Police -- and other highly unionized employees. One group you never fuck with is your own police force. Mayor Bloomberg has probably just screwed the pooch on this one.

Every cloud has a silver lining...

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Condi Better Watch Out... 

Unless she wants to get strip-searched next time she's in a foreign country. And, make no mistake, the way this Administration behaved during the recent UN Bushbashopalooza has given quite a lot of countries to be ready and eager to deal out the diplomatic payback. First, Hugo Chaez's head of security was not allowed into the country. Imagine the reaction if W. flew to China and they told him that no Secret Service agents were allowed. Kind of the same thing.

Now, this. Venezuelan foreign minister Nicolas Maduro received this treatment at the airport while trying to leave the US:
Maduro told CNN Espanol shortly after being released that he was confined to a small room and told to remove his clothes.

Maduro said that when he explained that he was the Venezuelan foreign minister and showed his diplomatic passport, he said he was threatened, pushed and yelled at by immigration and police officials.

"They were violating diplomatic conventions," he said.
Yeah, way to go, guys. You've just committed an enormous breach of diplomatic etiquette, tantamount to shitting in the punch bowl during a wedding reception. It will be noted and remembered.
Chavez told Venezuela's state TV broadcaster that U.S. officials alleged that Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro had links to a failed coup that Chavez led in Venezuela in 1992.
Two questions. First, why didn't they do the same to Chavez, then, or was that just too obvious, and they had to fuck with an underling to get revenge for his devil comments about W? Second, W. tried to start a coup in Venezuela, and far more recently than 1992. Why isn't he detained in airports here? Hell, why isn't he just detained?

This, though, is yet another example of the Administration being absolutely clueless when it comes to international relations. Now, by our precedent, diplomats can be abused. Add that to the list, and remember -- from now on, when captured soldiers or American journalists or American citizens are tortured and abused, or American diplomats or officials are strip searched at random, our government has absolutely lost the moral authority to say one damn thing about it.

So, next time you go overseas, Condi, get ready for the rubber glove treatment on your way home. If not a rubber hose.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

No, Governments Would Never Do That... 

Gulf of Tonkin.

Reichstag Fire.

Many people consider the former dubious and the latter an aberration that was caused, of course, by the Nazis -- apparently the only villains of the 20th Century. (If you believe that myth, then you need to read up on Stalin, Pol Pot, Pinochet, Franco, et al.)

Today is the 75th Anniversay of the Mukden Incident, which occured on September 18th, 1931.

The nutshell version of the story: Japanese soldiers blow up a section of railway bridge owned by Japan near Manchuria. Japanese military blames Chinese dissidents. Japan annexes Manchuria.

In other words, yet another act of "foreign" terrorism performed by the very government that benefited from it.

In other news...

German soldiers disguised as Poles shoot up a German post. Invasion of Poland ensues.

The Reichstag is set ablaze by the Germans. Anarchists are blamed. Civil rights vanish.

Terrorist acts on American soil are planned by our own military, in order to foment anti-Castro sentiment and allow an invasion of Cuba. The plan is nixed by JFK and its architect is fired. The president is assassinated not long after.

An American warship is shot up by fake Viet Cong, LBJ gets permission to go in gung-ho to defend South Vietnam, plunging us further into a war that lasted another decade and ended in failure.

Nineteen Arabs walk out of a bar, and...


Today is the 75th Anniversary of the Japanese Military blowing up their own shit in order to take over someone else's. Just keep thinking about that, and keep asking yourself, "Would government really do that?"

Then keep repeating the mantra to yourself, "No they wouldn't, no they wouldn't, no they wouldn't." Close your eyes and go back to sleep.

Iraq. Oil.

Exxon, Mobil, et al, outrageous profits never before seen in the history of capitalism.

Gas prices before the invasion of Iraq: (US Average, all grades): $1.70 per gallon.
Gas prices up until the convenient pre-election drop: $3.04 per gallon. (Figures courtesy of the US government.)

So... Cui bono?

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Joey the Rat Fucks Up 

Is it any surprise that Pope JP II's Nazi successor manages to munge things up by living in the past? Yeah -- the guy in the dress went super-insensitive, which just makes these products all the more relevent... (Plug.)

But, dude, seriously -- could you stop living in the past of the Crusades for one moment, pull your tiara out of your ass and just Shut the Fuck Up?

Article here, but I really can't add much. Except for this: Yo, Ratzo -- you were elected as payback for being Papal muscle for two decades, and in hopes that you'd die after two or three years. Fulfill your obligation, have a stroke already, and keep your stupid yap out of world politics.

Or -- go ahead and take that trip to Turkey, but leave the Pope Mobile behind. And be sure to stand up and wave to the crowd a lot. You deserve what Mehmet Ali Agca couldn't manage in the 80s, asshole.

Suggestion? After Turkey, take a nice tour through Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Smile and wave and eat the shit you deserve for being such a throwback to the Dark Ages.


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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

This Is Why We Need to Elect a Democratic Majority in November 

Because the Republicans want to piss away your rights...
A White House-backed bill that would enable a secret court to review President George W. Bush's warrantless domestic spying program won approval on Wednesday from the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.... On a party-line vote of 10-8, the panel approved the bill and sent it to the full Senate... [emphasis added]
It's real simple, folks. The secret spying and wiretapes are not a necessary weapon in the war on terrorism. The mechanism was already in place through the FISA courts and legal warrants. If the Administration is only spying on foreign persons of interests that they suspect of terrorism, then there's no need to do everything in secret, with no warrants. It's not like the warrants become public recor via the courts. It's just that someone outside the Administration gets to review the targets of the spying.

And it is spying, whether done for good or ill -- wiretapping, eavesdropping, listening in. Sure, let the Administration spy on whomever they think they need to -- as long as they follow the legal system to do it and get their warrants.

The only reason for them to not go through that process is if the spying involves people that it shouldn't. Like, oh... Democratic opponents. War protestors. Domestic muckrackers. Random citizens.

But hey, no president nixon would ever nixon even consider nixon doing something nixon illegal like nixon that. Right?

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

"All right. You've covered your ass, now." 

That title is a quote from W. Here's the context, courtesy ofDaily Kos:
We've known for years now that George W. Bush received a presidential daily briefing on Aug. 6, 2001, in which he was warned: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." We've known for almost as long that Bush went fishing afterward.

What we didn't know is what happened in between the briefing and the fishing, and now Suskind is here to tell us. Bush listened to the briefing, Suskind says, then told the CIA briefer: "All right. You've covered your ass, now."
I bring this quote up because it came to mind immediately in the wake of W's little speech today -- which apparently wasn't really important enough for any of the networks to break into soap operas in order to show.
President Bush on Wednesday for the first time acknowledged the use of secret CIA prisons outside U.S. borders to hold top suspects captured in the war on terrorism.

In a speech at the White House, Bush said captured terror suspects have been the best intelligence source in efforts to stop new attacks and listed attacks blocked because of this intelligence.

The CIA program has "saved innocent lives," the president said. [emphasis added]
Uh-huh, yeah, right... First off, seeing as most of these suspects have been held in our ultra-top super secret prisons for years, there really isn't much they could provide in the way of relevent information -- but there'd certainly be incentive, after a couple of years of being held incognito from the world, to start making shit up.

Let's make a comparison. This information is about as new and fresh as an American soldier captured in Baghdad in March, 2003 telling his captors in August 2006, "We're going to bomb Fallujah." Uh, yeah... we kind of already dealt with that one.

Incidentally, nowhere in the article do we get the money shot -- Bush's list of attacks allegedly stopped because of the American Gulag. Things that make you go "Hm."

The real reason for all this grandstanding now, of course, is that BushCo. got caught raping the Constitution, and the Supreme Court called them on it. From the same article:
In a 5-3 decision in June, the Supreme Court ruled that existing law barred military commissions. The decision effectively means officials will have to come up with new procedures to prosecute at least 10 "enemy combatants" awaiting trial or release them from military custody.
That "existing law" would be the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, folks. Those "new" procedures should be open jury trials, with witnesses and evidence and all the usual procedures.

Some (although fewer every day) people would call that "coddling terrorists." I call it "protecting what this country stands for." After all, if every one of the (we don't even know how many) detainees have committed some crime and are dangerous, the Administration should have no problem proving it in an open court, right?



Otherwise, they're just blowing smoke up our asses as usual, and trying to come up with post facto justifications for their own criminal behavior. America is not about military tribunals, secret courts and indefinite detention without charges being brought. To behave in such a manner is itself a terrorist act.

Yes, I said it, and don't forget it in November. The real terrorists we should fear are the ones in charge.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The New, Improved Bill of Rights 

In case you didn't get the memo, this is the official version of the Bill of Rights as followed by Der Beloved Leader.
First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion unless it is to force the religion of the Christian God upon the People of America., or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Second Amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, t The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed, provided that they bear those arms only in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran or whichever country is on the President's shitlist this week.

Third Amendment: No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law, pending Executive Order overturning this provision.

Fourth Amendment: Void The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Fifth Amendment: Void No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Sixth Amendment: Void In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

Seventh Amendment: Void In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Eighth Amendment: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted but torturing towel heads and camel jockeys for fun and profit is A-okay.

Ninth Amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people doesn’t mean that the President cannot overturn whatever damn rights he feels like.

Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people don’t really exist, except by Executive Fiat. So there.
This, my fellow Americans, is what your current POTUS has done to a document he took an oath to uphold. And we all know how evil it is when a POTUS lies under oath, right?


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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Modest Proposals 

Since the various PACs and factions and so on have been screaming about their pet causes for a couple of weeks now, I thought I'd jump into the fray and offer my comments on California's upcoming Propositions in the November election -- and even as I type this, yet another anti-proposition commercial comes on the air. Summaries below are from the California Legislative Analyst's Office; the presumably non-biased, non-partisan digest of the content of the proposal.

Proposition 83: Sex Offenders
This proposal would increase penalties for sex offenses, require GPS devices for registered sex offenders, limit where registered sex offenders may live, and generally make more sex offenders eligible for commitment as sexually violent predators.
Ah yes. “Sex offenders.” Welcome to Salem, 2006. While I think there’s some validity to the equivalent of a scarlet letter on some sex offenders – rapists and child molesters – I also think that far too many people who don’t deserve it are being tagged with the label. When you can be branded a sex offender for life because someone saw your penis while you were peeing in an alley, the system has gone way too far.

If the tag strictly applied to those who tried to force themselves sexually on another person or to force another person to perform sexually, then yeah, I think we could make a case for creating mini-gulags. Otherwise, this is an idea with about one half an iota of nobility to it. The rest of it is panicked soccer mom NIMBY thinking.

In theory, I guess they’d all have to live somewhere. In practice, it would turn into one of two things. Either, a) Nobody volunteers to house them, or b) Inner-city slumlords take enormous bribes from the government – inner-city children and women be damned. But you know that none of the people so proscribed are going to wind up within twenty miles of rich white people.

The hell of it is, if our society didn’t have such fucked up ideas about sex and drugs, 99% of harmful sex offenders could be cured and neutralized without resorting to any kind of castration. Speaking of which, why did no one complain that California’s law to chemically or otherwise castrate habitual sex offenders is patently sexist? I mean, no one has ever suggested yanking the ovaries out of any of the (admittedly few) a female sex offenders.

Which I think gets us back to the point. “Sex offender” is a label like “deadbeat dad.” Easy to toss onto someone with or without proof, impossible to remove. It’s the indelible ink of the professional victim class.

But back to treatment. Once upon a time, psychiatrists discovered that they could completely reprogram a person’s paraphilia, and channel it into something else. Given the proper drugs and treatment, they could turn an unrepentant child molester’s attentions away from children forever, and focus them one something innocuous, like a fluffy pink slipper. Unfortunately, the miracle drug that led to such results is called LSD, and this country has had its head up their ass about it for forty years. Now pass the Xanax, a couple of Vicodin, and better toss in a Prilosec, ‘cause that shit’s gonna give me heartburn.

Anyway... this is a proposition that might be well-intentioned in theory, but which will cause more problems, scapegoating and heartache than it intends. There must be a better solution than this, so don’t fall for the “for the children” bullshit, because this proposal isn’t for the children. It’s to make all the whiny-ass tofu munchers who’ve never faced any danger in their lives feel safer from the big evil boogie men.

Proposition 84: Water Quality, Safety and Supply (Bond Initiative)
This initiative allows the state to sell $5.4 billion in general obligation bonds for safe drinking water, water quality, and water supply; flood control; natural resource protection; and park improvements.
I have a simple rule when it comes to bond issues in California. Just Say No! This state already owes enough on outstanding bonds, and far too much of the money raised by those bonds never went to the place intended. Safe drinking water? How about leaning on the water companies instead of adding further debt to the property owners? Note also that this proposition veers into the “more than one issue” zone. Park improvements would seem to be a different area than safe drinking water – which probably means that all this money won’t be coming back out of your faucet, but will pay for badly designed, over priced drinking fountains in parks no one ever goes to anyway.

At least California has gotten better on the kneejerk passage of every single bond issue to be proposed. It got so bad a few years ago that I used to joke, “If you put a bond issue on the ballot to raise money to send every African American on a one-way trip to Liberia, Californians would just see the word ‘bond’ and be stupid enough to pass it.” That’s finally starting to change, and I think people are finally figuring it out. Passing bonds in a state that’s already so indebted is like giving the unemployed single mother of four a new credit card with a ten thousand dollar balance every month. Only bad can happen, but not to the credit card company...

Proposition 85: Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor's Pregnancy
This proposition amends the California Constitution to require, with certain exceptions, a physician (or his or her representative) to notify the parent or legal guardian of a pregnant minor at least 48 hours before performing an abortion involving that minor. (This measure does not require a physician or a minor to obtain the consent of a parent or guardian.) This measure applies only to cases involving an “unemancipated” minor. The proposition identifies an unemancipated minor as being a female under the age of 18 who has not entered into a valid marriage, is not on active duty in the armed services of the United States, and has not been declared free from her parents’ or guardians’ custody and control under state law.
No. Just... no. And note that definition of unemancipated minor there. Does that mean that all males are instantly emancipated by this bill? Hey, if I were fifteen and this law passed, I think I’d try to fuck with the bad wording and get myself declared emancipated, just to watch our elected officials over-react and grandstand and wet themselves.

Speaking of sexism in law, though – there’s no mention of notifying the parents of the father of the child before an abortion, is there? Oh, I’m sure the raving rightwing right to no choice crowd would love that, too. But we don’t need more legal requirements that prevent doctors from doing medicine, and we don’t need the government snooping into the uteri of minor girls, as much as I’m sure they’d all love to. Again, this is an idea that’s only good until the first exception. What happens to the fourteen year-old who got raped by daddy and wants to abort that frog baby without the sick fuck knowing...?

Hypothetical? Perhaps. But it’s always when the hypothetical situations pop up – and they do pop up – that fascistic laws like this fall to pieces.

Proposition 86: Tax on Cigarettes
This measure increases excise taxes on cigarettes (and indirectly on other tobacco products) to provide funding for hospitals for emergency services as well as programs to increase access to health insurance for children, expand nursing education, support various new and existing health and education activities, curb tobacco use and regulate tobacco sales.
Okay, enough with the “sin” taxes already. As we’ve seen in the past, tax monies levied on things like cigarettes and alcohol never wind up where they were intended to go. Just ask Rob Reiner, whose malfeasance with previous cigarette tax funding torpedoed both the “raise more taxes” proposition he tried to pass in the last election and, with any luck, his future political career.
If you don’t like smoking, fine. Don’t smoke. But shove your self-righteous attitude up your ass if you think voting for a tax that doesn’t affect you is a good thing. What if the tobacco industry proposed a 50% excise tax on (insert your favorite guilty pleasure here: ice cream, tofu, gym membership, etc.). What if it passed and you suddenly had to pay a lot more?

Increasing taxes do not decrease use of tobacco or alcohol very much. In fact, if anything, they actually reduce revenue, because people find ways to get around paying the tax. I can mail-order cigarettes from out of state, for example, or drive to the nearest Reservation and pay no taxes – neither State, nor Federal. So, for every person who does the same, the proposed $2.60 per pack increase in taxes would actually lead to a net loss of $0.87 per pack – or, for the state, a reduction of $3.47 in expected revenue. Tell me that won’t screw with the budget when July 1, 2007 comes around.

Proposition 87: Alternative Energy
Beginning in January 2007, the measure would impose a severance tax on oil production in California to generate revenues to fund $4 billion in alternative energy programs over time. (The term “severance tax” is commonly used to describe a tax on the production of any mineral or product taken from the ground, including oil.) The measure defines “producers,” who are required to pay the tax, broadly to include any person who extracts oil from the ground or water, owns or manages an oil well, or owns a royalty interest in oil.
NO (Qualified).
In theory – hell yeah, fuck the oil companies and their billion dollar profits. Lets make them help us pay for the methods of their own demise.

In practice – multi-billion dollar, multi-national companies always find a way to avoid the law. As much as this bill promises that companies cannot legally pass the tax on to the consumers, you just know that there are now fleets of oil company lawyers figuring out exactly how to do that without getting caught.

Note the wording defining who would pay the tax: “The measure defines ‘producers...’ to include any person who extracts oil from the ground... owns or manages an oil well, or owns a royalty interest in oil.” Somehow, I think that the oil companies, who “only” refine the stuff into gasoline, are going to weasel out of that one, and the brunt of the tax will fall onto entities that aren’t making ten billion a quarter in profits.

It’s another case of “Great idea, poor execution”. If this measure were to have any teeth at all, it would base the tax on gross sales of gasoline – in other words, apply the tax post-consumer, prohibiting calculating the tax as a cost of doing business. That way, the oil companies would have a very convenient way of weaseling out of paying so much. Lowering prices at the pump.

Proposition 88: Education Funding, Real Property Parcel Tax
This measure creates a statewide parcel tax and uses the resulting revenue to fund specific K-12 education programs. It would take effect July 1, 2007.
Did you know that the money dumped into public education has actually doubled since 1971? Don’t believe the horror stories the schools tell. It’s not that they’re getting less money. It’s that they (via their bureaucratic school boards) have no clue how to spend it properly. And so, we have this attempt to suck harder at the public teat. “You own property, so you get to fund our schools.”

You know what? Screw that. I know plenty of people with no kids who own property – straight couples who chose not to breed, gay couples who haven’t done the baby thing yet, retired people on fixed incomes. Not to mention all the apartment owners who derive no direct benefit from this increased tax, so will be left with two alternatives. In the case of rent control, they’ll have to eat it. In the case of no rent control, they’ll have to pass it to their tenants. Just another temptation for landlords to sell out to developers, who will suck yet more apartments out of the market, turning them into condos – in turn, driving more families out of the “good” neighborhoods, effectively cutting the tax revenue.

Once upon a time (as in 1978), there was a Proposition on the ballot. It was called Prop 13, and it had a simple premise. Property taxes in California were too high. Prop 13 rolled back tax rates to a reasonable amount, and banned increases that were not passed by a two thirds vote of the people. Teachers and their unions bitched and wailed and claimed that passage of Prop 13 would be the end of the world. Prop 13 passed by an overwhelming majority, property taxes went way down, and school funding somehow continued to go up. In fact, I passed through the California secondary public schools post-Prop 13, and it seemed to have no effect at all.

The point is, the schools have had the money for the last twenty-five years – they’ve just blown it on the wrong things. The money should be going to hiring good teachers and buying good books. Thanks to a combination of idiot bureaucrats, teachers’ unions and Federal incompetence, none of that has happened. But sucking yet more money out of people who own property that is woefully inflated in value is not the answer.

Hey, here’s a modest proposal. Want to pay for the schools? Let’s pass a “Child Tax.” Make it non-deductible on Federal Income Tax. Pay X amount for one child, 2X and 3X for up to three children – and then crank up the increment beyond three kids. Want to have four? Fine. Your share of the tax is 6X. Five kids? 8X. And so on. But, for once, let’s make the parents put their money where their crotchfruit is (and/or are). A side benefit is this: with the parents having to pay out the nose for their kids’ educations, maybe they’ll get involved with the schools and finally fix the mess with which we’re stuck.

Proposition 89: Political Campaigns - Public Financing
This measure makes significant changes to state laws regarding the financing of campaigns for elected state offices and state ballot measures. The measure’s provisions regarding candidates for office generally affect only state elected officials.
YES (Qualified).
Y’know, this is a good bill that has a nice poison pill stuck into it. On the up side, it limits campaign spending by “private” candidates, equalizes the playing field by giving publicly funded candidates more money when their opponents overspend, and limits what candidates can spend to support or oppose a ballot measure.

All of that, and then this: “Increases tax rate on corporations and financial institutions. For corporations, tax rate would increase from 8.84 percent to 9.04 percent. For financial institutions, tax rate would increase from 10.84 percent to 11.04 percent.” Yeah, that’s only a 2/10ths of one percent increase, but you know what that translates into. Banks will cut services or increase fees; corporations will fuck their employees. I mean, my gawd – Mobil Oil will have to pay an extra two million per quarter out of their ten billion dollar profits, and no way they’re going to cut perqs for their overpaid, fatass Execs, so instead they’ll figure out how to lay off six hundred minimum wage employees per quarter. (Hint: if they shot three CEOs per quarter, they’d save more than enough.)

On the other hand, the political system should really work like this: people file to run, at no charge. They each receive a certain amount of public money to finance their campaign, and are not allowed to contribute a single penny or take a single donation. Running for governor? Everybody, regardless of party, gets, say, ten million. (And isn’t it sad that it costs that much to buy your way into higher office?) Of course, it’d be nice if we also brought back the “equal time” broadcast rules that St. Fucking Reagan (may he burn in hell) annihilated in the 80s.

Anyway... theoretically, those tax increases are designed to pay for this measure, but they’re a guarantee that conservatives will pass on this proposition. And I have to wonder whether this bit wasn’t stuck in precisely to make the measure fail. After all, as anyone who has ever played Sim City knows, you can’t just up the taxes on one sector without upping them on all. If the bill provided for, say, a .05% increase across the board – corporate, financial and citizen – then it would have a fair chance of passing. After all, in that case, the mega oil companies would only pay two billion a year (out of forty billion) and the average minimum wage schmuck would only pay an additional $702 per year.

Proposition 90: Government Acquisition, Regulation of Private Property
This measure requires government to pay property owners if it passes certain new laws or rules that result in substantial economic losses to their property.
This is the only absolute, unqualified, total utter “Yes” I have for any of the propositions on this ballot. Simply put, this is the “Eminent Domain Protection” law that we’ve needed ever since the Supreme Court stuck their nine heads up their nine asses and said it was okay for a local government to use eminent domain to take land to give to some fuck-ass developer to turn into a mega mall for their own profit.

Oddly enough, I think I blogged just about this law way back when that decision was made. Simply put: if government wants a piece of land, they have to pay the owner the fair market value, and then they can only use that land for the public benefit: schools, roads, parks or other government-owned public facilities. No more big box stores. No more condo developments. No more giving big money BJs to shitheads in construction hats. (Which reminds me. Memo to Shakespeare. “The first thing we do it, shoot all the developers.” Provided that each of them has a lawyer in their lap. But don’t get me started on that subject. Developers are fucking scumbags who don’t deserve to eat or breath. Period.)

Want to stem that tide of rich old white fucks in suits raping the land on which you live? Want to tell them, “Sorry, asshole. You’re not going to buy my land from the government for one tenth of what it’s worth, and then build shitbox condos on it and sell them for fifty times what they’re worth”? Want to end this land grab that’s the new American class war? Want to equalize the playing field in the game of Haves (and Want Mores) vs. Have Nots (and Want Anything)?

Then vote yes on Prop 90. Every other proposition on the California ballot in November, vote no. But this one... let’s send a message, and send the yes votes beyond 80%.

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