The anti-Asian battle in California, once limited to high school, now plays out in the world of higher education

Lowell High SchoolI grew up entirely surrounded by Asians.  I think I had one friend who was Jewish.  The rest were Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Filipino.  They all came from homes that had exactly the same values:  marriage, education, hard work, and self-reliance were the family watch words.  Those are still watch words amongst conservatives who believe (and have the data to support them) that those people most likely to leave poverty behind are the ones who do well in school, get married before they have children, and then work extremely hard.  Nevertheless, if I am to judge by Facebook, all of my Asian high school friends are hard-core Progressive Democrats.

But back to my youthful friendships.  Why did I have so many Asian friends?  It wasn’t just that I grew up in San Francisco, which is to Asia what Ellis Island was to European, Central European and Russian immigration.  It was that I went to Lowell.  Lowell was unique among public schools in that you didn’t get into it because of your neighborhood.  Instead, you had to grade into it, so it drew the top students from all over San Francisco — something it had done so since its founding in 1868.

Back in my day, Lowell wasn’t yet being called a “Chinese girls school,” but a quick glance through my late 1970s’ yearbooks shows that the student population was around 40% Asian.  The “Chinese girls school” phrase came into being, I believe, in the 1980s.  Back in my day, there was also still a big enough bolus of Jewish kids that we made the joke that, if Chinese New Year and Yom Kippur fell on the same day, they’d have to close the school.

The year I graduated, Lowell was ranked as the 9th best high school in the country.  Its list of august graduates (as well as embarrassing grads) was a sight to behold.  The abbreviate list below is culled from a fuller list here, but even that list is incomplete, since I know it’s missing a few Nobel Prize winners (in the sciences) and authors (e.g., Lemony Snicket):

ALBERT MICHELSON, Class of 1868.
First American Nobel Prize in Physics, 1907. Michelson Hall of Science on the Naval Academy campus honors his name.

JOSIAH ROYCE, Class of 1871.
Philosopher, author, Harvard professor. Royce Hall on UCLA campus honors him.

FRANK ANGELLOTTI, Class of 1879.
Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court.

STEPHEN MATHER, Class of 1883.
“Father of the National Park System”. First Director. Mather Air Force Base honors him.

EUGENE DE SABLA, Class of 1883.
Visionary builder of first hydroelectric plant in Northern California Called “Father of the PG&E”.

JOSEPH ERLANGER, Class of 1892.
Physician; Professor, Washington University in St. Louis. Nobel Prize in Medicine, 1945.

LIEUTENANT THOMAS SELFRIDGE ’99, West Point 1903.
U. S. Army aviation pioneer. First man to die in an airplane accident – in the Wright Flyer, 1908. Selfridge AFB in Michigan honors him.

REUBEN (RUBE) GOLDBERG, Class of 1900.
Dean of American cartoonists.

MATHEW TOBRINER, Class of 1920.
Judge of the California Supreme Court.

IRVING STONE, Class of 1920.
Biographical novelist: “Agony and the Ecstasy”, “Lust for Life”, “Passion of the Mind”.

EDMUND G. (PAT) BROWN, Class of 1923.
District Attorney of San Francisco; State Attorney-General; Governor of California, 1959-1967.

MAJGEN. ROBERT FREDERICK, Class of 1924.
Winston Churchill called him “One of the Allies finest fighting generals”. Commander of the 45th (Thunderbird) Division in World War II.

JOHN A. BLUME, Class of 1928.
Seismic Engineer; “Father of Structural Engineering “. Blume Earthquake Center at Stanford honors his name.

WILLIAM R. HEWLETT, Class of 1930.
Inventor, businessman, philanthropist. Co-founder, Hewlett-Packard Company; Flora & William Hewlett Foundation; Hewlett Computer Lab at Lowell honors him.

DR. MAKIO MURAYAMA, Class of 1933.
Biochemist, NIH, Bethesda, Md.. First recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Medical Award for sickle- cell anemia research.

CAROL CHANNING, Class of 1938.
International star of stage and screen. Lowell’s Carol Channing Theater honors her achievements.

RICHARD DIEBENKORN, Class of 1939.
One of America’s foremost abstract painters. Received UCLA Medal in 1987.

PIERRE SALINGER, Class of 1941.
Press Secretary to President John F. Kennedy. Chief, ABC European Bureau.

GENERAL KENNETH MCLENNAN, Class of 1943.
Assistant Commandant, Retired, U.S. Marine Corps; only Lowellite to attain the rank of a four-star General. Board Chairman, Retired Officers’ Association.

JEAN KAYE TINSLEY, Class of 1944.
One of the world’s foremost helicopter pilots. Chief Judge from the U. S. at the World Helicopter Championships held near Paris in 1989.

VICE ADMIRAL ALBERT BACIOCCO, USN, Retired, Class of 1948.
The three stars of a Vice-Admiral is the highest Naval rank to have been achieved by a Lowellite.

DIAN FOSSEY, Class of 1949.
Sacrificed her life protecting the mountain gorillas of Ruanda. Book and film, “Gorillas in the Mist” describe her life with the great apes.

BILL BIXBY, Class of 1952.
Movie and TV star: “The Incredible Hulk”, “My Favorite Martian”. Director.

STEPHEN BREYER, Class of 1955.
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Appointed by President Clinton in 1994.

RICHARD LEVIN, Class of 1964.
President of Yale University (1993).

NAOMI WOLF, Class of 1980.
Yale; first Lowell alumna to win a Rhodes Scholarship. Author of “The Beauty Myth – How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women”.

TOA’ALE S. MULITAUAPELE, Class of 1984.
The first American-Samoan ever to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy and is now a fighter pilot for the US Navy. Was president of CSF while at Lowell, also member of Shield and Scroll all four years.

The point of the above list is to say that going to Lowell once meant something.  I was proud of my alma mater.  Indeed, up until the 1970s or so, San Franciscans were generally proud of Lowell.  It was a testament to “the City that knows how.”

As San Francisco became increasingly Leftist, however, City government became hostile to Lowell, which was seen as an unfair, elitist institution.  The view was that it just wasn’t fair that all those Asians got in.  The mere fact that they worked harder than everyone else (at least 12 hours more of homework per week than any other student group) didn’t justify their admission to such a good school.  The school district felt strongly that there were way too many Asians and whites (including Jews) at the school and far too few blacks and Hispanics.

Following a lawsuit, which San Francisco did not vigorously fight, the school district instituted a quota system.

Suddenly, Lowell ceased to be a Chinese girls school and started achieving the correct skin color that only a Leftist multiculturalist can love.  It also stopped being Lowell, a place of high academic accomplishment.  Instead, it became just another high school with a slightly better GPA than all the other high schools in the City.  It dropped like a stone in nationwide rankings.

San Francisco’s Asian community, however, wasn’t going to give up without a fight.  The Asians knew that, if they could once again get into Lowell based upon the content of their academic record and not the color of their skin, Lowell could return to its preeminent status — one that gave Asian grads a serious leg up as they applied to colleges and universities around the world.  The Asian community therefore sued and sued and sued . . . and finally won, sort of.  A 1999 consent decree resulted in a court ordered quota system that worked in Asians’ favor, so much so that the school (a) became primarily Asian again and (b) rose in nationwide rankings again.

The racial hate mongers were not pleased that the school was ascending again thanks to the Asians and wanted to rejigger the quota system.  That did not happen.  Right now, the school operates without quotas, and continues to be fairly highly ranked nationwide, although it’s never regained the stratospheric academic heights it had before the Leftists messed with it.

Why this long history about Lowell?  Because the racial hate-mongers in California are trying to do to the UC system what the Left did to Lowell, which is to boot out the Asians:

California has a long and ugly history of discriminating against Asian Americans. From the Anti-Jap Laundry League, the Anti-Chinese League, the Asiatic Exclusion League, the alien land laws, the Anti-Coolie Act . . . the list is long. Much of that discrimination had its origins on the left, with the Ant-Jap Laundry Act, the Asiatic Exclusion Act, and the Anti-Coolie Law being in the main projects of organized labor, which did not like the idea of being made to compete against Asians for work.

And now another group of left-leaning Californians is chafing at the idea of being made to compete with Asian Americans.

The California state legislature was on the verge of approving a referendum to restore the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions to state universities. The referendum originally had the support of three state senators who have since had a change of heart: Leland Yee of San Francisco, Ted Lieu of Torrance, and Carol Liu of La Cañada, Democrats all. They changed their minds when they were overwhelmed with telephone calls and e-mails — thousands of them — from angry constituents who know exactly what such affirmative-action programs mean in the context of elite universities: Asian quotas. A petition to cancel the referendum has already been endorsed by 100,000 signatories. Subsequently, the senators sent a letter to the speaker, John Pérez (do I need to note that he’s a Democrat?) seeking to have the measure tabled. The letter reads in part: “As lifelong advocates for the Asian American and other communities, we would never support a policy that we believed would negatively impact our children.”

Will this manifestly racist effort to deprive Asians of academic opportunities succeed in driving the Asians out of the Democrat party and the politics of racial grievance?  Sorry, but no.

Just like my fellow Jews, for a smart people the Asians sure can be dumb when it comes to political allegiance.  These are two ethnic/cultural groups that assiduously avoid looking at the actual issues dividing the two parties (effectiveness of big government versus individual freedom, obsession with race versus obsession with individual ability, etc.) and think, instead, in simplistic terms:  Democrats are good; Republicans are evil.  It will take more than a second sustained, aggressive Democrat-powered racist attack against Asians to change this allegiance.

Getting back into drought mode

Life in the Dust Bowl

Life in the Dust Bowl

I was in high school during the last major California drought.  I found it a very traumatic experience.  Thankfully, we didn’t end up with a Dust Bowl, and we didn’t have mass starvation of the type one periodically sees in Africa.  Nevertheless, I couldn’t shake the feeling that things could get that bad.

As a teen, I resented the imposition of water rationing.  I found disgusting the whole “when it’s yellow, let it mellow; when it’s brown, flush it down” mantra.  Truly, I felt that it’s my God-given right as an American to flush my stuff and, when I approach a bathroom, to know that you flushed your stuff too.  My parents tried to save their lawn by catching the water from the last rinse cycle in the washing machine, but it died despite those efforts.

Our house was filled with buckets in the kitchen and the bathroom, and all non-carpeted floors were hazardous, since the act of shlepping buckets from bathtub to toilet or sink to plants meant that the floors were perpetually covered with drips.  Step wrong and your bathroom turned into a skating rink.

yellow let it mellowAs you’ve probably seen in the news, California is having another drought, although this one is worse than the last big one in the 1970s.  (Interestingly, the last big drought coincided with the last big Polar Vortex.  Hmmm.)  The timing couldn’t be worse for my family, because we’ve already sunk substantial sums of money into a project requiring water, not to mention having signed contracts for that same project.  It’s unclear whether the project can go forward.  Worse, because of the signed contracts, we’re in a situation where we’ll still have to go forward with the least satisfying part of the project., which doesn’t require water.  Blech.

What’s also fascinating (to me, at least), is how quickly I’m back in the groove of water rationing.  I guess it’s like riding a bike — you never forget.  I’ve collected buckets, I’m saving bath water, I’m saving hand-washing water for the kitchen sink to use when I need to run my garbage disposal, etc.  I’ve told the kids that the only clothes that get washed are the genuinely dirty ones, that they have to keep their bathing to an efficient minimum, and that they can’t run any water while they brush their teeth.  Oh, and my garden is dead as a doornail.  My home looks derelict in the extreme.

We’ll get through this one, of course, but I’m not looking forward to the drought’s run.  It’s depressing.  Very, very depressing.

A matched set: California is broke and we know why

One of my friends posted a great chart on Facebook:

Rich states and poor states

And then I remembered a post at The City Square which explains how California ended up at the bottom of that chart.

Incidentally, if you’re interested in more California lunacy (and remember, as California goes so has gone the nation), check out Laer’s Crazifornia blog (and please consider buying his delightful, informative book, Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State – How California is Destroying Itself and Why it Matters to America).

Dems lose supermajority in California

The State is too far gone for it to matter, especially because we’ve got Jerry Brown as governor, but it is worth noting that there’s been a slight, ever-so-slight, downgrade in Democrat power here in California:

The sudden resignation Friday of a state senator from Kern County robs Democrats of the supermajority that could have raised taxes without Republican votes, but could also slow efforts to scale back one of California’s landmark environmental protection laws.

Sen. Michael Rubio, D-Shafter, announced that he is taking a job as manager of California government affairs for the Chevron Corp., saying he is tired of the political life and wants to spend more time with his wife and two young daughters, the younger of whom was born with Down syndrome.

I wish Sen. Rubio much happiness with his family, since he’s certainly right that they are very important.  I also note that it’s somewhat interesting that he’s leaving Democrat politics to work as a lobbyist for Big Oil.

And that’s all I have to say.  Your comments, of course, will be welcome.

Lowering expectations in California

The San Francisco Chronicle has an article that both praises Governor Jerry Brown’s “balanced” budget and notes that California is in desperate financial shape.  Clearly, the Chron is lowering expectations in case Brown’s “balanced” budget doesn’t do what it promised.

The Chron is wise to keep its readers from getting too excited.  I heard from a fairly knowledgeable source that Brown achieved his balanced budget (a) by determining how much he wanted to spend and (b) by announcing that the amount he wanted to spend would be matched precisely by anticipated 2013 tax revenue.  The first number (spending) is real; the second number (expected revenue) is completely phony.  In other words, reasonable people can confidently assume that, by the end of 2013, California’s budget will be more out of whack than ever.

California-for-Beginners-copy

Both mandatory unions and mandatory professional organizations are antithetical to Constitutional Free Speech *UPDATED*

California Bar Seal

The State Bar of California, which I have to pay into in order to practice law in the State of California, long-ago abandoned its core responsibility of ensuring that people who hold themselves out as lawyers to California citizens are at least minimally qualified.  As with all these mandatory organizations, it’s turned into a political advocacy group and, again in sync with all these mandatory organizations, it advocates Left. That is, it forces me to pay money if I want to have a livelihood in my chosen profession, and spends that money on heavily politicized issues such as abortion.  (It hews so far Left that, even when I was a Democrat, I was offended by many of the political stands it took with my money.)

The State Bar isn’t the only professional organization that leans Left.  The American Bar Association is heavily political too in a Leftist kind of way. The difference between the ABA and the State Bar, though, is that the form is a voluntary organization. I was therefore able to cancel my membership when I realized that my money was being used to support political causes that were unrelated to law and with which I disagreed.  Sadly, I can’t opt out of the State Bar — not if I want to be a practicing lawyer, that is.

Looked at this way, I have the same lack of rights as union members who don’t live in in right-to-work states. Here’s the deal: if unions and bar associations limited themselves to their original function, which was to ensure that union workers have good conditions or that lawyers have reasonable qualifications, union dues and mandated bar memberships would be less of an issue. Unions and Bar associations, however, have drifted far afield from these core responsibilities.  They’ve branched out since the 1970s or so to become political action groups taking far Left stands on just about everything.

When states mandate that workers must join unions or that professionals must join professional associations, the state is effectively coercing citizens into funding speech with which they may disagree. Looked at this way, mandatory participation in activist unions and professional associations is a profound perversion of the First Amendment right to free speech. Free speech doesn’t just include the right to speak freely, it also includes the right to refrain from participating in speech with which one doesn’t agree.

All of this popped into my mind when I received an email from the president of the State Bar of California (emphasis mine):

Begging

By now, you should have already received your State Bar of California fee statement. Statements were sent out on Nov. 30, and many of you may be taking steps now to send your payments before the Feb. 1, 2013 deadline. If you have not yet received your statement, it may be helpful to know that you can sign in to My State Bar Profile to calculate and pay your 2013 fees.

As the president of the State Bar, I would like to take this moment to enlist your help with an important opportunity that you have through your annual dues.

As attorneys, other people’s problems challenge us to do our very best. We straighten out transactions gone awry. We resolve property and commercial disputes. We counsel our clients through criminal proceedings and personal difficulties and help with innumerable other problems that ordinary people have every day.

But there is a new challenge. Sadly, our economy has experienced an almost unprecedented downturn with interest rates at historic lows. It is the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account (IOLTA)* revenue that pays for civil legal assistance for indigent people statewide; and it is barely a quarter of what it was in 2008. There is no cushion left as we struggle to close the justice gap – the gap between the legal needs of the poor and the legal help we can provide for them. This is an unprecedented crisis for those we are charged with protecting.

But there is a powerful step each of us can take in seeking a solution to the justice gap. Your tax-deductible donation to the Justice Gap Fund (a component of the statewide Campaign for Justice) will expand access to justice for the millions of Californians with nowhere else to turn. The Justice Gap Fund is the only statewide vehicle to restore critical funding to nearly 100 legal nonprofits that serve our biggest cities as well as the most isolated rural communities.

A gift made at line 10 of your annual dues statement, or online anytime at www.CAforJustice.org, will make a real difference.

Please join me in the Campaign for Justice. Make a life-changing gift to the Justice Gap Fund – it will make a real difference to those who most need our help.

I have to say that my heart strings remain un-tugged.  The Leftist policies of coercive organizations such as the California Bar Association helped lead to a long, deep economic collapse and painfully drawn-out recession.  The Bar, with its speech amplified by coerced dues, managed to out-shout someone like me, who would have had more money if the Bar hadn’t taken it away.  If I could have been left to my own political speech, I might then have been more amenable to contributing to a fund that helps poor people entangled in the political system.  Because the fund is owned and managed by the same group of people who contributed to this mess, however, I’ll hang onto my money until I find more worthy charities.

UPDATE:  You have to check out Michael Ramirez’s perfect editorial cartoon, because it distills to a single picture the whole free speech (or non-free speech) argument I made above.

California Department of Education fights school district for daring to spend money on children’s education.

Boy eating lunch

I wrote a few days ago about the fact that the State of California Department of Education has gone after the Kentfield School District in Marin County, because the District’s food program relies on PTA volunteers, rather than on paid union members.  Our local paper has an update on the story say that, for the time being, the School Board has decided to continue with business as usual, rather than acceding to the State’s demands.  What I love about the most recent report is a single sentence.  Look upon it and marvel:

One of the state’s concerns is that the extra revenue from the lunches are used to fund school programs, books and equipment. The letter said that it’s the district’s responsibility to oversee food service, employ staff and use cafeteria revenue for expenses only.

Think about it:  the State of California Department of Education is appalled that a school district would spend money on education, books, and classroom equipment.  How dare they!

I also learned one new thing from the story update:  the Kentfield PTA actually provides the food itself.  In my children’s’ elementary school district, the PTA was never more than a facilitator.  It did charge a slight premium, and the parents who paid for hot lunch knew that the premium would go to PTA activities supporting education.  In our case, though, when the state protested, the district caved immediately, kicked out the PTA, and started sending all the money (more than the PTA charged) to a third-party provider that didn’t give any residual profits back to the school.

The PTA president, who seems like a conservative in the making (if she isn’t one already), spells out the whole situation with great clarity:

PTA President Karen Loebbaka said what makes the program different is that instead of having a company come in and make profits, the PTA gets to put its profits toward education.

“We’re able to channel tens of thousands of dollars back to our district,” Loebbaka said.

She said the program is voluntary and doesn’t require students to participate.

“If you don’t like it, it doesn’t serve the needs of your family, pack a lunch,” she said.

School supplies

I am irresistibly reminded of the bad old joke:

First man: Come the Revolution, we’ll all drive Rolls Royces.
Second man: What if I don’t want to drive a Rolls Royce?
First man: Come the Revolution, you’ll have to.

AP report on thwarted terrorist attacks within the United States downplays Islam’s central role in the planned attack

The headline in the San Francisco Chronicle was simple:  “FBI: 4 Calif. men charged in alleged terror plot.”

California men, huh?  Did they have names like Big Kahuna and look like this?

“Yo, dude, I’m like going to, you know, like, attack the man. It’ll be, like, totally tubular.”

No? Well maybe these California men rejoice in names like Butch and look like this:

“Hey, everyone! We’re going to have a little whip and dip party. We’ll start with some fun bondage stuff, and then move on to the crudités. I’ve got a divine dip.”

Somehow that doesn’t seem right either. Maybe that’s because, when you read the story, you discover that these guys weren’t just any old California men. Instead, they had a lot more in common with these guys than with surfer dudes or San Francisco’s Folsom Street brigade:

That’s right — these “California men” were (a) Muslims and (b) three of them came from places other than America, let alone other than California:

Four Southern California men have been charged with plotting to kill Americans and destroy U.S. targets overseas by joining al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan, federal officials said Monday.

The defendants, including a man who served in the U.S. Air Force, were arrested for plotting to bomb military bases and government facilities, and for planning to engage in “violent jihad,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a release.

A federal complaint unsealed Monday says 34-year-old Sohiel Omar Kabir of Pomona introduced two of the other men to the radical Islamist doctrine of Anwar al-Awlaki, a deceased al-Qaida leader. Kabir served in the Air Force from 2000 to 2001.

The other two — 23-year-old Ralph Deleon of Ontario and 21-year-old Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales of Upland — converted to Islam in 2010 and began engaging with Kabir and others online in discussions about jihad, including posting radical content to Facebook and expressing extremist views in comments.

They later recruited 21-year-old Arifeen David Gojali of Riverside.

[snip]

Kabir is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Afghanistan. Santana was born in Mexico, while Deleon was born in the Philippines. Both are lawful, permanent U.S. residents. Gojali is a U.S. citizen.

In a sane, honest world, the AP headline would have said “FBI: 4 Muslim men in So. Cal. charged in alleged terror plot.” But we’ve already established that we don’t live in a sane, honest world, right? We live in a world dominated by a media that is determined to pretend that Islam, with its institutionalized jihad and antisemitism, is just a myth, and that it’s purely coincidental that these mythical Islamists keep trying to blow up Americans.

Elizabeth Emken, with a little digital help, finally debates Dianne Feinstein

(You can read more about Emken here, or at her own website.)

As usual, Dianne Feinstein is nowhere to be seen when there is hard work to be done, so Elizabeth Emken went ahead and had the debate without her:

The fact that DiFi is a no-show has nothing to do with age. My sister went to pre-school with one of DiFi’s daughters. At Christmas, DiFi and my mom got assigned to work on a big project.  Fifty or so years later, my Mom still hasn’t forgiven DiFi for being a no-show, sticking my Mom with the work, and then attempting to take a “fair” share of the credit when my Mom’s efforts came to fruition.

Character is destiny: DiFi is lazy. She was then, she is now, and it’s time to get her out of the United States Senate.

If you have friends or family who vote in California, please share this video with them.  Voters don’t like DiFi and DiFi’s absentee campaign shows that she doesn’t like voters very much.  Don’t let Feinstein end up in Washington again simply by default.

Elizabeth Emken for Senate; Dianne Feinstein for forced retirement

A few months ago, I though Elizabeth Emken’s chance of unseating Dianne Feinstein in the Senate was about equal to the Giant’s chance of winning the World Series.  I was not optimistic.  Today, I believe that both are possible and, indeed, probable.  I’ll leave the baseball talk to others, and I’ll focus on Elizabeth Emken.  It’s not just that Elizabeth Emken is such a good candidate (which she is); it’s that Dianne Feinstein has refused to be any type of candidate at all (which is unsurprising given her embarrassing record).

Elizabeth Emken is impressive.  She graduated from UCLA with dual degrees in Economics and Political Science, and spent time at Cambridge studying China and the Middle East.  She worked for years at IBM running numbers and analyzing management in order to increase performance and decrease costs.  Elizabeth understands how complex financial systems operate and she understands effective management technique.

Sixteen years ago, when her son was diagnosed with profound autism, Elizabeth left the private sector to work in Washington to help fund cost-effective, productive programs for those who are unable to care for themselves.   I’m going to quote directly from Elizabeth’s website regarding her autism work, because it is a snapshot of her intelligence, her familiarity with Washington politics and procedures, and her no-nonsense approach to budget issues, even when federal funds have a direct impact on her own life:

Elizabeth is a fighter and a problem solver. She was “drafted” into a second career as an advocate for developmentally disabled children after her son, Alex, was diagnosed with autism. She served as Vice President for Government Relations at Autism Speaks, the Nation`s largest science and advocacy organization devoted to the public health emergency of autism.

Elizabeth coordinated advocacy for multiple pieces of federal legislation addressing autism, the Advancement in Pediatric Autism Research Act, the lead title of the Children`s Health Act of 2000, and the Combating Autism Act of 2006 which authorized nearly $1 billion over 5 years to combat autism through research, screening, early detection and early intervention.

A vital element of this accomplishment, Elizabeth led the charge to ensure transparency and accountability on how the NIH would spend autism research dollars. For the first time at the NIH, her efforts produced a portfolio analysis of autism spending that would have to withstand public scrutiny – a policy Elizabeth believes should apply throughout the entire government.

At Autism Speaks, Elizabeth launched a multi-state campaign to secure insurance coverage for autism-related services. 30 states have enacted autism insurance reform laws, saving participating states millions in taxpayer funds that would otherwise have been directed to state health care and special education services. This groundbreaking legislation, aimed at ending marketplace discrimination against individuals with autism, passed into law in California on October 9, 2011.

Elizabeth doesn’t just have intelligence, skills, and a strong record, she also has charisma.  I was fortunate enough to hear her speak today at the Marin Republican Women Federated and I was blown away.  She is a smooth, but not glib speaker, who engages almost fiercely with her audience.  She is not a dilettante.  She is a woman who believes passionately in a government that maximizes individual freedom, while efficiently providing necessary services in the most cost-effective way.

I’ve been fortunate enough over the years to see many good conservative candidates come and go in California.  Why then do I think Elizabeth has a chance?  Because this is a year like no other year.  As in 2008, Republicans are fired up and want to vote.  As in 2008, even if they cannot affect California’s electoral college votes, California Republicans want to make a difference in local elections.  What makes 2012 different from — and better than — 2008 is the fact that Elizabeth is running against Dianne Feinstein, not Barbara Boxer.

I hold no brief for Boxer, but she is an energetic politician.  She campaigned hard in 2008, in part because her opponent, Carly Fiorina, was a very visible candidate, with a large pocketbook.  Boxer went up and down California, rallying her troops, and it’s the boots on the ground that will ultimately matter at the ballot box.

Dianne Feinstein, doesn’t have boots on the ground . . . or slippers . . . or delicate, expensive sandals.  She is the invisible candidate.  She has repeatedly refused to debate Emken. Feinstein takes her “no debate” stance so seriously, she won’t even talk to the press about debating Elizabeth.

Feinstein’s sudden shyness isn’t really surprising. Whatever energy Feinstein originally brought to Washington has long since dissipated. Having put in her 20 years, she seems to view serving as a Senator a giant boondoggle. She ignores her constituents, she ignores voters, she even ignores California itself, as she demonstrated when she failed to get any significant part of the $850,000,000 Jobs Bill earmarked for California. (By this, I’m not endorsing the stimulus. I’m only pointing out that, when there was money to be had, and when our state was — and is — hurting badly, Feinstein was supine.)  Further, given that Feinstein is already 80, there’s reason to believe that she has no intention of serving out yet another six-year term.  Instead, there’s a strong possibility she’ll retire early, letting Jerry Brown have his pick of California Progressives to fill her Senate seat.

In other words, Feinstein is running as the ultimate incumbent: she’s just assuming that her name on the ballot is enough to get her elected, and she’s probably hoping that an unelectable Progressive can hang onto her coattails to hold the same seat.

But this is 2012, and everything is different.  Before this election, Feinstein’s name might have been enough to win. But there’s a dirty little secret in 2012, one that the media has kept under wraps: Californians don’t like Feinstein. The rolling California Business Roundtable/Pepperdine School of Public Policy polls have some interesting numbers. First, for months more than 65%, and often more than 70%, of Californians have thought that California is heading in the wrong direction.  That attitude is bad for incumbents.  Second, specifically with regard to Dianne Feinstein, voters don’t like her:  she’s occasionally cracked the 50% mark, but she’s also spent a long time in the mid- to high-40% likability area.  As with Obama, it’s bad news for an incumbent who cannot stay above 50%.  An even more interesting number is the high percentage of undecideds polled:  20% of California voters are up for grabs.

Emken ended her speech by saying, “I’m a different kind of candidate. I’m a Mom; I work for a living. I understand what families are going through….  If you are mentally or physically unable to care for yourself, you have nothing to fear from me.”  Emken, like Romney, is not a monster.  Instead, she is an ordinary (albeit very talented) person who recognizes that California and the United States can be saved, and can still provide necessary support for the most helpless.  She also understands, though, that this can only be done through greater efficiency, not greater profligacy.  The current governmental approach, one the Feinstein embodies, works hard to kill the taxpayer geese who for so long have laid the golden government eggs.  Those days are over.  We need sound fiscal management, and Emken gets it.

If you’re a California voter, don’t let the fact that your Presidential vote is probably symbolic stop you from going to the polls.  There are important issues (“Yes on Prop. 32!”) and candidates out there that need your support.  Sending Elizabeth Emken, rather than Dianne Feinstein, to the United States Senate could be the most important thing you do on November 6.

(Cross-posted at Brutally Honest.)

Attention, California voters! Here’s a voter guide that’s not only helpful, it’s entertaining.

Laer, author of the fabulous Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State – How California is Destroying Itself and Why it Matters to America, has posted a California voter’s guide at the website’s a companion to his book.  Unlike all other voter guides, it’s not only informative (and, indeed, it’s more detailed than most voter’s guides), it’s vastly entertaining.

California propositions are enough to drive even the best informed voter absolutely nuts.  If you’re struggling with the California slate, make life a little easier on yourself and check out what Laer has to say.

The hidden costs of living in California

My computer is in its death throes, so I have a new one on order.  I just get the confirmation from Dell, and it contained this interesting little notice:

For shipments to California, a state environmental fee up to $10 per item will be added to invoices for all orders containing displays greater than 4 inches.  Dell Marketing LP collects applicable tax in all states.  Buyer is responsible for remitting additional tax to tax authorities.

Since I’m buying only the tower and not the monitor, this $10 green gouge doesn’t apply to me, but it’s still a telling sign of the way California nickels and dimes its consumers into bankruptcy or flight.


Found on Facebook

I thought I’d share with you some of the things my friends have posted on Facebook.  First, a cartoon that’s obviously meant to support the Progressive open border policy, but that just as obviously proves the opposite:


I understand that you’re supposed to read the cartoon to mean that, without the Native American’s open border policies, we white people would still be floating around the Atlantic.  Therefore, open borders are good.  I have this strong urge to explain to the Progressives reading the cartoon that, if one looks at what happened to the Native Americans, they would have been wiser to adopt the policies that Republicans now advocate.

The next thing I found on Facebook was this anti-Romney poster:

I get it.  Romney is an incredible hypocrite because his ancestors weren’t monogamous. He therefore has no basis for asserting that marriage is between one man and one woman. My response?

Dear Progressive, yes, some cultures are polygamous, but they’ve still involved a man on one side of the bed and a woman on the other. You see, historically, marriage has always been about two things: procreation and a wealth transfer system that allowed the man (who historically created wealth) to be assured that his own progeny, whether from one woman or from several, received his wealth. It’s kind of atavistic.

I’m not saying that atavistic human behavior is a good reason to keep the marriage status quo. As you know, I think the state should get out of the marriage business and get into the civil unions business, with an eye to promoting whatever conjoinings of people are best for the state. However, it’s foolish to pretend that relationships that never have natural procreative abilities are the same as the heterosexual marriages that have been normative throughout history. And no, please don’t hurl the words “adoption” or “artificial insemination” at me, and don’t mention that the English aristocracy so embraced cuckolding that the wife’s marital duty was limited to an heir and a spare. The fact remains that our lizard brains have always focused on getting a man to impregnate a woman, safe in the knowledge that she wasn’t cheating and that it would be his genetic offspring that got the benefit of his labor.

And lastly, a video that several of my friends posted.  I don’t know about Prop. 37 and I may discover after researching it that I support it.  Nevertheless, watching these vapid, alcoholic, misogynistic Hollywood types promote Prop. 37 (in insulting and condescending tones) inspires in me a visceral dislike for the proposition, and a strong desire to vote against it:

That out-of-tune brassy sound you hear is me tooting my own horn

Real Clear Politics, Sunday, September 30, 2012:


I’m excited not only for myself, but for Laer Pearce, whose book, Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State – How California is Destroying Itself and Why it Matters to America, is the subject of the post that RCP picked up.  It’s a great book, and as many Americans as possible should read it, so that they can fully understand what Progressive politics will do to the American landscape.

Marin County demonstrates the one-party totalitarianism that flows from open primaries

Yesterday, I posted about the result of California’s open primary in Marin:  two Democrats running against each other for the California Assembly.  My post was about the problem that this creates for those people whose party has been shut out of the election.  The net effect of open primaries is that, rather than allowing parties to choose their own candidates, the primary just becomes a “pre-election election,” with the November election serving as a run-off.

It turns out that the open primaries are also a problem for the candidates facing off against each other in November, because it’s hard for voters to distinguish between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.  In the article I quoted yesterday,the Marin IJ tried to help, by painting Marc Levine as more “pro-business,” which can be translated as “Mitt Romney surrogate.”

The IJ needn’t have made the effort, though.  I didn’t realize it when I wrote yesterday’s post, but I had waiting in my mail box a flyer from the California Democratic Party making the difference between the two candidates as clear as a bright summer day (click on thumbnails to enlarge):



On the flyer’s front, you can see the Republican elephant superimposed in the middle of what is clearly a group of people standing in line.  The text reads:

Marc Levine Doesn’t Want You to Know About the Elephant in the Room . . .

Because the elephant in the room is MARC LEVINE

Turn the flyer over and the message gets more specific:

The MITT ROMNEY CAMPAIGN KICKOFF in San Rafael was described as “LIKE MINDS COMING TOGETHER…”

[Quoting a female attendee] “We’re a bunch of red folks . . . and we find comfort with our own.”

Marin County Republican Chair Kevin Krick dismissed Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments as “a speed bump on the way to the White House.”

And the applauding Elephant in the Room was Marc Levine!  [With a big red finger arrow pointing to a picture of Levine attending the kick-off, with the Levine picture cropped in the shape of an elephant.]

What’s next — campaign contributions from Republican Special Interests?  Is this the kind of “Democrat” we want representing us in the State Assembly?

One can guess what happened.  Marc Levine, in an effort to distinguish himself from a Democrat opponent who is pure Progressive, sought to make himself known to a broader coalition of Marin County voters.  Since Marin has no subway or train stations outside of which the candidate can stand to introduce himself to voters, he goes from one political event to another.  This one was a Republican event.  He probably thought it was a smart move, because Republicans, having been denied a candidate by the open primary system are, theoretically, an up-for-grabs constituency.  They’ve got to vote for someone, so why not Levine?

Poor Levine.  His tactical outreach effort backfired, but it had the salutary effect of exposing the anti-democratic effect of open primaries:  Because of the open primary, which denied Marin County Republicans the right to choose their own candidate, the Democrat Party in California filled the vacuum by anointing a “Republican” candidate.

This whole thing has become a travesty.  What we’re seeing isn’t democracy in action.  Instead, it’s one-party rule, complete with infighting, without even the pretense of open elections.

The Hobson’s choice in Marin County elections; or, choosing between Left and Lefter

The theory behind Open Primaries is that it will encourage moderation in districts that are extremely Democrat or extremely Republican.  Without Open Primaries, minority opposition votes are symbolic throwaway votes.  Whoever is the majority candidate wins, regardless of the details of that candidate’s platform.  With Open Primaries, which inevitably result in two majority candidates going head to head, the minority opposition must either refrain from voting entirely or vote for the least bad of the other party’s candidates.  The hope is that, if minority party voters do the latter, they’ll vote for the opposition candidate who is least extreme.  I suspect that’s what’s going to happen in the upcoming Marin County election for 10th District in the California Assembly:

Due to California’s new open primary law, two Democrats will compete for the 10th District Assembly seat in the Nov. 6 general election.

Because the 10th District is overwhelmingly Democratic, in past years the general election has been little more than a formality; for all practical purposes, the eventual winner had already been decided in the Democratic primary election.

[snip]

The incumbent in this race is Michael Allen, who was elected to the Assembly in 2010 to represent the 7th District. Allen, 65, moved from Sonoma County to an apartment in downtown San Rafael after the 7th District was splintered by redistricting in 2011. Currently the assistant majority leader in the Assembly, Allen is a labor lawyer who has served as executive director of the Service Employees International Union Local 707 as well as president of the North Bay Labor Council and district director for state Sen. Patricia Wiggins. [Bookworm: In other words, way Left.]

His challenger is Marc Levine, 38, who has served on the San Rafael City Council since 2009. McCuan said Levine is known as a more business-friendly Democrat, and Levine’s endorsements and campaign donors indicate that. Levine angered some more liberal Marin Democrats in 2011 when he supported the opening of a Target store in San Rafael.

“Levine’s supporters are Joe Nation Democrats,” McCuan said, referring to the former assemblyman from Marin who once tried and failed to upend U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey in a Democratic primary election. [Bookworm: In other words, slightly less Left, thereby marginally avoiding fiscal insanity.]

I’m going to vote for Levine, because he’s better than Allen. Anything is better than Allen. But I truly resent having my voice muffled in this way. My candidate has been thrown out of the election entirely. Republicans are denied a voice and that is, I think, a complete failure of representation. It’s one thing always to lose; it’s another thing to be unable even to cry out as you do.

My review of Laer Pearce’s Crazifornia is up and running at PJ Lifestyle

I galloped through Laer Pearce’s Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State – How California is Destroying Itself and Why it Matters to America, which is a great book.  My review is at PJ Lifestyle:

Reading my friend Laer Pearce’s book Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State – How California is Destroying Itself and Why it Matters to America made me crazy. Laer is a wonderful writer with straightforward, prose, a witty sense of humor that doesn’t overwhelm the narrative, and a commanding mastery of facts about California’s politics, business, education, and public policy. In theory, I should have galloped through Craziforniain three hours. In fact, it took me three days to read.

Why did I have a problem with this fascinating book? Because, when I started I did not know how deep the Crazifornia rot ran in the state, nor was I aware quite how infectious the insanity is when it comes to the rest of America. To keep up with the deluge of evidence proving that California is indeed crazy, I repeatedly stopped reading so that I could scratch out little notes to myself: “California’s all-powerful bureaucrats are an army of Leftist Rube Goldberg’s with guns.” “This is a perfect example of voter credulity and bureaucratic overreach.” “California takes a legislatively created energy crisis and makes it worse with more legislation.” The scariest note I wrote was also the shortest: “As California goes, so goes the nation.”

That last note is why you should read the book — and give it to friends and family — in the days remaining before the election. California isn’t just a basket case, it’s a proselytizing basket case, with its environmental zealots, community organizers, and wishful economic thinkers aggressively selling their ideas to other states and to the federal government. As Laer demonstrates, while the recession is slowing the other forty-nine states from buying into California’s governing philosophy, the Obama government is an enthusiastic supporter. Another four years of Obama, and California won’t be the only bankrupt crazy place in America.

Read the whole thing here.

Comcast leaving the Bay Area

The movie said “if you build it, they will come it.”  More and more California businesses say, “if you tax it, we will go“:

Comcast announced Tuesday that it would shutter three Northern California call centers and consolidate them into other western U.S. centers in a few months, a move that will affect as many as 1,000 jobs.

Operations at the cable company’s call centers in Livermore, Morgan Hill and Sacramento will be shifted to centers in Oregon, Washington and Colorado at the end of November, Comcast said.

[snip]

The company’s announcement of the consolidation cited the “the high cost of doing business in California” as the impetus for the decision.

If you haven’t already, please buy yourself a copy of my friend Laer’s book, Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State – How California is Destroying Itself and Why it Matters to America.  It will explain everything you need to know about Comcast’s decision.

“Crazifornia”: A book that reveals the insane truth behind America’s most Progressive state

Those of you who were lucky enough to have started using the internet a few years ago probably remember Laer Pearce, who blogged at Cheat-Seeking Missiles.  Laer was one of my first blog friends, meaning that we corresponded by email and, eventually, we met.  He is precisely what you’d imagine him to be from his blog:  informed, analytical, brilliant, witty, and just an all-around great guy.

He stopped blogging a few years ago to devote his free time to writing a book about the insanity that is California.  Well, the book came out today!  It’s called Crazifornia. Here’s the Amazon book description:

When the agency responsible for state roads spends $4 million on new cars and trucks, then parks them unused for two years, that’s Crazifornia. When cancer warnings are required on buildings because they may contain estrogen or testosterone, that’s Crazifornia. And when a full-frontal governmental assault on business drives enough people out of a state in ten years to double the population of Oregon, that’s Crazifornia, too. Through tale after outrageous, funny, tragic tale, “Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State” explains why California is crashing, making it a must-read for all Californians and for anyone who fears California may be coming their way soon. That’s why nationally syndicated radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt called Crazifornia “The most insightful book on California’s perilous condition – ever.” Part One provides history and perspective, explaining how the PEER Axis – Progressives, Environmentalists, Educators and Reporters – took over the Golden State and work to keep it a leader in Progressivism, generation after generation. Part Two looks at the current state of affairs in the Tarnished State – bureaucratic ineptitude, anti-business policies, a failed education system, entrenched environmentalism, unsustainable pensions and a perpetually unbalanced budget, and considers California’s options for the future. “One rarely reads such a funny account of such a sad subject,” said California columnist and author Steven Greenhut. “This is a great book to read, tearfully, as you pack the house in Orange County and wait for the moving van to take you to Nevada.”

I haven’t read the book yet (I’m buying it as soon as I finish this post), but I can tell you in advance what you’ll find: it will be extremely well-informed; easy to read despite it’s serious subject matter; as Steven Greenhut said in the review above, it will be funny despite the depressing subject matter; and you will get a glimpse into America’s future if Obama is elected and he gets a Democrat Congress. Also, if you look carefully, you made find some references to a certain Bookworm you know.

It’s such a joy when a friend completes a major, and important, project, and is able to share it with the world.  So you can imagine the pleasure I have in sharing the good news with you.

(The link above is to the Kindle version of the book.  If you prefer to feel the weight of the paper book in your hand, you can find the print edition here.)

A new book is coming out that I know we’ll love

One of my oldest blog friends, Laer Pearce, who used to blog at Cheat-Seeking Missiles before he turned his attention to writing a book, is now on the verge of publishing his book about the insanity that is California.  The book, unsurprisingly, is called “Crazifornia.”  While you’re waiting, please consider going over to the Facebook page and liking it.  Thanks.

Just as Obama vows to ignore federal law, the California State Bar vows to ignore state law

In ordinary times, criminals disregard the law.  In the PC Obama era, however, elected officials and state government agencies don’t have much use for the law either.  Take Obama, for example.  Contrary to the original headlines regarding Obama’s newly discovered immigration rights, Obama’s recent announcement regarding illegal immigration isn’t an executive order.  Instead, it’s simply an abandonment of his executive responsibilities, insofar as he has now publicly announced that he refuses to enforce the laws that the legislative branch has passed.  He’s still King Obama, taking the law in his own hands but, instead of making the law, he’s breaking the law.

It turns out that, in Obama’s America, the federal executive branch is not the only government agency that has no use for explicit laws.  In California, the State Bar is vigorously arguing that it doesn’t need no stinkin’ laws either.  Let’s begin this discussion with the law itself.

Under California law (Calif. Bus. & Prof. Code sec. 6068), a licensed attorney is obligated to support both federal and state laws:

It is the duty of an attorney do to all of the following:

(a) To support the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this state.

Attorneys cannot plead ignorance of this requirement, as they must expressly state this obligation as part of the oath of office they take as a prerequisite to becoming fully licensed (Calif. Bus. & Prof. Code sec. 6067):

I solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney and counselor at law to the best of my knowledge and ability.

Put simply, California requires that, to practice as an attorney, the licensee must orally and explicitly promise that he or she will to support, not break, either state or federal law.

With this in mind, how in the world can the State Bar of California argue that an illegal immigrant should become a licensed attorney?  Shouldn’t both the Bar’s and the newly licensed attorney’s first obligation be to turn the attorney in for violating explicit federal immigration laws?

An illegal immigrant who passes the bar exam and demonstrates good moral character should be eligible to practice law, the State Bar has declared in a court filing.

The bar, which oversees California’s 225,000 lawyers, told the state Supreme Court on Monday that federal law leaves regulation of the legal profession largely up to the states and does not appear to prohibit Sergio C. Garcia, 35, of Chico from obtaining an attorney’s license.

[snip]

The court cited two federal laws as potential obstacles. One prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving any “state or local public benefit,” including a professional license provided by a “state agency.” The other prohibits employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.

In Monday’s filing, the bar said the first law doesn’t apply because the court is a branch of state government, not a “state agency.” In 1995, the bar noted, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal courts aren’t government agencies.

[snip]

“There is no reason to believe he cannot take the oath and faithfully uphold his duties as an attorney,” the bar said. It said the policy considerations are similar to those the California court addressed in 1972, when it declared unconstitutional a state law requiring attorneys to be U.S. citizens.

It’s pure sophistry to say that the federal laws don’t apply just because the California court system is a self-regulated branch of state government.  This argument ignores entirely the fact that California’s own law, which does indeed govern, imposes upon attorneys the obligation to support the Constitution.  The Constitution, in turn, is the umbrella for federal legislation.  The same sophistry holds true when it comes to comparing legal immigrants, who have not violated any laws on their way into the country, with illegal immigrants, whose very presence is an offense to law.

What’s going on here is open-and-above-board, so it’s we’re not concerned here with ordinary “cash corruption.”  That is, this is not a situation in which a private citizen makes a payment to a government official in return for the latter’s promise to look the other way.

What we have here is worse.  We are witnessing a profound ethical corruption that sees public institutions deliberately flouting their own laws.  This is a dangerous slippery slope.  Once the reliability of law is gone, the only thing left is despotism or anarchy, with the former being the tyranny of an individual or group and the latter being the tyranny of the mob.  When political officials expressly ignore the law, they are no better than ordinary criminals.  What’s being stolen, though, is more valuable than money or jewels.  It’s the essence of our liberty.

 

And while I’m ranting libertarian, if you live in California, vote NO on Prop. 29

One of the hardest fought propositions on the California ballot this June is Proposition 29 which is described on the ballot as a new law that “imposes additional tax on cigarettes for cancer research.”  Doesn’t that sound nice?  Those who smoke have to fund cancer research.  It’s an indirect version of “smoker heal thyself.”  Even better, because it makes cigarettes more expensive, maybe people will stop smoking.

The only problem is that things aren’t always as they seem.  First, the tax is $1 a pack, which is insufficient to deter any but the most poverty-stricken smoker.  Most smokers will just suck it up (figuratively and literally, I guess).  What the proposed tax would do is impose more costs on smokers . . . and, get this, it imposes the greatest cost on poor people.  In California, as elsewhere, smoking is a class thing.  The middle and upper classes don’t smoke.  Working classes and lower classes are being taxed for engaging in a sin that their economic betters frown upon.

One could still argue that, since the poor smoke, and are most affected by smoking’s harm, it’s appropriate that they pay for their sin by funding cancer research.  Except you can bet your bottom dollar the money is just going to get sucked into California’s financial black hole.  As those who oppose Prop. 29 explain, the loopholes in the initiative (and it’s a really, really long piece of proposed legislation, which nobody but fierce partisans will read) mean that most of the money, assuming it stays in state, goes to more bureaucratic infrastructure.

Here’s what the initiative’s opponent’s point out:

Prop. 29 is a $739 million annual new tax and spending mandate that creates an unaccountable, government bureaucracy filled with political appointees.

Doesn’t require new tax revenue be spent in California to create jobs.  Money can be spent out of state or even out of country.

Provides no new funds to treat cancer patients.

Spends $125 million annually on overhead, bureaucracy, buildings and real estate — money that could be used for cancer treatment.

Permits “conflicts of interest” by allowing organizations represented by Commissioners to receive taxpayer funding.

Allows for-profit corporations to receive $500+ million in taxpayer dollars annually.

Duplicates existing programs that already spend $6 billion annually on cancer research.

Establishes another flawed auto-pilot spending mandate like the High Speed Rail Commission — more waste, no taxpayer accountability.

Prohibits the Governor and Legislature from making changes to the initiative for 15 years, even in the case of fraud or waste.

(California Presidential Primary Election, Official Voter Information Guide)

Just how bad is Prop. 29?  It’s so bad that even the ultra-liberal Los Angeles Times came out against it.  After going on for a while offering general praise to taxes that penalize behavior by making the behavior too costly, and after lauding anything that stops smoking, the Times editors fess up:

Nevertheless, we oppose this ballot measure. The problem with Proposition 29, which would raise $735 million a year at the outset (gradually dropping off as more smokers quit), isn’t the tax but how the money it raises would be spent. Most of it, more than $500 million a year, would be directed to a new, independent quasi-public agency that would award grants for research on cancer and other smoking-related illnesses, such as heart and lung diseases. (The research itself would not need to be tobacco-related; a grantee could study, say, the effects of obesity on heart disease, or malignant melanoma caused by overexposure to the sun.)

Proposition 29 is well intentioned, but it just doesn’t make sense for the state to get into the medical research business to the tune of half a billion dollars a year when it has so many other important unmet needs. California can’t afford to retain its K-12 teachers, keep all its parks open, give public college students the courses they need to earn a degree or provide adequate home health aides for the infirm or medical care for the poor. If the state is going to raise a new $735 million, it should put the money in the general fund rather than dedicating it to an already well-funded research effort. Funding priorities shouldn’t be set at the ballot box.

It’s worth reading the rest of the editorial, because it does a good job spelling out what a foolish, redundant idea Prop. 29 is — and all of it on the back of California’s poorest citizens (and, this being California, non-citizens too).

What’s fascinating, too, is the way in which these liberal columnists freely acknowledge that financial rewards and punishments guide behavior — but they won’t acknowledge that these same rewards and punishments work best in the private sector.  To them, the only hand that should be doling out or withholding money is Uncle Sam’s (followed closely by Aunt California’s).

I hate smoking.  I think it stinks.  I know it’s unhealthy.  It accounts for a lot of litter.  If I had a magic wand, I’d make tobacco and the desire for tobacco vanish from this earth.  But I don’t have a magic wand.  If people want to be stupid, let them.  I do support laws that require smokers to stay away from me.  To the extent that smoke causes a positive harm — sending stinky, unhealthy particles my way — it seems to me I have more right to say to them “Don’t smoke around me,” than they have to say to me “I want to smoke and you have to put up with it.”  But as long as I’m protected in my right not to suffer from vicarious smoke, let ‘em smoke.

 

When cutting the budget, should the government cut back hours or cut out jobs entirely? *UPDATED*

Here in California, faced with a devastating fiscal crisis, Gov. Brown is talking about cuts.  If I were in charge, I’d cut out whole departments and agencies because they’re inefficient, redundant, unnecessary, or entirely inappropriate uses of taxpayer funds. Or within departments, I’d simply do a “rip off the band-aid” approach and fire some employees entirely.  It would be painful, but the department would be pruned and the fired employees wouldn’t be in workplace limbo.  Instead, they could get on with their lives.

Gov. Brown, however, is going a different route, at least for some things.  Rather than get rid of entire departments or entire employees, he’s proposing cutting back on hours — and pay with it.  This means that a government office that was open five days a week will be open only four days a week.  Everyone working in that office will take a 20% pay cut.  That’s a big cut.

Two questions for you:  First, from the employee’s point of view, would you rather be laid off, making a clean break, or would you prefer to have a 20% pay cut in exchange for a much shorter work week?  Second, from the taxpayer’s point of view, do you think it’s better to get rid of whole programs or clumps of employees, or do you think it’s better to cut back on everything at once by shortening hours and pay?

UPDATE:  Here’s an email from someone with a personal insight into government employment:

May I suggest you consider one other little item?  Ask the employees what they think.  My wife works for the Cal State system ; they were confronted with something similar a few years ago.  The union was asked whether or not they’d like to accept fewer hours/lower pay or some number of layoffs (by seniority, of course).  They voted for the reduced hours by a fairly large margin.  Never came to fruition, but the peons seemed pretty well to know the right answer.

Remember, once you lay off all those folks, you just put them on the unemployment rolls for 99 weeks, then … Given our “business friendly” climate, what do you think will happen?

Something to consider.  State employees are human beings too.

State employees are definitely human beings, and I respect the ones who work hard and provide real services. Their views do matter, although I would never deny the government the right make raesonable and appropriate, albeit painful, cuts to the job roll.