A matched set about the PC train wreck that is California’s higher education system

California used to have the finest public education system in America.  It wasn’t lack of funding that killed it; it was Leftist corruption and insanity.  Don’t believe me?  Read these two articles.

From Bruce Kesler:  Important Report On The Sinkhole That Is Higher Education

From Donald Douglas: California State Colleges and Universities May Screen for Sexual Orientation in Admissions Applications

California’s new banking regulator, Teveia Barnes, is smart and accomplished, but views the world through a racial prism

Jerry Brown has nominated Teveia Barnes to be the new commissioner for California’s Department of Financial Institutions.  This means that she is the ultimate regulatory authority for more than 300 California-chartered banks and other financial institutions.

Barnes has an impressive resume, including a lengthy stint as associate general counsel and senior vice president at Bank of America.  This is a woman who knows banks.  Before law, she was a serious academic at Rice, which is a serious school.  She graduated in 1975 with a triple undergraduate degree in economics, German studies, and poly sci.  She then got her law degree from the New York University Law School.  She entered law school in 1975, which was a time when law schools were finally acknowledging that women were part of the legal package.  Those women I know who graduated from law schools back then had a tough time.  They were not made to feel welcome.

In addition to her solid academic and professional resume, Barnes is also a committed Democrat.  Or at least she’s become a committed Democrat since Obama’s rise.  From the years 2000 to 2007, she made $500 in donations to Democrat groups.  Beginning in 2008, and continuing through to this year, her donations totaled $12,500, all to Obama’s campaign, Obama’s PACs or general Democrat groups.  She made herself visible and Jerry Brown responded.  That’s fine.  That’s how politics works.

The one thing that concerns me is that, for the past 13 years, Barnes’ has committed her life to the diversity industry.  She comes to her government job from a long stint as president of Lawyers for One America.  In many ways, just as Barnes is exemplary, so too is the organization.  One of its major goals is to see that minorities in America get good legal representation, something that is often achieved by encouraging high powered lawyers and law firms to take on pro bono work.  The other major goal, however, is simply the usual diversity business:

The lack of meaningful diversity in the legal profession is a grave issue directly related to opportunity.  While people of color comprise approximately one-quarter of the American population, just 10 percent of the legal profession consists of people of color.  Attorneys of color comprise just 3 percent of attorneys in law firms, traditionally the centers of power in the profession.  LFOA assists in increasing the percentage of lawyers of color in the profession. This work helps provide economic opportunity to those to whom it was previously unavailable.

In other words, this is all about affirmative action.  What the affirmative action mavens refuse to acknowledge is that affirmative action doesn’t necessarily serve minority communities well.  The communities get lawyers but, sadly, they don’t always get good lawyers.  Instead, they get lawyers who have been pushed into and through the system because of their race.  Some of them end up doing very well, of course.  Others, well, not so much.  Putting people in over their head means that a few of the strongest will swim, but most will drown.

Despite statistical evidence showing that affirmative action probably ran its course about thirty years ago, Barnes and her group think that professional profiling (Is someone the right race?  Is someone the right sex?) is the only thing that matters when it comes to ensuring good lawyering for minorities:

Ms. Barnes said the legal profession in general is behind the times when it comes to promoting women and people of color. She believes the dominance of white men in the legal profession hurts all of society because minority attorneys are not readily available to provide volunteer legal-aide services.

“For women and lawyers of color, it is difficult for them to have that added time to do that pro bono work that I would otherwise hope they want to do, because they’re struggling with their careers,” she said. “They’re working twice as hard to just maintain their career, to just showcase what they can do, and to prove their value to the organization. And so they have to be pretty well established before they’ll risk doing the pro bono work that all lawyers should be doing.”

This obsession with race and gender strikes me as peculiarly antebellum South.  It’s as if America’s blacks internalized entirely the old Southern message about white male superiority, and black and female inferiority and then, 150 years later, regurgitated it, only backwards.  It was a horrible, limiting, prejudicial attitude back then, and it’s just as bad now, even with the roles reversed.

My concern as a citizen of the once great state of California is that Barnes’ racial and gender blinders, blinders just as thick and distorted as those worn by a Southern planter back in the 1850s, will lead her to make impositions upon and demands of California’s financial institutions that have nothing to do with good financial practices, and everything to do with advancing an antiquated view of humans, one that sees them controlled and limited by their skin color or sex.

I hope that Barnes, with her impressive academic and professional background, will be able to overcome her own prejudices.  I’m not sanguine, though, given that the last twelve years of her life have seen her completely submersed in the racial diversity machinery, one that believes that government’s job is to give minorities a helping hand, and to give whites, especially white men, the back of the hand.

A) Government promiseth, B) Government taketh away!

This article that just appeared in Bloomberg.com, regarding Stockton-writ-California-writ-USA-writ-large’s pending bankruptcy, is just so absolutely jaw-dropping crazy…uh, no, wait….it isn’t really so crazy after all. Never mind.

If Stockton Is Broke, Why Isn’t San Diego?: Steven Greenhut

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-02/if-stockton-is-broke-then-why-isn-t-san-diego-steven-greenhut.html

Here’s the money take-away: referencing the fact that, for the past 20 years, city employees could earn full lifetime health benefits (employee and spouse) after working only one month, Stockton City Manager Bob Deis noted…

“There was no money set aside to fund those commitments.”

And that’s the rub with our national, state and local governments, isn’t it? They can promise anything to get peoples’ votes, but there is no obligation to deliver. All they can do is make empty promises. And so, like moths to a flame, do we the people incinerate our futures and our freedoms on the soaring promises of hopey-change utopians. We once-proud, free, self reliant Americans have shown ourselves to be all too willing to give up our freedoms in exchange for promised government benefits…i.e., retirement pensions, health care, security, education…with not even a guarantee that the government will or can deliver.

You see, the government can never guarantee such promises, because (as our European cousins have so amply demonstrated) these are promises that government never could deliver. Government can’t deliver because a) government itself cannot create those benefits and b) because, inevitably, in the end, there is never enough money to pay for other people to provide those benefits.

The only thing the government can guarantee is that a) once surrendered, you won’t get your freedom, retirement, health care, security, or money back and b) the only way that it can even pretend to deliver on its promises is by taking away even more of your freedoms and money. Flame – moth – destruction.

 

As of today, who’s your conservative candidate choice?

A friend sent me a link to a post at Whatever, a blog that John Scalzi runs.  Scalzi, who describes himself as a “pinko commie socialist,” is interested — truly, not snarkily, interested — in the views Republicans/conservatives/libertarians currently hold when looking at the Republican primary field.  Having the luxury of my own blog, I thought that, rather than weigh in there, I’d weigh in here, and ask you all to chime in as well.  I’ll stick to Scalzi’s rules, which I think are very good ones for this question:

1. This comment thread is for people who are US potential primary voters who identify as Republican and/or conservative (libertarian is also fine, if you see your libertarianism more aligned with general Republican/conservative principles and/or intend to vote in the GOP primaries). If you’re not any of these things, don’t comment, please. Seriously. We have enough politics back and forth on other threads; this one is not about that.

To amplify this point I will also stay out of the thread except in my capacity as site moderator.

2. For the purposes of this thread, please take as given that you likely believe the policies and practices of the Obama administration to be varying levels of bad, so it’s not on point to go on about that. I’m interested on your take on the actual candidates running for the GOP nomination and your thoughts on their individual pluses and minuses as well as on the group as a whole.

[snip]

4. Commenting between the people in the thread (who have already identified themselves as Republicans/conservatives) is of course fine but in general I’m more interested in people’s individual opinions regarding the candidates/group than I am in people trying to argue to others in the thread for their favorite candidate. So if you’d keep campaigning to a minimum and focus on the actual question, I’d be appreciative.

As a Californian, of course, none of my votes count.  My primaries are too late to matter and the state is so Blue, it’s kind of like a corpse when it comes to the actual election itself.  So, while I care deeply, my caring is sort of academic.

Having said that, I’ve been enjoying Newt.  Considering that all the candidates just yak away like crazy, it’s a kind of rare, delicious, almost illicit pleasure to hear someone who can string multiple sentences together, who has a rare depth and breadth of knowledge, and who often says what all of us have been thinking.  I have serious doubts about his abilities as an executive (I do think Romney wins in that category), but he’s like chocolate for the conservative political brain — and that’s despite the baggage, the loopiness, the history of random statements, the FDR worship, and whatever else one can say about Newt.

When it comes to thinking seriously about a primary candidate, I don’t know and, as I noted above, for me the question is academic (especially since California now has open primaries).  What I’ve said for months is that my candidate is NOT OBAMA.  Of course, I have to ask myself, what if the NOT OBAMA candidate is Ron Paul?  I think he’d be better for America on the home front than Obama is, but I think he’d manage to be even worse than Obama when it comes to America’s national security interests, both at home and abroad.  I don’t want to have to make an Obama versus Paul choice.

My current plan is to vote for the person with the “R” after his/her name.  I’m not going to teach anyone a lesson by withholding a vote, thereby weakening the NOT OBAMA Party, of which I am a member in good standing.

J.E. Dyer provides a comprehensive California voting guide

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

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

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

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

Californians: Vote a straight Republican ticket

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

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

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

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

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

“Call me unemployed”

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

Call Me Senator from RightChange on Vimeo.

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

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

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

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

Laer views the project as collaborative, and seeks help:

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

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

Bob Stephens for California Assembly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mickey Kaus would certainly be a fun Democratic candidate

I met Mickey Kaus a few years ago at a blogger’s gathering.  He is precisely as Jonah Goldberg describes him:  middle aged, a little disheveled (albeit quite attractive), and hostile to BS.  I don’t agree with his political views, but he is smart, honest with himself and others, and he’s not an axe-grinder.  Democrats, Californians and Americans could do a whole lot worse than Mickey Kaus — and, with Barbara Boxer, they are.

The problem of self-perpetuating bureacracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_____________________

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

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

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

Help curb voter fraud in California

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

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

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

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

Vote SAFE
925 University Avenue
Sacramento, CA  95825

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

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

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

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

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

[snip]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rule number one: make yourself happy.

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

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

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

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

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

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

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

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

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

Illegal immigrants, gay rights, gun safety, and other stuff *UPDATED*

This is a portmanteau post, filled with interesting things I read today, some of which come in neatly matched sets.

Opening today’s San Francisco Moronicle, the first thing I saw was that an illegal teen’s arrest is causing a stir in San Francisco’s halls of power.  You see, San Francisco is a sanctuary city, and its official policy is to refuse to allow police to notify the federal government when arrestees prove to be illegal immigrants.  As has happened before, one of those nice legal illegal immigrants is, in fact, a cold-blooded murderer.  This particular 15 year old is accused of having held the two victims in place so that his compadres c0uld execute them.  The hoo-ha is happening because someone in City government, disgusted by the legal travesty that encourages people like this to make themselves free of our cities and our country, reported the kid to the INS, which is now on the case.  The liberals in the City ask “How dare a San Francisco employee help enforce federal immigration law?” My question, of course, is a little different:  “Why doesn’t the fed withdraw every single penny of funding from sanctuary cities?”  After all, I was raised to believe that he who pays the piper calls the tune.

As you’re thinking about the above travesty of law and justice (and the two dead kids executed in San Francisco), take a few minutes to read this American Thinker article about California’s self-immolation, a Democratic autodestruct sequence driven, in part, by the state’s embrace of illegal immigrants.  Illegal immigrants place a huge economic burden on California’s already over-taxed individuals and businesses.

The next Moronicle article that drew my eye was about the ongoing Prop. 8 trial taking place in San Francisco.  As you recall, Prop. 8 reflected the will of California voters, who wanted to affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman.  Prop. 8′s opponents are trying to prove that voters had impure thoughts when they cast their ballots, making the entire proposition an illegal exercise of unconstitutional prejudice.  Prop. 8 backers are arguing that you can support traditional marriage (as President Obama has claimed to do), without harboring bad thoughts about the GLBT community.

As you think about the ramifications of that lawsuit, I’d like to introduce you to Chai R. Feldblum, who is President Obama’s nominee to the EEOC.  She has a law professor at Georgetown, who really thinks that people’s brains should be purged of evil thoughts, especially evil religious thoughts:

Chai Feldblum, the Georgetown University law professor nominated by President Obama to serve on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has written that society should “not tolerate” any “private beliefs,” including religious beliefs, that may negatively affect homosexual “equality.”

[snip]

“Just as we do not tolerate private racial beliefs that adversely affect African-Americans in the commercial arena, even if such beliefs are based on religious views, we should similarly not tolerate private beliefs about sexual orientation and gender identity that adversely affect LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] people,” the Georgetown law professor argued.

Feldblum’s admittedly “radical” view is based on what she sees as a “zero-sum game” between religious freedom and the homosexual agenda, where “a gain for one side necessarily entails a corresponding loss for the other side.”

“For those who believe that a homosexual or bisexual orientation is not morally neutral, and that an individual who acts on his or her homosexual orientation is acting in a sinful or harmful manner (to himself or herself and to others), it is problematic when the government passes a law that gives such individuals equal access to all societal institutions,” Feldblum wrote.

“Conversely, for those who believe that any sexual orientation, including a homosexual or bisexual orientation, is morally neutral, and that an individual who acts on his or her homosexual or bisexual orientation acts in an honest and good manner, it is problematic when the government fails to pass laws providing equality to such individuals.”

Feldblum argues that in order for “gay rights” to triumph in this “zero-sum game,” the constitutional rights of all Americans should be placed on a “spectrum” so they can be balanced against legitimate government duties.

All beliefs should be equal, regardless of their source, Feldblum says. “A belief derived from a religious faith should be accorded no more weight—and no less weight—than a belief derived from a non-religious source.” According to Feldman, the source of a person’s belief – be it God, spiritual energy, or the five senses – “has no relevance.”

[snip]

Feldblum does recognize that elements of the homosexual agenda may infringe on Americans’ religious liberties. However, Feldblum argues that society should “come down on the side” of homosexual equality at the expense of religious liberty. Because the conflict between the two is “irreconcilable,” religious liberty — which she also calls “belief liberty” — must be placed second to the “identity liberty” of homosexuals.

“And, in making the decision in this zero sum game, I am convinced society should come down on the side of protecting the liberty of LGBT people,” she wrote.

I don’t think Harry Truman would have understood or appreciated Feldblum’s effort to quash religious freedom in the U.S.  He was someone who was able to separate his acts from his prejudices in all the right ways.  As I like to tell my children, he was a racist who integrated the American military; and an anti-Semite who helped create the State of Israel.

I believe all people should be treated equally under the law.  I do not believe, though, that this means that religions should be wiped out, or that Americans should be subject to the thought-police so that their impure ideology is brought in line with the identity politics of the left.  I believe most Americans are capable of being Harry Truman:  that is, they can recognize that their own personal prejudices against a lifestyle, a skin color or a religion, cannot be elevated to legal doctrine.  One of my problems with Islamists is that they’re no Harry Trumans.  They want to do away with the rule of law and, instead, substitute their 6th Century desert theocratic code.

Moving on, at this weekend’s soccer games, the other moms and I were speaking about a gal who is quite possibly the worst teacher in middle school.  She’s a lousy teacher, which is bad enough, but one can layer over that the fact that she is vindictive, mean-spirited and lazy.  Everyone I know has vociferously complained about her to the school administration.  And yet there is is.  She’s too young to have tenure, so I asked, rhetorically, why don’t they just fire her?  One mom’s answer told everything we need to know:  “The union makes it impossible to fire people.”

At least one union leader, at least, is trying to make it so that the American Federation of Teachers is less of a tyrannical dictatorship holding children as hostage, and more of an institution aimed at helping to educate children.  I don’t think Randi Weingarten is going to turn unions around, nor will she much change my opinion of unions.  Historically, I think unions were necessary and important.  In certain low-wage, low-skill, low-education fields (meat packing springs to mind), I still think they’re potentially useful.  Overall, though, I have a deep dislike for unions that goes back to my dad’s years as a member of the various teachers’ unions controlling California public schools.  The unions did minimal work helping to raise my Dad’s wage (he earned $21,000 annually in 1987, the year he retired), but were excellent at (1) kick-backs to administrators, who got great wages; (2) beginning what became the profound devaluation in the quality of California’s education; and (3) making sure that bad, insane and malevolent teachers were impossible fire.

Other unionized businesses are just as bad.  Hospital worker unions make a certain amount of sense.  The 24 hour a day nature of a hospital makes it easy to abuse nurses and other care givers.  However, when I was a young college student who got a summer job in the virology lab (an interesting time, since AIDS was first appearing on the radar as a series of bizarre diseases in gay men), I took over for a secretary who was leaving on maternity leave.  Although a secretary, she was unionized too, which explained why, despite disposing of old sandwiches in her file cabinet, and being incapable of getting her researcher bosses to the medical publishers (a primary part of her job description), she could not be fired.  This was not for want of trying.  It was simply that the unions had made it impossible to fire people like her.  They’d also made it impossible to fire people like the nurse I had many years later who, the first night after I’d had major abdominal surgery, refused to give me any painkillers and isolated me from any other caregivers.  Apparently I had said something that offended her.  Sadly, this was not her first time playing this kind of sadistic game.  But there she was, thanks to the unions.

On a more cheerful note, guns don’t kill people, guns rescue people from sinking cars.

And lastly, Steve Schippert highly recommends today’s Daily Briefing at Threats Watch, so I do too.

UPDATE:  Please visit A Conservative Lesbian for a thoughtful take on the nexus between religious belief and gay rights.  No knee jerk liberalism here; instead, a good analysis about religious freedom and minority rights.

Just a quick thought about the UC tuition hike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

or perhaps

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

or even

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the Obama admin scandals just keep on rolling

This could be sour grapes or it could be something much more serious. Amusingly, the NAACP hopes the charges are true, even if that means the State and Feds acted illegally:

An association of contractors accused Caltrans in a lawsuit Thursday of colluding with the Obama administration to flout California’s ban on race and sex preferences by reserving some state road-building contracts for companies owned by minorities and women.

“Caltrans is sideswiping the important principle of equal opportunity by using race, not lowest cost by a responsible bidder, to decide who gets government road and highway contracts,” said Sharon Browne, a Pacific Legal Foundation attorney who filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

The plaintiffs, the Associated General Contractors’ San Diego chapter, seek to overturn the state Department of Transportation’s decision in March to set aside 6.75 percent of federally funded road contracts to minority- and female-owned firms or to require contractors to make good-faith efforts to reach that goal.

Caltrans scrapped race-conscious contracting programs in 2006, after a federal appeals court ruled against similar programs in Washington state. The court ruled that a law, comparable to Proposition 209, California’s 1996 ballot measure, forbade preferential treatment.

***

Caltrans declined comment on the suit. The NAACP’s state president, Alice Huffman, said the contractor plaintiffs were trying to move the state backward.

“Caltrans needs more equal opportunity in contracting with businesses owned by people of color – not less,” she said.

We should all keep an eye open to see how this one turns out (and, if it turns out badly for the administration, how deeply it’s buried).

I have to admit to being kind of impressed.  I might not have been paying attention, but it seems to me that it took longer for preceding administrations to start being mired in these kinds of scandalous accusations.  Assuming all the allegations that have been arising are true, the little eager beavers in and around the White House apparently couldn’t wait to flex their politically muscle.

Doing business in California — NOT

[David Foster has again been kind enough to take seriously my request for guest blogger content. I wish more of you would. There's so much going on out there that, even if it weren't for my time constraints, I couldn't handle it all.]

A FOUNDRY SAYS FAREWELL

…to California.

For 60 years, Gregg Industries, a subsidiary of Neenah Enterprises, has run a foundry in a Los Angeles suburb. Employing 200 people, the foundry made components like engine and turbine casings, for companies like Honeywell and Caterpillar.

Last Wednesday, the plant closed down. It’s not because of a lack of business–the work will be moved to another Neenah facility, probably in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania. Primary cause of the closure is continuing problems with local air quality regulators, who say the foundry violates standards on odor even after the expenditure of $3 million to mitigate the issue. But that’s not the only reason. “I think there are so many special interests in California, there is no common interest,” said Neehah CEO Bob Ostendorf. “It’s just a lot easier to do business on the electrical costs, lot easier to do business on the environmental costs, lot easier to do business on the quality of work-life costs (OSHA),” outside of California, he says. “I love the state, I love the people…but you sure as heck can’t do business here.”

Another company mentioned in the article is a much newer enterprise called Metalast, founded in 1993 and described as “a metal finishing company that has moved into “green” chemical solutions for companies like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing.” The writer observes that “these are exactly the kinds of jobs Governor Schwarzenegger has been touting as being California’s future.” But when Metalast wanted to expand and build, founder/CEO David Semas decided to move to Nevada. “Between taxes and traffic and just the bureaucratic red tape required to build a business or build a technology center, in California it would add three years to the process, as opposed to building the same kind of technical center here in Nevada.”

The Democrats talk a lot about saving “good manufacturing jobs,” but when it comes to maintaining an environment in which manufacturers can thrive, the “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party–which now by far the dominant obstancle in that party–is usually the greatest obstacle.

I fear that the “progressives” are going to do to the country as a whole the same kind of damage hat has already been done to California.

link via ShopFloor

David Foster blogs at Photon Courier and also at Chicago Boyz.

Reports of our deaths may be somewhat exaggerated

The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article today touting the demise of the GOP in California:

With their registrations sinking and their political clout withering, California Republicans have come out of the November election in danger of slipping into political irrelevance across much of the state.

[snip]

Since 2004, Republican registration has dropped by more than 317,000 in the state, while Democrats have picked up 563,000 new voters. Five previously GOP counties, including San Joaquin, Stanislaus and San Bernardino, now have more Democrats than Republicans.

You can read the rest here, which discusses the numbers, and which also has some quotations from Republicans pointing out that the 2008 blow-out could have been worse, so things aren’t that bad.

Certainly Republicans aren’t doing well in California.  In the last two decades, California has gone from being the most reliably Republican of states to being an equally reliably Democratic state.  And as the article notes, a lot of very conservative counties have switched political allegiances.  I just wonder if Republicans are quite as dead as the Chron announces (and seems to hope is true).

The reason for my suspicion that conservativism in California is very sick but not dead yet and, perhaps, not even fatally ill, is what I see going on in Marin:  Conservatives, tired of being treated like second, third or fourth class citizens, are starting to congregate.  The party I described the other day is a perfect example of a grassroots conservative movement that’s bypassing the Republican party entirely.  Whether we’ll eventually join up with traditional Republicanism remains unclear, but we’re out there and we’re not inclined to walk away from the political fray.

I’d also like to see a study showing the growth rate for registered Independent voters in California.  What I’ve learned, both from my own experience, and from listening to other neocons, is that we new conservatives are not inclined to register as Republicans.  Instead, we tick off the Independent box.

There are, I think, three reasons for the reluctance to become registered Republicans.  First, as neocons, we don’t necessarily buy into the entire Republican package, and don’t want to give it our wholehearted imprimatur by identifying ourselves as such.  (As for me, I’d register Libertarian if it weren’t for the fruitcake factor and Ron Paul.)

Second, as lifelong Democrats, it’s hard to see an “R” after our names.  Independent is an almost sexy compromise, one that signals a break with the Democratic party without actually crossing the line into the former enemy’s camp.

And third, with the internet, which makes it easy for friends and neighbors to find out your party affiliation, even if they wasn’t what they were searching for when they plugged your name into Google, registering as an Independent helps preserve political privacy, especially if the neocon is not yet ready to face the opprobrium that comes with an ideological realignment.

I certainly hope that the Chron’s article is both exaggerated and premature.  Still, it makes important points that conservatives (not Republicans, but conservatives) should take seriously, and reminds us all that we have an awful lot to do in California over the next few years.

Random, and probably silly, thought about unemployment

In the old days, when work dried up in one geographic area, unemployed people migrated, often with tremendous difficulty, to another area.  Think of the great Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s, or the enormous Black movement from South to North during the Jim Crow years.  People, being adaptable, followed the jobs.

What strikes me as interesting — a thought that was trigged by today’s news that California’s jobless rate hit 8.2% — is the fact that no one expects people to follow jobs anymore.  While individuals may certainly make the decision to move, the prevailing paradigm is that people stay put while the government funnels money and (everyone hopes) creates jobs for them where they sit.  That’s a huge change from historic norms.

By the way, California’s jobless rate would be better if it wasn’t the most inhospitable state in America for business.  Businesses are taxed to death here, regulated to death here, and treated horribly and unfairly in any dispute with employees.  There is little incentive to fight for a business here.  While the workers stay put, hoping for handouts, the businesses, which are run by entrepeneurs, tend to be the ones to pack up and move to more favorable climes.