Friday, September 27, 2002

Bootylicious / The California propositions

The British chief rabbi has escaped from charges of heresy by recanting his stated view that there were things to be learned from other religions.

This week the Bushies seem rather desperately to be trying to link Iraq with Al Qaeda without actually producing any evidence. Introducing a new charge at this late date smacks of desperation. And lying.

Good calm piece against the Iraq war by Michael Kinsley on the Slate (Thursday). (and the Wash Post editorial section for Friday)

Ari Fleischer says everyone should stop finger-pointing. Good, tell your boss that. He also tried to say that the line about the Senate not being interested in the US’s security was taken out of context, like there could ever be a good context for such a comment (and Bush said it several times, so it wasn’t a slip of his famously accident-prone tongue). Actually, Fleischer said that it was ok because it wasn’t about the war on Iraq, but on the details of the Homeland Security Agency. As someone on Slate, maybe Kinsley, points out, this is worse, because Bush is calling traitors people who disagree with him on a relatively minor matter of labor regulations in a government agency. Also, the RNC is using the Bush quote in a fund-raising e-mail to 2 million people (I wonder how you get on that list without giving money?)(OK, I’ve just signed up for something, well I signed my cat up, although I hope they don’t try mailing anything to the street address they required).

Of course it’s hard for the Republicans to attack your position on Iraq when you’re trying so awfully hard not to have one, huh Mr. Daschle?

Merriam-Webster has added a definition for “Bootylicious.” And the new Shorter Oxford English Dictionary includes Blairite, Klingon, Tardis, name and shame, wedgie, chick flick, and bunnie boiler.

It’s time once again to play Deconstruct the California Voter Pamphlet. As ever, if you vote No on everything, you wouldn’t be going that far wrong.

We all know that financing spending by bonds is bad policy, no matter if the cause is good, so that’s a big NO to props. 46, 47 and 50. But let’s go further.

46 is bonds for “housing and emergency shelter”. This lumps together way too many types of housing programs--lumping together is the theme of the November 02 ballot--from university housing to firemen to the handicapped to migrant workers to homeless shelters, but not to the one they’re using to advertise this measure, shelters for battered women, which is simply nowhere in the prop.

47 is bonds for schools, K through U. Note the biased adjectives of the official summary: it funds “necessary” facilities in areas of the “greatest need,” and will provide “adequate higher ed. facilities.” Hey, it’s on the ballot so that the voters can decide what’s necessary and adequate. Note to writers of the statement in favor: I think I saw a sentence that wasn’t capitalized or italicized; try to do better next time. “Students can’t learn and teachers can’t teach in overcrowded and rundown classrooms.” Of course they can. And building new classrooms would keep class sizes small. Funny, I thought you needed more teachers as well. Or are you saying that now there are a bunch of teachers who spend all day just hanging out in the parking lot smoking because there’s no classroom for them? The No people say this was written to favor LA Unified, which would be nice to know the veracity of, if I weren’t voting against it on the bond thing.

48 is only technical and non-controversial, according to the official statement and the Yes argument respectively, so vote no. 4 years ago we evidently voted (who remembers) to let local judges decide whether to consolidate courts, and they all have, presumably because Superior Court judges are paid more. So there are no more municipal courts, and 48 would eliminate references to muni courts in the state Const. Which would make it impossible to revive them, although the No people make a good case that they give rise to conflicts of interest.

49 is The Arnold’s measure for after-school programs, which will evidently solve all crime and improve grades and possibly cure cancer. Up to $5 per day per student and they get their own personal android from the future to protect them and teach them valuable life lessons. For some reason it screws larger schools. Like all propositions this time, the Yes people claim it will cost nothing, just re-jigger existing spending priorities, taking all budget decisions out of the hands of the Legislature, like Prop 98 before it. This is taxation without representation and I say to hell with it.

50 is drinking water and wetlands and bonds therefor, and if you think this comes up every two years, you’re right. Actually what’s going on is something kind of new, at least on this scale. 51 is another, which is for transportation projects. I’ll consider them together. Basically, special interests were allowed to buy into these initiatives, adding their own projects in exchange for contributions. They’d both divert existing funds to these projects (plus the bonds in 50). So 50 has some good Colorado River stuff, but also makes sure that new housing developments get water piped out to them, somehow, and 51 includes, if I recall, a $300,000 (or was it 3 million?) road for a golf course, and these would be funded no matter what the economy was doing or what other priorities there might be.

52 is election-day voter registration, which works in other states (the No people say that doesn’t count because Calif. is big and those states are small, but I fail to see the relevance). It’s a bit iffy on what counts as proof of residence (yes, it does include junk mail, I checked that claim in the wording of the actual initiative), but then you don’t need to show picture ID now, to register or to vote, so what’s the dif?

Candidate statements are always fun. The Libertarian for governor, who I believe has been fired by his party for spitting on a talk show host, cites Gene Roddenberry alongside Milton Friedman and Herbert Spencer as one of his favorite philosophers. Come on, Roddenberry and Spencer would have despised each other. The Green says that other parties represent the past, Greens the future. Just once I’d like to have a party that represents the present. The Libertarian for Lite Governor is the ferret guy (did they really break down his door to seize his ferrets?), while the Green candidate’s son was murdered, which perhaps puts the ferret thing into perspective. The D for secretary of state is against people who have had abortions being denied the right to vote. The Green for Controller pledges to Follow the Money. The Libertarian for attorney general will encourage businesses to put full walls and doors on public restroom stalls. Just encourage, mind you, not require, because he is a Libertarian. The Republican, excuse me, “nonpartisan” for superintendent of public instruction seems awfully focused on what the students and teachers wear. And wants a moment of silence. Excuse me, a Moment of Silence.

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