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The California Recall

 

As predicted, the duopoly and their media stenographers at corporate headquarters are demanding that recall elections a lot harder to qualify for the ballot. “We just can’t allow voters to monkeywrench things like this,” wail the media and the big black limos of the two-party dictatorship. “It’s bad enough that they ignore us, the cringing editorial writers of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, but what if the mob goes after Wes or Patti or Mike or Rohnert Park and WalMart? It’s all too terrible to contemplate.”

THE RECALL UPRISING has all the right people choking on their imported brie. But left out of the argu-ments by the bended knees at journalo-brothels like the PD’s, is that the Democrats and Davis made the recall election easily doable. Davis’s sub-Nixon persona and practices came to represent to most people outside the elites everything wrong with contemporary politics. Even hardcore Democrats needed both hands to hold their noses when they voted to re-elect Davis governor. Nobody else bothered to vote because there was literally no one to vote for if the choice was Davis or Simon. And so it came to pass that a mere 600,000 valid signatures were needed to put Davis up for popular reconsideration, and the people leaped at a rare opportunity to get a little revenge.

DAVIS AND THE DEMOCRATS, we will recall, put a lot of money and effort into the Republican primary in the 2001 elections libeling candidate Riordan as a pro-choicer and closet lib because Davis and the Democrats knew that candidate Simon was the only Republican that Davis might be able to beat.

THE BI-PARTISAN re-write of California’s recall law 20 years ago did away with the pro and con ballot argu-ments the original legislation had required. Each side got 200 words to explain themselves. The original 1911 recall legislation, by the way, also targeted Democrats who, then and now, were running errands for special interests. In 1911 the Democratic Party’s special interests were the robber barons and their railroads; today, the party serves public employee unions, the public ed bloc, prison guards, the wine industry, and whatever other cash and carry group will keep the party’s army of career officeholders permanently on the public payroll.

LOCALLY, our vapid State Senator Wes Chesbro is another Gray Davis-like example of a political system gone way, way wrong. This guy has never held a non-public job. He went straight from doobies in the Arcata Plaza to the public trough. He began his permanent stay in office at that perennial incubator of electoral mediocrity called the Arcata City Council as age 22. Then he was a Humboldt County supervisor, then on to the phony baloney state garbage board where, as he pulled down a hundred grand a year for attending one free lunch meeting a week, Chesbro waited for the electoral green light from the Bosco-Binah-Thompson-Hauser Gang. From the garbage board Chesbro oozed into his present sinecure as the Northcoast’s state senator, having parlayed the feyest of effete liberalism into a permanent public pay day. This state doesn’t need a garbage board, and it doesn’t need a bi-cameral legislature with a house and a senate, but the Republicrats have come to need an ever larger jobs pro-gram for the Chesbro types of both parties who loyally serve the political entropy that strangles the state but are otherwise unemployable. Fastened like Borneo bog bee-tles to the public purse from their calculated youths on, but without the state handing them a big check every month to either stay in public office or sit on some politi-cal payoff of a state commission, the Chesbros would be shuffling up and down a Sacramento side streets behind Safeway carts, pleading with passersby, “Hey! Look at this picture of Mike Thompson and me at the Boonville Hotel!”

ANOTHER CASE in point is Virginia Strom-Martin: term-limited out of her 1st District Assembly seat, she now sits in some nebulous, unneeded position at the big pay specially created for her in the state’s education bureaucracy because she loyally voted for more money for it.

FORMER 1st District assemblyman and state senator Barry Keene is still in Sacramento as a highly paid func-tionary.

DAN HAUSER, invisible except at election time, and visible then with a truly frightening death’s head smile plastered perpetually on his otherwise blandly insincere puss, lingered for many undistinguished years as our alleged assemblyperson before term limits finally (and mercifully) turned him out of elected office. To take care of the loyal Hauser, the Democrats installed him as boss of the old Northwestern Pacific Railroad, thereby ensuring that trains would never run again between Marin and Eureka. Hauser retreated to Arcata as the railroad sank into a permanent paralysis of disappeared and non-exist-ent account books, unmet bills, and accusations, many of them well-documented of wholesale fraud, as the feds discovered that the repair work they’d paid top dollar for hadn’t been done. Having established beyond all doubt that he was incompetent and dishonest, Hauser was hired as Arcata’s City Manager.

THE DEMOCRATS have now inserted another party old boy, Mitch Stogner, in the doomed rail line’s top job. A former aide to former Congressman Bosco and various other Democrats is Stogner’s sole qualification for run-ning a railroad, especially one that hasn’t had an engine on the tracks for a decade now and isn’t likely to have one on the tracks anywhere north of Santa Rosa in the life times of all Americans now living.

HAUSER, like Chesbro, began political life as an Arcata City councilman. For years Arcata’s fecund political bestiary seemed permanently confined to the oppres-sively PC little town’s city limits, but at least one mating pair in the post-Hauser-Chesbro period escaped north to Eureka where Patti “Vote For Me Because I’m A Girl And The Other Candidates Aren’t” Berg has succeeded Strom-Martin as 1st District assemblycipher. Berg’s qualifications? Beyond gender? None beyond her appar-ent connections to the twenty or so people who secretly anoint Democratic candidates.

SOME 2700 railroad and garbage board type sinecures — all of them in the hundred grand pay range for little or no work beyond showing up for an occasional meeting and a tax-paid lunch — have been occupied by Gray Davis appointees. The Terminator might eliminate these pork barrel positions as his first order of business to demonstrate he’s serious about cutting budget fat. He might also put his governor’s salary back into the general fund, junk his fleet of Hummers, draft emergency legisla-tion to keep the soporific Gray Davis permanently out of all classrooms, and keep his own hands off the interns. The Russian River might also begin to flow backwards and a Press Democrat editorial might be readable, but the odds against any and all of it happening are the same — so great as to be non-existent.

DAVIS and the Democrats tried mightily to wreck Schwarzenneger via the groper stories. So who did they bring in to campaign against the recall? Mr. G. himself, Clinton.

OR DID THEY? If the groper revelations had been pub-lished a month before the election instead of a week before, and revealed well after thousands of people had voted absentee, they might have caused Term some anxi-ety. But he was a shoo-in the whole way, right from his announcement on the Leno show. If he’d fondled Arian-na and McClintock on camera during the one “debate” he showed up for his margin of victory probably would have been even greater. In a country as kinked out as this one, a groper is widely regarded as harmless, and way south of the registered sex offender roster where he ought to be.

SUB-HED from the Ukiah Daily Journal of Wednesday, 8 October: “Berg and Chesbro say they’re ready to work with Schwarzenegger, but that budget deficit still needs solving.” Whew! Bet that’s a big load off Arnie’s weight pile.

REPUBLICAN BILL SIMON, probably the only Republican in the state who could lose an election to Gray Davis, Larry Flynt, Gary Coleman, the Greens, and a bimbo, finished 12th in the recall behind all of them with a mere 7,904 votes. Flynt, racked up 15,454 votes, nearly twice Simon’s vote, while finishing 7th overall. He was only a couple of thousand votes behind 6th place Peter Ueberroth, another Gray Davis-like Republican. Gary Coleman, midget actor and comedian, came in 8th with 12,683 votes. The bimbo got 10,110 votes, 60 of them from Mendocino County.

BECAUSE THE RECALL was characterized as “a circus” by much of the media, especially television media where life under the big top is presented as news every day all day, many of us dutifully characterized the un-election of Davis as a clown show. But the voter’s handbook was replete with serious statements from many serious candidates, and very few clowns among them.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON went from conservative political pundit to liberal pundit and candidate in less time than it took her to extract several million dollars from her “bisexual” former husband. Huffington’s politi-cal trajectory would be called opportunism if it weren’t sexist to call it by its name. And it’s perhaps homophobic and sexist to suggest that it was the tortuous, table saw timbre of her uniquely epiglottal, unrelenting monotone that drove her husband from women altogether.

AT LEAST Arianna can talk, as can Peter Camejo. The Terminator, McClintock, Bustamante, and Davis are not only inarticulate, they stay that way even when they’re reading their remarks. Term’s victory speech was embar-rassing, as was Davis’s concession address. Both were rhetorically below sixth grade graduation addresses.

SCHWARZENEGGER spent $22.8 million on the elec-tion; Davis $20.2 million; Bustamante $17 million; Ueberroth $3.9 million; McClintock $4.1 million; Huff-ington $800,000; Camejo “raised about $50,000” which, presumably, he spent traveling up and down the state as the sole principled candidate among the major candidates.

ONE IN FOUR voters voted absentee, many of them before they got their sample ballots containing the initia-tive arguments, and many more voting absentee before the LA Times published their “investigative” report by a “Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter” that Schwarzenegger was a serial sexual batterer, presumably reformed. According to subsequent reports, everyone in LA media had known for years that Schwarzenegger and sexual harassment were synonymous, but it was apparently news to the second biggest newspaper in the country.

THE LA TIMES, like every other large-circulation newspaper in the state, was opposed to the recall and against Bustamante, not that enough anybodys cared enough to be influenced by them to steer clear of Arnold. It was the 2003 LA Times that was electorally so scrupulous; the 2001 LA Times had refused to allow Ralph Nader to participate in the presidential debate sponsored by the paper. Nader, we will recall, was escorted off the premises by security guards. The Times was for Gore that year so they offed Ralph. This year they were for Davis so they attempted to off the weight lifter. The paper’s 0 for 2 so far this century.

DEFENDERS of the LA Times’ last minute attempt to save Davis naturally include America’s journalism schools. From the AP came this representative faculty lounge opinion: “Gregory Favre, distinguished fellow in journalism values (sic) at the Poynter Institute (What the hell’s the Poynter Institute?) dismissed criticism that the article was timed to inflict the most damage to Schwarzenegger’s campaign. ‘This was not an easy story to report, obviously,’ Favre said. ‘I think in this case, the Los Angeles Times worked very hard over seven weeks to nail down this piece. It just so happened that when they got it finished, it was five days before the election.”

THANK YOU, DISTINGUISHED FELLOW, for the surmise, and here’s a case of lip gloss and a pair of Can’t Bust’Em knee pads for your trouble.

THE TIMES didn’t mention the asexual Davis’s docu-mented crimes against women, grabbing one and shaking her while he shouted obscenities in her face, merely screaming obscenities at another. Neither candidate, in an age that celebrates slob behavior, is what is now quaintly remembered as a “gentleman,” but up until 1950 or so both of these pigs might have been made to pay for their swinishness by the violated woman’s father, her brother, her husband — or even a passing gentleman.

DAVIS, the most corrupt governor in the history of the state, got a virtual free pass from the “investigative” posses, while they falsely reported that The Terminator had once said he admired Hitler. That one’s still circulating, but here’s what muscle boy said in 1975 when he was 28: “I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power. And I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for his way of getting to the people and so on. But I didn’t admire him for what he did with it.”

THE DUMMY could have said the same thing using Honest Abe as his role model without going to the trou-ble of a disclaimer. Given the land of Arnold’s birth, his father’s active Nazi-ism and Arnold’s accent, Hitler as reportorial reference point was inevitable. But the guy did issue that final disclaimer. I’d say it’s still a real dumb thing to say, and I’d also guess that the big guy really does admire Hitler because Hitler’s the guy he thought of first when he was asked about inspirational figures, apparently not knowing that fanatics do tend to bring a lot of emotional pizzazz to their podiums.

HERE ON THE “PROGRESSIVE” NORTHCOAST, the dominant media — the Colorado-based MediaGroup papers of Eureka, Willits, Lakeport and Clearlake, Ukiah, Fort Bragg, and Mendocino, and the New York Times-owned Press Democrat — were opposed to the recall. Consequently, our large pwog plurality, uncon-sciously but as always obediently taking their lead from the Democrats dominant at the area’s print media and our pseudo-progressive, semi-public radio stations, opposed the recall voted for Bustamante.

ASSUMING that most people want game wardens, community colleges, parks, prisons for the truly danger-ous, and Caltrans, there are lots of other state entities that could be tossed overboard tomorrow without anybody noticing, the tax money saved by dumping them funding the services people really want. The Department of Edu-cation and the State Senate, to name two expensive bureaucratic redundancies, could go immediately with no detrimental effect to state functioning. Ditto for all the state commissions, beginning with the utterly ineffective pork barrel called the Commission On Judicial Perfor-mance. (If you want a look at the egregious opulence your state taxes support, check out the San Francisco offices of the state’s appellate courts and the unperform-ing offices of the judicial performance gang next time you’re in The City.)

CALIFORNIA’S innumerable appointed commissions are simply payoffs to the big donors of both parties, and either do nothing at all or serve as a rubber stamp for whatever state agency they theoretically oversee. Think 3000 Boonville school boards, all of them with offices and staffs, with each member of the board pulling down a hundred g’s plus fringes, and you’ll begin to under-stand the true function of state commissions.

AND THERE’S PROP 13, the biggest swindle in state history. What Prop 13 did back in 1978 was to lock in property taxes at 1 percent of assessed value for both corporations and home owners while simultaneously freezing annual property valuations at increases of no more than 2 percent. Best of all for big and small prop-erty owners, especially big property owners, assessments were freezed-dried in place in 1978. Local government could only raise money based on this 1978 formula. Although Prop 13 was sold as homeowner relief, in liv-ing fact it was a huge give away to corporate and private wealth at the cost of public services. As both Camejo and Huffington pointed out during the debates, California’s tax structure is way, way out of whack because the rich, corporate and private, don’t tote their share of the load. Davis and the state legislature “solved” this year’s bud-get crisis by borrowing at exorbitant interest rates to pay certain bills while they rolled over a bunch of other due bills for next year’s legislature to somehow pay. The state pays exorbitant rates for borrowed money because state debt is so much greater than the money coming in from sales taxes and Prop 13’s forever frozen rates that lenders fear they won’t get their money back; hence the usurious interest rates. Something has to give, and what gives ever since Prop 13 is public services while the Gray Davis types continue piling up public debt by giving their voting blocs, i.e., special interests, pay raises and tax exemptions.

THE STATE BUDGET consists of $75.5 billion in esti-mated revenues, $83.4 billion in spending. It’s short $7.9 billion and shorter still of bankers willing to lend the state money at less than extortionate interest rates.

DAVIS, even as he talked about belt-tightening to make up the budget deficit, gave prison guards retirement at age 50 at 90% their highest rate of pay, a big budget buster all by itself.

PRISON GUARDS, despite Davis’s great gift to them, were silent during the recall. They’re angry at their long-time Demo padrone because the great protector of grope victims unfunded visitors services in women’s prisons and other inmate amenities that help to prevent inmates from killing each other and the guards.

SPEAKING of prisons, given that about a third of the one million (!) California persons locked away for non-violent crimes, a huge savings could be accomplished by releasing those prison admin deems harmless. It costs the state between $30,000 and $40,000 per inmate per year to keep non-violent offenders behind the walls.

NOTWITHSTANDING THE FAKE CONCERN of the ACLU and their pals among Democratic Party’s bigwigs that the alleged deficiencies of punch card balloting might cost Davis his job, the election went off as it always has in California — with only minor glitches in a few precincts in the five counties that still use Voto-matics, including LA County and far flung Mendocino County. The ACLU’s bosses revealed themselves as the professional Democrats they are with their poll driven, hurry-up court case alleging the perils of punch card vot-ing although punch card peril is historically non-existent in California. Invoking the Florida vote prob that helped the disastrous George W. into the White House neglected to mention that Votomatics weren’t the problem in the Sunshine State, outright electoral fraud was. Florida sim-ply erased enough voters from Democratic precincts that George W. squeezed past Al Gore and on into the presi-dency. Gore also lost his home state of Tennessee and lost the overall vote, not because Jeb Bush removed black voters from Florida’s voting lists, Gore lost because, like Davis, he stood for nothing beyond himself and is such an obvious phony there was zero enthusiasm for him even among most Democrats. Gore and the Clintonoids lost the election, not Votomatics, not Nader. (Nadir won.)

HERE IN ECOTOPIA, as some of us lamented our last punch card vote but clicked out heels at Eraser Head’s looming unemployment, we recalled that the old Voto-matics had served us well over the years, certainly much better than the people we punched on into office with them. They were cheap and reliable. Electronic voting is expensive and, depending on the machine, an invitation to rig elections.

IT WAS MARSHA WHARFF and her all-female crew of Mendocino County Clerks who established for all time the reliability of Votomatic. They presided over the famous one-vote 4th District supervisor’s punch card election of 1992 between Liz Henry and Heather Drum without inspiring so much as a single beef over so much as a single dangling chad. Liz won by a single punch in a single card, overcoming by that one tiny tear in that one little Votomatic-tabulated card both liberal treachery and conservative nastiness to win a second term in office. (An honest, intelligent, all-round good person, Liz took such an emotional beating in and out of office during the eight long years she occupied the seat that she sold her house and moved away. Her experience is a textbook example of why we’re perennially short of good people in elected office these days.)

MARSHA and Co. had this election’s punches unoffi-cially totaled and posted by 1am, a mere five hours after the polls closed.

THE GREEN PARTY doesn’t deserve a candidate as good as Camejo. He’s given the Greens their first real visibility in the state, and was absolutely splendid in the debates as he represented progressive positions with passion and clarity. But it’s clear from the returns that lots of Greens voted against the recall and for Busta-mante, not Camejo. Of course if Camejo and his cadre of old Trots hadn’t grabbed the Green Party’s top spots in an end-around the swamp of consensus “process, stacks, vibe watchers, crazy people with political delusions, and all the rest of the hippie-cursed baggage the Greens con-tinue to inflict on themselves that came from the stoned days of big naked piles and meeting circles during which speakers were “empowered” to talk only if they had full possession of an asparagus fern, the Greens would still be invisible. Talk about not getting it…..

THE SF CHRON’S sports writer Scott Ostler on Greens: “The Green Party insists it was encouraged by its one percent share of the vote. Now the party hopes to expand beyond its main demographic — Marin County hitch-hikers.”

75.95% OF MENDOCINO COUNTY’S eligible popula-tion is registered to vote. Of those registered, 45.54% are Democrats; 27.18% Republican; 16.43% declined to state; 10.84 “other,” mostly Green with a few AIP’s, Natural Law meditators, Peace and Freedom Party dinosaurs up from La Brea for one more tilt at the polit-ical windmills.

FROM ANN DuBAY’S column in the Press Democrat of Wednesday, October 8th: …..”No more recalls. Unless a governor or a legislator is a crook or clearly incompe-tent, Californians should stay away from recall elections.”

DAVIS is both. He’s a crook and an incompetent. He gave blocs of his supporters great gifts of public money and sweetheart contracts in return for votes. In any other context but California politics, this is called bribes, and are illegal. Davis refuses to release prisoners who’ve served their lawfully imposed sentences even when his parole board recommends they be released. That’s ille-gal, he does it knowingly, he’s a crook. Knowing there’s a huge budget shortfall, he gives prison guards early retirement at age 50 at 90% of their highest pay rate, thus tying state taxpayers to huge, ongoing obligations to thousands of state employees, thus increasing the budget deficit, thus adding to the great gobs of money the state has to borrow to meet its bloated payroll, thus requiring the elimination of more public services to pay off loans, thus making the state’s already precarious financial posi-tion even more precariously costly, thus meaning the governor is incompetent or a crook or a nut. He’s all three, and he fully qualified as a recall candidate.

DAVIS’S way of reducing the budget deficit is to triple vehicle registration fees, again placing a disproportionate share of the public load onto working people already heavily taxed because the tax burden has been placed unfairly on them because both political parties are funded by the rich and, therefore, literally risk removal from office if they demand that the rich pay their fair share of the common load. The increased license fees were grounds for recalling Davis all by themselves because, like the sales tax, these fees weigh heavier, much heavier on persons of ordinary means than they do on persons of extraordinary means.

BUT CALIFORNIANS who think they somehow deserve to own and drive grotesquely oversized gas guzzlers should pay, and should pay mightily for the privi-lege, especially at a time when every day two or three American kids are getting killed in Iraq just so home front slobs can propel their glutinous selves from one idiot destination to another on artificially cheap fuel. And am I the only person around picking up an ominous, Old Testament-quality hubris vibe? That the decadence inci-dence is now so large among US that we’re about to get hit in our ravenous pusses with coast-to-coast tsunamis of fire and ice? Listen to me, you fools! I’m trying to save you from yourselves! If God had wanted primitive people to propel themselves in Sun King comfort He’d have borned you with an SUV attached to your fat ass! What we need, though, while the End Times prepare to hurl themselves at US, is a hundred percent state luxury tax on the gamut of profane indulgences, beginning with SUV’s and cell phones, moving on through leaf blowers and Cessnas, and ending with triple-max taxes on boom boxes and old guys who wear Greek seaman’s caps and bell bottoms.

BRUCE ANDERSON is the editor and publisher of the Mendocino Weekly, The Anderson Valley Advertiser. He can be reached at ava@pacific.net.

 

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