Conservation, Exploration and Innovation

Patrick Dorinson
Host of The Cowboy Libertarian Radio Talk Show in Sacramento

"If Saudi Arabia were to increase its production by 1 million barrels per day that translates to a reduction of 20 percent to 25 percent in the world price of crude oil, and crude oil prices could fall by more than $25 dollar per barrel from its current level of $126 per barrel. In turn, that would lower the price of gasoline between 13 percent and 17 percent, or by more than 62 cents off the expected summer regular-grade price – offering much needed relief to struggling families. "

So said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat from New York recently at a hearing designed to embarrass, berate and attack the oil industry and not to find real solutions to our energy problems. This ersatz oil industry expert knows as much about energy markets as I do about brain surgery.  Schumer reminds me of Blanche DuBois in "A Streetcar Named Desire" who breathlessly stated as she was led to a mental institution, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." In this case the strangers are the Saudis.

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Representative Government?

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

First, there was the Public Policy Institute of California Statewide Survey, which asked voters if Proposition 13 thirty years after it passed had been a good thing or a bad thing for the state. 59% said it had been mostly good; 27% said it had been mostly bad for California.

Then came Arnold Steinberg’s poll, which had Prop 13 favored by 48% to 20%. When Steinberg described the features of Prop 13 – placing limits on property tax increases and requiring voter approval of tax increases — the numbers jumped to 60% in favor of Prop 13, 26% opposed.

Then came the Field Poll. Prop 13 had an advantage here, too, 57% to 23%. When the voters were asked if they wanted to change some features of Prop 13 like raising property taxes more than 2% a year or reducing the two-thirds vote to raise state taxes, these proposals were rejected by over 70%.

Meanwhile, in the Legislature resolutions were proposed that would honor Proposition 13 on its 30th anniversary. The legislative majority buried these resolutions.

Which begs the question—Who do the representatives in our representative government represent?

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Issues, Elections Will Set the Stage for Entrepreneurs

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

Throughout the history of American politics, small business owners, which many of our Founding Fathers were, have played a pivotal role in the nation’s public life.

Entrepreneurs still deeply care about their government and its activities. A National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation Poll about political participation found that a disproportionately large percentage of small business owners-95 percent-are registered to vote and an almost equally large share-84 percent-usually do so.

And hundreds of those small business men and women will be in Washington, D.C., this week for the 2008 NFIB National Small-Business Summit. They will take a message to their senators and representatives that they want access to affordable health insurance, which is shaping up as the top issue for entrepreneurs and their employees in this election. When they’re on Capitol Hill, they will be speaking for the millions of small business owners who create nearly two-thirds of the net new jobs in America.

Few segments of society have more legitimate excuses than small business owners to stay home, to skip a major event like the Summit or an election day. Not only do they have thriving enterprises to lead and manage, but in many cases, they can be their business’ entire labor force.

But a strong sense of duty runs through this segment of our population: 96 percent believe that every citizen should participate in government, if only to vote; 82 percent agree that business owners are leaders who have a responsibility to show the way in matters of public affairs and other key components of society. In addition, small business owners overwhelmingly agree that change for the better can result when good people participate in public affairs.

This year is a particularly important and exciting time for small business owners to participate in their government and the fall elections. Voter registrations are up significantly in many states, particularly among young people, adding to the electorate’s enthusiasm, as control of both the White House and the U.S. Congress is in play.

Major issues with potentially profound consequences for entrepreneurs also will be in play once the election dust settles. Debates over how to rein in out-of-control healthcare costs, what types of tax policies will help or hurt small business owners, how to craft an immigration policy that controls the borders while meeting our labor demands-all of these will command our attention in 2009.

These and other challenges to the future of our nation are the very reasons why entrepreneurs who create and successfully grow the nation’s 25 million-plus small firms can ill afford to stay at home when politics calls.

There is still time for small business owners who attend the Summit this week will affirm the small business sector’s belief that achieving good public policy is a constant struggle, but a struggle well worth the effort-and the time.

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One Man’s Loophole…

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

With Assembly Speaker Bass’ announcement of her secret plan to raise revenues to address the state budget deficit, the war of words will be as important as battle over numbers.

According to the Speaker, part of Assembly Democrats’ budget solution would be up to $6.4 billion in new revenues, much of it from closing "tax loopholes."  This is where language matters.

What is a tax loophole?  Classically, it means an unintentional characteristic of a law that allows a taxpayer to circumvent the law’s intent without actually breaking that law.  A good example might be the notorious "yacht tax loophole," which allows boat buyers to avoid sales taxes by delaying possession of expensive, out-of-state purchases. But in current political usage, a tax loophole has become any tax law that treats any taxpayer differently from some accepted or announced norm. This is an insidious distortion of political communication, which twists legitimate tax policies – decided clear-eyed by the state Legislature – into flim-flamming tax avoidance.

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Do we need an investigation of Prop 66?

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Over the last two weeks of October 2004, Gov. Schwarzenegger and billionaire Henry Nicholas led a campiagn to defeat Prop 66, a ballot initiative that would have eased some of the most onerous parts of California’s "three strikes" law. With Schwarzenegger’s campaigning and Nicholas’ money, the "no" campaign made political history, taking an initiative that seemed certain to pass and sending it to a shocking defeat.

The "no" vote grew by nearly 30 points in two weeks. Independent pollsters say they have never seen such dramatic movement in a ballot initiative.

Nicholas’ behavior during those two weeks was strange. He seemed to work all night, rarely sleeping. With the assistance of then Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, Nicholas pulled an all-nighter in the Long Beach home studio of a rock musician to make "No on 66" radio ads. He then started calling radio stations over the last weekend, begging managers to broadcast the ads despite full slates.

It all seemed manic, but Nicholas told me at the time he simply had a passion for crime victims. Now a new indictment of Nicholas suggests a different explanation for his behavior: drugs.

Nicholas, who first drew the attention of the federal government because of a stock option backdating problem at his firm Broadcom, is charged with distributing drugs between 1999 and 2005–a period that covers the time of the No on 66 campaign. There’s no indication that California authorities have looked at whether any of Nicholas’ business or personal activities had any financial impact on the campaign.

Maybe they should. If he was trafficking in drugs, did any money from that end up in the "No on 66" effort?

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An unused pen is pretty mighty, too

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

It has been said that the "Pen is mightier than the sword." But, apparently an unused pen is pretty powerful, too. In a study just released by the Milken Institute’s California Center on the 2007 Hollywood Writers’ Strike, it is claimed that the strike will cost California’s economy a staggering $2.1 billion and 37,700 jobs by the end of this year.

The authors of the study, Kevin Klowden, Anusuya Chatterjee and Ross DeVol, say that the writer’s strike was one of the factors that tipped California into a recession.

According to the study, the strike rippled through the economy to the following effect:

  • Wages and salaries are projected to decline by $2.3 billion
  • Retail sales are expected to show a decline of $830 million
  • Total personal income (which includes wages, salaries, self-employment, rents, dividend, interest and other income) is expected to drop by $3.0 billion

Click Here to read the study in its entirety.

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Villaraigosa takes proactve approach to bringing Football back to LA

Chandra Sharma
Political Communications, Redistricting and New Media Strategist

LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sent this letter yesterday to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino:

Dear Mayor Menino:

Tonight is truly an historic night. It is hard to believe that it has
been twenty one – long – years since the last time the Lakers beat the
Celtics in the NBA Finals. Tonight we renew this great American
tradition.

The only thing harder to believe is that it’s been more than two
decades since the great Boston Celtics have tasted the sweet victory of
an NBA Championship. The year was 1986. Hair was big. Shorts were
short. And Michael Dukakis was preparing his historic run for
president.

I truly expected our great rivalry of the 1980s to carry into the 1990s
– particularly as the Lakers and Celtics continued to assemble a
pantheon of NBA legends: Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Derek Fisher,
Phil Jackson, Pervis Ellison, Bryant Stith, Vitaly Potapenko and Rick
Pitino.

So to commemorate this historic event, I say we scrap the tired
tradition of wagering regional trinkets or cuisine – and go big.
Let’s really put it on the line: jobs, tradition, pride.

So here’s my proposal:

If the Celtics win, we’ll send you the best professional football
team L.A. has to offer: the Arena League’s Los Angeles Avengers.

If the Lakers win, we get the Patriots.

I know what you might be thinking: "Villaraigosa must be nuts!
Bostonians would make out like bandits in that deal! With an indoor
arena team, the fans would not have to risk frostbite to see a
mid-September game. And with the smaller field, our coaches wouldn’t
even need cameras to steal opponents’ signals."

I’m sure my constituents might not be happy with this deal, but I am so
confident in the Lakers’ victory that I am willing to put it all on
the line.

Oh, and to sweeten the pot, in the event of a Lakers victory you can
keep the Patriots’ coach. We have a pretty good guy down the street
who might be interested in the job – and who probably still has the
gear.

I look forward to your response and a great finals series. My only
regret is that I will not be able to visit the Garden for a game. I was
hoping to experience first-hand the legendary Bostonian hospitality and
sportsmanship.

Good luck and Go Lakers!

Sounds like a pretty fair deal to me. Maybe this will be incentive enough for Ed Roski to get started on his $800m LA stadium plan a bit early.

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Governor Schwarzenegger in the Cabinet? We Asked John McCain.

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Will John McCain have a spot in his cabinet for Arnold Schwarzenegger if he wins the presidency? Fox and Hounds Daily had a chance to ask John McCain a few questions and we started with that one. Here are our questions and Senator McCain’s responses.

1) Will you consider offering Governor Schwarzenegger a position in your cabinet or a prominent role in a McCain Administration?

I’m focused on winning in November, and am focused on the issues that voters are talking about in this election.  This election is about who is best to keep our nation safe and get our economy back on track.  I am, however, grateful for Governor Schwarzenegger’s support and his leadership on so many issues. When it comes time to appoint people to my cabinet, I’ll choose people of world-class experience and expertise in the field. Anyone who would serve on my cabinet must have the highest standards of public trust, honesty, fairness, and judgment to important positions in his government.

 

2) How will small business benefit under a McCain Administration?

Small business owners are the lifeblood of our economy. I will improve the ability of our businesses, both large and small, to compete by reducing our corporate tax rate, providing investment incentives, controlling rising health care costs and ensuring our ability to sell to the 95 percent of the world’s customers who are outside our borders. Small businesses are frequently taxed under the individual income tax. I will keep taxes low. I will also keep the capital gains tax rate down and provide portable health insurance.

 

3) Given California’s voter registration, recent polls, and recent record voting for Democratic presidential candidates why do you believe you can win California in November?

Fundamentally, this campaign is about who Americans trust to keep their families safe and to keep our economy growing.  That transcends party affiliation and voter registration stats. It’s a question of judgment.  While it will be a tough fight and I take nothing for granted, I’m confident that California voters will give me their support.

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Drowning 30 feet From Shore

Patrick Dorinson
Host of The Cowboy Libertarian Radio Talk Show in Sacramento

There is an old story that used to be told that defined the differences between the two major political parties, Republican and Democrat. It goes something like this.

There is a person drowning in a lake 30 feet from shore. A Democrat walks by and throws him 60 feet of rope, drops his end to go do another good deed and wishes him luck. A Republican then walks by, throws 25 feet of rope, tells him to swim 5 feet to grab it because it is good for his character and then considers further assistance.

But America has a growing bunch of voters who ascribe to a different theory. They will throw you 30 feet of rope and they will pull to help you out of your predicament, but you had better be helping yourself by kicking like hell on your end. Americans are willing to help, but they refuse to haul dead weight. These voters have abandoned both parties because playing for partisan advantage has trumped solving the country’s problems.

These voters that expressed themselves so decisively in the November 2006 mid-term election will be heavily courted by both parties over the next six months. They won’t be swayed by lofty promises, or more government programs or wedge issues like gay marriage. They have heard it all before and quite frankly are fed up. They want action.

Nowhere is this "independent voter" phenomenon more prevalent than in the American West.  It remains to be seen how this will play out in 2008 and beyond, but early signs are that it will only grow. In fact, we could be seeing the early stages of a national political realignment that shifts political power from East to West.

In 1964, Barry Goldwater, a native son of the West, wrested control of the Republican Party from the Eastern based Rockefeller wing of the party. His heir, Ronald Reagan, a Westerner in every sense of the word, was a pragmatist who carried on Goldwater’s work. He preached "big tent" Republicanism which allowed him to put together a broad political coalition that carried him to four landslide electoral victories both as Governor and as President.

But when Reagan left the political scene, there was no strong leader to pick up his mantle and hold the coalition together. Republicans used to dominate the West, including California, but it seems they have abandoned their Western bastion and built their redoubt in the South. From 1948 to 1988, Republicans won California in every presidential election except the 1964 LBJ landslide. Since then, they have lost it in four consecutive elections. And if you look at the results of the 2006 election, their hold on other Western states appears to be slipping away.

That is not to say that the voters think Democrats and big government are the answer. Quite the contrary, Westerners believe in "responsive government" and are traditionally suspicious of big government. They are fiscally conservative and socially libertarian not liberal. They believe in low taxes and limited government, which can be translated into "keep your hands off my wallet and your snoopy nose out of my personal life". If Democrats think their positions on taxes and social issues are acceptable to this bloc of voters, they totally misread the results of 2006. And if Republicans think it was all about Iraq and earmarks, they too are deluding themselves.

Clearly, the West is central to the Democrat’s strategy.  It is why they held an early caucus in Nevada and their convention in Denver.  And although the outcome is far from certain and is likely to play out over an extended period of time, there is no question that the West and western values will play a central role in electing our leaders for years to come.

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Lakers in the Finals — a Good Omen for John McCain?

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Game 1 of the NBA finals between the Celtics and Lakers starts tonight. Los Angeles Daily News Sports columnist Tom Hoffarth notes that every time the L.A. Lakers have made the NBA Finals over the past 40 years during a presidential election year, the Republican candidate has won the presidency. And, that has occurred seven times! The paragraph on the presidential elections is about half way down the column.

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