What A Waste

Writer and Political Commentator

Back in 2005 when Governor Schwarzenegger was still attempting to
govern, he submitted his reorganization plan, the California
Performance Review, to the Little Hoover Commission and the people of
California. The Governor promised that implementing the plan (which
never happened) was going to save us billions of dollars by
streamlining California government and making it more effective. The
plan recommended the elimination of 88 boards and commissions that
were unnecessary and costly to the people of California.

Among the 88 is a little-known group, the California Integrated Waste
Management Board. In case you were not aware, the Board promotes
“Zero Waste California” in partnership with local government,
industry, and the public. Not only did the California Performance
Review recommend eliminating the board, it said the following about
the board members: “In this particular case, an independently
appointed board of full-time, term appointed members creates an
obstacle to full integration of these functions with a coordinated,
collaborative environmental cleanup strategy.”

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Energy and Education

Writer and Political Commentator

With incoming liberal President-elect Barack Obama (already tending
toward moderation) and an outgoing conservative President Bush
(already tending toward obscurity), we are naturally going to debate
all the issues that liberals and conservatives love to debate:
abortion, same-sex marriage, immigration, public safety,
infrastructure, taxation, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the
current economic crisis.

It is my sincere belief that we will solve these problems, never to
everyone’s satisfaction, but in a way that benefits most Americans
and hurts the fewest. In simple terms, facing and defeating great
challenges is what Americans do best. As a nation, we are the
ultimate sleeping dog. Initially happy to be a British colony, the
Brits could not leave well enough alone and eventually we revolted
and defeated a nation previously thought invincible. We were
isolationist and passive as WWI and WW2 began, until prodded by world
events to enter – and win – both wars. Stumbling along with our space
program until surpassed by the Russians and challenged by President
John F. Kennedy, we did the impossible and put a man on the man in
less than a decade.

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Detroit – Driven to Bankruptcy

Writer and Political Commentator

Detroit is failing and they want us to help. For years the “Big
Three” automakers (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler) have rebuffed
the experts, turned a deaf ear to the demands of the consumer and
arrogantly ignored the success of their competitors (now their
betters). They have continued to sell through an antiquated franchise
model and have reacted far too slowly, and probably too late, to
changes in the marketplace. And now that the market has selected them
for well-deserved extinction, they are turning to the federal
government (us) for a minimum of a 25-billion-dollar bailout.

In a speech last week at the Ronald Reagan Library, Treasury
Secretary Henry Paulson acknowledged how important the auto industry
is to America and that its impending failure is not good for the
country. Yet he does not intend to use any of the $700 billion
dollars at his disposal to bail out Detroit, saying, “It doesn’t do
any good to put money in unless there is a clear path to viability.”

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A Beautiful Mess

Writer and Political Commentator

The biggest selling point of tyranny is its efficiency. Punishing dissent with death has a way of cutting back on all those nasty protests and boycotts. Freedom, on the other hand, is a messy business. The aftermath of the November 4th election – and specifically the reaction to the passing of Prop 8 in California (Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage) – highlights the beauty and the challenges of our system.

California is a strange and wonderful place. We are a mixture of a republic and a democracy, a marvelously forward-thinking and liberal state that at the same time repeatedly passes conservative ballot initiatives. We fight hard to elect our representatives in Sacramento and work equally hard to circumvent them with a growing number of ballot initiatives. We are governed by a mixture of often conflicting local, state and federal laws, ballot propositions and initiatives, court rulings, appeals and reversals.

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A Note to Dr. Martin Luther King

Writer and Political Commentator

Dear Dr. King,

In August of 1963 you marched into our nation’s capital with
extraordinary courage and vision, stood in front of the Lincoln
Memorial and delivered one of the most important speeches in our
country’s history. You said, “In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s
capital to cash a check.” I wish you had lived to see it sir—but the
check has finally been cashed, the promissory note has been made good
and we, as a nation, have honored our sacred obligation.

You said to the nation, challenging us as a people, “I have a dream
that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they
will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of
their character.” Dr. King, your dream has been realized, that day
has come and a young black man from Illinois has been elected as
President of the United States.

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Bankruptcy Bonds

Writer and Political Commentator

In 2003, we kicked Governor Gray Davis out of office for fiscal
irresponsibility, holding him personally responsible for running up a
$15 billion budget deficit.

In 2004, at the urging of the now-invisible Governor Schwarzenegger,
we approved Prop 57, the 15-billion-dollar Economic Recovery Bond
Act, because we believed the promise that it would be the last of the
state budget’s red ink.

This year, while “working on” the budget in a time of extraordinary
economic crisis, our Sacramento Democrats replied with a single,
uncompromising, unthinking answer in a shrill lemming/sheep hybrid of
a voice – “No program cuts!” Republicans, matching them for mindless
lockstep politics, screamed back, “No new taxes!”

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4 reasons to support Prop 4

Writer and Political Commentator

Proposition 4 is a proposed amendment to the California constitution
that would prohibit abortions for an unemancipated minor until 48
hours after the physician notifies the parents or legal guardian. It
is a direct response to the fact that California law currently allows
doctors to perform chemical and surgical abortions on girls of any
age without a parent even being notified. No issue in this country –
not Iraq, President Bush, capital punishment or even race – is more
divisive or generates more anger and passion than abortion. We now
add families and children to the equation.

In broad strokes, the pro-Prop 4 argument is simple. Having an
abortion is an incredibly important and difficult decision, one most
teenaged girls are not capable of making, so parents should not be
excluded from the process. Below are four reasons to vote “Yes” on
Prop 4.

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Shame On Us

Writer and Political Commentator

Shortly after it was clear that Democratic Senator Barack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain would be their respective party nominees, I was hopeful that we might see the most uplifting presidential campaign of recent generations. Senator McCain was a maverick, known for speaking his mind, even when his views differed from mainstream Republicans, while Senator Obama’s rhetorical style and message captured the imaginations of Democrats, independents and more than a few Republicans.

The stage was set. Everyone who wanted to see a substantive campaign was thrilled by the prospect of a series of 10 weekly town hall meetings. But it was not to be. Senator Obama refused Senator McCain’s invitation and both campaigns have since taken the low road, each blaming the other for "starting it," as if it matters who jumped in the mud first.

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8 Against Prop 8

Writer and Political Commentator

In March 2000, Californians overwhelmingly voted in favor of
Proposition 22—the California Defense of Marriage Act—which in its
simplest terms, defined marriage as exclusively between a man and a
woman.

In May of this year, the California Supreme Court, by a 4-3
vote, overturned the initiative, ruling that same-sex marriage was
guaranteed by the state Constitution as a “fundamental right.” Chief
Justice Ronald George wrote in his majority opinion, “Our state now
recognizes that an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and
long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly
care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s
sexual orientation.”

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Education Triage

Writer and Political Commentator

There are two things that almost all Californians agree on. First,
our public education system is failing its most important
constituents – the students. Second, the California State
Legislature, California Teachers Association, along with entrenched
bureaucrats and administrators scattered throughout the public school
system, have effectively blocked incremental, meaningful reform.

Efforts to stop significant and lasting change could not be any more
staunch or selfish than those that have thwarted mere incremental
reform, meaning we’ve seen the worst the irradicable can do.
Therefore, it’s time to be bold and enact four dramatic measures that
would transform public education in California and make it a source
of pride, not embarrassment.

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