Thursday, July 31, 2003


Harrop on Recall

Froma Harrop's op-ed in today's Seattle Times, California Scheming, on California's recall effort against Gray Davis, contains a few statements to which I must comment.

The story changes little. Republicans tied up the United States government for months as they exploited embarrassing revelations about President Clinton's sex life. For their trouble, voters sent more Democrats to Congress in the next election. (Clinton's own job-approval ratings soared.) When Democrats play the game, the results are similar. All serious opposition to Clarence Thomas's nomination to the Supreme Court collapsed after Democrats flogged him with fishy allegations of sexual harassment.

She's only half-right on this. While it is true that the Republicans suffered at the polls after the Bill and Monica Show (I won't debate the validity of the impeachment, thankyouverymuch), she is totally wrong about Clarence Thomas. In fact, since the Democrats had not yet decided that a conservative political viewpoint disqualifed one from sitting on a court anywhere, anytime, it is likely that Thomas would have sailed through his confirmation hearings without a hitch had the sexual harassment allegations not come up. In today's politicized atmosphere, Thomas would not even get a floor vote; the simple fact that he is a conservative (and a minority at that) is enough for the Democrats to filibuster him. Back then, PFAW and its liberal shock troops had not learned the easy way to kill nominations.

While history is not encouraging, for many California Republicans, the play's the thing. Political theater offers high entertainment value. Governing is a drag. And so the GOP faithful are in party mode as they receive spiritual guidance from conservative radio talk-show hosts.

Ah yes, that's right; conservatives are easily-led sheep who listen to Rush and Roger and the other eeevil talk radio hosts without a peep. I thought Harrop was from Providence, not Manhattan; she'd fit right in with the Upper West-Side elite who read The Nation and refer to the largest cable news channel as "Faux News".

The recall's money man has been U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, a millionaire from San Diego. Issa has had several brushes with the law, including a felony auto-theft charge when he was 27, well past the age of puberty.

Harrop leaves out the minor fact that all charges against Issa were DROPPED, due to lack of evidence. He was never even convicted of a misdeanor, let alone a felony. It is also iimportant to note that the other party in the auto-theft case was his brother, who is a CONVICTED auto thief. Both of these facts are extremely relevant to the charge, but the recall opponents always forget to mention them when they call Issa a felon. This cached article from the San Diego Union-Tribune (The original is no longer available) mentions these points; Ms. Harrop needs to read some of the more balanced California papers, rather than just the LA Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.

A drop in popularity is not cause to replace an elected official in the middle of a term. The only ground for doing so is malfeasance official misconduct in public affairs. Davis has broken no law.

Davis has woefully mismanaged the state's spending priorities. The state faced a DEFICIT that was larger than the TOTAL BUDGET of 42 states. He sucked up to special interest groups and rewarded them handsomely, without paying mind to the consequences on the state's finances. He spent $10 million interfering in the GOP primary, and then spent the general campaign lying about the true nature of the state's finances. Against a competent opponent, one who actually used numbers to dissect Davis's flam-flam budget antics, Davis would have been incinerated. Since Simon's campaign was pathetic, Davis managed to pull off a victory.

All this political swordplay is not doing much for California's debt rating, now approaching the junk-bond level. The lower the bond rating, the more interest California must pay to borrow money.

Davis inherited a booming economy and a recovering bond rating (It was A+ when he took office, and rose to AA- within a few months). It is now BBB and dropping fast. The most recent plunge (an unprecedented three notches) is due more to the state's bollixed finances than to the recall, although the recall didn't help matters any. This story in the Sacramento Bee gives a fairly detailed account of the Standard and Poors action.

Other than some instant political gratification, there is little upside here for California Republicans. If they succeed in hijacking the governorship, they will be stuck with solving the state's economic mess.

On the contrary, the GOP is so weak in California that they have little to lose. The state assembly and senate are still firmly controlled by the Democratic Party; any resistance to spending cuts can (and should be) laid squarely upon their shoulders. California is taking on aspects of a one-party state; every statewide office is controlled by the Democrats, and they have over 60% of the state assembly and senate seats. A strong leadership performance by a new Republican governor could very well translate into an improved showing at the polls next year. The state can scarcely do worse than they have under Davis; any improvement is good for the state and good for the GOP.


posted at 09:10 PM | permalink | Comments (1)


Whoever gets stuck with this mess is probably going to be political toast at the end of their term. If a Republican gets elected, they will most certainly face a constant barrage of smear from the Democrats, and very little assistance in getting anything done about the mess.

Better to let a Democrat take it, and re-vitalize the Republican assault during the regularly scheduled election cycle. It will be an ugly, ugly blame fest, no matter how it turns out.

California is, unfortunately, turning into a classic example of the Democrat's agenda, mixed with various semi-far left 'feel good'programs are actually put into action. The result is the mess that we see - which is to the point that it is beginning to affect the national economy.

The more unfortunate point to the whole thing is that the recall only includes the Governor...it should include the entire state house as well.

posted by Wind Rider on August 2, 2003 04:38 PM






Harrop on the Recall

In an Op-Ed appearing in today's Seattle Times, entitled California scheming, Froma Harrop weighs in on the California recall effort against Gray Davis, with a few comments that I feel need a reply.

The story changes little. Republicans tied up the United States government for months as they exploited embarrassing revelations about President Clinton's sex life. For their trouble, voters sent more Democrats to Congress in the next election. (Clinton's own job-approval ratings soared.) When Democrats play the game, the results are similar. All serious opposition to Clarence Thomas's nomination to the Supreme Court collapsed after Democrats flogged him with fishy allegations of sexual harassment.

Half a loaf on that. She's quite right about the Bill Clinton fiasco (I'm not going to debate the validity of the whole impeachment; that's another story), but she is wrong in her claim that all serious opposition to Thomas dried up after the sexual-harassment claims began. In fact, she is 100% wrong; if not for the sexual-harassment issue, Thomas would have sailed through his confirmation hearings, as the Democrats in the Senate Judiciary committee were not yet using conservatism (or lack thereof) as a primary criterion for judicial suitability. In today's climate, the allegations against Thomas would never have come to light, as Leahy and Shumer would lead the charge to keep his nomination from coming up for a vote.

While history is not encouraging, for many California Republicans, the play's the thing. Political theater offers high entertainment value. Governing is a drag. And so the GOP faithful are in party mode as they receive spiritual guidance from conservative radio talk-show hosts.

This appears to be a variation on the whole "Conservatives are easily led sheep" trope so fashionable amongst the east coast liberal establishment. I thought Froma Harrop lived in Providence, not Manhattan.

The recall's money man has been U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, a millionaire from San Diego. Issa has had several brushes with the law, including a felony auto-theft charge when he was 27, well past the age of puberty.

A charge that was dismissed, due to lack of evidence. Issa was never even charged with a misdemeanor, and there is an important circumstantial point to Issa's case that suggests his innocence—his brother, who was also charged in the case, is a convicted auto thief. (Read this Google-cached article from the San Diego Union-Tribune; the original is not available online.)

A drop in popularity is not cause to replace an elected official in the middle of a term. The only ground for doing so is malfeasance official misconduct in public affairs. Davis has broken no law.

Bollixing a state's budget as badly as Davis has is malfeasance; the DEFICIT faced by the state this year was larger than the TOTAL BUDGET of 42 states. That is incompetence on a grand scale. While the sluggish economy shares a portion of the blame, Davis used his enormous campaign funds to interfere in the Republican primary, and flatly lied about the dire state of the economy during last fall's campaign. If he had been honest about the looming budget deficit, he would have been incinerated at the polls by any GOP candidate.

All this political swordplay is not doing much for California's debt rating, now approaching the junk-bond level. The lower the bond rating, the more interest California must pay to borrow money.

When Davis took office, the state had an AAA bond rating (it had dropped during Pete Wilson's term, but had risen back to the top by election time. The most recent downgrading was attributed to the recall effort, but it was not a serious drop, nor was it the only one. It pales in comparison to the damage done by Davis's past policies.

Other than some instant political gratification, there is little upside here for California Republicans. If they succeed in hijacking the governorship, they will be stuck with solving the state's economic mess.

The California GOP has little to lose; the state Assembly and Senate are still solidly in Democratic hands, so a refusal on their part to make the necessary spending cuts will reflect poorly on them, not on a GOP governor. In fact, California has become so much a one-party state that every single statewide office is held by a Democrat, and they have almost 2/3 majorities n both chambers of the state congress. For the GOP, due to Democratic gerrymandering, they cannot possibly go much further down (the few seats they hold now are pretty much GOP strongholds); some strong leadership by a new governor could translate into significant gains by the GOP next election cycle.

This alone is


posted at 08:21 PM | permalink | Comments (0)





Ah, Vacation

The wonderful feeling of not having to work is only barely tempered by the unpleasant fact that the Red Lion Hotel here at SeaTac is charging me 50 cents to connect at 26.4K. I will not be blogging at all tomorrow (red eye flight out of SeaTac), so look for something on Saturday evening.

posted at 07:47 PM | permalink | Comments (0)






Sunday, July 27, 2003


FCC decision correct

The OpinionJournal - Featured Article for Friday was a clear-eyed look at media ownership rules, and explained why Rupert Murdoch buying five more TV stations (out of the 1347 already broadcasting here in the US) is not going to kill democracy. Somebody needs to spoon-feed this to the greens (words of one syllable, please; they won't take the news well).

posted at 05:58 PM | permalink | Comments (0)





School reforms working

Studies Show Reforms Work is the headline of an editorial from the Sun-Sentinel, based in Fort Lauderdale. The editorial discusses the findings of three studies from the Manhattan Institute in reference to Florida's aggressive school reforms program, authored by presidential sibling Jeb Bush and despised by the teaching establishment and minority grievance organizations. The final paragraph is a nice summation:

In any case, the data show that vouchers, high-stakes testing and charter schools are having the intended beneficial effect. The facts are on the side of the reformers. Critics are skating on increasingly thin ice. If they keep it up, they may fall through.

Read the whole thing.


posted at 12:40 PM | permalink | Comments (0)





Smart Letters

Today's Seattle Times Letters to the editor page contains a pearl amongst the swine.

I recently had a shocking revelation regarding those who have supported or lambasted our continuing intervention in Iraq. It is (would you believe this?) that all my liberal friends oppose the effort, and all my conservative friends applaud it. As an aside, I am one who cannot stand Bush but have supported his Iraqi policy.

But aside from the fact that people are predominantly leading with their prejudices rather than their collective reasoning, there are governing overlays that tend to be conveniently ignored:

·As a student of American history, I know for certain that every military campaign and occupation in our history has been justified by the political and military leaders of the time by "facts" that were ripe for second-guessing. And isn't it odd that millions of people seem to have no problem with the notion that Saddam Hussein (of all people) was telling the truth, whole truth and nothing but, regarding WMDs?

·Folks, the people who make the final decisions in these matters have information (reliable, unreliable, or indifferent) at their disposal that by comparison puts the general public in a veritable vacuum.

·Ignore all of the above. But during your next idle moment, examine your base rationale for opposing this operation.

Unless you're just anti-war, period (another group that's a lost cause), dollars to donuts says it comes down to your feelings about Dubya.

Lewis Witham, Seattle

Finally, a voice of sanity from the left in Seattle. If you read the rest of the letters on the page, you will find a cesspool of "Bush Lied" or similar nonsense. There are three or four letters supportive of Bush or members of his administration, which is astonishly high for either of the Seattle papers. Unlike the one-note Dems, however, the Bush supporters annoyingly find multiple different targets for their praise. Just goes to show that the GOP can't focus on a message...

posted at 12:24 PM | permalink | Comments (0)





Privacy hysteria

The insidious truth about 'Non-Lethal' Weapons is an hysterical screed against new weapons that ar more likely to incapacitate an enemy combatant, rather than kill him outright or permanently cripple him.

The author of the piece, Joshua Ortega, is a talented science fiction author, but he's also more than a little unhinged, with an anti-authoritarian streak that also colors his views on technology. He appears to have an anti-tech view because of the potential of such technologies to be abused by a power-hungry government. By accentuating these negative possibilities, he ignores the many positive applications of new technology, and plays into the hands of reactionary luddites on both ends of the political spectrum, from Pat Buchanan to Amory Lovins.

This is not Ortega's first op-ed piece in the Seattle Times; he also wrote this piece last year, which touches upon the implantable chip debate. He utterly fails to notice that the chips are not mandated by the government or any agency with enforcement capabilities (in other words, they are totally voluntary). One cannot be upset if another voluntarily chooses to take an action which compromises their own liberty. The only possible solution to Ortega's dilemma would seem to be a law to ban the use of such devices, which presents its own Orwellian dilemma.

I am a fairly strong proponent of privacy concerns, but I realize that the only way to totally ensure privacy is to stop all technology research and establish some draconian rollbacks of technology advances to prevent any chance of them being used by any agency. This is unrealistic and undesirable.

(UPDATE—27July/3:00 PM—Jane Galt gets it as well. She points out some of the hysteria over inventory tracking is irrational and unfounded. This also ties in, tangentially, to this post of mine, from last year, dealing with the grocery club cards that are proliferating up here. Albertson's is the most recent company to introduce a card, but they do not require any paperwork to get the card; if paying by cash, there is no paper trail at all.)

posted at 12:07 PM | permalink | Comments (0)





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