Monday, September 29, 2008

Curmudgeon's Guide for Young Conservative Voters - 2008 General Election (California) Edition - UPDATED

LAST UPDATE (I PROMISE!): This may well be the most important election we've had in the last twenty years. There are clear choices to be made here, many of them between polar opposites (as with Proposition 8).

You may have noticed that I do not generally use the Curmudgeon's Guide to discuss candidates. The simple reason is, there's too many of them. Uncle Woody has a hard enough time deciding between our local candidates, let alone keeping an eye on the rest of the state or, indeed, the nation.

However, as I have kept up with the news reports and blogs over the past several weeks, one thing is crystal clear in Uncle Woody's mind: Barack Obama needs to be defeated tomorrow. His election will usher in an era of socialist-leaning programs and policies, the likes of which have not been seen since the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt. And I do not mean that to be a favorable comparison. The New Deal addressed a series of national woes, true. But rather than let them simply expire over time as the nation righted itself, they were codified into our collective consciousness and we have been dealing with those consequences for going on four generations now. Barack Obama will represent a tremendous step backward for this country, and it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE COLOR OF HIS SKIN. It is entirely about his political philosophies, none of which show any understanding of the intent or purpose of the United States Constitution.

One other comment is directed at voters in western Pennsylvania who must choose between incumbent Rep. John Murtha, or newcomer Bill Russell. Given Murtha's tireless rantings and insults which he has directed at both the Marines who served in Haditha, as well as his own constituents, I would be absolutely astonished if Murtha is somehow re-elected tomorrow.

But whatever you do, people, or however you intend to vote, you must vote. You must participate in this process if we are to have any hope at all of resurrecting the form of government envisioned by our founding fathers.

UPDATE: Tom McClintock is one of the last reliable conservatives we have in California politics today. With very few exceptions (and what would life be without a few exceptions?) he has tended to vote for or support my own views on a wide range of issues. I just received an email that outlines Tom's recommendations for the Propositions on this ballot. I find that we match pretty well, with just a few differences. I'll note those differences below.
Hey, there, Young Conservatives! It's been a busy year. Coming up on Election Number Three in this state, which by my count is approximately two elections too many.

However, the monster must be fed, and you're here because you're looking for some deep, insightful analysis presented in a concise format that will make all the California ballot initiatives clear in your young minds.

What you get instead is whatever knee-jerk reactions Uncle Woody has had whilst perusing the voluminous "Official Voter Information Guide" that weighs approximately as much as the car you're driving right now. Shame on you, Young Conservatives! Pull over before you start reading this stuff!

And now, for your Ritalin induced dementia research and reading pleasure, we present you with

Uncle Woody's Curmudgeon's Guide for Young Conservative Voters, 2008 General Election (California) Edition

Prop. 1A - Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act.

The idea here is to issue bonds (state politicians' favorite non-tax tax) in the amount of just under $10 billion to build and improve passenger rail service between the major population centers in the state. Hence a trip from Los Angeles to Oakland would take 2 hours and 40 minutes. Sounds terrific, and Uncle Woody is an old railfan from waaay back. I just don't know if there's enough interest in such commutes (except for state-hopping politicians, perhaps) to really make any money off of it. Reminds me of past attempts to build high-speed lines between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. That one would have had you losing money paying for the line, and losing your shirt when you got there.

Uncle Woody says get out of the way and let Amtrak do their thing. No on Prop 1A.

Prop. 2 - Standards for Confining Farm Animals. Initiative Statute.

Thinly veiled attempt by the ASPCA and PETA to quit torturing animals that are targeted for eventual slaughter and eating anyway. Forcing "humane" conditions on growers just inevitably raises prices between them and the dinner table, which, I have little doubt, is PETA's ultimate goal. Make the animals expensive enough to eat, and everyone converts to Veganology.

(Tom McClintock appears to take a sort of reverse philosophy from Bruce the Shark in "Finding Nemo." Animals are food, not friends.)

Uncle Woody oinks in their general direction. No on Prop 2.

Prop. 3 - Children’s Hospital Bond Act. Grant Program. Initiative Statute.

Uncle Woody must break with his traditional curmudgeonry in this particular instance. Children's (and other) hospitals across the state provide services that Uncle Woody's extended family has required in the past, and they always need more funds. This money is used to help maintain, increase, and promote the level of care and research that these hospitals provide. Even though much of Proposition 61's funds have yet to be awarded, we need to keep this money flowing. I'd even rather see the money we might have spent on high-speed rail travel being spent on kids instead. Cancer, in particular, is much more pervasive now than it was even ten years ago.

[Here's one of the differences I have with Tom McClintock. He finds use of "children" to be a cynical way of funneling taxpayer money into private hospital concerns. That may be true; I'm certainly no legal or financial expert. However, I have always watched with no small concern as we continue to try to provide quality medical care with fewer facilities and underpaid staff. I hold my line on Prop 3.]

Uncle Woody votes an unqualified Yes on Prop 3.

Prop. 4 - Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Here we go again. We keep trying to outwit our teenagers, rather than communicate with them. Look, parents, if you're so worried about your daughter rushing out to get an abortion without your consent and knowledge, then you have already slammed the doors of communication shut between you. If you want to get ahead of the curve, STAY INVOLVED IN THEIR LIVES. Just because they're old enough to go to high school is no reason to abdicate your position AND INFLUENCE as a parent. If you love your kids, help them know that their lives are safe in your arms. That includes being able to come to you with news of a mistake — even a huge one like unprotected sex — without having to fear for their young lives.

I hate to admit that Planned Parenthood, of all subversive organizations, might be right, but forcing doctors to tell parents about abortions 48 hours before performing them is only going to drive kids to seek such treatment elsewhere, under unsafe conditions. If you'd rather your daughter not get an abortion, teach her about the nobility of adoption. Then go vote for legislation that criminalizes all elective abortion.

[Here again I disagree with McClintock. Look, I'm not saying that requiring parents to be notified before their child gets an abortion is a bad thing. I'm all for keeping parents in the loop. My argument is that if you've gotten to the point where a provider has to inform you that your child wants an abortion, you've already missed the boat. TALK TO YOUR KIDS. If you want to vote Yes on Prop 4, Uncle Woody will not stand in your way. I really won't howl if it passes. I just think it won't accomplish everything its proponents think it will.]

Try again and get it right, folks. Uncle Woody votes No on Prop 4.

Prop. 5 - Nonviolent Drug Offenses. Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation. Initiative Statute.

Uncle Woody sees several huge problems with this initiative. The biggest problem, both in terms of uselessness and gross weight, is a "19 member board" to be created to direct parole and rehabilitation policy. In other words, a new bureaucracy that will toss drug offenders into rehab, wash their collective hands of the offenders, then gasp with surprise when 90% of those offenders wind up back in jail.

Here's where Hollywood really sets the example, folks. How many rehabbed actors and musicians have cleaned up and stayed that way?

Uncle Woody votes No way, Dude, on Prop 5.

Prop. 6 - Police and Law Enforcement Funding. Criminal Penalties and Laws. Initiative Statute.

Uncle Woody supposes that, since he votes No for Prop 5, he'd better be ready to vote for increases in funding for law enforcement. Since I don't, you know, believe in rehab, for example. This initiative alots nearly $10 billion (that figure, again!) for police, sheriffs, district attorneys, and facilities to handle stiffer regulations with regards to gang activity in particular. In other words, it's all intertwined in this initiative, and voting against it kind of kills the whole thing.

My problem here is that we continue to view gangs as just another element of society with (as some have argued) potential for (here's that word again!) rehabilitation. Uncle Woody, on the other hand, keeps wishing someone will wake up and actually label gangs as what they really are: enemy combatants. Then we can persecute and prosecute under provisions of Homeland Security and send in the National Guard, rather than wasting the efforts of good cops.

Until then, however, Uncle Woody will swallow hard and vote Yes for Prop 6.

Prop. 7 - Renewable Energy Generation. Initiative Statute.

Requires utilities in California to generate 20% of the power from renewable sources by 2010, 40% by 2020, and 50% by 2025.

Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? But there's a problem, and this initiative isn't going to solve it. We DON'T HAVE THE INFRASTRUCTURE TO SUPPORT THIS IDEA. Honestly; am I the only one in this state still waiting to see Schwarzenegger's promised "Hydrogen Corridor?" Well, guess what: that's an infrastructure issue, and WE AREN'T THERE YET. Ask folks in Tehachapi how much of a break they get on power provided by all those ugly windmills that besmirch their lovely foothills.

There's also the small issue of calendar. By my calendar, we have just over 15 months left until 2010. Even if we give them until December of 2010, that only gives them 27 months to come up with this 20% of renewable power. It will take 26 months alone for the Public Utilities Commission ("Preventing Your Power For Your Own Good") to approve the plans.

Uncle Woody votes Lights Out (that's "no" in utility-speak) on Prop 7.

Prop. 8 - Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

You just know that Jerry Brown came up with this description. "Eliminates" their right. Cute, that.

A future post is forthcoming (delivered, as promised, here) in regards to Proposition 8. There are arguments aplenty in support of the initiative, one of which is that it took 61% of California voters to approve the exact same language in Proposition 22 back in 2000, but only 4 arrogant California Supreme Court justices to overturn it a few months ago. Said it wasn't "constitutional." Like they would know.

Let's make it constitutional. Uncle Woody votes YES on Prop 8.

Prop. 9 - Criminal Justice System. Victims’ Rights. Parole. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

This one will be tricky. So-called "victims rights" are tenuous at best, especially in California where we seem to glory in creating safe-havens for every undocumented murderer that comes across the border. Berkeley still hasn't learned this lesson, and I doubt that this amendment will convince them otherwise. There's also the fact that the real damage to victims is typically done in court, and is inflicted by defense attorneys whose only goal in life is to win the case, without any moral compunction about using every available loophole to prevent an obviously guilty defendant from receiving the full brunt of the penalty they deserve.

Still, as a sort of consolation prize, we have the opportunity to make it somewhat harder for criminals to be granted parole, warn the victims when parole may be granted, and give them a greater voice in whether parole should be considered.

Uncle Woody votes Yes for Prop 9.

Prop. 10 - Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy. Bonds. Initiative Statute.

Money, money, money. Everyone wants it. No one wants to give it. Particularly when they refuse to build infrastructure to support what they're asking for. Look, Uncle Woody is all for alternative fuels. The problem is, we're not very good about implementing these ideas. Everyone who has a hand in it is really looking to have a controlling interest (read: huge payback) in how it grows. If you want hydrogen fueling stations at more than a handful of locations around the state, you need to make it worth someone's while to build them. This is something Schwarzenegger has utterly failed to do, and remains one of the last things on which he campaigned that hasn't seen much activity. Bio-fuels are also dicey. We have a tendency to go overboard when something seems to work (corn, for example), then realize that we fouled up and forgot that people have a tendency to want to eat the stuff, not burn it in cars.

Uncle Woody "Brakes" for Prop 10. Show me something that will work to everyone's advantage, then we'll talk.

Prop. 11 - Redistricting. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

1. California's redistricting process is broken.
2. Everyone wants it fixed.
3. No one can agree on how this should be accomplished.

Solution: make the voters do it! Really. This initiative creates a 14 member commission from a pool of 60 (can you say "lottery?"). Of the 14, 5 must be Democrats, 5 must be Republicans, and 4 must belong to "neither party."

Oh, really? Does that mean this commission might be influenced by 4 stoners from the Green Party?

[My final conflict with Mr. McClintock. He posits that voters, not legislators, should draw the lines. My problem is with the way this thing is written. It won't be "the voters" making these decisions, it will be a lottery-based commission of 5, 5, and 4. I'm being a tad facetious with my "stoners" crack, but not by much. Just look at all the nonsense surrounding the selection of a simple jury for any given trial, and you'll see where my concerns lie. This again will not accomplish what I think the proponents believe it will accomplish. There are too many question marks, and not everyone who registers Republican acts like a Republican. Can you say "Schwarzenegger?" I'm sticking with my curmudgeonly NO vote.]

Uncle Woody votes to snuff out Prop 11. Sober commissions only, please.

Prop. 12 - Veterans’ Bond Act of 2008.

The only argument provided against this initiative is that the Cal-Vet loan program isn't limiting enough. Seriously. Someone volunteers to serve in the military to protect their country and (by extension) their state, and some Bozo in a three-piece suit wants to limit loans to only those veterans who actually serve in a combat area.

This program makes more sense than anything Congress is currently hashing out with respect to our credit crisis. Uncle Woody salutes the flag for Prop 12.
Convenient summary for Young Conservatives to clip out and take to the polls:

1A - NO
2 - NO
3 - YES [McClintock: NO]
4 - NO [McClintock: YES]
5 - NO
6 - YES
7 - NO
8 - YES
9 - YES
10 - NO
11 - NO [McClintock: YES]
12 - YES

UPDATE: So I've had this star-rating thingie on this blog for a few months now. The only score I'd received up until yesterday was my own 4-star rating for one of my own posts that I thought was particularly clever (although please don't ask me which one... can't remember). Finally I receive a rating from an actual reader! It's only 1 star, but still.

It's a little like those quick surveys that we ask customers to fill out when we've provided a service. They rank you in the toilet, but refuse to leave any comments that explain why they hate you.

Ah, well. At least someone noticed.

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