The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Monday, November 07, 2005


"I'm special!"

John McCain and integrity have parted ways.

For the first time in ages, this weekend I watched the increasingly irrelevant Saturday Night Live, only because it was comprised of nothing but 90 minutes of their fake commercials, which are often effective. One of the ads they featured was from the episode hosted by John McCain, in which the Senator promoted a fictional CD of himself singing Barbara Streisand songs very badly, making the point that since he's no good at doing what she does in the entertainment business, she should stay out of politics. Tepid laughter followed.

Minutes later, during the real commercial break, there was Senator McCain again. Only this time he was lending his endorsement to four ballot initiatives in California that were put forth by . . . Arnold Schwarzenegger. Hmm.

Well then, we have arrived at the eve of what was supposed to be a pre-emptive nail in the coffin for any Democratic challenger to Governor Gropenfuhrer. This special election in California -- a series of eight ballot initiatives, for you outta-staters -- was originally conceived of back when Ahhnuld was riding high off his 2004 proposition victories, and it is meant to be the new Big Thing he could point to in order to tell the opposition that the people of California are with him, and not with the Democratically-controlled legislative bodies. His trump card, his ace in the hole, his Triforce, his Anduril, Flame of the West.

Well then, let's break his blade, shall we?

The problem for Arnold "A Woman's Head In Every Toilet" Schwarzenegger (pictured at right, presumably bulking up to play a fat secret agent) is that the people of California can break his blade, because his approval rating is currently in the very toilet in which he would dunk the heads of female cyborgs (and their biological counterparts). His approval tanked (!) because he overplayed his hand after the 2004 election, thinking that the success he had with his vague sloganeering meant he had a blank check to go after labor unions. Especially the unions of such groups as teachers, nurses and firefighters. And now, after months of making his ill-advised crusade against such groups the leading edge of his political identity, he is about to find out, in numerical percentage terms, just where Californians stand on that. What he had envisioned as his "so there" moment may end up the clearest demonstration yet of his weakness, and his vulnerability in next year's gubernatorial election. Recent polling suggests such a spanking may be imminent for Ahhnuld, but with the saturation of advertisments on television lately, he hopes to avoid such a fate. Will he be able to jingle at least some of the way? Or will THE BRIDGE be OUT!?!?!

And now, the ballot initiatives.

Proposition 73: Parental notification for abortions. Well, for one thing, the events that lead up to an unwanted teen pregnancy probably involve children and parents not communicating properly to begin with, so if that's the case, are the conceivers suddenly going to change their relationship with their parents? Or will they try to find an secret, and possibly unsafe means of abortion? In other words, take the lyrics to Ben Folds Five's megahit "Brick", and add serious medical complications because Ben and his high school girlfriend couldn't see a real doctor. TFM SEZ: FUCK THAT SHIT (No).

Proposition 74: 5 years of probationary employment for teachers. Seen the ads in favor of this one? They cite, as evidence for the need of this initiative, a single incident involving one teacher... in 1999. While not as sketchy as the Bush-Cheney "wolves" ad from last year's campaign, which cited post-ColdWar defense spending cuts as a way to paint John Kerry as "weak" on defense, this should still be enough to set off a smoke alarm or two. What this is really about, ultimately, is weakening teachers unions. And for all the bloviating on the right about teachers unions (and for that matter, trial lawyers), the public at large doesn't have nearly the distaste for such groups as the right does. Frankly, if you read into any Republican-backed policy pertaining to public schools through the Norquistian lens, the aims of such policies are clear. TFM SEZ: FUCK THAT SHIT (No).

Proposition 75: Union money discretion. Public employees in unions can already opt out of having their dues go to political campaigns. Did you know that? If you listen only to the Yes-On-75 crowd, probably not. This proposition is about trying to create the reverse system, an opt-in system, which I might think about supporting only if the same standard were applied to corporations. Until then? TFM SEZ: FUCK THAT SHIT (No).

Proposition 76: More executive power. The Field Poll has this one going down by 14 percent as of last week. That would be a message to Ahhnuld leading into next year's reelection campaign. Let me put it this way. Who should have more budget control right now? State legislators, familiar to their constituents, relatively representative of the political proportions of the state? Or a governor elected in strange, smoke-and-mirrors laden, circus-like recall campaign, in which he only participated in a single debate with foreknowledge of the questions? Right now, to split that control exactly down the middle wouldn't even be fair to the legislature and senate. So... TFM SEZ: FUCK THAT SHIT (No).

Proposition 77: Redistricting. Here's my long post from a couple weeks ago proclaiming my opposition to 77. Short version: I'd support it if the guidelines for drawing the districts were fair, and if they were proposed (and passed) in Texas and Florida too. But for now, TFM SEZ: FUCK THAT SHIT (No).

Proposition 78: Pharma-sponsored pill plan. I go by the Merck Pfizer Yin-Yang Rule, as in, "where their money goes, I go elsewhere." They support this one, so TFM SEZ: FUCK THAT SHIT (No).

Proposition 79: Consumer-sponsored pill plan. Merk and Pfizer oppose this one, and I think Congressman Santos, by proxy, made a pretty good case for this one on Sunday night. TFM SEZ: HELLA YES (Yes).

Proposition 80: Re-regulation of electricity. I'm voting for it, but why do I feel so completely dismal as to its chances? The recall forces so successfully fooled so many Californians into thinking that dumping Gray Davis was the beginning and ending of accountability for the Enron-manufactured energy "crisis" of 2000 that I'm very doubtful that they'll support this one. Still, there's been very little advertising for it in either direction, and as of a week ago it only had 50% recognition among registered voters, so who knows. TFM SEZ: HELLA YES (Yes).

See you at the polls tomorrow.


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