Democrats walking into “war on women” trap of their own making
Thursday, 30 August 2012 17:17
posted at 12:01 pm on August 30, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
Do Democrats still plan to feature a “war on women” theme at their convention? If they do, I argue in my column today for The Fiscal Times, they may well find themselves hoist with their own petard, after a week of watching accomplished Republican women speaking from the dais in Tampa. Not only does the emphasis entirely miss the issues about which voters care most in this electoral cycle, the entire argument diminishes women to, well, to exactly what Code Pink reduced them in protests at the GOP convention:
The message from the Obama campaign and Democrats in general seems to be that women are somehow incapable of finding birth control on their own unless some paternal entity dispenses it to them, despite all evidence to the contrary. They’re so incapable of this task that employers and schools have to hand it for them, no matter how much income they derive nor how much tuition they manage to pay otherwise. This has already backfired during Team Obama’s “Life of Julia” campaign, which offered a creepy, solitary vision of a woman’s life approaching that of the song “Eleanor Rigby.” Former CNN news anchor Campbell Brown wrote in The New York Times that “Julia” was “a silly and embarrassing caricature based on the assumption that women look to government at every meaningful phase of their lives for help.”
But it’s even worse than that. The strategy segregates women from other issues as if they only have deep concern in this election over the status of their genitalia. This theme came to ludicrous fruition in demonstrations by Code Pink at the Republican convention in Tampa, when activists showed up dressed as gigantic labia. The scene provided an unintentionally revealing portrait of just how progressives see women in modern American society.
That is the true risk for Democrats who pursue this strategy. After three nights of watching successful and accomplished women in the Republican Party discuss economic policy, job creation, and reform of the federal government for deficit and debt reduction, viewers will tune in the following week to see women considered as interested in little more than sexual reproduction. Voters might well conclude that there is a “war on women,” but that it’s not the Republicans who are waging it.
Here’s a case in point — the HHS contraception mandate that Democrats will be hailing as liberation for women in the workplace and in universities. Sandra Fluke is already scheduled to deliver a major speech at the convention on this topic. But contraception isn’t difficult to find, nor is it expensive to purchase on an individual basis. Almost six months ago, US News researched the individual cost of contraception for all of the options — and found that nearly all of them fell between $150 and $600 per year. Sterilization costs more up front ($4,000-$6,000), but over a 20-year period, the costs are at the lower end of the same range. (In my column, I note that oral contraception can cost as little as $9 per month.) That’s probably why the CDC discovered in its 20-year study that 99% of all women who wanted to avoid pregnancy while being sexually active accessed birth control on their own, and that lack of access didn’t even figure in the reasons for unintended pregnancies. For those who qualify for Medicaid, the federal government already subsidizes contraception through Title X, and has for nearly 40 years.
Democrats argue with their “war on women” strategy that modern women in the workforce can’t figure this out on their own, nor pay for it without the paternalistic mandate that employers and educators foot the bill. Is that a winning argument? I guess we’ll soon see, because this is the contrast that will take place during next week’s convention. Republicans will have presented women as strong, independent, and focused on issues like economics, jobs, national security, education, and fiscal discipline. Democrats will have presented a vision of women like this, solely focused on one thing:
Which approach actually respects women? Voters will get the chance to make that choice, and Democrats might be surprised at the answer.
Censorship rears its ugly head in California Senate
Friday, 10 August 2012 11:17
By Dan Walters
Published: Friday, Aug. 10, 2012 - 12:00 am
Let's not mince words about what the state Senate's Democratic leader did Wednesday. It was self-serving censorship, the sort of thing that one expects from tinpot dictators, not from those who fancy themselves to be progressive civil libertarians.
Someone acting for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg suddenly cut off cable television access to a legislative hearing to air facts and arguments about pending ballot measures.
The Senate Governance and Finance Committee called the hearing – as required by law – into three tax increases (Propositions 30, 38 and 39) and altering the state's budgetary procedures (Proposition 31).
As it opened, the committee's chairwoman, Democrat Lois Wolk, said she hoped that the testimony would help voters make reasoned decisions about the highly controversial measures.
But only the few people in the hearing room and those technologically savvy enough to tune into an Internet audio feed heard Wolk's words.
Just before the hearing was to be telecast on the California Channel, a public affairs channel carried on most cable systems, somebody from the Senate told Cal Channel to cut it off.
It's obviously bad business that Capitol politicians can control what the public sees of their activities. But this is an especially egregious example of manipulating that power for political purposes.
It wouldn't take a Mars rocket scientist to figure out why Democrats didn't want the hearing to be broadcast.
One witness was to be Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, who opposes Proposition 30, the sales and income tax measure that Steinberg is fervently supporting. And he would most likely dwell on the Senate staff raises that Steinberg had granted as an example of why taxes should not be raised.
Coupal, in fact, made exactly that point, but that's what the hearing was about – airing the arguments and counterarguments along with factual information from the Legislature's budget analyst.
Steinberg spokesman Rhys Williams said this:
"It was inappropriate to provide legislative resources to promote the ballot measure campaigns of either side, and in particular to make those public-funded resources easily available for exploitation in political TV commercials. No different than the rules that apply to legislative staff."
Balderdash. You could say the same thing about any hearing or any legislative debate on any issue. In any event, it's still blatant censorship.
Steinberg made Wolk look like a fool when she touted her hearing as a way to inform the public. He owes her an apology.
More importantly, he owes 38 million Californians an apology for denying them access to a public hearing of their Legislature for crassly political motives. And he owes them a promise never, ever to do it again.
Dozens of lawmakers donate to Gov. Brown's tax initiative
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 08:51
July 31, 2012
More than two dozen Democratic state legislators have contributed thousands of dollars apiece to help pass Gov. Jerry Brown's multibillion-dollar tax initiative, according to disclosure documents filed Tuesday.
Twenty-eight legislators donated amounts ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 from their campaign or ballot measure committees between April and June 30 to bolster prospects for Brown's Proposition 30, which would raise sales taxes slightly on everyone and income taxes sharply on high-income Californians.
The lawmakers' contributions were garnered by a committee named Californians Working Together to Restore and Protect Public Schools, Universities and Public Safety, sponsored in part by Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, teachers and labor unions.
"This is an important priority for California to protect our schools and local public safety, and (Perez) has actively encouraged people to contribute to support the governor's campaign," said Doug Herman, Perez's political strategist.
Californians Working Together collected $6.5 million in cash or in-kind contributions during the three-month period, and about $3.3 million earlier in the year, bringing its grand total to $9.7 million in 2012, records show.
Numerous other groups also are collecting money for or against Proposition 30.
Senate Democrats who contributed to Californians Working Together between April and June 30 were Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, $25,000; Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles, $20,000; and Ellen Corbett of San Leandro, $19,000.
Among Assembly Democrats, $10,000 contributions were received from Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, Toni Atkins of San Diego, Wes Chesbro of Arcata, Nancy Skinner of Berkeley, Norma Torres of Pomona, Luis Alejo of Watsonville, Bill Monning of Carmel, Isadore Hall of Compton, Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles, Roger Hernandez of West Covina, Bob Wieckowski of Fremont; Rich Gordon of Menlo Park, Susan Bonilla of Concord, Das Williams of Santa Barbara, Mike Gatto of Los Angeles, Nora Campos of San Jose, and Felipe Fuentes of Sylmar.
Contributions of $5,000 came from Assembly Democrats Roger Dickinson of Sacramento, Alyson Huber of El Dorado Hills, Fiona Ma of San Francisco, V. Manuel Perez of Coachella, Wilmer Amina Carter of Rialto, and Mary Hayashi of Castro Valley. Assemblyman Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, and Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, each chipped in $2,000.
Earlier in the year, Perez, D-Los Angeles, contributed $100,000 from his ballot measure committee to the pro-Proposition 30 effort. Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, donated $20,000.
Californians Working Together's highest donors have been labor groups: California Teachers Association, $1.5 million; American Federation of Teachers, $1.2 million; Service Employees International Union Local 1000, $1 million; and the California State Council of Service Employees, $1 million; United Domestic Workers of America, $800,000; and the California Federation of Teachers, $800,000, state records show.
Dodging The Bullet Train
Friday, 27 July 2012 13:26
Moment of Clarity July 19, 2012
A first-class round-trip airline ticket from Los Angeles to San Francisco costs $393.60. And what, you may wonder, does that have to do with you? Here's what: It would be cheaper for you – the taxpayer - to buy first-class tickets for the first 112 million High Speed Rail (HSR) passengers than it will be to build the first phase of California's HSR. Let that sink in for just a moment.
The taxpayers of the nation ($3.3 billion) and the state of California ($1.4 billion) will pay more than $4.7 billion to build a rail line that 99% of Americans (and over 70% of Californians surveyed for that matter) will never use. But wait – that is just the tip of the iceberg. You see, that $4.7 billion only covers a tiny little stretch of the total system – Step 1, they call it. The California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) tells us that this first leg is vital because it closes the rail gap between Bakersfield and Palmdale. The punch line writes itself.
The cost to build the entire 520 mile length of California's HSR is now estimated to exceed $98 billion. That is not a misprint. If you need a little perspective, there are 119 countries whose GDP is less than $98 billion. $98 billion would buy 249 million first-class airfares. That's right - 249 million rides from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back, twice as fast as the bullet train, free drinks, and you don't have to stop in Palmdale.
And $98 billion is only the initial construction cost for California's HSR; it does not include the annual operating and maintenance costs once the system is built. The California High Speed Rail Authority projects operating costs of $453 million per year; they say they will sell the 6 million fares it will take to break even and avoid a taxpayer subsidy.
Let's stop laughing for a minute and give them the benefit of the doubt that a government public works program will come in on budget (snort), cost what they say to operate (involuntary passing of gas) and achieve the ridership they claimed in order to sell DOT on the project (milk through nose).
$98 billion would buy those 6 million California train dudes and dudettes first-class round-trip airfare from LAX to SFO and back for the next 41 years. 41 years is a long time - we will have forgotten the next two generations of Kardashians by then; Lindsay Lohan's granddaughter will be in rehab. And flying them all first class will save over $18 billion of train operating costs - money that can be used for other liberal priorities, like feeding hungry children, insuring the uninsured, building spy drones to buzz tea parties, suing states, or invading Syria.
This is what happens when people with no clue where money comes from decide what to do with yours. Economic absurdity requires a level of ignorance not easily maintained over the course of normal living. These ideas do not spring up in places like Bakersfield and Palmdale; they are hatched in reality deprivation chambers like Washington, Madison, and Berkley.
Actually, I am a fan of high-speed-rail - just not the public variety. If HSR was economically viable, private investment would develop it; there is enough cash on corporate balance sheets to build the California system four times over, to say nothing of the capital available in private equity firms.
HSR is built in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost in China, where advanced construction technology is utilized and the business climate favors economic development. But California is not China; California's business climate favors Nevada - there's your moment of clarity.
The irony is that many of the same people who worked to kill mining in Wisconsin are out pushing for High Speed Rail in California. Perhaps no one has explained it to them, but there isn't one single part in that whole system that is woven out of hemp. It will take millions of pounds of iron, copper, nickel, silver, cement, aluminum, rare earth metals, and plastics refined from petroleum to make this bullet train they seem to think Providence owes them. And guess what - coal and nuclear power plants will furnish the power that will make it go fast. Trains do not run on good intentions.
Construction of the rail line will take thousands of diesel-powered machines and there will be belching black puffs of carcinogens every time a piece of dirt is moved. Those dozers and graders and excavators will be polluting the air in California and heaving greenhouse gasses up into the atmosphere for 20 years before the first green ride on that bullet train ever takes place.
The FAQ page of the California High Speed Rail Authority points to Spain as its role model. Yes, that Spain - the nation that had to borrow money from France to pay its portion of the Greek bailout to keep Portugal from falling next and taking Italy with it. Thank goodness we didn't copy their health care model, too… oh, wait… never mind.
The California High Speed Rail project would be stupid even if we had money. But since the nation is broke, and California has to look up to even see the bottom of broke, the project is certifiably insane. That's why all the grownups said no.
Wisconsin dodged a high-speed bullet when Governor Walker killed HSR here, and Florida's Governor Rick Scott was smart enough to pass on it, too - as were dozens of other sober governors with calculators and a lick of common sense. It took the combined moon-battery of Jerry Brown, Ray LaHood, and Barack Obama to place the nation's dumbest public works project on the nation's most active fault line.
It was inevitable that this HSR project would end up in California; it is the only state in the union with enough weed to make it seem like a good idea.
Moment of Clarity is a weekly commentary by Libertarian writer and speaker Tim Nerenz, Ph.D. Visit Tim's website www.timnerenz.com to find your moment.
Golden Goosie Award
Friday, 20 July 2012 11:48
Golden Goosie Award
Something to really quack about…
Guest Column--Karen Kenney Wednesday, July 18, 2012
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I’ve decided to create a new award for California that violates at least two Constitutional or Tea Party principles: the “Golden Goosie”, Willie Brown, eminent domain mortgages, San Bernardino County
Ah hem. Drum roll please. And the winner is…Willie Brown, former mayor of San Francisco!
(Brown’s back-room deals in San Bernardino County violate both the Founders’ intent of eminent domain and the rule of law—contract law, that is!)
Willie Brown and friends are behind “eminent domain” mortgage bailout in San Bernardino County that “sticks” it to loan issuers—those “big, bad banks”. (First heard about the story on KKLA-AM’s Frank Pastore Show at 6 p.m., Tuesday, July 17, 2012).
The shorthand is CA is taking the devastating SCOTUS eminent domain case—Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005)—to new lows: A municipal mortgage bailout that keeps owners in foreclosing properties, re-evaluates the loans, keeps taxes going into government coffers and “sticks” the loan issuers with a loss that will have the long-term consequences of discouraging business investment in troubled communities.
Imagine what incompetent, Progressive mayors, county supervisors or city councils could do with this to appease over-under constituents and get votes while destroying property rights or free market principles.
So CA citizens, taxpayers and property owners, bend over because Brown’s greedy secret is a pinch-me fantasy for underwater homeowners and bankrupt municipalities in the Golden State to get revenues, be popular and kick future community growth squarely in the buttocks.
Let’s hear it for the “Golden Goosie” and Mr. Brown, a former mayor and assembly speaker, that just keeps on giving taxpayers in the Golden State a poke and a pinch where the sun doesn’t shine.
In California, that’s hard to do.
Karen Kenney is publisher of “The Patriots Almanac”
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