Friday, October 14, 2005

CA propositions: same old religious exploitation

One of the main strategies that Republicans used to increase the turnout of their base voters in the 2004 Presidential election was to include state amendments on the ballot outlawing equal righrs for gay couples, especially in potential swing states like Missouri and Ohio. The logic behind this, of course, is that the presence of these amendments will encourage these single-issue voters to get to the polls, where they would then be more likely to vote for Republican candidates and issues on the remainder of the ballot, where they may not have even cared enough to go to the polls had it not been for the amendment on that one issue.

Well, now they're up to the same old trash with Schwarzenegger's "reform Sacramento" initiatives in California.


(click on image or this link to see full-size)

For those that are not familiar with them, the four propositions you see Schwarzenegger campaigning for in that photo--propositions 74 through 77--do the following:

74: lengthen the provisory period for teachers from 2 to 5 years and allow administrators to fire teachers with little process and no cause;

75: Hamstring the political influence of unions;

76: Give the governor new powers to cut budgets without legislative review or consent;

77: redistrict California in a way more favorable to Republicans through the use of retired judges.

The problem for this initial salvo in the war to turn California into a red state is one of popularity, turnout and special interests. For anyone who has been following, Schwarzenegger's approval ratings are in the tank, and special elections are renowned for their abysmal turnouts, and people have a tendency to vote no on propositions they don't really understand--and these issues are a little complicated for those who aren't political junkies. Furthermore, the California Teachers Association and the labor unions are spending a good deal of money and mobilizing heavily to defeat these propositions, while no Republican special interest group would have the motivation to send out the manpower to get them passed.

So what do the Republicans do? The same thing they did in 2004: get something on the ballot that will appeal to the religious right. Enter proposition 73. This measure would not only require parental notification prior to an abortion procedure, but would also define an abortion as "killing an unborn child."

As the L.A. Times reports, we once again have an evangelical-based turnout strategy for the Republicans to pass initiatives that would otherwise suffer from lack of familiarity and poor turnout--and it just might work. Schwarzenegger is not very popular with religous conservatives because of his moderate stance on social issues, but the California Republican party has by-passed him completely and gone straight to the churches to help get their political agenda passed.

We need to learn two lessons from what happened in 2004. The first is that any time there is anything on the ballot that will appeal to monomaniacal religious voters, we must mobilize with uncommon intensity. The second is that we need to work harder to stop these initiatives from appearing on the ballot in the first place--audits, signature challenges, information panels at the supermarkets where they get these petitions signed...whatever it takes. The Republican party is like a lightbulb that keeps on attracting moths. They'll keep flying into it, no matter how many times they get burned by it--but they do a lot of damage in the process. So it's time to turn off the switch.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The religious right doesn't own the party.

But they're just now beginning to figure that out. This article from the Boston Globe essentially sums up the difficulties the Bush administration would have had in nominating an openly fundamentalist judge for the Supreme Court--namely, that as it is in the current congress, such a judge would have 49 almost certain votes against her in the Senate (assuming the replacement would be a woman), and even if there were enough votes to confirm, the Democrats would certainly have filibustered.

And this would have been the scenario if Bush were riding high in the court of public opinion, which he is most certainly not, after wasting his "political capital" on privatizing social security and defending the debacles in Iraq and New Orleans--and about to be damaged further by the impending trials of Delay and Abramoff, as well as the impending indictments against high-ranking administration officials involved in the Valerie Plame fiasco.

The problem that the GOP has is that in order to win elections nation- and state-wide with their corporatist fiscal agenda, they have to use electioneering tactics that appeal to a more fringe element in order to put them over the top. Those fringe elements, believing that they are then solely responsible for the victory at hand, wish for a more prominent place in the agenda, as well as a right to be recognized as such and treated with public deferece. This then leaves the GOP in a position similar to that of a college girl trying to get the resident geek to keep on helping her with her homework: enough alluring promises to keep the geek interested, but no actual action or public acknowledgment of the relationship, both of which would hurt her reputation on campus.

Eventually, however, the geek gets bored and realizes that she doesn't actually like him, and is just using him for grades while she keeps on pursuing that MBA student who drives to class in a Mercedes. The religious right is now feeling themselves in a similar position with regard to the Harriet Miers nomination--the only difference being that geeks actually have some modicum of intelligence.

This is why the Democrats can win. Because the liberal message of equality, people first and corporations second, war when necessary, responsive government, environmental protection, etc. will become more and more resounding as things get worse and more malaise sets in about the current state of affairs. The Democrats also have the advantage of not relying on one single monomaniacal special interest group to push them over the top. Minorities, women, choice activists, labor unions, environmental groups, the anti-war movement, etc--none of these groups believes that it and it alone is solely responsible for Democratic victories. We don't have to play hard to get because no group is particularly embarrassed with the activities of any other group. It's just a matter of getting them to work with some degree of coordination and continuing to preach the message that Americans actually agree with.

Monday, October 10, 2005

What type of judge is Bush looking for?

In one of his recent defensees of Harriet Miers, Bush said this to reporters concerning her lack of history or written opinions: "Miers knows exactly what type of judge I'm looking for." Now, I think it could be universally agreed that that statement is code for, "psst, hey you, religious base. It's okay." But I like to take the statement more at face value, and then ask the question: so...what type of judge is Bush looking for?

You see, the type of judge Bush is looking for could probably be best predicted by what Bush has cared about most during his tenure in office. So, let's name the things that Bush and his congress has accomplished or pushed for here on the domestic policy front, and divide them by into two categories:

1) corporate money
2) social and religious issues.

I make this division in this method because it is well known that one cannot serve both the Lord and Mammon. So, let's get to it.

IN CATEGORY ONE:

Privatizing Social Security; rollbacks of environment regulations; massive energy industry subsidies; regressive tax cuts; estate tax repeal; disallowing the federal government from negotiating with the pharmaceutical industry; no-bid contracts for Halliburton and other oil services firms; I'm sure the list goes on and on.

IN CATEGORY TWO:

Well...let's see...this is a tough one. I guess we can name the faith-based charities initiative, and the recent attempt to allow political contributions from churches. But even these in and of themselves are money-related. What about pure social issues? Reproductive rights, domestic partnership issues, and other things? I think there are only two things I can really name in this regard: one is the "partial-birth abortion" ban, which was unconstitutional from the moment of its creation for failing to provide exemptions for the life of the mother (and they all knew it), and another is the push for abstinence-only education. And Terri Schiavo, I suppose--but that's political opportunism, not policy initiative.

My conclusion here is that Bush obviously supports Mammon, with actually very little regard for god--because lots of what he has done for "God" has only been to allow God's followers to provide his allies with more Mammon.

So when Bush tells the zealots that Miers knows exactly what type of judge he's looking for, they all assume that's a good thing. But based on Bush's history, I think they're making the wrong assumption. "By their fruits ye shall know them," the scripture says--and Bush's tree has borne enough fruit for everyone to know exactly what type of shrub he really is.

Hey! A shout out to all the radical religous conservatives: If it hadn't been beaten into you to do whatever the leader tells you, you might actually be able to draw these connections for yourself. But since you keep on trusting so much, the burden falls upon me to enlighten you. And then, when you have Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justice Miers, with a Democratic president and congress in 2008 and many of your former targets of unmitigated praise and adulation indicted, and Roe and Griswold still aren't overturned, and the civil rights movement finishes its march toward its just end--equal economic opportunities for gays--, and the Democratic administration tries something, anything, to slow down our economic depending on Asia's floating our massively bloated debt...when all that happens, there I'll be, writing on this blog laughing at you for not voting for the Constitution Party and ruining America by giving its reins to plundering Neocon corporate overlords.