How about the politics of passion, instead?

In today’s NYT:

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Headed for what she called “conservative boot camp,” Christina Pajak grabbed the essentials: dress sandals, her Bible and “The Politics of Prudence” by Russell Kirk, the celebrated writer who a half-century ago gave the conservative movement its name.

Reminder, there’s a full progressive response to Kirk here and more on this topic in the progressivism topic on dkosopedia.

Early polling and gubernatorial politics

The latest polls on the gubernatorial election released this week are pretty much all over the place. The most credible, according to experts in the area, show Schwarzenegger with anywhere from an 8 to13 point lead over Democratic rival, Phil Angelides. While these kinds of polls aren’t worthy of a betting person at this stage of the game, some of the findings reflect the current turbulence within the Democratic Party leadership over this election.
While many of us in the Progressive movement are excited about Andelides candidacy in which he publicly and proudly espouses the values that we believe are vital to the future of our state– from education to energy independence, to healthcare for our health, not the insurance industry, etc, there are many levels in play that are effecting his current deficit.
A key polling number that reflects this uncertainty shows that Angelides currently has the support of only 63% of Democratic voters, while Schwarzenegger has the support of 85% of Republican voters. This could be attributed to a number of things, not the least of which is the bruising Democratic primary where the candidates beat and bloodied each other, while Arnold got a free pass and was virtually untouched in his own race. But the primary is over and Angelides is going to need to bring the Dems back into the fold in order to win this election from the Right-wing running Arnold’s re-election campaign. But how to do that with a number of key Dems on the fence or just playing hard-to-get at the moment?

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Stem cells and the innocent

While summer heat continues to set records here in California and across the globe, issues in addition to global warming continue to take front and center stage. This week the fight for stem-cell research shared the headlines with other erupting problems. Remembering that California has been leading the way in the fight to fund stem-cell research, the Bush administration continues to confound and embarass the rest of America as well with its 19th century (probably more like neanderthal) approach to the effort to move important medical research forward and thus provide hope and health opportunities for those living now with possibly treatable pain and despair.
When 70% of Americans believe in the need and importance of stem-cell research to crack a series of life-threatening and certainly life-altering illness and disease, this self-proclaimed protector of virtue steps in to say that the moral fiber of this country cannot accept such opportunities. While the world is heating itself up, both literally and figuratively, because of the abject failure of this administration’s leadership in the world and choices in how to use its power, this president had the audacity to reject an opportunity to help those with AIDS, Parkinsons Disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimers, brain-stem injuries, etc. etc. as morally unacceptable. His statement is worth repeating, if only for its audacity and offensiveness to everyone who knows someone afflicted with conditions that would benefit from passage of such an important measure. His veto statement reads,
“This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others.
It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect.”
The nerve of this man-whose own lies and incompetence have caused the deaths and maimings of thousands of young Americans in Iraq as well as the lives of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi people. While the President exploits young children at “photo ops” designed to strengthen his support among religious idealogues, the Middle East is collapsing with thousands more deaths of innocent people likely to come. Is he suggesting that only American lives count in all this? The unmitigated gall of a President of the United States to talk about innocent lives, and moral boundaries when he has sat silently for five years while the Middle East has heated up to the powder keg it is today. The embarassment he has created-the leader of our great country, who can only articulate by employing cuss words repeated into an open mike when addressing such complex issues as those reflected in that region of the world today. Is this the best our country can produce to lead us and the world into the future?

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Friday smart growth blogging

One of the difficulties in dealing with smart growth is that it’s kind of complicated. There are a lot of factors that go into whether a project is new urbanist or not. So it’s nice to find this website from the EPA, “Smart Growth Illustrated.” Not the most beautifully designed site on earth, but it’s functional and the report cards evaluating each project are a nice touch. Helpful!

Flashreport freedom smackdown

I’m in the process of reading George Lakoff’s latest, Whose Freedom? The Battle Over America’s Most Important Idea. It’s great, and obviously something I’ve been thinking about a lot too. I’m only about a third of the way through, but so far Lakoff is taking a much different approach to understanding the conservative notion of freedom than I have. He’s either being more charitable or more nuanced, or he’s just flat out wrong.
My take on conservative freedom is that it all pretty much boils down to property rights, and Russell Kirk had it about right when he put it seventh out of ten and after a bunch of stuff about defending the moral order. This is what is behind the endless bellyaching about taxes we get from the conservative punditry: It’s becauase they’re just not really into any kind of freedom beyond that, whether you describe it as substantial freedom or FDR’s four freedoms or cognitive liberty or whatever. And the reason the current occupant of the White House talks about it so much is pure Orwell: it’s a pretty word and it sounds nice in speeches and hopefully no one will notice what a shallow mockery they’re making of the concept in their actual policies…

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The Reconstruction of Governor Humpty-Dumpty

I don’t know about you, but I thought that we’d get at least a short reprieve from the Governor and his corporate sponsors once the primary election ended last month. The current attitude toward the state of electoral politics in California is probably best characterized as exhaustion. After all, we endured a Bush-inspired gubernatorial recall, followed by the Schwarzenegger Initiatives special election last November where his wrong-headed efforts were soundly defeated; then, a full-blown primary election seven months later where the public response was a miserable 28% turnout. Enough already, one would think, but no… big corporate donors, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the national Republican leadership (via the RNC) have coffers overflowing with grateful fat-cat contributors. They’ve got enough money to burn-up the airwaves extolling the greatness of Schwarzenegger and using primary election rhetoric to demean the Democratic nomineee. In the money wars folks, this one isn’t even close. Thanks to record corporate profits, provided by Republican policies rewarding corporations with tax-loopholes and the ultra-wealthy with tax-cuts, the rich are getting richer and the middle class is falling further behind and discouraged. Schwarzenegger and the Bushies who are running his reconstruction and re-election have plenty of money to recreate the Governor in a more acceptable (but no less misleading) image in time for the November elections.

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The 2006 General Election

The November 2006 election is going to be an epic battle for defining the future of our state, pitting the brilliant and dedicated Phil Angelides against accidental Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Although the Governor has tried to tack left recently, Mr Angelides is the obvious choice on issues progressives care about the most:

    Education. Governor Schwarzenegger has bizarrely attacked teachers, including during last year’s special election boondoggle. Phil Angelides will work with teachers in improving our schools, not against them.

    Budget. Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed more bash, break and borrow, protecting President Bush’s tax cuts for the rich over fixing problems like the millions of uninsured children in our state. Phil Angelides will balance the budget honestly so the state can do what it needs to do without passing the bill to our grandkids.
    Immigration. Governor Schwarzenegger has praised racist border vigilantes as “doing a terrific job.” Mr Angelides supports a moderate, balanced approach, including a path to citizenship.
    Environment. Mr Angelides, whose innovative Green Wave inititative is jumpstarting our state’s green economy, has a detailed, workable plan to reduce California’s oil consumption by 25 percent over 10 years. Governor Schwarzenegger can’t do much on this issue besides talk, having taken more than $2 million in campaign contributions from oil companies. At least that helps keep the eight full-size Hummers he owns running.
    Traffic. Governor Schwarzenegger’s approach to traffic is solely building more sprawl and more roads, which is like trying to lose weight by letting your belt out. Mr Angelides will encourage transit and smart growth, preserving open space and agricultural land at the same time.

If you’ve been waiting for a big statewide election where there would be a clear choice between the candidates, this is the one. Working together, we can send a real pragmatic progressive to Sacramento.

Another blunder in the misguided War on Drugs

Margaret Dooley of the Drug Policy Alliance has prepared the following piece for Speak Out California in response to the demand by Gov. Schwarzenegger that incarceration be included as part of the Prop. 36 funding in this year’s budget. As you will see, the action by the Legislature in capitulating to the Governor’s continued bullying not only threatens the integrity of the work being done in the fight against drug addiction, it has serious constitutional implications as well.
The Drug Policy Alliance has announced that it will file suit to challenge the legislation and we’ll be following the progress of that litigation as it proceeds through the courts. Given that this Governor always says he follows the
will of the people, it is ironic and very Bush-like that he has insisted the will of the people be ignored when it doesn’t suit his purposes. Looks like another lawsuit of the People vs. the Governor. I suspect we’ll be seeing many more of these to come:

The Legislative Abandonment of Prop. 36 And California Voters
By Margaret Dooley
In a single vote this week, our state Legislature turned its back on the people of California. Our representatives passed a bill late Tuesday night that, if signed by the Governor, would not only override Prop. 36, the treatment-instead-of-incarceration law passed by 61 percent of voters in 2000, but would undermine the entire initiative process in California.
The bill passed Tuesday, SB 1137, would alter Prop. 36 to exclude from the program many nonviolent drug offenders (many of whom would instead receive jail or prison terms) and allow the incarceration of people engaged in treatment. Prop. 36 currently protects people in treatment so that they get a real chance at recovery before they can be removed from the program and, if a judge orders, incarcerated.
Thanks to in-depth analyses by University of California at Los Angeles scientists, there is copious evidence that the program is working wonders just as it is. In just five years, over 60,000 Californians have graduated from Prop. 36 treatment and taxpayers have saved $1.3 billion. At the same time, public support of Prop. 36 has surpassed 70 percent, according to a 2004 Field Research Corporation poll.

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