While California Dreams- Weekly Update Vol.1 No. 18

A weekly update on the goings-on in Sacramento
For the week ending October 6, 2007

Key bills and issues we’ve been following during the
Past week and beyond
Well, the traveling legislators are back at work in Sacramento, but the Governor went to China when they returned.
“Dam, dam, dam” insists the GOP in ultimatums to the Dems. on the Water Bond- tough stance threatens to derail a water bond for February.
“Nyet, no, nunca, never” are the GOP responses to both the Governor’s and the Dem. leadership Health Plan legislation- tough stance threatens to derail any progress in Special Session on Healthcare reform.
And with just seven days remaining to sign or veto more than 600 bills, the Governor takes action on only three bills this entire week! But first…
We here at Speak Out California hope to be able to keep you up-to-date on all of this and any signings or vetoes by the Governor in the weeks and months ahead, so
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And now, for the week’s goings-on:

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Do Taxes ‘Hurt’? Is Government Bad?

As I read my Monday morning (Oct. 1, 2007) San Jose Mercury News a headline jumped out at me: “Cigarette tax would hurt poor“.
How often do we hear that taxes “hurt” or “punish” one group or another? How often do we hear that taxes are a “burden on the economy” or “cost jobs?” How many politicians talk about providing “tax relief?”
George Lakoff, of the Rockridge Institute writes that this language “frames” taxes as an affliction:

For there to be “relief” there must be an affliction, an afflicted party harmed by the affliction, and a reliever who takes the affliction away and is therefore a hero. And if anybody tries to stop the reliever, he’s a villain wanting the suffering to go on. Add “tax” to the mix and you have a metaphorical frame: Taxation as an affliction, the taxpayer as the afflicted party, the president as the hero, and [people who believe in government] as the villains.

This anti-tax rhetoric results from an anti-government worldview that is pushed by conservatives, in which they portray our government as some kind of enemy of the public. Ronald Reagan is famous for sayings like, “Government is the problem, not the solution” and, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ ” The constant use of negative framing like this to describe government and taxes leads regular people to think about their government as a negative, malevolent force. We have been hearing this drumbeat for so long, and with so little pushback to counter these ideas, that many people just accept that this is the way it is.
But are taxes really an affliction? Is government really a negative force in society? Let’s step back from the affliction frame for a second and take a different look at the idea of taxes and government.

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Blackwater’s “Drunken” Mercenaries Open Fire “Crazily,” But Still Get New $90 Million Pentagon Contract

Blackwater USA, the billion-dollar mercenary corporation operating in Iraq, is finally and belatedly starting to come under the harsh spotlight of accountability. Hopefully, this new spotlight on Blackwater will help Californians stop dreaming and start demanding that Blackwater not build a mammoth new private military base in San Diego County.
A shocking new House Oversight Committee report (PDF) contains terrifying new details on the lethal incompetence of Blackwater’s “employees” (which act as replacements for US soldiers). Among other stunning findings in the new report, Blackwater, the mercenary corporation that wants to open a mammoth new private army base near San Diego, was found to have paid $15,000 to family members of a man in Iraq shot and killed by a “drunken Blackwater contractor.”
Revelations about this despicable hush money, paid to the murdered man’s family in order to keep the incident quiet, comes after yet another damning report (this one prepared by the Iraqi government) showing that Blackwater mercenaries opened fire “crazily and randomly” at innocent civilians in a terrible Baghdad massacre last month.
Read on to learn more about Blackwater’s history — and what you can do to stop Blackwater’s plans to invade California.

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