All posts by jsw

ActBlue as Netroots Infrastructure

ActBlue for ActBlue

Now that everyone is back from Netroots Nation and enjoying the success of the Standing Up For The Public Option effort to reward congresscritters who have promised to vote against health care reform that doesn’t include a public plan, I’d like to take a moment of your time to talk about something really boring:

Infrastructure!  I know, even the word conjures up images of long hearings in beige rooms to determine the proper rate of increase and carrying capacity in the local water and sewer assessments.  

But infrastructure is critically important.  And ActBlue is one of the most important pieces of infrastructure for the the netroots and grassroots.  I’ve from time to time disclosed in comments that I work with ActBlue on a volunteer basis.  I’m actually on ActBlue’s Board of Directors, and I did the initial legal research to help ActBlue operate in California and Oregon state races.  

I give a lot of my time to ActBlue because I think it’s a critically important organization.  And now the board members are also doing a bit of fundraising for ActBlue, and I’d like the Calitics audience to consider contributing a bit of their hard earned cash to Actblue.

Why, you ask?  A current example is on the flip.

Without ActBlue, it would be far more difficult, if not impossible, for ordinary people to generate a campaign like currently running Standing Up For The Public Option campaign:  

– It would have taken days to locate and assemble the campaign accounts of the various congresscritters, and it would have been almost impossible to easily split up contributions among the congresscritters.

– There would have been no central location ready to collect and disburse the funds to the various congresscritters.

– There would have been no-one ready to do all of the compliance work to make sure that the proper contributor information was collected and passed on to the congresscritters.

ActBlue offers all of these services.  It gives the netroots and grassroots power, because it allows us to easily collect accountable money for candidates and campaigns.  That’s why I spend a lot of my political time working with ActBlue, and now why I’m asking you to consider giving some money to support this important piece of infrastructure:

ActBlue for ActBlue

Any contribution you can make will be greatly appreciated by me and by the ActBlue team.

No on Prop 8: Fairness in Marriage is Good For Everyone

Wedding RingsThis is one straight person’s story about the right to marry.  It’s probably a bit dull, but what can you expect from a boring married guy?

I got married in the middle of August of this year.  Those are our wedding rings in the picture off to the right there — my wife was playing with a digital camera while the rings were still a novelty to us.

When we were planning our wedding we knew we would be inviting several same-sex couples, and were painfully aware that these friends of ours did not have the same opportunity that we did.  Their love and commitment was no different from ours, but the stability, rights, and formal recognition of marriage was forbidden for them.  On the other hand, we could get married for less than a hundred bucks and a couple hours in a county clerk’s office, just because we happen to be a straight couple.

But then, on May 15, the elected, mostly Republican, Justices of the California Supreme Court did the right thing and ruled that our State’s Constitution did not allow the government of California to treat gay and straight couples differently by allowing one the rights and privileges of marriage, while denying those rights and privileges to the other.  Suddenly, the same-sex couples we’d invited to our wedding were legally just as good as us.  They’d always been just as good as us in reality.  

Three months later, by our wedding, one of the same-sex couples we’d invited had gone down to the Oakland county clerk’s office and gotten married after eleven years together.  Two more of the same-sex couples had set dates for their weddings in September.  We were privileged that our wedding was for these friends of ours not a reminder of what they couldn’t have, but a celebration of marriage in which everyone could see a future for themselves.

In the month of September, we attended three different same-sex wedding celebrations as same-sex couples celebrated their new equality.  Our next-door neighbors threw a party to celebrate the legalization of the commitment ceremony they’d had two years ago. And of course, I was honored to attend Brian’s wedding, which was full of family and friends, most of whom were straight and not even a little bit political — just people happy to see the marriage of two profoundly decent men.

Most important to me, a friend I’ve known for thirteen years married the man he loves, someone who makes him happier than I had ever seen him before they found each other.  I’ve lost track of the number of meals I’ve eaten at their house, including several amazing Thanksgiving dinners.  The level of generosity and kindness they’ve shown to me and my wife over the years has been extraordinary.  They have been part of our community, part of our support system, thrilled that we were getting married, even before they could marry.  And now, my friend and his husband have the stability, the recognition, the rights that my wife and I do.  That is as it should be.

Marriage for same-sex couples gives them someone that the law allows them to rely on, binds them more closely into their community, makes them equals before the law in their community, allows them to form a family — just as good as you and me.  That’s good for everyone.  It’s good for me that my gay friends can marry, that their households and relationships are stable and protected by law. We are stronger together than we are apart.

Vote No on 8, and please consider giving No on 8 some more cash to make the case on the airwaves, maybe even volunteering to do get-out-the-vote.  

Support your community — all of your community.

No on Prop 11: Why Reward Eliminationists and Racists?

Here is the historical trend for statewide registration numbers for the two incumbent parties (Source here):

Historical Registration Figures

Notice the downward trend in Republican registration over the last 25 years?  Me too.  Why could that be?  Why ever could that be?

Here’s part of the reason:


That is, of course, from the website of the Sacramento County Republican Party.

And today’s Republican Party fun:


That is from the October newsletter of the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated, apparently reproduced from a bunch of email forwards that are going around in conservative circles.

This is the Republican Party, that through its own actions, has marginalized itself in California, losing registered voters and legislative seats.  

But Proposition 11 gives the Republicans equal weight with the Democrats in drawing legislative districts, power that the Republicans themselves have decided they don’t want, because (as we see above) the Republicans themselves, with all of the advantages they had as an incumbent party, have chosen to become extremists, out of step with mainstream Californians.  

If the Republicans want more power in the State (other than the extortionist veto right they have over our fiscal health, thanks to gerrymandered budget and tax requirements), they should reform themselves.  It is not the responsibility of all of the rest of us to give the “party of personal responsibility” a helping hand just because they’ve chosen to make themselves profoundly unappetizing to the voters of California.

I should note that I would favor actual reforms that allow for actual competition for voters — public financing, multi-representative districts, and instant runoff voting would all be interesting and might create actual competition, not just between the two incumbent parties and their power brokers, but against the two incumbent parties and their power brokers.  But Proposition 11 is fake reform.  It is designed to set up districts that are “competitive” between the two incumbent parties, where one of those parties simply hasn’t earned that right.  

No on Proposition 8: Good Ideas Don’t Need To Be Sold With Lies

A friend just passed along the latest email blast from the Yes on 8 team, wherein the Yes on 8 people are claiming that one of their parade of horribles have come true at last:  Homosexual Marriage Is Being Taught In Schools To Children!  Against The Wishes Of Their Parents!  The Horror!  The quote in full from the email blast:

In the same week that the No on 8 campaign launched an ad that labeled as “lies” claims that same-sex marriage would be taught in schools to young children, a first grade class took a school-sponsored trip to a gay wedding. Eighteen first graders traveled to San Francisco City Hall Friday for the wedding of their teacher and her lesbian partner, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The school sponsored the trip for the students, ages 5 and 6, taking them away from their studies for the same-sex wedding.

Except you know, not really.  This is a lie by omission.  Over the fold, a set of actual quotations from the San Francisco Chronicle article describing the event in question.

A group of San Francisco first-graders took an unusual field trip to City Hall on Friday to toss rose petals on their just-married lesbian teacher – putting the public school children at the center of a fierce election battle over the fate of same-sex marriage.

The 18 Creative Arts Charter School students took a Muni bus and walked a block at noon to toss rose petals and blow bubbles on their just-married teacher Erin Carder and her wife Kerri McCoy, giggling and squealing as they mobbed their teacher with hugs.

Wow, that’s horrible!  First graders!  Who love their teacher!  And want her to be happy!  An indictment of the public schools to be sure.  But this must be something the school forced on the parents, because we all know the evils of the public school system, and no parents could ever agree to allow their children to see such a thing.

A parent came up with the idea for the field trip – a surprise for the teacher on her wedding day

But I bet one radical parent forced the field trip on all of the other children, and their parents never even had a chance to object.

As is the case with all field trips, parents had to give their permission and could choose to opt out of the trip. Two families did. Those children spent the duration of the 90-minute field trip back at school with another first-grade class, the interim director said.

Apparently not.

So, let’s see.  A parent suggests a field trip to see the wedding of a beloved teacher, the school agrees, every parent of every child in the class has an opportunity to object, and yet, the Yes on 8 people have this to say:

“It’s just utterly unreasonable that a public school field trip would be to a same-sex wedding,” said Chip White, press secretary for the Yes on 8 campaign. “This is overt indoctrination of children who are too young to have an understanding of its purpose.”

Yep, That darn public school taught children the exact lesson that their parents wanted them taught, and which all of the parents involved expressly agreed they should be taught.  The horror, the horror of a school that is responsive to the wishes of the parents.

See, what the Yes on 8 people object to is anyone being taught that this teacher’s love and her rights are the same as everyone else’s.   The Yes on 8 people believe that this teacher should be treated different from everyone else because she happens to want to marry someone of the same sex.  And the Yes on 8 campaign is prepared to lie (in this case by omission of the actual facts) in order to imply that the school did something that the parents didn’t want, in order to force the government to treat this teacher differently from everyone else.   Lies and fear, that’s pretty much what the people running the Yes on 8 campaign have got to offer.  And no good idea needs to be sold with lies and fear.

If you’re as tired of the lies as I am, give the No on 8 Campaign some help.

No on 8: Good Ideas Don’t Need Lies to Sell Them

Right now the Yes on 8 Campaign is telling so many lies in the service of eliminating rights for gay people that it’s hard to keep track of all of them.  But I want to focus on just one lie for the moment, one from the first Yes on 8 TV Ad:

Churches could lose their tax exemptions

This is a lie.  Want to know how I know it’s a lie?  Here’s what the California Constitution currently says, right now, in Article I:

SEC. 4.  Free exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference are guaranteed.  This liberty of conscience does not excuse acts that are licentious or inconsistent with the peace or safety of the State.  The Legislature shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.

SEC. 8.  A person may not be disqualified from entering or pursuing a business, profession, vocation, or employment because of sex, race, creed, color, or national or ethnic origin.

SEC. 31.  (a) The State shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

The last time I checked, Catholic priests can refuse to marry a couple if they’re not both Catholic (and I assume if they haven’t completed the various sacraments and classes required). Only Mormons in good standing can even attend a Mormon wedding inside a temple, and Mormon bishops can refuse to marry non-Mormons.

So why haven’t the Catholic Church and the Church of Latter Day Saints lost their tax-exempt status in California, like Law Professor Peter Peterson says they might if gay people are allowed to marry and those churches refuse to marry them?  

Because churches are private actors, guaranteed freedom of religion in the California Constitution.  The elected Justices of the California Supreme Court made that very clear when they ruled, citing Article 1, Section 4 of the California Constitution, in a decision written by Republican Ronald George, that the State could no longer discriminate against gay people who wished to marry:

Finally, affording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to  change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no  religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his  or her religious beliefs.   (Cal. Const., art. I, § 4.)

So the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign, and Peter Peterson acting as their spokesman, are lying.  Under the California Constitution, in the very Supreme Court decision that they Yes on 8 campaign is so up in arms about, no church could lose its tax-exempt status for refusing to marry a gay couple or preaching that gay marriage is wrong.

Nothing that’s a good idea needs to be sold with a lie.  Vote No on Proposition 8.  Don’t corrupt our state’s Constitution by taking rights away from people for the first time in our history.

I’m contributing to the No on 8 Campaign again, because I’m sick of the lies.  So should you: No on 8.    

The Unexpected Message The Yes On 8 Campaign Sends To Jews, Mormons, And Other Non-Evangelicals

By Autumn Sandeen from Pam’s House Blend.  Reposted with permission.  Original here.

I don’t always connect dots in the ways others do, so it’s usually interesting to me when someone connects dots in a way I never thought aboutAlliance Defense Fund Employment Policies — especially when it’s a particularly interesting character who makes the connections.

On September 8th, a Jewish, conservative Republican — David Benkof — wrote a piece entitled Right-wing nonsense, where he questioned the Yes On 8 – Protect Marriage Campaign‘s use of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) as their legal defense team:

I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, so I supported the man-woman marriage Proposition 8 in California – until I discovered the Proposition 8 campaign tolerates discrimination against Jews.‘s legal counsel, the Alliance Defense Fund, has in effect a “No Jews Need Apply” policy for legal and even secretarial positions. They say they’re not a law firm, they’re a “ministry” and thus have a right to discriminate against Jews and other non-Christians. But even if that’s true, Proposition 8 had hundreds of law firms to choose from. The fact they chose one that refuses to hire a Jew like me is very disturbing. Alliance Defense Fund Guiding PrinciplesInterestingly, Jesus himself was a Jew, so when a group has a policy that would lead them to refuse to hire their own Messiah, you know something’s seriously wrong.

I wanted to check to see if the employment policies of the ADF were as Benkof described these policies, and he’s correct on the facts, in that the ADF doesn’t hire anyone but those who ascribe to the ADF’s vision of Christianity:

[Below the fold: The employment policies of the ADF, and the interesting personal history of David Benkof]

The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian organization, employs talented and dedicated team members who work together to defend the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding and litigation.

Before reviewing currently open positions, please review our Statement of Faith Alliance Defense Fund Statement Of Faithand Guiding Principles and indicate your acceptance and agreement of the principles contained therein.

During working and non-working hours, ADF Team Members, as part of their duties as Team Members, shall: (i) be ready, willing, and able to participate in public and private prayer, chapel or other similar Christian services held or sponsored by ADF, including prayer with and for friends and allies of the ministry; (ii) refrain from statements and conduct that detracts from the biblical standards taught and supported by ADF; (iii) be spiritually ready, willing, and able to fulfill such other ministry functions and requirements as may be requested by ADF; and (iv) abide by the practices and policies of ADF, including without limitation, those that pertain to corporate religious activities, beliefs, and practices.

At the bottom of the Alliance Defense Fund‘s employment webpage, they have an “I accept” button which has the following header:

Clicking this button indicates that you have read and understand ADF’s Statement of Faith and hold to spiritual beliefs which are not in conflict with ADF’s Statement of Faith. Clicking this button will bring you to the open position descriptions.

In other words, the Yes On 8 – Protect Marriage campaign employs a legal team that apparently won’t employ anyone who isn’t a conservative, evangelical Christian for any of that organization’s paid positions.

That would probably be interesting news to the Mormons who are volunteering time and have already donated approximately five million dollars (which is about 35% of the funds the campaign has raised) to the Yes On 8 – Protect Marriage Campaign — the legal team that the Yes On 8 – Protect Marriage organization hired for their campaign discriminates in its hiring practices against a large segment of the campaign’s faith-based donor base.

And to boot, David Benkof’s an interesting character to make this statement. Timothy Kinkaid, with whom I’ve worked previously at the Ex-Gay Watch, wrote a piece for the Box Turtle Bulletin entitled David Benkof: Behind the Mask. Benkof apparently is an ex-gay who was one of the founders of the Q-Syndicate (an LGBT publication), and contributed to the publication between 1995 to 2003. In recent years he’s been seeking to be influential in the restriction of LGBT rights and equality.

Two points, in summary:

– Discrimination is discrimination — the Yes On 8 – Protect Marriage Campaign hiring a legal team that in its hiring policies discriminates against Jews and Mormons is as wrong-headed as hiring policies that discriminate against LGBT people.

– David Benkof really is an interesting character to connect the dots on discrimination by evangelical Christians towards people of other faiths since he now appears to be for discrimination of LGBT people — it really seems that now he’s only against discrimination when it’s about how he currently identifies, not about how he previously identified. It kinda seems like he’s just an upscale version of a James Hartline archetype.


Further Reading:

* Washington Post (July 10, 2006): Bringing the Church to the Courtroom



* California’s Prop 8: Polling Showing Voters Moving To Defeat Measure

* PROP 8 ballot wording rewritten: to ELIMINATE RIGHT of Same-Sex Couples to Marry

* The Fundamental Freedom To Marry

* Pam’s House Blend tags: Proposition 8; Prop 8; Marriage Equality

Crossposted with permission from Pam’s House Blend


Shame on Nancy Pelosi

Updated and bumped: OK, Threat Level got the quote wrong.  The actual quote from her floor statement (which I have checked against the C-SPAN video) is the following:

We take an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic.  In that Preamble to that Constitution, we must provide for the common defense.  Essential to honoring that commitment to protect the American people is to have the operational intelligence that will help us do that.

When I first went on the Intelligence Committee, our focus was on force protection.  Our troops in the field depend on timely and reliable intelligence to make the decisions necessary to keep them safe and to do their job.  It is still a primary responsibility of our Intelligence Committee.

In addition to that, we have the fight on the war on terrorism.  The fight against terrorism wherever it may exist.  Good intelligence is necessary for us to know the plans of the terrorist and to defeat those plans.  So we can’t go without a bill.  That’s just simply not an option.  But to have a bill we must have a bill that does not violate the Constitution of the United States and this bill does not.

She goes on to explain that the bill is better than the Senate Bill, yadda yadda yadda.  Except the Senate Bill is dead, and all that the House had to do was nothing.  Sit on its hands, or maybe just fix the single loophole in FISA.   Now it’s weak sauce, I think, to hold the provide-for-the-common-defense preamble clause as the reason for gutting the 4th Amendment, but at least she got her oath right, so I retract that criticism.  The rest of my objections stand.  Today was a contemptible capitulation by the Democratic leadership to the Republican Party’s war on the rule of law, one in which Speaker Pelosi participated.

[end update]  

From a Threat Level report on the House gutting the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, and striking a blow against accountability and the rule of law:

“We took an oath to defend the country from all enemies, foreign and domestic,” Pelosi said. “Good intelligence is necessary for us to know the plans of the terrorists, so we can’t not have a bill.”

Unless this is a radical misquote, this is false in two ways.  The trivial falsehood is that this travesty is necessary.  The only thing that is necessary for “good intelligence” (aside from having an Administration that actually gives a damn about it) is the trivial work to patch the one hole in FISA to allow the Feds to listen in when a non-US person (non-citizen outside the US) calls another non-US person, but the contact is routed through the US.  A get-out-of-jail-free card for the telcos is not necessary, nor is the rest of the bill, as has been ably shown elsewhere.

The truly enormous falsehood is the nature of the oath that Speaker Pelosi asserts she took.  Here, in full, is the oath of office for members of the House of Representatives:

“I, (name of Member), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

I am one of Speaker Pelosi’s constituents, and (unless the quote here is completely wrong) I will not be voting for Speaker Pelosi in November, nor, I suspect, ever again.  She doesn’t actually seem to know her most solemn duty, the only duty to which she’s sworn an actual oath as a member of the people’s House, is to uphold the Constitution of the United States, including our Fourth Amendment, even though the Republicans might campaign against the Constitution.  For those who may have forgotten (including, apparently, Speaker Pelosi):

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

A Reminder on Disclosure and Some Bad Behavior

(Bumped – promoted by jsw)

OK, SEIU staffers, you’re not helping your cause by registering anonymous brand new snarky user IDs just to jump into the SEIU-CNA war.  Just stop it.  By violating basic norms of behavior (no shilling, no sockpuppetry) and the really really basic site rules that have been so recently pointed out to you, all you’re doing is tossing away your credibility with people (e.g., bloggers), who would normally be your natural allies.

And if you don’t care about us, think about this:  you’re undermining your own case.  How do you think that a real ordinary SEIU member trying to make their point is now going to be viewed?  If you now disclose your affiliation and try to make your case, how do you think you’ll be viewed?  Sure, you could continue to try circumvent our ability to know who you are and you might eventually succeed, but at this point, you’ve poisoned the Calitics well for almost anyone taking the SEIU side in this dustup unless they disclose up front that they’re spokespersons for SEIU (and still… well, this has not been a good day for you).  

Last, maybe you could come by and participate in the Calitics community for some purpose other than attacks on other unions.  That would be great.  We’d love to have diaries on what SEIU is doing outside of this internecine fight.  And you’d have some positive on-line street cred among our community, rather than the negative credibility you’re building up.

Older parts of this post are on the flip.

As some people may know, there have recently been some fairly substantial disputes among the Service Employees International Union, the United Healthcare Workers, and more recently, the California Nurses Association.  Calitics is generally a union-friendly blog, and if union members want to use Calitics to publicize their positions, or even hash out their differences, we are happy to have their participation in almost every case. What we at Calitics will not tolerate is a failure by community members to disclose the nature of their affiliation (such as employment and position) with candidates, campaigns, or organizations with respect to which they comment.

That sort of failure to disclose violates our very simple, easy-to-understand, common-sense rules. Unfortunately, we are seeing that failure more and more frequently, and in some cases, we believe that the failure is deliberate.  We have two new users, Lloyd and blanca, who registered within two hours of one another, from the same IP address, and using email addresses that either directly or with a bit of Google help, suggest very strongly that they are actually employed by SEIU in public relations roles.

Lloyd then attacked CNA in a diary that is almost nothing more than a reprint of a SEIU press release.

Blanca proceeded to attack Sal Rosselli of UHW in two cut-and-pasted comments (one, two).

In both cases, the perspective presented is that of an ordinary union member, which at best not seems not to be the whole truth.

This behavior is not acceptable here. Our rules are simple and easy to follow.  If SEIU, CNA, and UHW want to slug out their differences in diaries and comments here at Calitics, that’s fine, as long as everyone follows the rules. Don’t make us intervene or post meta-diaries like this any more than we have to.

Proposition 93: Even Ugly Babies Need Love

( – promoted by jsw)

Disclaimer:  I am paid by exactly no-one to advocate for any political position.  I’ve heard rumors that certain people would actually pay me to stop.

There’s been a lot of heat, and not as much light as would be ideal, generated around Proposition 93, the ballot initiative to extend (a bit) the current legislative term limits.  I have already turned in my absentee ballot, and I voted for Proposition 93, despite its manifest flaws.  If you’re interested in why (and my take on those flaws), it’s below the fold.

First, here’s what Prop 93 does, according to the Legislative Analyst (who so recently cast her long and erudite shadow over the proposed health care reform):

Background: The state’s voters passed Proposition 140 at the November 1990 election. As well as other changes, Proposition 140 changed the State Constitution to create term limits for the Legislature-Members of the Assembly and Senate. Term limits restrict the number of years that individuals can serve in the Legislature. Currently, an individual generally cannot serve a total of more than 14 years in the Legislature. (An exception is when an individual serves additional time by finishing out less than one-half of another person’s term.) An individual’s service is restricted to six years in the Assembly (three two-year terms) and eight years in the Senate (two four-year terms).


Time Limits Without Regard to Legislative House. Under this measure, an individual could serve a total of 12 years in the Legislature (compared to 14 years currently). Unlike the current system, these years could be served without regard to whether they were in the Assembly or Senate. In other words, an individual could serve six two-year terms in the Assembly, three four-year terms in the Senate, or some combination of terms in both houses. (As under current law, an individual could serve additional time by finishing out less than one-half of another person’s term.)

Current Members of the Legislature. Under this measure, existing Members of the Legislature could serve up to a total of 12 years in their current legislative house (regardless of how many years were already served in the other house). This could result in some current Members serving longer than 14 years in the Legislature.

So, it’s a pretty moderate change to the current term limits, except that last paragraph with respect to sitting legislators, about which more in a moment. It does remove the incentive for the legislature to play musical chairs every election, and it allows each house of the legislature to develop an institutional memory of a decade or so.  This is important to me, as it ties into the reason that I am opposed to term limits for legislatures.  Despite all of the badness associated with perpetual incumbency, in my view the alternative is to turn over the entire institutional memory of how you get things done over to unelected staff (and worse) lobbyists.  I’ve picked my poison, and I can live with it (and more on that below).

Now, that last paragraph, that’s a doozy, ain’t it?  Basically, the people currently sitting in the legislature completely screwed up the politics on this, if they actually wanted to deal with term limits, not just keep their positions.  And of course, it’s impossible to to dismiss as an innocent coincidence the fact that both Speaker Nuñez and President pro Tem Perata would be termed out in 2008 after the end of their current terms if Proposition 93 does not pass.

If the legislature had really been serious about changing the landscape on term limits, not just keeping themselves in office, they could have grandfathered sitting legislators into the old system.  Or the Speaker and the President Pro Tem as individuals could have publicly disavowed further terms for themselves.  But they didn’t.  Instead, the legislature elected to follow a path of fairly obvious and politically toxic self-dealing.  Ironically (and in my view, stupidly), that may result both in sitting legislators (including the aforementioned legislative leaders) losing their seats and an outcome that places the issue of term limits off limits for several years at least.   Well played, gentlemen!  Well played indeed.

And I still voted for Proposition 93.  Term limits are a crappy idea, for the reasons explained above, and in legislation, you have to cut deals, you have to log-roll.  The amusingly perverse situation here is that the interest group with whom you have to cut a deal is the legislature itself.  So that’s the deal I think we’re cutting — longer terms for the current legislature in order to build a better institutional memory and stronger legislators.

As a brief coda, let me note that the notion that term limits (or redistricting) are meaningful structural reform is essentially bogus.  It’s true that with term limits, you will cycle younger people through legislatures, and their attitudes on social issues in particular will change, but you’re still cycling people into and through a system where money buys campaign success, and when those self-selected people arrive at the legislature, the industry lobbyists run the show.  I don’t like that bargain, myself.  But people like Howie Rich and the rest of the radical-right funders of US Term Limits do like that bargain, because they want weak legislators and a lobbyist-run legislature.

November 7, 2007 Blog Roundup and Open Thread

Today’s Blog Roundup is on the flip. No categories today, but everything is pretty self-explanatory. Let me know what I missed in comments, or just use this as an open thread.

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