"What is this babbler trying to say?" Acts 17:18

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

California Primary 2010

This year's Republican primary ballot for the state of California has quite a long list of candidates and I was a bit intimidated by it. Since other people probably have questions also I thought I would list some of the people I feel are best qualified. If you are not from California you can stop reading now. If you are not a registered Republican you can read or not read as you choose. If you know something about a candidate, either one I've mentioned or any I've overlooked, please leave a comment and tell us what's wrong or right about him or her. The candidates I've listed seem like the best choice to me now but I may still change my mind if future evidence paints them in a different light than my research into their bios has led me to believe.

Realistically there are only two Republican candidates for this office: Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner. While an alternative such as the evangelical Christian Ken Miller from San Francisco may be an entertaining diversion, he has no possibility of winning even his home city (er, especially his home city!). The Big Two have many similarities: both supported abortion in the past and now (supposedly) have changed their minds. Both have supported Democrat candidates like Al Gore (Poizner) Boxer (Whitman) and John Kerry (Poizner and Whitman). For a look at their similarities see here. When it comes down to a choice between these similar candidates, I side with the one least tainted by politics: Meg Whitman. She can't be accused of being a career politician, heck, she barely even voted in the past! Meg Whitman has extensive experience as a businesswoman which is what this state needs to balance budgets. She also opposes California's cap and trade bill AB 32. And frankly, she's running an effective advertising campaign against Poizner, making herself sound good.

Lieutenant Governor:
Scott Levitt bills himself as a solid conservative. A practicing attorney, Levitt is quoted on Wikipedia as saying: “there is not a revenue problem in the United States of America, and there is certainly not a revenue problem in the richest state…California. There is an absolute spending crisis.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Levitt#cite_note-6 Levitt is for a leaner government which means less state employees and less bureaucracy. He opposes climate change legislation that will hurt the economy such as California's AB 32. And you've got to like a guy who calls the government, “a hundred armed creature... tentacles stretched into every facet of business and personal life.” http://www.levittforlg.com/?page_id=6

Secretary of State:
Orly Taitz is a colorful person who is entertaining to read about. A Moldavian-born Jew, she lived in Israel before moving to to the US and gaining citizenship in 1992. Bill O'Reilly called her a “nut” for her outspoken lawsuits in the Obama “birther” conspiracy movement. I predict she has little change of winning a general election, although, in addition to 5 languages, I think her varied background and law experience makes her qualified for a job like Secretary of State. Her only opponent, Damon Dunn, was a NFL player who registered as a Democrat in Florida in 1999.

Attorney General:
John Eastman. This man's credentials are in Constitutional law, a big plus over typical “lawyers.” He has worked with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and served as dean of Chapman University Law School. His campaign website http://www.eastmanforag.com/ portrays him as a conservative with a strong respect for the Constitution. Some of his published journal article are at SSRN. all of the titles look interesting, although I haven't yet read any, including one entitled: “We are a Religious People Whose Institutions Presuppose a Supreme Being

Insurance Commissioner:
All of the candidates but Fitzgerald are termed out assemblymen looking for a new job. Fitzgerald has not done much campaigning so it seems that Mike Villines is the best choice. Villines has been active working on budgets with Schwarzenegger and supports health savings accounts. He has made some serious concessions to the left in past and current offices, but he is a politician in California after all. http://www.mikevillines.com/

United States Senator:
Chuck DeVore sounds like a solid choice. Termed out of the State assembly where he has been serving, DeVore worked with the Reagan administration early on in his career. He has supported traditional and nuclear energy for California as well as being tough on taxes.
Carly Fiorina is another option. She has been endorsed by Sarah Palin, possibly because they worked together during the McCain campaign when Fiorina defended Palin as a speaker and economic advisor for McCain. She also chaired the Republican National Committee's fund-raising efforts.
Tom Campbell is out for defending same-sex marriage and voting “no” on Prop. 8 in 2008. http://reason.com/archives/2008/10/24/ending-marriage-discrimination

United States House of Representatives, 2nd District:
Incumbent Wally Herger.

State Senator, 4th District:
Incumbent Doug LaMalfa

State Assembly, 2nd District:
Charlie Schaupp http://www.charlieschaupp.com/, a Marine Lieutenant Colonel, is pro-life, an NRA member, and has a history of family farming. Jim Nielsen is... well, the incumbent... Neither one sounds terrible, in fact they both sound pretty good. It might be worth while to vote for Schaupp just because he is not a career politician like Nielsen. What do you think?

State Board of Equalization, 2nd District:
Barbara Alby is acting board-member due to Bill Leonard's favorable resignation in March 2010. On her website she promises: “I will fight all tax increases.” However, George Runner may be the best choice for this position thanks to his support of the Tea Party and his promises to fight all taxes and challenge the status quo in Sacramento. http://www.georgerunner.com/ Runner at last check had a significant campaign contribution lead.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction:
Henry Williams Jr. was a homeschooling father for 12 years, as well as a history teacher at Simpson University for 2 years. According to his bio page, 3 children have graduated while a fourth is attending a public school. He enjoys the snow at Mt Shasta. A local?! Why haven't I heard of this guy before? http://www.williamsforstatesuperintendent.com/henry_p.html

But wait, Diane Lenning for Superintendent sounds good too! She wrote a book defending the American Republic in which she encourages everyone to MEMORIZE the US Constitution. See the book at Christian publisher Xulon Press. This is a hard choice, any thoughts about these two?

Be informed. Chime in with additional pertinent information on these candidates. Before the election I plan to post about the ballot measures and some local Shasta county elections.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Future of the Family?

A few days ago I saw a quote from the Washington Post that keeps revolving in my mind.

“Once a country adopts an old-age pension system, it creates an implicit bias against raising children.... One of the natural reasons for raising children is not just because you like kids, but to take care of yourself in old age. Once a country gives everybody access to everyone else's kids' money [in the form of Social Security and Medicare], it undermines the natural economic incentive to raise kids.”

Building on this idea, I think we can construct a broader argument by positing that when the government becomes the dominant caregiver at any age the traditional role of the family as primary social support system is undermined. Who needs a wife, husband, mother, father, child, when a surrogate entitlement program works just as well? Why put up with messy relationships when a clinical dispensary provides everything that the members of a family once provided? Are we close to an Orwellian future society where the family is outmoded and government becomes more than just Big Brother but also a big impersonal family?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Making Light of Oppression

Taking a cue from President Barack Obama, who encourages those who watch Glenn Beck and Fox News to vary their diet with the views of “the other side,” I decided to read a news blog that one of Obama's own advisors on religion and politics maintains. Rev. Jim Wallis's blog is called Sojourners: Faith, Politics, Culture. A large number of contributors write on it, including some Emerging Church familiars, most notably, Brian MacLaren. So perhaps this can hardly be called “the other side.”

If I must take a side, however, it would be strongly against a certain contributor's post entitled: Pedagogy of the Oppressor: Arizona's Ethnic Studies Ban. The author, Cezar Baldelomar, first points out that the US forcibly took the land that comprises California, Arizona, and Texas, and therefore illegal immigrants have a right to be there. In his words, “current immigrants... were once the rightful owners of the very territory they are now trying to enter.” But the focus of his article and the focus of my disagreement is not over this somewhat angry side note. The decline of “ethnic studies” in Arizona is what elicits his strongest barbs because Arizona is trying to make light (pun intended) of its “oppression” towards minorities. He quotes the Arizona Schools Superintendent Tom Horne as saying: “We should be teaching these kids that this is the land of opportunity. If they work hard, then they can achieve their dreams. And not teach them that they are oppressed.” But in Baldelomar's view they are “oppressed” and need to be reminded that they are. I believe our President also said he would welcome more “oppression studies.”

It is hard for someone like me who is rediscovering western classical education to be enamored of “ethnic oppression studies.” No pun intended this time, but the idea is foreign to me. Nor can I understand why Mr. Baldelomar (who is a graduate student at the prestigious Harvard Divinity School) thinks he is oppressed. Identifying with his fellow sufferers he exclaims that oppression “is our reality!” Is it really a reality or just an overactive imagination? I can think of one good reason to eliminate “ethnic studies” from schools and it doesn't even have to do with improving grades in important subjects. It is to erase the lingering thought that, “ethnic studies... confirm for minority students what we have been feeling all along, namely, that we were, are, and will be victims of oppression.” Prophesy is a dangerous business because sometimes the prophesy is self-fulfilling. Mr. Baldelomar believes he always will be a victim; maybe he is right... but he should give others a chance to think more highly of themselves. I hope this blog post is not mistaken for a form of oppression against a poor, suffering Harvard student.