California is by and large a liberal state. While this often works to its own detriment in terms of the benefits and education it grants to illegal immigrants
California is by and large a liberal state. While this often works to its own detriment in terms of the benefits and education it grants to illegal immigrants, you cannot ignore that progressive policy is what's needed in a social environment as protean as American culture.
That's why it's so perplexing and ultimately maddening that the people of this state turned out in record numbers to cast their vote for reform and found that Arnold Schwarzenegger would be the one to heal our fractured economics and bring back honesty and integrity to public office.
His motto? "I will work honestly, without fear or favor, to do what is right for all Californians."
This is certainly true. In addition to spearheading a proposition to help children through the benefits of after-school programs, Schwarzenegger also met with the most beleaguered of all groups — wealthy white-collar criminals — to see just how right he could work for them.
In May 2001, fully two and a half years before he stepped up to the podium and announced in Hollywood sound bites that he would serve a state whose name he still can't pronounce properly, our fearless Governator met with Enron executive Ken Lay, stock swindler Michael Milken and former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan. In public? Hardly. Try a suite at the Peninsula Hotel.
As exposed by British journalist Greg Palast, 34 pages of internal Enron memos show that the man working without favor knowingly joined a hush-hush meeting with convicted felons to derail a plan by Davis and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante to sue Enron through the California court system. Under the Unfair Business Practices Act, Davis and Bustamante are trying to recover $9 billion from the energy concerns that bilked the state with poor service and huge surcharges.
Does it seem coincidental to you that the clandestine meeting Schwarzenegger participated in took place a month after the lawsuit was filed? It shouldn't.
If you lived in California during the recall race, two major issues stood out against Gray Davis. One, he's boring. Two, he's driven us into a huge financial debacle, particularly with regards to energy problems. Except, as you can see, Davis was working to rectify the shortsightedness of previous governor Pete Wilson and actively trying to get billions back in stolen funds!
I'm not saying Gray Davis is a saint. In fact, I applaud the idea of the recall. Just recall him for something worthwhile, like the scores of "campaign contributions" he took from the state's prison guards or his lax regulations regarding dumping Dioxin into San Francisco Bay. There's a ton of things he's done that are against the best interests of the people. Focus on one of those, build a rock-solid case against him, and boot him without the circus and partisan nonsense.
Instead we get a car-thief-turned-Republican Darrell Issa working in collusion with others to get Davis recalled so that his efforts to get the federal government to actually enforce its law are stymied.
It looks like it's worked, too. With Arnold in power, he's in position to sanction a sweet deal cooked up by the Bush administration that forgives fully 98 percent of the money stolen from Californians. As an added bonus, Bustamante's lawsuit falls apart. Everybody wins except the millions of Americans saddled with rising energy costs and California, which could actually run its programs with that $9 billion. With an $8 billion deficit this year, we'd even be a little ahead.
If you think Palast is shooting from the hip, think again. Three days after winning the election, one of Schwarzenegger's aides announced that he does plan to settle pending energy fraud lawsuits. Instead of working towards balancing the state budget with a windfall it rightly deserves, Arnold doesn't want his administration to "be saddled with someone else's lawsuits."
Sound like Arnold's working honestly, without fear or favor to you? Or does it sound like another corporate back-scratching exercise where thieves are forgiven and everyone else is screwed? In any case, this is exactly the kind of litigation the new governor should be saddled with. That kind of thinking is how Nixon got pardoned; it's absurd to think that the problems of the previous administration shouldn't carry over, particularly when the problems are what you campaigned against.
I didn't think Schwarzenegger was a remarkable candidate to begin with. Considering California is considered a left-leaning state, does it really fit that its leader is a strong ally of the Bush family and certain conservative issues? And seriously, do you feel comforted knowing that the well-being of California's commerce, industry, and education rests in the hands of a guy who has no real concept of finance, his lifestyle having been funded through obscene paychecks to make movies?
Since it's been near-impossible to determine any of Arnold's stance on any issues, I suppose I'll just have to wait and watch as this self-anointed champion of the people works towards destroying what vestiges of revenue California has left. No one will expect him to do anything positive any more than the hillbillies who voted Jesse Ventura into Minnesota's highest office did. He's an actor, and this time he's playing the role of his life.
The only problem is that I don't want to pay $9 billion in admission fees to see his lousy, scripted performance. And neither should any other Californian.
Canon Fodder is a bi-weekly analysis of politics and society.