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rcocean
10-11-2009, 11:55 AM
From New York Times; (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/us/11calif.html?partner=rss&emc=rss)

In a rare public rebuke of state government and policies delivered by a sitting judge, the chief justice of the California Supreme Court scathingly criticized the state’s reliance on the referendum process, arguing that it has “rendered our state government dysfunctional.”

Justice George said that perhaps the “most consequential” impact of the referendum process is that it limits “how elected officials may raise and spend revenue.” He added, “California’s lawmakers, and the state itself, have been placed in a fiscal straitjacket by a steep two-thirds-vote requirement — imposed at the ballot box — for raising taxes.”

No, sorry Judge. The problem is the state legislature spends money it doesn't have, refuses to save for a rainy day (recession) and like spoiled little kids waits until the very last day to reach a compromise.

California has a high state income tax and sales tax. Revenue over the last 15 years has doubled. Texas and Florida don't have income taxes and don't seem to have any significant problems.

I know its sad when some unelected lawyer can't impose his will on millions on Americans, but fortunately, California isn't Massachusetts or New Jersey. The liberals have failed to make California completely into New York-West because of democracy - and it tears them up inside.

AemJeff
10-11-2009, 12:08 PM
From New York Times; (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/us/11calif.html?partner=rss&emc=rss)



No, sorry Judge. The problem is the state legislature spends money it doesn't have, refuses to save for a rainy day (recession) and like spoiled little kids waits until the very last day to reach a compromise.

California has a high state income tax and sales tax. Revenue over the last 15 years has doubled. Texas and Florida don't have income taxes and don't seem to have any significant problems.

I know its sad when some unelected lawyer can't impose his will on millions on Americans, but fortunately, California isn't Massachusetts or New Jersey. The liberals have failed to make California completely into New York-West because of democracy - and it tears them up inside.

Are you suggesting that there's a problem with a citizen expressing an opinion? Did he give up his citizenship, or his right to speak out, when he became a judge? Have you seen the chaos that referenda have wreaked upon California's politics? I'm assuming you understand that the founders chose representative democracy as the basic model for our form of government, and that that system has more or less worked for almost two and a half centuries.

rcocean
10-11-2009, 01:13 PM
Are you suggesting that there's a problem with a citizen expressing an opinion? Did he give up his citizenship, or his right to speak out, when he became a judge? Have you seen the chaos that referenda have wreaked upon California's politics? I'm assuming you understand that the founders chose representative democracy as the basic model for our form of government, and that that system has more or less worked for almost two and a half centuries.

1. Comments like 'he has the right to speak' or "The 1st Amendment, etc." are always lame and irrelevant. Who stated he shouldn't be allowed to speak? No one.

2. California has a representative form of government.

3. All the chaos in California is caused by the legislature - which refuses to act responsibility and live within its means. And by the courts, who often flaunt the express letter of law, causing the People to overturn their outrageous decisions.

AemJeff
10-11-2009, 01:18 PM
1. Comments like 'he has right to speak' or "The 1st Admendment, etc." are always lame and irrelvant. Who stated he shouldn't be allowed to speak? No one.

2. California has a reprsentative form of government.

3. All in the chaos in California is caused by the legislature - which refuses to act responsilbiy and live within its means. And by the courts, who often flaunt the express letter of law, causing the People to overturn their outragous decisions by the ballot.

"Unelected judge." Of what relevance is that, then - you... you unelected forum commenter? It's a silly trope, and the clear implication was that not only do you disagree, but that he shouldn't have spoken out in the first place.

Referenda short circuit representative democracy. The analysis in your third point is tendentious and questionable.

rcocean
10-11-2009, 04:03 PM
"Unelected judge." Of what relevance is that, then - you... you unelected forum commenter? It's a silly trope, and the clear implication was that not only do you disagree, but that he shouldn't have spoken out in the first place.

No that's YOUR implication. The Clear "implication" is that I disagree with what he says, and think it arrogant that an unelected judge should blame the problem on the voters.

You of course agree with the Judge, since the judge is criticizing a conservative position. No doubt, if the Judge were conservative, you'd be agreeing with me. With the left, means are irrelevant - only the ends matter. We conservatives think differently.

Referenda short circuit representative democracy. The analysis in your third point is tendentious and questionable.

Iow, you disagree but can't say why.

Wonderment
10-11-2009, 04:05 PM
Not quite accurate to call the judges "unelected." It's true that they are appointed by the governor, but they must be ratified by the people (not the legislature) in the next general election.

Justice George, a Republican appointed by Pete Wilson, makes a good point. The referendum policy sounds like grassroots democracy at its best, but when you look a little closer it gets very weird fast.

Referendums entangle the legislature in commitments that are impossible to carry out without bankrupting other commitments; they bring patently unconstitutional (racist, homophobic, anti-abortion) measures to the courts for more years of entanglement, and they allow for the kind of idiotic "recall" movements that brought us Governor Terminator.

Having said that, I will agree that the state assembly and senate are corrupt and ineffectual, suffering in spades what the country at large suffers from -- extreme polarization on virtually all issues.

AemJeff
10-11-2009, 06:19 PM
No thats YOUR implication. The Clear "implication" is that I disagree with what he says, and think it arrogant tha an unelected judge should blame the problem on the voters.

You of course agree with the Judge, since the judge is criticizing a conservative position. No doubt, if the Judge were conservative, you'd be agreeing with me. With the left, means are irrelevant - only the ends matter. We conservatives think differrently.



Iow, you disagree but can't say why.

You've missed the point, twice. Why is it "arrogant" for the judge to express an opinion?

Whether I agree isn't germane to the question of whether what you've expressed as a self-evident truth, really is such a truth. (In fact, what I think is that what you're saying is a meaningless generalization that tells me more about you than it does about judges.)

Your tribal loyalties are showing, by the way. Do you really believe "conservatives" think differently than anybody else? You'll find, if you consider it carefully, that the only real differences are in the assumptions people make. And I think you misjudge me, if you think I apply a different standard of judgment depending on someone's ideology.

AemJeff
10-11-2009, 06:21 PM
...
Having said that, I will agree that the state assembly and senate are corrupt and ineffectual, suffering in spades what the country at large suffers from -- extreme polarization on virtually all issues.

But that, of course, is a separate issue; and the referenda seem to be exacerbating its consequences.

TwinSwords
10-11-2009, 06:31 PM
I ... think it arrogant tha an unelected judge should blame the problem on the voters.

Saying that the judge is "arrogant" to express his point of view is not that different from saying he should not express his point of view at all. Presumably you don't think people should be arrogant. You started a whole thread devoted tot he premise that the "unelected judge" is somehow out of bounds for expressing his opinion about something that affects him, his family, and his community.

Maybe you're the arrogant one. Think that's possible?

rcocean
10-11-2009, 07:39 PM
Saying that the judge is "arrogant" to express his point of view is not that different from saying he should not express his point of view at all. Presumably you don't think people should be arrogant. You started a whole thread devoted tot he premise that the "unelected judge" is somehow out of bounds for expressing his opinion about something that affects him, his family, and his community.

Maybe you're the arrogant one. Think that's possible?

Your post is simply amazing.

rcocean
10-11-2009, 08:04 PM
You've missed the point, twice. Why is it "arrogant" for the judge to express an opinion?

Whether I agree isn't germane to the question of whether what you've expressed as a self-evident truth, really is such a truth. (In fact, what I think is that what you're saying is a meaningless generalization that tells me more about you than it does about judges.)

Your tribal loyalties are showing, by the way. Do you really believe "conservatives" think differently than anybody else? You'll find, if you consider it carefully, that the only real differences are in the assumptions people make. And I think you misjudge me, if you think I apply a different standard of judgment depending on someone's ideology.

Yes, Conservatives and liberals do differ in the way they think about politics. With liberals the political is personal and "the ends justify the means". It also means a kind "Doublethink" mentality. Its simply impossible to imagine Conservatives supporting a Senator after he killed a women by driving off a bridge or a President after he committed sexual harassment and then lied under oath. Liberals didn't care, to them the only thing that matters is "Is he good for liberalism?"

And liberals are much more likely to have a "No enemy to the left" philosophy. I don't know of many conservatives who have a "No enemy to the right" .

Also, its impossible to imagine a conservative writing a right-wing version of Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals."

Does that mean you and EVERY liberal is like this? Of course not, I'm generalizing.

AemJeff
10-11-2009, 08:23 PM
Yes, Conservatives and liberals do differ in the way they think about politics. With liberals the political is personal and "the ends justify the means". It also means a kind "Doublethink" mentality. Its simply impossible to imagine Conservatives supporting a Senator after he killed a women by driving off a bridge or a President after he committed sexual harassment and then lied under oath. Liberals didn't care, to them the only thing that matters is "Is he good for liberalism?"

And liberals are much more likely to have a "No enemy to the left" philosophy. I don't know of many conservatives who have a "No enemy to the right" .

Also, its impossible to imagine a conservative writing a right-wing version of Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals."

Does that mean you and EVERY liberal is like this? Of course not, I'm generalizing.

Please. You leave me speechless. Do we really need to start listing successful Republican pols whose crimes and misdemeanors have been ignored or explained away by supporters? I'll trade an illicit blowjob (and the followup lie) for an Iran/Contra scandal, any time, e.g. You've convinced yourself that your political choices are also signs of virtue and excellence. The plain truth is that those qualities are perfectly orthogonal to any left/right choice.

Wonderment
10-11-2009, 09:27 PM
But that, of course, is a separate issue; and the referenda seem to be exacerbating its consequences.

It's a classic dysfunctional relationship; they enable each other.

I'm inclined to agree with George -- dump the ballot initiatives. I'd like to see a good scholarly analysis of the problem, however, before articulating a very strong opinion.

California's 1978 Prop. 13 is often cited as a classic example of the process run amok.

For the time being, we are stuck with the ballot initiative process ,which remains a very powerful component of the political toolbox for both left and right.

rcocean
10-11-2009, 10:22 PM
Conservatives will agree with Liberals sometimes, EVEN when they're attacking Republicans. For example, I usually skip Frank Rich, since he's usually long emotion and short on the facts - but I agree completely with his column on McCain:

Two Wrongs Make Another Fiasco (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/opinion/11rich.html?_r=2&th&emc=th)

Along with his tribunes in Congress and the punditocracy, Wrong-Way McCain still presumes to give America its marching orders. With his Senate brethren in the Three Amigos, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, he took to The Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page to assert that “we have no choice” but to go all-in on Afghanistan — rightly or wrongly, presumably — just as we had in Iraq. Why? “The U.S. walked away from Afghanistan once before, following the Soviet collapse,” they wrote. “The result was 9/11. We must not make that mistake again.”

Have you ever agreed with a conservative attack on a liberal? I doubt it.

AemJeff
10-11-2009, 10:41 PM
Conservatives will agree with Liberals sometimes, EVEN when they're attacking Republicans. For example, I usually skip Frank Rich, since he's usually long emotion and short on the facts - but I agree completely with his column on McCain:

Two Wrongs Make Another Fiasco (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/opinion/11rich.html?_r=2&th&emc=th)



Have you ever agreed with a conservative attack on a liberal? I doubt it.

Really? Ask any liberal who asserts that we shouldn't be engaged in Big Science before we Fix All of the Problems On the Planet!!! (For instance.) I identify as a geek and a skeptic long before I identify as a liberal.

Wonderment
10-11-2009, 11:26 PM
Have you ever agreed with a conservative attack on a liberal? I doubt it.

Many liberals, myself included, agreed with Ron Paul's conservative critique of Bush's war adventure in Iraq.

I would love to have some conservatives to agree with in criticizing liberals for supporting the Afghanistan war. Where are they? Where is Herbert Hoover when we need him?

rcocean
10-12-2009, 03:03 AM
Many liberals, myself included, agreed with Ron Paul's conservative critique of Bush's war adventure in Iraq.

I would love to have some conservatives to agree with in criticizing liberals for supporting the Afghanistan war. Where are they? Where is Herbert Hoover when we need him?

Amazing.

cragger
10-12-2009, 06:22 PM
I don't understand the hostility to the initiative process beyond objection to certain decisions the voters have made. Certainly voters can make bad decisions, as defined by each of us as ones we don't agree with. They can also make good decisions. Legislators also make bad decisions, and do so regularly.

Its all well and good to say that corrupt, partisan, and incompetent legislators are a separate problem, and that if we only had perfect representatives we wouldn't need citizen initiatives. If we had a perfect king we wouldn't need representatives or democracy either.

There is nothing magical or divine about representative government. Its just a tool. Having an initiative process provides another tool in the box, and the possibility of dealing with issues that the representatives will not or can not in the imperfect, partisan, corrupt world we live in. A workman who throws away a tool in the hopes that the remaining tool will fix everything for him is foolish. A citizenry that throws away the power to control governmental action in the hopes that someone will come along and take care of everything for them is moreso.

Wonderment
10-12-2009, 07:00 PM
There is nothing magical or divine about representative government. Its just a tool. Having an initiative process provides another tool in the box, and the possibility of dealing with issues that the representatives will not or can not in the imperfect, partisan, corrupt world we live in.

Maybe. The problems are that initiatives are a) often an unconstitutional waste of time (Who cares if the voters outlaw abortion or deny undocumented children access to public schools?) and b) bought by special interest mass infusions of $$$$. (Is it a tool for the citizenry or the lobbyists?)

As I said, I am not yet ready to oppose voter initiatives, but I would much rather see attention focused on other aspects of improving democracy, especially campaign finance reform.

stephanie
10-12-2009, 08:10 PM
Yes, Conservatives and liberals do differ in the way they think about politics.

If you decide that the difference is not how one thinks about issues, but who is more virtuous, there's really little reason to discuss anything with those of other political views at all -- you can just assume they are arguing in bad faith, as McArdle would complaint, that they are stupid or evil. That seems a shame, whatever the politics of the person doing it.

In any case, for the record re the specific accusations:

With liberals the political is personal and "the ends justify the means".

Not sure what you mean with the former (it sounds like something from the '70s), but I seriously doubt it. I don't think "the ends justify the means" is a typical liberal view at all. (It is a traditional argument for bending the civil rights protections, which both Dems and Republicans tend to at times, but Dems are not more bad in this area.)

It also means a kind "Doublethink" mentality. Its simply impossible to imagine Conservatives supporting a Senator after he killed a women by driving off a bridge or a President after he committed sexual harassment and then lied under oath.

I find it hard to believe you make this claim in seriousness.

Liberals didn't care, to them the only thing that matters is "Is he good for liberalism?"

One thing liberals don't do (as opposed to some conservatives) is worry about what's good for "liberalism." That's why the left is famously fighting amongst itself and the right better at staying on message.

And liberals are much more likely to have a "No enemy to the left" philosophy. I don't know of many conservatives who have a "No enemy to the right" .

Heard of triangulation? Heck, traditionally (well before Clinton) liberals and leftists (not the same thing) considered themselves the enemy. Given that plenty of leftwingers aren't happy with Obama, how is he a friend to all on the left (him being a reasonably significant representative of liberalism, I'd assume, being the leader of the Democratic Party and all).

Also, its impossible to imagine a conservative writing a right-wing version of Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals."

Hard only in that they all seem satisfied with Alinsky.

Are there actual significant issues that you see as important differences between liberals and conservatives and that might be worth debating? Or is it all about what kind of person they are and who you want to associate yourself with?

cragger
10-12-2009, 09:19 PM
Sure, citizens may pass an initiative that is ruled unconstitutional. Legislatures do it all the time. It doesn't seem much of an argument for citizens ceeding power.

And doesn't your second paragraph illustrate the flaws of the second argument in your first, that of the influence of moneyed interests in politics? Given that many politicians are essentially agents of the various industry or corporate interests that finance them insofar as whole areas of policy and public interest are concerned, it doesn't seem a very damning point that voters might be swayed by advertising campaigns that interests may launch. Politicians get exactly the same thing from lobbyists. Voters in contrast aren't dependant on cash-in-hand from those interests as well.

The views expressed so far on initiatives still seem more like a reaction to a couple of high profile results that people disagree with than a reason to just give up and turn things over to the politicians and hope for the best. For every Gray Davis recall or prop 8 I'm sure either or any of us can come up with any number of terrible things passed by legislatures or done by executives.

Not living in California I have no idea whether Davis was a good, bad, or mediocre governor. But I wonder if the objectors in this thread would feel somewhat different if the voters had recalled Pete Wilson instead, or given the closeness of the vote had instead legalized gay marriage in California when the legislature wouldn't. If the initiative process is a tool that is sometimes used poorly, learn to use it better. At least it is a tool that is in the citizens hands.

Since the initiative objectors in this thread are identified "lefties" its worth pointing out in closing that the Democrats currently hold the presidency, the House by a big margin, and have the 60! 60! 60! vote majority in the Senate. This is a level of numerical dominance that is very unusual, and it wouldn't be surprising if it is the last example of such magnitude in a lifetime. Are the results really as good as you would ever want or hope for? Politicians getting everything taken care of? Fundamental issues not just gestured at, or tweaked around the margins, or nudged an inch in a better direction but restructured and solved? If not it sure seems mighty unwise to discard other options to control the process.

Wonderment
10-12-2009, 09:36 PM
And doesn't your second paragraph illustrate the flaws of the second argument in your first, that of the influence of moneyed interests in politics? Given that many politicians are essentially agents of the various industry or corporate interests that finance them insofar as whole areas of policy and public interest are concerned, it doesn't seem a very damning point that voters might be swayed by advertising campaigns that interests may launch.

That is why I believe campaign finance reform is the real issue. Term limits is another approach to democratizing the system, but that has had mixed results, while true campaign finance would really rock the political world.


Not living in California I have no idea whether Davis was a good, bad, or mediocre governor. But I wonder if the objectors in this thread would feel somewhat different if the voters had recalled Pete Wilson instead, or given the closeness of the vote had instead legalized gay marriage in California when the legislature wouldn't.

I think I've conceded that you make a good point here. I did campaign hard in support of a ballot initiative that would have repealed California's 3-strike law. But the fact that lefties and righties like initiatives when they work in their partisan favor is not really relevant to the question of whether the process enhances or detracts from democracy.

Since you so favor the process I'll ask how far you'd push it:

Would you want a national referendum on torture, the Iraq War, food stamps, prayer in public schools, racial profiling, abortion, etc?

We certainly have the technology to vote quickly on these issues via Internet. We could install a quick-vote-from home system, although we'd probably need national ID cards and secure electronic signatures. It's all quite feasible though.

cragger
10-13-2009, 02:27 AM
... the fact that lefties and righties like initiatives when they work in their partisan favor is not really relevant to the question of whether the process enhances or detracts from democracy.
No, my point there is to suggest reflection in in line with discussions on BHTV regarding how people make moral decisions based on an initial emotive response, and generate justifications to fit after that response is formed. I of course can be accused of the need to do the same thing (i.e reflect on my motiviations) since it seems human to be subject to the behavior, though I probably support "your side", aka the losing side, of the specific initiatives mentioned thus far so I don't think preference colors my thinking here.

But regarding democracy, "the government of the people by the people" which is a form nominally responsive to and controlled by the will of the governed, the process definitely seems to enhance adherence to those principles. If you mean enhance in the sense of achieving more agreeable results (agreeable to whom in each case of course) there doesn't seem to be much case to be made that representation uniformly performs better.

Since you so favor the process I'll ask how far you'd push it:

Would you want a national referendum on torture, the Iraq War, food stamps, prayer in public schools, racial profiling, abortion, etc?

The thing about this question is that it is as easily turned around.

Are you satisfied with the legislative response to the US use of torture? Shouldn't the citizens have a chance to try?

Do you think the US would be or would have been completely out of Iraq sooner if the citizens got to vote on it?

Regarding prayer and religion in general and church/state separation, various representative bodies have moved to remove that wall and introduce religion into the classroom and public sphere. With the courts being subject to political appointment, shouldn't the people have the chance to say Nay?

Have representatives stopped racial profiling from happening? Doesn't seem so in practice.

And so on down the line. I, you, or anyone else might be happier about the results of some issues, less so about others. I'd certainly hope for better results on at least some issues on your list. Wouldn't you? If the results weren't better it would just mean we need to work harder. For a democracy to work, the citizens have to do some lifting.

Wonderment
10-13-2009, 03:58 AM
No, my point there is to suggest reflection in in line with discussions on BHTV regarding how people make moral decisions based on an initial emotive response, and generate justifications to fit after that response is formed.

Yes, I agree. The human tendency to rationalize colors our moral judgments -- a good reason not to trust one's "gut."

On the other hand, social science suggests that emotionally impaired people (those who feel nothing) are often (paradoxically) irrational or sociopathic.

Sonia Sotomayor and Obama have tried to raise the issue of empathy as a criterion in becoming a "wise judge," i.e., as a requirement for making judicious decisions.

Were Republicans wise to be suspicious of Sotomayor and the notion of judicial empathy, or did the Dems. have a point?

Latinos viewed Sotomayor's "wise Latina" comment as being inclusive, democratic and judicious. Conservatives saw it as biased; and uber-conservatives, like Limbaugh and Beck, think Obama and Sotomayor are "racists."

And so on down the line. I, you, or anyone else might be happier about the results of some issues, less so about others. I'd certainly hope for better results on at least some issues on your list. Wouldn't you? If the results weren't better it would just mean we need to work harder. For a democracy to work, the citizens have to do some lifting.

Yes, you've touched on something that has troubled philosophers of democracy from the beginning: how prudent is it to have direct as opposed to representative democratic government? When I look at the hypothetical issues of torture, war in Iraq, racial discrimination, I have to recognize in myself a certain degree of mistrust of direct democracy. Intellectual snob that I am, I worry about impulsive, imprudent, undereducated and reckless decisions.