Political Fix (4 June, 2015)

Supervisor Allen Ishida Declares His Candidacy for Governor

Supervisor Allen Ishida filed his intent to run for Governor of California on May 15. He can’t formally declare his candidacy until 2016, but wanted to get his campaign committee number from the Fair Political Practices Commission so he can start fundraising. His announcement is historically significant because Sup. Ishida may be the first serious candidate for governor to be born and raised in Tulare County.

When Sup. Ishida was first elected in 2004 he intended on staying in office for three terms and then retiring from politics. But his extensive work in Sacramento, and traveling around the state because of his committee assignments, made him see that “the state of California legislation is dysfunctional.”

That was the deciding factor in his decision to run for governor.

Sup. Ishida’s third term will be over in 2016, which will give him two years to concentrate on campaigning. His goal is to get his name known in the urban areas. If elected governor, his focus will be reviving the middle class, water issues, and reducing the regulatory atmosphere in Sacramento that currently prevents business from getting done in California.

According to a quote from the Fresno Bee, Sup. Ishida declared, “I am running because I do believe I have a chance to win. We need change. I’m not running to make a point.”

Sup. Ishida and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom are the only two candidates who have officially announced their intentions to run. There is speculation that former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will run as well. His entrance into the race could split the Democratic vote and be advantageous to Sup. Ishida, whose announcement might also be met with a sigh of relief from the California Republican Party. Politically, they have to field someone to run against the very popular and charismatic Lt. Gov. Newsom, and Sup. Ishida could be seen as their sacrificial lamb.

Sup. Ishida has faced scant opposition in his reelection bids for supervisor, and Tulare County has come out of the recession better than most counties in the state. So if he campaigns based on his job performance, he has as good a chance as any Republican of doing well.

But being Governor of all California, instead of just one county, is more than passing a balanced budget on time or dealing with the drought. It’s about defending the rights of all Californians. Will Sup. Ishida defend the rights of gay married couples? Will he protect our newly won healthcare benefits through Obamacare? When California legalizes pot, will he work effectively with the growers and sellers to mainstream the process? Will he defend a woman’s right to choose? Can Sup. Ishida represent the values of millennials as well as those of his generation if elected governor?

Sup. Ishida has said that he is starting his campaign three years early so he can get his name known throughout the state. So we have plenty of time see.

Will the Real Welfare Queens Please Stand Up?

Do you remember last Christmas when the management of Walmart put out a bin in one of their stores to collect donations for their workers so they could have a holiday meal and presents under their tree?

Since when do fulltime workers not earn enough to celebrate Christmas? Well, since retail chain stores and fast food establishments figured out how to rig the system.

Conservative members of Congress and the Senate scold American citizens who receive government assistance to “go get a job!” What they aren’t telling you is that most of those Americans do have a job. It’s just that minimum wage workers, such as those employed by McDonalds and Walmart, are paid so little they qualify for welfare, food stamps, healthcare and housing assistance.

A typical McDonalds franchise makes between $500,000 and $700,000 profit a year in an average market. A franchise in a big city makes will over a million. According to a report published to coincide with Tax Day, April 15, Walmart’s low-wage workers cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $6.2 billion in public assistance.

Why aren’t Walmart and McDonalds paying for these things like Starbucks does?

We willingly subsidize the owners of McDonalds and Walmart while they go whistling to the bank. Our tax dollars pay for their employees’ healthcare and food while the franchise owners take their families skiing in Zermatt or watch the sunset over the ocean from their luxury vacation home.

But there’s more.

Not only do the tax payers subsidize Walmart’s employees, but those employees turn right around and spend their subsidized dollars at Walmart.  According to Walmart’s own analyst, “We estimate that the company accounted for $13.5 billion in food stamp sales in 2013.”

That’s $20 billion dollars fools like you and me are handing over to Walmart. And the owners of Walmart? They earn more every year than the gross national product of many countries.

If food stamps and Medicaid were eliminated, it’s not like McDonalds and Walmart would raise their employees’ salaries to cover the difference. They wouldn’t. So that is not the solution. But, wouldn’t it be nice to hear a presidential candidate declare, “I plan on sending Walmart and McDonalds a bill for every one of their employees who qualify for Obamacare. I plan on sending any corporation a bill for every employee who qualifies for food stamps.  This sense of entitlement has to end!”

That would make for a memorable election cycle.

Making the Cut

Former Gov. George E. Pataki, former Senator Rick Santorum, and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham each recently officially declared they were running for the Republican nomination for president. Unfortunately for them, they rank in the bottom 20 of the pack. According to the new Fox News guidelines for debates, they won’t even be invited to participate.

Fox News officials said that to participate in the debate, candidates “must place in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls, as recognized by Fox News.” This formula is also approved by the Republican National Committee. The first debate is co-sponsored, along with Fox News, by Facebook and will be aired August 6.

I suggested in my last Political Fix that the Republican debates be like the old Hollywood Squares game. Fox News could put 20 candidates up in a grid and have the moderator ask each candidate a question and the audience could decide if the candidate is telling the truth or not. Instead, Fox News and CNN cast aside my idea, and decided to only allow the top 10 polling candidates on the debate stage. Even more humiliating is CNN’s formula. It decided to let the second tier candidates debate the following night. Can someone say “losers.”

Given Fox’s formula, that means that someone like Donald Trump would be debating Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio, but Sen. Rick Santorum would be excluded. As much as I’d like to see Mr. Trump on that stage, it’s hard to fathom that the person who came in second for the Republican nomination in 2012 wouldn’t be invited to debate.

Sen. Santorum has voiced his displeasure with Fox News. He  pointed out that in 2012, he was close to last, if not dead last, in the polls but went on to win 12 primaries. He said that polls are not an accurate gauge of the viability of a candidate. That should be left up to the voters.

Another casualty of Fox’s criteria would be the Republican Party’s only woman in the race. It would take nothing less than a miracle for Carly Fiorina to make the poll numbers to qualify for the August 6 debate. And Ms. Fiorina should not be expected to. Outside of California she is an unknown. Yet she has been the candidate out front when it comes to campaigning against Sec. Hillary Clinton. While the others waste their time beating up Obama, who last I heard wasn’t even running for anything, she keeps her eyes on the ball.

CNN’s bench warmer solution is even worse. How is the Republican Party going to look when they put their only female candidate on the loser debate night?

In the top tier are Gov. Bush, Governor Mike Huckabee, Governor Scott Walker, Sen. Rubio, retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Chris Christie and Donald Trump fill out the top nine in Quinnipiac’s survey. The second tier includes Governor Rick Perry, Senator Lindsey Graham, Governor Bobby Jindal, Sen. Santorum, and Ms. Fiorina, the former head of Hewlett-Packard.

It’s Everyone For Themselves:

If Fox News and the RNC expect their winnowing tactics to encourage a few candidates to drop out, they need to think again.

According to the New York Times, “A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows that at this early stage in the contest, the Republican pack is essentially leaderless, with five candidates — or likely candidates — leading the group with support of about 10% of voters apiece. With no front-runner and identical numbers for the top five contenders, it’s a horse race which can only be described as a scrambled field.”

With no clear leader, what candidate would be foolish enough to drop out? It’s anyone’s ball game now.

The Republicans may be leaderless, but they are happy. According to Politico.com, “Fifty-seven percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning voters surveyed in a new poll from Pew Research Center say they have good or even ‘excellent’ impressions of their party’s presidential candidates.” The field may be crowded, but it’s crowded with more senators and governors with longer resumes than in 2012.

This is a far cry from when Mitt Romney looked like he might get the nomination in 2012 and Republicans were begging for Gov. Christie and Gov. Bush to get into the race.

It’s Never Too Early To Talk Vice President

I was having coffee with a conservative Washington insider who said he would rather chew on bullets than see another Clinton/Bush match up. Although I have been less than impressed with Gov. Bush’s performance so far, I think my friend better start chewing. Sen. Rubio has had moments of brilliance but more high profile flubs, and Gov. Walker will rise in the polls then crash once the American public gets to know him. In a Pew Poll, Gov. Walker appeared to be the least well-known, with 36% of those asked saying they couldn’t give an opinion on him. Just wait until they can.

On the Democratic side, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, have declared their candidacy. They may not be real threats but at least we will have some warm bodies to accompany Sec. Clinton on the debate stage.

Since Sec. Clinton has been preordained the winner, it’s never too early to hypothesize about her running mate. Henry Cisneros, who served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under former President Bill Clinton, said late last week that Sec. Clinton’s only choice for a vice presidential running mate is the man who holds his former position, Julián Castro.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, Sec. Cisneros said, “What I am hearing in Washington, including from people in Hillary Clinton’s campaign, is that the first person on their lists is Julián Castro. They don’t have a second option, because he is the superior candidate considering his record, personality, demeanor and Latin heritage.” Julian Castro is the current HUD Secretary in the Obama Administration.

If Sec. Clinton does choose Mr. Castro, he could be the first Latino vice presidential candidate in U.S. history.

And Finally….

Pope Francis beatified Arch Bishop Oscar Romero May 23, which is the final stage before sainthood. To Americans, Arch Bishop Oscar Romero is unknown. To El Salvadorians, he is already a saint.

In the 1970’s, Father Oscar Romero was a conservative priest who was appointed Arch Bishop to do the bidding of the El Salvadorian dictatorship. The Catholic Church was often used by Latin American dictatorships to buttress their regimes in undeveloped, poor countries. The Arch Bishop was expected to undermine the revolution happening in El Salvador, and propagate the idea that the rich were born to be rich and that the poor should not question God’s will.

Well Arch Bishop Romero had a change of heart and didn’t do the governments bidding. He preached that poverty was a social injustice that was perpetuated by the oligarchy, not God. He preached that social and economic injustice was not Christian and not accepted by the Catholic Church and needed to change.

For speaking the truth, Arch Bishop Oscar Romero was assassinated with one bullet to the chest by a government sniper on March 24, 1980 while giving Mass.

His beatification answered a few questions for me. First, that the universe craves the truth and the truth will always come out. After his assassination the government denied they did it, and his reputation was maligned by a faction of the Catholic Church and by those responsible for his assassination. Now he is on track to become a saint. How is that for vindication?

The second question that came to mind was: Would I have done the same thing? Arch Bishop Romero knew that, unless the revolution succeeded, the government would eventually assassinate him for telling the truth. I would step in front of an assassin’s bullet to save my children’s life, but would I step in front of an assassin’s bullet to speak the truth about those less fortunate than myself?

It was the El Salvadoreans’ absolute love for their priest, and the media’s relentless pursuit of the truth, that proved to the world who really assassinated the Arch Bishop. It was also through them that he was finally seen for who he really was, a saint.

So I dedicate this issue of the Valley Voice to El Santo Oscar Romero. Reporting the truth is not only the least we can do in light of all those who have given their lives to tell it, it is our obligation. This is your newspaper.

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