Political Fix (15 September, 2016)

Custer’s Last Stand

During the last century the United States experienced some major historical changes.

Such as when the South went from being Democratic to Republican after President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A similar change happened when the military repealed the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in 2010. The Religious Right vigorously lobbied against the military’s repeal, knowing it would fundamentally change Americans’ view of gays, and they were correct. The legalization of gay marriage in the United States happened 10 or 20 years before anyone thought possible.

Another historic change happened in California in the aftermath of Proposition 187 in 1994. Written by the state’s Republican legislators and enthusiastically endorsed by Republican Governor Pete Wilson, the proposition banned children of the undocumented from attending public school or using subsidized health care. California Latinos haven’t voted Republican since, and no Republican has held statewide office in 10 years. California went from red to deep blue in half a generation.

Is the nation going to look back at the Trump campaign and see the historical significance? Could a landslide loss in November for Trump be the end of the White man’s control of American politics?

Is this Custer’s Last Stand?

Mr. Trump’s unlikely rise to the top of the Republican ticket doesn’t look so unlikely in retrospect. He and Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders tapped into a vein of national anger that has been grossly underestimated by both party’s establishments. Though both candidates have different bases, people from all walks of life feel like they are being robbed of the American Dream and being left behind.

Mr. Trump speaks the language of angry White men and legitimizes the angst they feel over losing “their” country. He practically screams about how we need to build a twenty-foot wall, not between us and Canada, from where terrorists have actually entered the United States, but between us and Mexico.

Before Mr. Trump took the political stage, the vision of a Black man in the Oval Office gave rise to White anger with the Tea Party, alt-right and White Lives Matter. The election of President Obama was the Siren call to action and Mr. Trump was their answer. These groups took the lead in clinching the Republican nomination for Mr. Trump.

The Tea Party has proven resilient these last six years and outlived its organizers. The alt-right has always existed in different forms and always will.

But will Trumpsters outlive a Trump defeat in November? Has he created a sustainable movement within the United States, and can the Republican Party survive that movement?

Six Degrees of Separation

Contemplating the current condition of Republicans made me think of the Whig Party. The Whigs were the other major political party along with the Democrats from 1833 until their demise in 1854. Four of the most forgettable presidents in American history hail from the Whig Party: William Harrison, Zachary Taylor, both of whom died in office, John Tyler, who was expelled from office, and Millard Fillmore, who served the last two years of Zachery Taylor’s term.

In the 1852 presidential campaign, instead of nominating incumbent President Fillmore as the Whig candidate, the nominee was war hero of the Mexican-American war, General Winfield Scott. Gen. Scott lost in a landslide to Democrat Franklin Pierce, who won 27 of the 31 states, including Gen. Scott’s home state of New Jersey.

A Whig Representative exclaimed, “We are slain. The party is dead—dead—dead!” Increasingly, Whigs realized that they had lost their base and party leaders either quit politics or changed parties.

The 2016 electoral map predictions for Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton look almost as bad. Most people would agree that if the Republican Party doesn’t adapt to the realities of the 21st century its future will be comparable to that of the Whigs.

While mulling over their similarities with the Republicans, I knew the Whigs produced a couple of American presidents. But what I did not appreciate was that the most well known and admired among them, Senator Henry Clay from Kentucky, was my great grandfather’s namesake, Henry Clay Tupper.

Kentucky Senator Clay was inducted as one of the greatest senators in American history, and was the Secretary of State under President John Adams. In between running for president, being Secretary of State and stints in Washington, he was a law professor at the Kentucky University. Tullius Cicero Tupper was his loyal student and Sen. Henry Clay wrote a letter of introduction for Tullius Tupper to fellow Whig Senator John Black in 1832, a letter still in the possession of my southern family members. The death of Henry Clay in 1852 was one of the events that lead to the downfall of the Whig Party.

Tullius Cicero Tupper settled down in Canton, Mississippi, married the daughter of a plantation owner, and named his first born son Henry Clay Tupper. Henry fought alongside his two brothers and his father, who was a Major General in the Civil War. By December of 1864, engaged in a pivotal battle, the South would end up losing, Henry was shot in the leg with the bullet passing through his calf and killing his horse. In the spring of 1865, Henry, having survived being shot several times and being a prisoner of war, accompanied General Johnston at Lee’s surrender.

Would it be too serendipitous to mention that Sen. Henry Clay was also shot in the calf and survived during a duel?

Having enough of the South, Henry Clay followed a brother to California and settled down and raised a family in Fresno. Our family has been in the Valley ever since.

Sitting on my mom’s bed in her master bedroom we spread out all the old Tupper photos and documents, recreating the family’s history. She showed me a portrait miniature of Elizabeth Johnson, Henry Clay Tupper’s wife, with a lock of her hair hidden in the back.

My mom said that no one believed that her grandfather actually fought in the Civil War and would say she must mean her great grandfather. But Henry Clay and Elizabeth had their youngest child, Sidney Tupper, when Henry was 56 years old. Sidney was my mom’s father and Pompa to me.

Mom and I took months going over family photographs and documents of the Tuppers, and then the Skellys and Regans on her mother’s side. I was lucky my mom was an only child and had lovingly stored and maintained all the family history. She in turn was lucky she had a daughter interested in writing it all down and who would also provide her with the next generation.

While my mom sees a bright future for the Tupper, Skelly and Regan families in her five grandchildren, I wonder – does the country see the same bright future for the Republican Party?

Clip This and Take It To The Polls!

The November 8th election is around the corner and there are 17 initiatives on the ballot. Do you know how you are going to vote? Here is an unbiased recap of the propositions.

Proposition 51: the California Public School Facility Bonds Initiative

A “yes” vote supports the state’s issuing $9 billion in bonds to fund improvement and construction of school facilities for K-12 schools and community colleges.

The measure is supported by both the California Democratic and Republican parties, the California Building Industry Association (BIA), the state Parent Teacher Association, the California Labor Federation, the League of Women Voters of California and the California Association of School Business Officials.

But it is opposed by Governor Brown. He has said that it is a “blunderbuss effort that promotes sprawl and squanders money that would be far better spent in low-income communities.”

The California legislative analyst and finance director estimate costs of $17.6 billion to pay off principal ($9 billion) and interest ($8.6 billion) on bonds over a period of 35 years. Annual payments would average $500 million.

Republicans are for the measure because they support the BIA. Democrats are for it because they almost always support bond measures. Gov. Brown is a fiscal conservative and thinks long and hard before spending Californian’s money.

I hate to punt on the first proposition, but I have no recommendation.

Proposition 52: Voter Approval to Divert Hospital Fee Revenue Dedicated to Medi-Cal

Prop. 52 would dedicate fees to pay for hospital care for the poor. Voting yes would make permanent the “hospital quality assurance fee” that’s been collected since 2009 on hospital stays, ranging from $145 to $618 a day.

Under Medicaid, which is known as Medi-Cal in California, the federal government matches the amount that the states put up to fund the program. Even with those matching funds, California hospitals say they lose money when providing indigent care.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Prop. 52 would indefinitely extend the hospital fee and would make sure the money isn’t diverted for other purposes. In 2011 some of the money was put into the state’s general fund.”

Republicans, Democrats, California Chamber of Commerce and the California Hospital Association support this initiative. Organized labor changed from against to neutral.

Vote yes on Prop 52.

Proposition 53: the California Voter Approval Requirement for Revenue Bonds above $2 Billion

This initiative will require voter approval before the state could decide to issue $2 billion or more in public infrastructure bonds. The voting public might believe that all bonds require their vote, but bonds funded by state revenue are not required to be voter-approved. The passage of this initiative will immediately jeopardize Governor Jerry Brown’s $17 billion Sacramento Bay Delta twin tunnels project and might put a stop to the $68 billion High-Speed Rail (HSR).

The twin tunnels were engineered to bypass the problematic Tracy pumps that reverse the flow of the river and kill fish. The tunnels were never voted on by the public. In addition, Gov. Brown is finding ways to creatively finance HSR that bypasses the public’s approval. Both of these projects obviously run over the $2 billion threshold and would have to stop until approved by the voters.

As much as Central Valley voters hate HSR, they should also take into consideration that practically every major player in state politics is also opposed to Proposition 53. The California Chamber of Commerce and state labor leaders, who seldom agree on anything, are aligned in opposition. So are the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and more than 50 other business and labor.

The California Chamber of Commerce said that passage of this proposition would mean less investment in much-needed infrastructure and encourage litigation. The chamber continued, “It also would have an impact on transportation, local school construction, UC and California State University projects, and impede the ability for emergency repairs to be made in the wake of a natural disaster.”

Vote no on Proposition 53.

Proposition 54, the Public Display of Legislative Bills Prior to Vote Proposition

A “yes” vote will prohibit the legislature from passing any bill until it has been in print and published on the Internet for 72 hours prior to the vote.

This proposition requires that every bill is published in print and online at least 72 hours before each house of the legislature can vote on it and requires that the legislature make audiovisual recordings of its public proceedings and publish the recordings online within 24 hours.

This proposition has received the endorsement from everyone from California Aware to the California Chamber of Commerce, creating a diverse group to rein in special interests and give voters more access to the legislative process

Vote yes on Proposition 53.

Proposition 56: Tobacco Tax Increase

A “yes” vote favors increasing the cigarette tax to $2.00 per pack. The tax would raise $1.4 billion and be used to fund health care, prevention programs and research.

If you want a loved one to cut down or quit smoking – vote yes.

Proposition 55: Extension of the Proposition 30 Income Tax Increase

This proposition would extend the personal income tax increases on incomes over $250,000 approved in 2012 for 12 more years in order to fund education and healthcare. Voting no would allow Proposition 30 to expire as intended in 2019.

Conservatives like to say that Gov. Brown never saw a tax he didn’t like. But Gov. Brown does not want to perpetuate the belief that once a tax is levied it will never go away.

Let’s dispel the myth that there is no such thing as a temporary tax and vote no on Proposition 55.

Proposition 57: Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial Requirements Initiative

A “yes” vote supports increasing parole and good behavior opportunities for felons convicted of nonviolent crimes and allowing judges, not prosecutors, to decide whether to try certain juveniles as adults in court.

Most law enforcement agencies in the Valley are against this proposition because they claim that violent criminals are wrongfully getting early release.

With or without this measure, violent criminals get out too early. Case in point is when Thong Vang, who spent 14 years in jail for raping three girls under 14 years old, was let out and shot two Fresno police officers at the entrance to the Fresno jail.

Because of overcrowding in prisons these criminals are going to be let out anyway so I punt on this proposition also.

Proposition 58: the Non-English Languages Allowed in Public Education Act

A “yes” vote would repeal most of 1998’s Proposition 227 that said unequivocally the voters wanted children with limited English skills taught in English. Prop. 227 was approved by 61% of the state’s voters almost two decades ago. The passage of Prop. 58 would allow non-English languages to again be used in public educational instruction.

Prop 58 requires schools to offer a structured English immersion program to English learners, based on what teachers and parents agree are the most effective instructional methods for those students. Schools, parents and educators support this initiative.

Vote Yes on Proposition 58.

Proposition 59: Overturn of Citizens United Act Advisory Question

Proposition 59 asks if voters want the state’s elected officials to take steps to try to reverse Citizens United. The proposition has been called “a significant tool” that is one piece of a much larger nationwide strategy. Colorado and Montana have already approved similar advisory measures and the state of Washington is voting on one in November.

Citizens United was a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that says corporations and unions have a 1st Amendment right to unlimited campaign spending. The decision has lead to special interests buying elections and keeping their donors’ identities secret.

Gov. Jerry Brown sent mixed signals about this initiative. He allowed the measure to get on the ballot without his signature, saying Citizens United was “wrongly decided” but also said he doesn’t like cluttering the ballot with advisory measures.

Prop. 59 is essentially an opinion poll that lacks authority to directly change the law. But it’s already on the ballot, so we should take advantage of it.

Vote Yes on Proposition 59

Proposition 60: Condoms in Pornographic Films Initiative

This initiative would require men to wear a condom during the filming of pornographic films. All you Tulare County men who don’t like wearing a condom while making a sex tape should vote no. For all you women who don’t want to get an STD while at work – Vote yes.

Proposition 61: California Drug Price Relief Act

For those in a hurry, I’ll just be quick. Big Pharma has spent $70 million to defeat this measure as of August 11th and there is nearly two months left. Enough said. Vote yes.

For those who want a little bit more detail, this initiative, if passed, would require state agencies to pay no more for medicines than the prices negotiated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. , The goal being to keep drug prices down for everyone. This motivation to get this initiative on the ballot sprung from the outrage of Mylan Pharmaceuticals hiking their prices on EpiPen from $57 to $700 for a two pack. The Epipen is a lifesaving device when someone has a severe allergic reaction.

Turing Pharmaceuticals’ Martin Shkreli, raised the price of a little-known drug, Daraprim, by 5,500% from $13.50 per tablet to $750 a pill. The drug is an anti-parasitic to combat toxoplaslmosis and malaria and mostly used by AIDS patients because of their suppressed immune system. The same drug is sold in Europe by the same company for about $25 for a pack of 30 pills.

Why do American Pharmaceuticals do it? Because they can. Vote yes.

Proposition 62: the Repeal of the Death Penalty Initiative

A “yes” vote supports repealing the death penalty. Life without the possibility of parole would become the maximum punishment for murder. As long as our justice system makes it better to be guilty and White than innocent and Black, the death penalty has to be repealed.

Proposition 63: the Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases and Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban Initiative

This initiative will ban the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines. A large-capacity ammunition magazine holds from 10 to 20 rounds of bullets. Does anyone really need 20 rounds of ammunition when deer hunting, shooting squirrels, doves or your husband?

No you don’t. Vote Yes.

Proposition 64: the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative also referred to as the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act”

A “yes” vote supports legalizing recreational marijuana and hemp under state law and establishing certain sales and cultivation taxes. The use of medical marijuana was legalized in California in 1998.

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, 60% of likely voters say they favor legalizing marijuana for recreational use. 37% of likely voters say they oppose marijuana legalization.

Those 60% most likely live in the major northern and southern cities. The 37% against legalization live in the Central Valley where pot grows take our water and increase violence. Legalization of recreational use hasn’t worked out so great in Colorado either in terms of crime and visits to the emergency room.

So if you own a vacation home in Marin, sit in your hot tub, and light up a doobie every weekend, then by all means vote yes. For those of us who live with the consequences of huge pot grows that are not going away with the passage of this legislation, it doesn’t really matter how you vote. Legalization of pot is the future and Prop. 64 is going to pass.

Proposition 65: the Dedication of Revenue from Disposable Bag Sales to Wildlife Conservation Fund Initiative

This initiative is just too cute by half. This proposition was put on the ballot by the plastic bag industry to keep plastic bags legal in California. It says that a part of the cost of their sale would go to a special fund administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board.

“It was put on the ballot strictly to confuse voters,” said a spokesperson of Save the Bay. “There’s no environmental advocacy behind it.”

Vote no on Proposition 65

Proposition 66: the Death Penalty Procedures Initiative. Supporters refer to the measure as the “Death Penalty Reform and Savings” Initiative.

A “yes” vote sends prisoners on death row to their executions faster to save the tax payer money.

Refer to Proposition 62 for my recommendation and vote no.

Proposition 67: the Plastic Bag Ban Veto Referendum

This initiative would prohibit large grocery stores and pharmacies from providing plastic single-use carryout bags and ban small grocery stores, convenience stores and liquor stores from doing so the following year. It would allow single-use plastic bags for meat, bread, produce, bulk food and perishable items.

Plastic bags were already banned in California in the fall of 2014. But the plastic bag industry thinks they know better than us cow pokes and paid millions to get a repeal of the law on the November ballot. Voting yes will uphold Senate Bill 270 that banned plastic bags in the first place.

Vote yes on Prop 67.

The Question Is…

Will the tenor of these initiatives influence the outcome of the general election? This year’s batch of initiatives ranging from the repeal of the death penalty to the legalization of pot will most likely cancel each other out.

Results are going to come down to one pivotal issue–Mr. Trump. California’s heavy Latino population is furious, but will they come out to vote? Democratic voter registration is increasing, but again, will they bother to vote? Mr. Trump has a loyal base who always votes, but do they have the numbers to win?

While contemplating the intrigue of this election, why not attend the presentation being held by the League of Women Voters? The LWV is holding a presentation of the initiatives October 18 at noon at the restaurant Left of Center in Visalia. Reservations are appreciated. 734-6501.

The League is also available to local clubs that would like a presentation on the 17 ballot measures facing voters in November. The LWV has taken a neutral stand and is focused on educating the voting public.”The Speakers Bureau will take requests to present a program beginning September 19 to November 4.  For information call 734-6501 or [email protected]

2 thoughts on “Political Fix (15 September, 2016)

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  1. Regarding the propositions, you state that the recap is unbiased. I beg to differ, not only are you biased you are not complete with your recap. Proposition 63 is more than just large capacity magazines. Magazines larger than 10 rounds are already banned. Proposition 63 will make law abiding citizens criminals without protecting anybody.

  2. I should have made it more clear that I was being facetious when I said it is unbiased. Please refer to proposition 60 as evidence. I was more clear in the 2014 election about the fact that I am no expert on the propositions and sometimes its very serious but others are tongue and cheek.

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