Sunday, December 21, 2008

Peter Camejo Was Right - California "Dysfunctional"

Peter Camejo, California's Great Green Prophet, was right.

The Los Angeles Times solemnly declares that "California government is arguably more dysfunctional now than it was when [Governor Gray] Davis, a Democrat, got the boot. The budget deficit has grown... Partisan gridlock grips the Legislature... as the state plunges into crisis."

It's five, long, bloody, wasted years late, but late, I guess, is better than never.

Peter Miguel Camejo



Click above to hear Peter's summary statement at the 1st Recall Debate on national television, September 3, 2003. Hear the Green Party candidate's prophetic remarks on budgets, fair taxes, universal health care, full equality, and his dream of seeing California "become the world leader in renewable energy"

"Look at this debate today. Do you really want to go back to when there's only two people allowed in them, where you hear the same points of view over and over again? We have a two-hundred year, dysfunctional, money-dominated, winner-take-all system"

-- Peter Camejo, September 3, 2003.

Published in the Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2008
Is California Too Unwieldy to Govern?
By Evan Halper and Michael Rothfeld

...But California government is arguably more dysfunctional now than it was when Davis, a Democrat, got the boot. The budget deficit has grown so huge that a shutdown of government services looms. Partisan gridlock grips the Legislature, and lawmakers bicker as the state plunges into crisis.

"The recall absolutely hasn't helped at all," said Gary Jacobson, a professor of political science at UC San Diego.

The state's latest collision course with insolvency has renewed the question in the Capitol: Has California become ungovernable?

...Others say this nation-state is so oversized, Balkanized and polarized that it is destined for dysfunction no matter who is in charge. They cite its influx of immigrants, its constant tensions over water supply and its large, self-contained regions that bear little resemblance to one another...

...Some of the political leaders who for years have been engaged in efforts -- largely unsuccessful -- to make state government run better fret that the current dysfunction creates a fertile environment for more shortsighted ballot measures...

Commenting on the hoopla over Barack Obama's election, David Sirota wrote that "America's only authentic national religion" is what he has dubbed "Presidentialism:"

the worship of the president as an all-powerful, all-knowing deity who is the only important political actor in our country.

Even now, with California facing a complete breakdown, Democrats and Republicans, and "liberal" and "conservative" intellectuals are obsessed with foreign affairs and Washington gossip. I confess to a sneaking envy for the good people of Illinois. At least the adventures of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich got people talking about state and local government in Illinois (only because of the connection to Obama).

All politics is local.

Where Were You During the California Crisis of 2001-2003?

I was living and working in San Jose, nearing the end of my twenty-year career as a computer programmer. Peter was the only one speaking "Truth to Power" about both the Internet crash and California's phony electric power crisis, Rolling blackouts; huge bailouts; massive "high tech" corporate fraud. Santa Clara County, s single county with barely a million people, lost 200,000 jobs. "For Sale" signs sprouted like mushrooms among the high-tech campuses. In 2002, Sobrato Development opened a gleaming blue-glass office tower on Almaden Boulevard in downtown San Jose that was unoccupied. It stood there as 17-story monument to the hype and the lies of the Internet bubble-blowers.

The amazing thing was in the One-Party Democratic San Francisco Bay Area nobody who was "somebody" gave a damn. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Cisco Systems Corporation) and Anna Eschoo (D-Hewlett-Packard Corporation) with the support of their wholly-owned subsidiaries, i.e., the South Bay Labor Council, happily went about serving the interests of their masters. Big league journalists like Mr. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, flew in, sat at the feet of the "Great Men" from Stanford University, kissed the rings of the gods such as John Chambers of Cisco Systems, Craig Barrett of Intel, Steve Jobs of Apple, and Carly Fiorina of HP and then filed a gushing story how the rich needed to get richer and the poor needed to get poorer.

Doesn't anybody remember this?

In 2001, California was plunged into an unprecedented energy crisis: rolling blackouts, soaring power bills, and Democratic Governor Gray Davis' panicked administration. Turned out the Golden State was being systematically ripped-off. Documents and audiotapes proved Houston-based Enron Corporation asked power companies to take plants offline - in order to make more money. In one taped phone call, an Enron employee celebrated the fact that a massive forest fire had shut down a transmission line:

ENRON EMPLOYEE 2: Now, the magical word of the day is "Burn, baby, burn."
ENRON EMPLOYEE 1: What's happening?
ENRON EMPLOYEE 2: There's a fire under the core line. This will delay us from 45 to 2,100.
ENRON EMPLOYEE 1: Really. Burn, baby, burn!

Doesn't anybody remember this?

Less than a decade later, with a terrifying spike in oil prices, the energy greedheads and carbon pushers applied the "shock doctrine" to stampede Californians into accepting offshore oil drilling and new drilling in old wells in places like inner-city Los Angeles, even though experts agree this will have no impact on the global marketplace for oil.

Five, long, wasted years Democrats and Republicans piled more debt, fiddled over water, denied the impact of climate change on their car-based development model, raised taxes as "fees," and continued coddling "Big Boys."

ONE-PARTY REPUBLICAN SAN DIEGO was devastated by wildfires in 2003. Developers and their wholly owned "conservative" county supervisors, ignored warnings about development in unincorporated areas. San Diego County had 5 percent fewer fire personnel than comparably populated areas and no county fire department.

In 2007 when wild fires blazed again, there was just one new city fire station. A ballot proposal to boost taxes for fire protection, of course, failed. Meanwhile, Republican "conservative" Mayor Dick Murphy resigned in disgrace and Republican "conservative" Congressman Randy Cunningham pleaded guilty to accepting bribes.

ONE-PARTY DEMOCRATIC LOS ANGELES, where my wife and I live today, has a grossly incompetent government presiding over bad schools, a shuttered King/Drew hospital, cops mishandling evidence, and a "perp parade" of unethical leaders. Plans for solar energy may be just a "greenwashed" boondoggle. In my African-American neighborhood, any criticism of Democrats on any issue is instantly condemned by their "Amen chorus" of intellectuals as a racist attack on "Our Community" in general.

Democrats and Republicans govern badly, but they know how to divide and rule us based on skin color, sex, or whether we live in town or country. Ensconced in gerrymandered one-party districts, they think they can hustle us forever.

There is a "hole", an empty space, where there ought to be an intelligent, grown-up, no-nonsense opposition to big city Democrats. But what are voters like me to do when Republicans are a joke and forty years of Republican "White Backlash" conservatism means everything written and said about African-Americans like me and my Black and Latino neighbors is based on stereotypes. Decades of Republican dominance has left us without even a language for reform. Thus, for example, all talk of "education reform" must genuflect to Republican hatred of public school teachers and the children of "Those People" in public schools with "reformers" absurdly holding up places like "conservative" San Diego as models of "good government."

A plague on both their houses!

Peter Camejo was right.

No comments: