Friday, October 10, 2003

Arnold the Republican

The California recall is over, and all of us living in this great land of fruits and nuts can sigh a big relief that this thing did not last longer than was originally expected.

I was against the recall, and I supported Gray Davis, but it certainly wasn't because I thought Davis was an exceptional governor. The fact of the matter was that I disagreed with Davis on many different issues. If someone would have asked me a year ago that'd I'd be spending a lot of time defending Gray Davis, I would have told 'em that they were out of their freakin' mind! The recall effort, however, changed all of that. I saw a blatant power grab by a group of crybaby Republicans. Gray Davis committed no crime worthy of a recall, and that made me very, very angry.

There were a lot of reasons why I thought Arnold Schartzenegger would be a terrible governor. Any candidate that refuses to engage in proper debate doesn't deserve to win any political office. I also don't want another politician that has deep ties with Enron or other greedy corporation that has blatantly sodomized the American people. Then, there were all those stories of Arnold praising Hitler, goose-stepping to Nazi propaganda films by Leni Riefenstahl. Arnold was a handful, and I was deadset against his candidacy.

For better or worse, the people of California have chosen Arnold to be the next governor. Rather than dwell on the miserable things that Arnold may bring to the governorship, I decided to consider the positive things that Mr. Schwarzenegger may bring to California.

Here's what I came up with:

1) As Arnold has actually admitted that he enjoyed smoking marijuana as a recreational drug, perhaps there's hope that the draconian drug laws in California can be reformed. Prison incarceration takes up a massive portion of the California budget, and many of these prisoners are serving time for non-violent drug offenses. No politician wants to look soft on crime, and it will take serious leadership to address laws like the "three strikes" bill that imposed virtual life sentences for a lot of non-violent criminals. Just as it took a Republican named Nixon to deal with Communist China, a Democrat named Clinton to come with a fiscally responsible federal budget, maybe a Republican named Schwarzenegger to take on a topic that many would consider political suicide.

2) With Arnold in office, maybe Republicans can quit trying to legislate morality for the masses. I am so sick of holier-than thou hypocrites pretending that their values are superior. Some of us folks happen to enjoy mind-altering substances and indulging in kinky sex. If Arnold the Republican can get elected despite being completely open about his dope-smoking perverted ways, then maybe people can just admit that some personal habits are just that. It should make absolutely no difference what one's sexual preferences are, or what medicines one takes, as long they are not endangering the lives of others.

3) Looking at Arnold's official website, it mentions that he is in favor of a more open government. An article in The Sacramento Bee, it mentions that as governor, Arnold would not sign any bill that has not received a public hearing in both houses of the Legislature. Schwarzenegger supported one pending measure that would put open-government protections in the state constitution, but said he would push to expand it to the Legislature. One of my biggest gripes with Davis was his emphasis on closed door meetings with utility companies. I love this idea that Arnold has embraced, and I hope it can expanded upon.

4) Hydrogen-powered cars are a great idea, and I'm glad to see that Arnold has proposed more development in this area. Arnold has mentioned that he wants to create "hydrogen highways" with hydrogen fueling stations every 20 miles on most of the major California freeways by 2010. President Bush also proposed more development of commercial hydrogen power, but the likelihood of that actually happening during his administration is like capturing the Loch Ness monster for an episode of Meet the Press. It sounds great, but somehow I doubt it's actually going to happen. I hope I'm wrong.

5) It should be fairly obvious by now that the Bush administration has done everything it can to punish the state of California. It hated the assortment of environmental laws we've enacted, and it did everything it could to embarrass the Democratic governor. With the close alliance of Enron executives within the official energy commission, the Bush administration did everything in its power to present the state government in the worst possible light with deliberately high energy prices. Federal funding for the mandated Homeland Security measures has been deliberately slow, and the people of California have suffered as a result of these manipulations. With Arnold in office, I'm sure the Bush administration will go out of it's way to demonstrate why it's good to have a republican in office. While such blatant grandstanding will be a pathetic ploy to sway potential voters, California will ultimately benefit from greater attention by the Bush administration.

6) Comedians are going to have a field day with Arnold in office. He's an entertaining character whose escapades will provide many hours of great material for late night television. Cartoonists will have a lot fun drawing this steroid-pumped muscleman, and comedians all over the country will try to replicate Arnold's distinctive Austrian accent.

So yes, there can be a few good things about having a Republican governor. This will be very interesting...

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E.P. Friday, October 10, 2003