Death Penalty Winding Down

Last week with the news that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was stepping down from the bench I made note of on issue history will long record about the man.

His continuing criticism of the death penalty in the nation places him in that ethical crowd who may not prevail in full at the time they serve, but make huge contributions to the causes they fight for. I believe Breyer will be in the same fine historical company as Congressman John Quincy Adams, who after being president, sat in Congress and continually hammered away at slavery.

Another step is now being taken in California to stop the barbaric practice of the death penalty.

Governor Gavin Newsom had already placed a moratorium on executions, but now is taking great strides to dismantle what had been–most regrettably–the largest death row in the nation. The governor has ordered that all condemned inmates on death row be moved to other prisons within two years.

With a concept modeled alongside the desire to turn a weapon into a plow comes the California move to convert the death row–after those inmates are moved–into rehabilitation units, That is a solid victory for the many who advocate for an end to the death penalty.

California last carried out an execution in 2006. I trust that was the last one. Period.

I do understand, and desire justice be brought for those who commit crimes, but I fail to understand how a government that forbids killing among its citizens should then be in the business of killing on the taxpayer’s dime.  There is just no logic to the thirst for such vengeance.

Placing someone in prison for life is the only reasonable way to proceed for those who commit the ultimate crime in our society.  Then allow for God to be the final judge on the matter.  The government should not be in the business of taking a life.

The news today from California is proof that a continuing drumbeat of advocacy about a matter that cuts to the core of who we are as a nation can produce positive results. California will be merging its condemned inmates into the general prison population with no expectation of execution.

And so it goes.

Gov. Gavin Newsom Wins, GOP Whining Showcases What They Are

If one wishes to understand what is wrong with American politics, or what has happened to the Republican Party only needs to look far west in the nation.

When California Governor Gavin Newsom demanded that the public adhere to some basic rules of the road so as to combat a deadly virus that was impacting health professionals and decimating the economy some Republicans thought they had an opening so to play partisan politics. When Newsom acted in his personal life without regard for his own mandates conservatives were quick to make a point of the mistake. Knowing that there would be enough chuckleheads they could persuade to make a pandemic into a partisan attack conservatives went for the big play.

Or what they thought could be a big play.

Instead, the recall election Republicans orchestrated once again demonstrated, not only to voters in the Golden State but nationwide, that they are void of morals, scruples, decency, and most assuredly common sense. During a pandemic–now in its fourth wave with a deadly variant placing young children into intensive care units–conservatives who wanted to win a recall race ranted about promising to swiftly roll back sweeping government orders.

There is no doubt that Newsom should have been more mindful of his personal actions, not only for the political image they created, but more importantly as health safety must be issue number one. During a pandemic, leaders must lead. All the time.

Having said that, however, a lapse of judgment does not in any way warrant a recall election!

But thinking that Newsom would be weakest at a time when many in California are weary of masks and mandates, and wanting to somehow show strength after the national spanking the GOP took for pushing Trump, Republicans cranked up a recall election.

The cast of characters who showed up, wanting to be the next governor, was a sorry joke.

Republican businessman John Cox, who ran and lost against Newsom in 2018, proved he just likes to be annihilated in public. Well, I guess some are into that type of thing. I am not here to judge. But considering Newsom defeated him with a 61.9% share of the vote, which was greater than any Democratic candidate for governor in state history might have been a hint of what was going to happen again for Cox.

Or any other candidate not tethered to electoral sanity.

But when it comes to crazy wrapped in GOP bunting nothing in California came close to Larry Elder. What the hell is wrong with him? His campaign left the tracks early and then picked up speed with an endless supply of idiotic comments so it could crash more dramatically into reality Tuesday night.

“At the state level, I’m not going to require any kind of public worker to wear masks, any kind of public worker to have a vaccine. I think that’s an assault on freedom”.

Without a doubt, Elder was the absolute epitome of stupidly playing a dangerous game with the lives of California voters during a pandemic.

All this underscores that the Republican Party no longer is driven by think tanks, large policy ideas, or a desire to connect with the needs of the majority of the electorate. Instead, they race about making every effort to be as shallow and deplorable as the base of the party from which they need money and votes.

The math was on the side of Newsom for a couple of weeks as data from the roughly 8 million mail ballots returned in the election, and as reported by newspapers in California, showed Democrats had voted in greater numbers than their share of the electorate. That was very important news heading into Election Day.

But there is another reason that we need to rejoice all over the nation about this win for Governor Newsom. The fact is that the California Republican Party cannot hope to win the governorship in a regular election. They need to game the system, play underhanded cards, and act without regard for the sensibilities that our institutions require for sound governance to occur. Worse, we have now seen in rather horrible detail how low they will go to even undermining public health so to try and win an election.

We have seen the Republican Party for what they are. It was ugly.

It was soundly rejected, however, by the majority of voters.

That was the only fitting ending for such lunacy.

And so it goes.

Lunacy Lives In Recall Efforts Against California Governor Gavin Newsom

All one needs to know about the recall efforts against California Governor Gavin Newsom is to look at who his main challenger is with about two weeks to go until the statewide balloting.

The reason for the recall efforts is aimed at those who do not like the fact masks are needed to control the pandemic and vaccines are proven to stem the spread of the virus.  

One of the political jokers is Republican John Cox who opposes California’s Covid-19 vaccine mandates and masks requirements. Playing to the three-thumb crowd and trying to get cozy with the lowest educated in the state is not, it should be noted, a sign of pending leadership. I add, as a note to my readers that Cox was handed his backside on a platter after Newsom defeated him at the polls in 2018. Cox could not even get 39% from the electorate!

But it is Larry Elder, an angry conservative talk-show host, who gets the headlines and is rising among the hordes who want to become governor in this most bizarre election. An election, I note, that is driven due to science demanding certain remedies to tackle a virus.

Elder is very problematic for women given his tongue lashings he has handed out over the years. It does not help he was also accused of domestic abuse.  His waving a gun several years ago in front of a woman who was then to be his wife underscores his disdain for women. Well, people actually.

Elder’s stand on the issues places him in the cheap seats at a comedy show. He would repeal Newsom’s Covid-19 mask and vaccine mandates for state workers, who must either be vaccinated or tested weekly for the virus. He opposes the minimum wage, cashless bail, and defunding the police. He has said he will suspend the California Environmental Quality Act.

If one looks logically at the electorate and past outcomes in the regions of the state that must turn out for Newsom it then appears the recall will fail.  There is current polling data to show that to be the case.

The poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found just 39% of 1,080 likely California voters would vote to recall Newsom, effectively unchanged from the 40% of those surveyed in May and in March, with 58% opposed. And nearly half said they either wouldn’t vote for — or were undecided on — the 46 candidates on the ballot hoping to replace him.  It needs noting that the polls—and I have been following them over the past months–are clear that the support for the recall remains at less than a 50% position—and in most polls far less than that half.

The news this week is favorable to the Newsom forces as the mail ballot returns so far show that more than twice as many Democrats have voted than Republicans and that liberal areas of the state such as the Bay Area have the highest rates of return. Nearly 4.7 million Californians have cast ballots. The returns show that Democrats are turning out in high numbers–2.5 million have cast ballots, compared with more than 1.1 million Republicans.

That does not mean the foot is to be removed from the pedal as there must be a relentless drive for votes to ensure a troglodyte does not somehow sneak into the seat of power in Sacramento.

Angry voters who shout and spit–especially during a pandemic–are not ready to know how to use power. They also are not very bright. It would have been far more strategic to have waited for the regular election cycle and found a strong Republican to mount a sane race for Governor.

Instead, California voters are being told by the motley crew of ‘would-be’s’ they too can resemble Florida and Mississippi!

And so it goes.

“What The Hell Is Wrong With Us?”

Another typical day in America. Another mass shooting.

This time the gun violence that grabs the headlines concerns a worker at the Silicon Valley Transportation Authority rail yard in San Jose, California. He was upset about something, that seems obvious, and it goes without saying that he had easy access to a gun. He took his outrage out on those he somehow felt were the root cause for his anger. He killed eight people, injured others, and then killed himself.

If you are keeping track of the mass shootings (one in which four or more people are killed or injured (not including the shooter) in our country you will know that this is the 232nd mass shooting this year, and let me add this is just the 146th day of the year. All the data can be located at Gun Violence Archive.

Today the most honest and pertinent statement about this violence came from California Governor Gavin Newsom who rightly responded with frustration and anger.

“What the hell is going on in the United States of America? What the hell is wrong with us?”

It is the type of question that many have asked repeatedly over the years as the mass shootings, and the daily death toll from gun violence mounts.

“When are we going to come to grips with this? When are going to put down our arms, literally and figuratively, our politics, the stale rhetoric, finger-pointing, all the hand-wringing, consternation that produces nothing except more fury and frustration, more scenes like this repeated over and over and over again.”

I have an answer.

When the ones bought and owned by the NRA are sent packing and the sensible people in this nation stand up and absolutely demand gun control legation be passed.

Another Quarantine Cure Via Yorba Linda, California

As many of us continue to follow the professional medical advice to prevent the spread of COVID–and now the variants–I keep seeking out new ways to explore the world from home. If one has many curiosities about life this pandemic was certainly not a reason for boredom. While it may have created many consequences, producing boredom in our home is not one of them. James and I picked great quarantine partners and this type of ‘trip’ is proof of what can be enjoyed on the information highway.

Knowing that the pandemic would prevent access to tours of President Nixon’s white farmhouse birthplace, which needs noting is a National Historic Landmark and the Nixon Library’s crown jewel, has now turned into a 360-degree virtual online experience. Now you, too, can look into the Nixons’ living room and peek through the family’s kitchen.

We all must remain vigilant as we await the vaccinations.

California Fires Showcased With Stark Front Pages Of Morning Newspapers

The front pages of the newspapers today in California look as if a movie set has gone angry and grown across large swaths of the state.

Why We All Need To Thank California!

Rolling back climate changing policies is one of the most damaging long-term impacts that history will record of the term Donald Trump was in the Oval Office.   To deny not only what scientists worldwide have documented and proven to be happening to our planet, but also to pretend one’s eyes are lying on a daily basis is just absurd.  Yet that is what this White House is doing. Thankfully, not everyone is singing from the same hymnal when it comes to auto emissions.

At the heart of this fight is a most sensible pollution standard, put in place during President Obama’s administration, (and the last time this blogger was able to place the word president before the officeholder) which requires automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, cutting carbon dioxide pollution by about six billion tons over the lifetime of all the cars affected by the regulations, about the same amount the United States produces in a year.

Trump, of course, wants to roll back and significantly weaken this requirement.  Some of his ‘reasoning’ is due to business costs to car-makers.  There is also the fact Trump has a deep disdain for the first African-American president, and wishes to undermine all of Obama’s accomplishments.  Recall that this auto requirement remains the single largest policy enacted by the United States to reduce planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere traps the sun’s heat and is a major contributor to climate change.  That is a scientific fact.

Now to the politics of this fight as four of the world’s largest automakers have struck a deal with California to reduce automobile emissions, siding with the state in its fight with Trump.  Honda, Ford, Volkswagen and BMW (as a Mini convertible driver I was most pleased to see BMW’s name) have joined arms on this matter, and this morning I heard it reported Mercedes-Benz will do the same.  With such efforts by car-makers there will be no way for Trump to impose a lack of science and logic into a regulation.  When market share is looked at regarding those who will not relent on fuel emission standards it means 40% of all cars sold in the United States.  The law of economics wins.

We all need to say thanks to California.  First, and foremost, that state’s political leadership took the needs of the planet into consideration.  They placed science and the consumers up ahead of politics and a narcissistic person sitting in the White House.

And then to add frosting to the cake they showed Donald Trump, on a signature issue of his administration, to be impotent.

And so it goes.

Will California Republicans Move Away From Trump?

The 2018 election left California Republicans in dismal shape, with no statewide officeholders, just seven of 53 U.S. House seats, less than a quarter of all state legislative seats and third-place status in voter registration behind independents and Democrats. It was so bad for the GOP in California that they lost every statewide race by more than 20 points. So where do they head now, and how do they get there?

First up a new party chairperson. With the question being does an embrace of Trump help or hurt the GOP?

The candidates are Jessica Patterson, who runs a candidate recruitment and training program; Travis Allen, a former state assemblyman and unsuccessful 2018 gubernatorial candidate; and Steve Frank, a longtime party activist.

Allen and Frank want to lean in to the president’s messaging; Patterson would prefer to focus on local issues rather than the White House.

“It’s about time we have a Republican Party that stands for our values, our ideals and supports our Republican president.” said Allen, who argues too many of the party’s candidates have become “Republican-lite,” meaning they don’t fully embrace a conservative agenda.

Patterson’s take: “We are not looking to nationalize our message here in California. We’re going to be super-focused on talking about issues that are important to Californians.”

In other words stay clear of the one who allowed for a total failure for the GOP in California in 2018.

We will know this weekend.