Published Feb 4, 2008

Despite the fact that, through some bureaucratic snafu, I appear to be unregistered to vote, I’m going to make my usual elections endorsements here. So, if you vote like I say you should, then you’ll make up for the fact that I can’t vote! Especially if you don’t usually vote. So, go out, vote early, and vote often!

Presidential Candidate

If you’re registered as a Republican, please vote McCain. It would be nice to have a man of character and fierce conviction in the White House for a change. If you’re a Democrat, then vote Clinton. I know this is a controversial choice, but I do believe that Iraq is the most serious issue our country must confront in the next Presidential term, and I think that Hillary is the one who can do it. Frankly, whatever solution we choose in Iraq will be awful for the Iraqis. Hillary, like Nixon, has the strength of will to do awful things. Obama strikes me as too ethical. But, to be honest, it’s practically a toss-up.

Also, if you’re a registered Independent, then you can ask for a Democrat ballot. Don’t forget that.

Proposition 91

Vote No.

Proposition 92

A truly crack-addled plan to index community college funding to something other than use, while setting the fees ridiculously low. Low community college fees do not equal meaningful education reform, or even solve the problems of individuals who need additional education or want to go after their Associate’s degrees. No.

Proposition 93

Rather than stating specifically how many years a legislator can spend in each house of California’s government, sets a total time that can be split between both houses. Makes much more sense, since who knows what the right balance is? I’m entirely against term limits, but this strikes me as reasonable compromise. Yes.

Propositions 94-97

These are the Indian Gaming initiatives. Here’s how I understand it: Pete Wilson negotiated a deal to give Indians the right to have casinos on their reservations. Those agreements have not expired; however, California is now broke, and we seem to wish that we’d asked the Indians for more money. So, our Governator went back to the Indians and asked for more money. And he got some! Just not a lot. And some people say “hey, they should give us more money!” And my question is: what makes us think we could negotiate a better deal? I mean, here’s the basic factors:

  • They have the right to have ongoing gambling
  • They have a ton of existing square footage and slots
  • We can’t do anything to take away what they have

So, we’re supposed to negotiate with what leverage? The people who negotiated the deals don’t seem to think that they could have done much better. What evidence is there that we could get a better outcome?

Also, I think us white men have kind of used up our “renegotiate treaty with Indians free” cards. I’m just sayin’. Yes.

Measure S

If you live in LA County, then you get to vote on whether or not we apparently cut our telecommunication taxes while guaranteeing more money for emergency services. While this sounds like a boondoggle, apparently it’s well planned-out and actually closes some loopholes that might result in all of our communications taxes getting thrown out. So we need this. Vote Yes.


nice endorsements and recommendations — and glad to see we agree on most issues. Hil & Bill ‘08!!!

McCain’s “character” is a fabrication. This is the man who called Falwell an “agent of intolerance” in ‘00, but then went and pandered to him in ‘08 after he realized he couldn’t be president without doing that. And he’s the man who said he’d be happy to keep us in Iraq for a hundred years. And flip-flopped on the Bush tax-cuts and the budget. And so on. The media is weirdly fixated on him, because he talks a good game.

I think any person of conscience should be aiming to ensure that no Republican occupies the White House in ‘09. As such, I think Obama, who has done very well with independents and Republicans in the races where such crossover is allowed, is a far better candidate. Hillary would make a good president, but against McCain, she will, I think, lose. I mean, her argument is supposed to be “experience”? First of all, I don’t buy it, and second, she loses that argument against McCain. Obama has the ability to create “Obama Republicans”, like Reagan had “Reagan Democrats”. He also has driven up turnout among youth and minorities — those people will mostly not turn out for Hillary, especially not against McCain (who will get a fair bit of support from Hispanics).

Regarding the gaming compacts, you should’ve read the analysis, which was very detailed. Or the detailed arguments against from the California Tax Reform Association (the head of which is a friend of mine). We in fact had plenty of leverage — the tribes wanted to expand gaming, and were not allowed to without new compacts.

First of all, let me make it clear that my endorsement of McCain came only because some subset of my readers, which I know to be greater than zero, only has the option to vote Republican. I would under no other circumstances endorse any Republican candidate for anything without them explicitly and publicly adopting progressive views on race and class (remarkably, Huckabee has come quite some distance towards doing this; in either case, the party’s other policies are unacceptable). That said, come on, McCain is obviously better for the country than Huckabee or Romney (thank goodness that guy’s gone).

I will write later about how shocked I am at the common progressive viewpoint that we should take our troops out of Iraq. I think we should, too, but that’s only because I’m comfortable having the blood of millions of innocent Iraqis on my hands. I don’t think Obama is either, in the final analysis. I think Hillary could be.

I would be thrilled if Obama created Obama Republicans. However, all of those Republican moderates who Clinton got? Doesn’t seem to have made much difference in ‘00. So I’m not sure what value to place on that without overall changes in the parties.

It’s funny, I read the PeteRates summary, as well as a bunch of other information, and it just didn’t sink in that the tribes had initiated this conversation by asking for more gambling. But of course that makes sense. Nonetheless, I’m inclined to be skeptical of the assertion that we had a ton more negotiating leverage than we used. For another tribe to start up gambling, they’d have to borrow hundreds of millions up-front to build large facilities, market those facilities, and get them up and running, then operate them for years in order to pay back the initial investment. Is that really going to be easy to fund in the current environment? Are there other tribes that are geographically convenient enough to plausibly do such a thing? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I bet you do!

Historically, gaming of all kids (lottery, casinos, etc) is damn near recession-proof. (This article analyzes that idea, and says that while things are a little complicated, it’s basically true that revenues to the gaming industry simply did not dip during the last two recessions. They didn’t grow the way they’d been growing during the booms, but they didn’t dip.) This is probably because some large portion of gaming income comes from addicts. Drugs aren’t a particularly cyclical business either. (Or at least, not with the economy; there are some boom/bust cycles that happen due to supply shocks.) So yes, casinos are one of the few things I would expect to be able to get financed.

The other thing to recognize is that with the four tribes wanting to expand their facilities, they will be costing local gov’ts extra money in terms of developing road and utility capacity, which they have generally not adequately paid back. If we must have gaming at all, letting it be a little more spread out would probably be good.

BTW, Obama has said he’d get us out of Iraq in order to refocus on Afghanistan.

As for whoever gets us out having blood on their hands — I deny your premise. And you should too; it’s a false right-wing frame. Bush and the Republicans have that blood on their hands already. The next president is faced with a choice: get out and have chaos break out, or stay on suffering a slow bleed (and wasting literally trillions of dollars) and then still have chaos break out whenever we leave. If you can’t avert a catastrophe that has been caused by somebody else, only delay it, you can hardly be blamed when it happens. If the highwayman says, “Stand and deliver, or I shall have to kill thee, and then thous shalt be a murderer!” we don’t have to accept his logic.