Tuesday, September 30, 2003
The SF Chronicle today reports that Huffington is seriously considering leaving the race and urging her voters to support Bustamante. If the CNN Poll is to be believed--which the article notes is based on some ridiculous assumptions--Huffington may have no good options. She's doing the right thing. Whatever anyone wants to say about her, she's gone into the campaign to play a role, and she has the strength of character to stay with the bottom-line--to empower progressives. That's something real.
posted by Zentronix @ 8:14 AM
Monday, September 29, 2003
The CNN/Gallup Poll showing a 65-35 pro-recall sentiment is deconstructed in this LA Times article, which also shows Huffington and Camejo reconsidering what they are planning to do now that Bustamante seems to be losing a lot of ground to Schwarzenegger. Again the poll highlights "likely" voters, which is at best a dubious proposition in this historic race. At the same time, there is no doubt that Arnold did better than anyone expected in last week's debates. What all that says about likely voters in California is not gratifying.
If Camejo and Huffington drop out of the race, it's not likely to help Bustamante unless there is some sort of endorsement going on. It's something that Huffington appears to be giving signals over, if not Camejo. At the same time, the margin may not be enough to help Bustamante. If Dems want to win the no vote and Bustamante as their second choice, they will need to focused right now on turning out progressives and people of color.
A sidenote: last night's debate was an historic Asian American-hosted debate in Sacramento, but none of the mainstream venues I saw carried anything regarding how the candidates would speak to Asian American issues. Should I be surprised? No. Am I angry about it? Hell yeah. Free James Yee.
posted by Zentronix @ 5:18 AM
Sunday, September 28, 2003
Today, Matier and Ross reported that Bustamante seems to have stalled with voters and the race is coming down to a referendum between Davis and Arnie. They also say that numbers haven't shifted fast enough for Davis to feel good about surviving the recall.
Of course, these surveys are based largely on "likely" voters, and the interesting thing about the recall so far has been how much interest it has generated, evidenced by what everyone agrees is a higher than normal voter registration.
To me, the Prop 54 ads have been pretty wack as well--naked ads for Bustamante that don't shed much light on how bad Prop 54 actually is. At the time, it was announced it seemed like a good idea. Now I worry that the growing negative s for Bustamante may also affect voter's perceptions of 54.
posted by Zentronix @ 11:48 AM
Friday, September 26, 2003
Pour out a little for Edward Said, the brilliant Palestinian intellectual , who has been a profound influence on me as a young Asian Americanist and a hip-hop generation writer. Especially in these confusing times, Said was always a voice of clarity and truth. Respect. Rest in peace.
posted by Zentronix @ 10:08 AM
Thursday, September 25, 2003
ARNIE VS. ARIANNA
The first, and likely, only debate of the top 5 candidates in the race turned into a demolition derby between The Hummer and The Hybrid.
Arianna played anti-heroine--getting all up in the candidates faces. Arnie showed his inner macho airhead by taking Arianna's bait, and brutalized her all night with consultant-tested one-liners and one apparently off-the-cuff retort that could cost him all the Democratic soccer moms Maria has been diligently trying to assemble for him.
From the start, Arianna baited Arnie and Cruz with zingers regarding their parties' priorities. As the candidates sparred over worker's compensation, Huffington said, "This is the two parties that brought us the broken worker's comp system." The difference was in how the two took the bait. Cruz agreed with Arianna that the Dems were complicit and laid out specific faults with previous proposals. Arnie called Democratic maneuvering "pre-election bogus" and "trickery". The split defined the evening--Arnie was vague and vituperative, Cruz was collected, even deferential.
When Arianna laid out her proposal to close the budget gap by closing corporate tax loopholes, Arnie responded with a canned one-liner: "Your personal tax income tax has the biggest loophole--I can drive my Hummers through it." Arianna pointed out that Arnie's lines had been rehearsed, and reported in a debate preview by the New York Times.
The debate reached its tit-for-tat high (or low) in an exchange over
HUFFINGTON:...But I want to return to something very important because the people of California need somebody who is going to fight the Bush administration for that, because you know what? Let me just tell you the facts, let me tell you the facts. The repeal of the estate tax alone is costing us over $3 billion.
MODERATOR: We're starting the clock. Two more minutes left on this. Two more minutes on the budget.
HUFFINGTON: Right, well there's a huge connection between our budgetary problems here and the decisions made in Washington. And we need somebody who's going to fight for properly funded mandates -- whether it's on education or in health care -- and who's going to fight the administration when it's completely costing us jobs? It's completely hypocritical of Arnold to come here...
SCHWARZENEGGER: Arianna, we're talking about the car tax right now and not about education.
HUFFINGTON: Let me finish. Let me finish. Let me finish. You know, this is completely impolite and we know this is how you treat women and we know that, but not right now.
MODERATOR: On that point, excuse me, excuse me, excuse me. Candidates please, let me take control of this for a moment. I'm going to decide it is my privilege as moderator that that was a direct and personal attack on Mr. Schwarzenegger, so would you respond?
SCHWARZENEGGER: I would like to say that I just realized that I have a perfect part for you in 'Terminator 4.' That's it.
Today's LA Times reports that Huffington believes the scene Arnie was referring to is one in which he stuffs a female robot's face down a toilet. Whoa. Where's C. Delores Tucker when you really need her?
You can bet the Dems will be taking up Arianna's cause in the next two weeks with fervor. If Arianna wants to be around in 2008, she'll parlay this clout to play ball with the Dems. The possibilities that could result from Arianna joining with a coalition of folks of color and progressives to re-energize the left wing of the Democratic Party are actually pretty mind-boggling.
By contrast, Tom McClintock and Peter Camejo continued to hammer away at their points. They were both sharp and informed, but last night turned out not to be about positions. If the recall is all about entertainment, they wrote themselves out of the storyline. It's not likely that either will make any more significant gains in their polling. McClintock's pro-life position, dropped almost surreptitiously in his closing, combined with his bug-eyed seriousness about himself couldn't have played well anywhere but deep O.C. Camejo is brilliant, earnest, and correct--but as a candidate, he is plagued by a crippling blandness. He has made no myth of himself, and his laser-like policy focus leave nothing to an electorate's imagination. In this hypermedia bubble, both disappear.
As far as the leaders in the yes-recall race, Arnie stands to lose the most. Those hoping for specifics got platitudes, those hoping for compassion got vagaries, those hoping for intelligence got one-liners. No matter how dumb pundits think the electorate is, the main question most have about Arnie is, wouldn't we prefer him on-screen than in Sacramento? At some point, the charisma and comedy has to give way to a certain discipline and rigor. It did not happen last night.
Cruz played the background in the Arianna and Arnie thing, which gave him an advantage. It made him look sober, serious, a governor-in-training. But it did not dispel the major doubts that have been raised about his interests. By looking like the responsible one, he failed to distinguish himself as anything other than what he is: a party politician, a nod to the status quo. If he did a few photo opps in which he showed up at backyard BBQs in shorts with a Tecate in hand, now that might be something. Hard to do the man of the people thing when you're buttoned-down everyday and fighting out your campaign contributions in court.
Which raises the question, of course, why vote for the recall in the first place then? Gray's ongoing act of contrition may actually work, if for no other reason than the Battle Royale actually looks more devilish than the alternative.
A transcript of the debate is here.
posted by Zentronix @ 11:17 AM
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Benefit for Tony Coleman of Mindzeye Collective and a Party for Jahi's New Release...both these brothers are incredible artists and activists so if you're in town and you can make it, show ya love.
"We One Fam Concert"
Hosted by Davey D with live performances by :
*Jahi and the life
*D.J. Sake One (((local 1200's)))
Friday Sept. 26th 9pm-1am @ the oakland box theater (formerly black box) 1928 telegraph downtown oakland $10@ the door
bring you and your folks and we'll have a good time
If you are with an orginization we are offering half off if you bring folks out with you, Please rsvp to this e-mail to let us know how many folks you are planning to bring.
If you can't make it and just want to support Tony's cause, the address to send contributions to is:
1515 Webster st
Oakland california, 94612
posted by Zentronix @ 8:57 PM
Alright yall, the ruling yesterday just goes to show that journalists know nothing. So once again, it's on. Check for the 6pm debate tonight and the wrap-up here tomorrow. For now I'm savoring the A's winning the AL West. Ichiro, I love ya but your team sucks. Boston, it's over. Even Billy Beane wouldn't show you no love. Bring on the Yankees, baby.
posted by Zentronix @ 10:13 AM
Monday, September 22, 2003
Today's hearing, at least as it's covered here in a AP report, seems to favor the postponement camp. Decisions could come down on Wednesday, the day of the debate, and could sharply affect the tenor of that debate. The debate, by the way, will be held at CSU Sacramento at 6pm PST.
posted by Zentronix @ 6:28 PM
The first 100,000 Man March For Peace will be held at the Los Angeles Coliseum on October 18. Gang and youth homicides have been skyrocketing the last three years under the Bush administration in cities like Los Angeles and Oakland--a direct result of joblessness and hopelessness. The March is being organized by Daude Sherrills, one of the original organizers of the 1992 Peace Treaty that spread from Watts across Los Angeles and then across the country. If you are in L.A., definitely show your love. For more, info, hit email@example.com.
posted by Zentronix @ 10:52 AM
Sunday, September 21, 2003
If you're in or around Chicago on October 3 through the 5th, come drop by the Hip Hop and Social Change Conference at The Field Museum. Mos Def and Talib Kweli will be keynoting on Saturday night, and I'll be on a panel talking about "Hip-Hop's Political Futures" on Friday afternoon. The list of speakers is amazing, including hip-hop activists like David Muhammad, Marinieves Alba and James Bernard, hip-hop intellectuals like Bakari Kitwana, Cristina Veran, Racquel Rivera and Marcyliena Morgan, and artists like Jonzi D, Tone B Nimble, Toni Blackman (cop her new book, Innercourse!) , and DPGz M1. Big shout to the Raymond Codrington and the crew at the Field Museum.
posted by Zentronix @ 12:12 PM
Friday, September 19, 2003
LA Times spin is that, despite appearances by Jackson and Clinton this week, "Blacks Not Yet on Davis' Bandwagon". BTW props to Regina Freer, Cal grad and a legendary student activist from the 80s, who is quoted in the piece.
posted by Zentronix @ 8:13 AM
Since May 1, the death toll in Iraq has been 77. The death toll in Oakland for the same period has been 56. Behind the boardwalk roller-coaster atmosphere of the recall, this moving essay by Joan Ryan on violence in Oakland and violence in Iraq is a reminder of just what the real stakes are for this election in California. But is anyone really talking about this?
posted by Zentronix @ 8:06 AM
Thursday, September 18, 2003
Here's an eye-opening look at the economics of Arnie's campaign from the New York Times. Still think homie's an independent candidate?
posted by Zentronix @ 9:14 PM
GOT DAM IT'S A BRAND NEW PAYBACK!
So a brother leaves the scene for a week to soak up art and activism and beauty and hip-hop theater and what happens? The whole world goes nuts. Democrats delay the recall, while they fight not to delay the recall. Wesley Clark declares. Bush even tells the truth. All I can say is I'd hate to see what happens if I try to leave again. I'm staying put 'til this book is done.
At the risk of sounding like an idiot, I hope the delay is affirmed. If it does, it will be bad news for Arnie, who might actually have to do a real interview during the 5 month break. Democrats will have to continue to solidify their core, progressive constituency with more good legislation. And it could spell certain doom for Prop 54--because the contested Dem primary will energize the partisans.
On the other hand, Bustamante and the driver's bill are serving as lightning rods for the goose-steppers. See this piece.
Props to the Hip-Hop Theater Festival for three nights of incredible, blazing performances at the Yerba Buena Center. If you missed it, don't miss the extended Fest next year. Next level isht fa sho. Mad love to all who participated in the Future Aesthetics convening this past week. It's just begun...
posted by Zentronix @ 11:45 AM
Thursday, September 11, 2003
Prop 54's support is sliding. Article in SF Chronicle here. The Sac Bee article is here. The Field poll is here.
Arianna's Hollywood connections get a closer look in a New York Times article here.
Meanwhile Reeps are getting ready for a bloodbath this weekend. Here's another reason why you haven't heard much about Arnie's campaign--there will be lots of horse-trading going on this weekend as Arnie and McClintock play tug-of-war with McClintock's supporters.
Article in Sf Chronicle here.
LA Times article is here.
Oh yeah, Ueberroth dropped out this week. No one even yawned when he left the room.
posted by Zentronix @ 10:06 AM
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
First post-debate numbers show that Bustamante's lead over Arnie grew, while Davis closes the gap slightly. McClintock was the biggest mover, up to legitimately double digits, and taking away 27% of the Reep vote. Ueberroth, Huffington went nowhere. Camejo lost ground.
Get the results at Field Poll Online.
posted by Zentronix @ 8:29 AM
Sunday, September 07, 2003
BUSTAMANTE DIVERTS DOUGH TO FIGHTING PROP 54
Proving once again that in politics the right things usually happen for the wrong reasons, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante is diverting the money from Indian tribe endorsements to fighting Prop 54. The Sacramento Bee broke the story this morning here. Schwarzenegger decided to oppose Prop 54 as well, almost certainly as a balance to his recently announced stance against driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants.
Connery is all but throwing in the towel. In a LA Times piece this morning he conceded Prop 54 is probably doomed.
Last week, Schwarzenegger announced he would oppose a bill currently heading to Governor Davis' desk sponsored by Los Angeles State Senator Gilbert Cedillo that would allow undocumented immigrants to be able to acquire drivers licenses. Given the heat he's received for his support of Prop 187, he's apparently counted out the Latino vote. His opposition to Prop 54 is probably calculated to stem any further bleeding from the African American and Asian American constituencies, although it is notable that he has not agreed to appear at a statewide debate for California's ethnic media outlets in Los Angeles next week, and likely won't show up.
The best thing about this recall race is that the ideological spectrum is being well represented. Moderates look like blow-in-the-wind poll-watchers. Ideologues look like down-from-the-mountain truth-tellers. Party leaders are recognizing, perhaps more so than at any other point in California history, that it will be a race to turnout new--rather than so-called swing--voters.
That's the basis of the calculus at work in both the Bustamante and Schwarzenegger campaigns. In this instance, Democrats probably have the advantage. Their chair, Art Torres, is a progressive Latino who is comfortable with the expansionist vision that the national party leaders have viewed as poisonous over the past decade. At the same time, Cali Dems have been able to work what they have seen as the emerging majority to their advantage.
Republicans, on the other hand, have been plagued with factional fighting. Schwarzenegger's campaign still reflects a tension between the cavemen politics of Orange County and the far north of the state, and the socially liberal, suburban moderate bloc of the rest of the state. They may be far more divided at this point. Their candidate is the perfect made-in-Hollywood cipher. It must be mad drama in the daily briefing meetings in the Arnie camp.
We'll see how the polls look at the end of next week.
posted by Zentronix @ 1:01 PM
Friday, September 05, 2003
CONNERLY'S PROP 54 GROUP UNDER ATTACK FOR NON-DISCLOSURE
The state Fair Political Practices Commission took the unprecedented step yesterday of suing Ward Connerly and his American Civil Rights Coalition for failing to disclose $2 million in campaign contributions. The money from the Coalition is providing almost 90% of the funding for the Proposition 54 campaign. I guess it's all in keeping with their "Keep Em Ignant" steez. Hearing is set for three weeks from now...
See the Oakland Tribune Online.
posted by Zentronix @ 10:15 AM
Thursday, September 04, 2003
You can read Mike Davis' take on the recall at TomDispatch. Thanks to Tommy Tompkins for this, and as always an intellectual BIG UP to the original L.A. Mike D.
posted by Zentronix @ 12:56 PM
HOW STUPID WAS IT, ON A SCALE OF 1 TO 10?
Actually the first debate was really entertaining. For the first time in years, we got a real debate with real differences between real candidates, not a brain-curdling, eyelid-weighting, mush-mouthed rush of two similar idiots hastening to agree with the other before splitting fine hairs of irrelevance.
The presence of five spectrum-spanning candidates and Arnie's absence actually meant that the candidates had to focus on real issues. So ideology won the day, and everyone got theirs.
Handicapping the event?
Cruz Bustamante, the front-runner among these folks, looked so damn confused by actually having to speak plainly (still recovering from the N-word episode, hmm?) he came off as completely idiotic. At least twice he answered the wrong question, and in his closing, he forgot his main point. Arianna exploited Cruz just short of intellectual bullying. If there was any doubt Bustamante is an intellectual lightweight, last night got rid of that for all time. On a stupid scale of 1 to 10, he scored a 9. Watch him give up points in the next poll.
Peter Ueberroth answered one question the whole night. The answer is "jobs". This is the guy everyone entrusted to Rebuild LA? No wonder he doesn't bring that multi-million farce up anymore. Stupid scale: 8. He's done.
Tom McClintock, the far-right Reep, came off as a smart conservative by default. He made no attempt to disguise his right-wing ideology (actually he never has), so all the Dems who he says voted for him in the last election can be clear. He proudly declared himself pro-guns, anti-women and anti-immigrant--a pretty shitty combo, huh? However, I could hear the cheers at the John Birch Society get-together. He hurt Arnie a lot last night. Stupid scale: 2. He really jumps into double digits in the next polls. Watch Arnie move right, declare himself pro-54 in the next debate.
Peter Camejo, the angry Green, started slow, then blossomed into the most focused and the sharpest I've ever seen him. Smart, on-point, on-message, passionate. His points regarding Cali's fucked up tax system especially put even McClintock on the defensive. They played well in Walnut Creek, will they work anywhere else? Who cares. For anyone vaguely left of Richard Riordan, Camejo looked like the moral center of the debate last night. Stupid scale: 1.
Arianna Huffington, the self-declared independent, drew blood early and often with her witticisms. On McClintock's support of regressive taxes: 'How stupid is that on a scale of 1 to 10'? On Cruz and the Indian tribes: 'That's legalized bribery'. On Cruz: 'Don't be the Ralph Nader of 2003 and take away votes from an independent candidate for governor. Me!' She single-handedly made the debate last night, and proved why her entry into the race was so important. Sitting next to Bustamante, she mercilessly picked on him all night, keeping the proceedings both humorous and intellectually sharp. She only faltered when asked how she would overturn Prop 13. But details are for wonks, the public wants positions. (Which by the way is also why Gray Davis didn't help his case in the first half hour, but more on that later.) In these formats, she shines because she's clearly the valedictorian--plus the clown--of the class. Especially in the Bay, she took votes from Bustamante last night. Stupid scale: 0. She won the debate.
The most interesting thing about last night's proceedings is how they may have subtly shaped the public's perceptions of the recall. Davis was granted a half hour at the beginning of the night to state his case against the recall. Pundits this morning noted that he was finally taking responsibility and speaking in specifics, but from where I sit, he only hurt his case. When he turned Clinton-wonkish on the car tax, he really lost folks. This has always been Davis' problem--he speaks from the head, not the heart. Folks were just reminded of his inability to connect with "average" voters--indeed, he even looked patronizing in taking on their tough questions last night. Even worse, he was accorded only 1/4 of the time last night, Bustamante refused to stay on the "No Recall" message, and the Huffington-inspired fizziness of the candidate panel seemed like a very welcome alternative to the still-alienating New Old Gray.
So onward to Sept. 24. Bring Arnie on!
Coverage of the first debate:
posted by Zentronix @ 10:39 AM
Tuesday, September 02, 2003
Here's a great editorial on the recall from Davey D.
A HIP HOP PERSPECTIVE ON THE CALI RECALL
by Davey D
So by now everyone knows what’s been taking place in the Golden State with regards to our Governor, Gray Davis and the historic Recall Battle. Let’s make no mistake, for the most part it’s been a 3 ring circus orchestrated and manipulated by the same group of folks who enjoyed stealing our votes in Florida during the 2000 election. With that being said, let’s also make no mistake about how most folks in Cali feel about Governor Davis. He’s a slime bag and most of what is going on in Cali is really his own doing.
Davis is the type of politician who over the years has developed an all too commonplace strategy to win elections. He goes out of his way to turn people off and make himself and the entire political process extremely unattractive. The way this works is in a state that has more than 40 million people, it becomes very expensive to run a campaign. So what one does is try to identify small pockets of people who you feel are likely to go to the polls and super serve them while simultaneously ignoring or marginalizing larger segments of the population.
In Davis’ case he’s gone out of his way to endear himself to labor unions which are voting against the recall, certain big money special interest groups like the prison guards union [which is the most powerful union in the state] and law enforcement [Remember this is same governor who unceremoniously shot down the Driving While Black legislation a couple of years back].
On the flipside Davis is notorious for ignoring and shuffling off other constituents. He’s the guy who won’t show up for debates and would not do interviews with many in the independent, black and people of color press. I've heard story after story from community groups, organizations and independent media outlets that could never get as much as a press release from Davis. He hardly reached out to younger voters [18-34] who ironically are being noted as the major constituents in the Golden State who can flip this election on it’s ear if they go to the polls on October 7th.
When Davis came to 'the hood' or barrio it was usually to do a quick photo op at a local church and then he’d bounce and return 4 years later when he was seeking new votes. For many, Davis is misleading because he would support some of the major issues like Affirmative Action. He was against the notorious anti-immigration bill Prop 187. He did a lot of things that won the support of labor. But then you turn around and this same guy would be for the death penalty. Over the years he garnered a ’bad’ reputation for denying all sorts of non violent offenders parole. He’s was down to give all sorts of money to law enforcement and prisons while letting school’s suffer. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What really got people up in arms was the fact that many saw him as being too slow to move during the energy crisis where Cali got royally screwed by these big energy companies, many of whom donated handsomely to his campaign [Gas is damn near 3 dollars a gallon in some places]. Gas Bills and electric bills have tripled. To top it all off, in an effort to reduce the states 38 billion dollar debt, he went out and tripled vehicle license renewal fees.
During the last gubernatorial election which was 8 months ago, Davis pulled a fast one when it looked like former LA Mayor Richard Riordan was going to give him a major challenge. Riordan is a moderate Republican and was well liked by a lot of folks. So what Davis did, was he started running ads dissing Riordan and supporting his ultra conservative opponent Bill Simon. He did it in such a way that most people thought the ads were actually being run by Bill Simon. Homeboy spent millions of dollars on these ads with the end result being the far right-wing Republican taking Riordan out the race. Davis figured if he manipulated the race and ran against an ultra conservative, he would have a better chance than if he ran up against a moderate Republican like Riordan. For the most part even though Davis is a Democrat he acts like a Republican so most voters would’ve probably voted for Riordan.
So while Davis was manipulating the Republican primary races, at the same time he continued using his strategy of ‘Turning Off’ voters by being elusive and unresponsive to large groups of people. This strategy resulted in California having one of the lowest voter turnouts in its electoral history. Something like 30% bothered going to the polls. It was really bad and really ugly. Voters hated Davis and they hated the ultra-conservative Bill Simon even more so they didn’t bother going to the polls to vote for either man. Davis barely won the election. For the most part, this is how Davis seemed to like things. As I said before he doesn't seem to want large numbers of people coming to the polls. By keeping them away he doesn't have to be accountable to them or spend a lot of money trying to reach out to them.
Now this is where all this came back to bite Davis in the ass. Because of last election's record low voter turn out, the amount of signatures needed to qualify for a recall was also low. The number of signatures needed to recall an elected official is calculated on a percentage of the number of folks who voted in the last election. The ultra conservatives understood this and put together a strategy where they paid a bunch of people to collect the necessary signatures for a recall and played up the fact that no one likes Gray Davis. The end result is now we have this recall with 134 candidates ranging from actor Gary Coleman of Different Strokes, Larry Flint, publisher of Hustler Magazine, former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth, syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington and the Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger running for office. It’s been a serious 3 ring circus complete with clowns and lion tamers.
THE TERMINATOR AND HIS CREW
With the Cali recall in full effect, the main face that most of the world has seen belongs to actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. People like his accent, they like his movies and he comes across as a fun loving, charming guy. I run into all sorts of people who don't follow politics but want a change in California really bad. Many of them are totally gung-ho that Arnold is running. There’s a sense that come October 7th there are going to be a lot of first time voters.
Those of us who follow things a bit more closely say; DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE. Arnold is sham. Behind the engaging smile is a serious team of former politicians backing him who don’t play. They’re hardcore, take no prisoners cats who have a long track record of taking us down the wrong path. Arnold is basically the happy face that we’ll see in front of those dark clouds. Among Arnold’s cronies is former Secretary of State George Schultz who he just added to be part of his economic recovery team.
Schultz served under Ronald Regan and is part of the conservative think tank, the Hoover Institute which supplies all types of advisors to the white house. Say what you want, but with Schultz on board, George W and all his buddies can’t be too far away. For starters, Schultz used to run Bechtel and now sits on their board. This is the same Bechtel company that is cleaning up left and right with nice contract after contract as a result of our recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Also on board, chairing Arnold’s campaign is former California Governor Pete Wilson who routinely gets praised by the far right for smashing on the Latino community because he staunchly supported Prop 187 [Anti-Immigration Bill] and Prop 225 [The English only initiative]. Wilson gets praised for helping end Affirmative Action on the UC Campus and later for backing Prop 209 which ended affirmative action in the state.
As one ultra right-wing conservative columnist, David Horowitz wrote; Wilson should be praised for his stance and for being unapologetic. He notes that Wilson was standing on high moral ground when he took those positions and that Arnold, who also supported Prop 187, will stand to gain greatly with Wilson in his corner. On a side note, Pete was one of the architects behind California’s notorious Juvenile crime bill Prop 21.
In a state that is mostly minority, Wilson was seen in many conservative sectors as this governor who managed to keep black and brown folks in line by helping get these troubling bills passed into law. Despite all his talk about being independent and being his own man, Arnold Schwarzenegger is ultimately going to be answering to his team of backers. The entire scenario seems eerily similar to George W bringing all his father’s [Bush sr] old cronies and advisors to the table. If all goes according to plan, Arnold will be the engaging, smiling mouthpiece for a well heeled team of ultra conservative right wingers and their agenda.
UNCLE TOM WARD CONNERLY
One thing to note is that Arnold seems to be playing up his personality as opposed to laying down his position on key issues. I personally have made it a point to call his campaign office everyday before my radio show to see if he has taken a position on Prop 54 which is a controversial, sinister measure being pushed by ‘Uncle Tom’ Ward Connerly. Prop 54 if it passes would prohibit the state of California from collecting any sort of racial data to see if there are any systematic patterns of discrimination based upon race.
Prior to the recall this was one of the most talked about issues in the state. It’s all but disappeared once the recall came around. Hardly any major media outlets have spoken on this initiative which quietly got moved up in the election cycle and got added to the October 7th ballot. Connerly who claims he wants a colorblind society and hence wants to do away with anything pertaining to race, seems to be doing the bidding of his old boss Pete Wilson.
Connerly doesn’t want the police to collect data to see if there’s any truth to the ‘Driving while Black or Brown’ accusations. He doesn’t want data collected to see if there’s a pattern of abuse based around race. He feels such things are based on individual scenarios and not systemic racism.
Connerly doesn’t want racial data collected to see if there’s housing discrimination or educational discrimination around race. In other words, now that Prop 209 is in effect, he wants to make a law that would make it illegal for California universities or state contractors to collect any data to see how Prop 209 impacted certain racial groups.
However, despite all this colorblind talk, Connerly stops short when it comes to prison and law enforcement. Here, Connerly states that it’s perfectly ok in his ‘colorblind' society to separate prisoners by race. Connerly says that because the California penal system is racially charged with race riots occurring all the time, it’s important that folks who are incarcerated be separated by race. Of course Connerly never addresses the issue of prison guards deliberately playing racial groups off one another to keep everything is disarray. And of course Connerly, naively thinks that in a state that has the highest prison population in the country, that once people get released that all that racial baggage will magically disappear and everyone will come out and suddenly be colorblind.
This important issue, Prop 54 is one that ‘Arnold the Terminator’ has been avoiding like the plague. I’ve called his office at least 6 times asking what Arnold’s position was on this initiative and each time his people referred me to his website www.joinarnold.com where he has no stated position. He has a lot of information on other things including his support of the death penalty and his support of three strike law, but nothing on Prop 54.
On one particular show last week, I called all the leading candidates and checked their websites. Schwarzenegger and Gary Coleman were the only one’s with no answer, Coleman’s people tried to clown while Schwarzenegger press secretary kept me on hold for 20 minutes and then finally told me that Arnold’s position on these issues will be on the site shortly. That was more than a week ago and still no information.
I was pretty blunt with the press secretary and told her that it was disappointing that a guy who claims that California needs strong, decisive leadership was waffling on what is actually the most important issue on the ballot. Prop 54 will have long lasting implications should it pass and sadly, the guy with the nice smile, tough demeanor and action packed movies is running scared like Vanilla Ice at a Suge Knight house party. I guess his boss, oops I mean advisors, Pete Wilson and George Schultz haven’t told him which way to stand on this issue. I guess the best thing to do is call the white house to find out what Arnold’s position is on Prop 54. Maybe I can find out from Bush and his boss Dick Cheney then I can call Arnold’s campaign office and tell him which way he’ll be standing on the issue because he obviously isn’t speaking for himself.
WHO WILL COURT THE HIP HOP VOTE?
The thing that everyone is watching and waiting to see is whether or not Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamonte who is currently beating Arnold in the polls, is a Latino version of Gray Davis. Folks don’t seem to be overly thrilled with him despite the fact that he could be the state’s first Latino Governor. Others are waiting to see whether or not progressive candidates like Arianna Huffington or the Green Party’s Peter Camejo have any sort of serious chance to win.
As I noted earlier, the turning point to this recall election is the young Hip Hop generation who have a sizeable population in the state. It's been mentioned time and time again in the mainstream press. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see which candidate actively goes out to court them. Thus far I haven't seen a whole lot of movement. For example, there have been two Raider home games and a couple of 49er home games which drew tens of thousands of people. I saw none of the candidates or their volunteers at the game or the tailgate parties.
Last week Grambling State played San Jose State and all sorts of folks were in town. There were tens of thousands of people [mostly black and brown] in the San Jose area. Still no sign of the candidates. This past Labor Day Weekend, UC Berkeley had it’s opening game where an estimated 30 thousand people were on hand and again no sign of the recall candidates or their volunteers.
What you did see was, as tens of thousands of people poured out of the Cal Berkeley stadium’s two main exits were dozens of people handing out flyers to promote upcoming concerts, night clubs and movies. The Oakland Tribune newspaper was out earlier handing out placards that said ‘Go Bears’ on one side and the Tribune advertisement on the other side. One has to wonder, why hadn’t any of the candidates or their volunteers who say they want more young people to come out, not on hand to hand out to do the same.
Call me naïve, but if you have 20-50 thousand people showing up at a venue doesn’t it make sense to go out and try and holler at them? If Gray Davis is really serious about trying to save his job, shouldn’t he have been rolling through the parking lot of one of these football stadiums wearing your favorite team’s jersey trying to get your vote? Shouldn’t a candidate like Cruz Bustamonte or his volunteers have been out on Telegraph Avenue, which is the main street leading up to the campus, engaging those thousands of people.
A quick walk down to Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue shows not only thousands of people on the streets but dozens of booths with local merchants selling everything from mix tapes to jewelry. Well known graph writer Reefa 1 mans a popular booth in front of Rasputin’s Record store. He had noted that he was doing a brisk business selling customized hats as well as giving out lots of literature of his ‘lessons’, which give break downs on US propaganda and other ‘political’ issues. He noted that he had not seen any recall candidates on the popular strip, but then again he wasn’t all that surprised. Reefa 1 shared the same sentiments that were expressed by the two dozen or so people I had interviewed earlier which is none of these candidates are really serious about trying to reach the people and get them substantially involved in this recall election. Unless there’s a lot of press on hand where candidates can get a quick 30 second sound bite then they aren’t really trying to bother with folks. The fact that you didn’t even see some of the ‘progressive candidates’ out there meeting and greeting people and lacing them up with information about the recall underscored his point. Folks aren’t all that serious. It’s either that or they simply aren’t in touch with the community. Reefa 1 concluded by noting that getting a booth is not that hard and that it would cost folks less then 300 bucks for the year. Why hadn’t anyone involved in the recall taken advantage of that is the 64 thousand dollar question.
An even bigger miss took place this past weekend at the Art and Soul Festival in Oakland that attracted close to a 100 thousand people. There were free concerts from Ziggy Marley and Pete Escovito as well as local artists. Again no recall candidates in site. The only folks out there hustling and trying to connect with folks was the folks helping out the presidential campaign for Dennis Kucinich. One of their volunteers had expressed surprise that more people involved in the recall had not come to this heavily attended event. It wasn’t like they weren’t in the Bay Area. For example, Governor Gray Davis and Cruz Bustamonte attended a labor rally in nearby San Francisco and Pleasanton which that had a fraction of the people of Oakland’s Art & Soul festival. If neither one of them couldn’t make it where were their campaign volunteers?
Over the past couple of weeks there have been several big concerts, in the Bay Area including a Tony Toni Tone reunion and the Sprite remix tour with De La Soul and Talib Kweli. Busta Rhymes, Goapele, Kid Capri, Rodney & Joe Cooley, Young MC, The Breakastra and Das Efx also swung through the Bay Area to do shows at smaller, yet packed venues and night clubs. Again, not one candidate and their volunteers have bothered to go out, pass out flyers at the conclusion of these outings. Doesn't it make sense to hit these crowds where the average age is over 21?
When I leave a venue I see all sorts of street team promoters giving me flyers to the next big event. I get free cds and occasionally free drinks from a soft drink company. There are folks handing out flyers telling me when E-40’s new album is coming out. There are folks handing out info telling me which radio station to listen to, but there’s no information being handed out about who stands or who we should be seriously considering in the upcoming historic recall election. Why is that?
As the election draws closer. It will be interesting to see if I can get a 'NO on Prop 54' flyer when I leave a packed concert venue in LA or San Fran? Will I hear their commercials during the Sway & King Tech Wake Up Show which are heard up and down the state? Will I see them trying to engage me during tv shows like Rap City or Comic View on BET? Will I hear them being shouted out in a Mixtape? Will I see wrapped van or a huge Ill Trendz street team billboard with the picture and message of a candidate serious about trying to reach the young Hip Hop Voter? Will they even try and get an endorsement from icons and major players within that community? Maybe all the parties involve have the same plan when it comes to youth/ Hip Hop vote. Keep them away from the polls and build more prisons.
As we come upon the seventh year that marks the death of 2Pac, I wish more folks would follow his lead. A couple of months before he died he, Snoop Dogg and MC Hammer held a press conference where he talked about taking his 6 million fans and turning them into a powerful voting block that would essentially chin check politicians who didn't properly deal with them. We need more Hip Hoppers to stop chin checking [feuding] with each other and start kicking up dust around this election.
Cali's a strange place and there's still time to get things crackin'. We're on the verge of making history, hopefully Cali Hip Hop's Hip Hop community will be a part of it. Trust me folks if this recall goes through and Arnold wins, expect a recall in your city and state real soon.
posted by Zentronix @ 10:27 AM
A piece on the Democratic strategy of claiming victimhood cites the recall election but points forward to a hardening of partisan lines for the 2004 elections. Sure, it's easy to be cynical about this--but the truth is that this is a winning strategy for the left next year. In times like this, possibly as polarized as the 68 and 76 elections, it will be good for the Dems to highlight differences, rather than playing to the factually nonexistent mushy center like they have for the last 20 years.
posted by Zentronix @ 8:35 AM
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