By a quick show of hands, how many of you know who Kevin Shelley is?
Nobody?! I guess I’m not too surprised. If you remember him at all, it’s probably only for the fact that he was rather quietly run out of office earlier this year with sordid allegations of scandal and corruption. The Los Angeles Times delivered the news on February 5, before quickly moving on to other things: “Secretary of State Kevin Shelley announced his resignation Friday, saying he could no longer adequately run California’s elections office … For months, he had been dogged by federal and state criminal inquiries and scathing audits of his financial management and treatment of employees.” (Tim Reiterman “Secretary of State Shelley Steps Down,” Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2005)
No big deal, right? Just another corrupt politician getting what he had coming. No one is going to shed any tears over that. And so it was that no one came to his defense and no one lamented his political passing. No one in Sacramento, no one in the mainstream media, and no one in the alternative/progressive media. No one on the right and no one on the left. Shelley was cast aside without a hint of protest from anyone.
And that, my friends, is simply shameful. As it turns out, you see, Shelley wasn’t the bad guy in this story. The first tip-off, of course, is the fact that, as I may have just mentioned, no one came to his defense and no one lamented his political passing. Because if the entire corrupt media establishment and the entire corrupt political establishment are united against you, then it is a pretty safe bet that it isn’t because you yourself are corrupt.
It is hard to imagine that any level of corruption would cause either the media or the political elite in Washington or Sacramento to turn against one of their own. No, the reality is that when all of official Sacramento and every avenue of the media decide to bring down a formerly well-regarded politician, they haven’t all suddenly decided that it might be a good time to weed out corruption. To the contrary, they have likely decided to weed out those who might pose a challenge to the web of corruption that poses as a form of democratic government.
And how thorough, you may wonder, was Shelley’s abandonment by the political establishment as he suffered through withering right-wing attacks? As the L.A. Times noted, “disclosure reports filed with the state showed a single contribution to his 3-month-old legal defense fund — $250 from Tony Miller, Shelley’s special counsel. Shelley put $100,000 of his own into the fund by borrowing against the mortgage of the San Francisco home where he grew up and lives with his wife and two young children.” (Nancy Vogel “Allegations Lead to Rising Star’s Fall,” Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2005)
Strange that a man mired in political scandal would have but a single personal asset – his relatively modest family home – to draw upon. You would think that such a man would have amassed quite a personal fortune during his fourteen years as an elected official. But I guess not.
Times’ reporters hinted that the charges against Shelley may have been entirely unsupported, but they never bothered to actually investigate that possibility and they never revisited the story after Shelley stepped down. They did acknowledge that “there had been no whiff of scandal” surrounding Shelley prior to the charges that quickly brought him down. And they conceded that Shelley’s “resignation shouldn’t be taken as an admission of guilt,” since “each allegation against Shelley could prove to be more smoke than fire.” (Nancy Vogel “Allegations Lead to Rising Star’s Fall,” Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2005)
The real reason for Shelley’s ouster couldn’t be any more obvious. The L.A. Times has thoughtfully provided all the pieces of the puzzle. They haven’t bothered to connect any of the dots, of course, but they have provided all the important pieces, so all that I really have to do here is fit them into place. With any luck, we should be done here fairly quickly.
What Shelley’s fall from grace was really all about was clearing the way for the California ‘special election’ set to be held in just a few days. The plan is for Governor Arnold “Girlie Man” Schwarzenegger to ram a whole bunch of reactionary ballot measures down the throats of voters. The problem, however, is that even with the boatloads of money that Team Ahhnuld has illegally raised to rally support for the agenda, and even with the unflagging support of that ‘liberal’ behemoth, the Los Angeles Times, these ballot measures have no chance of actually being approved by voters in a free and fair election.
It took some time, but most Californians have now woken up to the fact that the “People’s Governor” isn’t what he claims to be. In fact, Schwarzenegger has managed to do what at one time seemed impossible: move ahead of both former Governor Gray Davis and current President George Bush on the list of the most unpopular politicians in the state of California. Nevertheless, no one with media access has dared utter the word “recall” – but that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone. After all, recall elections aren’t about removing politicians that have fallen out of favor with voters; they are about furthering the agenda of Team Bush.
Just three days after announcing Shelley’s resignation, the L.A. Times reluctantly acknowledged that, according to recent polls, “Schwarzenegger faces a problem with voters.” (Robert Sallady “Governor Battles Rising Criticism on Multiple Fronts,” Los Angeles Times, February 8, 2005) A month later, another report revealed that a Field poll “showed a 10-point drop in Schwarzenegger’s approval rating – from 65% in September to 55% now … And the poll found that 53% believe California is on the wrong track, up from 38% in September.” (Robert Sallady “Governor’s Agenda Losing Traction,” Los Angeles Times, March 3, 2005; see also Peter Nicholas “A New Kind of Crowd for Governor,” Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2005, and Peter Nicholas “Governor Faces Widening Network of Opposition,” Los Angeles Times, March 16, 2005)
Despite continued media support, Schwarzenegger continued to rapidly lose support among the people, primarily by continuing to push his unpopular agenda through the scheduling of the wildly unpopular ‘special election.’ By June, polls were showing “58% of all Californians disapprove of Schwarzenegger’s job performance and 31% approve – about the same point that former Gov. Gray Davis had reached after three years in office.” (Robert Sallady and Evan Halper “As Popularity Ebbs, Governor Reaches Out,” Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2005)
In late August, the Times conceded that “Schwarzenegger’s ballot measures aren’t winning wide support and his job rating is down to 34%.” (Robert Sallady “Polls Show Voters Sour on Governor,” Los Angeles Times, August 25, 2005) Two months later, with less than two weeks to go before the ‘special election,’ yet another poll “show[ed] all of his Nov. 8 initiatives faltering.” (Michael Finnegan “Schwarzenegger Tone Is Humble in New Ad,” Los Angeles Times, October 28, 2005)
The cabal backing Schwarzenegger have known for some time now that the agenda being pursued by the “People’s Governor” has no backing among the actual “People.” Indeed, there was much speculation several months ago about whether this ‘special election’ would even take place. According to the old conventional wisdom, there is nothing for Team Arnold to gain, for all this election will do is offer voters an opportunity to loudly and overwhelmingly register their disapproval of his governorship, while leaving lingering bitterness over the fact that millions of taxpayer dollars were spent attempting to force-feed an unpopular agenda to angry voters.
That old conventional wisdom, however, went out of fashion sometime around the turn of the twenty-first century. As I warned when Shitbagenegger first took office, the plan is to create the illusion of rule by ‘popular’ initiative, thus taking on the appearance of direct democracy when the reality will be rule by dictatorial decree. That illusion will be created by electronic control of ballot boxes.
The cabal running Sacramento would not be sponsoring this election if there was any chance that their front man was going to receive a slap in the face from voters. The decision to proceed with the election only makes sense if the Steroidenegger regime is absolutely certain that the outcome will have nothing to do with the actual votes that are cast. And in order for such an outcome to be guaranteed, Secretary of State Kevin Shelley had to go.
It was Shelley, you see, who “became a national advocate for requiring that electronic voting machines provide a paper record so balloting can be audited.” (Tim Reiterman “Secretary of State Shelley Steps Down,” Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2005) And it was Shelley who “jumped into the national debate over the nation’s next generation of voting equipment. He banned California’s counties from buying touch-screen voting computers unless they included paper receipts so voters could check the accuracy of their ballots. Other states soon followed his lead … said Kim Alexander, founder of the California Voter Foundation, ‘He was the first secretary of state in the nation where electronic voting has been introduced to say we need to have a voter-verified paper record.’” (Nancy Vogel “Allegations Lead to Rising Star’s Fall,” Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2005)
According to Los Angeles County elections chief Conny McCormack, Shelley “fumbl[ed] a historic opportunity to upgrade the state’s voting infrastructure with federal money under the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA … ‘Instead of improving the election process,’ McCormack said, ‘there’s not a single county that’s HAVA-compliant, because of actions of the secretary of state.” (Nancy Vogel “Allegations Lead to Rising Star’s Fall,” Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2005)
Lest anyone think otherwise, I should probably clarify here that the Help America Vote Act is one of those Orwellian-titled programs that actually has nothing to do with helping Americans to vote and everything to do with manipulating and controlling the vote count. Shelley’s refusal to comply with HAVA guidelines, therefore, was actually a good thing – and possibly the only thing standing in the way of an extreme makeover of the state of California.
Shelley hadn’t even had time to clear out his desk before the Times predictably weighed in with a February 8 editorial endorsing possible successors: “We would suggest the skilled Los Angeles County registrar of voters, Conny McCormack, a proven administrator as well as an expert on voting methods and machines.” The job ultimately went to longtime Republican Party operative Bruce McPherson, who received an endorsement in the same L.A. Times editorial. Rest assured that with McPherson at the helm, the ‘problem’ of HAVA-noncompliance has been dealt with.
My prediction is that, come November 8, most if not all of Arnold’s initiatives will be approved by voters – at least according to the official election results. This could very well be a test case to see just how brazenly election results can be manipulated, for never has it been more clear from pre-election polling that the agenda being sold would have no chance of winning approval in a free and fair election.*
To date, the Los Angeles Times has busied itself primarily with pretending to oppose the election even while endorsing and deliberately misrepresenting Arnold’s initiatives. Only once have the Times’ editors allowed a reasonably honest discussion of what this election is really about to find its way onto the op/ed pages of the newspaper:
Some of the nation’s leading conservative thinkers and strategists are seeking, through Schwarzenegger’s initiatives, to alter the balance of power between the right and left wings of California politics. Their hope is to turn California red in ’08 and pioneer a new gospel that can spread across the country.
The grandest Republican architect is Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, host of weekly gatherings of Republicans in Washington and, according to the Aug. 1 New Yorker, the current ringleader of the “Republican revolution.”
Norquist is behind Proposition 75, the Schwarzenegger initiative that polls show is most likely to succeed.
It would prohibit the use of public employees’ union dues for political contributions without their explicit consent. It’s a Trojan horse whose larger purpose is to tilt the balance of power in politics by limiting union support for Democrats without cutting corporate sources of Republican funding.
“If it passes, it will be so significant, and the effects will be so dramatic, that you would see a dozen initiatives on the ballots [in other states] within two to four years,” Norquist said.
Texas Rep. Tom DeLay inspired Schwarzenegger’s Proposition 77, which would redraw political districts more to the benefit of Republicans and do so in 2006 rather than after the 2010 census. State and federal districts traditionally are redrawn every 10 years, consistent with the census cycle.
But like Schwarzenegger, DeLay did not like the Texas redistricting results after the 2000 count. Rather than wait for a new census, DeLay engineered a plan to redraw Texas districts mid-decade. Democratic legislators fled across the Texas state line in protest. DeLay’s fundraising tactics for that political coup d’etat is the subject of his recent grand jury indictment.
Proposition 73 is the red meat on the ballot, intended to bring the Christian right to the polls.
The initiative would bar most abortions by minors unless their parents are notified. But the fine print defines abortion in the California Constitution for the first time as the “death of the unborn child, a child conceived but not yet born.” This definition sets the stage in California to undermine the protections of Roe vs. Wade.
To turn out Christian right voters, the Schwarzenegger machine hired Gary Marx, a protégé of Christian conservative activist Ralph Reed. Marx led the get-out-the-evangelical-vote effort for Bush in 2004.
Proposition 76 is another Norquist special delivery, one he and other conservatives have pushed in many states. It gives Schwarzenegger extraordinary budget powers to cut spending. California voters turned down a similar attempt by former Gov. Pete Wilson in 1992, but Schwarzenegger is hoping to bring his star power to bear in the sequel.
The national conservative attack on public schools has also found voice in this election. Proposition 74 discourages teachers from working in public schools by limiting the awarding of tenure. The California Teachers Assn. considers the initiative a stalking horse for a voucher system of “school choice” favored by conservatives. (Jamie Court “The Secret Force Behind the Propositions,” Los Angeles Times, October 30, 2005)
With the menu including some Texas-style redistricting, vastly increased powers for the executive office, attacks on abortion rights, teachers, schools, and organized labor, and the inevitable slashing of funding for education, healthcare and various other social services, it’s not hard to see why most California residents are less than thrilled with the Schwarzenegger plan for rebuilding California. Nevertheless, Arnold’s initiatives will undoubtedly pass, and the media will quickly step in to calmly explain away the major discrepancy between the expressed wishes of voters and the alleged outcome of the election.
And if that isn’t what happens, then I guess I might look a little foolish when I take to the airwaves with Meria Heller next Wednesday, November 9, which just happens to be the day that the final election results will presumably be announced. But that’s okay. In fact, I’m hoping that I will be proven wrong. I just don’t think it is very likely to happen.
The aftershocks from this election, by the way, will be felt far beyond the borders of California. As the L.A. Times recently noted, “When California voters go to the polls Nov. 8 to decide whether to strip lawmakers of the authority to draw their own districts, so will voters in Ohio. Millions more are likely to follow in Massachusetts and Florida. In these and more than a dozen other states, activists are busy concocting different solutions to the same problem … What’s at stake, some say, is democracy’s cornerstone.” (Nancy Vogel “Several States May Revisit Redistricting,” Los Angeles Times, October 26, 2005)
The “problem,” of course, is one that has been manufactured and specifically tailored so as to seemingly demand the pre-packaged “solutions,” and the “activists” working on solving this problem are actually corrupt administration insiders, but the Times did get one thing right: the stakes here are exceedingly high.
* According to the latest poll results, published this morning by the Times, the most blatant power-grabs on the ballot, propositions 76 and 77, have no chance of passing. Among likely voters, 60% oppose 76 while only 31% are in favor, while 56% oppose 77 with only 34% registering support. Proposition 75 is opposed by 51% of likely voters with 40% in favor. Proposition 74 is much closer, with 47% opposed versus 45% in favor. It will be interesting to see how these figures match up with the official tallies.