October 21, 2003
Hasta La Vista, California
It is October 8, 2003 as I sit down to begin pondering what it is that I want to say about the outcome of California's first-ever statewide recall election. And the question that keeps running through my head is this: what are the odds that nearly 2/3 of the voters in an overwhelmingly Democratic state would cast their votes for a Republican candidate?
I've factored in everything that I can think of, and I have tweaked the equation every which way, but I still come up with the same answer: the odds are about a-million-to-one. And that is being generous. So I must be leaving something out. I guess I'm going to have to run through this again.
First, we know that Democrats far outnumber Republicans in the state of California. And we know that California voters are keenly aware of the damage that three years of Republican rule in Washington has done to the country. And we know that Washington is aware that California voters are not big fans of the Republican junta running the White House, which is why Team Bush adopted a conspicuously hands-off approach, in public, to the recall. And we know, because the media keep reminding us, that there is an extremely polarized political atmosphere in California (and elsewhere around the country).
And yet the Republican Party - competing against a full slate of candidates from not just the Democratic Party, but from the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the Natural Law Party, the Peace and Freedom Party, and the American Independent Party, along with independents of various stripes - was able to capture the imagination of some 62% of California's voters. Amazingly enough, they were able to split the vote between two of their candidates and still win handily.
Perhaps they just had a real strong field of candidates. Especially the party's front-runner. I mean, sure, he had no previous political experience by which he could be judged by voters, but he made up for that by not having a platform, not answering questions, not taking a stand on anything, and refusing to debate without prior script approval.
He had other problems as well, one of which was that he quickly broke the precious few campaign promises that he bothered to make. He said, for example, that he wasn't going to accept money from anyone, but then he proceeded to rake in millions in campaign donations from corporate sponsors. Then he said that that was okay because his money wasn't coming from "special interests," unlike his opponent's money, which came from "labor unions and Indian tribes."
Anyone who paused briefly to analyze such comments, made repeatedly during the campaign, knew as much as they needed to know about the Republican front-runner's philosophy: large corporations and the ultra rich are to be greeted with open arms, while the working people of the state and the land's indigenous people are to be denigrated, vilified, and, in the candidate's preferred vernacular, "terminated." Hence it was no surprise when one of the very few issues addressed by the candidate was the need to drastically overhaul the state's Worker's Compensation system, which really means enacting 'reforms' aimed at making it easier for employers to dodge responsibility for workplace safety and dodge blame for workplace injuries.
In addition to his pledge to accept no outside funding, the candidate also promised not to wage a negative campaign. That pledge was soon replaced by millions of dollars worth of all-too-familiar, mud-slinging attack ads.
He also said that he was running as an "outsider," but it was painfully obvious that he was nothing of the sort. He immediately surrounded himself with a veritable army of powerful insiders. He quickly assembled a long list of prominent endorsements. And his campaign was immediately embraced by the mainstream media, which isn't in the habit of promoting real outsiders as candidates for public office, as evidenced by the fact that the scores of legitimate outsiders on the ballot were either ignored or ridiculed.
As a 'crossover' candidate, the Republican front-runner didn't seem to hold much promise. It wasn't just that he had serious liabilities that would limit his appeal to 'liberal' Democrats -- he was also going to be a very tough sell to his party's own 'conservative base.'
After all, the party of 'Family Values' would look pretty silly lining up behind a candidate who hailed from, of all places, Hollywood -- that dreaded cesspool of 'moral relativism.' And who had at one time posed for homo-erotic photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. And who was best known for making movies consisting primarily of gratuitous scenes of extreme violence. And who had spoken approvingly, and quite openly, of prostitution, group sex, recreational drug use, and homosexuality. And who was, after all, an entertainer by profession, rendering his political views and aspirations irrelevant.
And then there was his long and sordid history of misogyny and serial groping, which appeared as though it could pose an ethical dilemma for all the right-wing gasbags who are still stuck on a years-long rant about Clinton's 'bimbo eruption' -- if, that is, anyone in that crowd had any sort of ethics.
The candidate was dragging so much heavy baggage that, had he been subject to the kinds of devastating character attacks that the morality police on Fox News specialize in, he would surely have disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. The Oui magazine interview alone contained enough raw ammunition to fuel months, if not years, of bile-spewing by the entire nationwide pack of frothing-at-the-mouth 'talk radio' blowhards.
"Well, I have absolutely no hang-ups about the fag business..."The candidate also had an obvious admiration for Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich -- which he came by honestly. He was, after all, raised by a Nazi father who voluntarily signed on as an SA stormtrooper just months after that organization spearheaded the brutal anti-Jewish rampage known as Kristallnacht. During the war, the father served on battlefields where egregious war crimes were committed. He served as a military policeman, which means that his job was policing the actions of other soldiers. As is clear from photos of the Nazi 'Brown Shirt,' he idolized his leader, Adolf Hitler. He wore his hair slicked over to the side and complemented the hairdo with a toothbrush mustache.
According to a brief blurb buried deep in the Los Angeles Times, amongst other random 'Recall Notes,' California's new governor-elect has tried on the Hitler look as well. A photograph reportedly exists, never published, of the candidate with his hair slicked over and with his fist raised in the air. He is holding a comb up as a mustache and, according to the photographer who captured the image, he was shouting in German when the photo was taken.
He has spoken of his admiration for some of Hitler's accomplishments:
"I admired Hitler... because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power. And I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for his way of getting to the people and so on... "He has spoken of his own dreams of being a dictator, of having absolute power, of being able to "speak to maybe 50,000 people at one time and have them cheer, or like Hitler in the Nuremberg Stadium, and have all those people scream at you and just being in total agreement with whatever you say."
He reportedly at one time had a fondness for emulating a Nazi SS officer and playing Nazi marching songs. He has warmly embraced a known Nazi war criminal. He has spoken of his disdain for democracy and the need for authoritarian control of society:
"I feel if you want to create a strong nation and a strong country you cannot let everybody be an individual, because everybody has his own opinions and you can't just stick together as a strong nation. Then you have to tell people what to do and you can't just let them float away. In Germany, there was a lot of unity."There were also clear indications that the candidate was a racist. Two former holders of the title of Mr. Universe accused the front-runner of having a habit of using the "N" word. His campaign was largely a racist affair that scapegoated Native Americans and Hispanic immigrants for many of the state's economic woes. And despite the media focus on another candidate's former association with an allegedly racist group, it was the candidate himself who even now sits on the board of a racist organization: U.S. English. This, for example, is from a private memo written and distributed by the founder of the group:
"In this society, will the present majority peaceably hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile? Can homo contraceptives compete with horno progenitivo if our borders aren't controlled? ... Perhaps this is the first instance in which those with their pants up are going to get caught by those with their pants down. As whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?"Such rhetoric, it should be noted, is lifted directly from the writings of the Eugenics movement, which was born and nurtured in America and the U.K. and then exported to Germany, where it became part of the Nazi Party doctrine that was embraced by people like the candidate's father. And George Bush's grandfather. And great-grandfather. And, according to some reports, the grandfather of the man known as "Bush's brain," Karl Rove.
Speaking of Rove, the "outsider" candidate reportedly met with him in April of this year. In September of last year, the "outsider" candidate was escorted by Warren Buffet to the Rothschild family manor to meet Lord Rothschild. In May 2001, during the California energy 'crisis,' the "outsider" candidate met with Enron CEO Ken Lay and 'junk bonds' trader Michael Milken -- two of the most successful corporate criminals of all time.
All things considered, it is fairly safe to say that the candidate was a longshot, at best. Few Democrats could be expected to cast their votes for a racist, sexist, lying Nazi with ties to the Bush administration and the California energy rip-off. And few Republicans could be expected to toss their votes to a candidate who has spoken in much greater detail about the size of his, uhmm, 'running mate' than he has about his solutions to the problems facing the state of California.
Even without the checkered background, it was questionable whether the candidate could gather much support from voters of any political persuasion. Perhaps the biggest hurdle he was facing was that voters have to be, as a general rule, at least eighteen years of age, and yet his campaign was targeted squarely at the thirteen-year-old male demographic.
"The cock isn't a muscle, so it doesn't grow in relation to the shoulders, say, or the pectorals. You can't make it bigger through exercise, that's for sure... women have told me they're curious about its size--you know, outgoing chicks who're just trying to be outrageous or horny. I hear all kind of lines, including 'Oh, you're hurting me; you're so big.' But it means nothing. Bodybuilders' cocks are the same size as everyone else's."
It was all about image. No substance whatsoever.
Not unlike any other political campaign. Except that this time, anyone old enough to separate fantasy from reality knew that the image was an entirely synthetic creation of Hollywood studios. And it was a ridiculous, over-the-top, cartoonish image that, incredibly enough, came complete with a soundtrack provided by a ridiculous, burned out, cartoonish 'heavy-metal' singer who sucked twenty years ago and hasn't aged well.
There were, to be fair, some factors working in the candidate's favor. He received an assist, for instance, on the hushed rumors of racism and misogyny from "Oprah Tom" Winfrey. And the Simon Wiesenthal Center stepped up to the plate to provide damage control on the Nazi allegations.
The Wiesenthal Center is, of course, world renowned as a fiercely dedicated Nazi-hunting organization. A Nazi-hunting organization, it should be noted, is not the same thing as a Nazi-catching organization. The Wiesenthal Center is focused exclusively on hunting for Nazis. It hasn't had much luck actually catching Nazis, what with only tens of thousands of them left at large after the war.
The candidate also quickly and improbably assembled an impressive list of endorsements, including one from the California Taxpayer's Association, which had never before endorsed any candidate. But this candidate was so special, so obviously destined for the throne, that the group felt compelled for the first time in over seventy years to offer its blessings.
The media was undoubtedly the candidate's greatest asset. He was given instant legitimacy. He was given an extraordinary amount of press coverage for doing, and saying, virtually nothing. He was, from the start, consistently referred to as the "front-runner," even though every poll that was taken during the campaign (before the uncanny shift in the final days) showed that the candidate was trailing his Democratic rival.
Presented as a foregone conclusion was that the Democratic Party had to go. They had caused the ship-of-state to crash and burn. 300,000 jobs had been lost. A large surplus had been turned into a record deficit. The state was having serious financial difficulties. The head of state spent more time raising money than he did governing...
...And California really is located in the land of make-believe, as opposed to being one of the fifty United States, where about 1,000,000 jobs a year are vanishing, and where record federal deficits are being projected, and where the head of state seems to divide his time, more or less equally, between fund raising and taking vacations.
But even if we factor in the massive, well-coordinated effort to steamroll the candidate into office - through saturation media coverage, ludicrously hypocritical endorsements, and a big budget Hollywood production posing as a political campaign - we still come up well short of explaining the reported election results.
Even if we factor in the incumbent governor's acts of self-immolation (signing the so-called car tax and granting driver's licenses to 'illegal' immigrants), we still come up short. Voters were angry, to be sure, and their anger was misdirected, thanks largely to the media. But even so, an angry chicken doesn't vote for Colonel Sanders, as a certain colorfully corrupt civil rights activist observed.
We also have to factor in the Los Angeles Times belated coverage of the candidate's serial groping problem, almost universally portrayed as a desperate and despicable attempt by the 'liberal' press, acting in collusion with the sitting Democratic administration, to derail the Republican front-runner's campaign.
In fact, it was nothing of the sort.
There is no doubt that it was widely known in Hollywood and media circles that the candidate had a serious problem with his treatment of women. The Times, and countless other media outlets, could have released the story much earlier. In fact, it was their duty to the public that they serve to release the story in a timely manner.
Instead, all avenues of the print and broadcast media suppressed the story, and continue to suppress the story. Except for the Los Angeles Times, which chose to release it at the eleventh hour. The timing was quite deliberate. But it wasn't meant as an ambush. It was, however, meant to appear as though it was an ambush, thus providing the raw fuel for the right-wing opinion shapers to enrage their voter base.
There was another purpose for the release of the story. The candidate's response to the charges, after a few false starts, was to assert that he would explain himself after the election. But the story, not surprisingly, has completely disappeared off the media's radar screen as quickly as it appeared. And it won't be making a comeback. And the governor-elect will not be volunteering any clarification. Any attempts to revive the story will be viciously shouted down with the battle cry that the charges have already been aired, the voters have already taken them into consideration, and the verdict has already been rendered.
Case closed -- thanks to that pillar of the 'liberal' press, the Los Angeles Times.
Taking everything into consideration, it might have been almost believable if the candidate had squeaked by with a narrow victory over his opponent, capturing perhaps 35-40% of the vote. But that didn't happen. Instead, he allegedly snagged fully half the votes cast, stretching credibility far past the breaking point.
But why, if the election was fraudulent, which it certainly seems to have been, would the rigged results not have been more credible? Why nearly a 20 point advantage over his nearest opponent? Why not, say, 39% for the front-runner, 37% for his challenger, 13% for the other Republican, and the rest spread among the also-rans? Why the landslide?
Was it just another example of the Bush team's in-your-face style? Another brazen "fuck you" to the people of California?
Perhaps, but there was more to it than that. The candidate needed the landslide victory. It was the only outcome that could be legitimized by the political and media establishment. Because the candidate didn't just need a victory. He needed a recall-proof victory. And he needed a victory that didn't further expose the transparently anti-democratic nature of the recall procedure.
The candidate had to do more than just beat the other candidates listed on the ballot; he had to beat the candidate that wasn't listed -- the candidate whose results were tallied by counting the "no" votes on the first part of the ballot. Had the front-runner not achieved that objective, some people might have noticed that a recall election that doesn't allow the incumbent to be listed on the ballot is not very, shall we say, conducive to the exercise of democracy.
And just as importantly, had the candidate not recorded a landslide victory, state 'Democrats' would have been under intense pressure to immediately mount yet another recall. And there is no question that that recall would have succeeded. After all, if a candidate is elected to office with only 35-40% of the popular vote, meaning that 60-65% of votes were cast against him, then how hard would it be to get just 50% of the electorate to vote to remove him?
So the candidate needed a decisive victory -- and, miraculously, and in defiance of logic and reason, he got it. And the state's 'Democratic' spokesmen couldn't wait to declare, with finality, that there would be no recall of the victor of the recall race. Within minutes of the announcements of the results of the election - which came literally seconds after the polls had closed, and before a single vote had actually been counted - state 'Democrats' had poured water on the smoldering flames of a potential second recall campaign.
A further benefit of the ridiculously unlikely election results (unlikely only with regard to the selection of a replacement governor, that is; California voters stuck firmly and incongruously to their democratic principles in decisively defeating a right-wing sponsored ballot initiative) is that the political establishment can now claim that the candidate is entering office with a mandate from voters -- although it is anyone's guess what exactly that mandate is, since nobody who voted for the new governor actually knew what it was that they were voting for.
The new administration does, to be sure, have an agenda, though it is not one that the candidate bothered to share with voters. So what will he bring to the table? What kind of man is really behind the Tinseltown image?
The sad truth is that there is nothing behind the image. The candidate, for all intents and purposes, doesn't really exist. He is entirely synthetic. Behind the badly dyed hair, the unnaturally white teeth, and the dyed and tightly stretched skin ... lies nothing. Nothing, that is, save for a team of puppeteers. And those puppeteers have big plans for California.
What kind of plans? For starters, completing the process of deregulating and looting California's energy market. Those plans are already on the table, although the media have largely avoided mentioning that. The LA Times unveiled the new administration's plan on October 13, but managed to bury the story in the newspaper's Business section (Nancy Rivera Brooks "Schwarzenegger Unveils Energy Plans," Los Angeles Times, October 13, 2003).
As Loretta Lynch, a member of the California Public Utilities Commission, noted, "the plan does not express support for the state's quest to get the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to order as much as $9 billion in refunds from power sellers for alleged electricity overcharges. There was also little discussion of how the market would be policed to prevent future manipulation."
There is little discussion of how the market will be policed for a very simple reason: the market will not be policed. At all.
And the governor-elect will not be satisfied with just trashing all oversight of the state's energy industry. He has a grander vision. He wants to set up a two-tiered energy system. A system that will require "utilities to lock in reserve power through contracts and pass those costs along to customers, such as residential users, who are willing to pay higher prices in exchange for reliability," while allowing other users "to pay less if they agreed that their power could be interrupted when supplies were tight, as measured by prices. Unlike existing utility programs, power curtailments would be mandatory and would be done remotely by the utility."
It's a little program that I like to call Energy Apartheid. And it is a part of a much larger agenda, statewide and nationwide, to create a two-tiered society -- a society where a relative handful of those at the top of the food chain have access to such things as quality healthcare and education, and uninterrupted power supplies, while the rest of us learn to fend for ourselves.
The Times, by the way, provided the following spin by way of introducing the plan: "This blend of ideas is perhaps not surprising for a centrist Republican accustomed to peacefully coexisting with the fiercely Democratic Kennedy clan." It is also not surprising for an overtly fascist Republican accustomed to coexisting with a corrupt political family that for decades has successfully posed as the loyal opposition.
There is much more for Californians to look forward to than just Energy Apartheid. It is pretty much a given that the state will be treated to some Texas-style Congressional redistricting. You can bank on that one. And we will surely see a Florida-style scrubbing of the voter rolls.
The new governor's script apparently also calls for a full-throttle attack on labor, with Southern California grocery and transit workers being set up as the first victims. Expect the conveniently timed strikes/lockouts to continue for several weeks. And expect the media to pull out all the stops in an effort to turn the public, which has been overwhelmingly sympathetic and supportive, against the striking workers.
And expect the 'Terminator' to ride to the rescue, promoting harsh anti-labor legislation, possibly on the pretext that the grocery and transit workers' strikes are endangering public health and safety. Indeed, the possibility exists that an apparent threat to public health could be manufactured through conspiring to create regional food shortages -- with the blame, of course, placed squarely on the shoulders of the striking workers.
Once the sacrificial unions have been crushed, expect unions all across the state to come under attack.
And there is more, so much more, that we can expect from our new governor. Despite vague promises to the contrary, look for deep cuts in social spending. Although the media hasn't bothered to mention it, the new governor will have more power (thanks to recently, and quite conveniently, passed legislation) than any of his predecessors to gut spending on such things as education and healthcare.
I mentioned previously that the governor-elect's image is cartoonish. And it is that. But it is certainly not benign. No, it is an exceedingly reactionary image that advocates extreme violence as an all-purpose solution. What the governor-elect is, above all else, is a Hollywood-created, media-friendly face for the police state.
As some in the media have noted, his campaign was all about further blurring the line between politics and entertainment -- between fantasy and reality. That line will disappear entirely as the Hollywood fantasy becomes a Sacramento reality. The 'Terminator' come to life. Come to save California.
Come to transform California into the testing grounds for the emerging police state.
And what could possibly be more surreal, more bizarre, and yet more oddly natural than the real-life 'Terminator' doing battle with real-life 'Terrorists'? Think back to the events of September 11 and how, numbed by countless depictions of calamitous destruction on the big screen, we were at first unable to comprehend that what we were seeing was real. It seemed like just another special-effects laden, Hollywood 'action' movie.
Now imagine that scene playing out again, only this time with the production featuring the 'Terminator' in a starring role -- flexing his muscles, uttering semi-coherent, scripted one-liners, and standing tall against the 'terrorists,' just as he has done so many times before. Only this time, it will be real. Or will it?
The new governor is taking office much as George Bush did -- with questionable legitimacy and with no mandate for the agenda that will soon be rolled out. We all remember how Bush overcame that hurdle. But the effects are wearing off. Team Bush could use a boost. And soon, California's new governor will need one as well.
As I suggested in a previous newsletter, upon the appointment of William Bratton as the new LAPD fuhrer, things aren't looking good for Los Angeles.
In fact, things aren't looking good for the nation. All of those out there who are having a good laugh at California's expense may not be laughing for long. Before the candidate had even made his 'surprise' entry into the recall race, Congress had begun working quietly to rewrite the Constitutional requirement that U.S. presidents be native born. There are at least two bills on the table, with 'bipartisan' support coming from, among others, Senator Orrin Hatch on the right and Congressman Barney Frank on the left.
Will the 'Terminator' be coming to Washington? Has it been decided that the Third Reich cannot be properly resurrected without an Austrian strongman at the helm? Many will scoff at that suggestion. But that's just because they haven't been paying attention to how the game is played.