31 October 2012

On abolishing the death penalty.

Happy Halloween, and just in time for Halloween I’m discussing Prop 34, the ban-the-death-penalty law. No, I didn’t deliberately time it that way. Yes, I’m still writing about politics on a kids’ holiday. You don’t have to read it on Halloween, you know. You can blow it off till Election Day, as are most of the procrastinators in California; then scramble to figure out what you think… then conclude you don’t know anything, and just vote “no” on everything, or leave ’em blank.

On this one, most people already kinda know where they stand. Either they hate the death penalty, and hate that any civilized society should have to execute anybody; or they’re disturbed by the number of people who get sentenced to death, only to later be found not guilty by reason of DNA evidence; or they hate how so many ghouls rejoice at every execution, as if the only way to sate the Dark Unholy Beast of Vengeance Justice is to sacrifice more deserving criminals to it. I’m not a fan of that last thing myself.

30 October 2012

Voting on car insurance rates again? Yes, again.

Getting behind on the proposition rants… Other stuff’s been distracting me. Prop 33 is kind of a no-brainer, though.

Proposition 33. Auto Insurance Companies. Prices Based on Driver’s History of Insurance Coverage. Initiative Statute.

What I’d call it. If you don’t have auto insurance, man, are you gonna get shafted by your introductory rate.

The “problem” and “solution.” Well, for most of us it’s not a problem: When we passed Prop 103 in 1988, it determined how the Insurance Commissioner approves auto insurance rates. Mostly it’s based on the driver’s safety record. To a lesser degree, it’s based on how often you drive, or how long you’ve been driving. That sets the baseline rate.

Insurance companies can then offer discounts to their existing customers for being good drivers. But they can’t offer those discounts to attract new customers from other insurers. Well, Prop 33 fixes that: Now they can.

Here’s the catch. If you’ve not been driving for 90 days, or are a new driver, or are new to California, or were covered under someone else’s plan but didn’t have your own plan, you’re gonna get hosed.

24 October 2012

James Dobson and Obama’s America.

On 22 October 2008, four years and two days ago, James Dobson issued a strongly-worded letter to Focus on the Family supporters, titled “Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America.” It was forwarded to me, via email, from a family member who is in the habit of believing everything James Dobson says. I suspect the reasoning is since he’s such a good child psychologist, he must be right about politics. In any event, you can read it here.

I have a long history with Dobson’s books and organizations. I even used to contribute to Focus on the Family on a regular basis. I stopped the regular contributions in the mid-1990s, and stopped even the occasional contributions in the early 2000s. Most of what did it for me was his fatwa against California public schools: He ordered Christians to pull their kids out of them, and (though the following weren’t his words) abandon the children left behind to the devil.

22 October 2012

Prop 32: You shouldn’t have to fund your opponents.

The local police and firefighters’ unions keep sending me flyers that state they’re against Proposition 32. They send me so many, I’m wondering whether to vote for it just to make them STOP THE JUNK MAIL.

I suppose I’d better get to ranting about it.

Proposition 32. Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Initiative Statute.

What I’d call it. Republicans shouldn’t have to fund their unions’ support of Democrats.

The problem. This was a problem back when I was a Republican: In certain jobs, the union is a big part of the benefits package. That is to say, you don’t have a benefits package unless you join it. The union administers the benefits, and the corporation pays it to do so. It doesn’t handle them itself. So while you aren’t required to join, you gotta if you want the perqs.

18 October 2012

Halloween, Samhain, and harvest festivals: Doing them wrong.

“So is your church doing anything for Halloween?” I asked him.

Harvest party,” he quickly corrected me.

I groaned inwardly. And a little bit outwardly.

“By ‘harvest party,’ do you mean having a big Thanksgiving-style feast, featuring foods from the autumn harvest, plus a prayer of thanks for the hard-working farmers and farming communities and agribusinesses who provide us with food? Or do you mean the kids play dress-up, you feed them junk food, and there are games and prizes?”

“We’re telling them to not dress up,” he said. “But there are snacks and games and prizes.”

“Ah,” I said. “So it’s a sucky Halloween alternative.”

I could go on with this conversation, but it deteriorated from there.

13 October 2012

The week’s multimedia, #1.

I had a widget on this page entitled “Multimedia I’m consuming.” I decided to be rid of it, and instead post semi-regular updates on the multimedia I’m consuming, for two reasons. One is that I want to rant further about some of those items. The other is that I want to keep the rants as old posts, whereas the things in the widget just disappear into the ether once I’ve updated them. If I put time into crap, I tend to want to keep it, even if it is just crap. Blame my pack-rat genes.

So without further ado, here’s the multimedia du semaine.

06 October 2012

“Pulpit Freedom”: More civic idolatry.

Tomorrow is “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” an event in which pastors are encouraged to ignore the laws forbidding non-profit organizations (namely churches) from endorsing specific political candidates or parties. Instead, they’re gonna engage in civil disobedience, endorse whoever they want—on the grounds that their chosen candidates or parties reflect the Kingdom best—and let the chips fall where they may. If they lose their non-profit status, so be it; we have freedom of speech in the United States, and we should particularly be able to practice freedom of speech in our churches, in the name of standing up for godly things.

Well, I agree about standing up for godly things. But churches are outposts of the Kingdom of God. And the Kingdom is not a democracy. It’s a Kingdom. It has a king: Jesus of Nazareth, Messiah of Israel, Lord of lords. Stumping for some other leader in Jesus’s pulpit, particularly one who doesn’t answer to Jesus—either Mitt Romney, who follows a heretic interpretation of Jesus, or Barack Obama, who only follows Jesus when it’s politically convenient—is, bluntly, treason.

If, as a result of this foolhardy behavior, a church gets its lampstand taken out (i.e. Rv 2.5) what’s to say our government isn’t acting entirely within Jesus’s will?

03 October 2012

Prop 31: Local control beats state control.

“So ‘fiscal liberal’ means you’re a tax-and-spend liberal,” one of my friends commented after the last post. Um… okay. I suppose I do believe in taxing and spending. What, are you gonna raise taxes, then sit on the money? Or borrow and spend, cut taxes yet rack up massive, generation- and economy-crippling deficits, then blame the ruined economy and deficits on the opposition party? Wait, that’s got potential… Aw, but Republicans are already doing it. Bummer.

Libertarians would have you cut taxes, over and over again, as often as possible, and argue we can afford it because government wastes money. The reality is government always wastes money. So do businesses. So do households. I throw out old food. I’m not gonna cut the food budget simply because I didn’t eat all the beans I’ve cooked, or drink all the coffee I’ve made. But to use libertarian thinking, not only should I trim the food budget: I should eliminate it altogether and just graze on the lawn.

I prefer local government. Every program, as much as possible, should be moved out of Washington and Sacramento, and put in the hands of locals. I believed it back when I was a Republican, and most of my fellow Republicans totally agreed. Here’s the catch: To do so will often be more expensive than consolidating the program in Washington and Sacramento.

01 October 2012

Prop 30: The schools are broke. Anybody willing to step up? …No? Figures.

In previous elections I’ve done a big long post on California’s ballot propositions. That’s because, to me, the props are the most important part of the ballot. They’re laws. They’re tweaks to our state constitution, and we’ll have to live under them. It’s easier to undo an elected official than a constitutional amendment. Yet most voters don’t bother to look into them. Some voters skip them. Others vote no on everything—especially if they’re tax increases or bond measures.

So rather than do the big long post this election, I figured I’d tackle a proposition at a time. Yeah, that means a lot of posts on propositions. And if you’re not from California, you could care less. Well, tough. My blog; I wanna rant about the propositions.