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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Arnold Stumps for McCain and Reisig Opposes Prop 5

At the risk of trying to tie some otherwise disparate pieces of information together into a single blog entry, I will start by arguing that I find it curious the decisions made both by Jeff Reisig in the manner in which he chose to attack Proposition 5 in the Davis Enterprise and the fact that McCain would have decided to use California's Governor for stump help, not in California of course, but in the perhaps pivotal battleground of Ohio.

Let us start with the local angle first. It is no surprise that Jeff Reisig would oppose Proposition 5, just about all of law enforcement and prosecutors have. I know it's not a perfect law but the situation with non-violent drug offenders in prisons is fundamentally unsustainable and the dam will break. And when it does, prosecutors and law enforcement will likely wind up with a far more reactionary and broader law. This would have been a chance to let some of the air out from the pressure building on the system.

This is from the bi-partisan Little Hoover Commission report on California's prisons:
"California’s correctional system is in a tailspin that threatens public safety and raises the risk of fiscal disaster. The failing correctional system is the largest and most immediate crisis facing policy-makers. For decades, governors and lawmakers fearful of appearing soft on crime have failed to muster the political will to address the looming crisis. And now their time has run out."
The real interesting point of focus is that Jeff Reisig, the Yolo County District Attorney, sent the same letter to Davis as he did to Woodland. Why would he do that?

Tying in another loose thread here, the Davis Enterprise reported yesterday an interesting little factoid on local fundraising and the Presidential Election.

Barack Obama has raised $353,258 from Yolo County residents compared with $113,950 for McCain.

The city of Davis raised 85 percent of that--$298,672--compared to just $37,531 for McCain. That's an 8 to 1 advantage.

One other little tidbit is that Woodland raised more than half of McCain's countywide total.

Neither of these facts are particularly surprising. But they do suggest that maybe the good DA might want to re-think sending the same letter to Enterprise as he did to the Daily Democrat.

He writes:
"The first thing voters should know is that the proponents of this so-called 'Non-Violent Offender Rehabilitation Act' include billionaire George Soros and the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance..."
Ah the George Soros boogie man. Now, Mr. Reisig, that might work in say Woodland, but my guess is that most of Davis does not view George Soros as nearly the anti-Christ that the right wingers up in Woodland do. I am not saying everyone is in line with George Soros, but I am guessing to most Davisites, he is not a pariah and to many, they are appreciative of his efforts to remove President Bush in the 2004 election.

The lesson here is target your message. Someone is going to point out to me that he said a lot more than just that in his letter, but see, his decision to attack George Soros distracted me from his ultimate message. That just proves my point.

But for good measure, our district attorney gives us another little strawman argument:
"Prop. 5 is not limited to simple drug possession offenses. Virtually any criminal who claims to have a drug problem would be permitted a 'get-out-of-jail-free' card. "
This is of course completely untrue. The only people eligible for Proposition 5 diversion are for those who are ONLY charged with non-violent drug possession offenses. The law specifically defines “non-violent drug possession offense” as “the unlawful, personal use, possession for personal use, or transportation for personal use or being under the influence of any controlled substance…”

So it appears that District Attorney Reisig was inaccurate on this charge which is a pretty standard distortion thrown out by the law enforcement agencies against this proposition. And he certainly should have used better discretion than to submit the same letter to both the Enterprise and the Daily Democrat, given the differences in the likely responses. But at least I'll give him this: he did appear to write the letter himself, unlike our Sheriff with regards to the pro-Proposition 6 letter.

Arnold Stumps for McCain

That leads me to the Governor of California's appearance in Ohio for John McCain foundering campaign.

And this is more of a mixed view. As commentators point out, the Governor inspired larger than usual crowds for a McCain rally. He clearly excited the crowds in ways that John McCain is just not capable of doing.

But Arnold is a double-edged sword. In California, Arnold has an approval rating not much better than President Bush's nationally. Last month it registered at just 35%. And he is coming off a very bloody period with the budget showdown.

The question is really whether Barack Obama really needs to make an issue of all of this. It may just be that Obama will go about his business knowing that McCain is running out of time and Arnold's appearance will do very little for him.

But there is more. First of all, Arnold decided to poke fun at the physique of Obama.

Then he launched into the tax issue.

As the Sacramento Bee reports:
During his speech, the governor recognized the awkward position of having to tailor his speech to McCain's anti-tax message while having proposed raising taxes this week in his own state to offset an estimated $10 billion revenue shortfall.

"Now just because you want to raise a tax certainly doesn't make you a socialist because in California I have proposed a temporary sales tax increase to address our massive deficit," he said. "But Sen. Obama wants to raise the taxes because of ideology. He wants to raise all kinds of taxes. He wants to raise the taxes on capital gains and dividends."
The phrase "flimsy excuse" comes to mind. For Arnold tax increases are okay because they deal with the deficit, for Obama they are not because it is part of his ideology, rather than looking to fix the tax and revenue system that was put out of whack by Bush's tax policies from the early 90s that led to huge growths in deficits.

Not to mention, McCain's message gets stepped on because he has argued that the last thing we need is a tax increase during these economic times, and yet that is exactly now what Arnold is proposing--and a sales tax puts the burden on the middle class while Obama's proposal shifts the burden to those who can most afford to pay a bit more.

It all seems like mental gymnastics to me and it would be easy enough for Obama to make a big deal out of it, but he probably will not, because he does not need to.

We are now just a few days away from finally ending this never ending campaign. It seems like we have been at this non-stop for two years. Oh, that is because we have.

---David M. Greenwald reporting