California Primary: my last ballot as a Republican, and the cowardice of state Democrats

May 22, 2016
"I get to vote twice? Gee, thanks, pal!"

Thrilled to vote against Trump

Well, that’s that. I’ve just filled in my mail-in ballot and cast my last vote as a Republican, the party I’ve identified with for 45 years. Like I said before, I refuse to be part of a party that nominates an anti-constitutional authoritarian populist demagogue. (1)

Instead I cast my vote for president for… (drumroll) …John Kasich. Not that I would ever vote for him normally (I still think he’s a sanctimonious ass), but what little polling there was for California showed he had the best chance of beating Trump in my congressional district. So, strategic voting it was. Go, Kasich.

"This is my happy face"

“This is my happy face”

 

That aside, there were a few other elections of note. In the race to be among the top two finishers and thus earn a spot in the general election for the federal Senate, we had 34 (!) candidates to choose from. (2) Since there was no way I was voting for Attorney General Kamala Harris or bigoted dimwit Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, and most of the other candidates I’d never heard of, I cast my ballot for Thomas Del Beccaro, a former state chair of (what’s left of) the Republican Party in California. Who knows, with so many Democrats splitting the vote, he just might sneak into the top two.

For the House and  State Assembly races, I voted for the Republican as the only other choice besides the (statist, progressive) Democrat incumbents. Not that the Rs have any chance: there are so few in these districts, I think they can be counted on two hands with fingers left over.

Judicial races are always frustrating: few candidates even have web sites, and I never see them campaigning, so I know next to nothing about them when election day rolls around. My default is to vote for the incumbent or, if there is none, to prefer a prosecutor.

There was only one proposition on the ballot: a constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to suspend members without pay. I voted for it. However, this is also where the “cowardice of state Democrats” part comes in.

This proposition should have been named the “Senator Leland Yee” bill in honor of the Democrat state senator indicted for arms-trafficking. In addition, that same year, another Democrat state senator was convicted of voter fraud and perjury, while a third Democrat was indicted for bribery. 2014 was a banner year for California Democrats.

Funny thing, though. They weren’t expelled from the Senate, even though that body had plenary power and every reason to do so. Why, you may ask? Because expulsion meant special elections to fill those seats and, with all the negative publicity for Democrats these scandals and the expulsions would bring, there would have been a decent chance of Republicans capturing one or more. This, in turn, would have made it harder for Democrats to regain the filibuster-proof two-thirds majority in the state senate (they have that easily in the Assembly) that would enable them to tax-and-spend even more wildly than they do now. So, no expulsions, and the corrupt Democrat senators kept their seats until one finally resigned. (3)

However, to make themselves look good, Senate Democrats under then-Senate President Steinberg proposed this amendment to allow suspension without pay. That’ll show those crooks! This proves California Democrats are tough on political corruption!

Even though they refused to expel three corrupt Democrat senators… smiley well I'm waiting

Cowards.

Still, the bill is worthwhile on its own merits, so I voted for it. Ballot marked, envelope signed and sealed, ready to mail.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to change my registration to “decline to state.”

 

Footnote:
(1) And those are Trump’s good points.
(2) And you thought the Republican presidential primary was overcrowded…
(3) Senator Calderon (D), indicted for bribery, took a “leave of absence” and was term-limited out at the next election. Senator Yee was suspended with pay until replaced in the next election. Only Senator Wright had the decency to resign.

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#CApolitics: Third state senator (D) arrested on corruption charges

March 26, 2014
Not smiling now, I bet.

Not smiling now, I bet.

Earth-shaking news in California politics broke this morning with word of the arrest of State Senator Leland Yee (D, SD-8) on charges of public corruption, including soliciting donations beyond the allowed limits in return for legislative services and –ahem!– firearms trafficking. You can read the indictment (PDF) via the NBC BayArea site (1). From their article on the arrest:

California state Sen. Leland Yee was arrested on public corruption charges as part of several arrests made by the FBI Wednesday morning during a massive FBI sting, the FBI told NBC Bay Area.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California said that Yee and current Chee Kung Tong leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow were among 26 defendants charged in a federal criminal complaint.

Yee and Chow were arraigned before Federal Magistrate Judge Nathaniel Cousins in San Francisco this afternoon.

The federal criminal complaint, filed on March 24, was unsealed in San Francisco Wednesday, charging the defendants with firearms trafficking, money laundering, murder-for-hire, drug distribution, trafficking in contraband cigarettes and honest services fraud, announced Haagm FBI special agent David Johnson and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez.

Yee was charged with conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license, and to illegally import firearms as well as a scheme to defraud citizens of honest services.

Chow’s charges include money laundering and conspiracy to trafficking contraband cigarettes.

From what I gather from skimming the indictment, Yee stands accused of soliciting bribes both to retire his debt from his failed mayoral run in San Francisco and to fund his current campaign for Secretary of State. He is also accused of offering to facilitate an arms deal through New Jersey between a dealer Yee knew and “UCE 4599,” an unidentified FBI undercover agent… in return for a “donation.”

The connection between Senator Yee and “Shrimp Boy” Chow seems to be Keith Jackson, a well-known Bay Area political consultant and associate of Yee. Chow, who has a long record and has been under investigation for years, introduced UCE 4599 to Jackson, who then apparently started supplying weapons for UCE 4599’s “associates” to guard their (imaginary) marijuana farms in Northern California. Jackson and others also apparently ran their own drug ring and even attempted to solicit murder-for-hire. Jackson was also Yee’s money-maker for the illegal donations.

There is no accusation that Senator Yee had anything to do with drugs or murder-for-hire, but, still, he sure keeps nice company.

Aside from the organized crime drama and political corruption, this has serious implications for the Democrats in California. Yee is the third state senator (2), all Democrats, to be indicted or convicted in the last several months. Senator Roderick Wright was convicted of felony voter fraud in January, while Senator Ron Calderon was indicted for corruption in February.

Since the 2012 election, Democrats have held a supermajority in the California legislature, controlling both chambers with two-thirds majorities. Under the state constitution, that gave them the power to do pretty much whatever they wanted: pass irresponsible budgets, fund wasteful programs to their heart’s content, you name it. The Republicans were bystanders, and it didn’t look like they’d have any power any time soon.

Then the majority started crumbling in the state senate. First came Andy Vidak’s (R-SD26) surprise victory in a 2013 special election, then the conviction of Wright and the indictment of Calderon. That last broke the supermajority in the senate, and now Yee’s troubles (3) deepens the hole they’re in. Now, at least, the Democrats have to actually deal with the Republican senate caucus, if they want to get anything done. This means Proposition 13, the measure that protects homeowners from exorbitant property taxes and mandates a 2/3rds majority to raise taxes, making it a prime Democrat target, is safe for a while. The Democrats are likely to regain those seats, given the districts, but a smart Republican or independent candidate might make some populist hay running on a clean government platform. We’ll see.

From a larger view, this is what happens in a state when a party overwhelmingly dominates for too long: without credible opposition, legislators and other government officials come to feel entitled, become complacent, and think of themselves as rulers, not employees subject to the audit of the people. Corruption sets in. California has long been dominated by the Democrats (in the legislature, for decades), but a conservative friend in a long-time Red state has voiced similar complaints. It shows the problems that can set in when a strong two-party system withers to one.

One hopes that revelations such as Senator Yee’s purported activities will lead to soul-searching among the Democrats (4) and the rise of good conservative candidates in more areas to help redress the balance.

For the sake of California’s political health, we need both.

RELATED: More from the San Jose Mercury News.

PS: Did you know Yee once sponsored a measure to require state buildings to be designed according to Chinese Feng Shui principles? There’s a reason we’re called “Crazyfornia.”

Footnotes:
(1) And kudos to them for linking to a primary source. Too few online MSM outlets do that.
(2) But not the last, I bet.
(3) Because Senate President Steinberg (D) is desperate to keep those seats in Democrat hands, rather than risk a special election, Wright and Calderon have been allowed to go on “paid leave,” rather than being expelled. Yes, they still draw a salary, but at least they can’t vote. I’m sure Yee will be shown the same “courtesy.”
(4) Oh, stop laughing. It could happen. Maybe.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)