Silly Season ’06 Observations on the News

Silly Season ’06 is upon so, and so it is time for some political observations on the news:

  • From the “Boy, Are Those Some Weighty Issues” Department:It appears that there is another mechanism that may come into play to prevent your vote from being counted: The US Postal Service. It seems that some counties (such as Riverside county) have so many issues and candidates on the ballot that the 1 oz threshhold has been crossed. Unfortunately, not everyone voting absentee knows this, and some folks may think a single-stamp will suffice. For example, in Riverside County, the six ballot cards that voters will mark together weigh just over an ounce, requiring 63 cents postage to mail the ballot to the county registrar of voters–this is due to a combination of 13 state measures, 15 local measures, and state and federal contests. Two other counties are in similar straits.
    [Los Angeles Times]

  • From the “But We Know What It Is To Be Orphans” Department: Do you think every proposition on your ballot has active backing? Think again. Quite a few have had their original backers back out, just as a large number of propositions that you might have signed to get on the ballot had their efforts quietly dropped. One example: the education parcel tax, Prop. 88. Netflix founder Reed Hastings and venture capitalist John Doerr jump-started the effort with nearly $7 million. The contributions, used to pay signature gatherers, consultants and attorneys, were enough to secure a spot for the parcel tax on the November ballot. However, since that effort, its backers have long since stopped giving, in light of public opinion surveys showing weak voter support for the tax. Organizers now say they are unlikely to air a single television ad. But this isn’t the only instance of this. The Los Angeles Times cites an effort by the California Healthcare Foundation (a trade group for hospitals) in 2004, where they spent $2.6 million to put a measure on the ballot that would have created a tax on phone calls to fund emergency rooms and other services. After the measure qualified to go before voters, the group backed out of the campaign, crippling its chances. Also that year, card clubs and horse racetracks spent $27 million on a measure that would have allowed them to install slot machines. A month before the election, they pulled the plug on the campaign for the foundering proposal. In 2005, the California Teachers Assn. spent millions on campaign consultants and signature gatherers for a measure that would have raised property taxes on businesses. The group withdrew it before it qualified for the ballot. Situations like this make me think twice about groups raising money to put something on the ballot.
    [Los Angeles Times]

  • From the “No, It’s Your Fault” Department: It’s started. The Democrats are blaming the Republicans for letting N. Korea get out of hand, and the Republican’s are blaming the Clinton administration, 6 years ago, for letting N. Korea get out of hand. It’s getting really silly. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, accused Democrats of playing partisan politics with a nuclear weapons threat. “Listening to some Democrats, you’d think the enemy was George Bush, not Kim Jong Il,” he said. Others are noting North Korea’s reported nuclear test is providing Republicans an opportunity to shift the focus from the congressional page scandal to national security, an issue the GOP considers its strength. But, then again, some House republicans are blaming the Democrats for that as well. Me? I think there’s plenty of blame to go around. I’m more impressed by the person that is willing to admit their responsiblity and mistakes and state what they will do differently, than someone who keeps doing what doesn’t work and just points the finger. I’ve got a finger for them!
    [San Diego Union Tribune, Jackson Hole Star-Tribune

Luckily, voter interest is high this election year, and both men and women voters are approximately equally smart.