Monday, November 22, 2010

Margarita Fernandez updates the Citizens Redistricting Commission story

Margarita Fernandez, spokesperson for the California State Auditor's Office, updates the status and process of the Citizens Redistricting Commission, which will now also set Congressional district boundaries, recorded from Sacramento on November 22, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Michael Brady Makes the Case Against In-state Tuition for “Illegal Aliens”

Michael Brady, plaintiff’s attorney in the landmark case of Martinez v. Regents of the University of California, which seeks to overturn the provision in California state law granting in-state tuition rates to what he consistently called “illegal aliens,” spoke this afternoon with Etopia News, He explained his side of the case and said that he plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court the recent unfavorable judgment against his clients from the California Supreme Court.

Under the law, the plaintiffs in this case have 90 days from the November 15, 2010, date of the California Supreme Court’s ruling to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. Brady said that he will probably file that appeal “early in February.” He said “there’s a pretty good chance they’ll take it,” in part because it focuses on the currently hot topic of “federal pre-emption.”

Originally filed in December of 2005, in Yolo County, home of the University of California’s Davis campus, Martinez v. Regents of UC represents the objections of 42 plaintiffs from 19 different states to the fact that they must pay out-of-state tuition rates of more than $35,000 per year, while what Brady calls “illegal aliens” are only charged the much-lower in-state tuition of around $8,000. According to Brady, allowing illegal aliens this benefit costs the State of California $300 million annually.

Brady said that nobody he’s spoken to about this case can understand “how an American citizen can end up paying four times more than an illegal alien” to attend UC. The two major purposes of U.S. immigration law, he said, are to 1) discourage illegal aliens from coming to the U.S. and 2) discourage them from staying here. Granting in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens, he says, clearly “rewards and encourages them to stay here” and thus undermines the basic intent of U.S. immigration law.

According to Brady, the U.S. Congress has said that California is free to offer in-state tuition to illegal aliens, but if it does so, it must also offer it to all U.S. citizens, including those resident outside of California. He said that the decision of the California Supreme Court, which relied for its judgment on a provision of California law saying that illegal aliens were eligible for in-state tuition on the basis of their attendance at California high schools, and not on the basis of their residence in the state, clearly flaunts the “will of Congress.”

He cited as precedent the case in which the Supreme Court ruled that universities are free to bar military recruiters from campus, but at the cost of losing all federal funding, saying that UC was similarly entitled to grant in-state tuition to illegal aliens, but at the cost of having to extend that policy to all U.S. citizens, regardless of their residency. “You can go ahead,” he said, “but you’ll pay a price.”

The Regents of the University of California don’t want to pay that price, and the California Supreme Court has said they don’t have to. If the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to consider this case, Mr. Brady will have another chance to argue why they should have to. This case, he said, “has national ramifications. Ten other states have similar laws.”

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jeffrey Miron on a sounder argument for marijuana legalization

Jeffrey Miron, Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Economics at Harvard University, and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, discusses why California's marijuana legalization initiative, Proposition 19, failed, and proposes a more straightforward argument in support of the drug's legalization

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bruce Lieberman on climate change and national security

freelance journalist Bruce Lieberman discusses what the U.S. military is doing to plan for a future full of major disruptions caused by climate change, recorded from San Diego, California, on November 12, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

David Plouffe says that technological progess is "a little bit easier when you're not a democracy."

David Plouffe, campaign manager for President Obama in 2008 and, presumably, in 2012, addressed an audience brought together by the Center for Political Communications at the University of Delaware at 4:30 pm PST on November 10, 2010, as part of their National Agenda Series of talks on politics.

Talking about recent innovation in computer technology in China, where the world’s fastest supercomputer was recently unveiled, he said of such progress: “It’s a little bit easier when you’re not a democracy.”

Unsurprisingly, he sounded a lot like President Obama in tone and substance, speaking repeatedly of the need to find “common ground” between Republicans and Democrats. He admitted that the Republicans had a “good night” during the recent elections but said that they could have had a better one. He said it was hard to predict the political future.

Among other things, he said that voters were expressing their unhappiness and anxiety, but not voting for the Republican Party per se. He said the election was a cry for our leaders to get along and try solving problems. He pointed out that Republicans lost about two-thirds of the Latino vote and said that Republicans are divided into three different centers: the House, where they’re in control; the Senate, where they’re not; and, soon, presidential candidates.

President Obama, he said, “will reach out to try to find common ground where he will.” He cited as issues of importance the economy, debt and deficit, immigration reform, energy, and education. He urged leaders to work together, like adults. He said that working together would be good for the country.

Plouffe said he thought that the Republicans would nominate a right-wing extremist for president in 2012, because that’s where the energy and thinking in that party is now. He said that the electorate in 2012 would be 50 to 60 million voters larger than in 2010, and that it would include more young people and more moderate independents and would be more diverse.

The most important dynamic in that election, he said, will be if people think we’re heading in the right direction.

He predicted increased electoral/political volatility even though people are hungry for more intra-party cooperation. If the leaders match the commitment of the voters, we’ll make a lot of progress, he said, predicting that then we’ll have “that wonderful future that our youngsters deserve and need.” We can’t just worry about the next election, he said, although he also said that in elections substance is rarely discussed.

He said he’d like to see 100 candidates like (Delaware Republican Senate nominee) Christine McDonnell, adding that there is not a wide audience for that kind of candidate outside of the Republican Party. There are Republicans in Congress who want to find common ground, he said, but the energy in the Republican Party is with Glenn Beck. For the good of the country we will try to find common ground, he said, but it looks like we’ll get more of Palin, O’Donnell and Rand Paul. Asked by an audience member how he’d modify the President’s 2012 campaign if the Republicans nominated a moderate, he replied that he didn’t think they would.

A spokesperson for the University said on Thursday morning that a video of this talk would soon be online here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Congressional supporters of backroom redistricting have nothing to say about their plan's defeat

While most of the U.S. was turning itself over to the tender mercies of the newly-resurgent Republican Party last Tuesday, Californians returned arch-liberal Senator Barbara Boxer to office and re-elected “insider’s knowledge, outsider’s mind” Jerry Brown governor. Also, while pundits were noting the advantage that Republican-controlled state legislatures will now have in terms of being able to gerrymander Congressional districts in states where they are in power, California voters voted, by passing Proposition 20, to expand the writ of the Citizens Redistricting Commission they set up in 2008 to set State Assembly, Senate, and Board of Equalization districts to include the very Congressional districts that will, in other states, be apportioned on the basis of partisan self-interest.

They also rejected Proposition 27, a blatant power-grab, funded predominantly by Democratic incumbent Congressmembers, to disband the Citizens Redistricting Commission entirely, and give authority to draw legislative districts, both state and federal, back to the hacks (State Assemblymen and Senators) who have done an almost-perfect job (with the help of highly-paid Democratic consultant Michael Berman) of ensuring that no incumbent Democrat or Republican elected will be defeated before his or her time, or that any general election race for these offices in California will be truly competitive.

This state of affairs contributes mightily to the now-endemic cynicism and hostility to politics and politicians that are doing so much to keep the state (and country) from seriously addressing the myriad problems it faces. Surprisingly, Californians voted for Proposition 20 and against Proposition 27 by margins of around 60-40, a decisive statement about how strongly they feel about having politicians pick their voters instead of letting the voters pick their electeds.

A table here shows that several incumbent Democratic California Congressmembers made contributions of $10,000 or more to the campaign to pass Proposition 27 and defeat Proposition 20. These include Congressmembers Lois Capps, Anna Eshoo, Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, and Judy Chu.

Etopia News tried to contact each of these Representatives, as well as California State Senator Alex Padilla, who contributed several times to the Yes on 27/No on 20 campaign, to get their views on why their side lost and what the implications were of California voters decision to expand the power of, rather than disband, the Citizens Redistricting Commission established by Proposition 11 in 2008.

“Ashley,” in the press office of Rep. Lois Capps said she’d get a statement for this article, but hasn’t yet. Ben Bradford, in Rep. Eshoo’s office sent an e-mail saying:

“Thanks for the e-mail. I won’t be able to get anything from Rep. Eshoo until tomorrow at the earliest, and even then, I’m not sure she’ll be able to participate, but I’ll see what I can do and get back to you tomorrow.”

No word from him yet, nor from the offices of Pelosi, Schiff, Chu, or Padilla.

Professor Daniel Lowenstein, who was the official proponent of Proposition 27, didn’t return an e-mail asking for comment.

Nor, as of now, have statements been forthcoming from the Office of Representatives Eshoo or Capps.