I find it difficult to describe exactly what's happening in California right now. Sort of how President Bush is determined to show the world that everything they've feared from the United States is true, California has, over the past couple of years, lived down to the expectations of Middle America. So, first, Congressman Darrell Issa (pronounced EYE-sa) gets a bug up his butt and spends $1.7mil of his own money to gather signatures and run commercials to convince everyone that California's massive budget deficit is entirely the fault of Governor Gray Davis. Under California's constitution, almost any public official can be recalled from office for any reason, and on a local level it happens often enough.
So the recall has two questions: "Recall Governor Davis from office: Yes/No", and "If the recall succeeds, pick a replacement: " followed by a list of candidates. The fun bit comes in two parts: first, to be listed on the ballot, you just have to pay a $3500 fee, collect 65 signatures, and file some papers; second, the winner needs only a plurality to win. Not a majority--just one vote more than the second-place runner.
It reminds me of the old joke about two hunters being chased by a bear--one guy says "We'll never outrun him," and his partner says, "I don't have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you."
Arnold Schwarzenegger declared his candidacy on The Tonight Show on Wednesday. Our theory about Congressman Issa, that he drove the recall so he could have a shot at the governor's seat, went down in glorious flames yesterday, when he withdrew from the race. And, I shit you not, I couldn't make this stuff up, Gary Coleman is a candidate. Don't feel bad, we don't understand what's going on either, and we live here.
Oh, and a couple of Democrats have broken ranks and filed: Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante and State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi. In California the Governor and Lieutenant Governor run separately (much the way the President and Vice-President used to run, except that they had trouble finding anyone who wanted to be Vice-President, so they created the two-person ticket system we have now), and Davis and Bustamante don't particularly like each other. In fact, Davis, over the course of his political career, has not made many friends, even in his own party, so no one's really there to put their careers on the line for him. As the news pointed out, Davis has been casting the recall as a right-wing conspiracy, but that's a bit difficult when one's credible opponents are two prominent Democrats and a pretty moderate Republican (Schwarzenegger, in addition to his stunning acting and oratory skills, is pro-choice and pro-gay rights).
Here's the latest rundown. My bad, I forgot that Larry Flynt (owner of "Hustler" magazine) is also running.
More George W. Bush mythology: I bet the box doesn't mention that he didn't show up for his National Guard duty.
The Episcopal Church confirmed its first openly gay bishop. Reaction is mixed, with a lot of people blathering about schism, and complaining about how this isn't their church any more. And conservatives have declared a "pastoral emergency" and are calling on the rest of the Anglican Communion to do something. The real problem is not the American conservatives, who will do what American conservatives everywhere generally do, and bitch and moan and whimper about better times when morality meant something, and then get dragged kicking and screaming into reality with the rest of us; but the churches of the Third World, Africa and Asia, are conservative with a raging bitterness that Americans just can't muster. The Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, referred to Gene Robinson's confirmation as "a Satanic attack on God's church". He previously helped with a crew of Third World churches who severed relations with a Canadian diocese for blessing gay relationships. Mostly it seems like he's just a jerk, but the whole thing is important enough that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, leader of the Anglican Communion, has called an October meeting of the Anglican primates.
It's so frustrating--the Bible has these few verses about homosexual behavior, but really nothing involving homosexuality as we know it. And those verses are bracketed by the prohibitions against wearing two different kinds of cloth at the same time and the advice on how to sell your daughters into slavery. No one seems to want to acknowledge that we really do pick and choose what we want out of the Bible according to what we feel okay with at the time,
(in a similar vein, ask a Catholic priest sometime where the doctrine of Original Sin is expounded in the Bible; when he sputters, ask why the writings of Augustine of Hippo have the same canonical status as Scripture)
and in fact there's absolutely nothing in the Bible to suggest that proscription of gay sex is any more or less important than the rest of the laundry list of ancient Jewish laws. There's just a tradition of bigotry and ignorance.
I get more and more happy to have a steady job every day: outsourcing is the latest thing.
In better news, restrictive state-mandated software licensing takes a hit.