california

California State Assembly Promotes Vote Fraud

I thank God everyday I do not live in the State of California. Sure the climate is nice, but the quality of life is pure crap. From the smog of Los Angeles to the high cost of living to the nanny statism that seems to infect every aspect of government in that state, California is no place for most sane people. The politics on the state level are even worse than the dysfunctional, authoritarian politics that are common place locally. The question is not whether or not the state will eventually need a bailout from the Federal government, but when. It is the highest taxed state in the Union and probably the most incompetently governed. Instead of tackling the deep fiscal problems of the state, the California State Assembly has instead made it easier to commit vote fraud on Election Day.

Californians who forgot to register for next week’s election may have better luck next time if a bill passed by the Assembly becomes law.

AB1436 would allow people to register to vote at any time, including on Election Day.

Assemblyman Mike Feuer, a Democrat from Los Angeles, said he wrote the bill to address the state’s chronically low voter participation rate.

High-speed rail line in California sees cost projections triple

Here is a profile in government waste. A high-speed rail line in California, part of President Barack Obama’s vision for the future of transportation, has just seen its costs and estimated completion rise dramatically:

Faster than a speeding bullet train, the cost of the state’s massive high-speed rail project has zoomed to nearly $100 billion — triple the estimate given to voters and more than enough to run the entire state government for a year.

What’s more, bullet trains won’t be up and running until at least 2033, much later than the original estimate of 2020, although that depends on the state finding the remaining 90 percent of the funds needed to complete the plan.

The new figures come from a final business plan to be unveiled by the California High-Speed Rail Authority on Tuesday, though some of the details were leaked to the media, including this newspaper, on Monday. Officials at the rail authority did not respond to repeated requests for comment Monday.
[…]
The new business plan pegs the price tag at $98.5 billion, accounting for inflation — more than double the estimate of $42.6 billion from two years ago, when it was already the priciest public works development in the nation. It’s a little less than triple the estimate of $33.6 billion voters were told when they approved the project in 2008. By comparison, the total state budget this year is $86 billion.

It’s hard to call that a “business plan.” When you say that you think of an idea eventually making money or at least paying for itself. This high-speed rail line is a boondoggle that will drain taxpayer dollars for as long as it exists.

Nanny State California bans minors from tanning beds

Don’t worry Cali teens, the government will protect you from yourself:

There will be less California minors walking around trying to damage their precious hides on purpose after a new law — the first of its kind in the U.S. — goes into effect that prohibits anyone under 18 from using a tanning bed.

But as using tanning beds can lead to skin damage like melanoma, and early tanning can up that risk, it seems like a good move to prevent cancer later.

Quite obviously this is borne of a paternalistic intent to protect minors from the risks involved. As the government sees it, minors are too young and stupid to understand the risks and therefore must have the government make the decision for them. By this logic, everyone should be banned from tanning beds; if it is dangerous and adults still do it then clearly they don’t understand the risks either! Why set such an age limit? Doesn’t everyone deserve equal protection from their own bad decisions?

Note: California is not the only state with such laws. Many states have various age restrictions, but California is the first to ban everyone under 18.

Ron Paul whoops all comers in California

Ron Paul whoops them all…in a California straw poll at least.  Paul took the poll with almost 45% of the vote, followed by Rick Perry (29.3%) and Mitt Romney (8.8%).  We can only assume that Romney’s hair was deemed ineligible.  Straw polls don’t meant to much in the grand scheme of things, but it has to be clear by now that Ron Paul’s campaign is picking up steam.  Even CNN acknowledge that Paul is making some serious moves this time around.

He has gained momentum in the race for the White House in recent weeks, according to the latest CNN/ORC International Poll. Among current GOP candidates, Paul placed third in the poll with 13%, following Romney in second place with 21% and Perry in first with 32%.

Honestly, this is a solid position to be in at this point.  Yes, Perry is the frontrunner, but it’s not exactly uncommon for the frontrunner to burn himself out by being stupid.  In primary politics, I’ve always believed that slow and steady won the race, and Paul is definitely doing that.

Of course, there are things Paul can get hit on, and probably will later if he keeps building momentum.  For example, there are the charges of antisemitism that stem from a piece that ran in his newsletter.  While Paul has denied writing them, the charge lingers because he printed them.  It’s not hard to spin though, since Paul is an advocate for free speech he simply chose not to censor the writer.

Romney, Perry tied among California Republicans

Mitt Romney and Rick Perry are tied in California, according to a new poll from the Los Angeles Times, with Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann in a virtual tie for third.

  • Mitt Romney: 22%
  • Rick Perry: 22%
  • Ron Paul: 11%
  • Michele Bachmann: 10%
  • Newt Gingrich: 6%
  • Herman Cain: 4%
  • John Huntsman: 1%
  • Rick Santorum: 1%
  • Thad McCotter: 0%
  • Other: 1%

This is the first poll from the Los Angeles Times in the race, but a field poll released back in June show Romney leading the pack. The two names closest to him were Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin, neither of whom have declared their intentions for 2012. Perry, obviously, wasn’t in the race at that time.

But California seems far from being in play for Republicans. A “generic Republican” manages to grab 37% against President Obama in the poll, but Romney doesn’t the best out of the candidates they paired with him.

Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney

  • Obama: 54%
  • Romney: 35%
  • Other: 2%

Barack Obama v. Michele Bachmann

  • Obama: 57%
  • Bachmann: 31%
  • Other: 2%

Barack Obama v. Rick Perry

  • Obama: 56%
  • Perry: 32%
  • Other: 2%

Tax Competition, the Constitution, California, and Amazon.com

Earlier today, Jason blogged a bit about Amazon.com’s recent bristle with California over a sales tax levied by the state on orders filled by sellers in the Amazon Associates programs who just happen to reside in California:

Like many other businesses and websites, we got the e-mail yesterday explaining that Amazon.com is ending its Associates Program with California-based merchants due to the new tax on internet purchases passed by the state legislature and supported Gov. Jerry Brown as part of a budget agreement…. Amazon has done this in other states as well, California is just the latest. I tend to agree with Amazon that the tax is counterproductive and protectionist, but I’m not sure about unconstitutional. I’ll need to look into that more.

Ezra Klein weighed in on the matter today as well:

Amazon opposes this bill because it wipes out a price advantage they currently have against their competitors. And, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has explained at length, their other arguments simply don’t add up. Now, Amazon is a business, and so you can’t fault it for playing hardball in an effort to retain a competitive advantage. But this is bad policy that they’re trying to protect — it’s starving states, killing brick-and-mortar stores and encouraging a race to the bottom among states who want to attract the offices of online retailers.

Amazon pulls out of California

Like many other businesses and websites, we got the e-mail yesterday explaining that Amazon.com is ending its Associates Program with California-based merchants due to the new tax on internet purchases passed by the state legislature and supported Gov. Jerry Brown as part of a budget agreement:

Hello,

For well over a decade, the Amazon Associates Program has worked with thousands of California residents. Unfortunately, a potential new law that may be signed by Governor Brown compels us to terminate this program for California-based participants. It specifically imposes the collection of taxes from consumers on sales by online retailers - including but not limited to those referred by California-based marketing affiliates like you - even if those retailers have no physical presence in the state.

We oppose this bill because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive. It is supported by big-box retailers, most of which are based outside California, that seek to harm the affiliate advertising programs of their competitors. Similar legislation in other states has led to job and income losses, and little, if any, new tax revenue. We deeply regret that we must take this action.

A victory for political speech from the Supreme Court

I mentioned in the post on Supreme Court’s decision overturning Calfornia’s ban on sales of violent video games to minors that there was another First Amendment case that they announced yesterday. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that Arizona’s campaign finance law, which provided taxpayer-funding for candidates that were being outspent by their opponents and independent groups. is unconstitutional

The Supreme Court on Monday issued a 5-4 decision striking down part of an Arizona law providing public funds for campaigns.

The case, Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, was closely watched by advocates for reducing the role of money in politics. They feared that the high court, which has issued sweeping rulings striking down campaign finance restrictions as violations of free speech, would use the case to rule broadly on the constitutionality of programs that provide public money to candidates.

Instead, the court issued a relatively narrow ruling striking down a provision in the Arizona law that provided additional funds to publicly funded candidates running against opponents who outspend them outside the system.
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Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, agreed, writing: “We hold that Arizona’s matching funds scheme substantially burdens protected political speech without serving a compelling state interest and, therefore, violates the First Amendment.”

You can read the decision here. You can learn more about what the law did from this video put together by the Institute for Justice, who along with the Goldwater Institute led the fight in the case:

SCOTUS shoots down California’s ban on violent video games

In a common sense ruling announced yesterday, the Supreme Court shot down California’s nanny-statist ban on sales of violent video games to kids:

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down on First Amendment grounds a California law that barred the sale of violent video games to children. The 7-to-2 decision was the latest in a series of rulings protecting free speech, joining ones on funeral protests, videos showing cruelty to animals and political speech by corporations.
[…]
Justice Antonin Scalia., writing for five justices in the majority in the video games decision, Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, No. 08-1448, said video games were protected by the First Amendment.

“Like the protected books, plays and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas — and even social messages — through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player’s interaction with the virtual world),” Justice Scalia wrote. “That suffices to confer First Amendment protection.”

Depictions of violence, Justice Scalia added, have never been subject to government regulation. “Grimm’s Fairy Tales, for example, are grim indeed,” he wrote, recounting the gory plots of Snow White, Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel. High school reading lists and Saturday morning cartoons, too, he said, are riddled with violence.

Romney holds lead among Republican primary voters in California

While California’s presidential primary isn’t until Super Tuesday (February 7, 2012), new survey conducted by Field Poll shed some light where Republicans voters in the Golden State are going at this early point in the game (full results are available here):

  • Mitt Romney: 25%
  • Rudy Giuliani: 17%
  • Sarah Palin: 10%
  • Ron Paul: 7%
  • Newt Gingrich: 6%
  • Herman Cain: 6%
  • Rick Perry: 5%
  • Michele Bachmann: 4%
  • Tim Pawlenty: 3%
  • Rick Santorum: 2%
  • Jon Huntsman: 1%
  • Gary Johnson: <0.5%
  • Other/Undecided: 14%

Field Poll also ran the numbers under the scenario that Giuliani sits the race out. It’s worth noting that Romney receives a slight boost, as does Palin (who hasn’t decided on a bid for the GOP nomination).

  • Mitt Romney: 30%
  • Sarah Palin: 12%
  • Ron Paul: 8%
  • Newt Gingrich: 8%
  • Herman Cain: 7%
  • Rick Perry: 6%
  • Michele Bachmann: 5%
  • Tim Pawlenty: 3%
  • Rick Santorum: 2%
  • Jon Huntsman: 1%
  • Gary Johnson: <0.5%
  • Other/Undecided: 14%

Among the contenders, Giuliani and Romney are the only candidates viewed favorably by GOP voters, 46/37 and 38/34, respectively. The poll also shows that whoever wins the nomination will have a long road to haul to picking up the state’s 55 electoral votes as 49% support President Barack Obama’s re-election bid, while 40% do not.


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