You Call this Democracy? Vote No on the Recall

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Ms. DuBois is a Professor of History at UCLA.

Back in 1911, women wanted to make American politics more democratic by giving women as well as men the right to vote. That year California women got the right to vote. That same year, reformers put the recall in the Constitution, to take power out of the hands of special interests and return it to the people. Today, ninety-two years later, we need to live up to their legacy.

Something is broken in American politics and the power of the franchise can fix it. But the October 7 Recall election is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

The biggest obstacle to American democracy is money and money is what has given us this election. Signature getters were paid by wealthy and conservative Darrell Issa to get the 900,000 plus names that put the recall on the ballot. Paying people to collect names is the opposite of the original intent for the recall. Now money and special interests can buy a recall election. We need a constitutional amendment to ban this deeply undemocratic practice.

In addition, the recall election is unwieldy and rushed, the election machinery is demonstrably shoddy, and the cash-strapped election board has cut the number of polling places. Almost a third of the voters do not know that they can vote both against the recall and on the second question. Throughout the state voters are using the same antiquated punch card system that ruined the Florida count in the 2000 Presidential election. Because the 137 candidates will be listed in random, not alphabetical, order, it will take voters endless minutes to find a name on the second question. Every one of these difficulties will confuse voters and decrease their numbers. Widespread disfranchisement is a virtual certainty.

Finally and most importantly, the recall establishes a dangerous precedent for electing a governor with a tiny portion of the votes cast. With 137 people on the ballot, the vote will be shredded into little increments. . The winner won't need a majority, just one vote more than the next candidate. Political experts estimate that the top vote-getter could get as few as 15 percent of the votes cast. This is why this election is being called a circus: a ludicrous number of candidates, no time to get to know them and pick someone other than a familiar face, candidates who boast that they have no experience for the job, and the dispersion of the popular vote so that the smallest number of voters in modern California political history will decide our state's future. This is no way to pick the governor of the fifth largest economy in the world. And this is not a recipe for giving us more faith in our democratic system. Instead it will deepen our political disillusionment, and keep more and more of us home next election day. If this recall succeeds, it will be open season on elected officials. Our votes will be constantly overturned and we will be effectively disfranchised.

Something is indeed broken in the American political system when those who can't win elections via the popular vote steal them by illegal recounts or a mid-term recall. The 2000 election, when the Supreme Court elected George Bush over the popular choice Al Gore, set the stage. The people who organized the October 7 recall election meant it as is the next act in an outright attack on the democratic political process.

To honor those women who worked so hard to get us the vote, women need to make a special effort to use that right on October 7. We need to vote to reinforce the votes we cast last November, we need to vote to maintain the integrity of the electoral system, we need to vote with the long term good of California in mind. We need to vote No on recall, either in person or by absentee ballot.

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Terri Menegatti - 9/24/2003

Not relevant to this topic, but are you the John Kipper I knew in college? If you are, "hi" and how are you? I'm at If you're not, sorry to interupt...

Steve Brody - 9/12/2003

FH, I couldn't agree more with your posting save one nit: Bill Hurt played the Russian policeman in "Gorky Park"; Arnold played a Russian policeman in "Red Heat"

Alan Bock - 9/10/2003

Just re-read my post and noticed I missed saying it was an NPR station, KPPC. Even though they fairly often featured guests who decried the who recall procedure early on, by the way, area NPR stations in Southern California (I get three at various stages of my commute) are doing daily updates, some fairly lengthy, on the recall. One might even say they're wallowing in it.
Alan Bock, Editorial Writer, Orange County register

Alan Bock - 9/10/2003

Yesterday on one of the local (Pasadena-Southern California)I heard a discussion on the recall featuring two political science professors, one from Claremont, the other from Cal State Fullerton, both from the moderate left end of the spectrum. Both agreed that the recall has energized the students in their classes and on their campuses, generating more interest in and serious discussion of politics than anything in recent memory. I wonder what Ms. DuBois' experience has been.

All the network L.A. TV stations, which are notorious for never covering politics -- virtually nothing on the L.A. City Council or Sacramento, a few soundbites during elections -- have nightly recall updates, more often than you might expect with fairly competent reporting. I realize some of this is celebrity-driven, and I suspect it's unlikely to carry over to coverage of politics once the recall is over -- although there might be a slight chance that reporters who have had some fun doing some actual reporting might be able to talk management into letting them do it on a continuing basis.

Hard to see how all this is disastrous for democracy.

Dave Thomas - 9/10/2003

I do not understand why you call them little known? The period prior to the Constitution spans 1619-1787.

Rolando - 9/7/2003

The whole thread is extraneous to the subject of the recall. The most extreme and ridiculous post is probably the first one. A dysfunctional distribution of power, not inadequate supply was the reason for the 2001 energy "crisis" in California, which hit during the low demand winter months. (Plenty of year round solar light and heat in California unlike elsewhere). I am not a nuclear engineer, but have never read anywhere about the nuclear waste problem being "solved", so Mr. Kipper's bald assertions to that effect are hardly going to convince me and the millions of other voters, who like me, recall a big debate quite recently about where the principal depositry for this allegedly "solved" waste would be located (i.e. nobody wants it near them). I did not intend any personal insults as I don't personally know any of the posters here, however, as an historian, it certainly insults my intelligence to have a supposedly history website used as a propaganda forum for scientifically dubious claims that serve to promote the narrow interests of a highly discredited special interest group.

F.H.THOMAS - 9/7/2003

Thanks for bringing up some great and little known facts. I clearly need to do some more reading on the subject of state governments during the birthing period of our country.

By the way, are you from NW Pennsylvania?

F.H.THOMAS - 9/7/2003

Thanks for bringing up some great and little known facts. I clearly need to do some more reading on the subject of state governments during the birthing period of our country.

F.H.THOMAS - 9/7/2003

You seem to resort to the ad hominum attack first, last and always, which simply shows that you have no real arguments.

Please raise the tenor of the discourse. This is a forum for discussion and debate, not a cat fight. Disagreement is normal, but when it exists, you persude your adversary with facts and logic. You don't call him names.

Many leftists seem to become irrational, accusatorial and aggressive when faced with the prospect of loss of political power. It is a reaction based upon despair, in my view.

Even you must admit, in the recesses of your heart, that a Governor of a devastated, bankrupted state, with an 18% approval rating, maybe should be recalled. In the worker's paradise you seem to favor, somebody would have already done so with a bullet.

My compliment to Mr. Heuisler's wit of course had to do with the wonderful association of the Eisener Kanzler's remarks about sausage and politics, with the California situation. Lighten up a little, Josh, and at least laugh at that.

And by the way, you really should take a more positive view of Mr. Schwarzenegger. His positions are pretty liberal, and he played a Russian policeman in "Gorky Park". What's not to like?

Try Fleming's new book on WW I, if you have not read it. The writing is excellent, as is his command of the facts.

With sincere regards,

John Kipper - 9/7/2003

Lets review this thread to see if my comments were extraneous. Glenn Williams first brought up the power problem in his 9/3 post. He was referring to misguided voter decisions other than the recall initiative and cited the shortsighted decisions not to build a power plant (nuclear or not) for decades. Josh Greenland replied, without offering any proof, that blaming Gov. Davis for the outages, price hikes, and the resulting economic decline and budgetary woes of the state was dubious. At this point, one Jeremy "Ribiboff" (I assume that this you) posted his incredibly ignorant statement, under the insulting title of "No Retarded Nukees" that nuclear power has never produced more than an insignificant percentage of a nation's electric power needs. Thus, it was not I, but you and the others cited who turned the thread to a discussion of the merits of nuclear power. However, I must admit that it was you who lowered the civility of the discussion with the gratuitous label. In my reply, I merely pointed out that France and Japan, two modern industrial powers, find that nuclear generation is both economical and safe. In fact, I understated my case. Most of the nations of Western Europe, Japan and Korea rely on nuclear energy for a significant part, in some cases up to 80%, of their power generation needs.

At this point, Rolando Currie tried to deflect my argument by pointing out that neither France or Japan were free market economies. What a surprise, but it has nothing to do with point that nuclear power is safe, effective and reliable. His argument was nothing but a distraction, as I pointed out. Mr. Currie replied with an uninformed complaint about nuclear waste storage (that problem was solved over 20 years ago) then he again states that the power situation has nothing to do with the recall. Right, the billions of off-budget emergency spending, the lost productivity due to the lack of energy, dollars, the crisis in confidence in elected leadership, the name calling and obfuscation of both the governor and the legislature had nothing to do with California’s electorate finally revolting. Of course, as Mr. Currie so politely points out, I am only a retarded nukee, as if name-calling can substitute for common sense and facts.

I reiterate, it was not I who brought the nuclear issue into this debate; it was Mr. Williams, who made a legitimate point. It was Mr. Greenland who made the fatuous statement that the power crisis was not a factor in the recall, as if incompetence in government is not a legitimate voter concern and it was Mr. Ribiboff who completely misstated the science involved in nuclear power generation and waste disposal.

Of course, misinformation, disinformation, confusion and just plain lack of knowledge seem to be Mr. Ribicoff’s (you changed the spelling in your post today, but I still know you, Jeremy in California) forte. He accuses me of “possibly insulting a relative of the discoverer of the ‘nuclear atom.’ I assume that he is referring to my reply to Rolando Currie, and confusing Currie (note the double ‘r’) with Pierre and Marie Curie (note the single ‘r’) or possibly their daughter Isabel. The parents received a Nobel Prize for their discovery of radium, the daughter for her work in radiation. In fact, radiation levels are still measured in “curies.” Note to Mr. Ribi(b?)coff, these are not to be confused with curry, a combination of Indian spices. In the same sentence he refers to the nuclear atom. What a redundancy! All atoms are nuclear, as proved by Rutherford in 1911. What is Mr. Ri(b?)coff’s point here?

While I am open to rational discussion and am even willing to educate, I refuse to be silenced or intimated by those whose posts show remarkable ignorance of the subject in question. Mr. Ri(b?)icoff, I suggest that while you are eating your solar energy heated breakfast, you turn on your nuclear, coal, hydropower or natural gas generated electric lights and read a high school physics text and maybe the Classics Illustrated history of science. Next time you come back to this discussion, come armed.

Bill Heuisler - 9/6/2003

As usual you missed the point. To cover confusion and ignorance, you threw words and missed as you often do.

Unlike most states, the Martin Luther King holiday was installed in Arizona by a large majority in a State-wide referendum. Check before throwing insults, otherwise you just look juvenile.
Bill Heuisler

Josh Greenland - 9/6/2003

It is entertaining, but unintentionally. Bill of course didn't bother to check, but California has had term limits for a number of years now. Both houses of its legislature are about 5/8ths Democratic, a higher proportion of Dems than years before. California isn't going to become a southwestern-racist, rightwing anti-Martin Luther King holiday hell hole except within his warped imagination.

F.H.THOMAS - 9/6/2003

Witty, well-written, myth-free, and entertaining. God but it reads well!

You get the Thucidides Award for today.

mark safranski - 9/6/2003

Currie spews uninterrupted insults and venom, provides no factual information and Kipper's response is out of line ?

How about using the same standard for judging both Left & Right wing posts Mr. Ribicoff ?

Jeremey Ribicoff - 9/6/2003

Insulting a possible relative of the discoverer of the nuclear atom is hardly a persuasive way to advance your curious argument, Mr. Kipper. Whatever your motives, you are out of order. This is a discussion of the California recall, not a sour grapes sounding board session for an outmoded branch of the energy industry.
Excuse now me while I return to my solar heated breakfast.

Jeremy in California

John Kipper - 9/6/2003

Mr. Currie:

Let us review some simple historical facts.

To assert that the incredible expenditures for purchasing power and undrwriting the solvency of various utilities did not contribute to California's budget crisis is disingenuous and beneath serious consideration. Besides, those were not my arguements. I merely stated that nuclear production of electricity was cheap, safe and reliable as demonstrated by the successful efforts of other countries.

But being disingenuous is nothing compared to the ignorance of your statements about nuclear waste and government subisidies. The problem of the storage of nuclear waste was solved over twenty years ago with the development of the vitrification process. I suggest that you review some of the appropriate literature instead of spouting outdated falsehoods.

As fr the problems of government assistance to the nuclear industry, I would point out the the government assistance to other methods of energy production and other industries. Do the words Bonneville Power Administration, Tennessee Valley Administration or even Public Utility District mean anything to you? How about the dredging of rivers and ports, the construction of airports and the Interstate Highway system, not to mention the land grants to the transcontinental railroads of the nineteenth century? These projects were (and are) so large that they cannot be completed without government help. The United States has been a mixed economy for well over a century. Te fact is that some modification of the free market is necesssary for the public good. That being said, it is obvious that government assistance in the initial costs of nuclear waste storage, most of which will be paid back by electrical producers through taxes, is actually productive. And that does not make nuclear power unsafe, expensive or unreliable.

Mr. Currie, I would reply to you that Luddite Neanderthals should take their techno-phobias back into their caves and contemplate them while huddled around their campfires.

Rolando - 9/5/2003

The simple facts eluding those who have had their heads buried in the sand for last 3 decades include the inescapable reality that nuclear power produces nuclear waste which, given acts of God and human error, cannot be safely stored for the 10,000 + years required. Without government subsidy to cover this risk, nuclear power would not be produced in a "free market". Furthermore, the long run supply of power, though a problem, is NOT at all related to the budget and management problems of California which led to the recall. Retarded nukees need to take their disinformation elsewhere.

John Kipper - 9/5/2003

I freely admit and agree that the French and Japanese economies are not exactly what Adam Smith had in mind. However, that does not negate the fact that a modern industrial nation can produce the majority of elecric power needs through the use of clean, safe and cheap nuclear generation.

To attempt to confuse this simple fact with disagreements with their monetary, trade or market practices is simply eyewash. What school of rhetoric did Currie attend? Diversion U?

Denny Wilson - 9/4/2003

Yesterday's lively and informative debate is not what the recall proponents wanted. Their candidate hid out of fear of exposing his ignorance. See my earlier post.

Alan Bock - 9/4/2003

Just for fun, I'm appending the editorial the Register ran today (Thursday) in response to the candidate forum, or whatever it was, on Wednesday. The point it makes (I contributed ideas, but it was a joint effort among three of us and I might have phrased certain things differently) is that some fairly serious issues did get aired and those voters who watched got a reasonably clear picture of how these particular candidates would handle California's problems.
A debate/forum/whatever with this much ideological variety from genuinely articulate advocates would be virtually unthinkable except in the context of a recall. In regularly scheduled elections few are interested in televising debates during primaries, and the major parties generally make sure smaller parties are excluded from televised debates, so they are generally cliche-trading sessions or swapping poll-tested bland positions (or postures).
To be sure, I'm not saying the recall is political Nirvana or even that the outcome is likely to be one that leads to California's serious fiscal problems being seriously addressed. But it's a fascinating bit of small-p populism that has more people at least paying some attention to the process than is customary in scheduled elections, and facing genuine choices among candidates with seriously divergent viewpoints. It's difficult for me to equate that with the sky falling.
Alan Bock, Editorial Writer, Orange County Register.

Thursday, September 4, 2003

Editorial - Surprise: the debate was enlightening

We hope those East Coast critics who continue to depict the California recall as a circus-like event were watching Wednesday's televised forum with Gov. Gray Davis and the far more interesting debate that followed among five candidates to replace him. There's no doubt that serious issues about the state's governance were addressed.

Conspicuous by his absence was Arnold Schwarzenegger, who chose not to attend the debate despite no apparent scheduling difficulties. The candidate, who is leading in some polls, still wants to manage his media appearances as if he were only a movie star and not a candidate.

Still, viewers got a chance to see Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who leads or runs second in most polls, as well as Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock, the Green Party's Peter Camejo, independent Arianna Huffington and businessman Peter Ueberroth discuss the state's budget crisis, electricity crisis and other issues ranging from illegal immigration to spending cuts to abortion and medical marijuana.

The lieutenant governor came across as someone who would continue in Gov. Davis' footsteps. He touted his budget, which would increase taxes by at least $8 billion, favored a bill granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, took a swipe at Prop. 13 property tax protections for commercial property owners. He launched attacks on business, urging new legislation to force business owners to provide health care to workers, and never addressed the problem that businesses are fleeing the state, taking good-paying jobs with them.

Beyond his troublingly liberal positions, the lieutenant governor failed to seem gubernatorial. At times, especially during his closing remarks, he seemed disoriented and failed to directly answer questions. He showed good humor in his banter with the entertaining but obnoxious Ms. Huffington, but showed little reason to believe that he has what it takes to get the state out of its fiscal mess.

Mr. Ueberroth came across as a no-nonsense Mr. Fix It, who kept focused on the important point: Without a healthy business community, there will be insufficient revenues to pay for the programs that some of his opponents were pushing for. But when it came to details, Mr. Ueberroth seemed out of his league. And he became a One Note Charley.

By contrast, Mr. McClintock knew his stuff and had compelling answers for each issue. He was in disbelief at some of the discussions, which focused on increasing taxes and regulations on business rather than improving the state's business climate. He pushed for a reversal of the car tax, then identified at least $9 billion in budget cuts to deal with shortfalls. He made it clear that businesses don't pay taxes, but consumers pay them through higher prices and employees through lower wages. He stood up strongly for Prop. 13 and against a terrible proposal - backed by most other candidates - to reduce the two-thirds majority to 55 percent for passing budgets. If that passes, "Katy bar the doors," he said.

Ms. Huffington and Mr. Camejo offered up a steady string of socialist platitudes. Their proposals would turn California into a bigger basket case. Neither candidate has a chance of winning, but they each did register an occasional interesting barb. Ms. Huffington correctly bashed the governor for his pandering to the prison guards' union by granting it 34 percent raises. Mr. Camejo chided Mr. Bustamante for the millions of campaign dollars he has taken from the Indian casinos. You know what they say about broken clocks.

All in all, an interesting, enlightening and serious evening. Too bad Mr. Schwarzenegger didn't think it was worth the bother.

Rolando Currie - 9/4/2003

The free-market capitalist French and the open and balanced trade Japanese are now the paragons of economic logic ? Where did Kipper study economics, the Electric Power Propaganda Institute ?

Dave Tabaska - 9/4/2003

Actually, Josh, I don't have a problem with democracy, only with people who apparently don't bother to read what they comment on.

If you read Ms. DuBois' article, she clearly states that, in the next-to-last paragraph, "Something is indeed broken in the American political system when those who can't win elections via the popular vote steal them by illegal recounts or a mid-term recall." Since the Gore campaign is the one that actually sought to have a recount in 2000, it is clear that Ms. DuBois has issues with the method Gore used to attempt to gain the Presidency. Therefore, if you really want to know how a recall can be "nefarious", I suggest that you write or call Ms. DuBois to find out.

Personally, I think recounts are a good idea, a way to make sure that democracy is truly served. But, I do find it discouraging that the Gore campaign tried to subvert the will of the people by having an illegal recount. Thanks to Ms. DuBois' expose, I can only hope that Florida and the other 49 states have taken appropriate action to prevent further shenanigans.

John Kipper - 9/4/2003

I guess that is why the French and Japanese, especially, continue to produce so much of their power in reactors. Yep, nuclear power is not economcal.

Denny Wilson - 9/3/2003

A lively, well-run, wide-ranging and informative debate took place this afternoon on public radio in California. All the major governor candidates took part (McClintock, Uberroth, Camejo, Bustamante, Huffington) with the glaring exception of Schwarzenegger, who is the champion of the recall promoters. If there was any lingering hope that this recall might be related to some sort expression of "populist democracy", Schwarzenegger's cowardice, in being unwilling to present and defend a platform today represents a resounding death knell to such imaginings. There is indeed popular concern and interest in shaking up California, however the moneyed interests behind the recall and the terminally-frightened Arnie are no more part of that popular expression than is the governorship of Gray Davis.

Jeremy Ribiboff - 9/3/2003

Nuclear power is not economic, never has been, probably never will be, and has never provided more than a small fraction of energy needs. It has zero relevance to the recall. What nonsense will the Bushies come up with next ? Using Alaskan caribou dung to power SUVs ?

Josh Greenland - 9/3/2003

How can a recount be "nefarious"?

Or is it democracy that you have a problem with?

Josh Greenland - 9/3/2003

Actually, many Californians rightly blamed Enron and other energy companies, as well as the Bush admin which sided with them. The energy companies created shortages to boost prices here, and even abused our long power grid in order to cause system-wide failures to soften us up for price rises. And then there was the futures trading which was intended to ... you guessed it, push up energy prices. And the hiring of consultants, was it Perot Systems or EDS by Enron, to "game" California's energy system for maximum profit?

The lack of hydro-power from the northwest made us vulnerable, but Enron and other energy companies cynically, ethically and some say illegally took advantage of the situation. Without their help, and no matter what anyone thinks of California's energy deregulation, we probably would have ridden out that tight time just fine without the malicious "help" of Enron and its friends. Primarily blaming our present Governor Davis for the outages, price hikes and state budget deficit is a dubious, partisan position.

BTW, I believe in California's recall laws as written. Many DEMOCRATS are dissatified with Davis, otherwise the recall would have no chance and it might not have been possible to get the necessary recall signatures.

Dave Tabaska - 9/3/2003

Since the Gore campaign was the one actually asking for the recounts in Florida, I guess we can assume that Ms. DuBois was talking about him when she says "illegal recounts". One can only imagine the joy and happiness that Ms. DuBois must have felt upon seeing Gore and his nefarious recount plan being thwarted by the Supreme Court.

However, I could be wrong about that...

Glenn Williams - 9/3/2003

Don't blame Democracy when a law the voters enacted is put into practice.

What the Heck, we're talking about California! California voters put the recall provision in their Constitution. Now they have to live with the consequences for it being there.

Let's see, what else have Californians voted for that ended up biting them in the @$$. Oh yeah, voting to make nuclear power plants illegal, and putting a moratorium on building ANY new power plants of any kind. Then when they realize they don't have enough energy, I did not hear anyone blaming Democracy, but plenty of blaming it on the Bush administration.

Denny Wilson - 9/2/2003

Issa and Davis used similar tactics by dumping money into smear campaigns in an effort to railroad enough swing voters towards voting or signing up for their selfish personal political ambitions (Issa wanted to run for governor, but bowed out in favor of Arnie). A political arms race of sleazy big buck war chests is NOT the only answer to this mess. The taxpayers own the airways, and they were cheated out of billions by media conglomerates who were sold TV and radio licenses for pennies on the dollar by conniving politicians. Voter-taxpayers have the right to insist on less demeaning use of those airwaves, e.g. non-partisan-organized debates to which third party candidates are also invited, instead of demeaning, non-informative and non-stop attack ads. A more libertarian remedy, which might better appeal to Mr. Lamovsky, would be for concerned citizens to voluntarily, but massively and publicly, junk their obsolete Idiot Box TVs, tune their car radios to soothing music, and log on the internet to inform themselves about candidates and issues. I agree with everyone else here that this particular recall is not a big deal in and of itself.

Bill Heuisler - 9/2/2003

Thanks. But money or policy mean little at the bitter end.

Politics is messy. Voters often get the short end...temporarily.
For instance in '86, conservative Republican, Evan Mecham, beat a powerful, crooked ex State Majority Leader by exposing his peccadillos in the Primary. He then defeated a weak Democrat in the general (the deal had been cut that the ex-Majority Leader would serve the needs of both Parties so the Dems ran cannon-fodder). Mecham fooled everybody, but the celebration was short. He'd screwed the Dems and offended establishment Repubs. Result? Both Party regulars joined, trumped up charges and railroaded an impeachment through the Legislature within a year. Mecham took it to court and beat all the charges, but impeachment held. A hack Democrat Secretary of State ran AZ for three years.

Arizona voters didn't get what they wanted right away because of political maneuvering and opportunism. But voters threw all the jerks out next election and installed term-limits. Messy. Time consuming, but republican government won out. California's next.

Jesse Lamovsky - 9/2/2003

I think in the end it would do more harm than good to regulate the use of private money in these kind of elections. Remember, state political insiders already have the massive party war chests, full of contributions from interest groups and national party organizations at their disposal. The only way of redressing this imbalance is to allow private citizens to use their own money in an attempt to influence the process. Rep. Issa used his own fortune, and his actions were that of a private citizen (he's not running in this election).

Mr. Lee is correct to point out the differences between neo-conservatives and real conservatives. I've pointed out the differences before on this site, and it's a fact that almost none of the neocons emerged from the American conservative tradition (most are former "Scoop" Jackson Democrats, and some are former Communists). A better term for them would be "neo-liberals", since they are generally in support of the welfare state and race quotas (with some exceptions, like David Horowitz) and indifferent to the culture wars (only concerned with supposedly "anti-Semitic" activity on campuses). On foreign policy issues they differ from liberals only in terms of style, not substance (they want to throw U.S. weight around with or without the UN; liberals favor interventionism with a fig leaf of UN or NATO backing). It pains me to hear these people described as "conservatives" or "the right". I wish some of the polemicists at publications like "The Nation" or "Guardian" could get this message.

Frank Lee - 9/2/2003

In no way shape or form did I or do I endorse Democrat governor Davis’s intervention in the Republican gubernatorial primary of 2002. I agree with the broad substance of Jesse's comment, although not with Bush having "won" in 2000 (Bush and Gore tied, the "winner" by a landslide, was "don't vote"). My main criticism of Jesse's remark was the possible general inference from it that spending of money, rather than articulation of policy proposals, should be the main determinant of electoral success.

This is not an appropriate thread for diving into the many challenges surrounding Israel and the Palestinians. The phrase "Likudamerika" needs clarification, however, Bill. Especially if, as you say, it is being used by a knee-jerk pacifist movement not known for its rational or consistent insights.

By "Likudamerika" (if you prefer, change the second k to a c, the spelling is not important), I meant the vision of an America being refashioned in the image and role model of "Likudisrael".

( re that latter phrase see comments: )

I used the term "Likudamerika" only in response to Jesse's query:

"By the way, why can't this site bring itself to present columns by conservatives..."

As I think Jesse knows, but probably overlooked, supporters of Likudisrael and advocates for Likudamerica, including at least some editors of and regular contributors to HNN, are not bona fide conservatives. They are full of disdain for American conservative traditions of doing right by doing good, setting a positive example in the world, and preserving what is best about America for the long term future. They stridently agitate for massively increasing an intrusive and militaristic government bureaucracy. They are, in short, "neo-conservatives", which means phony conservatives. A neo-conservative website can not be expected to regularly feature articles by real conservatives.

kasper - 9/1/2003

[The biggest obstacle to American democracy is money]

So, then are you out there protesting George Soros' donation of 10 million dollars to help defeat President Bush?

[the election machinery is demonstrably shoddy]

Ms. DuBois, did you protest the results of the prior election due to this so-called "demonstrably shoddy" machinery?

[those who can't win elections via the popular vote steal them by illegal recounts]

What do you mean by "illegal recounts"?

Bill Heuisler - 9/1/2003

Mr. Lee,
What about rules when Governor Davis interfered in a Republican Primary? He apparently spent millions to choose his opponent, corrupting the process. Failing electoral sabotage by a sure loser, normal election would've gone to the ex-Mayor of LA and this emergency election to cure an aberration wouldn't have been necessary. Shouldn't out-Party intrusion in Primaries offend us all? It didn't did it? Your admiration of rules seems selective.

Please explain the term, Likudamerika. The word was printed on a series of signs in the anti-war marches organized by ANSWER. Do you mean Likud is bad for opposing a Palestinian State and for supporting settlement of lands taken during invasions of Israel? Do you support the UN decision to create Israel in 1948? Do you support Arab opposition to the UN and invasion in 1948? Is the US wrong to support an elected government? Should we support an unelected Arafat instead of an elected Sharon? Likudamerika is offensive because the use of K in the spelling of my country has typically been used by Leftists to impute Facism to the US.
Say what you mean. Maybe we can debate your issues.
Bill Heuisler

Frank Lee - 9/1/2003

"Why can't this site bring itself to present columns by conservatives in favor of the recall, like Alan Bock? "

HNN uses a sensationalist facade of "left" versus "right" to push its "neo-conservative" vision of a Likudamerika.

Bock is too matter of fact and down to earth.

Your arguments on the recall are clear-headed here. I would merely point out that for the "free market" to work effectively, there needs to be clear and consistent "rules of the game". Auctioning off rule-making powers to the highest bidder sounds like a recipe for an "unfree" market. The proper function of a recall, it seems to me, is as an emergency power, not an opportunistic marketing tool.

Jesse Lamovsky - 9/1/2003

I'm more than a little skeptical about the sky-is-falling rhetoric employed by Dr. DuBois in her screed against the recall.

First of all, I simply don't see anything improper about Darrell Issa paying signature-getters. If Rep. Issa had been using public money (as John Ashcroft is doing on his whistle-stop defend-the-indefensible Patriot Act tour), that would be one thing. But he used his own fortune; money he earned by his own toil. Darrell Issa can't use his own money for the purpose that he wants to use it for? Where are the property rights there? And anyway, it isn't as if he was paying people to sign the petitions. There's no impropriety here.

Secondly, Dr. DuBois anticipates "disenfranchisment" of voters due to confusing ballots and too few polling places. This is typical leftist cant, along the same lines with "it's the gun's fault, not the owner's" or "it's the SUV's fault, not the driver's". If voters are too thick-skulled to read a ballot properly, this can't be their fault: it's the ballot's fault! No wonder Dr. DuBois isn't in favor of a recall: after all, she's effectively saying that people are too stupid to vote properly.

I'm weary of bringing up the 2000 Presidential election over and over again. I have little taste for defending the victory of George W. Bush (even though he won the election fair and square). I've said it before: when Democrats can come up with hard evidence that the Florida vote was "stolen", they're welcome to come forward. And quite frankly, Dr. DuBois has a lot of nerve implying that the 2000 election was an "outright attack on the democratic process" while at the same time advocating the scrapping of the Electoral College because she thinks her guy got screwed by it.

"Finally and most importantly, the recall establishes a dangerous precedent for electing a governor with a tiny portion of the votes cast."

Well, so what? Does Dr. DuBois bemoan the fact that Bill Clinton didn't get 50% of the vote in his 1992 victory? Or that Lincoln didn't get 50% in his 1860 victory (and wasn't even on the ballot in several states)? In parliamentary systems like the UK and Israel, one candidate rarely receives a majority of the votes cast and, what's more, the party in power can call for an election any time it wishes. Such a system hasn't necessarily been a death knell for Dr. DuBois's style of democracy; indeed, it is a boon to democracy, because by design it gives small parties a bigger voice in governance. Also, although this has been forgotten by pretty much everybody involved in the two-party system in this country, the governor governs the state, not the economy. The state of California would probably be a lot better off if whoever the governor is loosened the commerce-killing regulations imposed on businesses there, or got out of the business of "managing" the economy altogether. A free-market system can manage itself a good deal better than Ah-nold, or Mr. "La Raza" Bustamente, or any other central planner in Sacramento.

By the way, why can't this site bring itself to present columns by conservatives in favor of the recall, like Alan Bock? This article is basically a re-run of Ruth Rosen's diatribe from last week. Come on guys, let's have some balance!

Dave Thomas - 9/1/2003

Dr. DuBois sounds like an elitist in the finest tradition of Hamiltonian Federalism. Once elected we should remain silent while we are ruled, balderdash. Pennsylvania elected their entire house annually during the Revolution and the Confederation until the Federalists ended "democratic" control of government by limiting democratic action in less frequent elections.

If the large number of voters Dr. DuBois claims will have their will ignored in a recall it is because those voters "FREELY" choose not to participate in the recall election. Do not blame the recall. This is a vote of confidence that Governor Davis is failing because he has failed, and not because the people have failed or been manipulated. If there was a "majority" whose will was being hijacked their will should be hijacked if they don't have the time to put down a revolt by an miniscule minority who is attempting to seize power as Dr. DuBois claims. Participation and not limitation are the hallmarks of democracy.