Skip to main content

Republicans: still without ideas

Message for Republicans, on a bus!

8 years of Republican rule and the last 30 years of the Reagan revolution have left behind a real mess that now needs to cleaned up by grownups. Obama is leading with a Stimulus Package that's critiziced by many as not being large enough to do the job. But at least, his proposal is finally something different and new. Investing in lasting infrastructure, directing money to benefit the working people. What a concept!

And what's the Republican response? They don't like it and they threaten to not go along with it. Why? Because they only policy decision they can stomach is... you guessed it... the same one of the last 30 years... TAX CUTS! Make them larger. Make them permanent. Make government smaller! Free the market! After being handed 2 horrible defeats in a row they counterattack with the same policies that got us here. They remain as clueless as they were in the past couple of years. Still without ideas.

Obama came in with high hopes of a new bi-partisan era of co-operation. After all, the economy is in such a mess that only the most irrational, irresponsible and despicable politicians will play hardball in a moment like this. Cynics would say that the best approach for the Republicans, strategically speaking, is to oppose the package, assume that the approach will fail and then reap the electoral benefits. But not Obama.

He displayed his optimism by visiting the Republicans in Congress looking for votes for his stimulus package, something that the previous administration never even considered. The result? The package passed the House without a single Republican vote. Now it moves to the Senate, where a valid question is whether we should now try to remove the concesions made while chasing the bipartisan dream...

And if you think the Republicans at the national level are bad, wait till you hear what the Republicans in California are doing. Here in California, we're cursed with the "super majority" requirement to pass the Budget. The 66.66% requirement sounds very democratic at first, but the evidence shows that it's nothing but the tyranny of the minority. The Republican minority in the Legislature is sufficient to block passage of any budget that raises any taxes.

The situation is insane. In the face of a huge deficit we need to ask ourselves a fundamental question: do we want to be more like Sweden or more like a Third World country? No politician will say their goal to is to turn California into your typical Latin American country, for example. And yet, the Republicans are categorically opposed to raising a cent of taxes in the State (it's the only idea they have, remember?). Ok then, if we don't raise revenue the only solution to the Budget problem is to make gargantuan cuts, effectively destroying the State infrastructure and putting us in the right path to become a Thirld World country within the United States.

You might think I'm exaggerating, but I don't think I am. I've been heavily involved with the public school system in Redwood City, a suburb of Silicon Valley, one of the most affluent areas in the nation. Our School District serves a diverse population where a large number of students gets free lunch in school. Over the past few years we've faced round after round of cuts. The result is that services we took for granted a few decades ago no longer exist in our public schools. PE for example... there's none. We're facing alarming levels of obesity in kids, but the District cannot afford PE for everyone, and that's just an example. At this point the cuts have come so often that most of the district income is used to pay teacher salaries; there's nothing left to cut. Public schools make heroic efforts, but are reduced to offering just the basics. The effect? All around me I'm seeing middle class people fleeing the public school system for the private schools. Exactly like in Latin American countries, where everyone that can afford to avoid public schools does. This is very, very sad.

Making matters worse, if a district decides locally that they want to pay more taxes to support their public schools, they need to pass a Parcel Tax. And there again the Super Majority requirement comes up, courtesy of Prop 13, which, by the way, did not pass with a 66.6% vote but now requires it for any tax increase, even when the local community is in favor. In Redwood City we tried to pass a Parcel Tax and got 62% of the vote. Yes, only 62% of the vote. A lanslide in a federal election, but not enough to let a community who's in favor of avoiding the continuing deterioration of its public school system take matters into its own hands.

We're in a real mess, both at the national and the state level, and the Republicans remain convinced that their one idea will help lead them out of their current morass.

I don't have any solutions. I'm just venting in the hope of achieving the partial satisfaction a small catharsis can provide. The posturing in Congress last week was just too much to take.


Popular posts from this blog

The Best Online Traffic School?

After paying my red light ticket, the epic story described in a previous post, the San Mateo County Southern Branch Court provided me with a list of about 80 approved online schools. Which one to choose? I expected the Internet in all its collective wisdom to provide the answer with a comprehensive site of traffic school reviews including all sorts of evaluation criteria (price, time to complete, use of animations, etc) and user rankings. To my disappointment, no such site seems to exist. I was faced with scanning a large list of URLs to pick a traffic school.

The first approach was to start entering URLs in the browser and try to deduce, from the home page, whether the traffic school would be right. Here's the list of schools approved by San Mateo County:

An ideal traffic school for me would be:

Responsive. Pages load fast. No stupid artificial delays like I experienced many years ago when I tried an online tra…

My red light ticket story

Where I recount my true experience with a red light ticket and the San Mateo Country traffic court system...

The Infraction

About a month ago I received in the mail a notice of a red light violation. The notice included four photographs: one of me from the front, one of my license plate and two from the back showing the traffic light (already in Red) and my car about to enter the intersection and then half way across the intersection. The pictures  contain timing information highly relevant to the case. The first picture:

Location: El Camino Real and Glenwood Ave., Menlo Park, CA
Date: Friday, 13th March 2009
Speed Limit: 35MPH
Lane: 2
Vehicle Speed: 36MPH
Elapsed time: 0.00

The next picture shows my car half way into the intersection, and the data shows:

RED: 0.86
Elapsed Time: 0.75

The notice does not explain any of this, but we can interpret it as follows: when the light went red I had not entered the intersection yet. This is clearly shown in picture 1. The second picture shows that 0.75 seco…

High Def, Low Def and Now Ultra Low Def TV

High Definition TV is great, amazing, a must have for sports. How did we ever manage to watch soccer games without it? Unfortunately, I'm forced to remember the horror every weekend, where I move from Barcelona's glorious HDTV courtesy of GolTV HD to Boca's horrific, ultra low def, courtesy of TyC Sports.

I claim that the video quality we get from TyC for these Argentinean soccer games is lower than Low Definition. Games look, really, really bad, much worse than low definition games you see on ESPN or even Univision. I don't know why, but here's the evidence.

What follows is snapshots of my LCD TV, with signal from DirecTV, comparing High Definition to whatever this other thing is. I used my digital camera, taking pictures at max resolution.

First, a snapshot of this weekend's Barcelona Vs. Osasuna game.

Very pretty. Now here's the capture of today's glorious Boca Juniors victory over Huracán.

To highlight the differences even further, I took a picture …