Tag Archives: California

Opinion: (Everyone Should) Focus on 2014, not 2016

23 Jan

I have usually thought of Congress as the most powerful branch, but most agree that title belongs to the Executive.  (Also, the Legislative Branch is explained in Article I while the Executive is in Article II.)  I always liked the fact that the aggregation, combination, and/or chaos of the House and the Senate is a good indicator of where the American people, for better or worse.  Unfortunately, our electoral system usually biases/skews that representation due to redistricting, state size, or other factors.  As it stands now, the Republican wave within the state houses and the governors’ mansions allowed them to unilaterally create districts to maximize the amount of Republicans for the upcoming decade, all else equal.  (Look at USC’s Annenberg Center’s ReDistricting Game to get a fuller understanding of that particular process.)  Of course Democrats did the same, but they really only had one state to make that difference in Illinois (Chicago Tribune).  With the 2014 elections coming, no serious political analyst sees Democrats making a gain, especially in the midterm of the 2nd term of a President as evidenced in the below (President Clinton’s 2nd term was an exception to the rule).

Midterm Madness: As a general rule, the president's party does poorly in midterm elections. Especially the second midterm of a two-term administration.

Midterm Madness: As a general rule, the president’s party does poorly in midterm elections. Especially the second midterm of a two-term administration.

Continue reading

Eye of the Storm, Politically Speaking

13 Aug
National Conference of State Legislatures

National Conference of State Legislatures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This month has been the first this year, at least it seems to be, in which both the national and my adopted state’s (Indiana’s) legislatures are now out-of-session.  Of course, there are many political scandals and breaking news throughout the country such as Continue reading

The Next State to Cause Commotion on the National Scene: Texas

22 Feb
texas our texas

texas our texas (Photo credit: jmtimages)

Removing Alaska, Texas is the largest state in area.  Removing California, Texas is the most populated.  Texas is just plain big.  It has the largest number of counties within its borders.  It is the only state whose flag can be flown at the same level as the United States’.  “Everything is bigger in Texas” seems to be true in many respects, and it will be soon true on the national scene of politics.

Politico‘s “Lone Star Rising” article profiles the state and its looming implications on national politics. Continue reading

Term Limits: For and/or Against

3 Feb

There are many pro and con reasons for instituting term limits for politicians.  It seems to work well on the executive side with most governorships having some sort of term limits.  I’m still up in the air whether just the 2-term limit is too short, but Virginia’s 1-term is definitely too short; the governor, even if they’re so good, does not have a chance continue that work.  A president for two terms seems to have worked out well.  (The two-term presidency was informally instituted by George Washington by tradition and formalized after FDR’s 4 terms in office.) Continue reading

Notable Statewide Results

10 Nov

There was some exciting news in the various states other than the presidential election, especially for the other 40+ states that were already in the bank for either Romney or Obama.  The top 5 results from this past November 6, 2012, election that I think are significant for the political direction of each of the states. Continue reading

Differences in States

18 Aug
English: Image Showing the four versions of th...

English: Image Showing the four versions of the current Indiana Plate (2008-2014) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spending my first 10 days in Indiana, I am already surprised at how many things are different than California.  In California, there are calorie counts of everything you order on a restaurant, but I am now guessing in Indiana (having being used to CA).  There are many different designs of license plates in IN, but CA’s are 99% of white background with red cursive “California” writing.  With the pocket book, taxes are simply cheaper in Indiana: ~7% vs. ~9% in CA.  Living in a college town, I don’t necessarily think of IN as a “red state“, but I do know that I’m no longer living in a state which thinks lowly of Republicans.

With that being said, Continue reading


Personal Update (July 2012)

20 Jul

Sorry, I’ve been away for so long…Over the past 4 months, I have finished my last quarter at UCLA as a double major with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Scandinavian Languages and Cultures & Political Science and have enrolled at Indiana University – Bloomington for my Masters in Public Affairs (with concentrations in Public Financial Management & State and Local Government).

To summarize politically, Mitt Romney has (nearly) won the Republican nomination and California has (successfully?) completed its new round of elections with independently drawn districts and the top-two primary.  The Howard-Berman race in the San Fernando Valley is the most closely watched in the nation, but there are also a lot of other Dem-Dem and Rep-Rep contests to be battled in the November general elections.  Future posts will be more skewed towards the MidWest (and Indiana in particular) and less about California, but still some.

California Budget and Jon Huntsman’s N.H. Residency

7 Jan

The California budget sucks, like a lot alot.  The budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year was accidentally or “accidentally” leaked out online before its scheduled time, which of course, disproportionately affected the old, the sick, and the aspiring young (with the political components being health insurance, Medicare/Medicaid, and public education.  I would just like to point out the one problem in this most populous state of the union: Proposition 13.  Simply, a limit on taxes led to increased budget shortfalls and cuts to government-funded programs.  This limit, though, is so egregious because of the highly partisan nature of the legislature of the state I live in.  You’d think that California would have the most liberal legislature, much like a lot of the legislatures in the South are basically conservative; but because of rampant gerrymandering, term-limits, and the 2/3 threshold to raise taxes (one of 3 in the nation), that just makes it a pie-in-the-sky proposition.  The blog post “Scott Brown is a more liberal Republican than Dede Scozzafava” shows a great graph about the partisanship among state legislatures between the two major parties (Differences in State Legislature Partisanship).  The Politico article “California Budget: Jerry Brown Plan for Future Amid Cuts” details the harsh cuts being made to the Golden State and that is just really quite unfortunate.

With the national campaign, I have great admiration for Jon Huntsman.  Simply, if he wins the GOP nomination, Continue reading

Redistricting “California Style”

30 Oct

Ooh, I love the arbitrariness of drawing random lines that affect us more than the voting itself.  And of course California is at the forefront of all of this hullabaloo.  I am not, however, ashamed in any way by all the coverage.  Hopefully, the fact that we have a 14-member Redistricting Commission that almost unanimously approved the state senate, state assembly, U.S. Congressional, and Board of Equalization districts is a testament that the propositions that got this instituted was actually a great one.  Politicians no longer pick their voters, but districts are drawn based more on population, geography, and history and not political (well, not as much).  I don’t think that legislators should move to be reelected because they should be representing the area they reside in the best, but who am I to tell them what to do.  Because of the radical shift in the district boundaries, some legislators are either moving to another district or running against an incumbent:

In almost every state, redistricting involves difficult choices for a few incumbent legislators about whether to run against a fellow incumbent, move to another district or leave the legislature. (http://ncsl.typepad.com/the_thicket/2011/10/diving-and-dodging-in-california.html)

With California’s top-two primary, much like Washington state, there is a great possibility that they will be running against each other twice (in both the primary and general).  An interesting pair of legislators are the Gaines who are have to move to a district in which both of them are able to run:

The new lines left Assemblywoman Beth Gaines in her current district, but put her husband, state Sen. Ted Gaines, in the same seat as Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale. Now the Roseville couple are considering relocating just a few miles away, to a home in a vacant Senate district, so both can run for re-election and live under the same roof.

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/10/10/3971674/california-redistricting-means.html#ixzz1cHu67ooj

I love the politics of redistricting.  It only happens once a decade (and sometimes more cough cough Texas cough cough), but it is a great way to see that the bedrock of democracy is made by squiggly lines.

States with Too Much Influence

22 Oct

Do we really need to pick presidents because one state says so?  I realize that in our federalist system, states want to pick their presidents their own way, and that state parties in those states want to pick the nominees of their parties their own way, but why is it that Iowa has such an out-sized importance?  Yes, I also know that they have burdened themselves with doing the vetting process, but this person from California would like to vet them myself.  Why do Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina have to be the first nominating caucus, first primary, first-in-the-west, and first-in-the-south, respectively?  I know this post just has questions, but I really wonder why.  California, Texas, and New York should through their weight/population around to become more important just like Florida has.  Or there should be a lot more bonus delegates awarded to those later states, not just the offending states to

lose half its convention delegates and be subject to other penalties.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/66550.html#ixzz1bZu0ZOPr

This might be a biased opinion, but I am just trying to show my concern for a process which would seem undemocratic to any other country.

Additionally, I think that it is hilarious that Nevada has been getting so much bad publicity lately.  Romney wanted to tether Nevada’s contest to New Hampshire so that they would presumably win two in a row after a perceived loss in Iowa.  There wasn’t this much trouble with two parties last year, and the fact that it’s really just one party fighting it out makes the Republicans look inept, or look like they’re playing politics dirty as suggested by the Politico article “Nevada’s 2012 Primary Calendar Chaos: A Guide”.  I really have to laugh because this is so ridiculous.  There has been so much airtime on the positioning of the nominating contests that it has detracted from asking the candidates about the issues.  And if Nevada just bowed down to mighty Florida, then everything might have been avoided (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/66621.html).  Well, I’m sure something else would have come up in place.

Boris Shor, PhD

Associate Professor, Dep't of Political Science, U. of Houston

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