I knew virtually nothing about Kaine before his debate, and now i know too much.
Around the turn of the twentieth century, progressive Republicans backed the establishment in many states of the public initiative process through which citizens could bypass their state legislatures and place laws on the ballot themselves. This would have worked out better if the public were better informed.
Alas, what has happened is that vested interests have learned to use this process to fill the ballots with propositions that would stuff their pockets and to pour millions of dollars into misleading, at best, advertising.
I say, “at best” because in many cases the advertising contains outright lies, as in the Roman Catholic Church’s ads for Prop 8 stating that if it didn’t pass, the clergy would be forced to marry gays when in fact they would be permitted to marry them. And what, Your Grace, is the 9th Commandment?
Add to these measures the referenda put on the ballots by legislators, and you end up with ballot lists so long that they tax the attention span of the average voter.
Both sorts of propositions, though, are routinely shot through with hidden agenda. Take a look at California’s November ballot propositions.
Proposition 53 – This one is ostensibly to rein in cost overruns on projects like the Bullet Train, but actually it’s funded exclusively ($4.5 million) by Stop Blank Checks, which, it turns out is funded exclusively by Dean and Joan Cortopassi, wealthy Stockton agribusinessfolk who are trying to pervert the initiative process to block a water project they oppose.
Proposition 56 – Opposition is partly funded by California Citizens Against Special Interests and Wasteful Taxes, which when you dig down you discover is itself funded by tobacco companies and retailers. But advertising for the opposition is mainly funded to the tune of $60 million dollars directly by tobacco companies. No surprise here since passage would sharply increase state taxes on tobacco products.
Proposition 63 – Gavin Newsom’s proposition regulating sales of firearms and ammunition. The opposition is funded by the Coalition for Civil Liberties, whose primary funder, go figure, is the NRA. Ahhh, those civil liberties.
Proposition 65 – Funded exclusively by plastic bag manufacturers, this proposition requires grocery and certain other retail stores to charge customers for single-use bags and deposit their receipts for these bags into a fund earmarked for environmental purposes. Sounds good, huh? Well, until you look at the loopholes and see that it’s funded by plastic bag manufacturers who have poured millions of dollars into the campaign for it and the campaign against Proposition 67, which doesn’t have the loopholes and would severely cut into the proliferation of these bags, a major source of pollution in this country.
But the grand prize goes to Michael Weinstein, founder of AIDS Healthcare Foundation and its president at a current salary of $400,000 a year. This is called doing well by doing good. Yes, the foundation undoubtedly did a lot of good in its early years, but oh my goodness it sure has come under a lot of fire nowadays what with the discovery that its clinics had overbilled Medicare and other sources of support by millions of dollars. And then there’s its zeal in filing lawsuits to intimidate those who would stand it its way and its rapacious behavior against smaller AIDS organizations without the resources to defend themselves. Etc. etc.
Weinstein has outdone himself with a pair of propositions on the November ballot, both funded to the tune of millions of dollars by his AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
First, Proposition 60, which ostensibly calls simply for a requirement that male porn performers wear condoms. Well, who can argue against that? Until you dig down into the details and see that the proposition is so badly written that it is opposed by the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, and the Libertarian Party. He designed it to intentionally unleash a tsunami of lawsuits because he included a provision that will require the State of California to hire him to defend it from these lawsuits, a position from which he cannot be fired except by legislative action.
Almost as bad is Proposition 61, which masquerades as an attack on Big Pharma by reducing the cost of prescription medications for state healthcare agencies. Alas, according to the California Medical Association and other prestigious medical groups, it is likely to actually increase costs.
And once you start digging into it, you discover delicious tidbits, like Weinstein having written it to exclude the HMO and multimillion-dollar prescription business operated by his own AIDS Healthcare Foundation and to contain a special provision that would require the State of California to pay his lawyers for suits they bring under this provision.
Litigious parasite consumed with egregious greed or what?
The great pity on Prop 61 is that Bernie Sanders was in the Bay Area last week stumping for a couple of candidates and for this proposition. Yes, Weinstein concealed his agenda very well, but you’d think Bernie would have done his homework.
Meanwhile, having no photographs of parasites, i’ll make do with this entertaining sculpture on South Petaluma Boulevard.