Category: Government
Posted by: seanmcox
My voter guide is ready for March 8th. Are you? We have 14 candidates for city council in Norwalk, California, and I've been doing research for months. I expect to add lots more information between now and election day. (I'm a little behind.) One thing I can say for sure is, a difficult race now seems pretty easy to decide. I know who I'm going to vote for. Do you?

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Category: Government
Posted by: seanmcox

After my experience with my last voter guide, I decided to create a wiki and, as of today, I am announcing that the wiki is here and ready with a good number of my recommendations. I plan to keep updating it as we get closer to the election, so if I haven't posted much on a topic now, come back and take a look later. Also feel free to participate in talk pages if you have any feedback, comments, or questions, or alternatively, you can comment here. (I'm pretty vigilant against spam, however, so I warn you to be relevant and coherent lest I mistake your comment for a disguised site promotion. I also insist on civility.)

The views expressed are typically mine, but I plan to accept help from some quarters. I strive not have a neutral point of view. That is, I strive to have an opinion, and I will keep studying the issues and updating content until I have enough information to form an opinion. However, until election day, this is a work in progress, and I may not decide some very difficult issues until very close to that day. Most issues, however, that are covered, have been decided at this point, and I'm doing my best to find time to add my thoughts and citations.



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Category: Government
Posted by: seanmcox

Of all the propositions before the voters of California this year, none seems so murky and unintelligible than Proposition 17. After initially coming to a negative evaluation of the Proposition, I've now become even less certain, though I still encourage a no vote. On the other hand, Proposition 17 provides an excellent example of why we need a new Attorney General, as the analysis and title of the proposition seem to be purposefully misleading. (Though to what purpose, I can only guess at.)

The main point I see after analyzing the law, is that it doesn't match what anybody is telling us about it. We are told that Proposition 17 is creating a discount that was never there before, or, from other sources, that the discount is being newly allowed to have continuity from insurer to insurer. None of these claims seem to be true. (Though I could not find a good legal analysis by anybody making such claims, which I would find immensely helpful.)

For my part, I have done my own analysis of both the proposition, as well as the Attorney General's analysis of the proposition.

My analysis:

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Category: Government
Posted by: seanmcox

As part of my research into judicial candidates this year, I crafted a question to email out to the judicial candidates in my area. The letter I came up with read as follows (italicized text was omitted in Mark Ameli's letter, as he was the first I emailed):

As a voter, I was wondering if you could offer me some brief thoughts on what the rule of law means to you, and what responsibility you see individual citizens as having in promoting their own welfare, and the welfare of society, and what kinds of limitations you see to that responsibility.

I had at first considered crafting a letter that asked about thoughts on specific current events, but I had my doubts that such a question would be well received, so I crafted this letter instead, with a question that is fairly obtuse, but which I felt might reveal something about the candidates' ways of thinking about the relationship between the people and the law.

I have thus far received 6 responses, and will update this blog entry if I receive any more. The responses I have received follow, in the order received:

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Category: Government
Posted by: seanmcox

It's time again for my voter guide.

Much as I did in my last voter guide, I'll begin with a summary of my recommendations, for simplicity, and then continue with some review of the candidates and measures. With as much as there is to cover, I'm going to leave out partisan races, as well as the county assessor. My review of candidates will be bullet-pointed facts and source materials.

After having gone through this for this year, I think that I may want to move this to a wiki format some time in the future, and recruit others to help me. It is hard to research this many issues in a timely manner with as busy as I am. With a wiki, my research could be updated as I went, making much of the information available sooner.

The official California Voter Information Guide can be found at http://www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov/

Summary of Recommendations

State Propositions/Measures

  • 13 - Yes
  • 14 - No
  • 15 - No
  • 16 - No
  • 17 - No

Judicial Offices

  • 28 - Edward J. Nison
  • 35 - Soussan (Suzanne) Bruguera
  • 73 - Laura A. Matz
  • 107 - R. Stephen Bolinger
  • 117 - Pattricia M. Vienna
  • 131 - Maren Elizabeth Nelson

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Alexia L. Deligianni

Analysis

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Category: Government
Posted by: seanmcox
Stand for Marriage Maine has come out with a new radio ad. (There is a shorter television version also available.)



I think it's important that we all realize how dishonest people are being about the full scope of the real agenda of those who are now pushing same sex marriage.

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Category: Government
Posted by: seanmcox
Apparently Maine's citizens have put a proposition on the Ballot to reverse their legislature's redefinition of marriage. Their ballot measure is known as Question 1 and much like California, the race is expected to be tight. The Stand for Marriage Maine campaign seeks to pass Question 1, much like our own Yes on 8 here in California. In fact, they have the same PR consultants. The website looks very similar, but they seem to have gotten to a better start promoting their cause through social media.



I've written a lot on the subject of same-sex marriage in the past, but here is my current Argument Analysis series:

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Category: Government
Posted by: seanmcox
A couple of days ago, I finished reading the recent opinion upholding Proposition 8. I highly recommend giving it a read. It's 185 pages, which largely clarifies my understanding of what a constitutional revision is.

Previous to having read the decision, I tended to think that a constitutional revision was something which clearly repealed an express provision of the constitution. I would have argued that Proposition 8 did not constitute a revision because same-sex marriage was not expressly provided for in the constitution and that the whole of Marriage Cases rested on poor (IMO) and largely capricious judicial precedent, and a little disdain for basic logic.

Apparently, repealing and changing points of the Constitution is allowed, and is not sufficient to constitute a revision. (Although, I would have thought "revise" and "change" were synonyms, the term apparently has special application in constitutional law.) A revision is defined as a fundamental change to the constitution which alters either the basic governmental framework (by say, eliminating some portion of the checks and balances system) or by making some other change which broadly contradicts the way the constitution currently operates.

In this sense, I find the definition a bit unpleasant, as the line between a revision and an amendment is not very clearly defined (or, at least, it would seem difficult to draw such a line in a non-capricious manner). However, the line is sufficiently clear to put proposition 8 almost beyond contention as an amendment, and not a revision.

There was only one dissenting opinion, and this, seemed to be almost a deliberate misreading of the majority opinion, coupled with an obstinate insistence on making a mountain out of a molehill.

Dissent comes from Moreno J., who's two main points seem to be that the majority erred in defining a revision as being solely a matter of revising the structure of government, and that Proposition 8 constitutes a big change rather than a small one.

In his defense, I have already noted that the definition of a constitutional revision makes the matter pretty vague. Really there's wiggle room to go to many extremes in one's definition. What is drastic from one person's point of view, may be minor from another. Without a clearly established rule for prioritizing and weighing principles of the constitution, judgment becomes nothing more than a matter of personal preference influenced by the weight of judicial tradition.

To his first point, "that the majority erred in defining a revision as being solely a matter of revising the structure of government", I will grant him, that without context, some of the statements he quotes from the majority decision sound like they advance that proposition, and in that sense, may be a bit sloppy. However, in context, the majority most certainly demonstrated that their meaning was more broad than Moreno J. grants. They most certainly considered non-structural impacts to the government, and while Moreno J. seems unwilling to grant that they included such considerations in their definition of a constitutional revision, he nonetheless goes on to contend against the majorities non-structural considerations.

In considering the idea that Proposition 8 might have constituted a revision due to its impact on the rights of a minority group, the majority did not contend that a modification of rights could not be construed as a revision. Rather, the majority contended that Proposition 8 was only a very narrow modification, in that it, in their view, carved out only one single exception to the principle of equal protection, but left the principle fully intact to apply elsewhere the same as always. All the substantive rights of married couples still remained intact, so that the necessary effect was very limited.

In Moreno J.'s opinion, any exception to the principle of equal protection is a major one, no matter how limited the scope.

(In my opinion, this isn't really an equal protection issue.)

Moreno J.'s opinion, in the end, seems a little on the extreme side of the possible interpretations, but it is not altogether surprising that one of the judges could be found to be taking the position.

Another interesting point that comes from this, is that since a revision is not defined as an explicit modification to a clearly stated point of the constitution, Proposition 8 is left without any protection against attempts to repeal it. In the opinion of the majority of the court. Repealing an amendment is as much a revision as making the amendment. Hence, with the narrow margin of victory that we Californians had over same-sex marriage this past year, we are in no way made safe against very shortly having our work undone.

There is much work to be done and we need to get our houses in order so that we can work earnestly to do it.

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Category: Government
Posted by: seanmcox
I finally got around to looking at the election results today, fearing the worst.

However, what I found was the best; a solid (or very nearly solid in one case) yellow spread of counties indicating no votes on all but proposition 1F... which was solid green.

It's nice to be pleasantly surprised.

Now, if only we'd vote out this legislature. (They just wasted gobs of taxpayer dollars to hold a special election for the sake of passing bills that were bad for California, while hold the proverbial gun to the heads of our teachers in an attempt to strong-arm our compliance.)

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Category: Government
Posted by: seanmcox
It's time to vote again in California so once again I have studied the issues and will share my insights.

It's a pretty pathetic selection we have this year. If the length of this blog looks daunting, remember the following and you'll do very well.

Simple Rule:
Just vote NO.
Summary of Recommendations:
In reality, there is one rather trivial issue I recommend voting Yes on, but since it's rather trivial, you can vote No on that one as well without it making much of a difference. Here's the simple breakdown:
  • 1A - No
  • 1B - No
  • 1C - No
  • 1D - No
  • 1E - No
  • 1F - Yes
Full Analysis:

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