What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love & Understanding?

This BitesIn surveying the myriad assaults on freedom of speech and thought, there appears to be a unifying culprit: Groupthink. Borrowing from George Orwell’s 1984, the principle is simply that enormous pressure within a particular group or political party stifles independent thinking or alternative viewpoints.

One of the most honorable aspects of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is that the organization will defend the right for individuals and groups to speak their minds — regardless of how abhorrent they may be (i.e., the KKK).  This basic freedom is under assault from all quarters.

The left and right and media continue their march to the extreme fringes of discourse. They are all complicit in this disgusting trend, which feeds off controversy, fear, emotion, hyperbole, the demise of civility and power of social media. The results are as shameful as they are sickening:

  • In the nation’s capital, Sen. Elizabeth Warren if yanked off the floor for reading a statement by widow of Martin Luther King.
  • Last week in Sacramento, the Democrats did the same thing by removing Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) as she sought to deliver a speech criticizing the late Tom Hayden for his anti-war activities.
  • Panel discussions on both CNN and Fox News are nothing but forums for bias and shouting under the guise of journalism.
  • President Trump bans news outlets from news briefings in retaliation for unfavorable coverage.
  • Universities – including UC Berkeley (birthplace of the free speech movement) cancel speeches from controversial figures.
  • Protestors disrupt town halls with no intention of finding common ground.

What is happening, America?

We have become a state and nation of thin-skinned people who already have their minds made up in lockstep with their peer groups and according to their respective Groupthink labels. In this type of environment, anyone holding a different view is public enemy number one and a target for attack.

This is especially damaging to moderates, who often find themselves in a no-man’s-land that seeks to balance and find   valid elements of opposing views in an effort to reach consensus or compromise. One would think this approach would prevail because most people want solutions. Yet extreme Groupthink drowns it all out. This reality only confirms the adage that the only things in lying in the middle of the road are dead.peace-love

Enough with the labeling. Enough with the intolerance. Enough with hate.

About the only silver bullet the Blue Dog can come up with is to change our national anthem to Nick Lowe’s “(What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?” as performed by Elvis Costello.

Since this song was written by a Brit, maybe everyone can agree to this. Go ahead and laugh. Got any better ideas?

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Filed under California Legislature, Congress, Donald Trump, Freedom of Speech, Journalism, Media, Politics

Immigrants Make America Great

dog_withboneWhile a lot of protests taking place these days appear more destructive than constructive, it is hard to argue with  today’s “A Day without Immigrants” boycott, which underscores the tremendous role immigrants play throughout our economy and daily lives.170213-milwaukee-protest-immigration-ok-1629_5619dc2b4f55c921746c3ba87f26f47f-nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

Certainly, convicted felons should be deported. And we need to secure borders like every other country in theworld. But  the vast majority of immigrants in California and throughout the United States are vital to our economy and are decent, hardworking people who simply want a better life for their families. If every immigrant or undocumented magically disappeared from our society, the nation would grind to a halt. Period.

Many immigrants are professionals. They are engineers who write the software we use on our computers and phones. They are doctors and nurses who provide medical assistance to our families. They work in government, education and social services. Immigrants also do the essential jobs most Americans shun. They clean our hotel rooms. They harvest the food we eat. They wash dishes in the restaurants where we dine. They mow our lawns. They build our homes. After Hurricane Katrina, it was immigrant labor that rebuilt New Orleans. The list goes on. It would be interesting to see what kind of impact today’s boycott had on President Trump’s resorts.

Let’s be clear: most immigrants are law abiding people who are productive and pay their taxes. They need to be appreciated, valued, protected and appreciated as integral to the fabric of American society. Today’s boycott reminds us that immigrants in fact are Americans. They should not be vilified. Rather, they deserve our respect every day of the year — not just today.

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Filed under Donald Trump, Immigrants, Politics

Governor Should Sign Breathalyzer Bill

 

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Human willpower is no match for the disease of alcoholism. For many, the urge to drink obliterates any recognition for public safety. This has been proven time and time again. And deaths from drunken drivers is a scourge that results in countless loss of lives that could and should be prevented.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Senate Bill 1046 (Hill) would mean that “starting in 2019, first-time DUI offenders would be required to install an ignition interlock device for six months to reinstate their full driving privileges. The penalty goes up from there: a year for a second offense, two years for a third offense, and three years for a fourth or subsequent offense.”

dog_withboneMaybe there is some controversy under the surface of this, but the BlueDog isn’t seeing it. SB 1046 makes perfect sense.

More importantly, what this bill should really do is spark a debate about the legalization of recreational marijuana and how that will likely result in a spike in the very crimes — driving while impaired — that SB 1046 is trying to prevent. It makes little sense to mitigate one terrible addiction while promoting a positive climate that allows similar addictions and fatal accidents to thrive.

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In Praise of the Righteous Republicans

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dog_withboneIt’s refreshing and down right righteous that so many high-profile Republicans are behaving more like moderates and independents than blind party loyalists. After all, loyalty is a key ingredient of politics, which often mandates people bite their tongues, hold their noses and toe the party line. The pressure to do so is intense. That’s why it is so remarkable and commendable that big name Republicans are not only speaking out against Donald Trump, but breaking ranks and going so far as to endorse the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

The BlueDog wants to throw a bone to these upstanding Republicans for putting country over party. Rank and file moderates of both parties undoubtedly arrived at this conclusion quite some time ago.

The most recent high-profile defection was from HP CEO Meg Whitman, who laid out her thinking via Facebook, as reported by Verve:

“As a proud Republican, casting my vote for President has usually been a simple matter. This year is different. To vote Republican out of party loyalty alone would be to endorse a candidacy that I believe has exploited anger, grievance, xenophobia and racial division.”

She continued to say that “Trump’s reckless and uninformed positions on critical issues — from immigration to our economy to foreign policy — have made it abundantly clear that he lacks both the policy depth and sound judgment required as President.”

Earlier this week, Sally Bradshaw, a top adviser to Jeb Bush, said that not only is she leaving the Republican Party to become an independent, she will vote for Clinton.

Bradshaw told CNN in an email interview that the Republican Party is “at a crossroads and have nominated a total narcissist — a misogynist — a bigot,” she said, referring to Trump.

Certainly, Ms. Clinton has her baggage. But if there was ever a case for crossing party lines, running away from Trump and to a proven, experienced and stable leader like Clinton is about as obvious a no-brainer as we’ve seen in a long, long time. Probably ever.

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Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump, partisanship, Politics

Willie Says: Don’t Count Trump Out

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally May 5, 2016 in Charleston, West Virginia. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SmialowskiBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI, AFP/Getty Images

Main DogWith Republicans and Democrats, including this one, casually dismissing Donald Trump as a crazed carnival barker whose novelty act will ultimately go down in flames come November, it was interesting to see this perspective from a guy who knows a few things about politics — former Speaker Wille Brown. Check out what he had to say recently in the San Francisco Chronicle:

President Trump? It could happen

By Willie Brown   May 6, 2016

I’m probably the only Democrat who will say it publicly, but Donald Trump could wind up being elected president.

It’s not that he’s the best person for the job, or that he has tapped into some vast pool of “voter anger.” The real key to Trump’s success is that he is just flat-out exciting, and these days, we as a nation are addicted to excitement.

 Eight years ago, a largely unknown Barack Obama created a tremendous wave of excitement with the idea that he could become first black president. On the surface, Trump would seem to face a far steeper climb — what’s so unusual about a 69-year-old white guy wanting to be president?

But Trump has proved to be the most media-savvy candidate not only in the Republican primary, but maybe in the history of U.S. politics.

It’s not that he knows how to handle the pundits and spin the media. It’s that he creates his own media. Every morning he is somewhere on TV or in the Twitterverse, feeding the frenzy.

He is also the only candidate I’ve ever seen for whom making mistakes and misstatements is an integral part of the agenda.

Hillary Clinton’s message — I’m competent, experienced and rational — didn’t work out when she ran in the primaries against Obama in 2008. She’s basically running the same campaign this time. For all his appeal to young people, Bernie Sanders isn’t exactly Obama, and Clinton is still having trouble putting him away.

In November, we know what we’ll get with Clinton. There’s a lot of loose talk about how the electoral map is stacked against Trump, but a lot of that talk presupposes that he’s a typical Republican.

He’s not. He’s a mystery novel, and people keep turning the pages, waiting for the next twist.

Clinton is an owner’s manual that you’ve already read. For Democrats, that’s a big danger.

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Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump, Media, partisanship, Politics

Rise of the Mod Squad

dog_withbonePity the state’s coastal liberals, who thanks to the growing force of moderate Democrats were reminded that they don’t have a blank check in Sacramento any more.

In the waning days of the legislative session, The Mod Squad flexed its common-sense muscles on a number of measures, most notably blocking attempts to cut gas consumption in half by 2030. While perhaps a noble concept, the reality is that Assembly Bill 350 represented government overreach with the likely potential to harm the economy and low-income Californians, especially in the the Central Valley and inland communities.

It is disingenuous to attack these moderate representatives for not toeing the line in support of too-far-to-the-left  proposals, including AB 350, which would have spiked California’s gas prices, already among the highest in the nation. Accusations that these Mods were bought off by the oil industry ring hollow and are an insult to lawmakers and the constituents they represent.

After all, the rise of the Mods is exactly what the voters called for in 2010 by supporting an open primary system, which passed in the hopes it would lead to greater responsiveness to the public,  an end to rigid partisanship and more free-thinking leadership focused on solving problems, not creating more of them.

Like it or not, that is exactly what we have recently witnessed. Moderate Democrats, they should be applauded for standing up to knee-jerk notions that may sound good, but in reality are just bad public policies being promoted by California’s elite.

 

 

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Filed under California Legislature, Environment

CA Bureaucrats Are Playing God

dog_snarlingWhile Governor Brown roamed the Vatican praying for rain recently, we hope he also asked the big guy upstairs to do him a huge favor:  to remind California bureaucrats that there is a God, but He  just isn’t them . . .  no matter how much they seek to arbitrarily lord over the masses.

There is an incredibly disturbing pattern emerging within the Brown Administration that is going largely unnoticed by the public, unreported by press corps and perhaps even flying under Governor Brown’s own radar. Rogue boards and commissions that are pushing personal agendas and openly defying the will of judges, the state Attorney General, the courts, the Legislature and even Governor himself.

We’re talking about unelected bureaucrats exhibiting the brass-balled temerity to pull rank on (and the rug out from under) the very people voters have elected to represent their interests and protect them.

Bureaucracy running wild promises to be a rich vein for the BlueDog to tap for months to come. But for now, let’s just point out a couple current examples:

Exhibit A – The State Water Resources Control Board Above the Law?

As the result of lawsuits filed by local water and irrigation districts with longstanding water rights, numerous judges and the state attorney’s office told the SWRCB that it cannot curtail water allocations to water districts without citing proper cause and providing those districts with the opportunity to present their positions.

But instead of obeying  these court rulings, the SWRCB has gone ahead and proposed fines to some of the districts that sued the board. In one case, as much as $1.5 million. Those fines were been issued in direct defiance of the court’s requirements. Such actions are as arrogant and retaliatory as they are punitive.

Exhibit B – Brewing Scandal at the California Fish & Game Commission?

Bear, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats and other predators increasingly are surfacing in California urban areas due to sprawl and drought conditions. These wild animals are ransacking homes, killing pets and attacking children like something out of Little Red Riding Hood. Such episodes highlight the need for responsible predator management polices that protect both animal populations and the public at large.

Historically, responsible hunting and trapping programs have served as a critical tool for keeping wildlife at bay and managing wildlife populations.

In the next few days, the California Fish & Game Commission will be considering proposals that will essentially eliminate bobcat trapping statewide and set a dangerous precedent for effective predator management in the Golden State.

Bobcat Photo

 

 

 

 

These proposals are moving forward in open defiance of the California Legislature and Governor Brown, both of whom supported Assembly Bill 1213, legislation requesting regulations to tightly limit bobcat trapping — but with the clear condition that such policy be made only after comprehensive bobcat population study and thoughtful review of the scientific facts.

The governor should be commended for underscoring this notion when he signed the bill into law. And he should pay attention to what Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) recently told the Sacramento Bee on this issue:

“It’s real simple: There was a bill before the Legislature to ban the bobcat trapping that didn’t pass. You don’t need much more clarity than that to know what the Legislature was OK with. For a regulatory body to go out and basically go against the role of the Legislature is inappropriate . . . One of the real detriments of term limits has been that one branch of government has far exceeded its jurisdiction. The Legislature has so much constant turnover that no one’s there to hold folks accountable.”

We all know what happens when power goes unmonitored and unchecked.

The Department of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) and AB 1213 author (Bloom) have dropped the ball on funding research since the bill passed in 2013. They need to step up to the plate to make sure the necessary data is gathered before promoting regulations.

But rather than obey the Legislature and Governor, the commissioners are being presented a false choice that exploits a narrowly constructed law. It would be a sad commentary on the democratic process if the commission ignored the will of the Governor and Legislature.

One hopes that cooler heads on the commission will prevail, especially since the Governor, to his credit, recently replaced two commissioners whose terms had expired. The new members can play an important role by applying the brakes to this process so that a thoughtful and responsible set of regulations can be developed. There is no urgency on this matter.

Otherwise, the actions and attitude exhibited by both the Fish & Game Commission — and those of the SWRCB — will remain jaw-dropping in their hubris. We’ve already seen how dangerous this can be (CPUC, CalFire, etc.)

Where is the outrage? Where is the accountability? Where is the oversight? Where is the hammer?

Governor Brown is a measured and thoughtful leader. It is hugely disrespectful to him for his  Administration to operate unchecked and contrary to his policies. The Governor needs to focus on reigning them in and demand his bureaucrats stop playing God . . . or heaven help us.

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Filed under California Drought, California Legislature, Environment, Media, Water

The Donald Rocks the Free World?

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It’s getting close to the weekend so let’s keep it light.

Check out this entertaining USA Today piece on the music the 2016 presidential hopefuls are identifying with to brand their campaigns. Some pretty unlikely pairings to be sure:

I mean, how can you say Donald Trump and Neil Young in the same breath? The Donald’s highjacking “Rocking in the Free World” has to gall Mr. Young to no end.

Or Scott Walker and the Dropkick Murphy’s?

And the blowback from some of the artists is hilarious.

The BlueDog says check it out and enjoy.dog_withbone

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CalTrans Mocks Water Conservation

This BitesThis just in from the California Department of Hypocrisy:

“CalTrans landscaping project would use more water daily than one family uses in a year.”

According to this Riverside Press Enterprise storyCaltrans intends to plant more than 1 million square feet of freeway landscaping through Riverside that will be irrigated with overhead sprinklers, despite a drought-driven state crackdown on water use.

Yes. You read correctly. And, yes, your jaw should be hitting the floor about now.

In stark contrast: As the BlueDog writes this, he is sitting in the Central Valley backyard of his 82-year-old parents,  conscientious model citizens who are earnestly doing what the Governor has told them: conserve water.  They have let their gorgeous lawn turn as brown as a hay. They save their shower and kitchen water in buckets to water plants. They have cobbled together foam panels to float on their pool to save hundreds of gallons of water from summer evaporation.

They are doing what our government is imploring every Californian to do.

So what’s with CalTrans? Why is it above our water conservation edict? If you read the story, they parse and nuance better than former President Bill Clinton before the Monica Lewinsky grand jury. But no amount of twisted rationale can justify the CalTrans landscaping project if we are to believe everyone is supposed to be making sacrifices to conserve water.

Governor Brown and the legislature should be hammering CalTrans like Thor for this tone-deaf plan. Otherwise it sends the wrong signal to the populace. Pure and simple. If California government can’t take the drought seriously, why should we?

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Filed under California Drought, California Legislature, Water

The Pursuit of Happiness

dog_withboneHard to believe it has been nearly five years since the Bluedog wrote in support of gay marriage, “Let’s Tie the Knot & Move On” (Aug. 12, 2010).

Even harder still to believe is that some Republican presidential hopefuls are vowing to fight an issue that should be over now that the Supreme Court has ruled. In the wake of the court’s decision, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal reportedly called for the elimination of the Supreme Court. Not sure about you, but dismantling one leg of this nation’s checks-and-balances stool would not appear to be the key to the White House.

While moderates are typically open to crossing party lines to cast votes for moderate Republicans, making gay marriage the 21st Century’s abortion battle would be a grave mistake and further marginalize the Republican party. If people want to oppose same-sex unions for religious or other reasons, they have that right and their views should be respected. But they should stay on their side of the street. Live and let live.

Shouldn’t government be staying out of our personal lives as much as possible? Sure, don’t tell people who they can marry. But this notion should transcend ideology and not be restricted to selective items from the liberal agenda. For the most part, less regulation and government interference (with the obvious exceptions of public health, safety, social welfare) is a tenet for moderates:  Don’t tell me how to run my business. Don’t tell me how to raise my kids. Don’t tell me what kind of bags I should be able to get at the grocery story. Ad infinitum.

While the Bluedog’s position on same-sex marriage was laid out in full in the previous blog, the bottom line is that if two people love each other and want to commit for life, then why not allow this and grant the full rights that go along with that?

With a national divorce rate in the 40-50 percent range, God knows we heterosexuals have not exactly safeguarded the sanctity of marriage. [Note: The Bluedog has just completed the divorce process after 23 years of marriage. In case you are wondering, that’s a big reason for the Bluedog’s disappearance for more than a year]. There was a time not so long ago when divorce was a cause for shunning and judgement among traditional families. Times and values change to a degree.

Gay or heterosexual, marriage is a tough gig — all the more reason society should support same sex couples as they pursue happiness in their own lives. They’re not hurting anyone. It’s the Fourth of July in the year 2015. Time to love one another, respect different viewpoints — both liberal and conservative — and celebrate our collective and individual freedoms.

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by | July 4, 2015 · 7:47 AM