What’s Really Going On in California?
by Sam Hamod
July 31, 2003
Several people have asked me, “What is really going on in California?”
Here’s the scoop.
1) Darrell Issa is trying to get into the governor’s chair by the back door.
2) Governor Davis is not responsible for the failure of the CA economy; in fact, it was the fault of Cheney’s Energy Commission friends at Enron, Sempra and Dynergy, with the help of Spencer Abraham and FERC.
3) President Bush and his team is publicly saying they don’t want this “distraction,” but some Republican insiders have told me, with a laugh, “Of course, Bush wants this—if it goes well, then he can take credit with Issa, if it falls apart, then he can say, “I had nothing to do with it. That’s just simple politics, young man.”
4) If CA is taken from the Democrat column, it will be a big plus for Bush and the Republican Party, they will control CA; a big political plum.
5) If Issa succeeds, it will mean the end of our democratic elections, because it will illustrate that anyone with enough money can buy signatures for recalls and then campaign to come into elected office by the “back door” without a proper election for the office.
Issa spent millions on his “recall” effort; getting people to go out and getting paid from $1.00 to $2.00 per signature on the recall forms. Many of the people didn’t realize what was behind it; others were offered a little “help” according to some, being told they would have a chance to meet their congressman when he came home for a visit, others thought they were simply saying that “recall” was a good thing—but didn’t know they were voting to have a recall election.
Issa's integrity was also called into question with an article in the Los Angeles Times by Gregg Jones, that points out Issa did not win Inc. Magazine's prestigious "Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 1994" as he claimed; it was won by Outback Steak House; his military record according to official documents shows that he was not what he said he was in terms of his ranks and training and responsibilities. There are other discrepancies in his claims that are now beginning to surface.
Since this recall began, it has also come out that Issa was arrested and convicted of illegal possession of weapons in Michigan and was also involved in an insurance fraud scheme having to do with an alleged theft of a car, that was actually sold or traded (he blamed his brother for that, but ended up naming his son after the alleged crooked brother!). Issa was found with a 25 calibre automatic with a full clip and 44 extra shells in a military style pouch, along with a tear gas gun and some other paraphernalia when he was arrested and indicted. His explanation was that "It was just a teeney weeney gun, that's all." People are now wondering what Issa is all about and how ethical or honest a person he is. His integrity is now open to question among many people; the old line Republicans are wondering what they have on their hands.
There is also upset among all voters in California because this recall election will cost CA, conservatively, $25-50 million dollars; some other experts think it could go as high as $75 million dollars if there are contestations of the “recall” effort and its legality. These contestations are already taking place in various courts. Thus, Issa, for $2 million dollars plus, is giving our state a possible $75 million dollar debt! Not even Republicans are happy about this; none of us are. Issa is aware of this so he is putting even more effort into his campaign to become governor, even though when he began his "recall" campaign, he said he had no interest in being governor (so much for his integrity).
Recently, while playing tennis with some friends who are old line Republicans, I asked them about Issa. They were mad. As one said, he’s a retired veteran and defense company executive, “I don’t like Issa, he’s just a big bankroll egotist that doesn’t care a thing about California or about his constituents.” This is a man who voted for GW Bush, but is now turning on Issa.
Issa is a Lebanese/American Christian. In the Arab-American community, there is upset because Issa has sided with many policies of Bush that anger members of the community, especially when it comes to U.S. policies as they relate to Palestine, Syria and Lebanon, plus the aid packages to Israel. As one of these people told me, “If Issa is “one of us,” then I am not—I am ashamed of his dishonesty, his desire for power and his attempt to become governor through the back door of this recall.” So, even his “own people” don’t trust him.
I am not a big fan of Governor Davis, but on the other hand, he was elected as governor and has had to suffer the problems that many other governors now face: the death of the dot.com economy, major job losses to overseas moves by corporations and closings of factories for lack of orders from abroad and at home, higher medical and pharmaceutical costs, higher taxes to support the military, with the money leaving the state and the country without creating any new jobs or income for the state and higher energy costs thanks to Cheney, Lay, Enron,Sempra and Dynergy among others. Now with the Natural Gas people now getting into the act as well because FERC is failing to protect the states and our citizens all over America, things are looking even more dire now that so many people converted to natural gas to "help save money". But, for Issa to blame Davis for this mess is outlandish, wrong, unethical and a downright lie.
Unfortunately, there is an even larger question that must be answered: will it be fair for a rich person to sponsor these recall petitions, and pay to get signatures, and thus disrupt the democratic process? This is exactly what Issa has done—he has gone after the democratic voting process—and is trying to get into the governor’s seat with perhaps less than 12% of the vote if he is the winner of a run-off, if a recall motion should pass in California. I say this should not be allowed. If we allow this, then we will have to kiss representative democracy goodbye because the very rich will continue attempting recalls of all candidates they don’t like or who beat them in open races. Then, the incumbent winners, as is the case with Davis today, will have to focus on the recall and will not be able to do their job. Not only this, but it will cost them money from their own pockets to defend themselves and their positions in office; this will scare many honest people away from running for office. Unfortunately, Issa has opened the door to the destruction of what is left of our democratic system.
Not only this, but if there is a successful recall in California, and the vote is then taken for who is to replace the governor -- as it is presently set up in California -- the person who gets the most votes becomes governor. Thus, a person who gets, let us say, only 15% of the vote, but which is more than the other candidates received, becomes governor! This would be one the vilest things one could do to a democracy -- our democracy. It's already bad enough that money is so important in campaigns; this would make matters much worse.
Add to this that an ignorant judge today said that voters could vote in a new governor, while not even passing the recall vote? Issa has created a mess for California and possibly the nation because if this works here, the wealthy could try this in other states or try to pass laws that would allow them to do the same thing in other venues.
You wanted the truth about what is really happening in California—that’s it—cut and dried, down and dirty—very dirty...
Sam Hamod is a resident of California, an expert on world affairs, former editor of Third World News (in D.C.), professor at Princeton, Michigan & Iowa, Director of The Islamic Center of Wash, DC, and frequent contributor to various online ezines; he may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.