So let's get this straight:
The lieutenant governor is running for insurance commissioner. The insurance commissioner is running for lieutenant governor. The former governor is running for attorney general. The attorney general is running for treasurer.
Round and round and round we spin. Talk about a clusterfuck.
There was a time, and it wasn't all that long ago, when every single constitutional office in California was held by a Democrat. And it's entirely possible that this fall — with the Republican president and Republican governor in political free fall — the Democrats will actually lose some top jobs in Sacramento.
Let me humbly suggest one reason why: We have a bunch of people running for office who really ought to find something else to do with their lives.
I'm not the only one who thinks this. If you talk to people who think about the future of the California Democratic Party — people who might actually play a role in it, say, 10 years from now — what you hear is this: Why are the same old names bouncing around like petrified Ping-Pong balls?
John Garamendi has been running for some office or other (including unsuccessfully for governor) for the past 20 years. He's been insurance commissioner twice. Now, since he clearly can't get the top job, he's angling for number two.
Cruz Bustamante has virtually disappeared since he dared run in the recall election that brought Arnold Schwarzenegger to power. Perhaps he can slip into Garamendi's post for a while, while he figures out what else to do. Bill Lockyer thought about running for governor but realized he wasn't going to win, and although he's not a terrible attorney general, he's decided to run for treasurer, which makes no sense unless he's waiting around to try another office at some point.
Jerry Brown was governor once, and after a period of self-imposed exile, he decided to run for president (of the United States), then mayor of Oakland. By the way, he's a lawyer, so now he wants to be attorney general.
None of these people is evil, and the state could do worse — way worse — than electing any of them. But is anyone else getting the distinct feeling that we're the party of, well, yesterday?
Just thought I'd ask.
One of my favorite political movies is Robocop, the 1987 Paul Verhoeven sci-fi film that is not generally considered a great social statement about anything. But when you pay attention (and watch it with the right, um, mind-set), Robocop is actually a story about privatization: Detroit has turned over its police force to the Omni Consumer Products Corporation, which decides to save money (for the company's bottom line) by cutting staff and squeezing pay — to the point where there's inadequate backup when our hero gets into a firefight with the bad guys and almost gets shot to bits. They revive him as a cyborg, and he tries to be an honest cop — but deep in his electronic DNA is a rule that he can't arrest or harm any officer of the Omni Consumer Products Corporation.
I thought about that when I heard that the patrol specials — a crew of private armed civilians who wear uniforms and badges and walk the streets under a 19th-century tradition — was asking for expanded authority in San Francisco (see page 5). The message that the group recently sent to the Police Commission: Privatization is the wave of the future in urban law enforcement.