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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Comments

Bob P.

Marc,
Would you recommend a few biographies that you think are good reads. Nick Toches seems to have the hang of it, although I've heard some complaints about fact-twisting in order to make a more compelling narrative. But "Hell Fire" rocks, and "The Last Opium Den" is a fun little book.

Anyway, who do you like?

GMRoper

Marc, that was great. "May I have some more please."

reg

Indiana is a goofball who nobody in their right mind could possibly take seriously, so his wild ruminations are beside any possible point. Nobody's going to read this piece of product except for laughs. But your explicit embrace of the recall and the "Arnold possibility" as political common sense is far more disturbing - and frankly, more preposterous - coming from somebody who should have known better.

Of course, if you want to find a strawman to put it out there that the recall wasn't a circus, that Arnold's campaign wasn't a travesty and that the whole process wasn't set into motion by an opportunistic injection of big bucks, you couldn't have done better than Indiana. It's just that even a moron can be right about stuff that's obvious and a sensible fellow can find it difficult to admit just how blinded they were by pet biases. When I read sentences like the one you wrote rationalizing the recall and Arnold's election and, by implication, how off-base those of us who saw through the bullshit from day one were, it reminds me of the "Saddam's WMDs threatened our national security" crowd who tell me that "it was right to be wrong, and wrong to be right." Frankly, that's the kind of hubris that just devolves a discussion into preening self-righteousness and I've got to say to myself - silently, or not so: "Don't take this person seriously when discussing this issue".

Rich

Thanks for the review, Marc--Indiana won't be on my summer reading list, at the very least.

That said, I have to smirk a little at your bizarre characterization of Arnold as the "establishment center". As I recall (no pun intended) from a previous Weekly column of yours, you were also one of the very few intelligent writers who were shocked--shocked, I tell you! (ok, maybe not shocked, but I always get a kick out of that phrase)--by Arnold's "veering right". Another dubious description, since most of us normal folk recognized Arnold for what he was right off the [wing]bat: a right-wing wingbat. Plenty of hot-air was expended over his moderate credentials (he's pro-choice! and... pro-choice! and he doesn't hate gays! and he's.. pro-choice!). No, Arnold is not moderate: he is a very anti-labor Republican. Who the hell didn't know that? In your exuberant celebration of the departure of one nauseating Gray Davis (which I certainly can't begrudge you), I think you let down your usually laser-like critical focus, missing the chance to identify Arnold's steaming crap of a campaign.

Which would be forgivable if you weren't continuing to mischaracterize him. Again, for those newly arrived: Arnold is a Bush/Cheney Republican, without all the fundie stuff.

One more thing: I should add that those of us who were fortunate(?) enough to live in Minnesota during the Jesse Ventura election heard the same "voters-fed-up-with-business-as-usual" line, but you know, at least Ventura DID mix things up every once on a great while. The DFL was unimpressed from the start, but I have to say it was giggle-inducing to watch Minnesota Republicans--who expected Jesse to be one of "their kind"--fulminate against some of his decidedly non-Republican stances. Would that the same surprises could have resulted from "moderate populist" Arnold... of course, some of us never expected them to.

reg

Rich - you forget...Arnold also believes in Global Warming and evolution. How can you characterize him as right-wing when he's not certifiably insane on at least four of their issues ?

The thing that troubled me most in Marc's review was that he took Indiana's repetition of what most folks who were awake during the recall recognized as fairly obvious - all of which has been borne out by the experience of the past year - and called it "the worst" thing in what is clearly a book chock full of nonsense. That's not the way I would say, "The recall turned out to be a faux-populist, time&money-wasting diversion from dealing with the problems facing Californians and Arnold is an even bigger phony and servant of even more craven special interests than Gray Davis. I guess I was wrong. Everybody's got a right to be wrong sometimes."

Michael Turmon

Ever since Marc declared that Gray Davis refusing to make the car tax decrease permanent (aka "raising the car tax") was a substantive reason to recall him, I decided he was around the bend on this issue. My car tax went from a small sum to an absurdly small sum. This is a reason to change governors?

I have liked some of Gary Indiana's writing, in particular this

http://tinyurl.com/8ks7p

on the East Village art scene. Stealing the punchline:

"The East Village scene unwittingly accelerated the transformation of Manhattan into the Singapore of America, and Los Angeles into America's art capital."

gforce

GI's endless gripings in the service of an overarching conspiracy theory add up to what Tom Frank calls the 'plen-T-plaint'. Whaddaya say we all work to bring this term into general circulation?

It would be surprising if there were no great book or even documentary film to memorialize the recall election. Probably the best we will get would be a collection of the profiles run by the LA Times (at least that was the best overview I saw). It just came and went too fast for the book or movie bidness to capture it. Tant pis! An American Fellini would have done it justice...perhaps a younger Altman. Or, from the print perspective, either Mailer or Vidal. (Gary Indiana seems to be a sort of damaged offspring of Mailer and Vidal).

The recall and election, and the whole Arnold experience, may be the bruised fruit of the last impactful work of journalist Gary Webb. It was his investigation (while working for the state lege) into the Oracle donation to His Grayness in return for a software sales contract that was the last straw (or blasting cap) for many people. That transaction seemed to illustrate so graphically the Gray Way of doing business that people who I believe should have struck a more insightful balance in Davis' favor supported the recall.

Michael Crosby

Oops, that was my post.

Jim Rockford

The recall was based on Gray Davis notably failing his one big test: the electricity crisis and just "managing" it" instead of taking action. If Davis had acted, decisively, to simply seize the power grid, generation plants, and everything else, promising to unwind the transactions gradually after the crisis had passed, there would have been no recall.

Instead he meddled in the Republican primary to get Riordan booted and the idiot Simon nominated, and even then had a close call. Davis clearly wouldn't do the most important function of a governor ... react in a crisis. Hence the recall. I suspect Arnold is learning that he is being held to the same level of accountability.

The real problem of State government is structural, too much churn (term limits) leading to severely ideological guys on both extremes, most of them Dems since this is a Dem state, and thus hostile to basic middle class concerns (housing, crime, transportation). Dems are playing gotcha with nuking even sensible deals like providing fresh fruit to schools that Arnold proposes, Arnold in turn is using Initiatives as a club. Leadership is lacking to actually reform the state and run it ala Pat Brown.

Indiana's other statements indicate the massive disconnect between the liberal elite and most Americans: the view that the US "deserved 9/11" which is widely held (to it's shame) by the Democratic Party, that 9/11 was "nothing" and did not represent a real, ongoing problem. That ANY action by the US in self-defense against terrorism was immoral and illegal and repugnant. That the US had engaged in a "war" against the world by offering blue jeans, McDonalds, and Coca-Cola and thus deserved terrorism.

However this reminds me of Gray Davis's (or Chirac's) elite disconnect between the expectations of the people ("Do Something Dammit!") and the price ultimately paid. Telling Americans they deserved 9/11 is a non-starter.

richard lo cicero

Considering how Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal feel about each other how could Mr Indiana be anything but damagted if he is their "offspring"?

Marc Cooper

Mike T.: If ur going to quote me, then do so properly. The LA Weekly archives are full of my columns on the recall and my pro-recall position was in no way leveraged on the car tax. Instead, I argued and still do, that if 2 million California voters qualified an intitiatve to recall the Governor they certainly should have a right to try. My support for tossing out Gray Davis derived from his blatant pay-to play ethic-- one that Arnold has unfortunately continued.

All that said, the Vehicle License Fee is a regressive tax and a costly one.. I dont wkat kind of car u drive, but in my family that tax bill went up from about $500 to nearly $2000 so ur damn straight we took it seriously.

green dem

Apparently it is the season of misanthropy. Anyone read Kunstler's "the Long Emergency" yet? Well, in any event, Schwarzenegger has to be one of the worst governors this state has had (no small achievement there). Given the magnitude of problems facing California - the lack of housing, the dismal state of k-12 education, the long slow decline of the UC system, the near 24 hour gridlock that is much of our state's freeway system (anyone been to San Diego lately - Jesus Christ...), the crumbling infrastructure, the unpreparedness for what will be a staggering population of elderly people, and many many other things - the petty bullshit this governor has focused on, and his total lack of responsibility on nearly every vital policy front is much, much worse than reprehensible.

richard lo cicero

Considering that none of you on this site is fit to wipe The Govanator's ass you should not be critical of your betters he has accomlished more than most of you ever will.

Michael Turner

"Or end when he attempts to explain the banality of American politics by referring to Mary McCarthy, Herbert Marcuse, Renata Adler, Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, Franz Fanon, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Gore Vidal, Edward Said, Arundhati Roy, James Baldwin, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Alexander Kluge, Angela Davis and Hannah Arendt — all in the same sentence!"

Hey, Marc, at least you did him one better. You fit them all into a sentence *fragment*.

Btw, be careful about referring to Michael Turmon as Michael T. I don't mind, but what if Michael Totten dives for the red button?

"Considering that none of you on this site is fit to wipe The Govanator's ass you should not be critical of your betters he has accomlished more than most of you ever will."

Sad country it is that putting on a speedo to show off your muscles, making any number of bad movies, and groping any number of women qualify as great accomplishments.

richard lo cicero

Someone seems to have appropriated my name. Since I find the Governator to be a total fraud and thought so at the time I'm more than a little pissed. Grey Davis had plenty of faults but he was WAY better than this dodo and I can hardly wait until 2006 to vote this turkey out of office.

Michael Turmon

Marc, I was remembering the following passage:

*** Having just paid a $508 car-registration fee this week after paying my kid’s hiked tuition last month at a school that just had to cut two-thirds of its class schedule, and remembering how the governor blithely played dialing-for-dollars as the energy crisis mounted and the lights went out, I’m hardly in the mood for pro-Davis lectures from simpering liberals. ***

It is taken from:

http://laweekly.com/ink/03/46/dissonance-cooper.php

My paraphrase was:

*** Marc declared that Gray Davis refusing to make the car tax decrease permanent (aka "raising the car tax") was a substantive reason to recall him... ***

I believe my paraphrase is correct. Do you see a bit of light between the two?

About the size of the fee, I pay about $70 to register a 1993 Subaru, and about $170 for a 1999 Honda. The tax portion of this is about $40 and $140, respectively. (These are the new "increased" taxes - the old taxes, which were cut due to a surplus, were 1/3 of this number! My car was costing me about 20 bucks a year in taxes! It was totally unsustainable.) Given that these taxes pay for the excellent road system I use most days, I don't have a problem with this. But a lot of the pro-recall people did, as it seems like you do in the words above.

I also don't think it's all that regressive. I paid a little under 20K for the Honda and so the rate (140/20K) is well below 1%. That's a lower rate than my property tax, which is already too low. Furthermore, in other states (NY/MO/KS) I have generally paid more than this.

Most of the people I know who have modest incomes (say, clerks, waitstaff, etc.) have similar or lower-value cars and I don't hear them moan about their car reg fee (of which the vehicle tax is the largest part). If someone wants to bellyache about something car-related, it is insurance.

Finally, griping about the tuition increase is also barking up the wrong tree. Prior to the increase you're talking about, the tuition had been constant for *eight years* which is amazing in a nationwide context. I value education very much, but you have to at least bump the tuition up due to inflation. Keeping it level for 8 years was an amazing and temporary luxury due to the bubble economy and CA's use of income versus property taxes. And CA instate tutitions are actually still quite competitive, either the "flagship" UCLA/UCB, or the Cal-State tutitions.

For more:
http://www.oaklandgasprices.com/Forum_MSG.aspx?master=1&category=1128&topic=27627&page_no=1

aspatonvetoftheIRAQwar

Naivete is Marc Cooper imagining that Ahnold was ever gonna do anything but business as usual. good instincts there Marc. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black now attacking pwogs when they have naive illusions about the democratic party.
Then again, Marc has oddball illusions about populist programs combined with increases in military spending, more military expeditions abroad...

Josh Legere

greene had a great article about Villagrossa shenanigans in Los Angeles. It took him about a week to start behaving just like Hahn. Worth reading in the same issue as Marc's article.

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