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Tom Elias

Would you rather live red or blue?

“The pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states …” Barack Obama famously observed in 2004. “But I’ve got news for them: There’s the United States of America.” Obama went on to become president four years later, but here’s some news for him: There are significant differences between so-called […]

December 02, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

How to make us count again

Back in 1948, when most Americans woke up the day after the presidential election and learned to their surprise that Harry Truman had defeated Thomas Dewey, California counted. It was only because of this state’s late-reporting vote that Truman won out. But there was no suspense about California’s vote this month: the television networks called […]

November 30, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

A skewed look at California exodus

No academic or pseudo-academic study has had more impact on California public affairs this fall than a 32-page tome about what’s wrong with this state, coming from the New York-based Manhattan Institute and bearing the ominous title “The Great California Exodus: A Closer Look.” Trouble is, this study doesn’t look quite closely enough to get […]

November 16, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

The sleeping giant has awakened

Weeks before last Tuesday’s election, President Obama began to realize his only chance for victory: Awaken the so-called sleeping giant of American politics, the approximately 50.5 million Latinos or Spanish-speaking U.S. residents, 26 million of whom are eligible to vote. “If I win,” he said in late October, “it will be because of Latinos.” Obama […]

November 13, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Voters want a level playing field

If there was one big reason why “paycheck protection,” on Tuesday’s ballot as Proposition 32, failed for the third time in the past 16 years, it was this: The concept by itself is simply unfair. Like its predecessors in 1996 and 2005, Proposition 32 aimed to deprive labor unions of their voice in California politics […]

November 08, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Polls biased? Gripers are wrong

Every election year at this time, radio and television airwaves, newspaper columns and political websites are suffused with poll results. Some track voter preferences daily, like www.realclearpolitics.com, which carries a daily compendium of polls on presidential and other significant contests at the national and state levels. But are these polls accurate? As a rule, whichever […]

October 04, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Cheap shots at California are inaccurate

Back in years like 1936 and 1972, when California was in the midst of serious recessions, no Republican presidential candidate or surrogate would have dared bash California the way Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Peggy Noonan and others lately have. Back then, this state was pretty safely Republican in presidential voting and no GOP bigwig would […]

October 02, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Big bucks make 37 unpredictable

There will be plenty of ballot proposition battles in California this fall that look like food fights, with figurative rotten tomatoes slung via all manner of media over issues from the death penalty to taxes and car insurance, but only one initiative fight revolves around actual food. That’s Proposition 37, which pits most of America’s […]

September 28, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Mail ballots change campaigns

You’ve heard of the “October surprise,” where candidates hold on to something negative about their opponent, then spring it at the last moment so the opponent won’t have time to respond much before Election Day? Well, forget that model, which is about as modern and workable today as a Model T. Mail-in ballots — known […]

September 21, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Déjà vu on the initiative front

California voters can be excused if they get a sense of déjà vu when taking their first look at the ballot initiative pamphlets for the fall election. That’s because they’ve already seen and decided on several of the issues they’re being asked to consider in November. The decisions, of course, were negative on all those […]

September 12, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Obama reaches out to Latino voters

The barrage of Republican television advertising aimed at both registered Latino voters and potential Hispanic voters who have not yet registered began early this summer. Bankrolled mostly by super political action committees grown stupendously wealthy under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision allowing both individual donors and corporations to fund them without limit, […]

September 09, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Trustees, lawmakers don’t get it

It became clear early last spring that the trustees of the 23-campus California State University system just don’t get it. Shuffling administrators from school to school and bringing in the occasional outsider, they began giving new college presidents salaries far higher than what predecessors had received. The rationale for this, as it often is in […]

September 04, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Delta fix is better than nothing

If there’s such a thing as a sure thing it politics, it is this: If the water plan announced late last month by Gov. Jerry Brown ever passes the state Legislature, it surely will become the object of a statewide referendum much like the 1982 vote that defeated a somewhat similar plan endorsed by Brown. […]

August 31, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Bipartisanship still can happen

Not even the revelation that dishonest state parks officials hid $54 million in reserve funds from budget writers and the public can dim the wider import of a park-rescue bill now working its way through the Legislature. This bill demonstrates that even before a possible few moderate politicians arrive in Sacramento after November’s runoff election, […]

August 22, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,
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