Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

California Craziness

Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a bill banning smoking in cars with children under 18. But that’s not all. LA officials have reached an agreement with homeless advocates that will allow the homeless to sleep on sidewalks between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. (as long as they don’t block doorways, of course). That’s just beautiful. Tell kids that their (admittedly imperfect) parents are criminals if they happen to smoke a cigarette in the same car with them--but bums who use public sidewalks as urinals and toilets and personal campgrounds have the "right" to continue as they are. I wonder what would happen if the bums lit up? Well . . . I mean a cigarette . . . not crack pipes.

This kind of thinking demonstrates both a lack of intelligence and a lack of compassion. How? What kind of compassion is it to "allow" people to sleep on the street--when, clearly, a large number of these folks need to be institutionalized, medicated, or both? Another large percentage of them are in need of detox and addiction treatment. But we can’t force that on them . . . that would be a violation of their civil liberties! These people sleep in cardboard boxes and in their own filth. They deserve real compassion and the public deserves real relief from the hazards and burdens they impose. We don’t address the problem with these laws, we turn our heads (and our noses) the other way. We pretend to care when, really, we can’t be bothered.

As for the smoking parents . . . before people jump all over me--the answer is "Yes!" I have been stuck in a car with a smoking adult (and in sub-zero temperatures with the windows locked, no less) as a child. I know what that is like. It was quite annoying and, even, sometimes gave me the sniffles and burned by eyes (as I have an allergy to tobacco smoke). So yes, it was irritating. But then, so were many other of the bad habits of the adults around me. Thank God no one ever thought to criminalize any of them and prosecute my elders while I was a kid. There is a world of difference between irritating and abusing a child.

Would I have preferred my grandparents quit smoking? You bet. It would have been less irritating to me to drive with them and it might have kept my grandfather alive a decade longer. But would I have wanted to see my grandparents arrested or cited for smoking around me in order to "inspire" such a change? Of course not. Did their smoking do me any lasting harm? No. Did it do me any good? Probably. It’s one reason I don’t smoke.

Compassion for the smoker, of course, is something no one is allowed to consider. Unless there is a lawsuit against a tobacco company pending, no one talks about the smoker’s dependence on tobacco as anything deserving of compassion money. But don’t smoking parents deserve at least as much compassion as the homeless? As a group, parents who do smoke certainly don’t love their children any less than those parents who don’t smoke. They might not be doing exactly the right thing by smoking in front of them . . . but do we really want to go there? What have you done in front of your kids that you shouldn’t have done? We all have such a shameful little list, don’t we? Well . . . you either have such a list, you have no conscience, or you’re lying.

My larger point is that both of these laws demonstrate a lack of compassion. They show that we want to kick the can down the road with the homeless problem; ignoring the good of the homeless and the good of the community they endanger. And they show that we want to enforce some strange new moral code that feigns concern for children when, in truth, it is concerned only with flexing the governmental muscle of some interest group. The lie that smoking bans in California have anything to do with "public health" is exposed in our negligence of the homeless problem. Our government in California is not concerned with exercising any control over the real and difficult public health issue of homelessness; it is concerned with pretending it is doing something about public health by exercising symbolic control over private health concerns like smoking in cars with children.

Discussions - 19 Comments

California - A Banana Republic

One doesn't have to travel outside of the US to see a third world banana republic in action these days. We have a real banana republic right here at home. It is called California. I take no delight in pointing this out since I am a native of California, born and raised in LA. After a hiatus of 16 years living elsewhere as a government employee, I returned to my home state in 1998, just in time to see it sliding off into the abyss. There are too many problems here to count, from crime to illegal immigration to collapsing infrastructure to schools that have become a national disgrace. How has it all come to this? Part of the problem is a burgeoning population of folks that depend on government largesse to get through their lives. An even bigger part of the problem is our corrupt political leadership, which is eager to pander to that population-and feather their own nests in the process.

I have written several times about LA's mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, as cynical and brazen a politician as they come. Since being elected, Villaraigosa has squandered the taxpayers money on things such as services to illegal aliens. To take it a step further, Villaraigosa even appears at illegal alien demonstrations and marches with them as well, accompanied by his police chief William Bratton, who throws his own officers under the bus if they so much as lay a hand on illegal alien protesters when they throw rocks and bottles at the police. (LA is a "sanctuary city" for illegal aliens, and on one occasion, Chief Bratton, an import from the Big Apple, told his critics that if they didn't like it, they could leave the city and the state.) Of course, Villaraigosa's biggest embarrassment has been the recent revelation that he was in the middle of a divorce and was playing "hide the baloney" with Telemundo reporter Mirthala Salinas.

At the same time, the city attorney, Rocky Delgadillo is involved in a misappropriation scandal of his own since it was revealed that his wife had crashed a city car running personal errands and the bill was charged to the city. (That's illegal folks.) In addition, Delgadillo's subordinates have been used to baby sit the little Rockies-a misappropriation of city resources also. Nevertheless, Delgadillo still sits in the City Attorney's chair.

As for LA's schools, they no longer deserve the designation of school. For the most part, they are half-filled with kids who don't speak English, drugs, violence and gang members. When I attended University High School in the early 1960s, it was ranked as the number 2 high school in the nation. It also had one of the most beautiful campuses imaginable. Well, the ranking went away years ago and the campus is now cluttered with weeds, broken pavement and grass that rarely gets cut. In short, it is crumbling.

But don't worry. The LAUSD (LA Unified School District) is never short of administrative talent. The current administrator is a guy named Brewster, who can't even pronounce the mayor's name right ("Vilagarosa"). Before him, there was the political hack Roy Romer, former governor of Colorado and DNC Chairman who was hiding out after a publicized extra-marital affair in Washington. Under his "leadership", the LAUSD sank another 100 meters into the muck.

Well, so much for LA-what about San Francisco? This is a place that spits in the face of the military every chance it gets, from turning down the chance to have a battleship retired in San Francisco Bay to chasing recruiters out of the city. For San Francisco, illegals are welcome (also a sanctuary city), but our military is not. So who is running this place you ask? His name is Mayor Gavon Newsome, another slick operator out of the mold of Tony V. to the south. Want to know how slick Newsome is? Well, about a year ago, it was revealed that he was having an affair with the wife of one of his top aides, but of course, by SF standards, that's pretty mild.

Well, you say, can't Sacramento do anything about this mess? That's like saying, "If only Der Fuehrer knew what was going on. He would stop all these abuses." Sacramento is the problem. Schwarzenegger initially wanted to rein in all the madness, but he is an army of one, and he has caved in to the Democrats who control the capital. It must be stated here, that not only is Sacramento controlled by the Democrats, it is controlled by the far-left, activist wing of the Democratic party. You have characters like the former Lt Governor, Cruz Bustamante, who now occupies another musical chairs post in the state capital, namely Insurance Commissioner. He was involved in an ethics scandal when running for governor and playing musical chairs with different campaign accounts. You have Bill Lockyear, formerly attorney general-who basically was only worried about prosecuting corporations and polluters-never mind street criminals. He now sits in the musical chair (Treasurer) next to Bustamante. The current attorney general is that grizzled old crime-fighter, Jerry Brown. Yes, that Jerry Brown, who had been hiding out as mayor of Oakland and counting murder victims. He is following in Lockyer's footsteps, looking under every bed for some polluter to put in jail. It's all one big incestuous system in California. These characters switch jobs like Kenny Lofton switches baseball teams.

Then there is the Speaker of the Assembly, Fabian Nunez (also like Villaraigosa, a former "co-respondant" of Ms Salinas). In today's LA Times, there is an article outlining the recent travels and expenditures of Speaker Nunez. As part of his duties conducting the "Business of the People" of California, this guy has traveled the world in style- first class air fares, five star hotels, thousand dollar dinners, you name it.

Try these on for size; $47, 412 on airlines such as United, Lufthansa and Air France; $8, 745 at the exclusive Hotel Arts in Barcelona; $ 5, 149 for a "meeting" at Cave L'Avant Garde, a wine cellar in the Bordeaux region of France; $2, 562 for two separate "office expenses" at Louis Vuitton; $1,795 for a "meeting" at Le Grand Colbert, a Parisian restaurant; a $1,715 "meeting" at Asia de Cuba Restaurant in West Hollywood and a $2, 428 "meeting" at 58 Degrees and Holding, a Sacramento Wine Bar and Bistro. (LA Times, 10-5-07) There is more, but I think you get the point. We have a school crisis in California? Well, we must go to Paris to find solutions. Let's see how the French do it in the Bordeaux region. Then we can go to Spain and compare the two.

When asked about these expenditures, Mr Nunez stated, "For me, it's a question of; is my perspective on issues broad enough? Do I have enough context when I make decisions? This is a big state to run. You've got to know what you're doing". (ibid)

"These trips, at least the ones I've taken-I feel very confident and comfortable that they're not only justified but necessary for the decisions I need to make on a daily basis." (ibid)

" There's not too big a difference between how I live and how most middle-class people live", added Nunez (ibid).

The funding for these boondoggles came from his "Friends of Fabian Nunez campaign account", which were disclosed in a mandatory filing with the state. The account was listed as having a balance of $5.3 million.(ibid)

This is the nature of the leadership that we have in California. Of course, we should vote them out of office and get some honest and competent people in there. The problem is we can't. It has gotten to the point where the voters who depend on government largesse outnumber the voters who are footing the bill. Not enough people even care about the obvious corruption going on here. I hate to make this a partison issue folks-after, all, I am an independent- but California is solidly in the hands of the Democratic Party, and they are running it into the ground. Productive and hard-working people are leaving every day, and in many cases, taking their companies and jobs with them. They are replaced mostly by illegal aliens and welfare recipients. (San Francisco lured many homeless people to that city by giving them a $400 monthly stipend.) One would think that any responsible politician would want to fight that trend. Keep in mind, Villaraigosa, Nunez and Bustamante were all members in college of Mecha- a radical Hispanic Student group whose principle goal is the reinstatement of the American southwest to Mexico.

Well, you say- maybe the National Democratic Party would see the radicalization of California politics by their own party and try to moderate what is happening in our state. Consider this: Guess who is the National Co-Chair of Hillary Clinton's campaign. Answer: Antonio Villaraigosa.

gary fouse

My parents smoking never bothered me. Thirty years ago, James J. Kilpatrick offered that proposed legislation to impose restrictions on public smoking did not reflect any authentic popular sentiment; that some other motivation had to be at work as there was simply no evidence that aught but a tiny minority found cigarette smoke more than a minor nuisance.

As a conservative, and not a libertarian, I have no problem with smoking bans in public spaces (in fact, I vote for them).

This is an interesting post Julie, as just today I was walking into a Sandwich shop and a young mother was walking out with her young child. I held the door open for them, as he could barely walk and she was having to coax him along. They were both idealic, smiling, happy - one of those small moments that you notice throughout the day and puts a smile on your face.

I went in, ordered my sandwich, and was walking to a table I noticed the mother had just finished getting the young tyke into the car seat and was getting in the drivers seat herself. As soon as she sat down, she pulled out a cigarette and lit up.

It naturally took the smile and positive feelings from the moment and turned them into "that poor child".

You say: "Did their smoking do me any lasting harm?"

Ridiculous. It's a poison, and it does real harm. It does not take a "scientific consensus" to see this.

I for one would probably not make this law either, but I certainly understand it. Not sure it is the contrast you want when arguing against the homeless law...

Somehow with winter approaching I find it hard to feel sorry for those living in California. I wish they all could be California girls.... I don't know since I have never been there...(I have been to Paris, Madrid, Baghdad,Lome,Johanesburg, London, Frankfurt, Kinshasa...but not the United States I haven't been west of White Sands New Mexico. I feel like I barely know America having never been to New York, Vegas, LA or San Fransico...I hear so many conflicting stories.

Julie and Gary Fouse conspire to ruin my idealized bright light crazy poker action at the Commerce pop-culture California...I wish they all could be California Girls... Come on those of us that live in Oklahoma have to believe in something.... How about some California Exceptionalism?

My grandmother and father raised me.

My grandmother chainsmoked Pall Malls.

I remember as a child watching the smoke via the sunlight as it shone through the window. I remember passing my arm through the smoke and see it swirl in two opposite directions.

I am now 36 years old.

I don't have asthma. I have two children. I work in profession where I have to run on occasion.

Yeah, second hand smoke kills or harms ...

It harms sooo much that it takes decades ... numerous decades ... maybe at the end of one's life ... to determine that your death was cause by second hand smoke.

What a pant load this is.

Oh ...

Which type of person would I want to see on the sidewalk passing me?

An obvious homeless person or a smoker?

And, yes, many times you can easily identify the homeless person (it should be go without saying that one can easily identify the smoker ... but you never know these days)

One last thing ...

Should we be surprised that Democrats can run a state into the ground

I mean, really, from it earliest days as being the party of slavery to being the party of segregation to feigning being the party of minorities to now being the party of failed political notions ... I mean ... really ... who would think such a thing?

"I know what that is like. It was quite annoying and, even, sometimes gave me the sniffles and burned by eyes (as I have an allergy to tobacco smoke). So yes, it was irritating."

I've never before heard someone describe being subjected to a lethal poison as "irritating." Second-hand smoke kills. This is a scientific fact. Children need to be protected. It is childish to value your own "liberty" to poison children over the health of children.

And Dale, it would have benefited you to take a statistics and/or critical thinking course as an undergraduate. Something does not have to be true in all cases for it to be statistically true. Just because second-hand smoke hasn't appeared to harm you doesn't overturn the documented evidence that it has a very bad effect on people's health in general.

If you knew someone who took antibiotics for an infection but died anyway would you conclude that antibiotics were a "pant load" and refuse to take them?


My parents fed me lead paint chips when I was a baby, and it hasn't killed me yet. I am a little slow on the uptake, once in a while, but that just makes me easier to exploit, so nobody really cares, much. Certainly not my parents, who ran out of lead paint, and took up smoking and streaming Fox News non-stop into the living room, so that their grandchildren could find them mildly irritating, too.

I have joined a group of lead eaters, and we have all agreed that our anecdotal evidence is just as valid as your silly scientific evidence. We, too, find comfort in the fact that no one will prove that we died from lead ingestion until after we have died.

Some liberal wacko scientists tried to show us that we were wrong, but, as I said, we are all a bit slow, so ......

What was i talking about?

As a native-born Bay Arean I have just given up. Eventually the whack job liberals will destory this state. The policitians are much like Hillary- take from the rich and give to the poor. A great deal of the populuation of California thrives on government entitlements therefore the only way to get elected in Califoria is to take from the rich and give to the poor to get votes. The rich are leaving in droves and the give me's are coming in in droves. Eventually there will be no more money to fund the entitlements. Once this happens, all the give me's will head to the other 49 states... And those states will have to decide whether they will be California or not.

Fung, I'd go to the barricades to defend your right to eat all the lead paint chips you want--as long as you don't try forcing me or anyone else to eat them.

That's pretty much my position on smoking, too.

John Moser,

Does that mean that you identify with the helpless kids in the smoke-filled car? Forced to inhale toxic fumes?

Yeah, actually, I do. I think it makes more a lot more sense to ban smoking in cars with kids than it does to ban it in privately-owned businesses. Although I must say, as a non-smoker, that it's nice to be able to come home from an evening at a bar (as I just did a few minutes ago) without smelling like cigarettes.

Who is forcing you to smoke? The research on second-hand smoke is divided. The issue is not really one of health, as you mention. The issue is of not wanting to go to the bar and return smelling like smoke. This is one problem with majority rule. It often embraces an understanding of social rights that collapses into the notion that it has the right not to be bothered.

John Lewis: 10 minutes in Commerce--especially anywhere near that poker club--would quickly ruin your idealized vision of Southern California. Commerce is not exactly up-scale--or even middling. It's a rough sort of place.

The weather is tough to beat, however. That much is true. Still, I think the good weather contributes to our other problems of over-crowding and lack of hardiness. A change in weather--especially to bad weather--is good for the soul.

Sure, I gave anecdotal evidence, but that does not rule out that my situation is generally true for the rest of the population.

For example ...

"The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed."

- "Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98", James E Enstrom, Geoffrey C Kabat, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772, USA, 2 Department of Preventive Medicine, State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY, BMJ, 17 May 2003.

Even the U.S. government admits that it based its conclusions on studies that were of small samples and of a small timeline.

This is one of the few, if the only, research that has been done long term and it's conclusion runs counter to the thinking of the day.

So, is my anecdotal evidence any less true now? Should I go back and RETAKE an undergrad stats and/or critical thinking class in light of this?

May be such a comment was based on one's own biases and, it appears, groupthink, huh?

That study covered over 35,000 people in a span of about 38 years.

Oh, and Fung, your comparison to lead poisoning is wrong.

You can actually notice the effects of lead poisoning, even though it might take a while, but depending upon the dose, the effects may be extremely dramatic and may ultimately lead to a coma and death.

Ever heard of a child go into a coma and die because of second hand smoke?

Yeah, thought so because there has never been one!

Moreover, there is direct link between exposure to lead and extreme learning disabilities, but one can only meta-analyze such a thing with second hand smoke.

"A change in weather--especially to bad weather--is good for the soul." So says John Locke in his treatise on education...children should be bathed in cold water, warm water and hot water alike. Perhaps they should also be exposed to smoke filled air and clean air...perhaps american children should from time to time be made french and given wine at meal time...and at other times be exposed to drinking water that is mud like in appearance such as comes from the Mississippi a la Mark this fashion we could raise a nation of stoics or at least those who could grow corn in their bellies if need should arrise. In fact this thread reminds me of Twain's dialogue in Life on the Mississippi.

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