The California GOP clutches its archaic irrelevance tightly to its breast.


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Cleopatra, asp. Look it up.

Those of us on the sidelines, those of us who aren’t Republicans, who might be Democrats, independents, etc., how should we feel about the California GOP’s long-running and continuing self-marginalization, its self-immolation?

Should we hope for the eventual emergence of a responsible business-and-the-wealthy party that doesn’t demonize gays and latinos, doesn’t involve itself in what women do with their bodies, that keeps religion out of its politics, and that might have a chance in the future to help Democrats get to optimal solutions for the Golden State and its economy?

Or should we just laugh and crack the bubbly as the knuckle-draggers continue to yank their numbers down below 30% and into Whig territory in their stubborn faux-noble refusal to join 21st-century America (while marveling that the same thing’s not happening to Republicans nationwide, and wishing to God it were?)

It’s a good question, a deep moral one which may very well depend on your mood that day if you’re anything like me.

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The biggest drama at this weekend’s California Republican Convention – an “event” which was tellingly snubbed by the two Presidential frontrunners Perry and Romney after wringing dough from the wealthy saps here and then scurrying off – was the attempt by a “moderate” contingent to revise the CA GOP platform, to rid it of its more divisive, controversial, backward pronouncements, in an effort to make the party more acceptable and accepting to more types of Californians in this new millenium.

And you’ll notice I’m putting “moderate” in quotes, as from my point of view this crowd is still extremely conservative.  Like all other California Republicans they oppose any new taxes, they’re down on regulations, they want to bring public employee unions to heel, the entire corporate wet dream – these “moderates” basically ARE the voice of corporations.  Their big plans, like all Republican plans, would lead to further economic inequality and make life even harder for most of us.  But still, in the context of today’s GOP, they get called moderates…

Billionaire moderate Charles T Munger Jr, would-be savior of the California GOP.

Do you know who Charles T. Munger, Junior, is?  I’m going to tell you in case you don’t, because he seems important.  The young billionaire son of Warren Buffet’s business partner has dedicated much of his life and resources to trying to build the California Republican Party into a bigger tent.  And it’s something he puts a lot of thought into.  Like he told the Bay Citizen last year, “I would’ve been very welcome in Republican circles if I decided to go chuck $10 million in a bunch of races up and down the state to fight for Republican control of Congress. It isn’t a worthy ambition compared to…” … the recent redistricting enabled by initiatives he bankrolled – a redistricting whose results he is pleased with, as he sees it leading to more of his “moderate” type of Republicans running and winning, but a redistricting which the Party is cursing and stomping its feet over, as it looks like short-term some current Talibanis could be out in the cold.

Anyway, getting back to this weekend’s convention and the Republican platform:  Munger had a “moderate” contingent there who made a gallant attempt to revamp the document in a way that would certainly make it more acceptable to millions more Californians.  The Flash Report has a handy but hostile rundown of the changes that would have been made;  some of the more notable ones:

  • The California GOP’s biggest demographic snafu, by all accounts, is the perfectly rational hostility that the burgeoning Latino population regards it with, ever since the party’s embrace of the mean-spirited and unconstitutional Prop 187.  And despite all the functionaries’ drivel about “outreach,” the reasons for that hostility is in the GOP policies, as enshrined in the current platform:  five paragraphs to make a Minuteman proud, from English-only verbiage to denying any benefits to the undocumented.   Munger’s “moderates” proposed to replace all this with two sensible sentences, mainly calling on the Federal Government to enact immigration reform as it should.
  • The GAY. As Americans and Californians grow up and realize that gays are just like the rest of us and deserve ALL the same rights – gay marriage even finally being favored by majorities in recent polls – Munger’s “moderates” undertook to remove sections of the platform that forbade same-sex marriage (i.e. “defining marriage as between a man and a woman,”) that opposed “same-sex partner benefits, child custody, and adoption,” that opposed “special rights” for gays (meaning protection from discrimination) and fulminating against “teaching homosexuality as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle.”
  • “Right To Life.” Here, Munger’s “moderates” attempted to replace a long section inveighing against abortion and Roe v. Wade as well as assisted suicide, stem-cell research that is not “ethical,” and HUMAN CLONING, with a simple dignified sentence:  “We believe in the sanctity of human life; therefore, we believe in the protection of all innocent human life.”  The “moderates” have no doubt taken note that the only three statewide Republican candidates to win here in the last 20-odd years have been pro-choice.
  • Guns!! Again, the “moderates” undertook to replace a screed against gun control and waiting periods with the simple, “We support our Constitutional Second Amendment rights.”
  • And the proposed “moderate” platform would have got rid of a whole lot more crazy nonsense:  a long, flag-waving warmongering section inappropriate for a state platform (even specifying that our troops should never be “under foreign command”) ;  opposition to the estate tax which Republicans like to call the “death tax” ; a whole “Tenther” section about how the Federal Gov’t has gone way too far for centuries in telling the people what to do;  support for making this a “Right to Work” state like Alabama and forbidding union donations (but not corporate!) to campaigns;  charter school cheerleading;  even language “commending” George W. Bush for how he conducted his “War on Terror.”

Damn.  I had no idea how much madness was in the California GOP platform.  And, now it still is!

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Fleischman, Cal GOP's sweaty-palmed orthodoxy enforcer and Tolkien expert.

This guy on the right, here, this Jon Fleischman, who runs the Flash Report, I’ve had a hard time taking seriously, ever since meeting him last year, reading his abysmal prose, and viewing the cringeworthy video he made of his holiday visit to the home of crooked Senate Minority Leader Dick Ackerman.  But evidently, with decades of skillful schmoozing behind him, he really does get listened to in California Republican circles.  And despite a long history of shady insider RINOism, he has recently fashioned himself into a Crusader for the True Conservative Creed.

And apparently the guy made it his priority at this convention – along with mocking and belittling all the “anti-war signs” of the Ron Paul contingent there – to make sure none of these moderate changes to the platform took hold.

When a guy like Fleischman senses conflict and combat coming on, his literary imagination reaches for – what else?  Tolkien, and his Lord of the Rings cycle.  (Such are the stunted basement-dwellers calling the shots in this party…)

Munger’s emerging on this issue is like Sauron coming back to Middle Earth – the party’s membership had forgotten what it was like to have to defend its platform, and had grown complacent…

But not to worry, as Jon regales us in his gripping blow-by-blow account,

…just like the people of Middle Earth rallied against the Dark Lord, the conservatives on the Central Committee woke up to what Munger is doing, and rallied for last weekend’s convention where the full platform committee met…

… met to shoot down all these proposed changes, and keep a platform that bashes immigrants and gays, and that protects us all from abortion, unethical stem-cell research, human cloning, gun control and the UN – a foolproof blueprint for the California GOP to go even further, gentle, into that good night.

Fine, whatever.  I gotta worry about all the corporatists in MY party.


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.