Archive for June, 2015

Letter to “Rolling Stone” magazine re. Gov. Action Hero

June 13, 2015

I suppose some of your readers may care about the People-magazine-esque piece on Arnold Schwarzenegger written by Jonah Weiner in the May issue, but it pretty lame for RS fare. Now let’s see the same story done by the likes of Matt Taibbbi. There certainly is plenty of juice here to tell a story of substance and explain why and how California fell so low beyond being merely being a “casualty” of economic forces outside the former governor, or anyone’s, control.

That Schwarzenegger’s grand ego is still intact despite his dismal failure as a political leader the article captures, not to mention other controversy that followed him like a dark cloud (the unfaithfulness to spouse mentioned pales to the seemingly-legitimate, but unexplored charges of the “Heir-gropenegger” stories).

What it misses by a wide mark is explaining who he was politically and what he did to California’s economy before the 2008 crash that compounded the damage ten-fold. We are just starting to climb out from under Schwarzenegger’s legacy and dark vision of America. The article seems to play along with Arnold’s grand fantasy—the blame is obviously on us for failing to understand that he was born to lead and we failed our part to blindly follow, never venturing beyond his social-policy libertarian side, but says nothing about his neo-con, Chicago-school, economic views best captured in his “starve the beast” rhetoric—the “beast” being, of course, the public sector.

Candidate Schwarzenegger ran as a Republican but also on an almost “independent” platform, saying he was not connected to Sacramento—a real “outsider” who could come in and, like a Hollywood action-hero script, clean up the mess. That un-connectedness turned out to not be such a strength (Republican leaders took to wearing nametags at their own caucus events so he would know their names), as he often couldn’t deliver votes from his own party, let alone across the aisle that is the hallmark of a civil democracy.

He also ran on the idea that “career” politicians (a phrase some public servants are rightly proud of) were the problem, along with their “irresponsible” spending, and the selectively used “special interests” moniker. His campaign stops were grand theater—gigantic scissors and the cutting of a massive state credit card to dramatize what he could do for us. State Senator Mark Leno explained what Gov. Arnold actually did to California to me once in this way: sure he cut the Vehicle License Fee (a progressive tax that brought in $6 billion a year and was spent mostly at the county and city levels) and gave you a petty refund (a state retiree showed me the two dollar and change VLF-refund check he got) that maybe made you feel good for a moment—all the while reaching around to your back pocket for your credit card, running up the tab, and finally leaving you paying the bill.

He disgraced the office of California governor not only with his arrogant smoking tent and sexist-pig behavior but also by blurring the lines between state business and Arnold, Inc. Schwarzenegger was always first and foremost about Arnold but that wasn’t his worst side. The darker story here is how he came to run in the first place.

The VLF tax-cut was not his first act in office. His first act was to drop the lawsuit that Gov. Davis and Lt. Gov. Bustamante had against Enron to capture some of the approximately $30–50 billion stolen from the people of California in the illegal manipulation of the energy market and put a stop to the effort to regulate energy markets so it couldn’t be done again. Maybe Gov. Davis, and most politicians for that matter, are “girley-men” in Arnold’s world, but at least he tried to stand up to wrongdoing as opposed to making deals with the Devil that Arnold allegedly did to climb upward (see the work of investigative journalist Greg Palast on the meeting between Enron’s Ken Lay and Schwarzenegger before his announcement to run in the recall-election, and the film, “The Smartest Men In The Room,” especially the outtake interviews of Gov. Davis’ staff).

Any article that glosses over Schwarzenegger’s corruption both as a political leader and human being does a grave disservice to the people of California. Peace.