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San Francisco Chronicle Editorial
Gov. Schwarzenegger to stay the course
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
(10-18) 18:58 PDT -- GOV. Arnold Schwarzenegger said "something very special happened" in his third year in office.
"We found the groove," he proclaimed during an interview with our editorial board last week.
And Sacramento has been grooving with him. The just-completed legislative session represented one of the most productive in recent memory. The Republican governor and Democratic legislators worked together on essential long-term goals (upgrade our transportation systems and schools, help stop global warming) and short-term imperatives (raise the minimum wage, reform foster care, secure drug discounts for the uninsured) that will have an impact on Californians' lives.
The climate of cooperation in Sacramento can be traced directly to the conciliatory tone struck by Schwarzenegger on the night of last year's special-election debacle, when voters soundly rejected his ideas to weaken teacher tenure, overhaul the budget process and reform the way legislative districts are drawn. Schwarzenegger said the message from voters was "you fix it" -- by working with legislators -- in Sacramento.
The most dramatic adjustment was to his attitude. Lost were the references to legislators as "stooges" and "girlie men." Gone was the talk of going over their heads to the voters. Back was the charm offensive that marked the afterglow of his 2003 victory in the recall election, which created alliances that helped him gain legislative and voter approval a debt-refinancing bond package and passage of reforms to the workers' compensation system that he rightly called "the poison of our economy."
The cynical interpretation of the 2006 Schwarzenegger is that his move to the center is a ploy to get him re-elected in a decidedly blue state. There are never any guarantees in politics, of course, but in our view the willingness of a leader to openly admit mistakes and to change course -- in substance and in style -- is refreshing and healthy.
We have disagreed with Schwarzenegger at various times on various issues, including his gluttonous pursuit of campaign donations and his excessive deference to the whims of corporate lobbyists in his first two years. He took a much more balanced view toward business-related issues this year. One issue in which he has been consistently strong has been the environment -- from opposition to offshore drilling and road-building in pristine federal forests to his efforts to preserve Lake Tahoe.
Overall, he's on the right course.
Schwarzenegger calls himself "fiscally conservative, socially moderate, environmentally progressive" -- which puts him squarely in the California mainstream. He has shown an ability to listen and to lead.
His Democratic opponent, Treasurer Phil Angelides, has not demonstrated the leadership traits required to build coalitions that can overcome the egos, ambition and partisan rivalries that stand in the way of progress in Sacramento. Angelides has struggled to inspire Democrats in this election. In his meeting with us, many of his answers gave no indication that he either heard or cared about the question -- time after time, he defaulted to his wind-up stump monologues about education or closing tax loopholes.
The lack of excitement about Angelides is not just about his deficiencies in campaign donations and charisma. He has yet to articulate a compelling case that his election would make a difference in Sacramento. His increasingly strident appeal to Democratic loyalties is not resonating with the many Californians who worry less about party label than whether Republicans and Democrats are working together in their interest.
There is plenty of unfinished business in California, from structurally unbalanced budgets to a bloated and dysfunctional prison system. In each case, Schwarzenegger could have done more in his first term
-- and must make them priorities in his second. Each of those messes presented an opportunity for challenger Angelides to offer courageous and specific remedies. His options were too thick with rhetoric, too thin with plausible solutions.
In Schwarzenegger, Californians have a governor who can listen, focus and lead. He deserves to be re-elected on Nov. 7.
"Values" voters fade as factor in U.S. campaign
By Joanne Kenen
Tue Oct 17, 12:33 PM ET
Even before U.S. Rep. Mark Foley (news, bio, voting record)'s cybersex scandal, Republicans fighting to keep control of Congress were struggling to hold on to "values voters" who usually are energized by issues like gay marriage and abortion.
While such issues motivated the Republicans' social-conservative base in the past, they are overshadowed in this year's congressional election campaign by concerns about the Iraq war, the economy and national security, according to opinion polls and political strategists.
"Poverty, the wealth gap, health care -- people can't afford Medicare. Something's got to be done about that," Sue Harrell, a school teacher in Monroe City, Indiana, said recently.
She said "Christian values" were important in previous votes but her top issues now are education and the prevalence of methamphetamine abuse and poverty in Knox County, Indiana.
Such talk has Republicans nervous and Democrats scenting opportunities to recapture the House of Representatives after 12 years in the minority, as well as reduce the Republican advantage in the Senate.
An ABC-Washington Post poll released last week found that 23 percent of Americans surveyed cited Iraq or the war on terrorism as their top concerns in the November 7 elections. Another 23 percent cited the economy. Democrats held the advantage in dealing with all three issues.
Just 2 percent of those surveyed cited either abortion or same-sex marriage as a top concern.
The scandal that began last month over former Florida Republican Rep. Foley's tawdry computer messages to teenage congressional assistants has only served to further dampen Republican enthusiasm.
"The social conservatives are ticked off by Foley," said Democratic pollster Doug Schoen. "The economic conservatives are ticked off by spending. And those who are concerned about foreign policy are ticked off by an America that is less safe and secure because of the war in Iraq. There's no real room for people to vote on social 'values' issues."
Democrats, in contrast, are highly motivated to vote, said American University political scientist Candice Nelson.
Support for Democrats by white evangelical Protestants, a core group of the so-called values voters, also has risen this year from 2004, the ABC/Washington Post poll showed.
Since his re-election in 2004, President Bush has catered to social-conservative priorities by appointing two conservatives to the U.S. Supreme Court and by issuing his first veto against a bill that would have expanded federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.
But few individual races this year are turning on such issues.
In Pennsylvania's Senate race, for instance, Democrats sidestepped an abortion fight by running anti-abortion Catholic Bob Casey against Sen. Rick Santorum (news, bio, voting record), the anti-abortion Catholic Republican incumbent. Santorum is trailing in polls.
Similarly, several House races in conservative regions such as Harrell's Indiana district feature anti-abortion Democrats challenging Republican incumbents.
In Virginia, however, Republican Sen. George Allen (news, bio, voting record)'s unexpectedly tight re-election bid could get a boost from a ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage. A Washington Post poll released on Tuesday found that a fragile majority of state voters backed the ban.
More broadly, voters in states with such measures are paying less attention than in 2004, a Pew Research poll last week found.
Republicans have sought to highlight the prospect of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record), a liberal Californian, becoming speaker of the House -- the most powerful job in the House -- should Democrats win.
Socially conservative voters "are no longer in love with the Republican majority but it is their distaste and fear of a Democratic majority that may drive them to vote," said Republican strategist Neil Newhouse.
Conservative leader Gary Bauer says a last-minute surge among values voters remains a strong possibility. Otherwise, "they really may wake up the next morning and find (liberal Democrat) Ted Kennedy in a leadership position in the Senate and Nancy Pelosi running the House," he said.
(Additional reporting by Andrea Hopkins)
Dutch grant special asylum rights to gay Iranians
Wed Oct 18, 5:43 AM ET
The Dutch government has granted special asylum rights to Iranian homosexuals, despite earlier comments by Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk who said they were safe so long as they were discrete.
Verdonk, whose tough stance on immigration and asylum has been condemned by many on the left, based her decision on an unpublished report by Human Rights Watch, which refers to systematic abuse of homosexuals in Iran, her ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
She also decided to extend a moratorium for Iranian Christian asylum seekers to remain in the Netherlands until May 2007 from this month.
"Homosexual Iranian asylum seekers can now find a safe haven in the Netherlands from the persecution and inhuman treatment they face in Iran," Frank van Dalen, chairman of gay rights group COC Nederland, said.
"A year ago, an Iranian asylum seeker with a death sentence hanging over his head was still sitting at Schiphol airport waiting to be deported," he added.
Earlier this year, a group of Iranian gay asylum seekers, who were due to be deported from the Netherlands after a government report concluded their sexuality did not put them at risk, became the focus of a bitter debate amid reports Iran may have executed men last year for being homosexual.
The government bowed to pressure in April and agreed to delay any deportations until it had reviewed the situation.
Islam's position on homosexuality became a major discussion point in the Netherlands when anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn, himself openly gay, accused Islam of being homophobic. Fortuyn was murdered by an animal rights activist in 2002.
［北京 １７日 ロイター］ 台湾出身の映画監督アン・リー氏が、２００８年北京五輪の開・閉会式の芸術・文化担当顧問に指名された。
米中間選挙 住民投票３割増 同性婚、中絶など審判
北海道新聞 2006/10/19 00:18