Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Torrance Townhall: Reflections

After writing an objective report about the September 22 Torrance Town Hall at the Civic Center Library, I found that a number of issues came to mind, which I could not out aside.

First, I was excited to go, even rearranged my work schedule to attend, because I looked forward to meeting an editor from the Los Angeles Register, to have a chance to share some of my ideas, submit a resume, etc.
Seal of the City

When one of the campaign staffers informed me that he was not coming, I was disappointed, but got his contact info nonetheless. The next day, I find out in the Daily Breeze that the Los Angeles Register will cease publication, and the Register headquarters would be sold, and I was more discouraged.

What will be the future of center-right political discussion in California, in Los Angeles particularly if these events persist? Breitbart California is not as popular as the main website, it seems, and more conservatives are wondering if the  Golden State has become a tarnished, lost cause, as well as the GOP.

Still, I stayed for town hall, because this meeting would allow me to question both candidates at once (although I had known them both personally for some time.)

Because both candidates succeeded in the primaries (Wood faced no opposition, and no one challenged Waters this time), the two have been noticeably busier than ever. Carr gave me a hug, although I did not speak with John Wood.

Even though the hosts delayed the meeting for another ten minutes, no one else showed up besides the twenty-one people who had arrived. Despite my high expectations, this town hall turned out to be another somewhat predictable disappointment.

The meeting started a little late. The extra ten minutes did not lead to more people showing up.

The same twenty-some people I have seen in Republican activist groups in the South Bay showed up once again. Not very impressive. How many times had I heard the Chairman or another Republican leader in the region tell us that the GOP has to stop being an echo chamber, to stop preaching to the choir?

One perennial Democrat, Jimmy Gow attended the town hall. The current president of the Torrance Democratic Club, he also invited the newly-elected Torrance City Council to a meeting in South Torrance, cohosted with the Beach Cities Republicans. More bipartisan outreach? I wonder.

By far, Carr's work as an officer, and a prosecutor (both as a judge advocate general and a deputy district attorney) outshined Wood's resume as a musician and medical technician. No one would quibble with Wood's earnest intentions of running for Congress, but professional political commentators have ignored the race. Then again, I read an article from Mother Jones, which granted Wood's campaign as one of six in which the GOP challenger did not have a snowball's chance in hell of winning. Maybe Waters was right -- the Tea Party can go straight to hell or was she being too kind? Even the Daily Breeze did not bother to mention John Wood, but referred to him as "token opposition" to Waters.

Throughout the town hall, a preaching element dominated the deep, choir-leader voice from John Wood, compared to the high-pitched tinge of the LA gang prosecutor. The latter was more articulate, in part because of his extensive experience in many fields.

Throughout the next hour and a half, I heard many of the things that I had expected to hear from Congressional candidates, and these two shared common themes, respecting the fact that they are contesting majority Democratic districts.

All that talk about education: inspiring or insipid?

The question lingers: what role would the federal government play in improving public schools? Should the federal government even play a role? Vocal conservative critics have denounced Common Core as a federalized version of Obamacare (including Washington Post's George Will, he wittily offered: "If you like your public education, you can keep it.)

Carr wants to insert benchmarks to enforce accountability with federal money. How about getting rid of these departments? Republicans ran on a platform of abolishing the Department of Education before? What happened to that promise?

Madrona Marsh (a symbol of the muddled
conservatism on display at the Torrance Town Hall
Jobs and education are the two issues which Carr drives home on campaign flyers. Haven't we heard this platform before? Yes indeed: CA GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari: "Jobs. Education. That's it." Any politician looking for a bipartisanship will rest on economic growth and educational opportunities.

Is that a compelling reason to vote for someone to go to Congress, where they will accomplish very little for the cause? Jobs and education are the issues that every politician loves to talk about. Has anything substantive occurred on these issues?

The frequent appeals to bipartisanship  from Wood and Carr could not go unnoticed. Wood especially has no choice, since if he stands any kind of a chance in the 43rd (from Lomita to South Los Angeles), he has to capture a significant number of the 59% Democratic demographic in the district. Obama-bashing and Republican rah-rah won't do any good.

One of the most startling lines form the meeting, however, bothered me, and this came from Carr:

The Affordable Care Act didn't break the system, but it didn't fix it.

I did not agree with this statement at all. The Affordable Care has been an unaffordable wreck, the last part coming from one of the Democratic senators who forced the bill through Congress in 2010.

When I asked Carr about repeal, he clearly explained that he wanted to bring in something else. "To speak about repeal is to be against something, and that's not good enough."

Repeal would be a positive step, in fact. Repeal is not a bad word. We need Congress to repeal bad laws, not just pass more laws to fix the bad ones. The health care system in this country was not as bad, and the insurance system needs reform (or devolution).

Granted, if that is the case, then what right had either one of them to claim any ideas on reforming those programs?
File:McCainObamaMatchupTWINtop 09.svg
All the talk about bipartisanship was inevitable, of course, since both candidates are running as Republicans in majority Democratic districts. At least Carr is running for an open seat, which explains why Mother Jones didn't mock his efforts.

Bold ideas, not the same ol' same ol' ,are crucial to energizing anyone to vote.

After hearing more of the same, very soft on the substance and strong on "getting along", I have to wonder why politicians have town halls in the first place.


  1. What is getting along? How do you find middle ground on some issues? What is the middle ground between right to life and abortion? Is it we only perform abortion on even numbered months and on odd numbered months they are considered murder? The Dems want to raise taxes and spend more, the GOP wants to lower taxes and lower spending. How do you get along on that issue? Is the middle ground we lower taxes and raise spending so we go bankrupt faster? Maybe we should raise taxes and lower spending so we can actually lower the debt? This of course violates reality and the Laffer Curve that you raise revenues when tax rates fall. We saw in France when President Holland raised the tax rate on the rich to 75% that the rich packed up their bags, gave up their French citizenship and left for greener pastures. We see the same thing in the People's Republik of Kalifornia where the rich and upper middle class are voting with their feet and moving to Texas or other low or zero income tax states. Yes, the solution to Obamacare is to repeal it and then replace it with doctors and patients in control and the insurance industry allowed to use free market principles without Uncle Sam getting into the health insurance field. A former boss of mine who owned some medical clinics in South Central Los Angeles told me about 35 years ago that medical costs started exploding when Uncle Sam got into the health care field with medicare and medicaid. Those programs reduced payments to doctors who then made up the declining revenue by increasing costs to their provate patients. We don't need Obamacare to allow kids (I use the term losely because I don't think someone in their mid 20s is a kid anymore) to be on their parents insurance policies. You don't need a 2700 page bill for that. A one page bill would do the trick nicely. The answer to Common Core is not better tests but competition for the government schools with vouchers and charter schools. We would be a freer society if the federal government got out of education, health care and just trying to micromanage our lives. Let's not forget it wasn't "we the people" who got us in this mess in the Middle East or created our $100 trillion deficit but the smarty pants who know how to run things so much better than we do. If getting along means being civil to each other then I am all for it but if it means reaching across the isle and selling our souls then forget about it. It is the voters who will decide the direction the country should go in and if they aren't happy with that then you have a 1994 or 2010 election. This year could be another one of those elections where "we the people" let the politicians know how pissed off we are at their abuse of power, violating our US Constitution, having special laws that would throw the voters in prison etc. Crony capitalism is not something the voter support. John Wood apparently will get his butt kicked so go down fighting clutching your conservative principles instead of mouthing Rodney King - Why can't we just get along?"

  2. You should run for office! Want to start a new party? United States Independence Party, anyone?

  3. Arthur, you write that you "do not agree" with Elan Carl's statement that "the ARA didn't break the system, but it didn't fix it." So either you believe that health care delivery was fine prior to the ACA, or that the ACA fixed a broken system.

    Then you imply that Elan was against repeal, which is not at all what he communicated.

    Elan contends that health care delivery was broken prior to the ACA, and that it's still broken despite ACA. He further contends that it's not enough to ONLY be for repealing the ACA; he advocates that the Republicans in Congress need to push forth their own solutions, a couple of which he outlined on Monday night.

    I agree with Elan. Repeal, yes, but don't stop there.