California Democrats are nearing a "super majority" in Sacramento that will allow them to pass virtually anything without any Republican votes. Along with the passage of Prop 30 tax increase, this is a huge windfall for Gov. Jerry Brown and it reflects the weakness of the Republican Party in California politics. (Republicans now account for just 31 percent of the registered voters in California.) As George Skelton of The Los Angeles Times (whose full column is on this page) said: "And history teaches us what absolute power can do: affix blinders and corrupt... With a two-thirds vote, there's virtually nothing that can't be done in Sacramento. You can raise taxes, override a governor's veto, write constitutional amendments, propose bond issues."
Did you miss former CBS News anchor Dan Rather presiding over election night? Rather certainly had his quirky side, but his humor was legendary. Some of Rather's funnier takes from previous general elections: "His lead is as thin as turnip soup ... This situation in Ohio would give an aspirin a headache ... This race is shakier than cafeteria Jell-O... Now Florida, that race, the heat from it is hot enough to peel house paint ... In southern states they beat him like a rented mule ... He swept through the South like a tornado through a trailer park ... This race is as tight as rusted lug nuts on a '55 Ford."
From a longtime reader who asked to remain anonymous. "Yesterday I was driving north on North Chester when I spotted a maroon pickup that was loaded with religious stickers on the bumper, tailgate and windows. I thought to myself 'Now there's a very good Christian' -- until I witnessed the following: He started tailgating a car and did so for about three blocks. The tailgater got a chance to pass the car and as he went past gave the finger salute! My only hope is that maybe he had borrowed the truck!"
More frustration about the trash on our streets from Bonnie Farrer: "I see the trash and think 'government failure.' We pay high taxes in this state, yet our roads are disgraceful. A very wise citizen suggested that prisoners clean up our roads, then if people are ever caught throwing trash out their car windows they too can become prisoners!"
And finally, reader Rich Partain shares his frustration with taggers. "Nearby there is a nice stretch of concrete block wall that fronts a storm drain sump. One day public employees are dutifully trimming and shaping between the bushes that grow along it. Within a short time taggers put their mark on the now accessible cleared section. Soon after the graffiti cleanup truck shows up and the worker is busily removing the offending calligraphy. It is a lot harder to leave a painted message on a fast growing shrub than a clean wall. Seems some communication is in order here with faltering government budgets and mandated cost reductions coming from on high."
Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, but the relief effort in parts of New York and New Jersey is still struggling to help thousands impacted by the storm. If you'd like to help, former East Rotary Club president Dan Giordano reminded me that most Rotary clubs are acting as conduits to get donations to the needy. There is always the Red Cross and Salvation Army, but now is the time to give.
Richard Beene is president and CEO of The Bakersfield Californian. He blogs at www.bakersfieldobserved.com. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.