Fighting for war

Tilting at windbags: The quixotic David Jenest is at it again.

SN&R readers may remember Jenest as our cover boy on April 26, when we profiled this pro-cop crusader and his Citizens Community Watch. Jenest argued that our local men in blue were being hampered by the budgetary trickery of bureaucrats downtown.

Well, now he’s set his sights on the peace activists who regularly protest our country’s War on Terror/Afghanistan/Radical Islamic Fundamentalism outside Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.

With fiery religious rhetoric and accusations of blasphemy, Jenest calls for a jihad of sorts against the infidels who would dare desecrate Sacramento’s shrine to our country’s war dead. How dare they chant against bombings when bombings made this great country what it is, or so goes Jenest’s logic goes.

So he has formed the Patriot Defenders Network to actively oppose the protesters in the streets, calling his effort “tolerant indignation.” Unfortunately, while polls show more Americans support the war than oppose it, Jenest has had a hard time rounding up more than a half-dozen allies at a time.

Yup, despite his knack for gaining attention with press releases and other “look at me” tricks, it seems like another lonely crusade for Sacramento’s self-styled defender of the police state, domestic and international.

Political paradox: These are hostile days for big government, or any sized government for that matter. Republicans and New Democrats in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C., are eager to see the public sector go on freewheeling spending sprees for military and security matters, or “economic stimulus” packages designed to help the wealthy weather this recession.

Yet nobody with any real control over the levers on power dares propose tax increases to pay for these new economic imperatives. One possible exception is California Treasurer Phil Angelides, who floated the notion this week. It was a laudable effort, but one received with deafening silence in the halls of real power.

No, the poll-conscious and contributor-controlled politicians of today would rather look for new chunks to take out of the already tattered social safety net and decimated ranks of government regulators. Witness Governor Gray Davis’ knee-jerk decision last week to implement a hiring freeze in every sector of state government except his own office. After all, with an election year coming up, we can’t very well expect Davis to make do with less, now can we?

Evermore concerned about attacks from the right than the left, Davis flak Steve Maviglio even sent out a pre-emptive e-mail to reporters last week comparing Davis to other California governors in regards to how much faster state spending grew in relation to population growth.

According to this analysis, Ronald Reagan’s second term as governor leads the pack, with government growing 13 times faster than population during that reign. Next comes Jerry Brown’s first term (12x), Reagan’s second term (9x), Pete Wilson’s second term (9x), and then Davis’ first three years in office, when government grew seven times faster than people.

Is this relevant or illuminating? Yes and no. No, in that population growth has relatively little to do with economic growth, which is what stimulates growth of government. Yes, in that such a reactionary response to being labeled “pro-government” speaks volumes about Davis’ priorities.

Inside scoop: Is there any hope that reason and compassion will triumph over political expediency once the Legislature reconvenes in January to start making difficult decisions about how California will deal with a sluggish economy and the resulting financial insecurity of working Californians?

Well, if there is any hope, it could lie with our very own Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg. Knowledgeable sources at the Capitol say Steinberg has been tagged to chair the Assembly Appropriations Committee, one of the most powerful posts in the Legislature, particularly on fiscal matters.

While Steinberg’s appointment certainly shows a willingness to play nice with Davis and the other powers-that-be, Bites is still a big fan of Steinberg, a progressive leader who seems to believe in government’s obligation to help the little guy.