California Will Give In To Trumpism

donald-trump-3Now that Donald Trump is president, he will take the reins of the most powerful government the world has ever known: 7,000 nuclear weapons; a world-spanning conventional military; a $4 trillion federal budget, that’s $4,000,000,000,000.00; a couple dozen spy and armed domestic enforcement agencies: CIA, FBI, NSA, federal marshals, etc.; vast new powers, of dubious constitutionality, thanks to outgoing President Obama’s countless “executive orders”; a bully pulpit that now includes tweets; a huge following among the toiling masses.

So who’s going to challenge him in California and become a counter-president, nationally or even just here? Jerry Brown? Nancy Pelosi? Dianne Feinstein? The Calexit folks?

Nobody.

Although there will be maneuvers by the politicians and protests in the streets, California will knuckle under to Trumpism just like the rest of the country. The days of states resisting federal power ended on April 9, 1865.

What happens when the tax takings from early 2017 greatly exceed expectations and Democrats in the Legislature start salivating about spending all that dough? Will they be as upset with Trump about immigration and Obamacare? Will they wish Hillary had won and vastly increased taxes and regulations?

Even last July, Republicans in Congress were threatening to withhold $135 million in federal grants to law enforcement if the state’s Sanctuary Cities policies were enforced. Now Republicans will control the White House. And President Trump could withhold the money by himself with an executive order. How will the cop and prison unions respond to that?

California can’t stop Trump from reinforcing the wall that already exists along its border with Mexico. Nor can it do anything about the additional border agents who will be hired and placed there.

Nor can it do anything about whatever happens with Obamacare.

Then there’s education, by far the biggest state expenditure. The California Teachers Association long has hated President Bush’s No Child Left Behind. In 2015, the Republican Congress passed and President Obama signed a bill effectively ending NCLB, returning some control to state and local school boards. Trump also opposed NCLB, as well as Obama’s Race to the Top, and wants more decentralization. He also favors school choice, which the CTA really hates. And he opposes the Common Core standards, which the CTA favors and the state is adopting.

But the central factor is that Trump opposes centralization, which means the federal money will flow to the states with fewer strings attaches – likely meaning more power for the CTA.

On the environment, Trump can’t change AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. But he has appointed global-warming skeptics, such as Myron Ebell, to his administration. There’s nothing California can do about that.

According to the New York Times, “In a show of defiance, Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, and legislative leaders said they would work directly with other nations and states to defend and strengthen what were already far and away the most aggressive policies to fight climate change in the nation. That includes a legislatively mandated target of reducing carbon emissions in California to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.”

So? As the Times notes, Trump could cut funding for climate research going to state university research labs. Actually, I think he’s going to cut it nationally close to zero. In any case, California can do nothing about that except scream and hope its Democratic members of Congress can slightly reduce whatever Trump wants to do.

The EPA itself was established by President Nixon in 1970 with an executive order. It has accumulated vast new powers, including by President Obama’s executive orders. Trump can do the same, including canceling previous orders, affecting all states, including California.

Now, flip it over and look at what the more conservative states faced when Obama became president eight years ago. In 2010, Arizona passed SB 1070 to reduce illegal immigration. The Obama Justice Department insisted the bill went too far and usurped federal supremacy on immigration. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Obama and threw out most of the bill. The Feds won.

In 2008, California passed Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage. Most states also had similar bans. That year, presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both came out against legalizing same-sex marriage. Soon, Obama and Clinton switched and backed same-sex marriage. Obama appointed two justices to the U.S. Supreme Court with similar views. In 2015, in the Obergefell decision, the court struck down all state bans. The Feds won.

The Feds always win. Lee lost at Gettysburg. Sherman marched through Georgia.

Finally, if you know anything about Congress, or any legislative body, there’s a lot of “horse trading” going on. New Rep. Lou Correa campaigned on a platform that, while in the Democratic majority in the California Legislature, he was nice and worked with the minority Republicans, so now he’ll cooperate with the majority Republicans on deals with California Democrats.

Especially with Trump in the Oval Office, there will be deals upon deals. Eventually, even Jerry Brown will be forced to come around. He’s a lame duck with waning power. He can brood only so long on his ranch.

29-year Orange County Register editorial writer now writes freelance. Email: writejohnseiler@gmail.com

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Donald Trump forces a California water deal without lifting a finger

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

California’s politicians and pundits – including this one – have been busily speculating on what effect a Donald Trump presidency could have on a state that rejected him overwhelmingly.

Well, we saw the first major impact last week, without Trump even lifting a finger.

A compromise bill that, in effect, reallocates federally controlled water in California – much to the delight of farmers and the dismay of environmentalists – won final congressional approval Friday.

Hammered out by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Bakersfield’s Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader of the House, it broke a half-decade-long political logjam over the issue, and there is little doubt that uncertainty over Trump’s attitude was its driving force. …

Click here to read the full article

Golden State Democrats Divide Over Race

The California Republican Party—an institution accustomed to embarrassment—suffered a novel and stinging indignity in the June 7 Golden State primary. Once the votes were tallied, it was revealed that the GOP’s candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Barbara Boxer in the November election would be . . . nobody. It’s not that Republicans failed to recruit any contenders. Two former (and relatively obscure) state party chairmen, Tom Del Beccaro and Duf Sundheim, competed in the primary, as did activist businessman and one-time gubernatorial candidate Ron Unz. Rocky Chavez, a state assemblyman from San Diego County who led the GOP field in early polling, had also been in the mix before abruptly withdrawing—at the beginning of a debate, no less—in February. So how does a party enter a race with four candidates and still emerge without a nominee?

Like most riddles associated with California politics, the answer is direct democracy. In 2010, voters approved Proposition 14, a ballot measure that abolished conventional party primaries for statewide and congressional races. Instead, the initiative created a system wherein primary voters get to cast their ballot for any candidate, regardless of party—but where only the top two finishers compete in the general election. This year, that process yielded a U.S. Senate contest between two Democrats: Attorney General Kamala Harris and Orange County congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.

Among California’s political and media elite, the result is being discussed mainly as a sign of the GOP’s irrelevance in the nation’s most populous state—a reading with plenty of evidence to support it. Higher office has now been out of the party’s grasp for a decade, with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2006 reelection as governor marking the last time that a Republican won any statewide contest.

Democrat DonkeyYet, while public attention is focused on the GOP’s deathbed vigil, another equally consequential trend is unfolding largely under the radar: California Democrats, far from enjoying a frictionless ascendancy, are finding themselves sharply divided along racial lines. The breakneck demographic shifts in the state over the past few decades partly explain the tension. In 1990, California was more than 57 percent white, while Latinos made up just over a quarter of the state’s population. By 2014, however, Latinos had surpassed whites as the state’s largest ethnic group. At the same time, the state’s Asian population (the nation’s largest) had grown to 14.4 percent, more than double the number of California’s African-Americans. In a minority-majority state dominated by a party that practices identity politics, each group now finds itself in a zero-sum competition for a handful of positions at the commanding heights of Golden State politics.

Those spots don’t come open very often, making competition that much fiercer. Boxer and her Senate colleague Dianne Feinstein were both first elected to the upper chamber in 1992, a time when California was, in demographic terms, an entirely different place. They’re not the only members of California’s governing class who seem like relics of a bygone era. While the state’s population is ethnically diverse and young (in 2014 the median age was 36, sixth-lowest in the nation), its most visible political figures—Boxer, Feinstein, Governor Jerry Brown, and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi—are lily white and have an average age of nearly 78.

When Boxer announced her retirement in early 2015, it unleashed a frenzy of activity among California Democrats aiming to make their leadership more reflective of the party’s diversity. The problem was that no one could agree on exactly how to fulfill that mandate. Certainly Harris, born to a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, represented a break from the past. But the swiftness with which she attracted endorsements led to a backlash from Latinos, who felt they were being taken for granted. When the attorney general garnered near-instant backing from influential national Democrats such as Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, California State Senate president pro tem Kevin de Leon told Politico,“National figures should slow their roll a bit.” Arturo Vargas, head of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, cautioned, “Hispanic leaders are concerned about some kind of coronation, as opposed to a real electoral campaign.”

The coronation, however, largely proceeded apace. Harris’s substantial war chest and stack of endorsements deterred some of the state’s most prominent Latinos—namely former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and House Democratic Caucus chairman Xavier Becerra—from mounting a challenge. Sanchez, previously more of a comic figure than a serious political force (her main contribution to California politics has been a series of increasingly bizarre Christmas cards featuring her cat), exploited the vacuum for a Latino alternative, riding the discontent all the way to a spot on the November ballot.

Most observers—though not all—expect Harris to prevail in November, but the underlying tensions show little sign of abating. In May, Texas Democratic congressman Filemon Vela blasted the California Democratic Party for endorsing Harris, calling the act “insulting to Latinos all throughout this country” and “a disrespectful example of wayward institutional leadership which on the one hand ‘wants our vote’ but on the other hand wants to ‘spit us out.’” California Hispanics may share that sentiment. Though Harris won 40.3 percent of the vote to Sanchez’s 18.5 percent in the primary, a USC/Los Angeles Times poll released shortly before the contest showed 43 percent of Hispanics supporting Sanchez to just 16 percent for Harris.

Status anxiety is now pervasive among the racial caucuses within California’s Democratic Party. Hispanics worry that their votes will be taken for granted, while their elected officials are passed over for higher office. African-Americans, outnumbered two-to-one by Asians and six-to-one by Hispanics, fret that they’ll be relegated to junior-partner status within the party. Asians, meanwhile, chafe at certain liberal orthodoxies—a tension that became public in 2014 when a small band of Asian Democrats in the legislature blocked their black and Hispanic colleagues’ efforts to revive racial preferences in California college admissions.

Intra-party friction, of course, isn’t exclusive to California. However, with the Republican Party in steep decline in the state and the top-two primary system as the law of the land, the situation in California is particularly combustible. California Democrats have long dreamed of the unfettered power that would accompany vanquishing the state’s rump Republican Party. Few, however, seemed to anticipate the stress fractures that inevitably emerge in a political monoculture. With no worlds left to conquer, they’re now left warily circling each other. And no one seems inclined to slow his roll.

U.S. Security Oversight Dominated By California Politicians

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., speaks after a closed-door meeting Thursday on Capitol Hill. The panel voted to approve declassifying part of a report on Bush-era interrogations of terrorism suspects.

California lawmakers have emerged as pivotal players in the state’s struggle over cyberlaw — and the country’s. In Sacramento and Washington, D.C., elected officials have placed themselves at the forefront of disputes over the intersection of technology and national security, potentially determining the course of America’s approach to civil liberties for decades to come.

Inside the Beltway, federal oversight of U.S. security agencies has been dominated by Californians. “The current chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., is now investigating the alleged manipulation of war assessments by the U.S. Central Command,” as McClatchy recently noted. Faced with bombshell allegations from New York Times sources that military officials had spun intel to overstate U.S. progress against the Islamic State, Nunes told the news service that “a special multi-committee task force was needed to investigate the allegations because officials were ‘trying to hide’ from oversight through bureaucratic sleight-of-hand.”

As Nunes’ colleague to his left, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has rounded out the top two seats on the committee, observers have watched for signs that Schiff might opt to run to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein in two years, having previously chosen not to jump into the race to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Backdoor access

It is Feinstein who has put the biggest California imprint on national security policy. After a bruising tiff with the CIA over its interrogation program, Feinstein made fresh headlines co-authoring a piece of legislation that would recast the relationship between surveillance and technology inside the U.S. A draft of a Senate bill being finalized by Feinstein and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, “would effectively prohibit unbreakable encryption and require companies to help the government access data on a computer or mobile device with a warrant,” the New York Times reported.

The bill has instantly ratcheted up the stakes in the already heated controversy surrounding the ongoing efforts of federal officials to force Apple to provide the means to unlock its iPhones. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told the Times that Feinstein and Burr’s bill would require all American companies marketing handheld devices “to build a backdoor” into them. “They would be required by federal law per this statute to decide how to weaken their products to make Americans less safe,” he told the paper, vowing to do “everything in my power” to block the effort.

A similarly sweeping bill has been crafted within California itself. Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, “introduced new state legislation that would require any new smartphone from 2017 onwards to be,” in the bill’s words, “capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider,” according to ZDNet. “That would impose a near-blanket ban on nearly all iPhones and many Android devices being sold across the state as they stand today, more often than not with unbreakable encryption that even the companies can’t unlock,” the site observed.

A widening threat

Although state and federal legislation has been prompted by terrorist threats and attacks, cybercrime has become sophisticated and prevalent enough to spur other concerns — especially in California, where recent strikes have raised fears that infrastructure and essential services could be crippled more out of greed than an appetite for destruction. So-called ransomware deployed by hackers paralyzed three Southern California hospitals several weeks ago.

“The security breaches — which temporarily disable digital networks but usually don’t steal the data — not only have endangered public safety, but revealed a worrying new weakness as public and private institutions struggle to adapt to the digital era,” as the Los Angeles Times noted. “Government officials are particularly concerned that hackers could lock up digital networks that run electrical grids, and oil and natural gas lines, according to Andy Ozment, assistant secretary of cybersecurity and communications at the Department of Homeland Security.”

Originally published by CalWatchdog,com

Angry California Republicans Call Drought Bill Dead for the Year

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Angry California Republicans threw in the towel late Thursday, conceding that a California water bill that had divided the state was dead for the year.

In a remarkably acrimonious ending to negotiations that once seemed close to bearing fruit, GOP House members acknowledged the bill’s failure while putting the blame squarely on California’s two Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

“It’s dead, unfortunately,” Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, said in an interview Thursday afternoon, adding in a later statement that “our good-faith negotiations came to naught.”

The utter collapse of negotiations means a California water package – that in its latest manifestation spanned 92 pages – will not be slipped into a much larger, must-pass omnibus federal spending package needed …

Feinstein continues to block necessary water project

cadiz water projectThe Democrats are at it again. They’re pushing back on the Republican controlled Congress, who is attempting to limit earmarks from being added to the omnibus spending bill. This action – known as policy riders – explains specifically what funding cannot be used on.

While Democrats relied on policy riders extensively in the past, especially in the area of “environmental protection,” having a Republican-controlled Congress has left the Democrats squalling at the practice. If the Republicans are going to undermine the Democratic agenda by implementing their own policy riders, the Democrats are completely against the practice all together, even though they have fought this fight for the last 15 years by using policy riders to protect the EPA.

These policy riders have had an absolutely detrimental impact on California, especially during the severe drought. Senator Feinstein has abused her position on the Appropriates Committee to make sure an important water project in Southern California, known as the Cadiz Valley Water Project, would fail to be built.

The Cadiz Valley Water Project is a no brainer for drought-stricken California.

According to the Environmental Impact Report, a requirement under California’s Environmental Quality Act of 1970, around 400,000 people could benefit from the project, which would provide over 16 million gallons of drinking water.

The Cadiz property is located in the Mohave Desert, between the I-10 and I-40 freeways. The plan calls for the construction of a 43-mile pipeline, which would supply water to the Colorado River Aqueduct from the Cadiz property.

When Cadiz attempted to start the project in the early 2000s with their original partner, Metropolitan Water District, Feinstein used policy riders in the fiscal year 2007 spending bill that blocked Cadiz from receiving any funding.

Senator Feinstein, however, has utilized policy riders in the annual federal spending bill in order to force the federal government to interfere with railroad property rights, which directly impacts Cadiz’s partner, the Arizona & California Railroad. She did this to block the Cadiz Valley Water Project’s funding for federal review, should one be required.

This is the definition of government overreach and politics as usual. Seemingly frustrated that the project’s review doesn’t include Washington bureaucrats, Feinstein has tried to sabotage a project that could provide Southern California with a new water supply. And at what cost?

Feinstein went out of her way to target Cadiz and their ultimate goal of supplying Southern California with water. She can’t attempt to argue against her blatant sabotage.

With California in desperate need of water to sustain our way of life – and no, I’m not talking about the fish – this project should have been pushed forward years ago. If it had been, we would have the added benefit to help battle the current drought.

Boondoggle Alert: CA’s Politicians Pretend Private Investors Want In On High-Speed Rail

high speed rail trainIn November 2008, California voters narrowly approved Proposition 1A, which provided $9.95 billion in government money for a statewide bullet-train network. The initiative passed, even though the California High-Speed Rail Authority had been legally required to release a detailed, updated business plan by October 1 of that year, so that voters would have time to learn exactly how the state planned to finance what was then billed as a $43 billion project—and no updated plan was in view. Rail officials failed even to release a preliminary report before the election, claiming that state legislators’ long delay in passing the fiscal 2008–09 budget made doing so impossible.

Within days of Prop. 1A’s passage, however, the High-Speed Rail Authority at last released the plan. Just as critics had predicted, the document insisted that private investment would be easy to come by. All investors needed, the plan said, was “financial and political commitments from state officials that government would share the risks to their participation.” In other words, if California promised that taxpayers would guarantee ridership and revenue, then investors would come flocking. The problem? Prop. 1A explicitly banned taxpayer subsidies for the bullet-train project. Had the business plan been released before the election, it would have undercut the “no-downside” narrative offered by the project’s political champions, including Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Since then, rail-authority leaders have continued to pretend that massive private investment is just around the corner. Initially, these claims were buttressed by vague generalizations. In recent years, however, the authority has tried to suggest that contractors interested in working on the now-$68 billion project might also be willing to help finance it. Most reporters on the state government beat have swallowed these claims uncritically. A July 2014 San Jose Mercury-News story noted that “a deal that will send the project hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees collected from polluters is the signal the private sector was waiting for.” But here’s what the coverage usually leaves out: the private-sector companies sniffing around the bullet-train project never invest without government promises to step in if things don’t go according to plan.

Only Ralph Vartabedian of the Los Angeles Times appears to understand that the project probably won’t get the funding it needs without taxpayer subsidies. “Major construction, equipment and engineering firms around the world, responding to a solicitation to form a partnership with the California high-speed rail project, have raised serious concerns about the state’s shortage of funding, the potential need for long-term operating subsidies and whether the project can meet the current construction schedule,” he reported last month. “The appeal for financial and technical partners drew responses from across Europe, Asia and the U.S. But none of the companies expressed a readiness to invest their own money, and some included reservations about the risks.”

Vartabedian’s analysis, and his paper’s in-depth look at the bullet-train project detailing how state rail-authority officials buried a report predicting a $9 billion cost overrun on the initial 300-mile segment, have shaken up California public-policy circles. The Times coverage seems certain to trigger legislative hearings. State Senate president Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat, has already expressed his skepticism about the project, as has Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who wants to be governor. What was shaping up as one of the world’s biggest government boondoggles might yet be averted at a cost of only a few billion—which sounds like a bargain, compared with digging the financial hole still deeper.

Long Road Ahead With Feinstein’s Drought Relief Bill

With the latest numbers showing a drop in California water consumption, attention has turned to a new drought relief bill introduced by Golden State U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

water spigotThe figures eclipsed earlier embarrassments faced by water districts where consumption actually spiked, sometimes for unknown reasons. “California’s urban water districts cut consumption by 27.3 percent in June,” the Wall Street Journal observed, “exceeding a tough new state mandate to reduce their combined use by 25 percent amid a prolonged drought. The savings compared with the same month in 2013 came despite June being the hottest month on record in the Golden State, officials from the State Water Resources Control Board reported Thursday.”

Partisan jockeying

In a statement, Feinstein tried to tempter expectations behind her renewed push for relief. Some analysts expect Republican opposition over its high cost and environmental protections. “I’ve introduced a lot of bills over the years, and this one may be the most difficult, and a warming climate will only make things worse,” she said. “I’m hopeful the bill we’re introducing today will serve as a template for the kinds of short-term and long-term solutions California needs to address this devastating drought.”

But some Democrats have become concerned that Feinstein’s effort cedes excessive ground on environmental regulations, hewing too closely to previous relief plans that wound up losing Boxer’s support. Feinstein had determined that the drought crisis was severe enough to justify negotiating with House Republicans — a maneuver that undermined her support within her own party, causing her to abandon the push.

This time around, revealing Boxer’s support for the rejiggered bill “surprised some stakeholders who saw the negotiations fall apart late last year over proposed changes to endangered species protections,” according to E&E Daily. Although Boxer said she was “pleased to be sponsoring” Feinstein’s new bill “because of the enormity of this crisis,” other Democrats, such as Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., warned they were “very concerned about some provisions included in the bill that are similar to the House Republican water legislation” that drove Boxer away to begin with.

A long road

That legislation was H.R. 2898, introduced by Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif. As the Sacramento Bee recounted, the bill would have supplied farmers south of the Delta with more water and sped up the federal approvals process, where stringent environmental rules can sometimes grind water and infrastructure plans to a virtual halt. Hurried along late last year during the lame-duck session of Congress, it sailed through the House with staunch Republican support, but provoked president Obama to threaten a veto, and drew strong criticism from California’s delegation of Democrats in both houses of Congress.

Feinstein herself finally caved. “There are several other provisions that would waive environmental protections that need to be changed before I could support them,” she explained, according to the Bee. “I have said all along that I will not support a bill that would waive these protections, and that remains true today.”

Now, her aim has been to replace “some provisions disliked by environmental groups” with “some of their priorities, such as a greater focus on recycling,” according to the Associated Press. “Feinstein said the shift changes the emphasis of the bill from a short-term effort to a long-term one. She said her bill would cost an estimated $1.3 billion over 10 years.”

But even assuming Feinstein could placate environmentalists and other Democrats, she recognized that the bill’s fate could well hinge on a single Republican colleague. In the machinations of Senate lawmaking, Feinstein’s objective has been to package her bill inside of planned legislation to be introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “That Murkowski bill is likely to serve as a vehicle for several state-specific drought relief measures, as well as overarching federal policy changes,” E&E Daily confirmed.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Dianne Feinstein helped keep drones with CIA

As reported by Politico:

Nearly two years ago, President Barack Obama called for moving the drone war from the CIA to the Defense Department to give the controversial counterterrorism program greater oversight.

But it hasn’t happened.

Then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein expressed concerns, and intelligence sources say she inserted a classified amendment in a spending bill last year requiring that the administration certify that giving the Pentagon a greater role would not have negative impacts on the war on terrorism.

Feinstein’s office declined to comment on the classified amendment, but the White House, in response to the amendment, has been slow to make any changes.

Click here to read the full article

Support strengthening for assisted suicide in CA

In a medical community sharply divided on the issue of assisted suicide, momentum has shifted to the side that embraces the idea — with California at the forefront of the change. Two Golden State doctors with life-threatening illnesses have recently become plaintiffs in a lawsuit aimed at shielding physicians from legal liability “if they prescribe lethal medications to patients who are both terminally ill and mentally competent to decide their fate.”

Changing mores among MDs

For disability-rights advocates like Marilyn Golden, senior policy analyst at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, “the marriage of a profit-driven healthcare system and legalized aid in dying sets up dangerous possibilities,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “She warned of a scenario in which insurers might deny or delay life-sustaining treatments and a patient ‘is steered toward assisted suicide.’”

But views among doctors have moved strongly toward accepting illness-driven suicide. A recent nationwide poll conducted by the Medscape Ethics Center showed that 54 percent of respondents agreed that medically-assisted suicide should be permitted — an 8 percent increase in support among American doctors over the past five years.

The numbers showed how sharply and deeply the divide among physicians has become. “Historically, doctors have been some of the most vocal critics of assisted suicide,” The Atlantic recently noted.

“The American Medical Association still says that ‘physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.’ Similarly, the California Medical Association takes the view that helping patients die conflicts with doctors’ commitment to do no harm. ‘It is the physicians’ job to take care of the patient and that is amplified when that patient is most sick,’ said a spokeswoman, Molly Weedn.”

A legislative push

Dianne_Feinstein,_official_Senate_photo_2With the shift in medical opinion, political support has also increased. While the doctors’ lawsuit makes its way through the courts, Sacramento Democrats have begun to advance legislation that would go even further. In a letter to state Sens. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, and Bill Monning, D-Carmel, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., gave her stamp of approval to Senate Bill 128, the so-called California End of Life Option Act:

“The right to die with dignity is an option that should be available for every chronically suffering terminally ill consenting adult in California. I share your concern that terminally ill California residents currently do not have the option to obtain end-of-life medication if their suffering becomes unbearable. As a result they may well experience terrible pain until their illness has taken their life naturally.”

The bill “would allow mentally competent California residents with less than six months to live obtain physician-prescribed lethal drugs that they’d administer themselves,” according to the Los Angeles Times. “A patient would need two doctors to confirm the illness was terminal. Also required: two oral requests 15 days apart and a written version witnessed by two people. Physicians, pharmacists and healthcare facilities could opt out. Those participating would be protected against lawsuits. Coercing a patient would be a felony.”

SB128 recently passed through the Senate Health Committee, which viewed a video message prepared by the activist Brittany Maynard, who moved to Oregon from California last year in order to end her life in accordance with that state’s assisted-suicide law.

“Before she died, Maynard recorded testimony in favor of passing such a law in California,” Reuters reported. “I am heartbroken that I had to leave behind my home, my community, and my friends in California, but I am dying and I refuse to lose my dignity,” Maynard said in the video. “I refuse to subject myself and my family to purposeless, prolonged pain and suffering at the hands of an incurable disease.”

A bellwether in the making

The assisted-suicide movement has positioned itself well to exploit a potential success in California. In addition to Oregon, Washington and Vermont also legally permit the practice. “Courts in New Mexico and Montana also have ruled that aid in dying is legal, and a suit was also recently filed in New York,” according to The Atlantic.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com