Hold Schwarzenegger accountable

"I strongly support Proposition 98 and I will protect California's commitment to education funding." Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made that promise while campaigning for your vote.

Once upon a time a man's word, as they used to say, was his bond. It seems that's not the case anymore, especially at the political top.

Nowadays, the interminable flow of disinformation, misinformation, lies, broken promises, buck-passing - you name it - that flows from our highest leaders has proven to be without much consequence to the offender. What gives?

One of the Bush Administration's favorite feints is the bait-and-switch of naming a bill one thing, while the actual and unacknowledged intention is the polar opposite. The "Clear Skies Initiative" (translation: more air pollution) and the "Healthy Forests Initiative" (translation: clear cutting old growth trees) are examples. "War is Peace" was the odds-on choice to promote the "War on Terror," but research determined some author had tainted its usefulness by using it ironically in a novel.

On the State level was Schwarzenegger's reassurance when asked if he would ever tamper with Proposition 98, California's enormously popular initiative insuring educational funding. "Not over my dead body," he said. Hmmm.

Schwarzenegger first backslid on that point last spring when he negotiated an agreement with the California Teachers Association letting him divert $2 billion the schools were owed under Proposition 98 so he could balance the budget. In exchange he promised to abide by the initiative's terms this year. "Trust me," he said.

This January he announced plans reneging on that deal, which will result in California schools losing a projected $2.2 billion the Governor said he wouldn't touch. The quality of California education is going in the exact opposite direction that voters want.

The endless stream of many such betrayals is why I remain dumbfounded the tag-team of Bush-Schwarzenegger hasn't yet been stopped.

Now the President has a whole multi-layered phalanx of operatives creating a virtually impenetrable wall to keep him from being held to account.

All of his public appearances are heavily screened so he never has to face a dissenting voice. If an interloper does slip past security and expresses undesirable "sentiments," the ne'er-do-well (traitor and probable enemy combatant as interpreted from the Bush camp) is handcuffed and whisked away...never to be seen again. Okay, maybe someone sees him, but I never have.

Mr. Bush has an enabling and too-consolidated corporate media whose collective obsequiousness (especially on TV where most of America gets their "news") and passing off of Oval Office press releases as actual journalism amounts to collaboration.

The family's multi-generational involvement at the core of the nation's intelligence community insures expertise in distributing effectively chilling messages-by-example to other would-be whistle-blowers as has occurred with the outrageous outing of C.I.A. NOC ("nonofficial cover") Agent Valerie Plame - think Tom Cruise in "Mission Impossible." An investigation into the crime is going nowhere.

Where are the Congressional defenders of the "values" that we have heard so much about? Okay, so I guess Bush gets away without the impeachment he deserves. But Arnold is another story.

Even though Potentate Bush and future would-be President Schwarzenegger each use a similar play book, Arnold alone reaps the benefits of reality-blurring film roles which mesmerizes a fawning public.

By virtue of his successful body-building-to-acting career and image crafting, celebrity-impressed citizens are held in thrall. And so Arnold has shucked and jived his way clear of accountability thus far.

But let's dial him in a little, shall we?

Didn't Arnold declare whilst campaigning that he wouldn't take money from "real big, powerful special interests," because "if you take money from them, you owe them something" ("Special interests" translated: anyone against his positions)? Wasn't that one of his main charges against Gray Davis?

But Arnold is seriously out-Gray Davising Gray Davis by fund raising millions. But wait, he already has lots of money, so those millions don't affect him. And he's reassured us he has no interest in proposed legal wrangling which might enable him to run for President. Uh huh.

Another curious comparison to Davis, who once said the legislature was there to "implement his vision," is Schwarzenegger's rule by ultimatum and bullying. Not getting his way results in bellicose posturing, petulance and verbal abuse heaped on a legislature that was also elected by the people. Epithets such as "Girlie-men," "spending addicts" and "punk" are his idea of persuasion. What a mouthy guy.

This is not a new character trait. I recollect an incident occurring during the 1980 Mr. Olympia competition when Arnold came out of retirement to compete. All 16 competitors in the contest agreed on a rule change to improve the event. Everyone, that is, except Arnold.

As Schwarzenegger began to browbeat some of those present to get his way, he made the mistake of insulting Mike Mentzer who many thought would win that night. Mentzer had heard enough and charged towards Schwarzenegger, who immediately sat down while Mentzer stood over him and continued his reproof. Schwarzenegger couldn't even look at him.

Once upon a time California's educational system was the envy of all. What Californians want is a return to that glory; We need a Governor we can trust to work with all the other politicians we have voted into office, and not some prima Donna with an overblown ego who thinks he has a monopoly on answers. If this guy won't grow up right now, if he can't display the integrity we need in our Governor, then he needs to be removed.