Politics

Borders in O.C.: "No, pendejos: I'm far-far-left-libertarian-STANDING. Do your homework!"

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Gretzky, Orange County's luckiest cat, enjoys his accustomed spot between Loretta Sanchez' legs.

Gustavo Arellano, the tireless OC Weekly columist who first reported Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA)'s anti-Vietnamese ramblings in a Univisión interview, returns to the scene of the hate crime with an update on how Sanchez and challenger Van Tran are still locked in a trilingual tangle—which is not as sexy as it sounds:

When asked by the Radio Bolsa host to explain her Viet-conspiracy remarks, Loretta replied "One of the questions [Ramos] asked was, 'Wasn't it true that Van Tran and the Vietnamese and Republicans were trying to take my seat?'"–which she claims led to her remarks that she continues to insist were misinterpreted. If only her two assertions had any semblance of truth.

Ramos never came close to asking a question like that–no way, no how. My only skepticism with the transcript is that I don't speak Vietnamese and thus can't objectively listen to the interview, and it's getting passed around by the Tran campaign, which itself still can't translate the Al Punto transcript properly. When they breathlessly claim in the email that, "Unfortunately for the Congresswoman, as the transcript below shows, the interviewer doesn't even say 'Vietnamese' EVER IN THE WHOLE INTERVIEW or mention 'Van Tran' at all before she made her racial comment," they also lie: Ramos introduced the segment with Loretta by noting her opponent was a "Republican candidate of Vietnamese origin, Van Tran."

Not only that? In their same email, they credit me with breaking this story but falsely call me "far-left-leaning." No, pendejos: I'm far-far-left-libertarian-STANDING. Do your homework!

Context for Sanchez' implication that Vietnamese immigrants are overrunning a Latino district: Sanchez' 47th Congressional District is actually one of the more competitive in California's highly gerrymandered map.

Incumbency Tetris.

The 46th District Sanchez won from Bob Dornan in 1996, with the help of several hundred non-citizen voters, no longer exists. The 46th is now a classic misshapen carveout, not for the Democrats but for Republican Dana Rohrabacher. Sanchez' 47th District may be more competitive, in terms of ethnic mix and major-party balance, than the one she took from Dornan, yet she has been re-elected with increasingly wide margins. That is now changing, at least according to Real Clear Politics, which gives Sanchez only a 2-point spread based on late-August data.

In 2008, California voters narrowly approved Proposition 11, a ballot initiative to take the task of drawing legislative districts out of the hands of legislators and give it instead to a 14-member commission. This year, Prop. 20 aims to extend that to congressional districts.

But a group of incumbent Democrats and public sector unions are already seeking to undo Prop 11. The November initiative Prop. 27 would get rid of the commission and let officeholders keep drawing up their own districts.

The self-dealing is obvious when you have state-level incumbents choosing their own districts, but the problem is just as serious at the federal office level. The competitiveness of Sanchez' district has shifted dramatically just since 2008, when she eviscerated Republican challenger Rosemarie Avila with nearly 70 percent of the vote. That's good news, if your concern is for the voters rather than the incumbents. But the way things stand now, Tran's base in a few years can be safely shifted into the neighboring Republican districts of Rohrabacher, John Campbell and Ed Royce. So when elected officials use this kind of anti-interloper language, they're not expressing racism so much as frustration at losing control of the voters.