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New: Opinion Today- Coupal - Sacramento sistcom... Recall Follies- Frank Luntz' gameplan... Streetsweeper's Bin- The Bustamante scenaro... CRO Blog- Shark & Pelosi

a weblog | current tally
1,658,302 out of
898,157 petitions

46 days to go

[go to the Recall Follies]

  • Liebau: DiFi?
  • Saunders: Ain't there...
  • Stewart: Greasing Gray...

a weblog of
contributor commentary

[Carol Liebau] 8:11 am
Recall Tax Grabbing? Several weeks ago, CRO ran the column Slap the Greedy Hand, about the AB 1690, which would authorize imposition of local income taxes in a complicated scheme -- the end result being a requirement that every taxing locality use half the money from the local tax to fund public safety programs. As many readers may recall, the "godfather" behind AB 1690 is the California Professional Firefighters . . . And, coincidence? That organization's president is also co-chairman of the pro-Davis group Taxpayers Against the Recall. Well, at least we know who the governor's friends are, and what they want from us.
[SharkBlog] 8:09 am
Nancy Watch: Here's what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has been saying recently: Democrats will keep fighting to transfer wealth from young working people to older, wealthier people. | We won’t give up until we delegate our sovereignty to Mexico. | Decisions on allocating the public's money should be made by unelected government employees who stand to benefit, not by the people's elected representatives. | We must support programs that lower academic standards for favored ethnic groups. | Democrats insist that Congress must not leave for its summer vacation until it gives a "tax credit" to people who don't pay taxes.

more at CRO Blog

OC Register
Deficit Index

$83.7 million
The amount needed per day through June 30, 2004, to balance budget.
OC Register

being Tom McClintock


California has a spending problem. As State Senator Tom McClintock likes to point out, population and inflation combined have grown at a rate of 21% the past four years; revenue has grown 25%. Yet California government spending has grown 40%. The result is an unprecedented state budget deficit expected to exceed $35 billion.
- Thomas Krannawitter 5/2/03
go to Shadow Governor

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Fabulous Budget

The Capitol Hillbillies
A Scaramento sitcom
NEW TODAY [Jon Coupal] 7/18/03 | Americans lost another beloved entertainer last week with the passing of Buddy Ebsen. Ebsen played a lot of roles over his long career -- he was originally cast as the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz until an allergic reaction to the aluminum paint forced him to give up the part -- but he was best known as the kindly Jed Clampett of the Beverly Hillbillies. | The Beverly Hillbillies was one of those shows that no one admitted watching, but it had consistently high ratings over its seven-year run. | The premise of this "unwatched" show was that Jed, an Ozark hillbilly, got rich after discovering oil on his property and moved his family to Beverly Hills. The laughs were provided as each week these simple rural people had a culture clash with the city folks. | Now, like everyone else, I didn't watch the show either, but I'm told that the Clampetts exhibited a lot more wisdom, integrity and human compassion than most of the "more sophisticated" people they encountered each week. | In recent months there has been Hollywood talk of CBS producing a new version of the show. If the project gets off the ground, one member of Congress has already declared his intention to protest this "insult" to country people. | Perhaps the network could avoid a political correctness squabble by using another city and a family with a slightly different background. | The new show would be titled "The Capitol Hillbillies" and would feature a typical California family that moves to Sacramento. The only reflection of the original show would be that, as a tribute to Buddy Ebsen, the patriarch of the family would still be called "Jed." | Each week, viewers would be treated to an episode showing how politicians and bureaucrats regard their constituents as rubes who just fell off the turnip truck. [more inside]

Ten Years After:
Progress and Opposition in Charter Schools

[K. Lloyd Billingsley] 7/17/03 |
In 1993 California began allowing charter schools, deregulated schools within the government system that gain freedom from most regulations in return for meeting the goals of their founding charter. According to a Rand study released June 30, charter schools provide good news to a state that badly needs it. | Charter School Operations and Performance: Evidence from California, requested by the state's Legislative Analyst's Office, finds that charter schools keep pace or slightly outperform conventional government schools in reading and math achievement. They do this, however, with less funding, and with less experienced teachers. | While schools that convert to charter status perform about the same, start-up charter schools outperform conventional government schools in student test scores. The Rand study also found that elementary charter schools have more instruction time in fine arts and foreign languages than conventional government schools. Charter school teachers, though less likely to possess a credential, are more likely to participate in professional development such a mentoring programs. | Charter school students are more likely to be African American and less likely to be Hispanic, Asian, or white. The Rand study's finding explodes the charge that charters would become elitist suburban academies. The predominance of African Americans in these schools is another confirmation of the need for alternatives from the government system. [more inside]

Demise of Los Angeles Times?

Does anybody really care?
[Hugh Hewitt] 7/16/03 | Keeping an eye on the Los Angeles Times is a thankless task because, as James Lileks noted not long ago, nobody really cares what is in the Los Angeles Times. The New York Times and the Washington Post – those papers matter, but not the poor, circulation stagnant and curiously irrelevant Lost Angeles Times. | The paper matters in Hollywood, and a tiny bit in Sacramento, but beyond those precincts, hardly at all. Still, it could be a serious player given its monopoly on the creative center of the world's entertainment complex and as the only paper with resources sufficient to covering about 20 percent of the country's population and political clout. | Instead of seizing on its opportunities, the paper wallows in wannabe status, and butchers its foreign and D.C. coverage. The most recent examples arrived over the past few days. [more inside]

Fabulous Budget
A Caricature of Themselves

A 4% cut? Children will starve, old people will die...
[Ray Haynes] 7/15/03 | I want to let you in on some insider secrets. When we Republicans get together, our favorite comedic routine is to caricature Democrats’ comments about Republicans. We all chuckle as we mimic things we think Democrats say about Republicans in private. “Republicans want old people to die, and children to starve.” “Republicans want to kick puppies, and shoot Bambi.” “Republicans want to make kids drink dirty water, and die of emphysema.” And so on. Little did I know that I would actually hear these words passing the lips of my Democrat friends in the Legislature just this week. | The Assembly Republicans put up their budget proposal for a vote in the Legislature. It was a modest thing, motivated by the thought that when you face unprecedented budget deficits, it might be a good idea to reduce spending a little. Not much—just 4.2 cents of every dollar we are spending now. Heck, our proposal was still at least $8 billion more than the state spent in 1999-2000. | We began with the concept that the state should get the most bang for its buck. The federal government matches state money put into health programs. The state legislature has unilaterally created a lot of health programs that overlap the federal programs, but the state doesn’t seek the federal matching funds. Assembly Republicans thought it would be a good idea to shift the dollars spent on these overlapping programs to, in essence, double our money without sacrificing benefits. There would be no effect on the actual availability of health care; we would just move the money to a federal program, which was exactly the same as the state program, where we would get matching money. You would have thought we were killing kids and old folks in the street. [more inside]

Slanting News At The LA Times?

Say it ain’t so…
[Hugh Hewitt] 7/15/03 | The Los Angeles Times is at it again. Here's the headline: "Asbestos Bill Could Be Windfall for Business." Ahha, you say, what are those terrible Republicans up to? A new bill on handling asbestos claims? What's the bottom line? Paragraph 5: "The arrangement could prove a windfall for Halliburton and its insurers." Seems, according to paragraph 6 that Halliburton has reached a "global settlement" on asbestos claims, which will cost "Halliburton and its insurers" $4.2 billion, and the new deal law will only clip Halliburton for $675 million. | Halliburton! We knew it. Dick Cheney gives them all the contracts for oil in Iraq and then arranges for a bailout on asbestos! Oh, the horror. | In paragraph 10 we discover that Halliburton didn't actually make or sell asbestos products, and in paragraph 13 we discover that the insurers, not Halliburton, will "pay much of the $4.2 billion." [more inside]

The CRO Monday Column
In the Ring With Barbara Boxer

A “Lightweight” Approach to Justifying Abortion Rights?
[Carol Platt Liebau] 7/14/03 |
Former Senator Alan Simpson once remarked, “We have the same percentage of lightweights in Congress as you have in your hometown. After all, it’s representative government.”If our elected officials are, in fact, perceived to be typical of the people who elected them, it’s no wonder that so much of the country sees California as the “loony left” coast. After all, we’re the ones who sent Barbara Boxer to the Senate. | Senator Boxer is often seen as a policy “lightweight” who promises a great deal to her liberal supporters, then actually delivers far less. But just this week, she boasted a legislative victory. With the help of nine Republicans and the Senate Democrats, she was able to pass an amendment repealing the “Mexico City” policy, first put in place by Ronald Reagan (then repealed by President Clinton, and reinstated by President Bush). That policy prohibits U.S. foreign assistance to “international-based nongovernmental organizations” that perform or promote abortion overseas. | Certainly people of goodwill and good conscience can disagree on whether current abortion law should stand. And if Barbara Boxer had simply come out and justified her opposition to the “Mexico City” policy as an outgrowth of her support for abortion rights, that by itself would have been unremarkable. She is, after all, one of the most fervent proponents of sweeping abortion rights in the Senate. Senator Boxer was endorsed by EMILY’s List (a pro-choice PAC), opposes maintaining a ban on abortions performed on military bases, and supports even partial birth abortion. | But instead, Senator Boxer headed for loftier constitutional territory: the First Amendment. Last week on the Senate floor, she declaimed “We don’t tell every group in this country that receives federal funds they cannot talk about anything, because this is America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. Free speech is the basis of our country.” | How embarrassing – not just for her, but for every Californian she purports to represent. [more inside]

Fabulous Budget
Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! That Cigarette
A tax and spend solution
[Jon Coupal and Trevor Grimm]
7/12/03 | For those who remember the classic country western song, "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! That Cigarette" it may soon make a comeback as an anthem for the state Legislature. | The tax-and-spend majority in the California Legislature has a problem. Because of the two-thirds vote constitutional protection to pass both a budget and to raise taxes, they are mostly powerless to exert their will to extract more money from vulnerable taxpayers, who are already hard hit by a sluggish economy and rising unemployment. | In prior years, legislative leaders would simply bribe (whoops, we should say "entice") a few moderate Republicans with favors in order to reach that two-thirds threshold, and then spend, spend, spend. | Well, the wisdom of the old saying "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me" has finally sunk in with even most of the slower members of the Legislature. From hard experience, they have come to the realization that the tax raisers didn't keep their bargains. (Why should a potential Republican turncoat, suffer the wrath of colleagues and constituents when, at the end of the day, the lawmaker is still left empty handed.) Except for one or two grandstanders, the Republicans aren't about to sacrifice their "No New Taxes" pledge. As a class, Republicans this year are more fiscally responsible, have better leadership and, most important, realize that the public agrees with them that the problem has been massive overspending, not lack of tax revenue. [more inside]

findings in today's web trawler

RECALL FOLLIES/From American Spectator
The Line On Feinstein

[Prowler] 7/18/03 | With a recall in California of Gov. Gray Davis all but certain, some Democrats who earlier publicly claimed little interest in running to replace him are privately backing off those promises to the embattled governor. According to several Democratic insiders in California, Sen. Dianne Feinstein has privately expressed a willingness to throw her hat into the ring should the political realities inside the state make it obvious that Davis has little chance of retaining his position. | The hedging is probably due in part to the nature of the California recall ballot. In this case voters would be asked if Davis should be recalled or not and then on the same ballot allowed to choose a replacement from a list of candidates. No Democrat will want to appear on the ballot if he thinks Davis has any chance to hold on and in effect win re-election at their expense. | Another Democrat seriously considering a run is former White House Chief of Staff and congressman Leon Panetta. "He could easily step in and raise the money for a campaign within two weeks of announcing," said a state Democratic Party official. "He's been out of politics for more than two years now, but the machine, while it's been in the garage a while, is gassed up and ready to go."
[more at American Spectator]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Sacramento Bee
Could Bustamante Guarantee Only He Would Succeed Davis?
[Dan Walters] 7/18/03 | Everyone assumes that when California voters decide whether to recall Gov. Gray Davis, they'll also be deciding who would succeed him if, in fact, he is ousted.
However, two words in the state constitution -- "if appropriate" -- introduce another bizarre element into the recall saga. It's at least possible, although by no means certain, that when Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante calls the Davis recall election, he could block voters from choosing a successor and thus declare that he, and only he, would become governor should voters dump Davis. | It would be a gutsy roll of the dice for Bustamante, a politician not known for bold moves. He could simultaneously make it more likely that Davis would be recalled, thwart Republican hopes of taking over the governorship and set himself up to occupy the governor's office for the remainder of the decade. And the national political media would have still another only-in-California tale to tell. [more at Sacramento Bee]

Celebrity Gets Arnold Only So Far
[Frank Luntz] 7/18/03 | There are small pockets in the United States, most notably on the Left and Right Coasts, where folks really think Martin Sheen is the president and George Bush the pretender. For millions of Americans, what happens every Wednesday night on NBC's "The West Wing" is more important than events in the actual White House. | Americans share an almost mythic fascination with everything entertainment and a disgust with everything political. Hollywood celebrities make 10 to 100 times more a year than Congress members for doing a lot less, and your average voting-age American is more apt to know the stars of any two summer blockbusters than his representatives in Congress. | These days, the intersection between entertainment and politics is a congested one. Some say that Washington is full of ugly actors and Hollywood is loaded with pretty politicians. | Yet when seemingly nonpolitical celebrities like, say, Jerry Springer or Jesse Ventura encourage speculation about running for office, the path is not always smooth. [more at LA Times]

How Budgets Get Done -- Or Not
[Debra J. Saunders] 7/18/03 | Pontificating in his Capitol office Tuesday morning, Assembly Republican Leader Dave Cox succinctly assessed the budget situation. "Speaking for the Republican side of the aisle, we believe that the government spends more than it takes in. Our friends on the other side of the aisle believe that we have a revenue problem." | Spending did rise hugely under Gov. Gray Davis (as did tax relief). In 1999, Davis signed a $79 billion budget (and decreased the auto-license fees as part of a budget agreement made during Gov. Pete Wilson's last year). Two years later, he signed a $100 billion budget. State spending rose 37 percent in four years. The dot-com tax revenue dried up, but dot-com-level spending remained. | If voters should learn anything from the state's record $38 billion budget shortfall, Cox believes, it should be, "One party rule doesn't work." [more at SF Chronicle]

WEST BANK OF THE SEINE/ From American Spectator
Sterilization Particulars   
[George Neumayr] 7/18/03 | Progressives in the 20th century often described California as an Eden of enlightenment. But this Pacific Eden produced an enormous amount of rotten fruit. The Human Betterment Foundation, a ludicrously named California think tank from the 1920s, was an example of the brutal and heartless ideology that masqueraded as enlightenment in the state. The Human Betterment Foundation was nothing more than a propaganda mill for eugenics. | The Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday that the Nazis drew inspiration from its work. "California civic leaders helped popularize eugenics around the world, including Nazi Germany," reported the Times. Dr. Fritz Lenz, a premier Nazi eugenicist, wrote to the foundation: "You were so kind to send…new information about the sterilization particulars in California…These practical experiences are also very valuable for us in Germany. For this I thank you." [more at American Spectator]

JURISIMPRUDENCE/From National Review
Get Ready

Acquittals loom in the Inglewood cop trial. Will trouble follow?
[Jack Dunphy] 7/17/03 | Do you hear that? If you listen closely, you can hear the faint, far-off sounds of the No Justice, No Peace Hallelujah Chorus practicing their scales and limbering up the old vocal chords. That's right, soprano Maxine Waters, baritone Al Sharpton, bass Jesse Jackson, and all their assembled multitudes may soon be, as is their wont, raising a ruckus. Though the story has been largely eclipsed by other events in the national media, the two Inglewood, Calif. police officers indicted in last July's videotaped altercation with a teenager have been brought before the bar of justice. As the world knows, Los Angeles juries can be prone to irrationality at times, so predictions in such highly charged cases can be dicey, but I'm planning on working some overtime soon.
| Recall that Officers Jeremy Morse and Bijan Darvish were two of several officers involved in a July 6, 2002 fracas with 16-year-old Donovan Jackson, whose father had been stopped for driving a car with expired registration. The final moments of the incident were captured on a bystander's videotape, and for days and weeks thereafter few in the civilized world could escape the image of Morse slamming the handcuffed Jackson onto a police car's trunk and punching him in the mouth. Morse was charged with assault under the color of authority; Darvish, his partner that day, was charged with filing a false police report. The jury has now heard the prosecution's evidence, and what thin gruel it turned out to be. When prosecutors rested their case on Tuesday, some observers were prompted to ask, "That's it? That's all you got?" [more at National Review]

The Man Who Isn't There
[Debra J. Saunders] 7/17/03 | A caravan of big-rigs drove by the state Capitol Tuesday morning, the drivers leaning on their very loud horns in protest of a proposed diesel-fuel rule. When when I interviewed Gov. Gray Davis later that day, he tells me he never heard them. | Apparently, Davis doesn't hear at lot of things. He doesn't hear the anger of voters clamoring to recall him from office. He doesn't hear the whispers in the Capitol that he is irrelevant in budget negotiations. He doesn't hear a little voice inside his head that should be yelling: "You've got to start kicking butt and taking prisoners, you lump." | As we sit at the gubernatorial conference-room table, I mention the recall, and ask the governor why he is in this position. | "In what position?" he asks. | (Facing a probable recall, Gov. Denial.) [more at SF Chronicle]

Democrats File Suit Against Democracy
[the Editors] 7/17/03 | There is a certain irony in watching the Democratic Party work so mightily to make sure that Californians can't exert their democratic right to vote on the recall of the governor. | By all measures, recall supporters have garnered far more than enough signatures to force an election - something that should be certified in time for the fall. But Democrats, and their allies in the union-backed anti-recall organization Taxpayers Against the Governor's Recall, are pulling out all the stops to keep the vote from happening - or at least delaying it until March, an election more likely to favor Democrats because of the hotly contested Democratic presidential primary. | Recall supporters understandably are steaming at the partisan actions of Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, who is doing everything he can to slow down the signature-certification process. Everyone knows that the 1.6 million signatures supporting the recall will easily surpass the 897,158 certified signatures needed to qualify the measure for the ballot. So obstructionism is the last resort of Democratic partisans. [more at OC Register]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Sacramento Bee
The Lawsuit To Stop The Recall Will Probably Fail

[Daniel Weintraub] 7/17/03 | Make no mistake about it: The lawsuit filed by Gov. Gray Davis' allies against the attempt to recall the governor is meant to slow the process and ensure that the inevitable election is held later rather than sooner. | The recall campaign has collected more than 1.7 million signatures, nearly twice the required minimum of 897,000. And the county officials who have begun to verify them are finding an unusually high rate of accuracy. The Californians who signed the petitions are who they say they are, in other words, and they are registered to vote. There will be an election. | Davis says he fears nothing, that he is fine with facing the voters again. But he would rather face them in March, when Democrats are holding a presidential primary, than in October or November, when voters who are not wild about him might just stay home rather than trekking to the polls to preserve his career. A delay also would give Davis more time to raise questions about the need for a recall, more time to persuade the moneyed interest groups to support him and more time to hope for an economic miracle that might bail the state out of its fiscal predicament. [more at Sacramento Bee]

Nevada's Bad Bet
[the Editors] 7/17/03 | Constitutions exist to make sure governments play by the rules. Government agents can't just arrest people, spend money or raise taxes on their own whim. They have to follow exactly what's written down in the supreme law of the land. | Nevada now is embroiled in a controversy over its Constitution that could spill over into California. | Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn, a Republican, faced the same problem as California Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat: After spending wildly, the state government faced a huge budget deficit. Gov. Guinn also faced a similar hurdle: Like the California Constitution, the Nevada Constitution mandated that a budget be passed with a two-thirds, rather than simple majority, vote of the Legislature. Gov. Guinn only could get a majority of legislators to vote for a budget that increase spending and taxes. | Gov. Guinn then tried something novel. He took the issue to the Nevada Supreme Court, which on July 10 ruled 6-1 that another part of the Constitution, mandating adequate education spending, took precedence over the supermajority requirement. So out went the two-thirds threshold. [more at OC

WEST BANK OF THE SEINE/ From National Review
Bowless in Burbank
Hollywood is saying no to bowhunting.
[James A. Swan] 7/17/03 | Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety, Yogi Bear, and Wiley E. Coyote are breathing a little easier these days. The Burbank, California, city council has said “That’s all folks” to bowhunting. | You might think that hunting in the hometown of Warner Brothers, Columbia Pictures, Walt Disney, and NBC Studios sounds like a Hollywood fantasy, but the geography of Burbank is actually tailor-made for bowhunters. | Burbank began as two Spanish land grants that became a sheep ranch. Today it is an incorporated city of 100,000 with a total size of just more than 17 square miles. The studios, Griffith Park Zoo, and many other attractions and homes are located in the lovely downtown area, but on the northeast side of the city are the Verdugo Mountains, which rise up to 1,000 feet. Over seven miles long and three miles wide (at their widest), the Verdugos are part of the San Gabriel Mountains, and home to some 500 deer, as well as numerous rabbits, quail, and coyotes. Until this spring, these animals have been legal game for archers. [more at National Review]

Erin Brockovich's Junk Science
[Leon Jaroff] 7/17/03 | Erin Brockovich's latest crusade, against several oil companies and the city and school district of Beverly Hills, California, is as misguided as the one chronicled in the movie that made her famous. With Ed Masry, head of the law firm in which she serves as research director, Brockovich charges that fumes from active oil wells under the campus of Beverly Hills High School have caused inordinate levels of cancer and other disorders among the school's graduates. In June, the firm brought suit on behalf of 21 of those graduates against the oil companies that have, in succession, owned and operated the wells since the 1970s. Last week they also announced legal action against the city and the school district. Suits are still pending on behalf of additional graduates with different kinds of cancers and other ailments. Though there's no evidence the oil wells have caused the problems Brockovich claims, her track record shows she just might triumph in Beverly Hills.  [more at Front Page]

An Ill Wind From The East

Nevada high court's takeover of state budget sets an ominous precedent
[Timothy Sandefur] 7/16/03 | The Chapman University law graduate is an attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation. An unprecedented ruling from the Nevada Supreme Court last week may have just changed the rules in the California budget crisis. | Nevada, like California, requires two-thirds of its Legislature to approve any tax increase. But earlier this month, when Gov. Kenny Guinn failed to get a two-thirds vote for his proposed tax increase, he decided to stop playing by the rules. Instead, he asked the Nevada Supreme Court to simply order the Legislature to pass his budget. He argued that since the state Constitution requires the Legislature to fund public schools, they had broken the law by not passing the budget by the legal deadline. | A few days later, Nevada's high court agreed, and ordered the Legislature to ignore the two-thirds rule. Because "the procedural two-thirds revenue vote requirement in effect denies the public its expectation of access to public education," the court said, "the two-thirds requirement must yield to the specific substantive educational right." | This decision is a radical break with American legal tradition.
[more at OC Register]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Sacramento Bee
Recall, Rescue, Reward

Firefighters to Davis' aid -- at what price?
[the Editors] 7/16/03 | The group spearheading the campaign to fight the recall against Gov. Gray Davis calls itself Taxpayers Against the Governor's Recall. That's one of those creative names that political operatives often use to disguise their true identity. Taxpayers Against Recall are really the California Professional Firefighters -- the firefighters union, one of the most influential power brokers in the state. | So far, the union has contributed $168,000 in cash and services to help defeat the recall. In addition, it has put its entire political operation at the disposal of the governor's fight for survival. Davis' campaign is being run out of the union's Sacramento office. Send an e-mail to the union and you will likely get a response from Taxpayers Against Recall. | None of this is surprising. As governor, Davis has been extraordinarily generous to public employees, particularly firefighters and police. | Still, as the legislative session winds down and the recall effort heats up, real taxpayers need to worry about what these groups may try to extract from a governor desperate to keep his job. [more at Sacramento Bee]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Sacramento Bee
Voters' Ambivalence Gives Davis Hope Of Winning Recall Election
[Dan Walters] 7/16/03 | Poll after poll confirms that Californians consider Gov. Gray Davis to be a chronic and perhaps unsalvageable underachiever. | His current job approval ratings, scarcely over 20 percent in the three major statewide polls, make him the least popular governor in recorded California history, and the deep disdain cuts across virtually every economic, cultural and political subgroup. | So California voters would jump at the chance to dump him and elect someone else to fill out the remaining 3 1/2 years of his second term, right? Not necessarily. [more at Sacramento Bee]

WEST BANK OF THE SEINE/ From National Review
Taxing Times in California

The depths to which his California has fallen.
[Iain Murray] 7/16/03 | Stories of taxpayer abuse at the hands of the IRS were once so common as to be cliché, but Gil Hyatt recently discovered that California's state taxing authorities can be even nastier. On April 22, the Supreme Court rewarded his persistence, unanimously declaring that his lawsuit against California for harassment, trespassing, extortion, and violation of privacy could move forward. This was good news, of course, for Hyatt, but it was also very good news for Californians, who will now get to see clearly how state employees are using state power to harass, intimidate, and abuse the very taxpayers they are sworn to protect and who just happen to pay their salaries. | The Court's involvement came about because of California's obscenely high income taxes. Gil Hyatt, a wealthy and successful inventor-entrepreneur, felt forced to leave high-income-tax California for no-income-tax Nevada. Rather than confront the reality that California's taxes were driving away the state's tax base, California proceeded to assert that Hyatt never left. [more at National Review]

FABULOUS BUDGET/ From Sacramento Bee
Poll Contains Unleavened Bad News For Davis, Tax Advocates
[Dan Walters] 7/15/03 | Gray Davis, likely the first California governor to face a recall election, desperately needs the state fiscal crisis to disappear, but his popularity -- and credibility -- have plummeted to such low levels that the more he tries to win public support for his budget plan, the less backing his approach appears to be garnering. | A new statewide Field Poll, released today, contains nothing but bad news for Davis. His approval ratings are continuing to sink, and Californians are spurning the new taxes he wants to reduce the budget deficit. | The poll bolsters Republican demands for balancing the budget through spending cuts rather than new taxes, and thus makes it even more likely that Democrats, despite their hold on the governorship and strong majorities in both legislative houses, will eventually cave. [more at Sacramento Bee]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Sacramento Bee
Arnold For Governor Would Be Powerful Candidate
[Daniel Weintraub] 7/15/03 | I don't know if Arnold Schwarzenegger will run for governor. But I do know this: Our standard-order politicians are dreaming if they think they are going to blow him away. | I'm not surprised that the general public sees Schwarzenegger, so far, as little more than a Hollywood celebrity. But the political class should know better. This is a man of substance with accomplishments in charity and business that would make him a very formidable candidate for the state's highest office, even if his lack of political experience makes it difficult to guess what kind of governor he would ultimately be. | If Schwarzenegger runs, Democrats won't be able to lay a finger on him with issues they've long used to demonize Republicans: abortion, gun control, gay rights, the environment. And Republicans who think they can hit him on culture issues (he smoked pot as a young bodybuilder) will find their bullets bouncing off him as if he were a machine. | That's because Arnold has something that few modern politicians possess: a story. It's a captivating personal tale that meshes perfectly with his political beliefs. And if he runs, I think, it will get him elected. [more at Sacramento Bee]

Cat Fight
[Debra Saunders] 7/15/03 | There is something harder than herding cats -- herding Republicans. As California GOP chairman Duf Sundheim is about to learn. | Sundheim announced Wednesday that the party will try to narrow the field of Republicans running to one candidate if there is a special recall election to replace Gov. Gray Davis. | Give up. | Start with the last-place Republican in the most recent Los Angeles Times poll -- Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. Just 3 percent of registered voters polled said they'd vote for him. But without Issa's bankroll, there would be no recall. He's not likely to bow out now, not when he has millions left with which to promote himself. | State Sen. Tom McClintock, favored by 6 percent in the poll, said he could support the Republican who "has both the best chance of winning and the best chance of turning this state around." But McClintock also pointed out that last November, as Democrats swept every statewide race, he won the most votes of any Republican on the ballot in his failed bid for state controller.
[more at Town Hall]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Weekly Standard
Anoher Political Earthquake

The Gray Davis recall looks like a Prop 13 replay.
[Fred Barnes] 7/15/03 | The media and political establishment in California hasn't learned a thing in 25 years. In 1978, the Los Angeles Times editorialized sternly against the fiscal drain and "chaotic effects" of Proposition 13, the referendum that cut property taxes deeply and touched off an anti-tax wave across the country. Now, faced with a referendum to toss Democratic governor Gray Davis out of office, the newspaper is warning against the "deeper fiscal hole and the partisan political chaos" that may result. A quarter century ago, the San Francisco Chronicle declared Proposition 13 "a revolutionary threat, a total threat, to the stability of all government." Likewise, the recall drive is abetting "the dysfunction" of state government. "It's reckless, it's outrageous," the Chronicle insists. Democratic party leaders, who dominate California politics, and politically connected elements of the business community say the same thing. "We can't tolerate the chaos," Warren Christopher, the secretary of state under President Clinton and now a Los Angeles lawyer, said. | These arguments aren't working any better now than they did in 1978. The recall effort, like Proposition 13, has risen above its origins on the political fringe and become a populist crusade. [more at WeeklyStandard]

From Weekly Standard
Muscular Republicanism
From the October 19, 2002 issue: Arnold Schwarzenegger's California dreamin'.
[Matt Labash] 10/29/02 | Of all the assignments I've drawn over the years, none would seem to be as trifling as the one that has me standing on an airstrip, gulping gnats on a tropical October morning. At Buchanan Airfield in Concord, California, I await the arrival of a private jet, to follow a candidate who hasn't declared, for a race that is not being run. | It is one month out in the California gubernatorial election. The dull (incumbent Gray Davis, who in a rare flash of color said that Al Gore is his charisma adviser) is leading the desperate (Republican Bill Simon, who is on his fourth campaign manager and, a year into the campaign, is running "Do you know me?" ads). Like most Californians, who are famously allergic to politics, I want no part of either. Sixty-five percent of likely voters say they wish someone else were running, and the someone most often mentioned is the man for whom I'm inhaling large clouds of bugs: actor/humanitarian/Conan-the-Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. [more at Weekly Standard]

DC-CA/From American Spectator
Her Royal Weakness
[Prowler} 7/15/03 | The weakening of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has become apparent in the wake of the exodus of nine members of the Democratic caucus who backed the House Republican Medicare prescription plan in June. That bill passed by a two-vote margin, and the Democratic support sealed the deal when Republicans failed to keep some of their own members in line. | While those Republican turncoats are facing punishment to some degree or other, Pelosi is not moving against any of her nine recalcitrant underlings. "She can't afford to alienate anybody right now," says a House Democratic leadership staffer, who points out that under different leadership party defectors would have faced the loss of committee assignments or House leadership positions. | As it stands, the nine Democrats may lose financial backing for their reelection campaigns from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. But given the DCCC's lack of fundraising under Pelosi's crony Rep. Bob Matsui, who knows how much money the nine could have expected to receive anyway? As it is, a number of the nine needed to vote as they did in order to back up campaign promises to their constituents. So by stepping out of line they may have helped ensure their reelection anyway. [more at American Spectator]

Sacto to Business: Get Lost
[Adam Sparks] 7/15/03 | "The chief business of the American people is business." -- President Calvin Coolidge California is going downhill, and fast. Houses and apartments remain unaffordable, utility costs are among the highest in the nation, traffic is unbearable, taxes are going up dramatically, good-paying jobs are hard to find and businesses are fleeing the state. | If only California leaders would take Coolidge's advice, we might not be in the fiscal crisis we are in. But, no, in California, legislators think business serves only two purposes: as a ready supply of campaign cash and as an endless font for tax revenue. California likes to provide services, lots of them, and its government sees budget deficits as no problem -- raising taxes is the simple answer. | But there's a limit to the threshold of pain business, California's golden goose, will tolerate. [more at SF Chronicle]

Ex-San Jose mayor: It's Time To Drop Duplicitous, Incompetent Governor

[by Tom McEnery] 7/14/03 | If Woody Allen was right, and 80 percent of success is just showing up, then Gray Davis' other 20 percent has cost Californians dearly. While his popularity crashes to unheard-of lows, the state wallows in fiscal chaos. Yes, our Legislature is locked in bipartisan inertia, but we have the same confidence in it to resolve the budget woes that we would in teenage boys to avoid girls and strong spirits. No, it is the governor whom we trust to be prudent, if not wise. | In this hope, we have been savagely disappointed. The only bastions of support for this embattled governor are the usual Democratic stalwarts: some public employees, labor unions and a few Indian tribes, looking for two or three thousand more slot machines. | Ah, and yes, we can't forget most of our columnists and editorial writers. I understand the first few groups' allegiance, but I can't fathom the lock step of the Fourth Estate for a man so devoid of judgment, resolve and basic honesty. ``A modest man with much to be modest about,'' is how Churchill described one of his opponents. If that were the limit of this governor's attributes, we could consider ourselves lucky. [more at SJ Mercury News]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Sacramento Bee
Davis' Popularity Nose-Dived As His Media Coverage Soured

[Dan Walters] 7/14/03 | California has at least 35 million human beings residing inside its borders, nearly two-thirds of them potential voters. | Gray Davis has been a California politician for three decades and the state's governor for the last 4 1/2 years, but has engaged in personal conversation with, at most, a few thousand of his constituents. | During Davis' first couple of years as governor, he enjoyed fairly strong public approval ratings, 60-plus percent in most polls. Californians may not have had much personal contact with their governor, nor considered him to be charming, but they had no reason to dislike him either, based on what they knew of him. | Davis' popularity began a sharp slide two years ago, as the state was hammered by an unexpected, scary energy crisis, and it has continued to decline ever since. It was just over 40 percent when he won a close re-election in November, but plummeted to a record-low level, just over 20 percent in most polls, shortly thereafter. And now Davis faces the prospect of becoming the first California governor to be recalled. [more at Sacramento Bee]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Sacramento Bee
Recall Dropouts

Will Democrats deny voters an alternative?
[the Editors] 7/14/03 | The campaign against Gov. Gray Davis now looks almost certain to yield a recall election this fall. Instead of dealing with a yawning budget deficit or a broken system of governance, Californians will treat themselves to an unprecedented second gubernatorial election in a year. | Can this ugly story have a happy ending? It might, if the Democratic Party's senior elected leaders -- are you listening, Sen. Feinstein? -- begin to take responsibility for making the recall election not just a spitting contest but a referendum on California's future. | Democrats have decided that the right response to the recall is to deny voters a choice. They figure that if no prominent Democrat stands to replace Davis, the state's heavily Democratic electorate won't dare vote to recall the governor, knowing that Davis would be replaced by a Republican. | Unless, of course, voters do just that. [more at Sacramento Bee]

Like Prop. 13, Recall Terrifies The Elites

[Steven Greenhut] 7/14/03 | One of my political rules of thumb: No reform that has any chance of actually working can be approved without squeals of protest from the elite opinion-makers. The converse is true: Anything that moves forward in a bipartisan fashion and is widely admired in the mainstream media is bound to be a disaster. | That's because America's elites - and California's in particular - are liberals who believe in bigger government, higher taxes, more regulations. Promote an idea that threatens that tax-spend-regulate status quo, and the howls of protest begin. | In 1978, California voters rejected the dire predictions of the state's newspapers and politicians and voted for Proposition 13, which limited the increases in property taxes that were driving people out of their homes and imposed two-thirds voting requirements for the passage of most bonds and tax increases. | How do we know Prop. 13 struck paydirt? | Twenty-five years later, media pundits, legislators and academics are still whining about it, blaming it for every bad thing that ever happened in California from heinous crimes to crumbling infrastructure. But the public knows better, and still strongly backs Prop. 13's provisions. [more at OC Register]

Sacto to Business: Get Lost
[Adam Sparks] 7/14/03 | "The chief business of the American people is business." -- President Calvin Coolidge California is going downhill, and fast. Houses and apartments remain unaffordable, utility costs are among the highest in the nation, traffic is unbearable, taxes are going up dramatically, good-paying jobs are hard to find and businesses are fleeing the state. | If only California leaders would take Coolidge's advice, we might not be in the fiscal crisis we are in. But, no, in California, legislators think business serves only two purposes: as a ready supply of campaign cash and as an endless font for tax revenue. California likes to provide services, lots of them, and its government sees budget deficits as no problem -- raising taxes is the simple answer. | But there's a limit to the threshold of pain business, California's golden goose, will tolerate. [more at SF Chronicle]

WEST BANK OF THE SEINE/ From National Review
Pull the Plug on Electricity Re-Regulation
The California mistake could be repeated at the federal level.
[Stephen Moore] 7/14/03 | Deregulation has been one of the great public-policy success stories over the past quarter century. Consumers have been the big winners through lower prices and more choices. The lifting of federal airline ticket price regulations in the late 1970s ushered in the modern era of affordable discount airline travel. Tickets for flying between major cities can be bought today at about half the cost of what airlines charged 20 years ago. Similarly, Ronald Reagan’s first official act as president was the deregulation of the oil industry in 1981. With a stroke of a pen the energy crisis and the gasoline lines of the 1970s vanished. As a consequence of ending price controls for oil, the inflation-adjusted price to fill up your gas tank is far lower today than it was in the 1970s. | But we’ve learned another lesson about deregulation in recent times. When Congress or state lawmakers botch the plan — when they engage in phony deregulation schemes — things can go catastrophically wrong. | That’s precisely what happened in California during the infamous electricity blackouts and skyrocketing prices last year. [more at National Review]

WEST BANK OF THE SEINE/ From Sacramento Bee
Counties Speak On Casinos

Is the state listening?
[the Editors] 7/12/03 | Tired of waiting for the governor and the state Legislature to tackle the critical issue of Indian gambling's effects on local governments, the California State Association of Counties held its own public hearings on the subject last month. Currently 53 active casinos are up and running in 24 counties; 23 more casinos are planned. One county, San Diego, has 8 casinos and a slot arcade, the most of any jurisdiction in the state. | Statewide, Indian casinos have cost the counties at least $175 million in unreimbursed road, water, sewer and law enforcement costs. The tribes don't pay taxes, but a number of them have negotiated agreements with local governments to mitigate some of the negative impacts. [more at Sacramento Bee]

RECALL FOLLIES/From American Spectator
Gray Hounds  
[George Neumayr] 7/11/03 | Leading California businessmen warn of "chaos" if Davis is recalled, reported the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. They "denounced the proposed recall of Gov. Gray Davis as a threat to the state's economy." Having pumped millions into Gray Davis's re-election, these blue-chippers are loath to cut the strings on their battered puppet now. |Davis owes his career to this cynical business roundtable. Businessmen know that he is ideologically anti-business but have given him millions anyway for the sake of protection and perks. Since 1973, Davis has collected over a $100 million through fundraising, much it from businessmen eager for a spot at the state trough. | Chris Martin, managing partner of the Cannery marketplace in San Francisco, told the San Jose Mercury News last fall that at an interview for a state commission slot "he was grilled by the governor's first appointments secretary about his political donations." Martin said the first question in the interview was "How much did you donate to the governor?" and the second was "How much did you give to the other guy?" | Understanding this message, businessmen shoveled cash to Davis. His recall may mean "chaos" for them -- they lose a powerful pol bought at great price -- but it is hard to believe his recall would create any more chaos for Californians than already exists under his administration. [more at American Spectator]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Capitol Punishment
Greasing Gray with Fat Checks
California's Richest Look to Protect Themselves as Recall Takes Off
[Jill Stewart] 7/11/03 | As the Gray Davis recall moves into overdrive and the noxious consultant Chris Lehane--who helped Clinton formulate his creepy Monica Lewinsky strategy--prepares to launch an assault on the truth unlike anything we've witnessed in a California election, a phrase keeps circling inside my head. | Follow the money. | Most political junkies know by now that Lehane and the rest of Davis' advisors plan to paint the recall as right-wingers stealing an election from liberals. Lehane is said by some to be the most negative campaigner in the United States, a guy who will shimmy so low to win that Davis---the most vicious campaigner California has seen in modern times---imported Lehane from Back East. | Many voters won't easily dismiss their own boiling fury at Davis, nor at the $38 billion in debt that materialized on Davis' watch after our fibbing governor and catatonic leaders like Democratic Sen. John Burton of San Francisco insisted things were under control. | Even so, if you are tempted to buy into any of the Davis camp's whoppers---such as the one making rounds that a recall "hurts" California's economy (compared to how rosy things are by keeping Davis), merely remember to follow the money. [more at Capitol Punishment]

Oh, No! A 4% Cut? Horrors!
Dems could end budget crisis with a small step, but even that's too much
[John Campbell] 7/11/03 | Have you ever worked at a company when profits were in a squeeze? You probably have. And you probably have seen the management say, "We have to cut back 5 percent or 10 percent or 15 percent." It was done so the company could survive and stay profitable. | And how about your personal budget? We've all experienced a time when the bonus didn't come in or commissions were down or hours cut back. And then you paid more attention to prices at the market and you didn't eat out as often. In short, you cut back some. | Earlier this week, Republicans in Sacramento proposed that the state government do what everyone in private life has had to do: Cut back a little. As you no doubt know, the state is mired in the worst budget and fiscal crisis in the history of this or any other state. The state got there because Gov. Gray Davis' administration and Democrats in the Legislature increased spending by 37 percent when population and inflation grew by only 22 percent. We have a deficit exceeding $30 billion. We have the lowest credit rating of all 50 states. A national survey recently ranked California as the worst- managed of all 50 states and in the bottom three of states in which to do business. We are losing jobs every month, and our economy is underperforming the nation. [more at OC Register]

Budget Clash May Mean Lasting State Debt

Lawmakers avoid blame, ignore future deficit
[Mark Simon] 7/11/03 | No one wants to give any ground -- or any more ground -- in the 2003- 04 state budget impasse, which means it's likely California will roll over billions of dollars in debt into future fiscal years, an outcome no one wants. | But even as they head down a course that none find acceptable, Bay Area legislators each said this week that they were doing a responsible job battling over the budget. | And while all acknowledged the concept that each of the 120 lawmakers bore individual responsibility for the budget crisis, clearly they don't think it's their fault. | "I obviously have a role to play, and I bear responsibility," said freshman Assemblyman Gene Mullin, D-South San Francisco. "(But) many of the decisions are made above my pay grade." | "It's my job to come here and work on this and put up my votes on what I feel is reasonable," said Assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn, D-Saratoga. "I've voted for cuts and I've voted for increases. I've been doing my job. I don't see any willingness on the other side to see any of the things we've proposed." | That's because nothing the Democrats have proposed has been acceptable, said Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon. [more at SF Chronicle]


a week in the bin


Your Car Tax Estimate
posted at OC Register
Say you bought a new Toyota Camry in October 2000 for $20,360.
Here’s how the new vehicle license fee will affect you.

$ 105.87
You paid this in 2002

You’ll owe this in October


Last Week's Front Page: 7/5-7/11
[go to Front Page Archive Index]

And some
Lingering Observations

Highway Robbery
Illegal taxes are what political revolutions are made of.
[Tom McClintock] 7/9/03 | []

A Real American Remembers California
Review - Victor Davis Hanson's Mexifornia
[Ken Masugi] 7/10/03 | []

Brother, Can You Spare A Nickel?
Liberal illusion: tax cuts cause deficits, not overspending
[Ray Haynes] 7/8/03 []
A “Taxing” Responsibility
The Power to Change Sacramento Rests With Us
[Carol Platt Liebau] 7/7/03 []

Taxes Raised by a Phantom
Cost Taxpayers Real Dollars
[Jon Coupal] 7/5/03 | []

Machines Vs. Man
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
[Ken Masugi] 7/4/03 []

Pull My Trigger. . .
An unaccountable, self-triggering tax that only a liberal could love
[Ray Haynes] 6/28/03 [more inside]
California's Coming 100-Year Political Storm
[Tom McClintock] 6/18/03 [more at Claremont Institute]
Wannabe the Next Governor?
[Streetsweeper] 6/13/03 [go to CRO Recall Follies]
Slap the Greedy Hand [Reprint 6/16/03]
Authorizing Local Taxes Is Just Plain Wrong
[Carol Platt Liebau] 6/9/03 [more inside]
People Must Demand Recall
After the Damage Davis Has Caused In One Term, Can State Afford to Go Through Another?
[Shawn Steel] 6/2/03 [more inside]
Memo to My Wife
A household budget - Gray Davis style
[Tom McClintock] 5/29/03 [more inside]
Wild and Wooly in California
The prospect of a recall vote on Governor Gray Davis has the state's political establishment in an uproar.
[Hugh Hewitt] 5/21/03 [more at Weekly Standard]
Recalling Our Principles
Why the Davis Recall is Worth Reconsidering
[Carol Platt Liebau] 5/9/03 [more inside]



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