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New: Opinion Today- HEWITT Recall Circus... Recall Follies- NEUMAYER Gov. McClintock... Streetsweeper's Bin- FUND Arnold runs ... CRO Blog- JOHNSON No budget w/o bond vote...

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

Certified 7/23/03

[go to the Recall Follies]

  • Neumayer: McClintock
  • Ellmers: Recall California!
  • Liebau: Recall Strategy

a weblog of
contributor commentary

[Streetsweeper] 7:15 am
Budget - Not So Fast:
The Pacific Legal Foundation is primed to file suit to stop any budget deal that fianances the debt by long term bonds without a vote of the people. As Harold Johnson of PLF wrote in CRO [Politicians In Bond-Age] on June 27, the state constitution requires the vote. In a release yesterday, Johnson had this to say: [“It’s time for a constitutional reality check. The governor and key legislators are overlooking the electorate’s role in the process. Everyone-Democrat and Republican alike-is talking about deficit bonds, but no one is talking about scheduling a vote to let the people say yes or no to those bonds. But ignoring the constitutional requirements won’t make them disappear. If the final budget includes multi-year debt-financing, there must be a popular vote on the bonds-or the politicians are buying themselves a lawsuit.”] ...Well, well, we've got handy state-wide election coming up October 7, haven't we?

more at CRO Blog

OC Register
Deficit Index

$85.4 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

Sign Up for McClintock's

The Circus Has Come To Town
For $3,500 you too can run for Governor
NEW TODAY [Hugh Hewitt] 7/25/03 | The phone keeps ringing with the latest rumors and snippets of gossip, usually with the beginning phrase "You won't believe who is thinking of running." Actually, I do. I believe them all. Because this is the easiest campaign ever to get into and one of the cheapest to run. | Davis is toast. He tripled every California driver's car tax. He tripled every California driver's car tax. He tripled every California driver's car tax. That's it. That's the campaign. Hundreds and thousands of dollars flew out of the average family's wallet in a blink, and Davis did it by himself, on his own, and he didn't have to do it. He wanted the money so he took it. You can't survive that. | So there will be a new governor, and it is actually possible to win this with single digit support. I personally think San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown would win in an Arnold-less field, but he's got his own election in November. Still, if anyone could pull off simultaneous campaigns, it would be the man who is the closest thing to Machiavelli that the West Coast has ever seen. | Who else could win? Anyone with pre-existing name i.d. and an energized base of support. That's why Bill Simon is formidable, why Jack Kemp is tempted, and why it wouldn't surprise me to see Jerry Brown jump in. If Charlton Heston wasn't ill, he could have run and won. Johnny Carson could be governor if so inclined. Only Arianna's and Michael Savage's trial balloons are filled with lead. [more inside]

Driven to Judicial Fiat
Desperate Davis Turns to the Courts for "Leadership"
[Carol Platt Liebau] 7/24/03 | Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but the oversized mind of California Governor Gray Davis clearly has a high tolerance for irony, as well. | That became apparent last week when Davis signaled his support for California Superintendent of Education Jack O'Connell's plan to ask the state Supreme Court to force legislators to enact a spending plan and proposed tax increases by majority vote, notwithstanding California's constitutional requirement that tax hikes must be approved by 2/3 of the legislature. It's ironic, because on the same day that he pledged to join O'Connell's lawsuit unless a budget were passed soon, Davis disparaged his upcoming recall election as a "hijacking" of state government. | Of course, O'Connell and Davis' new plan to circumvent the state budgeting process through judicial fiat was inspired by an outlandish recent decision from Nevada's Supreme Court, which high-handedly ruled that a constitutional duty to fund education had more legal weight than the constitutional requirement for a 2/3 vote in order to increase taxes. Never mind that the Nevada Supreme Court blithely diluted both the legislature's and voters' votes, in violation of the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the U.S. Constitution - or that their action is a textbook definition of depriving Nevadans of their property without due process of law. | Not surprisingly, the serious constitutional deficiencies of the Nevada decision are lost on Gray Davis. [more inside]

King of the Ring
Big-time strategists, a jungle recall/election, and Democrats scheming over a live microphone. You won't believe what's happening in California.
[Hugh Hewitt] 7/24/03 | George Gorton, Ken Khachigian, and Sal Russo are the three best Republican political consultants that California has produced over the past quarter century. Today they work for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Darrell Issa, and Bill Simon, respectively. | All three have played the part of key strategist to one or more of the California GOP's legendary big names. Each knows every serious money man and county party operative by their first name, and every newspaper and television station from Eureka to Chula Vista. | On the Democratic side of the aisle, Gary South, not-so-affectionately know as The Mouth, has departed the Golden State for assignments elsewhere, but Bob Mulholland remains, easily the nastiest Democratic operative in the nation. He's the Yosemite Sam of the Dems, eager to shoot first and aim later. He's also the new mouth of the man sometimes known as Governor Clouseau. | The looming vote on whether or not to recall Gray Davis is the political equivalent of professional wrestling's "King of the Ring" event: Everyone gets inside the ropes and starts swinging. The campaign is likely to last ten weeks (or less) from the date of certification of the need to hold the election. Davis is widely regarded as toast, but no Democrat has yet declared in the race to succeed him. If even one does, every other serious Dem has to jump in, all with their consultants in tow. Gorton-Khachigian-Russo could find themselves in a free-for-all not only among themselves, but also with storied names from the opposite side of the consulting arena like Darry Sragow, Bill Carrick, and Team Shrum. These big-name, big guns could end up working for businessman Al Checchi or Congresswoman Jane Harmon, both of whom have huge personal resources and a grudge against Davis--the governor used his brassknuckles on both of them in a primary in 1998. Neither has yet taken the pledge not to climb into the recall ring. [more at Weekly Standard]

Supreme Injustice
A frivolous lawsuit at the state’s highest court
[Jon Coupal] 7/23/03 | The Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of California, Jack O'Connell, announced last week [July 17th] his intent to file a lawsuit against a key provision of Proposition 13. According to O'Connell, the action will be filed directly in the Supreme Court and will ask the Justices to ignore the two-thirds vote requirement both to both pass a budget and to raise taxes. | While anybody can file a lawsuit, the question is how likely is it that the California Supreme Court will allow tax increases without the constitutional protection of a two-thirds vote? Not likely, is the consensus among the legal experts. Nonetheless, it is possible and, like the small chances of being hit by lightning, when it does happen, the consequences are devastating. [more inside]

Soccer as Metaphor

Movie Review - Bend It Like Beckham
[Ken Masugi] 7/23/03 | English soccer star David Beckham made headlines recently when he left his Manchester team for Madrid, Spain. Married to a former Spice Girl, Beckham has become a kind of wholesome cultural icon in Great Britain. | And so he is to Jess (or, to be proper, Jessminder), a teenage daughter of Indian Sikh immigrants. Her room features not a Spice Girls poster but one of Beckham, who inspires to dream of soccer stardom. At the local park, she plays soccer against boys with skill and fierceness. Spotted by a talented girl from a local soccer team, the shy Jess joins up, much to the horror of and opposition from her traditional parents, who would rather see her married (and in a comfortable career path) and able to cook Indian dishes. Though the movie is largely predictable and sometimes cloying, it is nonetheless charming. But, more important, it is instructive about multiculturalism today and America's unique chance to counter its destructiveness. [more inside]

Fabulous Budget
Getting Their Priorities Straight
Superintendent of Public Instruction gets himself into the budget mess
[Ray Haynes] 7/22/03 | Two events occurred this last week that demonstrate just what is wrong with California’s state government. First, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell suspended the high school exit exam. The exam would have made sure every twelfth grader has at least a tenth grade education upon graduation. Second, that same Superintendent decided to sue Republicans in the Legislature for holding the line on tax increases and trying to bring some sanity to the budget process and run-away spending. It is evident that Mr. O’Connell seems to be failing in his job as the head of our state schools, given the fact that forty percent of the twelfth graders in this state do not have a tenth grade education. Rather than focus on that, he decided to inject himself into the budget debate. | California under the reign of Gray Davis and his Democrat friends here in California is in a mess. The cost of housing has increased dramatically, commuters sit for hours in freeway gridlock, commodities such as water, gasoline, electricity and natural gas are in short supply because of our regulatory schemes, and now our budget is falling apart. So—what is the Governor’s response to this entire mess, blame the Republicans and ask the Superintendent of Public Instruction to sue us in the hopes of getting a solution without requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. Mr. I-want-a-bipartisan-solution has decided to forget a constitutional solution and have the court make us do it. [more inside]

Fabulous Budget
A Progressive "Gaffe" for Fiscal Crisis
Open mike reveals scare tactics to gain more taxes
[Hugh Hewitt] 7/22/03 | It seems the Democrats who control California's Assembly are mean-spirited, ruthless demagogues who don't mind bleeding their constituencies for political gain. | Of course that's not news. What is news is that the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle are actually reporting the story based upon a group of 11 Assembly Democrats' conversation about manipulating the budget impasse for political gain which went out through the State Capitol dues to an open mike. | The Chron calls it a "gaffe" in the story by Lynda Gledhill, and the Times' Evan Halper and Nancy Vogel don't give it a name at all, but not even the friendly stories can disguise the bottom line: There is no need for the budget delay, but Democrats are holding up a budget in order to gain support for a ballot initiative that would allow them to raise taxes with only 55% of the Assembly and State Senate vote. Right now it takes 67% of the votes in each chamber to raise taxes. | Cynical? Of course. Surprising? Only to the reporters from major media who cannot believe it is the Democrats who are willing to harm their own supporters in order to gain more political power. [more inside]

The Monday Column
Recall Strategy

The California GOP Needs to Stay Flexible – and Above All, Unified
[Carol Platt Liebau] 7/21/03 | Kudos to Duf Sundheim, Chairman of the California Republican Party. Although it may qualify him for the St. Jude Award (named for the patron saint of lost causes), he’s actually trying to impose a little order on the California Republican Party. Just last week, in fact, he emailed the party faithful to discuss how the Party should proceed when (it’s no longer a matter of “if”) the recall qualifies for the ballot. | It is refreshing to have a Party leader who is more concerned about allaying intra-party tensions than exploiting them for personal advantage. For too long, state Republicans have been allowed (and sometimes even encouraged) to drift into opposing camps. It becomes too easy to forget that the principles uniting us are greater than those that tend to divide – and that all our internal differences are trifling compared to our disagreements with the Democrats. [more inside]

Capitol Report
Budget Pain and Union Payback
The Governor scolds and Plumbers pay-for-play
[John Campbell] 7/18/03 | Budget Notes: The Governor spoke this week chastising the "pain" that would be caused by Republicans proposed 4% reduction in spending in the budget. Naturally, the Governor's claims of what our proposals will do are scare tactics and completely false. But the Governor should be focused on a few other things. Our credit rating as a state, already the lowest in the nation, is poised to drop again. His budget proposals are based on a tripling of the car tax which will likely be found illegal and have to be paid back, thus creating another budget shortfall in the future. And some of the debt the state has pledged to take on has already been challenged in court and may blow another hole in his budget proposal. Spending less is the only thing the state can do that is guaranteed to work regardless of the economy or our credit rating. Spending less is the only thing the state can do that Wall Street can count on to close the deficit. Spending less is the only thing the state can do that reverses the conditions that got us to this problem. [more inside]

findings in today's web trawler

RECALL FOLLIES/From American Spectator
Gray Coup On  

If California Republicans have any sense (always a long shot), they'll rally around Tom McClintock.
[George Neumayr] 7/25/03 | Standing in the playground of a preschool, Gray Davis assured reporters this week that he would fight the now-certified recall effort like a "Bengal tiger." The preschool background befit the whimpering depths to which his political career has fallen. | The likelihood of a Davis recall is a welcome sign for a state suffocating under a $38 billion deficit. It is no mere lark but a life preserver thrown out to rescue a state sinking under Davis's corruption and mismanagement. The seriousness of the crisis is perhaps best seen in companies fleeing Davis's quasi-socialist policies. | Countrywide Financial Corp., one of the top employers in the state with some 30,000 employees, recently announced that it would seek its expansion outside of California. "I am sad to say that California, where Countrywide has been headquartered for more than 30 years, does not provide a business climate that is conducive to cost control or business productivity," its CEO plainly explained. The press has also reported that Fidelity National Financial plans to relocate to Florida. California's business climate is too "oppressive," said its CEO, citing the state's loose, job-killing workers' compensation system. [more at American Spectator]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Opinion Journal
Total Recall--III
His advisers say Arnold Schwarzenegger will run for governor.
[John Fund] 7/25/03 | The recall of Gov. Gray Davis is heading for a fall election. "It'll be covered like a mini-presidential race," says GOP consultant Joe Shumate--and watched like a thriller movie. Part of the reason will be Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, his campaign advisers believe, will be running--or starring, to put it in Hollywood idiom, in a political sequel to his "Total Recall." | Few people are more disciplined and better at marketing themselves than Mr. Schwarzenegger. "He will run as a Republican, but his campaign may feel like a third-party insurgency," says Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Weintraub. Ironically, for a macho star of movies like "Terminator 3," he must solidify skeptical conservatives behind him. They will question his more liberal social views and wonder if he can really change the state's anti-business mentality. | Mr. Schwarzenegger needs conservatives because, should Mr. Davis be recalled, the new governor will be whoever wins a plurality of the vote in the simultaneous election to succeed him. He has assembled the team behind former GOP Gov. Pete Wilson's four statewide wins. They've hired 50 people and a preliminary campaign budget is $35 million. Mr. Wilson is bullish on the race saying, "Arnold has a total focus and clarity of vision that would impress voters." He needs the vision: Rep. Darrell Issa, 2002 GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Simon, and State Sen. Tom McClintock could all run by appealing to conservatives, making the election of a late-entry Democrat possible. [more at Opinion Journal]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Opinion Journal
Governor Moonbeam
[the Editors] 7/25/03 | California Governor Gray Davis will now officially face a recall vote, but he's still in denial about the reason. The Democrat is blaming a "hostile takeover by the right" and "partisan mischief." Introspection is not his strong suit. | The world is supposed to believe that the 1.4 million voters -- 500,000 more than required -- who signed petitions were all manipulated by a few rowdy Republicans. And that his 26% approval rating has nothing to do with the energy crisis he helped create or the $12 billion surplus of five years ago that he's turned into today's $38 billion deficit. Voters also aren't supposed to care that in last year's campaign Mr. Davis misled them about both the magnitude of the state's fiscal problems and how he planned to raise taxes. | This is the same sort of buck-passing that got the Governor here in the first place. Far from a "coup," the recall is entirely constitutional, put in place in 1911 to remove "dishonest, incapable or unsatisfactory" public servants. Mr. Davis has earned this honor. [more at Wall Street Journal - subscription required]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Capitol Punishment
Sanitizing the Gray Davis Recall News
The Media Keep Secrets, but People Get the Picture Anyway
[Jill Stewart] 7/25/03 | What the media observes firsthand during political wars, but often "cleans up" when it reports the news for public consumption, continually bemuses me. I saw this behavior as journalists covered the dopes trying to recall Gray Davis and the buffoons trying to keep Davis in office. | Everything, and I mean everything, the campaigns do from this moment forward will be, at bottom, an effort to influence public opinion polls as Davis hurtles toward the first recall vote against a governor in the United States since the 1920s. | What I observed at a press conference held by Rescue California Recall Gray Davis, the group that is forcing the recall vote, was scrubbed clean from most news reports. But the unsanitized tidbits speak volumes about the two camps currently waging battle to influence the polls. [more at Capitol Punishment]

Rule Of Law Prevails In Scheduling Of Recall
[the Editors] 7/25/03 | California's finances might resemble those of a Third World nation, but it has not entirely become a banana republic. Despite efforts by the Davis administration and the Democrats who run the state to thwart the recall campaign through partisan trickery, some sanity has prevailed. | Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, who had instructed county registrar offices to slow down the certification of recall signatures, relented in the face of a court directive. On Wednesday evening, he did his job and certified that more than enough signatures have qualified the recall of Gray Davis on the ballot. That left the job to Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante to schedule an election date 60 to 80 days from the certification. | Mr. Bustamante set the date for Oct. 7 and dispelled talk that he would only schedule the recall, but not a replacement election. The state capital has been abuzz with discussion of that unusual possibility, raised by Mr. Bustamante himself Tuesday. Mr. Bustamante could have scheduled the recall, but not the replacement election on the same ballot, which would have made Mr. Bustamante governor if the recall succeeded. | As AP reported, the lieutenant governor encouraged that possibility when he said he'd leave it up to a Democratic-controlled commission to decide whether to ask the state Supreme Court to rule on the matter. | That's when Sacramento observers started to talk about banana republics. [more at OC Register]

73-day Countdown
Davis and his opponents must offer a vision for saving California
[the Editors] 7/25/03 | Much to his chagrin, Gray Davis has truly made his mark: He's the first governor in California history to face a recall vote, and if removed from office, he would be America's first popularly deposed governor in 82 years. | Such is surely not the legacy Davis hoped to create for himself, but it's entirely of his own making. | California, a state rich in its people, its geography, its natural resources, its diversity and its potential, is all but bankrupt for one reason: the utter failure of the state's political leadership. [more at LA Daily News]

RECALL FOLLIES/From National Review
California or Bust(amente). Nancy Pelosi gets sly. Killer ants (I mean, ant killers). And more
[Jay Nordlinger] 7/25/03 | A brief word about this California recall: Needless to say, I'm all for Republican governorships — and for the harassment of Democratic ones — but a recall doesn't sit quite well, does it? No matter what the law allows. Recalls for serious offenses, yes (à la Clinton) — but recalls for being a poor governor, causing popular disgruntlement? We just had an election in California. And if the good people of the Golden State were dumb enough to pass over Bill Simon Jr. for Gray Davis — why, they ought to suffer with him. | If the main race, in the second election, were between Davis and Simon, and Simon won, would you feel just a little uneasy? I direct this question at partisan Republicans (my fellow partisan Republicans, I should have said). I mean, what is this, a do-over? A mulligan? [more at National Review]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Sacramento Bee
Bustamante Embraces -- Then Shuns -- A Bold Grab For Power
[Dan Walters] 7/25/03 | It started with an e-mail message last week to this column from a reader, asking whether strict interpretation of the state constitution would automatically make Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante the governor should Gov. Gray Davis be recalled. | "I am mystified by the governor recall election talk," the reader wrote. "If I understand the California Constitution, if Gray Davis resigns, dies in office, goes into a coma or is impeached and removed, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante will become governor for the remainder of the term. So why not the same outcome if Gray Davis is recalled?" [more at Sacramento Bee]

MISEDUCATION/From Sacramento Bee
Courage Of Convictions
Feinstein voucher stand a worthy departure
[the Editors] 7/25/03 | California Democrats, as a rule, have never been known for their support of school vouchers. Thus U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein made a splash Tuesday when, in an Op-Ed piece printed in the Washington Post, she announced her support for a longtime effort to start a voucher program for the poorest students in the Washington, D.C., public schools. [more at Sacramento Bee]

Trashing The Army At The Movies
[Brent Bozell] 7/25/03 | In the same week that Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch returned home to waving flags and ovations of love, Hollywood is sending out very different pictures. It's portraying the U.S. soldier as a crook and drug-dealing scumbag. The Miramax movie "Buffalo Soldiers" begins its run in New York and Los Angeles just three days after Lynch's return home.
Miramax, otherwise often known as the dark side of the Disney empire, signed up to distribute the film on, whoops -- Sept. 10, 2001 -- not too good a time to trash the U.S. military. But with the pundits blasting away at the supposedly bleak picture in Iraq, they finally decided to take their plunge into the dumpster. [more at Town Hall]

President Bush's Secret Service Buffoons
[Michelle Malkin] 7/25/03 | Shame on the Secret Service. This week, it investigated renowned editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez like he was some left-wing homeless crackpot who had sent President Bush an anthrax-laced death threat -- all because Ramirez drew a provocative cartoon that was clearly intended to defend the president. | Meanwhile, the Secret Service can't even keep a loony-tunes stowaway from conning his way onto a White House press charter plane in Africa or prevent a known wacko named the "Handshake Man" from slipping past security and personally delivering an unscreened letter to Bush at a public event in Washington, D.C. | Ramirez is the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Mencken Award-toting artist who is one of the few openly and avowedly pro-Bush conservatives in his line of work. Last Sunday, his home newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, published one of Ramirez's boldly sketched cartoons. | In it, a man points a gun at a caricature of President Bush. The assailant has "politics" written across his back, and there's a sign on the street scene in the back reading "Iraq." The cartoon is a takeoff of a famous 1968 photograph from the Vietnam War showing a Vietnamese police officer shooting a man he said was a Viet Cong in the right temple on a Saigon street. | As Ramirez patiently explained it to a Times reporter, the cartoon is a defense of Bush -- not an invitation to assassination. He was trying to show that Bush is being undermined by leftist anti-war goons who say the president overstated the threat posed by Iraq. "President Bush is the target, metaphorically speaking, of a political assassination because of 16 words that he uttered in the State of the Union," Ramirez told the Times. "The image, from the Vietnam era, is a very disturbing image. The political attack on the president, based strictly on sheer political motivations, also is very disturbing." [more at Town Hall]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Sacramento Bee
Recall Election Is All Set -- But Nothing Else Is
[Daniel Weintraub] 7/24/03 | When Secretary of State Kevin Shelley certified late Wednesday the recall petitions filed against Gov. Gray Davis, he clarified the most important question surrounding the attempt to drive Davis from office: There will be an election. | But Shelley's announcement that more than 1.3 million valid signatures had been collected by recall supporters left unanswered many more questions about an election that promises to be historic and perhaps chaotic.| Given confusing constitutional provisions, poorly drafted statutes, warring partisan lawyers and the lack of precedent for a statewide recall, Californians can be forgiven if they are befuddled over exactly what is about to transpire. | Consider Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante. On Tuesday he was making noises about mounting a bloodless coup, in which he would set a date for the election but prevent voters from choosing a replacement for Davis should they decide to recall the governor. The removal of Davis would then create a vacancy to be filled, conveniently, by Bustamante. [more at Sacramento Bee]

Bustamante Elbows Into The Recall
[Debra J. Saunders] 7/24/03 | The national media swarmed into town Wednesday to see when -- not if -- Secretary of State Kevin Shelley would certify a recall election of Gov. Gray Davis for the ballot. | But Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante was the talk of the town after spokeswoman Deborah Pacyna told the Sacramento Bee, "Article 5, Sect. 10 of the (California) Constitution states the lieutenant governor becomes governor in the event of a vacancy." | Translation: Voters can kick Davis out, but they can't choose who replaces him. | So after Dems complained bitterly that the recall was a GOP attempt to overturn an election, a top Dem was willing to deny voters an election. | Like other tops Dems, Bustamante has pledged not to run in the recall. So Bustamante is willing to replace Davis as governor -- but only if he isn't elected. [more at SF Chronicle]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Claremont Institute
Recall California!
Land of the Progressives' bad ideas
[Glenn Ellmers] 7/24/03 | California, it appears, is on the verge of staging its first ever recall vote on a sitting governor. If the requisite nearly 900,000 signatures are gathered, as now seems imminent, and the recall petitions qualify in July, a special election will be held in the fall. Voters will decide whether Democratic governor Gray Davis should pack his bags and if so who should replace him. | People's reasons for wanting Davis out are as varied as the Golden State itself. Republicans—but also many Democrats—dislike Davis's anti-business agenda, including an onerous family-leave law, a worker's compensation system that bankrupts some small businesses, and one of the highest sales tax rates in the country. But the casus belli is Davis's squandering of the $8 billion budget surplus he inherited and his racking up in its place a $38 billion deficit. During last year's gubernatorial campaign, Republican nominee Bill Simon warned that the state was likely facing a $20 billion deficit. Davis's aides and the media scoffed, even though Davis had demonstrated his profligacy in his first term. State senator Tom McClintock—who lost the race for controller by a whisker—points out that California's spending has grown much faster than warranted by either population growth or inflation. | The backers of the recall hope the voters will replace Davis before he can do more damage. This could be an opportunity for a tough-minded conservative. California has the line-item veto. A Republican like Simon or McClintock who used it vigorously to restore the state's fiscal health could find himself in the national spotlight. [more at Claremont Institute]

Small But Choice Cuts In State Budget

[the Editors] 7/24/03 | Despite the massive budget deficit of up to $38 billion hanging over the state, the state Legislature and Gov. Gray Davis have increased spending. As the Register reported yesterday in a news story based on an analysis by Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill, "The state spent $77.7 billion last year out of its general fund. This year, the most recent budget proposal from the Senate calls for $80.2 billion in spending" - a 3.2 percent increase.| Keep that in mind when Gov. Davis and his fellow Democrats say they have "cut" the budget to the bone. | Still, the budget crisis is forcing some examination of waste in the California state government. Here are some examples: [more at OC Register]

Feinstein's School Choice
[the Editors] 7/24/03 | Breaking ranks with her party, Sen. Dianne Feinstein has come out in support of a federal program that would advance school vouchers in Washington, D.C. | "I have never before supported a voucher program," she wrote Tuesday in the Washington Post. "For 30 years, I have advocated strongly for our public schools, because I believe that they are the cornerstone of our education system. But as a former mayor, I also believe that local leaders should have the opportunity to experiment with programs that they believe are right for their area." [more at OC Register]

WEST BANK OF THE SEINE/ From American Spectator
The Noose Tightens   
[David Ross] 7/24/03 | San Diego County, already the most environmentally "terrorized" county in the United States, has just found itself the target of a "Green" initiative that would take all land use decisions out of the hands of elected officials and local government and put them into the ballot box. | As noted earlier, San Diego County's land-owners have been in a regulatory strait-jacket for over a decade because the region has far more endangered species than any other county and in fact more than many states. | This factor, more than any other, has led the County of San Diego to undertake a radical rezoning of vast tracts of farm and grazing land, as well as of potential home sites outside of incorporated areas not affected by these plans. | The County is in the midst of a divisive, controversial general plan update that Gary Piro, a former planning commissioner, and one of the most influential land planners in the area, has described as "the single largest shift of wealth in the history of our region."
[more at American Spectator]

All in the Family
[Michael Reagan] 7/24/03 | CBS is planning to produce a mini-series on my father, Ronald Reagan for release in November. I haven’t seen the script, which I understand has been leaked around Hollywood and is anything but friendly to my dad. | Nobody from CBS has talked to me or any other member of my family which leads me to believe that whatever the series has to say about the Reagans will be from hearsay, and not from family members. | The problem with being a member of my family was best expressed by my mother, Jane Wyman. She said that the problem for us is that when we have an argument in our family, as all families do, it’s like having it inside a bass drum, everybody hears about it. [more at Front Page]

Excerpts from a Progressive Chat...
The Progressive Caucus of the state Assembly had a little meeting where they forgot to turn off their squawk box and for about an hour, reporters and other legislators were treated to how the Progressive mind thinks: Here.

THE SQUAWK BOX/ From OC Register
What Were They Thinking?
[the Editors] 7/23/03 | Talk about embarrassing moments. Eleven of the state Assembly's most liberal members talked for 90 minutes Monday about how to manipulate and prolong the state's budget crisis for partisan gain in what they believed to be a closed-door session. | But, according to published reports, they left the microphone on that transmitted the entire conversation to 500 squawk boxes located throughout the Capitol. Republicans had a field day listening to these behind-the-scenes machinations until a staffer for Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg alerted her to the situation. | She let loose with a string of obscenities. | Just another loony day in California's loony Legislature. The incident is funny, but it also is revealing. Democrats have tried to portray Republicans as obstructionists for refusing to go along with a budget plan that would raise taxes on Californians. It's been a rallying cry for Democrats who believe that their poor stewardship of the state budget should be fixed on the backs of the state's taxpayers. [more at OC Register]

Indecent Exposure
California's Legislature never seems to run out of inventive new ways to look bad in the eyes of voters.
[the Editors] 7/23/03 | Democrats, it appears, will soon bow to anti-tax Republicans and pass a state budget that avoids tax increases by making deeper cuts and pushing debt over to future years. That gloomy prospect is what prompted 11 liberal Assembly Democrats to discuss Monday whether to try to kill or delay the deal and precipitate a real budget crisis. The idea was to show people what great pain would ensue and heap blame on the GOP. A terrible idea, known to one and all because an open microphone allowed the huddle to be broadcast all over the Capitol. A longer budget delay, they said, might also help a Democratic-backed ballot initiative that would allow a budget to be passed by 55% of the Legislature instead of the current two-thirds. [more at LA Times]

Will Shelley Just Do His Job?

Today could be historic - if secretary of state certifies recall and ends stalling
[Shawn Steel] 7/23/03 | Years of unchallenged political control of state government have imbued California Democrats with eerie similarities to banana republic caudillos. I'm not accusing them of political persecution and heavy-handed oppression (although I suspect that more than a few liberal legislators would, if they could, make smoking while driving an SUV a C-class felony). I'm referring to their corrupt mismanagement of government and ruthless, cynical manipulation of the levers of power to frustrate and derail political opponents. | Since 1998, they have driven jobs and business out of state with ruinous taxes and regulations, raided the public treasury to reward their supporters (i.e., public employee unions), caused rolling blackouts via simultaneously inept and demagogic mismanagement of the electricity system, and put government policy up for sale to fat-cat special interests - all the while blaming their woes on a conspiracy between greedy corporations and the Bush administration. | Pretty much the way things are done in your garden-variety Third World socialist dictatorship. [more at OC Register]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Claremont Institute
Recall California!
Land of the Progressives' bad ideas
[Glenn Ellmers] 7/23/03 | California, it appears, is on the verge of staging its first ever recall vote on a sitting governor. If the requisite nearly 900,000 signatures are gathered, as now seems imminent, and the recall petitions qualify in July, a special election will be held in the fall. Voters will decide whether Democratic governor Gray Davis should pack his bags and if so who should replace him. | People's reasons for wanting Davis out are as varied as the Golden State itself. Republicans—but also many Democrats—dislike Davis's anti-business agenda, including an onerous family-leave law, a worker's compensation system that bankrupts some small businesses, and one of the highest sales tax rates in the country. But the casus belli is Davis's squandering of the $8 billion budget surplus he inherited and his racking up in its place a $38 billion deficit. During last year's gubernatorial campaign, Republican nominee Bill Simon warned that the state was likely facing a $20 billion deficit. Davis's aides and the media scoffed, even though Davis had demonstrated his profligacy in his first term. State senator Tom McClintock—who lost the race for controller by a whisker—points out that California's spending has grown much faster than warranted by either population growth or inflation. | The backers of the recall hope the voters will replace Davis before he can do more damage. This could be an opportunity for a tough-minded conservative. California has the line-item veto. A Republican like Simon or McClintock who used it vigorously to restore the state's fiscal health could find himself in the national spotlight. [more at Claremont Institute]

Recall Moves Forward

Obstruction has failed; let the debate begin
[the Editors] 7/23/03 | A week ago, the prospect of a fall recall vote for Gov. Gray Davis could be described as shaky at best. | Now a fall vote seems all but certain, with Secretary of State Kevin Shelley likely to certify the petition in a matter of days. | What a difference a couple of court decisions make! | Back then, Shelley had told the state's counties that they could take their sweet time counting petition signatures.| Meanwhile, recall opponents angled to tie up the process in courts. | But all that changed Friday. | The Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento ruled that Shelley did not properly apply the law when he told counties they could take an extra 30 days to certify petitions. And a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge refused to grant the injunction that recall opponents had sought to derail verification indefinitely. | In both cases, Davis loyalists were trying to delay the process so as to move a recall vote from the fall until next March, when, because of turnout for the Democratic presidential primary, Davis would be more likely to survive. | In both cases, the courts rightly decided that the California Constitution can't be ignored just because political interests want it that way. Whether Davis deserves to be recalled is an open question; that his opponents deserve fair and equal access to their government is not.
[more at LA Daily News]

FABULOUS BUDGET/ From Sacramento Bee
Summer Heat Wave Inside Capitol Making Denizens A Bit Testy
[Dan Walters] 7/23/03 | A sultry summer heat wave has enveloped the California Capitol, the sort of weather that makes folks a little testy. And that's inside the building. | A political showdown on the state's worst-ever budget crisis is drawing near. As early as next week, the state Senate may take up a compromise, no-new-taxes budget that, if enacted, would be a tactical victory for the Legislature's minority Republicans and a big setback for its majority Democrats. | State election officials, meanwhile, were preparing to to declare that enough voters' signatures have been obtained to force Gray Davis, the most unpopular governor in recorded California history, to face a recall election, possibly as soon as late September. | The budget crisis and the looming recall have created an atmosphere of anticipatory anxiety among political types who hate uncertainty and wish that they were taking their customary summer vacation break. No one knows what's going to happen on either front, but there's a growing sense within the Capitol that whatever happens, it could affect political careers and interest groups' legislative agendas for years to come. [more at Sacramento Bee]

FABULOUS BUDGET/ From Sacramento Bee
A Promise To Keep
Governor should support Steinberg's plan
[the Editors] 7/23/03 | Back in January, Gov. Gray Davis promised that he would not sign a budget this year without true reform to the deeply flawed ways in which California finances its government. | Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, has given the governor that chance. Davis should seize it. | Steinberg has proposed that cities and counties give up a half-cent of the sales tax they now collect in return for receiving a greater share of the property tax. The goal of the tax swap is to reduce local government's dependence on the sales tax. [more at Sacramento Bee]

MISEDUCATION/From American Spectator
Soak the Middle Class   
[George Neumayr] 7/23/03 | The egalitarian dreams of the University of California grow increasingly elaborate and absurd. In its quest to engineer "equality," it is busy creating new inequities. Last year the UC regents asked Californians to subsidize the tuition rates of illegal aliens. "Fairness" required that they pay the in-state rate, though this meant illegal aliens would get to pay roughly $10,000 less than out-of-state Americans. This year the UC regents are batting around another lunatic scheme, this one to charge students from so-called wealthy families a "surcharge," reports the Washington Times. The proposal could amount to a $3,000 tax on students deemed rich. | "Given the ridiculous nature of the budget situation and the limited options the university has, I think it is wise to pursue the idea," Regent Matt Murray, a student who ludicrously sits on the board, told the Times. "The goal is to make sure the university is accessible to all kinds of students of all kinds of backgrounds." | The plan isn't even a soak-the-rich scheme. It is more like a soak-the-middle-class one. The surcharge would hit any student from a family earning more than $90,000. "It is expected to affect 58,194 of the university's 160,000 undergraduate students," reports the Times. | The UC system was once known for good higher education at cheap rates. Now it is cheap education at higher and higher rates. [more at American Spectator]

Recalling Gov. Bustamante
[the Editors] 7/22/03 | The effort to recall Gov. Gray Davis keeps barreling along. Certification of the recall by Secretary of State Kevin Shelley could come as soon as Wednesday. | Three major developments have occurred in recent days: First, the recall signatures still are being challenged in court by Taxpayers Against the Governor's Recall, the high-taxing governor's committee. Last Friday, a Los Angeles Superior Court denied the committee's request for a restraining order to halt the election. Yesterday, the committee appealed to the 2nd District Court of Appeal. | If the certification proceeds, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante will call the election within 60 to 80 days. The election could some as early as Sept. 30. | It's unlikely any court will halt the will of the people for long, so we should prepare to ride the wild surf of California's first-ever recall vote on a governor. | Second, Gov. Davis finally is showing leadership. Too bad it isn't as governor, but on the campaign trail, where he always has been a master. [more at OC Register]

Fall Recall Appears To Be Certain
Circus of scenarios hits a critical point
[Robert Salladay, Carla Marinucci] 7/22/03 | The recall campaign against Gov. Gray Davis is producing a dizzying carnival of legal and political scenarios that will reach a critical point this week as a special election on whether to oust the Democratic governor appears certain to be declared for this fall. | Democrats face the difficult task of holding rogue members of their own party from running on a recall ballot. At the same time, third-party candidates, independents and Republicans could be forced to make rapid-fire decisions this week on leaping into a quick and inevitably nasty campaign. | Under a quirk in California election law, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante could give these replacement candidates only a few days, perhaps just 24 hours, to file their paperwork for governor. Recall supporters warned Davis challengers Monday to be prepared to move quickly or be left flat-footed. [more at SF Chronicle]

Inside The Numbers: California
[Matt Towery] 7/22/03 | If ever there were an example of how quickly political fortunes can change, it's that of beleaguered California Gov. Gray Davis. The most recent polling numbers suggest a majority of the Golden State's residents want him out of office in a recall election. But for that to happen, Republicans may have to turn to a true "Terminator" as the state's alternate choice. | Davis, whose haughty demeanor and slick style have finally caught up with him, appears to be the poster boy for politicians who care only about one thing -- themselves. Prior to his re-election last year, Davis looked to posturing for a future run for the White House. He even spoke once in front of a blue oval sign designed to resemble the one that hangs in the White House pressroom. Subliminal, but silly. | Well, that version of California dreaming is out the window. Today, with an approval rating in the 20 percentiles, Davis faces an out-of-control state budget even as he claims he had prior knowledge of the state's huge deficits that he didn't disclose. | The recall petition, launched by Bay Area Congressman Darrell Issa, likely will be certified by the California secretary of state this week. This despite endless lawsuits and challenges by Davis allies. Conservatives outside California might wonder how a Democratic incumbent governor in a left-leaning state could be sinking so fast. At least in part the answer is a massive defection of moderate Democrats away from Davis. As two traditional Democratic voters -- a successful Oakland businesswoman and her husband -- put it, "We're just tired of him putting politics ahead of dealing with the problems." Surprisingly, both said, "We don't vote Republican, but if Arnold Schwarzenegger runs, we're for him all the way." [more at Town Hall]

FABULOUS BUDGET/ From Sacramento Bee
California Doesn't Need Nevada-Style Court Ruling

[Daniel Weintraub] 7/22/03 | Three of California's top Democratic officeholders are poised this week to ask the Supreme Court to set aside the constitutional provisions requiring a two-thirds majority for the Legislature to pass a budget and raise taxes. The Democrats seem to see the maneuver as a simple, common-sense legal request that will rise or fall on its merits. I see it as undermining the rule of law. | State schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell was the first to jump on the idea, inspired by a Supreme Court ruling next door in Nevada. The Carson City court described the Silver State's two-thirds requirement for tax increases as a mere "procedural" impediment and ordered the Legislature to ignore it while fulfilling another constitutional imperative, funding the schools. | Gov. Gray Davis says he thinks O'Connell is on to something and says he will join him if Republicans in the Legislature fail to support a budget by early this week. Treasurer Phil Angelides, meanwhile, says he will ask his lawyers to file a brief supporting O'Connell's petition. | The crazy thing is that California doesn't even need such a ruling to take care of its schools. Our constitution already allows the Legislature to pass the education budget by simple majority vote through two different avenues, including the declaration of an emergency by the governor. The reason the Democrats haven't done this is that passing the school budget by itself would leave the Legislature fighting over programs such as health and welfare assistance to the poor, which the public cares less about than the schools. The Democrats are holding the schools hostage, in other words, as leverage to get what they want on other matters. [more at Sacramento Bee]

FABULOUS BUDGET/ From Sacramento Bee
Supermajority Votes Undemocratic?

It depends on the issue
[Dan Walters] 7/22/03 | A coalition of political interest groups, led by public employee unions, is promoting a ballot measure that would, if enacted by voters, abolish the two-thirds vote for state budgets and the taxes to finance them, effectively eliminating the power of minority Republicans to affect state spending decisions. | The measure would lower the threshold from two-thirds to 55 percent. With the Democratic margins in both legislative houses frozen above that percentage, Democrats would be free to do whatever they wished on spending and tax matters. | It is, proponents of the change argue, inherently undemocratic to allow a legislative minority to dictate fiscal policy for the state, noting that California is one of just a handful of states requiring supermajority votes on budgetary matters. | The argument may be valid, but it is more than a bit ironic that the same political interests that want to eliminate supermajority votes on budgets in California are very supportive of the Democratic filibusters on President Bush's judicial appointments in the U.S. Senate. It takes a supermajority vote of 60 senators to break a filibuster (ending otherwise unlimited debate), so on highly controversial matters of any kind, 60 votes become the threshold in the Senate. | What's undemocratic in Sacramento, those on the political left seem to be saying, is quite appropriate in Washington. And with a vote in the state Assembly on Monday, they seem to be saying that undemocratic supermajority vote requirements should become a legal mandate in local government, at least when it pertains to police and fire labor contracts. [more at Sacramento Bee]

Will 'Radical Centrist' Ascend In S.F.?
Supervisor who objects to panhandler blight looks likely to be next mayor
[Doug Gamble] 7/22/03 | Visitors to San Francisco who have had their enjoyment of the city's charms ruined by aggressive panhandling will be heartened to know the next mayor could be the first in the city's history to tackle the blight in a meaningful way. A plan authored by Supervisor Gavin Newsom - a son and grandson of San Francisco politicians and front-runner in this year's mayoralty race - makes so much sense and could prove so beneficial that left-wingers are, of course, doing all they can to stop it. | Named "Care Not Cash," Newsom's initiative would cut city welfare payments to the homeless from as much as $410 a month to $59, but provide food, shelter and other essential services paid for with the estimated $13.9 million a year savings in welfare cash handouts. Most local governments in California have scrapped direct cash payments to the homeless, but San Francisco's is the most generous, attracting down-and-outers who often use the money for booze and drugs rather than shelter and food. | Newsom's vision made it onto the ballot as a proposition in last November's elections and was approved by 60 percent of the voters fed up with the repugnance and harassment associated with people living outdoors. But horrified, so-called homeless advocates challenged the election results in court in an effort to maintain the liberal status quo, and a judge threw out key components of "Care Not Cash" in May, ruling that only supervisors can set welfare policy. [more at OC Register]

DC-CA/From SF Chronicle
Outspoken Stark No Stranger To Bombast
At 71, no plans to retire despite rumblings
[Mark Simon] 7/22/03 | Since he burst onto the Bay Area political scene more than 30 years ago as a wealthy banker with surprisingly liberal, anti-war opinions, Rep. Pete Stark has made a habit of ruffling the carefully arranged feathers of congressional colleagues. | But while the Fremont Democrat's bipartisan tongue-lashings occasionally have attracted national attention -- such as last Friday when he called a Republican congressman a "fruitcake" and invited him to step outside -- he has been re-elected overwhelmingly every two years since 1972. In the past three elections, he has received more than 70 percent of the vote in his district, which stretches from Alameda south to Fremont. | Still, as Stark approaches his 72nd birthday and his 17th term in Congress, there are rumblings that it might be time for the veteran congressman to retire. [more at SF Chronicle]

How To Change Capitol's Culture
[the Editors] 7/22/03 | Abuse of democracy is a daily scandal that is hidden in plain sight in Sacramento.
The practices that seem so outrageous to outsiders -- the nonvoting, the after-the-fact switched votes, the scheduling of fund-raisers to coincide with deadlines on legislation -- hardly raise an eyebrow within the Capitol. It's just the way business is conducted in the California Legislature. | But tactics to avoid accountability are becoming disturbingly commonplace in Sacramento, as detailed on Monday's editorial page. More and more major bills, especially on consumer issues, are failing because legislators simply fail to vote. It's a way for politicians to play both sides of an issue: They can help kill a bill, often pleasing a campaign contributor, without having to answer for a "no" vote. | There is only one way to change the culture in the Capitol -- change the rules. [more at SF Chronicle]

HOLLYWOOD RIGHT/From Weekly Standard
Miller's Crossing . . .
. . . to the right side of the political street.
[Eric Pfeiffer] 7/22/03 | Dennis Miller insists he's not an across-the-board conservative, which may technically be true. Still, there's no doubt America's most sophisticated and most political comedian has been coming out of the conservative closet in a very big way. He hung out with President Bush and campaigned for him earlier this month on a weekend fundraising trip through California. And, on late night talk shows, Miller has applauded President Bush's leadership and cheered the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Moreover, Miller has lately been pounding the Democratic leadership, the abortion lobby, the French, and big-time lefties like Norman Mailer and Michael Moore. And recently Miller took the final, defining step to becoming a big-time public conservative, by signing up for a regular gig at Fox. | In his first return to weekly television since ending his Emmy award-winning HBO series "Dennis Miller Live" last year, Miller has agreed to provide commentary Friday nights on the "Hannity & Colmes" show. In a recent phone interview from Los Angeles, Miller told me why he got back into television. "There are things that irk me," he said. "I wanted to have a place where I could express my opinions." | The day after his inaugural Fox commentary, Miller traveled with President Bush aboard Air Force One on their way to a reelection fundraiser. "He's a fine man and I'm proud he's my president. I enjoyed spending the day with him." And Miller left little doubt that he'd make time for the president over the next 16 months: "I'd love to. I want this man to be president again. It's a dangerous world, and I can't have guys who are soft on that fact. There are no 'al Kindas.'" [more at Weekly Standard]

CLASHING CULTURE/ From National Review
A Switch for Rock

Switchfoot asks some big questions.
[Mark Joseph] 7/22/03 | Columbia Records' most recent signing — San Diego, California-based rockers Switchfoot — recently made their major-label debut with The Beautiful Letdown, a record far more troubling than anything that Eminem, Missy Elliott, or Insane Clown Posse could possibly offer up. For while these artists are busy regaling pop culture with silly little songs about drug-taking, meaningless sex, and spouse-murder, Switchfoot has filled an entire record with profoundly disturbing and troubling questions. | With a sound that mixes pop with the hard-rock stylings of King's X, with shades of Depeche Mode and The Police, Switchfoot relentlessly challenges nearly everything that suburban America treasures. The American dream has survived the assaults of Eminem, Korn, and Marilyn Manson — but can it survive Switchfoot? | "Maybe we've been living with our eyes half open, maybe we're bent and broken," the band's sonic assault begins. "We were meant to live for so much more, have we lost ourselves?" | Signed to the independent label Re:think in 1997, Switchfoot's first album The Legend of Chin went largely unheard in mainstream rock circles, but the band enjoyed a resurgence of sorts when the producers of the 2002 hit movie A Walk To Remember used several of the band's songs in their soundtrack. | Rock's potential to inspire social change and personal transformation is quietly being recognized by a most unlikely cast of characters — serious Christians who are marching into mainstream rock and making innovative and sometimes disturbing music that seems miles away from the comfortable, safe, and nice American brand of Christianity that inspired pundit Franky Schaeffer to refer to its adherents as "Evan-jellyfish." [more at National Review]

"Kill the President" Prof Won't Be Fired
[Robert Digitale] 7/22/03 | Saying he was "ashamed and embarrassed," Santa Rosa Junior College President Robert Agrella Wednesday called an instructor's "kill the president" class assignment ridiculous but said the teacher cannot be dismissed for it. | Without naming him, Agrella in a prepared statement said that part-time political science instructor Michael Ballou had shown "unprofessional behavior" by jeopardizing students and using "the classroom lectern as a bully pulpit to espouse personal political leanings." | Ballou, an instructor at the college since 1990, had assigned summer session students to compose an e-mail message using the words "kill the president." The assignment drew attention after a student actually sent the message to Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, which resulted in a visit to the college instructor last week by Secret Service agents. Another student told his parents, who called the FBI. [more at Front Page]

RECALL FOLLIES/From American Spectator
Comeback Kuddos
[The Prowler] 7/21/03 | You'd think that with a fairly weak -- and clearly divided -- state Republican Party as his main adversary, California Gov. Gray Davis wouldn't yet be in panic mode. But apparently something is triggering his fear factor. | State Democratic Party staffers say Davis has spoken to former President Bill Clinton, and that the two will appear together in a series of appearances within the next month or so in southern and northern California. "Probably a couple in L.A., and something in San Francisco and Sacramento," says a party staffer. "Inasmuch as Clinton is an identifiable national leader, it can't hurt Davis any more than he's already hurt himself. | Clinton, though, is not the most popular politician in the state, as he might have been five or six years ago. While statewide polls have fluctuated over the past year, many have shown on occasion that President Bush would have a shot at actually winning the state's popular vote at any given time. This is a marked change from the Clinton-Gore era, when Republicans were growing as extinct as the California golden condor. | Apparently, though, Clinton can still bring in some cash with his appearances, and lack of fundraising prowess appears to be a Davis concern. While he can still generate funds, there is concern among his advisors that as the recall vote draws near, wishy-washy Hollywood types won't pay out to Davis the way they used to. | Clinton's appearance may also be the result of an attempt by Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe to take some semblance of a leadership position in the recall imbroglio. McAuliffe, who is mounting a huge anti-Bush media campaign, has been criticized by other DNC types for not paying attention to the nitty-gritty political needs of the party around the country. [more at American Spectator]

Capitol Road Paved With No Intentions?

Dems loyal enough to Davis to let state go?
[Chris Weinkopf] 7/21/03 | There's a popular myth, duly repeated in most news accounts, about the effort to recall California Gov. Gray Davis: The state's most prominent Democrats have "ruled themselves out" as potential gubernatorial replacements should the effort succeed. | That's not what the politicians themselves say. | While elected Democrats are all on record as opposing recall, they've been more circumspect about their ambitions. Politicians are a self-seeking group; few, if any, would pass up the opportunity to become governor just so Davis can hang on to the job. | True to form, the state's top Democrats are keeping their options open. Just look at their no-run statements -- and note the rampant use of that favorite political weasel word, "intend." | Attorney General Bill Lockyer says, "I do not intend to submit my name as a candidate." | "I intend to remain a United States senator," swears Sen. Dianne Feinstein, "I do not intend to run for governor." | Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante shares the same intentions: "I do not intend to put my name on that ballot." | Ditto for Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi: "I have no intention of running should the recall qualify." | "I do not intend" must be the most carefully parsed phrasing since "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." It's a nondenial denial. The conveyed meaning -- I won't run for governor -- is undermined by the literal one, namely, I don't plan to run for governor. | Plans, of course, can change at a moment's notice. [more at LA Daily News]

State of Siege
[Howard Fineman and Karen Breslau] 7/21/03 | By the standards of normal politics, Ted Costa of Sacramento would be considered a loser, a Young Republican who never made it to The Show. | In 1980, Costa supported George H.W. Bush, only to see him steamrollered by Ronald Reagan in the race for the GOP nomination. In 1994 the state's Republican governor, Pete Wilson, urged Costa to run for Congress--and then supported his opponent in the primary. (Costa lost by 1,500 votes.) When George W. Bush became president, Costa wrote him a letter offering his services--and never got a reply. These days, at 62, Costa is a member of the San Juan Water District board of directors and runs a group called People's Advocate out of a shabby industrial park on the edge of town, far from the august capitol and the lushly manicured park that surrounds it. | But this is California, where nothing is normal anymore, and where Ted Costa is a kingmaker--or, rather, a king unmaker. Cranky but professional, a populist who consumes doughnuts and legal briefs, he runs the organization that put Proposition 13, a measure to limit property taxes, on the state ballot in 1978. It was a watershed event in the history of antigovernment revolt, and now Costa is striving to engineer another one. Last spring he launched a recall petition against California's Democratic governor, Gray Davis. Now it appears that the drive (funded in large measure by a multimillionaire Republican congressman) has succeeded. Davis could be ousted this fall in a special election and replaced by any number of characters, among them the Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Recall is a fire extinguisher," says Costa, "and we've got a fire." [more at Newsweek]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Sacramento Bee
Davis Again Needs Help From Liberals He Once Shunned
[Dan Walters] 7/21/03 | Gray Davis was a centrist triangulator during the first three years of his governorship, interposing himself as the decisive factor between business and professional groups and an increasingly liberal Legislature. | Davis collected millions of dollars in campaign funds from business executives and tilted their way on issues large and small, from modifying environmental regulations issued by state agencies to vetoing expensive worker benefit bills backed by labor unions and granting corporate tax breaks. | Liberals often fumed, but lacked leverage on Davis -- at least until his passive response to the state's energy crisis in 2001 sent his public approval ratings into a downward spiral. As Davis' popularity tanked, he knew that when he ran for re-election in 2002, he would need active support from the Democratic Party factions he had held at arm's length, such as labor unions, environmentalists, consumer advocates and gay rights activists. But that support, he found, carried a price: doing what he had been unwilling to do in the previous three years. [more at Sacramento Bee]

O'Connell's Assault On Taxpayers
[the Editors] 7/21/03 | In California under Gov. Gray Davis, apparently no attempt to raise taxes is going untried. | As we warned in an editorial last Thursday, California could go through the nightmare Nevada is experiencing in which its governor, Republican Kenny Guinn, sued to overturn his state's two-thirds requirement for the Legislature to pass a tax increase. The Nevada Supreme Court sided with him, but Republican legislators are suing in federal court to stop the tax increase. | Later that Thursday, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell announced he also would sue to overturn California's own two-thirds requirement to pass a budget. Lowering the threshold to pass a budget could mean that Republicans essentially would be powerless to stop Democrat-supported spending and tax increases. | As in Nevada, Mr. O'Connell's excuse is that the state Constitution also requires adequate education spending. | He is being backed by Gov. Davis and state Treasurer Phil Angelides. "As an elected official entrusted with overseeing the state educational system, I cannot stand by and remain silent," Mr. O'Connell said. "Without a budget this month, schools will miss a $629 million payment. This is money that is owed to the schools and money the schools need to run their daily operations." | But things are different in California, Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association, told us. | He quoted a clause in the California Constitution which reads that the two-thirds budget requirement applies to everything "except appropriations for the public schools." So, today the Legislature could pass the education portion of the budget - but not other spending or tax increases - with just a majority vote. [more at OC Register]

Constitutional Abuse

[the Editors] 7/21/03 | Top state Democrats want the courts to do their job for them
It's now the position of Gov. Gray Davis, Superintendent for Public Instruction Jack O'Connell and Treasurer Phil Angelides that the government of California can't govern. | If that's how they really feel, then they ought to resign. | And if not, then they ought to scrap O'Connell's outrageous plan, backed by Davis and Angelides, to ask the courts to suspend California's constitutional requirement of a two-thirds legislative majority for passing state budgets. | The three Democrats should remember that they have sworn to uphold the constitution, not subvert it. | Sure, doing away with the super-majority requirement might help Democrats pass the budget -- and tax hikes -- of their dreams, but that's precisely why the requirement exists at all, to protect a vulnerable public from greedy politicians. [more at LA Daily News]

FABULOUS BUDGET/ From SD Union Tribune
Recall Rampage
Move to unseat Davis stalls budget progress
[the Editors] 7/21/03 | It has been seven months since Gov. Gray Davis called a special session of the Legislature to resolve the state's $38 billion budget crisis. Nothing much of consequence has gotten done. So why should we take seriously his most recent challenge that legislative leaders focus their sole attention on that crisis beginning today? | Davis issued his challenge during a press conference last week, while assuring that his attention is solely on getting a deal done. But the governor's assurance rings hollow in light of the recall campaign that threatens to remove him from office. | The prospect of being the first California governor to be recalled is haunting enough for the most confident of individuals. Davis doesn't exude – let alone inspire – confidence. To the contrary, he is famously known as a fence-sitter; one who seldom makes a move without carefully calculating the political consequences. [more at SD Union Tribune]

Lost Legislators
Beyond the budget, they're AWOL on many major issues
[the Editors] 7/21/03 | The California Legislature keeps walking off the job.
It's not just the budget. Elected "representatives" in the Democrat- controlled Assembly, in particular, are almost making an art form out of avoiding tough issues. | The "outbreak of spinelessness" we described in a June 25, 2002 editorial has grown into an epidemic. Absurdly large numbers of Assembly members are simply not voting on issues of significance to Californians -- a practice known in the Capitol as "taking a walk" or "staying off" a bill. | Do you think regulation of energy is a matter of importance to a state that will be paying for decades for a 1996 deregulation scheme that resulted in blackouts and shameless price gouging? A bill to re-regulate electricity recently died in an Assembly committee when 11 of the 14 members failed to vote. | Do you care about all that e-mail spam in your in-box or those dinner-hour calls from telemarketers who have inside information about you from your bank? Bills designed to limit those annoying invasions were killed this year by rampant nonvoting in the Assembly. | Do you think it's fair for an insurance company to refuse to renew your homeowners policy without cause, or to jack up your premiums on the basis of your credit score? Legislation attempting to deal with each of those issues also sank from Assembly nonvoting. [more at SF Chronicle]

Pandora's Big-Box
[the Editors] 7/21/03 | A "living wage" for mega-stores could be financially disastrous for L.A.What's worse for the social and financial health of a city: Big-box stores or big-shot politicians? | Big-shot politicians, of course. | Big-box stores have been known to generate more traffic and drive small retailers out of business even as they create many new jobs and increase sales tax revenue for local government. | Big-shot politicians have been known to enact laws and impose taxes even as they produce nothing but blight and unemployment. | At least there's an upside to big-box stores. | Los Angeles is a city so over-taxed and over-regulated that it repels commerce. Major corporations have long been driven outside the city limits, and entrepreneurs know that if they want to open up shop, their best bet is to go to Burbank, Calabasas or any other of L.A.'s more business-friendly neighbors. | And if City Councilman Eric Garcetti gets his way, it's only going to get worse. [more at LA Daily News]

WEST BANK OF THE SEINE/ From National Review
Kobe Agonistes
And now, it's all theater.
[Jack Dunphy] 7/21/03 | Oh where, oh where to turn during these languid days of summer. The players in the Robert Blake, Scott Peterson, and Martha Stewart dramas, all the people who held us rapt through the cooler months, have faded from our awareness as they have from the front pages, shuffling as they are through all those seemingly interminable pre-trial delays. The pennant races have yet to heat up, the networks are in reruns, and God only knows when The Sopranos will return. There's scarcely reason even to look for the remote. | But suddenly, live, from Eagle, Colorado, it's The Kobe Bryant Show. | And what a ratings bonanza it will be, with its titillating elements of celebrity, illicit sex, and, even more alluring, the euphoric prospect of seeing the high and mighty brought low and desperate. Oh, how the fans love Kobe, but oh, how their living rooms will fall silent, how all those fans will lean in from the sofas, their handfuls of chips and pretzels halting between bag and mouth as The Star takes that long Walk of Shame from the curb to the courthouse door. [more at National Review]

RECALL FOLLIES/From Sacramento Bee
How Recall Works

And why Democrats' strategy is suicidal
[the Editors] 7/20/03 | Apparently, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee doesn't understand how recall elections work in California. | DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe made that clear last week when he pledged that no Democrat will offer herself (or, yes, himself) up as an alternative to Davis on the recall ballot. | "So if you're a California voter and you want to vote to recall Gray Davis, you are not going to have an option but a bunch of right-wing conservatives on the ballot," McAuliffe said. | McAuliffe and others who favor keeping Democrats off the ballot have got hold of the wrong end of this argument. It is not just voters who want to recall Davis who need an alternative. All voters do. To see why, consider the following scenario. | Let's say you're a voter (no matter what your party affiliation) who is opposed to the recall for whatever reason. Let's say, too, that on Election Day the polls show that the recall has a good chance of passing. So you go into the voting booth and vote against the recall with the knowledge that Davis may well be out as governor when the votes are counted. [more at Sacramento Bee]

Eliminating Choice

[the Editors] 7/20/03 | Gov. Gray Davis has spent his political career saying he favors "choice" on abortion. But he just signed into law SB 932, by Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Marina del Rey, that removes choice in the matter. | The new law eliminates the choice religious and other non-profit groups had of prohibiting abortions on property the groups lease or sell. If women have a right to control their own bodies, as Gov. Davis and other pro-choice politicians maintain, then why can't churches have the right to control their own property? | Specifically, the bill prohibits the state attorney general from appproving the sale or lease of a health facility owned by a nonprofit corporation to another orgranization if the seller "restricts the type or level of medical services that may be provided at the facility." Supporters of the bill have expressed concern about Catholic hospitals enforcing their anti-abortion standards when they sell or lease facilities. | This violates the First Amendment right to freedom of religious belief of churches that own property. If a church strongly opposes abortion, why should it be forced to lease its property to an abortion clinic? [more at OC Register]

MISEDUCATION/From Sacramento Bee
Why The Exit Exam Got Held Back Instead Of Failing Kids
[Daniel Weintraub] 7/20/03 | The California Board of Education's recent decision to delay the impact of the state's new high school exit exam was a disappointing but necessary tactical retreat that should ultimately advance the long-term goal of accountability in the public schools. | If the ed board hadn't backed off, the legal dogs would have sued the state on behalf of thousands of students in the class of 2004 who would have been denied diplomas after failing the test. Their argument: These kids never got a fair opportunity to learn the material on which they were tested. Unfortunately, they are probably right. | The standards upon which the test is based were adopted in the late 1990s and weren't implemented by many schools for a year or two after that. By then, most of next year's seniors were already well on their way to graduation. These students were denied a quality education. It would add insult to their educational injury to now also deny them a diploma. So we will give them their certificate, even if it lacks real value. [more at Sacramento Bee]

A Simple Tax Solution
[Joel Fox] 7/19/03 | A plan championed by a renowned California economist, Arthur Laffer, seems to accomplish the goals of making light the tax burden, growing the economy, and adequately funding government. Laffer proposed wiping out all taxes in California except two: "sin" taxes levied on products such as cigarettes and alcohol, and a flat tax. No income tax, sales tax, business tax or even property tax would exist. | A flat tax would be placed on income and a flat value-added-tax levied on business. The latter would work like this: Each product on the way to consumers has some value-added from raw material to finished product. | Each business along the way would be taxed on the product's increased value. | Creating a simple tax with few deductions streamlines bookkeeping and allows business to be more productive. Greater production means more money for the government treasury. | A flat tax on income would mean lower rates for most people. That would encourage big moneymakers to work harder and stay in California. Some call it the "Tiger Woods Effect" when big-time producers such as Woods move their prime residence to states that collect little or no income tax. Woods, a California native, set up residence in Florida after hitting the big time. He's not alone. Many high-paid Northern California executives move their prime residences to Nevada. | Laffer argued that "by having the largest possible tax base combined with the lowest possible tax rate, people are provided the least opportunity to avoid paying taxes and the lowest incentive to do so." He thought that a relatively low flat rate of 6 percent on income and business would bring in the same amount of revenue now produced by all California taxes. [more at SF Chronicle]

Left-Leaning Professors Overpopulate Campuses

[Joseph Perkins] 7/19/03 | Michael Ballou couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. All he did was assign his political science students at Santa Rosa Junior College to write an e-mail and at the bottom include the words: "kill the president, kill the president." | One of the professor's students sent his e-mail to the office of Napa Valley congressman Mike Thompson, which passed it on to the U.S. Capitol Police, which passed it on to the Secret Service. | The Secret Service paid Ballou a recent visit. He insisted that his e-mail assignment was misconstrued. | It wasn't that he was suggesting to his students that President Bush deserved to be killed, he claimed. He simply wanted his students to experience "the wave of fear and paranoia" many Americans have because of their government. | Although we cannot be sure of this professor's politics, the preponderance of concern about "fear and paranoia" in America today comes from the left. Today, our nation's college campuses are overpopulated with liberal professors. It simply does not occur to them that most Americans do not share their contempt for their country, their hatefulness toward the nation's commander in chief. [more at SD Union Tribune]

An Airport Solution That Might Really Fly
Developing Palmdale with a rail link to LAX is a 'win-win' plan.
[Sheldon C. Plotkin] 7/19/03 | Most major urban centers throughout the world have one giant international airport outside the city center connected to the region by good ground transportation. Where does Los Angeles come off thinking that because it is so spread out it can satisfactorily get away with regional airports indefinitely and simply expand Los Angeles International? | Mayor James Hahn is offering a $9-billion plan to renovate LAX to accommodate a projected doubling of demand over the next 20 years. What happens 20 years after that when a further increase in population and demand for airport facilities is projected? In fact, there is no long-term plan, and there are no area population predictions beyond 40 years. | Criticisms of the mayor's proposal have surfaced on the local and federal levels. Everyone agrees that LAX needs modernizing; they just can't agree on how. | One solution would be to pattern Los Angeles airport facilities after those of other urban centers. Obviously, there must be some innovative thinking to take into account the large area and lack of significant mass transit system here. | Establishment of an international airport in Palmdale on the 70,000 acres local politicians say they have already set aside for the purpose would be a start. [more at LA Times]

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: 7/12-7/18
[go to Front Page Archive Index]

And some
Lingering Observations

In the Ring With Barbara Boxer
A “Lightweight” Approach to Justifying Abortion Rights?
[Carol Platt Liebau] 7/14/03

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

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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