Cal Politic

A weblog dedicated to California politics. A thriving democracy depends on an informed body politic.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Power Rankings

Joe, from My Humble Opinion, in a recent comment string, posed the question:

Who are the prominent statewide Democrats?

Since this is Cal Politic, home to all things political in California, I offer up what should become a regular feature here, The California Democratic Power Rankings. This list will be updated as people move up and down the list of top 10 most powerful Democrats in the state based on their ability to influence the Democratic message, agenda, and policy. No federal officeholders will be included here (Sorry Nancy, Dianne, Barbara, Howard, and Henry).

California Democratic Power Rankings
1) John Burton (President Pro Tempore, State Senate)
2) Fabian Nunez (Speaker, State Assembly)
3) Phil Angelides (Treasurer)
4) Bill Lockyer (Attorney General)
5) Gavin Newsome (Mayor, San Francisco)
6) Jerry Brown (Mayor, Oakland)
7) Don Perata, Senate Majority Leader (Will Replace Burton as Senate Pro Tem)
8) Kevin Shelley (Secretary of State)
9) Steve Westley (Controller)
10) Jack O'Connell (Superintendent of Public Instruction)

Other Notables
* Cruz Bustamante, Lt. Governor (Recall disaster blew all political capital)
* John Garamendi, Insurance Commissioner
* Dario Frommer, Assembly Majority Leader (Top Lieutenant of Fabian Nunez)
* Gloria Romero, Senate Majority Caucus Chair
* Marco Firebaugh, Latino Caucus Chair
* Jackie Speier, Senator (maverick Democrat, darling of statewide media)
* Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Budget Chair
* Carole Migden, Board of Equalization Member (to replace John Burton in Senate)

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Now, just when were the good ol' days?

I gotta tell ya, the Right Wing never ceases to amaze me. They've claimed sole ownership of the American flag, the bible, anything moral, the words "trust", "honesty", and "forgiveness."

Just ask Ollie North, Pat Robertson, Richard Nixon, Rush Limbaugh and Jerry Falwell-just a few of the upstanding Reep stalwarts.

Now, if it wasn't bad enough, the Reeps can add another feather to their right wing, conservative, "moral" caps: sexism.

In an April 26 memo, conservative evangelist Pastor Ralph Drollinger told his Republican flock:

"It is one thing for a mother to work out of her home while her children are in school," wrote Drollinger. "It is quite another matter to have children in the home and live away in Sacramento for four days a week. Whereas the former could be in keeping with the spirit of Proverbs 31, the latter is sinful."

You say sinful? You know what's sinful? Asking hard-working women to stay at home (and pregnant) while their men go out and earn enough money to provide for them and their family. What's next, Pastor Drollinger? Do you want to take back the vote rightfully granted to women earlier this century? Do we penalize them for bringing home the bacon and frying it up in the pan and taking good care of their children and taking a big-ass hammer to the glass ceiling? At least in California, strong and proud Democratic women won't take it anymore. To prove that fact, Democratic legislators, including some men, recently donned aprons, a "scarlet" letter M for mother, and even addressed their colleagues barefoot, as in "..and pregnant", on the Senate floor.

But the Republicans have a plan of their own. Unfortunately, it does nothing to help all those women who are forced to work to support their families.

This small excerpt is from the California Budget Project:

The Governor proposes a broad restructuring of the state's welfare system that fails to address the most fundamental and vexing questions for policymakers: where are the jobs for unemployed workers and welfare recipients, and how can we insure a decent standard of living for all California workers? These questions are increasingly important as wage levels stagnate, the number of Californians living below the poverty threshold continues to rise, and the gap between the rich and poor widens.

Oh, yeah, Arnie. They should stay home and take care of the kids with even fewer coins to buy milk. Hell, why even educate them? Perhaps we can borrow some of those rags you wore in that awful "Conan" movie and treat them like more in line with the good Pastor's teachings--nothing but child bearers. Isn't the remake of "The Stepford Wives" coming out soon? Perhaps Ahnold can take Pastor Drollinger as his date and they can giggle the whole way through. Better get the popcorn ready.

Democrats have long realized that equity is a big fight for them in the 21st century. Why haven't the Republicans made a similar call for fairness? For equity? For simple humanity? And on that note, where was The Actor on this when conservative Drollinger offended Catholics at another of his "spiritual" prayer meetings, saying:

One of the primary false religions of the
world (which claims many followers in the California
Capitol) is Roman Catholicism... they are saved by meriting the graces needed for salvation.

Where was the voice of reason, or tolerance, at these Capitol-sponsored meetings? Why did The Actor simply suggest they move the meetings to another site? Where is the good Catholic now? And what about everybody's Democratic Darling, Maria "I-REALLY-am-a-Democrat and a Kennedy" Schwarzenegger? Absent, as usual, when it comes to causing any friction for her presidential hopeful hubby Ahnold.

Women everywhere should be outraged that a Republican-sponsored meeting suggests keeping them barefoot, pregnant, dependent and in their place. Hullo, Oprah. Listening to what your good friends are up to?

Who's next? Will we convince African-Americans that a life of servitude is really in their best interests? Will we ask the Chinese-Americans to go back and help rebuild America without any recognition? Will Mexican-Americans be relegated to the nation's farm fields because it benefits the country? The fact that the Reeps were involved and strangely silent on this issue is not surprising.

The fact that more Democrats didn't condemn it is...

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Actor is cutting a good investment to the applause of California Regents

Thousands of college students have traveled to the capitol, as have many good activists before them, to beg Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (GAS) to rethink heavy cuts and steep fee increases at our public universities and colleges. Their calls went unheard. Instead, GAS secretly met with top UC and CSU officials and worked out a deal comfy for the fatcat administrators, but largely ignored the very people they are supposed to represent--the students.

Accessibility to a college education for all qualified students has been a rock-solid promise in this state for the past 43 years. (Read the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education.) Suddenly, we break that promise with a so-called "compact" that relies on more special effects than all three Terminator movies combined. (Are you Sarah Connor? Your college eligibility has been terminated!)

In fact, the regents themselves acknowledged the weakness of previous compacts at this week's meeting in San Francisco saying previous governors (Wilson and Davis) left them in the lurch to the tune of $1.5 billion.

How is this budget any better?

All one has to do is read GAS' budget proposal to see how his behind-the-scenes team of right-wing special interest folks have cooked up a budget using all the tricks, gimmicks and smoke n' mirror tactics republicans repeatedly whined about last year.

Where are those hypocrites now? Now, when access to a California higher education is being ripped away from hard-working, deserving students? How do we explain to high school students that they should study hard, make the grades, stay out of trouble and in the end be rewarded with... a deferral?

The lucky students who get past this proposed 10 percent student enrollment cap face a new set of roadblocks: Will they be able to afford increased student fees? Can they get a Cal-Grant after GAS lights a match to incinerate funding?

We complain about outsourcing American jobs to foreign countries. Parents should be outraged Republicans are selling them out for seven pieces of silver. The GOP is recklessly allowing the outsourcing of our students, and our future, to other states.

GAS took the easy way out of a budget mess by cutting deals with men in suits rather than the people he vowed to represent.

The self-styled "peoples' governor" is betraying the trust of parents and students who believed the 43-year-old promise of the Master Plan for Higher Education.

The Governor's compact with higher education gets a thumbs-down.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Why is the Press Corps Drooling?

There's a few reasons.

1. Limited Access. Ahnald's handlers have given the press corps little time to treat him like the punching bag Gray Davis was. They are penned off, pushed asided, and their questions usually ignored. (See Sacramento News and Review article a few weeks back on this.) Anyone who dares ask Ahnald a tough question can forget about any possibilities of being a chosen one for a pool report or a future interview. Ahnald's press minions have the power -- and they know it.

2. The Capitol Press Corps isn't sure how to cover the guy. Is he a governor celebrity? Or is he a celebrity governor? Ahnald never gets into the thicket of policy, so they don't pepper him with questions about details. Can you imagine Ahnald explaining the details of workers comp? Nobody asked him too. Ahnald has such a low expectation threshold the press corps doesn't point out that he doesn't know squat. They only report his "blow up the boxes" lines because they're good sound bites. TV stations (many of whom have reporters who have never covered a guv before) are loving this -- they get their pretty pictures (somebody should PRA Ahnald's budgets for events) and quick bites.

3. Journalists with conflicts. Every political reporter in town knows that their reporting of Ahnald is going to be something that's on their resume forever. Do you think they'll put that at risk? Joe Matthews of the LA Times writes glowingly about Ahnald every chance he gets -- and in return, has gotten some great scoop for his book. Dan Weintraub holds up at least one Ahnald pom pom every day -- and then gets to appear on TV as an "independent" journalist. You write bad stuff about Ahnald, you don't get the access. And without the access, you get nothing but the photo opps.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The Governor Doesn't Walk On Water

Arnie's Budget Slammed By Independent Analyst

Despite his approval ratings hovering near 70% and Capitol Press Corps journalists drooling all over themselves as they wait to write another flattering story about the actor/governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger was taken to school today by nonpartisan super analyst Elizabeth Hill.

The LA Times has the story.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's revised $102.8-billion budget plan fails to take advantage of California's improving economy to cut the state's chronic deficit, according to a report issued Monday by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office.

Instead, the revised budget announced last week creates a persistent budget gap of more than $6 billion into future years, the report says.

So what did Arnold have to say about the nonpartisan analysis that he didn't make any tough decisions and instead is condeming the state to budget deficits as far as the eye can see?

"I'm worried about this year," he said. "People are talking about the out years. This year! This year is where the action is. This year. Then, after we have solved the problem this year, then we go to the next year and we solve the problems next year."

I don't know about you, but that sounds an awful lot like another infamous governor who compared tough policy decisions to a golf game... take it one shot at a time. That governor was ridiculed in the media and recalled soon thereafter. This governor so far is getting a pass.

Anyone with a brain in their heads knows that you can't cut your way out of a budget problem as big as California's. Even Texas Republicans are raising taxes this year.

But our action hero governor, who rode into office on a claim he would change politics as usual, is carrying out one of the oldest plays in the book. He is refusing to raise taxes in an election year.

Arnold's first budget has nothing to do with fixing California's fiscal problems and has everything to do with looking good for the cameras now (while he pushes all problems into the future) so that he can ride into the November election without having to make a tough decision after a full year in office. I'm disgusted, but not surprised.

Why do you think the press corps is letting Arnold get away with this?

COULD be interesting

Mr. Conner:
Looks like this could be a useful place to focus on Sacto. Just try an keep the focus off all those dip-shit campaign consultants and lobbyists. Who cares what they're up to.
> Smarty Jones

Monday, May 17, 2004

Welcome to Cal Politic

California is in political chaos.

The wild recall election of 2003 was a loud crescendo to a quarter century of California's serious experiments with the most psychedelic of all political drugs, direct democracy. The wild ride brought us signature driven ballot initiatives like Howard Jarvis' crusade against property tax (Prop 13), a formula locking in minimum education funding levels (Prop 98), and even a statewide ban on eating horsemeat (Prop 6).

But Direct democracy also left California with quite a hangover.

* We have an action hero as governor.

* Our state budget deficit is hovering near $15 billion, (and with our last action hero's budget proposal, it's not going away any time soon).

* The California Legislature has an public approval rating just north of cancer. This is despite the fact that legislative term limits (another spawn of direct democracy) have rooted out nearly all "career politicians".

How can we make sense out of this chaos? How can the state pull itself out of this mess? What are the big issues? What political strategy will carry the day? Why does the Governor wear television make-up when he's walking around the Capitol?

At Cal Politic, we will try and answer all of these questions and more. We will have multiple writers, with multiple insider perspectives on the state of politics in the Golden State. We encourage each and every reader of Cal Politic to use the comments to bring a little perspective from the outside world into Sacramento's smoke filled rooms.

Welcome to Cal Politic, California's first interactive political weblog. We hope you enjoy.