Archive for the ‘California Politics’ Category

Why Bully Boy Perez Should Concede to Betty Yee

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014


Editors Note: Two days after this article was posted, John Perez did the right thing, called off his recount and threw his support behind Betty Yee’s campaign for Controller.

Former Assembly Speaker John Perez is a bully. He was a bully as Speaker and he’s a bully now, weilding his financial advantage over State Board of Equalization member Betty Yee to use California’s screwed-up election law to cherry pick precincts in hopes of overcoming the 481 votes by which he took third place to his fellow Democrat in June’s election for Controller.

He’s giving “fat cat” a bad name.

When he announced he would be seeking a recount, he issued a statement about how important it is “to ensure that every vote is counted” and how he had made “the defense of voting rights a core part” of his career.

What a bunch of self-serving clap-trap. Perez isn’t interested in ensuring that every vote counts – he wants to manipulate the vote count in the precincts where he performed best in hope of overturning the tally and making the November runoff against Republican Ashley Swearengin, the mayor of Fresno.

Yee, as decent and intelligent person you can find in politics, has been remarkably restrained in her reaction, and in the meantime has picked up the endorsement of the California Democratic Party — along with some much-needed cash — and won the respect of myriad others who see her as the actual second-place finisher.

johnperezHow stupid does he think we are? Perez didn’t even show up for the CDP’s endorsement meeting. He’s so arrogant that he figures he can just throw his enormous weight around and power his way to victory, starting with his vote count in those great Democratic bastions that he selected – Kern and Imperial counties.

His supporters argue that he’s only doing what the law allows and that it’s every candidate’s duty to fight to win. Fine, but if you use a broken – and likely unconstitutional – law to selectively recount the vote where you think it’ll do you the most good, just don’t insult the voters by claiming it’s for some civic-minded cause.

As our friend Garry South, as ruthless a Democratic political consultant has you can find on the right side of decency, told Calbuzz:

“There’s no doubt the California law on recounts is completely screwed up and needs to be totally rewritten. But it’s another thing for a defeated candidate to try to take political advantage of the weaknesses of that law by covering it with high-sounding rhetoric about an obligation to make sure every vote is counted — but only in the counties and precincts where he won.”

And as Becky Curry and Jamie Beutler argued in the Sacramento Bee on Tuesday:

A recount threatens to undermine what most Democrats consider a core value of our party – putting the public interest ahead of self-interest. This is not the first time Pérez has put his own goals ahead of party unity. This spring he ignored advice from party elders not to demand a vote seeking endorsement over Yee at the party convention in Los Angeles. Pérez, from Los Angeles and then still the Assembly speaker, pressed ahead with the motion to endorse – and lost, capturing less than 50 percent of the ballots. Calling off the recount now would only work to his advantage. It’s not too late to show party unity and back Yee with all the resources he’s got.

They’re being way to nice.

The ultimate sore loser: Perez thought he could blow by the talented Ms. Yee with a lackluster campaign and his ample political presence. Wrong. Betty eked out a slight victory that Speaker Bully Boy doesn’t want to accept – even though the Secretary of State now says the recount he’s asked for in 15 counties could take until after the November election.

Stand down, Mr. Erstwhile Speaker. And pray that if you ever seek higher office again, you’ll be seen as having done something gracious for your party.

Opinions About Obama’s Presidency Are Not Facts

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Obama rushmoreAs we recover from our schnockered spirited celebrations of the founding of our great nation 238 years ago, we can rejoice in our freedom to hold and express our individual thoughts and beliefs. But let’s also remember this empirical axiom: there are opinions and there are facts. Everyone has a right to his or her own opinion but no one has a right to the facts – these exist independently of our opinions about them.

So, if a pollster asks a representative sample of American voters to name the best and worst presidents since World War II, what the survey reveals is a collection of opinions which may or may not align with actual facts.

The results don’t even have to be internally consistent: a particular president – Barack Obama, for example — might come in fourth among 12 as “best president” and tops as “worst president.” Which is exactly what happened when Quinnipiac University – which runs a reputable polling operation – asked the question.

Analyzed objectively – in terms of actual accomplishments – Obama, despite a Republican Party dedicated to stopping every initiative and despite a media phalanx (see: News, Fox) dedicated to misrepresenting and smearing his every move, has, as Washington Monthly put it, “gotten more done in three years than any president in decades.”

Measured in sheer legislative tonnage, what Obama got done in his first two years is stunning. Health care reform. The takeover and turnaround of the auto industry. The biggest economic stimulus in history. Sweeping new regulations of Wall Street. A tough new set of consumer protections on the credit card industry. A vast expansion of national service. Net neutrality. The greatest increase in wilderness protection in fifteen years. A revolutionary reform to student aid. Signing the New START treaty with Russia. The ending of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Even over the past year, when he was bogged down in budget fights with the Tea Party-controlled GOP House, Obama still managed to squeeze out a few domestic policy victories, including a $1.2 trillion deficit reduction deal and the most sweeping overhaul of food safety laws in more than seventy years. More impressively, on the foreign policy front he ended the war in Iraq, began the drawdown in Afghanistan, helped to oust Gaddafi in Libya and usher out Mubarak in Egypt, orchestrated new military and commercial alliances as a hedge against China, and tightened sanctions against Iran over its nukes.

Oh, and he shifted counterterrorism strategies to target Osama bin Laden and then ordered the risky raid that killed him.

Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive, as Joe Biden put it during the 2012 campaign. And there’s so much more – much of it unappreciated, as has often been the case with presidential achievements until years later.

fdrApproval Years Later For example, as Paul Glastris notes in the Washington Monthly, when Franklin Roosevelt created Social Security in 1935, it offered scant benefits that were delayed for years, excluded domestic workers and was derided by liberals as a sellout until decades later, when benefits were raised and it became the popular program it is today. FDR’s first proposal for a GI Bill for returning World War II veterans was poorly funded and aimed at keeping returning veterans from flooding the labor market. Only later was it clear that it helped build America’s first mass middle class. Harry Truman chose the policy of containment over a more aggressive “rollback” of communism at the dawn of the Cold War. When he left office, his approval rating was 32 percent. Decades later he was hailed as a visionary on foreign policy.

Americans – egged on by Republican detractors and their propagandists at Fox – have been told over and over again that Obama is a feckless presence. Despite the fact that 288,000 jobs were created in June and the unemployment rate is down to 6.1% — its lowest since September 2008 – many Americans still are feeling financially under water.

The stock market has rebounded to a record high – with the Dow breaking 17,000 last week – yet the wealthy and their GOP lap dogs are still complaining that Obama hasn’t done enough.

There are plenty of things to complain about under Obama: his seeking consensus with partisans who always see compromise as capitulation, his fetish for government secrecy and expansive spying and his failure to punish big banks for bad behavior, for example.

Our biggest complaint is that his communications skills – so brilliant in his first campaign – have been abysmal in his presidency. He sounds aloof too often, fails to speak plainly about complex problems, allows himself to be cornered and defined by the opposition and allows idiots to publicly represent signature and critical initiatives and responsibilities.

But compared to his towering accomplishments against all odds –  in the face of subtle and overt racial animus – Obama’s faults will, we expect, be judged petty when the historical record is examined in years to come.

So whatever opinions a confused populace may express about the president’s effectiveness and proficiency, remember these are opinions, not actual facts.

Field Poll: Gov. Gandalf Crushing Tyrion of Kashkari

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

gandalfandtyrionDemocrat Jerry Brown has little to fear from his GOP challenger, Neel Kashkari, according to the latest Field Poll that finds the governor leading by 20 points – 52-32% — including 13% among Republicans.

Gov. Gandalf’s favorable-to-unfavorable rating of 54-31% and his job performance evaluation of 54-29% — are even more daunting, leaving Tyrion of Kashkari sucking wind with a fav/unfav of 28-16% and 56% of likely voters asking “Who?”

Brown’s job rating puts him just a notch above President Obama in California, where his approval/disapproval is 50-39%.

Even Men Like Jerry The problem for Kashkari is not just that nearly six in 10 voters have no idea who he is, it’s that Brown is popular across the board. He’s the choice of Democrats by 82-7%, of independents 49-25% and of Republicans 13-71%. Brown is not only ahead among women 54-31% but he leads among men (who aren’t traditionally sympathetic to Democrats) by 49-34%.

Kashkari’s lead among likely voters who say they’re strong conservatives is just 75-10% and among those who say they’re moderate conservatives, Tyrion’s lead is just 42-40%. In other words, one in 10 strong conservatives and more than four in 10 moderate conservatives prefer Gov. Gandalf over The Imp.

And if, as Calbuzz likes to remind our readers, California elections are decided in the middle of the electorate, Kashkari may consider seeing if Daenerys Targaryen has a spare dragon or two. Among those likely voters who say they’re middle-of-the-road, Brown leads by a staggering 30 percentage points — 56-26%.


The Field Poll surveyed 2013 California adults June 5-22, including 1,382 registered voters  and 982 likely voters, in English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Korean. A total of 1,402 interviews were conducted with respondents on their cell phones and 611 were conducted on a landline or other type of phone. . The maximum sampling error for results from the overall registered voter sample is +/- 2.7 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, while findings based on the likely voter sample have a maximum sampling error of +/- 3.2 percentage points.

Because certain Field Poll subscribers object to Calbuzz being allowed to subscribe to the Field Poll, findings have been gathered from sources.

Quick Take: Wingnuts and the 1%

Friday, June 13th, 2014

wingnutOne way California’s top two primary has given at least a small boost to Republican candidates is in allowing GOP economic elitists to campaign free of the need to kowtow to the social issue right-wing.

Thus Neel Kashkari, a corporatist toady if ever there was one, became the GOP challenger for governor without having to embrace or finesse toxic political stands on abortion, gay marriage and immigration, which he freely handed to wing-nut champion Tim Donnelly; compare how Kashkari ran unencumbered by redneck baggage, in contrast to eMeg Whitman, who doomed her 2010 general election chances by absurdly posing as a nativist in the primary.

Now comes Paul Krugman to deconstruct how the stunning defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor dramatically exposed the GOP’s fault line between economic royalists and social extremists; with Cantor’s loss in Virginia, the wing nuts finally caught on to the con game Republican 1% elected lackeys have run since Ronald Reagan:

Mr. Cantor’s defeat shows that lip service to extremism isn’t enough; the base needs to believe that you really mean it.

It will be fascinating to see how and if The Imp is able to juggle the economic and social concerns of the GOP’s two camps in the general against Gandalf.

Op-Ed: How Brown Could Do Worse Than Expected

Friday, June 13th, 2014

ericcantorBy Chuck McFadden
Special to Calbuzz

Gov. Jerry Brown has to be thinking about the stunning upset of Eric Cantor in Virginia. If he isn’t, he’s not as smart as everyone says he is. Conventional wisdom says Democrat Brown will cruise to victory this November, just as conventional wisdom said Cantor would cruise to victory in the recent Republican primary.

So here’s a bit of unconventional wisdom: The governor will be re-elected but Republican Neel Kashkari will do better than today’s conventional wisdom dictates. Connect these dots and you’ll see why:

Money Isn’t Everything First, while it’s true that  Brown has tons of money — more than $20 million is the latest count — Cantor also had lots of money. He spent $5 million on his campaign, compared with the $200,000 spent by his Republican opponent, David Brat. And remember, that $5 million was spent in a measly congressional district, not a state with 38 million people. So maybe money isn’t as important as conventional wisdom says it is.

gaspumpmoneySecond, there’s a sleeper issue just waiting to foul up Brown’s re-election effort: a possible hike in gas prices. Starting next year, California’s cap-and-trade program will be applied to fuel producers. The Western States Petroleum Association, representing fuel producers, says the increased cost to producers could hike gas prices by 12 cents a gallon. Mary Nichols, the chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board doubts cap and trade would have that much of an impact, but another fuel industry spokesman, Jay McKeeman of the California Independent Oil Marketers Association, disagrees, saying fuel producers would not swallow the cost increase, and it would indeed be passed on to consumers.

Crazy Train Finances Third, Brown and Democratic leaders in the Legislature are proposing that 25 percent of the proceeds of future cap and trade revenue be used to fund Brown’s proposed $68-billion-and-counting high speed rail project. That creates an association between a hike in price for gasoline –caused by cap and trade — with high speed rail. A 2013 study by the Public Policy Institute of California revealed that 54 percent of likely voters opposed high speed rail.

In a state with an electorate that cast more than a quarter of a million votes for an indicted state senator running for secretary of state, the “thought” process among a sizable number of voters could be this: Gas price supposed to go up; that ripoff at the pump goes to (ugh!) high speed rail; Jerry Brown is governor; bad governor.

Granted, the issue that riled the rustics in Virginia’s Seventh Congressional District — immigration — is a far cry from gasoline prices in California. But both are made to order for simplistic, emotional campaign themes, as Cantor found out the hard way. And few issues touch a nerve among California voters the way anything to do with driving a car does.

brownglareBorn-Again Tax Cutter? A proposal from state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg could be a bright spot for Brown. Steinberg — who is not running for re-election because he’s termed out — has suggested a flat 15-cent-per-gallon price hike on gasoline in place of any price increase from cap-and-trade. He’s not likely to get it approved by the Legislature, but if he does, Brown will be presented with an opportunity to veto it at the top of his lungs, thereby establishing his bona fides as an opponent of gas tax increases.

Admittedly, this is all conjecture. For one thing, there is something about Eric Cantor that causes a lot of people to dislike him intensely. Brown may not exude charm, but he’s not despised, like Cantor is. And Brown won nearly three times as many votes as Kashkari did during the June 3 first go-‘round. And, yes, the governor is a master politician. As Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently commented on Brown’s political skill:  “Most of us are playing checkers; he’s playing chess.”


But voters, especially in California, are volatile. And didn’t someone once say something about “A little unconventional wisdom now and then is relished by the wisest men”?

Calbuzz contributor Chuck McFadden covered politics for The Associated Press in Sacramento. His biography of our very own governor, Trailblazer: A Biography of Jerry Brown is published by the University of California Press. His opinion is his opinion.