Archive for the ‘California Politics’ Category

Dear Mr. So-Called Ruler of the U.S. (SCROTUS)

Friday, February 17th, 2017

imperialtrumpBy Leonard Pitts Jr.
Miami Herlad

Dear Mr. So-Called President:

So let me explain to you how this works. You were elected as chief executive of the United States. I won’t belabor the fact that you won with a minority of the popular vote and a little help from your friends, FBI Director James Comey and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The bottom line is, you were elected.

And this does entitle you to certain things. You get your own airplane. You get free public housing. You get greeted with snappy salutes. And a band plays when you walk into the room.

trumphitlerNot so fast, buster But there is one thing to which your election does not entitle you. It does not entitle you to do whatever pops into your furry orange head without being called on it or, should it run afoul of the Constitution, without being blocked.

You and other members of the Fourth Reich seem to be having difficulty understanding this. Reports from Politico and elsewhere describe you as shocked that judges and lawmakers can delay or even stop you from doing things. Three weeks ago, your chief strategist, Steve Bannon, infamously declared that news media should “keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.”

Just last Sunday, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller declared on CBS’ “Face The Nation” that “our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”

What you do “will not be questioned?” Lord, have mercy. That’s the kind of statement that, in another time and place, would have been greeted with an out-thrust palm and a hearty “Sieg heil!” Here in this time and place, however, it demands a different response:

Just who the hell do you think you are?

constitutionOh yeah, the Constitution Meaning you and all the other trolls you have brought clambering up from under their bridges. Maybe you didn’t notice, but this is the United States of America. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Nation of laws, not of individuals? First Amendment? Freedom of the press? Any of that ringing a bell?

Let’s be brutally clear here. If you were a smart guy with unimpeachable integrity and a good heart who was enacting wise policies for the betterment of all humankind, you’d still be subject to sharp scrutiny from news media, oversight from Congress, restraint by the judiciary — and public opinion.

And you, of course, are none of those things. I know you fetishize strength. I know your pal Vladimir would never stand still for reporters and judges yapping at him.

I know, too, that you’re accustomed to being emperor of your own fiefdom. Must be nice. Your name on the wall, the paychecks, the side of the building. You tell people to make something happen, and it does. You yell at a problem, and it goes away. Nobody talks back. I can see how it would be hard to give that up.

leonardpittsBut you did. You see, you’re no longer an emperor, Mr. So-Called President. You’re now what is called a “public servant” — in effect, an employee with 324 million bosses. And let me tell you something about those bosses. They’re unruly and loud, long accustomed to speaking their minds without fear or fetter. And they believe power must always answer to the people. That’s at the core of their identity.

Yet you and your coterie of cartoon autocrats think you’re going to cow them into silence and compliance by ordering them to shut up and obey? Well, as a freeborn American, I can answer that in two syllables flat.

Hell no.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for the Miami Herald, where this column was originally published.

PPIC Poll: State Resisting Trump and His Agenda

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

nopeCalifornians resoundingly reject Republican President Donald Trump himself and the intrusions he threatens to implement on state policies governing immigration, health care, climate change and access to abortion, according to the latest survey from the Public Policy Institute of California.

The state that gave Democrat Hillary Clinton 62% in 2016 — a margin of about 4.3 million votes – holds Trump in extraordinary low regard, with 58% of adults disapproving of his handling of the presidency and 60% holding an unfavorable view of him.

Californians’ view of Trump is far worse than Gallup’s historically high disapproval rating nationwide of 52%.

Fewer than a third – 30% — of Californians approve of Trump and those are mostly Republicans, among whom 72% approve of the president. The president’s favorability rating is just 33%.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval rating is historically high – 62% — and almost as many people – 58% — say they believe the state is headed in the right direction.

xavierbecerraAbove-ground Resistance So, it is with considerable support that Brown and the Legislature (57% approval) have tasked California Attorney General Javier Becerra and special legislative counsel Eric Holder, the former US Attorney General, to protect California’s interests in key areas where state policies conflict sharply with Trump’s announced intentions.

– While Trump is promising to build a wall on the Mexican border and deport undocumented immigrants, 85% of Californians (93% of Democrats, 84% of independents and 65% of Republicans) believe there should be a pathway to legality for those immigrants. And 65% say state and local governments should pursue their own policies – not the federal government’s – to protect the rights of immigrants.

– Although the president has pledged to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (with no sign of “replace” on the horizon), 53% of Californians oppose repeal of the ACA while another 26% say it should not be repealed until a replacement is available. Only 16% of Californians favor outright repeal of the ACA. Moreover, the law is seen favorably by 51% of all adults and unfavorably by just 39%.

earthonfire– With Trump calling climate change a Chinese hoax (except where rising seas threaten his seaside golf properties) and threatening to withdraw from historic climate change accords, 65% of Californians see climate change as a major threat and 63% favor the state making its own policies and agreements governing carbon emissions and climate change.

– Having at one point called for penalties for women who obtain abortions, Trump has declared his intention of stacking the Supreme Court with justices who will overturn Roe v Wade, that made abortion a matter between a woman, her family and doctor. But in California, 71% of adults – including 60% of Republicans — say the government should not interfere with a woman’s right to choose, while only 27% want stricter controls.

“Californians’ policy preferences are deeply at odds with the new federal direction on abortion access, climate change, health insurance, and undocumented immigrants,” said pollster Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO.

PPIC surveyed 1,702 California adults (60% by cell phone and 40% by landline) Jan. 22-31 in English and Spanish. The margin of error for all adults in the survey is +/- 3.3 percentage points.

A Quantitative Look at Dawn of Trump Regime

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Trump_Inauguration_34607.jpg-a6dbc_c0-0-2875-1676_s885x516 (1)Some Actual (not Alternative) Facts about the start of the Trump Reich Era:

109. The number of people affected by President Trump’s travel and immigration ban, according to his Twitter account.

60,000. The minimum number of people actually affected by the travel ban.

1 in 1.34 billion. Chance of a U.S. citizen being killed in a terrorist attack caused by a refugee.

1 in 10.9 billion.  Chance of an American being killed by an illegal immigrant.

1 in 174,426.  – Chance of being killed by lightning.

1 in 358.  Chances of being killed by a firearm attack in the U.S.

52.  Number of lawsuits filed against Trump in the first two weeks of his presidency.

4. Number of suits filed against George W. Bush in the first two weeks of his presidency.

sign127.  Number of technology companies that joined in filing a legal brief calling the travel ban “unlawful” and saying immigration is “intimately tied” to economic growth.

200. Estimated number of companies on Fortune 500 started by immigrants.

0. Number of Muslim countries named in travel ban where Trump’s family company does business.

4. Number of Muslim countries where Trump’s family company does business not named in the travel ban.

53 & 51. Percent majorities of Americans in CNN and CBS polls respectively that say they oppose Trump’s immigration order.

2. Number of Tweets Trump sent out attacking the polls as “fake news.”

mushroom4,000.  Number of nuclear weapons that the U.S. President alone can launch.

2.5.  Number of minutes before midnight that the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists last month moved the hands on the Doomsday Clock, which symbolizes imminent global disaster.

5-10. Number of years that White House Chief Strategist and ex-radio talk show host Steve Bannon estimated, in the spring of 2016, before the U.S. would be at war with China.

452.8 Billon. Total number of dollars Californians pay to federal government each year in taxes.

367.8. Total dollars that U.S. government spends on all programs and services in California.

40th. California’s rank in federal money spent compared to taxes paid.

1. State of Mississippi’s rank in federal expenditures received to taxes paid.

62. Percentage of those in a new Public Policy Polling survey who said they want to keep the Affordable Care Act and make changes to it.

33. Percentage of those in the same poll who said they want to scrap President Obama’s heath care law and start over.

33. Percentage of Americans who don’t know Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are the same thing.

44-53. Trump’s job performance approval-disapproval rating among Americans, two weeks after taking office.

1,336. Number of days after inauguration before a majority of Americans disapproved of George W. Bush’s job performance.

8. Number of days before a majority disapproved of Trump’s job performance.

14 billion.  Combined number of dollars of estimated worth net worth of Trump’s cabinet picks.

Doctor-Trump3. Prescription medications taken by the President, according to his physician, Dr. Harold Borenstein.

1,370. Lawsuits filed against Merck, manufacturer of finasteride, one of those medications, charging it has had physical, psychological and sexual side effects, including impotence.

28-3. Score by which the President’s favored New England Patriots were losing to Atlanta Falcons when he bailed on his own Superbowl Party at 8:57 p.m.

2. Media interviews unearthed so far in which presidential assistant Kellyanne Conway, coiner of the phrase “alternative facts,” referenced a fake “Bowling Green Massacre” to support the immigration order, before she made the claim during an infamous appearance on MSNBC.

25. Percentage of Americans who say they will become more politically active this year.

40. Percent of Democratic women who say they will become more politically active in 2017.

elxn1,363. Number of days until 2020 presidential election.

A version of this post also appears in the Santa Barbara Independent.



Delaine Eastin: State’s “Overdue” For Woman Gov

Monday, February 6th, 2017

delaineThis is the second in a series of occasional Calbuzz benchmark interviews with contenders to replace Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018. The purpose of these posts is to give the wannabes space to express their views at some length. Our previous interview, with Antonio Villaraigosa, is here).

Delaine Eastin says she wants to be governor to fix public education, and criticizes Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democratic Legislature for “slapping themselves on the back” while California schools remain “terrible.”

“I’m fighting for kids, from pre-school to graduate school,” she said in a telephone interview from Berkeley with Calbuzz, stationed in our just-folks, pulse-of-California executive offices in Aptos and Santa Barbara.

The 69-year old Eastin was elected to two terms as State Superintendent of Public Education back at the turn of the century, after serving four terms in the Assembly representing a Bay Area district. Since then, she’s served on a variety of education non-profits and as a professor at Mills College.

As a political matter, her gubernatorial (ah, for a more graceful adjective) bid is a decided long shot, as she begins the race far, far back in fundraising and organization amid a pack of better-known pols, including the aforementioned Tony V, Prince Gavin Newsom and John “Star Wars” Chiang, not to mention a cast of thousands possibles, led by Calbuzz speculation pick Tom Steyer.

As a policy matter, Eastin’s approach is a good news-bad news deal: she’s obviously got major chops on education but, so far at least, offers little else; often giving the impression she’s seeking a third term as state schools supe, she risks orchestrating a one-note symphony campaign (Example: when we first asked her what California should do about immigration in the current atmosphere of crisis, her default answer centered on schools – “first and foremost we have to focus on educating every child…” Um, okay).

difi-govA quarter century after Difi. Still, an authentic feminist perspective in a field of blue-suit male lifer pols is an unmistakable asset, even if her Sacramento resume is a trifle out of date (at one point in our interview, Eastin boasted that she was “the first woman and the first member of the Assembly to win the MTC Legislator of the Year Award”).

“I think (running as a woman) matters very much and I’m going to make the case,” she said. “I believe very strongly that we’re overdue to have a woman as the governor of the state of California.”

So far Eastin’s most specific proposal is her crusade for a 55-percent threshold for local school bond issues, earmarked for staffing and operating classrooms – i.e. hiring and paying teachers. We’ll leave the legality of such a thing to Prop. 13 evangelists like the sly Joel Fox, but at first glance the argument that parents should be able to finance their kids’ schools by the by the same measure they decide to build them seems sensible.

It is her sternly earnest appreciation for policy complexities and one-foot-in-front-of-the other sensibility about substance that could be Eastin’s best selling point in a race now led by the smugly glib Newsom; after all, it worked for Hillary (oh, never mind).

tony gavinShow me the money. While Delaine talks airily about raising big bucks online, ala Bernie, however, over the next six months she’d best at least collect table stakes in a campaign certain to throw hundreds of millions of dollars into the California economy.

So far she’s reported raising exactly zero dollars, compared to Prince Gavin ($11 million in the bank); Tony V ($2.6 M) and state Treasurer John Skywalker (who famously was introduced to last year’s state Democratic convention to the strains of “Luke’s Theme,” the anthem of the Star Wars saga), not to mention possible future rivals like Silicon Valley moneybags Tom Steyer or Peter Thiel, or potential Republican spoiler Kevin Faulconer.

“We’re going to do a lot of grassroots events, we’re going to do a lot of online things,” she said.

For true junkies, here is an interview transcript, edited for repetition and to make our questions sound less stupid.


My first love is education and I’ve been very frustrated by the failure to rebuild California public education. There’s a lot of people slapping themselves on the back like it was all better now and it isn’t.

We’re in the bottom ten of the 50 states in per pupil spending, 42nd if you adjust for the cost of living. Yet we live in the most expensive state in the union with the highest percentage of poor children and the highest percentage of English learners.

So first and foremost I don’t think that it’s acceptable to just kind of say well we’ve got what we’ve got (at Prop. 98) full funding formula now, everything’s been fixed…

The state of our schools is terrible. There are some other things broken as well and so while education is my number one priority, I’m very concerned about the lack of long-range thinking and long-range planning in the state of California.


First it is reestablishing our priorities. I tell everyone who will listen that budgets are statements of values…

We were number one in per prisoner expenditures when we were number 50 in per pupil spending. That’s unacceptable – now we’ve dropped a little in per prisoner (spending) but we’re still in the top 10 and we’re in the bottom 10 of per pupil.

And so we let you build the buildings with a 55 percent vote but you have to have a 66 2/3 vote to staff the building and I say to every parent that I meet – if you could spend send your child to a beautiful school with a lousy teacher, or have your child taught by Socrates sitting on a rock, you ought to go with Socrates and a rock.

So first thing, we have to pass the ability to pass a local bond to staff the schools at the same level we have to build schools.


It’s not being fully funded. Remember the song, “One Man’s Ceiling is Another Man’s Floor”?

[Uh, no. – ed.].

Prop 98 was intended to be the floor under funding, but the state of California’s governor and legislature are treating it like the ceiling.


I will tell you I am very appreciative that Jerry Brown had a nimble response to the economic crash. I applaud that; I applaud him on the environment.

But I do not give him high grades on his attention to schools. He’s taken a lot of money out of child development and preschools and not restored it. He’s not in favor of mandatory kindergarten and that’s disgraceful – it ought to be mandatory and full day.

We have the largest class size in America. We ought to have a campaign to recruit and hire more teachers – they’re running out in droves because many of them can’t afford to live near where they’re teaching and we have a severe teacher shortage right now and he’s underestimated in community colleges, CSUs and UCs.

So I’m fighting for preschool to graduate school.


This is a sleight of hand thing.

There are things that have been moved around that are not included in the potential budget for Prop. 98 considerations. So I would actually argue that we ought to have a task force of people that look at how we should have a major change in funding for schools.


It is the platform of my campaign and I’m going to fight to lower class size and I’m going to fight for full day mandatory kindergarten and I’m going to fight for universal preschool. All of those things I’m going to do.

But I think …when I was the Superintendent – we got some wonderful ideas out of people that helped us to move ahead…And we have a bunch of people, not only in schools and education, but in labor and in business, non-profits and in the Silicon Valley who wants us to fix the schools.


I wish all kids would get vaccinated and we should try to educate all parents to get all kids vaccinated.


I would. If everybody else is vaccinated we’re fine.


I am with the CTA when they are for the kids. When they are for the grown-ups, I’m not with them. Example: when CTA had a bill that said they were going to exempt teachers from having to do lesson plans, I opposed them strongly and we defeated that bill. That was my final year in the Legislature.

There were other occasions when I stood up to them…and they know that about me. So the fact is I think most educators will vote for me, I have a lot of great teachers who support me.

Having said that, I don’t know if I’ll get CTA’s endorsement or not.


I’m with charter schools, as long as they follow the rules.

So I’m on the charter school board of SYATEC – System Integrated Academies for Technologies. This is a drop-out recovery high school…90% of these kids are emancipated, many of them have been in total train-wreck families, they dropped out maybe when they were 14, maybe to have a baby or maybe when they were 15 they were in a court and community school and never went back to their regular school because they weren’t welcome…

But we publish our agenda, we’re open, you can look at our books. We’re not doing what those crooks in Livermore were doing –charging $30,000 per child to Chinese families to send their kids to a public charter school. That’s illegal, that’s wrong, those people should go to jail.


First and foremost we have to focus on educating every child and the teachers do not want to be immigration naturalization police. Their job is to educate children and that should be our job. And you know perfectly well there are kids in our schools who were born in California whose parents are here illegally and so I don’t think it should fall on the backs of the children that we have an immigration problem.

I think the schools are not the problem and they’re not the place we should solve the problem.


The state of California has to make sure that it does make everybody play by the rules. If you were living in this state, than you have to play by the rules. You’ve got to pay your taxes, you’ve got to make sure you’re abiding by the law and you’ve got to make sure you are doing all the right things by your own family and by everybody around you.

So if somebody gets arrested because they didn’t play by the rules, then that’s a different story, then we ought to bounce them out of here. But the truth is if you’re playing by the rules, I think we don’t have the time or the money to become the federal immigration and naturalization service.


(We interviewed Eastin a few days before his chaos theory executive order on immigration. Her #1 response below came that day; in fairness (stop laughing!) we later asked Andrew Acosta, her consultant, if she wanted to update her remarks; #2 is what he emailed us in response).

#1-I really and truly don’t want to get into a fight with Mr. Trump. I will tell you I support sanctuary cities, I support children in schools and I hope Mr. Trump, you know, someday grows a little patience and understanding and a little more composure. I find him very objectionable in the tone he uses and the words he uses.

#2- I fought Governor Pete Wilson when he wanted to target immigrant children in schools with Prop 187, and I will fight this latest assault on our immigrant families and religious minorities. What Donald Trump has proposed is un-American… Of course I will fight against proposals that threaten Californians and our core values.


We already only get back less than 80 cents on the dollar of what we send to them, so California’s already being disadvantaged.

I do have some confidence in our court system and I hope that if he does try his thuggery, that our attorney general and our governor will respond in kind and take him to court.

I don’t think that the constitution of the United States says that you should be able to pick on people that don’t agree with you and withhold their own resources from them which we have contributed fairly and squarely and not even no are getting our fair share back.


I wouldn’t put words in my mouth. I’m very concerned.

I really believe that we will have to respond in kind, in court if he does more than bluster. And you know we don’t know right now whether he’s going to do more than bluster.


I certainly think that the governor of California has to be a representative of its people, all of its people.

And so I will certainly represent the people of California and I will stand up to thuggery from a president of the United States when it hurts our people who happen to be Latino, who happen to be Asian, or who happen to be Muslim. The governor has to be the leader of all the people, for all the people, with all of the people.


I don’t know what our solution’s going to be.

I’ll be honest with you, I hope that there is going to an active attempt on the part of the rational people in Washington to have some kind of a replacement. That we don’t really damage so many millions of Californians.

I hope the state will step up and try to fill some of the gap, if there is a gap…people with pre-existing conditions, people with cancers who would have been bankrupt if they hadn’t gotten care, people with children who desperately need to have some kind of care, and so having worked with people in foster care, as well as some of our kids who really are at the margins, this has been a lifesaver.

And I think the state of California has to continue to put on the Affordable Care Act cape and fight for these kids, and for these grownups, to have protection…


I don’t want to say anything in flat terms because obviously there’s so much federal money, we don’t have that kind of money…

I think the state will step up and try to fill the gaps but we have to see what the federal government does. But there are Republicans in California who want to see us continue the Affordable Care Act…

There are lots of people like that who may have voted for Mr. Trump but he said he was going to find a replacement. Hopefully we’ll be in a position to not come down with a hammer but they’ll do something that is generous and California can pick up some of the slack if there is some.


First, having been out of office makes me not a career politician and second, you know me, you’ve heard me, I know what I’m talking about. I do my homework, I always have. I’ve never lost touch; I continue to be very well informed…

…nobody has more background in strategic planning than I do, nobody has better credentials when it comes to transportation, remember I’m the first woman and the first member of the Assembly to win the MTC Legislator of the Year Award.

I know what I’m doing when it comes to things like garbage and waste. I wrote the big landfill clean-up bill, the biggest ever written in the state…


There is a grassroots donor movement, we know.

Why? Because Bernie taught us there was. And I believe I’m going to step up, and with my voice and my values and my articulate presentations, I think I’m going to get a whole bunch of folks that supported Hillary and Bernie but also that will be for me because I’m the best candidate to be the governor of the state of California.

We’re going to do a lot of grassroots events, we’re going to do a lot of online things, but it is true that everybody should have woken up and looked at Bernie…He was very competitive monetarily because he got a lot of small donations – that’s what I’m planning to do.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sanders delivers a speech at a campaign event in ChicagoBERNIE IS A FIREBRAND – YOU’RE NOT EXACTLY A FIREBRAND.

I don’t think you can say I’m not a firebrand.  I actually do believe that I’m as good environmentally as any candidate, in terms of infrastructure and transportation as any candidate and better on education than any candidate and I really have a diverse background…

Nobody who knows me doesn’t think I get it. I understand these issues and I can move the needle. I did it.


I think it matters very much and I’m going to make the case. I believe very strongly that we’re overdue to have a woman as the governor of the state of California. I was only the fourth woman to be a constitutional officer and we’re up to a total of eight in the history of the state. We elect eight every four years and we’re up to a total of eight women

But you shouldn’t elect me because I’m a woman. You should elect me because I’m the most articulate, hardest working and frankly I’m very, very focused. When I get working, I work steadily, hard and long and I get it.


Because we can do better. We can do better.

Field Poll’s DiCamillo to Run Berkeley’s IGS Survey

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

dicamillonewIn the wake of the closure Field Poll, Mark DiCamillo, its former director and one of California’s most reliable pollsters, has signed on at the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies to expand its public opinion operation.

This is good news for polling in California, adding the Berkeley IGS Poll to the non-partisan public surveys being conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California and the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll.

According to DiCamillo, the Berkeley IGS Poll will involve a mix of live telephone and internet surveys, fielded by YouGov, a market research and opinion survey firm based in Redwood City that specializes in online polling – a less expensive methodology than traditional phone surveys.

The use of internet polling is a leap from the surveys conducted by DiCamillo and the Field Poll, which, until last year, relied exclusively on live interviews with respondents over the phone. The online methodology carries risks, relying on an internet panel which may or may not include some of the hardest-to-reach respondents like young minority males, for example.

But with response rates to live telephone interviewing declining, researchers have sought new methods of sounding public opinion and YouGov’s online methodology is widely regarded as one of the more scientifically rigorous attempts to replicate general populations.

“The IGS Poll is a significant research tool for examining and studying California public opinion,” said Jack Citrin, institute director and UC Berkeley’s Heller Professor of Political Science. “Mark has long been recognized as one of the state’s leading pollsters, and bringing him to the institute will enable our polling program to continue to grow, advancing our mission for both cutting-edge research and public education.”

According to a release from IGS, “DiCamillo will oversee all aspects of the IGS polling program, including the design, execution and marketing of its polls, as well as the public release of survey findings to the news media. In this capacity, he will work with Citrin and other faculty members and graduate students affiliated with the institute.”