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Posts Tagged ‘budget negotiations’



Press Clips: Krusty’s Koans Stir Up Stormy Weather

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Jerry Brown shifted into full Zen mode this week, offering increasingly cryptic commentary amid a political atmosphere that grows ever more cloudy and gray.

As nicely illustrated by Calbuzz meteorological doodler Tom Meyer today, the cold front arising from  long-stalled talks over the Capitol’s budget mess has built up a mass of cumulonimbus thunderheads that threaten at any moment to erupt into a tempestuous political storm.

Press corps forecasters were hampered in their task of wringing clarity out of a muddy situation by contending reports offered by the Field and PPIC* polls, the Doppler radar twins of California political augury. (We refer you to a) our post-graduate dissertation on the high priest polling methodologies that generally account for some of the differences between the Two Marks and b) the secular humanist explanation offered Thursday by Joe Garafoli:  “Confused? Get in line”).

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Far more than clashing public opinion surveys, however, it was a series of odd and oblique  public utterances by Gandalf himself that blew a thick layer of mystifying mist over the political high pressure area (think we’ve tortured the weather metaphor enough yet? -ed.). Brown suddenly transformed his earlier Catholic rhetoric about the budget fight into a flurry of widely-reported Buddha-like pronouncements, which offered precious little enlightenment about what was going on with the budget in the here and now, let alone what would  happen in the next moment.

In a brave effort to end the epidemic of head scratching that followed Governor Gautama’s pronouncements, Calbuzz conducted its own unscientific polling, the better to capture a snapshot in time of what ordinary Californians think about whatever the hell it is Krusty’s been talking about the last couple days. Among the key results:

1-“Whichever way I look, I see bears in the forest.”

Four of 10 of those surveyed (40%) believe that Brown actually meant to say that he sees “bears shit in the woods” wherever he looks, while nearly one-third (32%) agree with the NRA argument that his statement proves there are way too many bears, and one-in-five (20%) back the Sierra Club position that he should not be walking in the woods without filing an EIR.

2-“We’ll know the deadline when we’ve passed it.”

Voters polled were evenly divided about the meaning of this gubernatorial  comment. One-third (33%) believe he saw a “teaching moment” opportunity to educate the public about the illusory nature of time; one-third (33%) felt  he was referencing the ultimately subjective nature of reality, and one-third (33%) said it was likely the first time Brown had ever used the word “deadline” and clearly had no idea what it meant.

3- “I can confirm I am not unconsidering anything that I ought to consider.”

A large plurality of Californians (49%) told our researchers that Brown has quickly tired of serving as governor and is auditioning to be the press spokesman for Meg Whitman’s next campaign. Nearly as many (48%) said that the governor was spiritually channeling Donald (“there are things that we know, there are known unknowns”) Rumsfeld, while a tiny minority (3%) felt he was just being plain inconsiderate.

4 “There is not as yet a clear delineation as to what will seal the deal. We’re still waiting for what I’d call a term sheet. What’s the bedrock of what Republicans need to put this before the people?”

Brown’s uncharacteristic use of business world phrases like “term sheet” and “seal the deal” convinced six in ten (60%) registered non-voters that he had stayed up too late trying to plow through one of wife Anne Gust’s old Management by Objective handbooks, while three in ten (30%) unregistered voters felt “very strongly” that he’d been spending way too much time with the “The Dictionary of Cliches”; the remainder (10%) of non-registered non-voters said the governor was quoting Dr. Irwin Corey.

5-”There’s a sense on the part of some that they’re going to come up with something good…There are positive vibes.”

A slight majority (51%) among those surveyed believe that Brown believes it is still 1976 and was feeling “groovy” when he made his remark to reporters, while the rest were divided evenly between those (44.5%) who said he’d been told there was going to be a Beach Boys concert in Capitol Park and those (44.5%)  who’d heard that Jacques Barzaghi will soon be joining the administration.

The Calbuzz survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 179%.

PS: The famous bear reference we think Jerry may have been trying to evoke was from the anti-Soviet 1984 Hal Riney ad for Ronald Reagan that began, “There is a bear in the woods.”

* What PPIC poll actually shows:

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There was a lot of breathless reporting about the PPIC finding that shows support for Brown’s proposal to hold a special election on tax extensions dipping to a mere 51% among likely voters, from 66% in January.

But if anyone explained what was behind the shift, we missed it.

Here’s what happened: there was a relentless, two-month partisan campaign against Brown’s idea and it worked; the move against the idea was double among Republicans what it was among voters overall.

With anti-tax jihadist Grover of Norquist, radio clowns John and Ken, Howard Jarvis Wannabe Jon Coupal and GOP gunslinger Jon Fleischman screaming their lungs out against the idea of putting a tax-extension measure on the ballot, lo and behold, Republican voters (and some independents who lean Republican) responded to the call.

While the net drop in support for placing a tax measure on the ballot was -7% among Democrats and -23% among independents (as self-identified by PPIC), the net drop in support was a massive -41% among Republican likely voters.

Among Democrats and independents, a little number crunching reveals,  57% of likely voters – about six in 10 – still support the notion of putting a tax measure on the ballot. It’s mainly Republicans who have been brow-beaten away from the idea.

Governor Brown has proposed a special election this June for voters
to vote on a tax- and-fee package to prevent additional state budget cuts.
In general, do you think the special election is a good idea or bad idea? (PPIC)
January March
Good Bad Good Bad
Likely Voters 66 31 51 40 -24
Democrats 75 23 68 23 -7
Independents 65 32 50 40 -23
Republicans 53 43 30 61 -41

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Press Clip Three Dot Lounge:

Sportswriter starts prostitution ring – publishers see new revenue stream to save ailing newspapers.

Just asking: Is a story about incendiary racist hate speech by a half-wit city council member really the best place to employ on-the-one-hand-on-the-other false equivalence journalism?

Jay Rosen reports that many cringeworthy MSM types still haven’t gotten the memo that Y2K has come and gone.

Stewart offers full coverage of the real inside stories unfolding in Japan and Libya.

ICYMI: To the moon, Alice.

Convention Wrap: CA GOP Seems Headed for the Cliff

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Like a herd of wooly mammoths at the end of the Pleistocene epoch, the California Republican Party is on the verge of extinction.

It may still recover. The CRP has come back from near death before. And redistricting, alongside the top-two primary system may yet revive it. But judging from the infighting, narrow thinking and rigid ideological positioning on display at the party’s organizing convention last weekend in Sacramento, the signs are not good.

As former GOP Assembly leader Bob Naylor put it succinctly Sunday morning, “It’s on life support.”

The party did pull back on some issues that would have help drive it off a cliff. And there’s a new chairman — Tom Del Baccaro, a bright, attractive fresh voice who hopes to connect with a broader range of voters than the 20% to which the GOP usually speaks.

“We have a message problem, folks,” Del Beccaro told delegates. “Quite frankly, we have trapped ourselves into talking to the converted instead of inspiring a new generation of voters.”

Which, of course is true, but not to the point. The GOP’s fundamental problem is that the content of their message on too many key issues is simply unacceptable to the vast swath of moderate California voters.

Moreover, the mass message his party seemed to endorse at the weekend organizing convention essentially was: “Love Us or Leave Us.”

“We’re just a party of narrow ‘no,’” said conservative radio talk show host (and fellow Buckeye) Eric Hogue, who, along with the rest of the news media was only allowed to attend the noon keynote speech after reporters angrily protested. “The California Republican Party is on its way to becoming the third party in California, behind Decline to State,” said Hogue, whose rants from the right sometimes would make Attila blush.

“They’re very set in their ways,” said a 29-year-old Latino delegate from the Inland Empire who was afraid to let his name be used. “They say, ‘That’s the way it’s always been,’ whether it’s on immigration or the environment or marriage,” said the U.C. Davis graduate whose grandfather came to California as a bracero.

In short, the CRP shows no signs of intending to adopt the pragmatic  and doable five-point plan Calbuzz laid out back in November for the Revival of the California Republican Party.

The troglodyte wing of the party – the California Republican Assembly – withdrew its resolution to censure, denounce, expel and castrate any legislator who votes to put Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax extensions on the ballot. But as CRA president Celeste Greig herself noted – the point was made: this is a pup tent party.

And despite much drama and name-calling, the party adopted a rule for endorsements that essentially respects the top-two primary system until 2014, when they intend to run a vote-by-mail primary for Republicans. Of course, that was after state Sen. Sam Blakeslee (the only one of the five GOP senators who are negotiating with Brown to attend the convention) was verbally bitch-slapped at a Rules Committee meeting (of course he did accuse the other side on the endorsement issue of “thuggery”).

There was a lot of lip service from party leaders to “reaching out” to Latino voters, but not even a suggestion of moving toward creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants – the sine qua non for Mexican-Americans in California. The prevailing attitude at the convention seemed to be the Republicans lost every major statewide race and have been reduced to a strident minority because Republican candidates were too weak on conservative principles and besides,  people are lazy and stupid.

This was nicely summed up by Karen Klinger, a delegate from Sacramento, who declaimed, “We need Republicans with balls . . . People don’t know who their party is any more.” Voters don’t align with the GOP these days because “people automatically want to be subsidized . . . (but) Republicans stand for hard work.”

CRP members cheered John Bolton, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, who said he is “considering” running for president and who, after calling President Obama’s foreign policy “pathetic,” said he’d have unilaterally attacked Libya.

They also were smitten with Fox News fake pollster Frank Luntz, who advised a party that is reviled by Latinos to reward immigrants who came here legally and punish those who came her illegally. Don’t ever vote for tax increases — ever — Luntz advised (contrary to those pinko former governors like Ronald Reagan and Pete Wilson.)

And they delighted in the message from Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour who demanded someone should explain to him “How do businesses thrive and hire when government is sucking up all the money?” (Pithy note on Gov. Barbour from GOP wiseman Allan Hoffenblum: “How likely is it that the governor of Mississippi is going to defeat the first black president of the United States?”)

Over and over, the Republicans talked about the “opportunities” they face but nowhere was there an attempt to address some of the, um, facts, provided to Calbuzz  by troublemaker Bob Mulholland, the former political director of the California Democratic Party:

– There are 7,569,581 registered Democrats (44%) and 5,307,411 registered Republicans, (31%). This is the lowest GOP percentage in the history of California.

– Democrats hold 123 of the 187 partisan seats in California (66%).

– Democrats won all nine statewide races last November and now hold all 10 state offices (including both U.S. Senate seats). Since 1988, Democrats have won all five presidential races and all eight U.S. Senate races.

– President Obama won California by 24 points (61% to 37%) or by 3,262,692 votes.

– Democrats hold 34 of 53 House seats; 52 of 80 Assembly seats and 25 of 40 State Senate seats.

To this, we might note, there are also 3,507,119 DTS voters (Decline To State a party) (20%) – double the percentage from 1994. Polling and voting data find that these voters — by and large — think and act more like Democrats than Republicans on electoral issues most of the time.

It’s not as if ideas aren’t available to the GOP to maintain its principles but make itself less odious to Latinos and moderates. Consultant Patrick Dorinson, the former communications director for the party who calls himself the “cowboy libertarian,” for example, said “what scares these folks is that if all those immigrants become citizens, they’re going to vote (for Democrats).”

So, he suggested, the party could adopt a stand supporting the notion that any illegal immigrant who wants to vote as a citizen would have to go back to Mexico and come back legally, but those who just want to stay and work could become permanent legal residents, without the right to vote.

Delegate Michelle Connor of Solano, 33, had another idea: “If you go into the armed forces and you’re willing to die for your country, you should be able to become a citizen. Or if you graduate from college and pass your citizenship test.”

Right now, we suspect, the first response a lot of party Republicans would have to such ideas would be: “What would John and Ken say?”

Quiet conversations with several Republicans confirmed what GOP finance chairman Jeff Miller was saying: that donors “think the party is on the brink of irrelevance . . . They think the party focuses most of its time speaking to 30% of the state rather than the majority of the state . . . (donors are watching to see if) we’re going to continue to focus on eating our own, as opposed to focusing on electing more Republicans.”

Or as Dorinson put it: “Only a buzzard feeds on its friends.”

Convention Notes

An accounting from our advancer:

1. As noted above, the cave people did not exactly win since they withdrew their resolution to rub out anyone who helps put a tax extension measure on the ballot. But if getting publicity for their tiny strike team of reactionaries was the goal, they triumphed handily.

2. The GOP 5 couldn’t be tarred and feathered because only one showed up and while he didn’t get the medieval treatment, he was accused of  “selling us out on taxes” and made to understand that should he ever wander out of his district, the right wing will jump his ass.

3. Sutter Brown and Grover the Norquist did not make appearances but there was plenty of doggy doo and more than a few delegates stepped in it.

4. The Stalinistas failed to pass their plan to give a cadre of party purists the authority to anoint candidates in the top-two primary system.  U.S. Rep Kevin McCarthy and others put the squeeze on to keep the party — as he said at Saturday night’s dinner — from bringing back the back room.

5. Comrade Jon “Josef” Fleischman, who was working the hallways, salons and bars like a cheap hooker, never bought one lousy drink for any reporter that we’re aware of, despite the fact that the news media have literally made his name a household word.

Other notes: Chairman Del Baccaro, who is young and good looking, was literally mobbed by GOP women Saturday night at his reception where he signed baseballs. Why did he sign baseballs when he never played hardball? “It’s the team thing,” he told Calbuzz, which got its own autographed ball.

Certain numbnuts in the party tried twice — at the Rules Committee meeting on Friday and the Saturday luncheon with Fox Poll Clown Frank Luntz — to keep reporters out. That is so stupid. First, too many of us would just sit there and demand to be arrested and why do you want to make it look like you’re doing secret business?

Somebody at the L.A. Times needs to lighten up a bit and let poor Seema Mehta and Maeve Reston skip boring, unremarkable speeches and meetings when Calbuzz party time is happening. Same for B people re. Torey “Don’t Call Me Tulip” Van Oot. We spent time on the road with some of their bosses and they never missed trial fun for crapchurn.

He will be missed: Sadly, Doug McNea, 64, of San Jose, collapsed while dancing and died at Kevin McCarthy’s party Saturday night. Our condolences to friends and family of the longtime leader of the  Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association.

Calbuzz at Two: Wild Parties, Lady Gaga & a Field Poll

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

From Sydney Harbor to the Taj Mahal and Tiananmen Square, from  Big Ben to the Eiffel Tower and the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, raucous crowds numbered in the tens of millions gathered Wednesday amid pomp, pageantry and majestic bombardments of M80s and Megabangers to wildly cheer and celebrate the Second Anniversary of Calbuzz.

“Ich kann es nicht glauben,” murmured staff psychiatrist Dr. P.J. Hackenflack, weeping openly as he listened to reports of the global revelry on a transistor radio in his mom’s basement. “When we started this brave journey, there was no one who believed Calbuzz would still be around two years later, least of all me.”

There were no injuries.

As Tom Meyer released a limited edition cartoon commemorating the founders of Calbuzz celebrating the great day, the site’s Department of Archival Inquiry and Dewey Decimal System Research reported that the must-read web site has soared to Number 1,074,351 among the list of all the blogs in the world (you could look it up).

More: Amid reams of deep-think policy reporting on such fascinating subjects as the Sinclair Paint decision, the Parsky Tax Reform Commission and the Tranquillon Ridge offshore oil drilling project, Dr. H is pleased to  report that our all-time, nothing- else is-even-close,  first place most hits ever, popular post was the one and only piece that carried a headline that included Lady Gaga (you could look it up).

God, we love us some internets.

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.Note to Neanderthals: the most important finding in the Field/UC Berkeley poll out today is that six in 10 voters – including more than half of Republicans — support Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for a special election on tax and fee extensions to close about half the state’s $26 billion deficit.

And providing evidence for why the anti-tax jihadists are so adamant about NOT allowing Brown’s plan to reach the ballot, 58% of voters – 69% of Democrats and 66% of independents but just 35% of Republicans – say they’d vote to approve those extensions.

These are some of the findings from a survey in English and Spanish by the Field Poll and UC Berkeley of 898 registered voters Feb. 28-March 14.

Only a handful of voters – 11% — prefer to deal with the state’s deficit mostly through raising taxes and just 32% prefer using mostly spending cuts. Rather, the favored approach – by 52% — is a mix of budget cuts and increased tax revenues.

Moreover, as Mark DiCamillo of the Field Poll put it: “By a 55% to 43% margin, Californians say they are not willing to pay higher taxes for the purpose of helping the state balance its budget. However, by a 61% to 37% margin, voters agree with the statement, ‘I would be willing to extend temporary tax increases enacted several years ago to help the state balance its budget.”

Grover Norquist, Jon Fleischman, Jon Coupal, John and Ken take note: California voters would rather extend some minor tax and fee hikes and cut spending by about $12 billion than slice, dice and decimate schools or health care for the poor, elderly and disabled. You may have no heart but the voters of California do.

Of 14 areas suggested for budget cutbacks, only two – courts and prisons – receive majority support. And voters are vehemently opposed to cutbacks in some areas that would almost surely have to be slashed if tax extensions are not placed on the ballot and approved, including public schools, law enforcement and police, health programs for  low-income and disabled Californians, higher education, child care and mental health programs.

By far, the most contentious issue in Sacramento right now is whether the Legislature should place a special election on the June ballot. This requires a 2/3 vote which means Brown and the Democrats need two Republicans each from the Assembly and Senate to agree to the special election.

The most conservative voices in the GOP are threatening legislators with expulsion from the Republican Party and fevered opposition if they even vote to place Brown’s plan on the ballot. Yet the Field Poll/UC Berkeley study finds that registered Republicans – a more diverse group than the anti-tax crusaders – would prefer that approach as seen in the chart above.

As your Calbuzzers told you back in January, the whole battle is about whether Brown’s proposal is seen as extending or increasing taxes.

[Calbuzz gets the Field Poll from sources because one of the survey's big subscribers has complained that we should not be allowed to pay for a subscription on our own (which we actually offered to do). Since we don't have the proper link at post time, here's a link to the Field Poll's list of surveys which ought to have this one up by the time you read about it here. Here's the link to the survey]

One-way street: As Jerry Brown’s talks with the GOP 5 teeter, it’s tough to disagree with the sentiments of the Republicans’ top negotiator, Senator Bob Huff, as reported by Steve Harmon:

But Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, the lead GOP budget negotiator who has been aiding the GOP 5, said Republican backlash isn’t a concern. Republican activists would credit them, Huff said, if they forced Democrats to place pension and regulatory reforms, as well as a spending cap, on the ballot.

“They are asking us to cast a vote that separates us from our base,” he said. “So, Republicans would like to see Democrats going to the ballot with something that separates them from their base.”

Faced with the torches and pitchforks of state GOP wingnuts and crazies, the Republican lawmakers who have been hunkered down with Brown are putting it all on the line: at some point, he needs to man up and give something in return.

Budget talks add: Nice work by the Sacbee’s Torey (Don’t call me Tulip) Van Oot in churning out a set of mini-profiles of the GOP 5, about the only thing we’ve seen that tells people who these guys actually are.

Must-see TV:

-UCLA scholar demonstrates why there are so many dumb blonde jokes.

-What Sarkozy’s marital woes and Yeltsin’s tennis shorts have in common.

-How does he get these women to do such things?

-Second greatest buzzer beater of all time.

-Greatest buzzer beater ever.

Happy Anniversary all!

Why the CA Republicans are Flirting With Stalinism

Monday, March 14th, 2011

In preparation for the statewide convention of the California Republican Party this weekend, the Calbuzz Department of Process, Rules and Schadenfreude has been in secret discussions with apparatchiks who are cooking up what you might call your Soviet Rule – whereby the GOP Politburo determines who’s pure enough to get the party imprimatur in a top-two primary.

The idea is to ensure that before actual voters decide which candidates they want to consider in a November run-off election, the most conservative activists in the California GOP will meet and determine who the “actual” Republican in the race is, so that no polluted candidate can lay claim to the party label.

We’ve also taken a look at the GOP Alien and Sedition Act proposed by the cave-dwelling California Republican Assembly, which would expel any GOP legislators who vote to put Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax extension on the June ballot.

The proposed resolution (and we quote)  “censures these traitorous Republicans-in-Name-Only, ask(s) for their resignation(s) from their positions within the California Republican Party, pledges to endorse and support efforts to recall them from office, and directs the California Republican Party staff, agents and officers to refuse to provide them with funding or assistance in future elections.”

As if the CRP had any money or assistance to give.

In the words of Jim Brulte, the former legislative leader and perhaps the smartest GOP thinker in the state: “If the California Republican Party spent half as much time trying to elect Republicans in November as they do trying to purify the party in June, we’d have a lot more elected Republicans.”

But the true believers would rather have 20% of the Legislature populated by purist ideologues than have 50% and a healthy dose of diverse thinking.

The Democrats also have a system for endorsing candidates that was adopted before the top-two primary was approved by the voters. But in cases where there are open seats and several candidates, the party seldom endorses because the threshold is so high. And when it does, whoever wins the primary – endorsed or not — is automatically the party’s nominee. How that will work in a top-two primary remains to be determined: maybe the Dems will come up with a similar system of purging one of their own, too.

But for now, it’s the upcoming Republican convention that’s at hand and it looks like it’s going to be a warriors’ weekend. There’s even a proposal on the table to ensure than any incumbent legislator is automatically endorsed by the party – even though those legislators may be running in different districts after the citizens’ reapportionment is completed.

Comrade Jon “Josef” Fleischman explained why the Reeps are so stirred up: “The idea is that unless the Republican Party is behind someone, we might not have a candidate in the top two.”

But what if the voters in a district opt for the non-endorsed, unpure (perhaps even –gasp – a moderate) Republican as one of their top-two choices? How will the Politburo react? Just because a candidate says he or she is a Republican doesn’t necessarily mean the party considers him or her an actual Republican. What if it’s a pro-choice Republican? Or a Republican opposed to offshore oil drilling? Or – OMG – a RINO who voted to put Brown’s tax measure on the ballot?

That’s where Celeste Greig’s grand ole’ CRA resolution comes to the rescue – with a Great Purge, cleansing the party of unclean, odious moderates, seeking to make sure cats don’t mix with dogs, that people can’t marry chickens and that marginal tax rates aren’t treated like bad cheese.

How else to ensure a robust, thriving and united party? How else to stamp out democratic centralism? How else to eliminate those Trotskyites lurking in secret cells in Anaheim, Redlands or Redding? Give ‘em the axe, the axe, the axe, we say.

This is why we love covering politics: because just when you think things can’t get more bizarre, some party chairman invites some dog-ass ideologue to debate the governor whose spokesman, appropriately, offers up an actual dog as a surrogate. Or the last remnants of a dying party apparatus sponsor resolutions and rule changes designed to narrow their party even further.

We should have to pay to cover this stuff. Oh wait, we already do.

How Papal Predeccesors Can Help Pope Jerry I

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Jerry Brown’s recent reliance on religious rhetoric in trying to win Republican support for his tax plan may reflect a belief that his only hope for political salvation lies in the power of prayer.

Or maybe it just means he’s suffering delusions of grandeur.

Some media heretics claim that Brown’s drawing of a comparison between the few Republicans willing to negotiate with him and the Jewish elder Nicodemus means the governor is casting himself in the role of Jesus.

But the Calbuzz College of Cardinals and Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers, which has analyzed Brown’s canonical pronouncements more fully than any other news organization, just issued a new encyclical, decreeing that the Jesuit-trained governor’s spouting of sacerdotal language suggests instead that he considers himself the Pope, a point he seemed to make in a recent appearance before legislators:

While expressing disappointment at Republicans who have signed anti-tax pledges, he quipped that as a young seminary student he made vows of poverty, chastity and obedience that were later withdrawn.

“It took the Pope to do that, but I want you to know we can set up a process where we can dispense people from pledges,” he said to laughter.

“Any Republican that wants a dispensation, they should come down to my office.”

With compromise-minded GOP senators declaring this week that they are at “impasse” with Brown, we recommend he look closely at the political records of five of the 266 popes in Roman Catholic Church history for some key dos and don’ts about what he should do next:

St. Peter (32-67 AD) - The first pope, and the rock upon which his church was built, Peter found perhaps his greatest success during the years he traveled on populist missionary tours throughout the Mideast and Asia Minor – Antioch, Caesarea,  Galatia, Joppe, Lydda, Pontus, et al. – before ending up in Rome.

It’s a good model for Brown, particularly if Republicans remain stubborn, and he should hit the road – Anaheim, Chowchilla, Grass Valley, Jackson, Larkspur, Pomona, etc. – on behalf of his budget plan, before heading back to Sacramento.

A word of caution: Historians tell us Peter met his earthly fate by being crucified upside down by whack job Emperor Nero; Brown is well advised to avoid  being in the same room as Grover Norquist.

Pope Leo I (440-461) - Leo the Great is known for sustaining and expanding the unity of his church at a time when that wasn’t an easy thing to do; among other accomplishments, he persuaded Attila the Hun to leave Italy, and convinced the Vandals to take it easy on the citizens of Rome.

Like Leo, Brown is faced with restoring stable governance to a state in chaos. His equivalent challenge: chilling out the marauding anti-government Visigoths of the GOP.

Pope-elect Stephen (March 23-26, 752) - A Roman priest, Stephen was elected to succeed Pope Zachary but died just three days later, before he was ordained, of what historians say was apoplexy.

It’s understandable that Brown might go all apoplectic over the budget battle, so he needs to just…breathe…and take an ecumenical dose of Zen  meditation the better to stay on the political pathway to a second term. Plus some friendly Ignatian advice: “Age quod agis” – “Do what you are doing.”

Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) – Not-so-Innocent was the first pope to levy an income tax, requiring all clergy to fork over one-fortieth of their pay to help support the Crusades. At first, he promised to return one-fourth of the dough if they paid up willingly and honestly; when some complained that the money was being misused, he cracked down and threatened to excommunicate anyone who tried to short the tax man.

The clear lesson for Brown: he needs to make his case for tax extensions both convincing and clear, and if he manages to get his measure on the ballot, he damn well better explain to voters exactly where their money is going.

Pope Pius IX (1846-78) – The cardinals who voted him in were divided into two factions – conservatives who wished to continue absolutism in church governance, and liberals, who backed moderate reforms; when the deal went down, he won by three (decline-to-state) votes.

Pius started his record-long reign as a strong liberal, but became ever more conservative in later years, as he demonstrated shrewd and savvy political skill on behalf of his church while navigating decades of European revolutionary upheaval and ushering in the dogma of “papal infallibility.”

Like Pius, Brown now trends more conservative than in his liberal salad days. Also like him, the governor needs to win support from independents in order to succeed. In the end, however, it would be a helluva’ lot easier for Brown if he just declared himself infallible and passed whatever budget he damn well pleases.

On a more secular note: With the Gang of Five GOP senators who’ve been meeting with Brown having declared an impasse, while unions representing teachers, firefighters, cops and others urge the Legislature to protect pensions, it’s a 50-50 proposition at best that Brown’s hopes for a June vote on $12 billion in tax and fee extensions will come to pass.

Given that the governor has repeatedly stated he will not go for a majority-vote move to get a measure on the ballot (because it’s likely not legal, not to mention politically suicidal) there are basically three theories about what will happen next in Sacramento :

1. Intransigent Republicans will continue to refuse to offer reasonable options for negotiation on a budget agreement because by saying “no” they get what they want: $26 billion in spending cuts.

This is the “Don’t Throw Me in the Briar Patch” approach that Brown unintentionally invited by saying a) he won’t raise taxes without a vote of the people and b) if he can’t get a vote, the only alternative is an all-cuts budget.

2. Many Republicans (the Gang of Five and others) know that $26 billion in spending cuts would devastate local schools, higher education, public safety, state parks and social services (for which they may be blamed), so they’ll hold out until the last minute, expecting Brown to negotiate with himself by offering ever deeper cuts, pension reforms and spending limitations which they just might go along with after the California Republican Party state convention March 18-20.

3. Declaring talks at an impasse – and Brown’s suggestion that things look bad – are just negotiating tactics and in the next few weeks both sides will bend enough to reach an agreement that the Democrats and their labor, environmental and social allies can accept in place of $12 billion more in cutbacks and that a handful of Republicans — bolstered by chambers of commerce and other business groups — can accept as conservative accomplishments to ward off the right-wing, anti-tax political  jihad.

What will happen? Who will prevail? Will Sutter Brown roll over and present his belly to be stroked? Will Pope Jerry?

Calbuzz sez: a combo of 2) and 3).