Quantcast

Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Cook’



D.C. and Sacto: A Tale of Two Political Universes

Monday, April 11th, 2011

After speaking in Los Alamitos last weekend, Gov. Jerry Brown labeled as “pathetic” the last-minute deal on the federal budget that averted a government shutdown.

“You’re not the superpower of the world if you have to stay up half the night trying to make a few decisions over a fraction of your budget,” Brown said.

Krusty the Governor should know from pathetic: he’s surrounded by it in Sacramento. That’s not to mention what seems to have been his own feckless attempts to quietly persuade a handful of Republicans to do what they have no inclination to do: give voters the right to decide whether to extend some taxes instead of slashing another $15.4 billion from the California budget.

So now Brown is on a belated bully-pulpit tour of California, hoping to build pressure on Republicans to make a reasonable deal on the budget. “You got to wear people down,” Brown told reporters. “You have to persuade them, and you have to go out to as many parts of California to create the mood, the momentum, and the environment where people are ready to face the music.”

But even Gov. Gandalf now admits he’s facing dark forces that may be too strong for his wizardry.

“Getting some of these Republicans to let the people vote for taxes or cuts is like asking the pope to let Catholics vote on abortion,” he said. “Highly unlikely.”

Passive aggressive behavior: In Washington, House Republicans – who were in danger of over-reading their “mandate” – and Senate Democrats – who were in danger of placing their genitals in a mason jar – finally made a deal because not making a deal was seen by both sides as too politically perilous.

How that’s different from Sacramento is this: In Washington, the party leaders in Congress can actually make a deal because a) they want to, and b) they have the power.

In Sacramento, not only do the passive aggressive Republicans have no incentive to allow a vote on taxes – since the 2/3-vote requirement on taxes allows them to accomplish their goal by sitting on their hands – but their leaders have no power to make a deal.

This is something Calbuzz has hammered on for some time. As we explained back in July 2009:

The governor and the Legislature fulminate and flounder simply because no one in the Capitol in 2009 has the stature, clout or influence to cut a deal like Ronnie and Jesse or Pete and Willie once did.

Strip away all the policy wonkery, weed whacking and egghead analysis  and you find that a combination of term limits and politically-safe, gerrymandered legislative seats has created a political atmosphere in which every legislator is an army of one – and none of them fears the governor, the speaker or any other leader in the Legislature.

For the moment, the Democratic leaders appear to have a bit more sway over their members than the Republican leadership. But that too may disintegrate if Brown’s terms for a deal include a spending cap or pension reforms that the jefes in the California Teachers Association, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association or Service Employees International Union don’t find acceptable.

Reapportionment and the top-two election system may mitigate the wing-nut intransigence of Sacramento in coming years – perhaps replenishing the Legislature with lawmakers who don’t believe compromise is capitulation. But until term limits are eliminated, leadership will remain a huge impediment to deal-making in the public interest.

Talking to reporters on Saturday, Brown also argued that President Obama faced “the same problem I do, only worse.” He likened the need for supermajorities to overcome filibusters in the U.S. Senate to the Legislative votes needed to raise taxes in California.

Caving in to bullies: But there is a more important way in which Sacramento and Washington are alike, as outlined in a compelling essay by Robert Reich, professor of public policy at UC Berkeley and former secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton.

“The right-wing bullies are emboldened. They will hold the nation hostage again and again,” he wrote the other day, urging Obama and the Democrats to take a stand.

All the while, he and the Democratic leadership in Congress refuse to refute the Republicans’ big lie – that spending cuts will lead to more jobs. In fact, spending cuts now will lead to fewer jobs. They’ll slow down an already-anemic recovery. That will cause immense and unnecessary suffering for millions of Americans.

The President continues to legitimize the Republican claim that too much government spending caused the economy to tank, and that by cutting back spending we’ll get the economy going again.

Even before the bullies began hammering him his deficit commission already recommended $3 of spending cuts for every dollar of tax increase. Then the President froze non-defense domestic spending and froze federal pay. And he continues to draw the false analogy between a family’s budget and the national budget.

He is losing the war of ideas because he won’t tell the American public the truth: That we need more government spending now – not less – in order to get out of the gravitational pull of the Great Recession.

Likewise, Democrats in Sacramento – including Gov. Brown – seem to have conceded the argument that public employee pensions, extravagant state spending on social services, over-regulation and over-taxation are the causes of California’s deficit. All of which is simply not supported by the facts.

Bottom line: Jerry Brown won a huge mandate in large part because he said he would bring order to the chaos in Sacramento and that he would not raise taxes without a vote of the people. He did not win by promising to slash teachers’ pensions, eviscerate environmental regulation or cut taxes on rich people.

In Washington, the Republicans – now talking about eliminating Medicare — are overinterpreting their electoral mandate, as analyst Charlie Cook has noted.

But the Republicans in California have no such mandate to misread: what they have is the power of a minority veto in the Legislature. Still, they seem to think they’ve got the voters on their side; Brown and the Democrats need to  disabuse them.

But please, spare us the White House’s obnoxious new mantra — “winning the future.”

Meyer to Jerry: Crank Up the Volume; Press Clips

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Jerry Brown kicked off Labor Day week with his first TV ad and a radio spot as well opening with narrator Peter Coyote telling us, “Never accused of following conventional wisdom, Jerry Brown took on the status quo,” a statement pregnant with understatement.

But as soon as Krusty the General launched his ads, the Armies of eMeg fired back with their own blast from the past — a  devastating 1992 debate clip of Bill Clinton smacking Jerry down for leaving California broke.

C’est la guerre. Calbuzzer Chief Editorial Cartoonist Tom Meyer picks up on the disparity in amplification between Brown and the Meg Whitman campaign, suggesting Jerry’s sitar just might get drowned out by THE HUGE SPEAKERS THAT WHITMAN CAN AFFORD.

Calbuzz Hits the Big Time: You know you’ve made it onto the radar when Andrew Breitbart, the king of the Neanderthal Wing of the Blogosphere publishes a 794-word essay attacking you, which, we are delighted to report, is exactly what has happened to Calbuzz.

In a piece written by Warner Todd Huston (and you know you should never trust anybody with three last names, especially when he’s got a blog, Publius Forum, that sounds like a social disease), who bills himself “as Chicago based freelance writer [who] has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001,” Calbuzz got 20 mentions and several links amid a brutal assault on our character, integrity and ancestry, which met the same high standards of high-quality journalism as Brietbart’s infamous attack on Shirley Sherrod.

Amid the horrible things WTH had to say about us were these libels:
– “Widely read.”
– “Calbuzz gets a lot of respect from California’s Old Media and political establishment.”
– “Calbuzz is one of the first stops for so many in the Old Media and Sacramento.”

Actually, a comment from a reader named “Petroglyph” hurt most: “Nobody reads this piece of crap Calbuzz unless it’s Jerry himself.” Sadly, we have it on good authority that Jerry hardly ever reads us unless Anne or Steve clips us for him.

Still and all, we’re delighted to have attracted the attention of the right-wing lap dogs of imperialism. Thanks for the props, Andrew.

Press Clips

All you need to know about the state of MSM (h/t to H.D. Palmer, who had it before Drudge).

Seema Mehta and Maeve Reston, the hardest-working women in show business, were everywhere at once over Labor Day weekend and still found  time to file a solid situationer for the tiny handful of Californians who haven’t  been paying close attention to the campaign.

Given the indefatigable labors of the dynamic duo, it’s unfair to the rest of us that the LAT  has the wily veteran Cathy Decker coming off the bench to make perfect sense of PPIC’s latest data dump.

Joe Garofoli busts Krusty big-time traveling between past lives.

Must read: Tim Noah’s series on income inequality, only the most important undercovered issue in American politics.

For those too bored to penetrate Charlie Cook’s pontifications about the mid-terms, here’s a handy list of the 50 races that matter.

For those who are even lazier, here’s a good, Hearstian mini-list of 10.

Swell analytical work by the Viet Cong Star’s Timm Herdt pulling together the multiple strands of the political reform debate.

Glenn Beck: more honest that you’ve ever seen him.

Puerile Polls, Pennant Races and Pigeon Hearts

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Calbuzz has made no secret that we think the Rasmussen Poll, with its automated calling, God-knows-what sampling technique and conservative bias, is basically crap. So we don’t pay much attention to it, even when its results seem in the ballpark. You know: a monkey typing for an infinite amount of time could produce Hamlet, etc.

So two weeks ago, when Rasmussen had the California governor’s race with Meg Whitman at 51% and Jerry Brown at 43%, and Whitman’s guard dog Mike Murphy predicted we’d trash the poll, we just said, “Why bother?” And we were going to just pay no nevermind again when, on Wednesday, we saw that Rasmussen now has the race at 48-45% for Whitman — although exactly NOTHING happened between the two surveys to move the needle (Brown’s new ad wasn’t even up yet).

But for some unknown reason, some media outlets give credence to Rasmussen, so we thought we’d just note a couple of findings that ought to steer our esteemed colleagues away from circulating this survey swill.

Here’s all you need to know: the new Rasmussen poll has Whitman beating Brown among liberals 62-35%. That’s absurd. At the same time a poll from CNN, done by Opinion Research Corp., has Meg over Jerry 48-46%, with liberals voting for Brown 80-16%, which sounds about right.

Rasmussen also has Whitman beating Brown 62-31% among voters 65 and older, compared to the CNN poll which has Brown over Whitman 50-47% in the same age group. Another stupid Rasmussen result.

Mark our words: when it gets down to the wire, and reputable pollsters have weighed in with serious results from legitimate polling, outfits like Rasmussen and Survey USA will post surveys right on the money. However they get there.

P.S.For a more complete discussion of the Calbuzz Standards for Polling, Decency and Free Lunch see this discussion from our Department of Weights and Measures.

Political pennant races: In the final week of August, the San Diego Padres led major league baseball’s Western Division by a comfortable 6.5 games, Vegas oddsmakers made them a 97.2% lock to make the playoffs and their fans were buzzing about probable post-season pitching rotations.

Then they lost 10 games in a row.

At the start of play last night, the Pads led the never-quit Giants by exactly one game, amid the caterwauling and hair-pulling of fans desperate to figure out why their team had suddenly collapsed.

The answer was simple. The Padres had merely run up against one of the venerable unwritten rules of baseball: The pennant race doesn’t start until September.

Baseball’s long history of amazing stretch runs – the ’51 Giants, the ’78 Yankees and the ’95 Mariners for starters – came to mind amid the quickly cementing Beltway conventional wisdom that Republicans are guaranteed to seize control of the House in November and, most likely,  the Senate as well.

A series of national polls, which show that voters strongly prefer a generic GOP congressional candidate over a Democratic one, has generated widespread mockery of a purportedly failed president and ignited (sheesh) created a tsunami of GOP/Fox News triumphalism, summed up best by the single fact that a Google search of John Boehner, the GOP House leader and wannabe Speaker, and the words “measuring the drapes” yields 31,900 hits.

Calbuzz would never presume to claim the unfailing wisdom of the godlike Larry Sabato or the clairvoyance of the sage Charlie Cook.  All we know is a) generic polls don’t mean squat in a local congressional district dogfight; b) trash talking in the clubhouse don’t win games on the field; c) that’s why they have horse races.

So while we’re not making any predictions about the congressional mid-terms, we do note Chris Cillizza’s pretty clear-eyed observation that the  real battle will come down to who wins the definitional fight to frame what the races are about  – a national referendum on the Administration or a district-by-district, state-by-state comparison between two competing candidates.

Oh, and did we mention that the only poll that matters is the one on election day?

Annals of weenie-hood: The Calbuzz Department of Ethical Standards and Goo-Goo Meritorious Service presents gold badges of honor to Mark Yudof and Jack Scott, UC president and community college system chancellor respectively, for resigning from the state Chamber of Commerce board of directors to protest that august body’s taking sides in the race for governor. (CSU president Charles Reed, who remains on the board, apparently has more elastic standards).

Said Scott:

I do not believe the board is using sound judgment by catapulting the California Chamber of Commerce into the center of a fierce political contest…It is destructive to the chamber’s core mission and the businesses it represents when it becomes a partisan operation.

While we admire Scott’s pluck, not to mention his choice of the woefully underused verb “catapult,” we have no beef with the Chamber looking out for their member’s interests by endorsing Republican Meg Whitman and her tax cuts for corporations and the rich. Nor do we begrudge them their decision to spend big bucks running TV ads trashing Jerry Brown.

What does rankle, however, is their lily-livered, pigeon-hearted, weak-kneed, yellow-bellied, gutless spinelessness in hiding behind the skirts of the phony pretense that what they’re putting on the air is some kind of “issue ad.”

These guys and eMeg spend half their lives whining about the injustice of unions airing independent expenditure committee spots in support of Brown, but at least the labor goons have enough courage in their convictions to identify themselves on campaign spending reports.

C’mon Zaremberg, get those weenies on your board to man up for once in their craven, cowardly lives.

Three dot lounge: Must have been an off-year for Dick: Senator Difi clocks in only at #10 on the list of the richest members of Congress…We don’t understand why Denis Thierault appears to have been the only one to report on a fascinating study that shows Democrat counties send Sacramento more in revenue than they get back in services, while GOP counties represented by anti-government types end up on the plus side of the ledger; drown the baby in the bathtub indeed…We’re glad we’re not the only ones grumbling about Fred Thompson peddling reverse mortgages on late night cable for a company that preys on old folks…Amid all the brouhaha about Krusty’s  terms as mayor of Oakland, Steve Harmon has written the best reported piece on his record we’ve seen…Bad taste costs no more