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Posts Tagged ‘Paul Krugman’



Starbuck vs. The Empress; Oligarchs On Wisconsin

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

There are any number of garden-variety, Beltway sages and seers ready and willing (if not able) to opine  on the 2012 presidential campaign — but  only Calbuzz offers prognostication on what concerns our readers most: the 2018 Democratic nomination race for  governor.

Sticking to their previous prognosis that a second-term Governor Gandalf will still be doing pull-ups at 80 (as well as their prediction that California Republicans by then will be scarcer than snowy plovers), our Department of Logarithmic Forecasting and Necromantic Foreboding confirms that the  intraparty gubernatorial brawl between Attorney General Kamala Harris and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom will be the key race to watch that year.

“We can predict a Harris-Newsom contest with a 98.6% level of confidence,” said our public opinion research chief, Marc DiCassare. “We further forecast that the state deficit at that point will be $4.65 trillion.”

Today, Calbuzz presents the first in an occasional series of special reports updating the race between Lieutenant Starbuck and the Empress of River City. At a time when the electorate is  beginning to form its crucial first impression, we examine how they are introducing themselves to Californians, based mostly on a hard-hitting analysis of the constant stream of press releases churned out by their taxpayer-financed flacks.

January 18:

Harris: Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Settlement on Comcast- NBC Merger with Protections for Consumers, Competition and Innovation

“Settlement gives California authority to provide oversight on $30 billion telecommunications joint venture.”

Newsom:Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom Launches Statewide Discussion on California’s Higher Education System

“Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the launch of a statewide higher education listening tour and an online campaign that will engage Californians in a public dialogue, seeking their feedback and suggestions on issues relating to the state’s higher education system.”

February 2 – 3

Harris:Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Establishes California Foreclosure Relief Fund with $6.5 Million Settlement from Former Countrywide Financial Executives

LOS ANGELES – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced a $6.5 million settlement of a predatory lending case against Angelo Mozilo and David Sambol, former officers of Countrywide Financial Corporation. Attorney General Harris announced the settlement money will be used to establish an innovative statewide California Foreclosure Crisis Relief Fund to combat the effects of California’s high rates of foreclosure and mortgage delinquency.”

Newsom:Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom Issues Statement on Lunar New Year

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom issued the following statement today regarding Lunar New Year:

‘To everyone across California and the world who is celebrating the arrival of the Lunar New Year today, Jennifer and I want to extend our best wishes for a prosperous and healthy Year of the Rabbit.’”

Feb. 14-16

Harris:Harris: Suspects Arrested in Murder-for-Hire Plot Commissioned by Mexican Drug Cartel

PALMDALE – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the arrest today of three suspects in a foiled murder-for-hire plot commissioned by a Tijuana drug cartel.”

Newsom: Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom Sends Letter to Joint Legislative Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture in Support of the Marine Life Protection Act.”

February 21-22

Harris:Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Supports Port of Los Angeles Program to Reduce Air Pollution and Cancer Risk

LOS ANGELES – Seeking environmental justice for all Californians, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case in support of efforts by the Port of Los Angeles to reduce air pollution through its Clean Trucks program.”

Newsom: “Apple dish: A spy in Manhattan tells us he ran across Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom last weekend shopping for ties in the men’s department at the swank Bergdorf Goodman store.

Newsom’s office confirms the couple did take a “private trip” back East last week for the screening of Jennifer’s new documentary, “Miss Representation.” They also attended a showing of new designers at New York’s semiannual Fashion Week.” (h/t Matier and Ross).

Astute analysis: At this point, it’s not really a fair fight.

Not only does the AG have, you know, an actual job, but her public story is largely being told by the wily James A. Finefrock III, chief flack for the Department of Justice and a battle-hardened veteran of the throwback Chron-Ex War of Words; Starbuck’s pub shop meanwhile thinks it’s a cool idea to e-blast a press release wishing everyone Gung Hay Fat Choy.

(Calbuzz training tip for the young ‘uns:  carefully study this video of your guy’s famous interview with our old friend Hank Plante, then make Gavin start doing everything exactly the opposite).

Round 1 bottom line: Harris +4.

On Wisconsin: There are exactly two words to describe the sickening spectacle of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s vicious move against  public employees in the Cheesehead State: Union Busting.

Walker is one of the favorite, lickspittle running dogs of the Koch Brothers, the greedhead polluters and social Darwinists who are the most visible players in the ultra-rich, right-wing effort to make oligarchy the law of the land in the U.S.

Not content that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans have grabbed nearly 25% of its wealth, thanks to decades of tax cuts for the wealthy and increasingly profitable banks and global corporations, the Kochs and their cadre now aggressively blame middle class workers for the Wall Street-triggered recession and, in the process, are pushing to destroy the last vestiges of trade unionism and all that it implies, as Paul Krugman notes:

In principle, every American citizen has an equal say in our political process. In practice, of course, some of us are more equal than others. Billionaires can field armies of lobbyists; they can finance think tanks that put the desired spin on policy issues; they can funnel cash to politicians with sympathetic views (as the Koch brothers did in the case of Mr. Walker). On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate.

Given this reality, it’s important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. And unions are among the most important of these institutions.

You don’t have to love unions, you don’t have to believe that their policy positions are always right, to recognize that they’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans, as opposed to the wealthy. Indeed, if America has become more oligarchic and less democratic over the last 30 years — which it has — that’s to an important extent due to the decline of private-sector unions.

And now Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to get rid of public-sector unions, too.

More recommended reading: Gene Robinson and Ezra Klein in the Washpost.

Polling footnote: Rasmussen’s at it again, loading up its polling to support the Republican position on the debate over collective bargaining by public employees. Best evidence from impartial and also from Democratic connected pollsters finds that about six in 10 voters in Wisconsin and throughout the country reject the drive to do away with this fundamental labor right.

Texas Gov Shovels Cow Pies About California

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Rick Perry, the blow-dried blowhard  recently re-elected as the Republican governor of Texas, was back at it last week, trying to puff up his national political prestige by dumping all over California.

This loudmouth clodhopper loves to boast about his economic development “hunting trips,” which he falsely claims have led a stream of companies to flee the Golden State for the Lone Star State. In that vein, he told a Washington gathering that  “California businesses are going to keep relocating out of that state,” according to a Richard Dunham dispatch:

In a speech to the Texas State Society in Washington, he cited California’s tax burden, its fiscal mess and its failure to adopt tough tort reform as reasons why its businesses are leaving. Unlike California, he said, Texas offers businesses headquartered there “a stable platform.”

Talk about big hat, no cattle.

The anti-evolution theorist Perry, who harbors delusional dreams of living in the White House, likes to travel the country bragging on what he calls the “Texas Miracle.” In this political fantasy, the low-tax, low-service government of America’s reddest state fuels a mighty engine of recession-proof economic growth, in sharp contrast to the policies of the  bluest in the nation.

But as the Calbuzzers in our Southwest Region and Turquoise Jewelry String Tie Bureau like to say: “Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.”

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Beyond Tom Meyer’s splendid sum-up cartoon today, recent takedowns of Texas by prominent economic columnists, from the estimable Michael Hiltzik to the hysterical Paul Krugman have shown that, by a wide variety of measures, Perry’s miraculous narrative is a fabrication.

Because Texas has a two-year budget – and because it was propped up by billions in federal spending from the stimulus bill that Perry never tired of hypocritically trashing — he dissembled throughout his re-election campaign, bloviating about how his right-wing fiscal policies had put his state into surplus, while California wallowed in red ink (loyal readers will  also recall that Meg Whitman, who like Perry has but a passing acquaintance with the truth, often pointed to Texas as a model of how she would govern if she beat Jerry Brown. But we digress).

But when the bill came due, shortly after Perry’s inauguration, it turned out Texas faced a $25+ billion, two-year deficit (representing about the same percentage of its total budget as California’s), along with high unemployment, plus education and health care services among the lowest in the country. As Hiltzik puts it:

The bottom line is that fashioning fiscal policies strictly along low-tax lines doesn’t protect you from budget deficits or business slumps or make your residents necessarily happy or healthy…

While Texas Gov. Rick Perry sucked up to the tea party, declaring himself opposed to “government bailouts” and prattling about seceding from the union, he papered over his state’s budget gap with $6.4 billion in Recovery Act funds, including increased federal handouts for education and Medicaid. So when you, the California taxpayer, hear talk of the Texas Miracle, you should take pride in having helped pay for it.

As for those businesses that Perry has allegedly stolen for his state from California, well, as we say around the Calbuzz campfire, “You can put your boots in the oven but that don’t make ‘em biscuits.” The redoubtable Evan Halper reports:

Even Perry’s claims of companies that have decamped from California to lay down roots in Texas appear to be overblown. When the Austin American-Statesman looked into the Texas governor’s boast that there were 153 such companies in 2010, reporters found the claim included California firms that stayed put but maybe opened a Texas branch. The newspaper concluded that Perry’s figure was grossly inflated.

Perry’s staff said the governor was too busy to be interviewed in Austin last week. Media reports later revealed that he was on a five-day trip through California, which involved trying to coax companies east. His spokesman refused to name the companies.

We just bet he did.

Now when it comes to Texas, this ain’t our first rodeo. In fact, a mere 19 years ago (see photo evidence) your Calbuzzards conducted our own extensive, on-the-ground Actual Reporting about the state (key finding: no  coincidence it’s where air conditioning was invented).

So our well-considered bottom line on Perry and all his budget bushwah is this: Just because a chicken has wings don’t mean it can fly. And that ole boy thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow. Anyways, he’s as fulla’ wind as a corn eatin’ horse.

Besides, we still live in California, and he’s still stuck in Texas.