Patterico's Pontifications


California Tax Revolt: What Next?

Filed under: General — Karl @ 11:29 pm

[Posted by Karl]

The Los Angeles Times claims that the campaign over six state budget propositions on today’s ballot in California ended with a whimper, and seeks to downplay the expected result by predicting a low turnout. But yesterday was more like the calm before the storm.

Tonight’s results will gauge what polls suggest is voter fury over the failure of the Republican governor and the Democratic-controlled Legislature to balance the state’s books.

As Californians struggle with joblessness, home foreclosures and sharp losses in the stock market, the state has raised taxes, cut spending and borrowed to fix a $42-billion shortfall — and still remains more than $15 billion shy of a balanced budget.

If voters reject Propositions 1C, 1D and 1E — the three chief money-raisers on Tuesday’s special election ballot — the shortfall will grow to $21 billion.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Democratic allies trotted out the usual human shields in this fight — kindergarteners, firefighters and policemen, nurses, etc. They outspent their opponents by seven-to-one. None of it worked. Although the opposing sides here did not always follow partisan lines (e.g., the SEIU opposes the initiatives), a recent Field Poll showed 72% of voters agreeing that rejecting the measures “would send a message to the governor and the state legislature that voters are tired of more government spending and higher taxes.”

In the face of expected defeat, Schwarzenegger has fled cross-country to Washington, DC, to listen to Pres. Obama talk about new federal tailpipe emissions. There is even more of a metaphor in the trip than the obvious punchline, as California’s future is likely to be found in DC. California Treasurer Bill Lockyer has already asked Treasury Secretary Timmy Geithner to backstop a wave of short-term borrowing California will need to undertake this summer. Indeed, the Busness Insider notes that the yield on California debt has already been shrinking:

We’d say that the market is probably also pricing in the possibility that Barney Frank will get his way and we’ll have a federal backstop of all muni debt soon enough. Even without a formal backstop, we think it’s unlikely that the Obama administration and a Democrat controlled Capitol Hill would let California default.

This is another way that we’ve broken the signalling function of the credit markets, which no longer provide clear indications of expected economic performance thanks to the numerous and varied government interventions.

This is more of the uncertainty that undermines economic recovery. But an administration running auto companies for the benefit of the UAW and its political viability in the Rust Belt undoubtedly considers the Golden State “too big to fail.” After all, the New York Daily News headline would write itself: “Obama to California: Drop Dead.”

However, bailouts are unpopular. Many Americans will chafe just as much at the prospect of paying to bail out California’s decades of inept govenment as they do at paying to bail out GM’s decades of inept management. Obama would bail out California to hold onto those electoral votes, but he will have to worry about how many he loses in the process.


PowerLine: New York Times Killed ACORN Story to Protect Obama (Updated)

Filed under: Media Bias,Obama — DRJ @ 8:03 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Read all about it! here.

UPDATE 5/19/2009 – More from PowerLine:

“Yesterday we heard from Anita MonCrief, the source for the ACORN/Obama story spiked by the New York Times before the election. John Hinderaker explored the Times’s account of the story’s spiking in “Killing a story: How it’s done.” Ms. MonCrief first wrote to commend John for his analysis: “Great article. I am glad to see that you guys are on top of this.” When I asked if she wanted to add anything for posting here, Ms. MonCrief responded:

I would like to state that [Times reporter Stephanie] Strom was set to come to Washington where I planned to hand over emails that showed contact between ACORN and staff of the Obama campaign. I had started not to trust her and would only give them to her in person. I have forwarded them to [attorney] Heather Heidalbaugh and they offer evidence that would have substantiated my story.

It is a story that somehow remains to be told.”


Why We Won’t See Many Political Polls from the MSM for Awhile

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 1:32 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

This 5/7-10/09 Gallup poll shows Americans are now evenly split when it comes to Party Affiliation:

Republicans —- 32%
Democrats —— 32%
Independents – 34%

Republicans and Democrats are split at 45% when Independents who lean toward one Party are included.

Follow the link to see how Gallup’s Party Affiliation polls have changed since the November 2008 election and the January 2009 inauguration.


More on that Kick in the Head

Filed under: Crime — Jack Dunphy @ 12:37 pm

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

My column on the matter (previously addressed by our host here) was posted today on Pajamas Media. As is most often the case when I submit a piece to PJM or National Review Online, as soon as I clicked on “send,” I thought of a few things I wish I had added. To wit, the incident is reminiscent of the August 2005 arrest of Stanley Miller, who was shown on live television – and in endless replays – being struck with a flashlight at the end of car chase. Though Miller wasn’t injured, the police officer was fired, and the LAPD prohibited officers from carrying the type of metal flashlight involved in the incident. Now, though we are entrusted with semiautomatic pistols, rifles, shotguns, Tasers, and batons, LAPD chief William Bratton, in an act of pure political pandering, determined we can’t be trusted with any type of flashlight other than the ridiculous little plastic models we’re now forced to carry. If the El Monte officer involved in the recent incident were instead with the LAPD, soon we’d be giving up our boots for ballet slippers.

Also, to those who claim that only the presence of cameras revealed this instance of what they claim is typical police behavior, I would point out that in many cities, most certainly here in Southern California, any pursuit that lasts longer than five minutes between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. ends up on television, covered by a swarm of helicopters resembling a scene from Apocalypse Now. And in a time when everyone has a cell phone and every cell phone is a camera, a cop can’t even make a simple traffic stop without having his picture taken. If there truly were instances of police abuse routinely occurring across the country, the news media would be only too happy to publicize them.

–Jack Dunphy

Shocker: Timmy Geithner still a mess at Treasury

Filed under: General — Karl @ 10:09 am

[Posted by Karl]

About as shocking as the gambling at Rick’s Cafe Americain:

While Geithner has taken dramatic steps to address flashpoints in the economy, the work of carrying out those policies has bogged down because critical decisions about how to do so aren’t being made, interviews with a broad range of federal officials show.

Government officials, inside the Treasury and out, say the unresolved issues are piling up in part because of vacancies in the department’s top ranks. But some of the officials also cite the Treasury’s ad-hoc management, which is dominated by a small band of Geithner’s counselors who coordinate rescue initiatives but lack formal authority to make decisions. Heavy involvement by the White House in Treasury affairs has further muddied the picture of who is responsible for key issues, the officials add.

One of the department’s signature initiatives, considered vital for getting at the root of the financial crisis, aims at relieving banks of their toxic assets. But to those familiar with the program, it remains unclear who will decide some of the practical details, such as whether foreign firms will be allowed to participate in the funds that buy the assets. This uncertainty is slowing the rollout of the program, which in any case has proven daunting to design. Announced in early February, it may not launch until July, officials say.

If you thought the administration had resolved the issue of what American International Group execs should be paid, you thought wrong. Treasury is also yet to decide whether to pay ousted General Motors chief G. Richard Wagoner Jr. his $20 million severance package.

It might have been hoped that someone would be answering the phones at the Treasury Department by now, but perhaps this level of disorganization is not surprising in an administration whose head has virtually no experience running anything.

Aside from the issue of basic competence, the common thread running through the current batch of issues is the Obama Administration’s cavalier attitude toward contracts and the rule of law. The administration has had problems getting lenders to participate in the supposed keystones of its economic agenda — the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility and the Public-Private Investment Program — because lenders no longer trust that Obama and the Democratic Congress will not change the rules in midstream for reasons of political expediency. Geithner’s disorganized dithering only adds to the uncertainty that undermines economic recovery.

— Karl

Cross-posted at HotAir.

L.A. Times: Obama’s Numerous Broken Promises A Sign of Flexibility and Pragmatism

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Obama — Patterico @ 7:22 am

If you loooove Obama, and he’s going back on all his promises, how do you spin it? Why, he’s flexible. He’s pragmatic!

And indeed, that is just what the L.A. Times did yesterday, in an article titled Obama puts pragmatism over promises. The deck headline: “His willingness to consider new perspectives and change his position, even when it angers his supporters, is a stark contrast to predecessor George W. Bush’s inflexibility.”

Unlike his predecessor, George W. Bush, who styled himself as “the Decider” and took pride in sticking with decisions come what might, Obama is emerging as a leader so committed to pragmatism that he will move to a new position with barely a shrug.

Whether it’s a long-standing campaign promise or a recent Oval Office decision, Obama has shown a willingness to reverse himself and even anger his most liberal supporters if he can advance a higher-priority goal or avoid what he sees as a distracting controversy.

See? Breaking promises is a good thing!

The list of Obama’s broken promises is startlingly long. Karl has extensively documented Obama’s broken promises; they include somersaults on issues like torture, wiretapping, state secrets, extraordinary rendition, military tribunals, free trade, open government, tax cuts, responsible spending, and many others. Pragmatism!

“This says a lot about how President Obama makes decisions,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “He stood up to his political base and made a decision.

“Changing one’s mind is a strength, not a weakness,” Graham said. “He’s realized the difference between being a candidate and being commander in chief.”

Being commander in chief means never having to say you’re sorry.

Let’s all swoon on the count of three.

The change from the Bush years is striking. Bush would “stick with his way no matter where it led,” said Matt Bennett, vice president of Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank. “Obama has the opposite personality and makeup.” Obama does not believe “that every progressive orthodoxy is sacrosanct,” Bennett said.

Yes, Obama is different from that Bad George W. Bush, who never changed his mind on anything — except for campaign finance reform, the nomination of Harriet Miers, the creation of a Department of Homeland Security, the creation of the September 11 Commission, the need for “nation building,” and probably a dozen or so other things you can think of.

According to the L.A. Times, Obama’s numerous flip-flops show his flexibility and pragmatism. Had George W. Bush broken so many promises, it would have been called something else entirely.

These people can spin anything, can’t they?

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