For the second year in a row, a state official has proposed eliminating the former Golden State's "welfare-to-work" program, which the rest of us know as "welfare," or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Last year, it was left to a spokesman for the state's Department of Finance to bring out the idea. This year, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger fronted it himself.
As has been the case for the almost four years I've been following the situation, the press once again universally failed to provide anything resembling context. If it did, people would understand that this is a story about a decade-long shocking level of theoretically well-intentioned waste (the cynical observation would be that the good intentions are tempered by the likelihood that dependent voters are overwhelmingly Democratic voters).
The as up to date as possible context (through September 30 of last year for recipients and families, the latest available government data; some estimation was required because certain data fields are blank) is this:
A California middle school and state university both apparently find extreme environmentalist indoctrination to be worthy of expending taxpayer dollars. Jehue Middle School and California State University at San Bernardio were both involved in the making and promotion of a video called "Environmental Police Agency" which features middle schoolers going around tackling and arresting "non-environmentalists" for crimes like having a refrigerator, leaving computer screens on, and throwing away a soda can. At the end they caution that drastic times call for drastic measures so we should institute this kind of green police state to save the world.
Just a week after the last time a California school told its students that the American flag was somehow racist, another California school repeated the lesson. This time a middle school student was taught that drawing an American flag was wrong. However, drawing a picture of President Obama was apparently praise worthy:
In late August 2009, Toyota announced that it would close its New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) factory in Fremont, California at the end of March. The plant had been a joint venture of the company and General Motors until June, when GM withdrew.
Almost six months later, in the wake of a series of Toyota product recalls, and roughly seven weeks before the plant's scheduled shutdown, the UAW and the AFL-CIO on Friday began an attempt to gin up a campaign to convince the company to reopen the plant, and to encourage the public to refuse to buy its products it if doesn't.
Since there is virtually zero chance of the plant remaining open (the company said at the time of the closure that "it will close the plant, regardless of financial incentives offered by the state"), you'll have to excuse me if I question the overall timing, and even if there might be just a wee bit of government and union coordination going on here -- especially given some of the people involved and some of the statements made at a rally outside the plant and at the UAW's nearby union hall yesterday.
In terms of press coverage of yesterday's events, you have to wonder if Brooke Donald of the Associated Press and George Avalos of the Oakland Tribune were actually in the same place. Donald's AP coverage made what was going on appear relatively benign, while Avalos included important details to the contrary.
If Ellie Light is indeed a Democratic operative, she is only the proverbial tip of the party's astroturfing iceberg. Patterico's investigative work, which was also at the forefront of the blogosphere's efforts to expose Light, have revealed an even greater effort at manufacturing the appearance of public support for Democratic policies.
Organizing for America and the Democratic Party each have forms on their websites for supporters to write letters to the editors of their local papers. Both have suggested "talking points" next to the submission form. Both advise supporters to use their own words, but talking points from both of the sites have appeared in letters to the editor in a multitude of newspapers nationwide.
Reporters at the Associated Press are clearly unhappy that Maine voters turned out to refuse to honor "gay marriage" at the ballot box. An AP dispatch two days ago by Lisa Leff and David Sharp suggested conservatives are misleading voters with charges that have "no evidence," like students going on a field trip to a lesbian wedding.
Are they that factually challenged at AP? From Fox News on October 13, 2008, just weeks before the vote on California’s Proposition 8:
First-graders in San Francisco took a field trip to City Hall to celebrate the marriage of their lesbian teacher on Friday, but opponents of same-sex marriage in the state say the field trip was an attempt to "indoctrinate" the students, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The field trip was suggested by a parent at the Creative Arts Charter School, and the school said the trip, where students tossed rose petals on their teacher and her wife as they left City Hall, was academically relevant.
The Democratic mayor of Oakland, CA and his wife recently admitted to failing to pay $239,000 in taxes since 2005. The San Francisco Chronicle covered the story, but made no mention of the mayor's party, in striking contrast to coverage of recent ethics violations by Republicans in the state.
"We owe taxes," Mayor Ron Dellums, pictured right, bluntly said in a statement on Tuesday. "The matter is being dealt with and will be resolved in short order." The IRS imposed a tax lien on the couple's $1.4 million home in the Foxhall Crescent neighborhood in Washington, DC, and 3,200 square foot house in Oakland Hills.
There is no party identification in the story, however, only a statement in the second-to-last paragraph that Dellums is a "stalwart of progressive ideals." It seems the Chronicle could not bring itself to state the he is a Democrat.
Want to make a big splash to bolster your chances in a political campaign? A tried and true strategy for some attorneys general has been to champion a populist position by exploiting the legal system for publicity. Just look at the lead up to the launch of former New York AG Eliot Spitzer gubernatorial campaign with his attacks on Wall Street.
And that appears to be the playbook California Attorney General Jerry Brown is using in a lawsuit accusing State Street (NYSE:STT) of cheating the state's two largest pension funds, the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, of at least $56.6 million.
However, CNBC's Michele Caruso-Cabrera wasn't afraid to ask Brown if that was indeed the case in an Oct. 20 interview on CNBC's "Power Lunch."
[Update, 12:30 am Eastern Saturday: Josh Brahm of the RLCC, mentioned below, contacted me and sent me the link to an edited video taken of the assault, which is imbedded at right (obscene language warning). -MB.]
Steven Ertelt of LifeNews.com reported on Friday that a pro-life activist was assaulted on October 15 by a supporter of abortion in front of the Planned Parenthood in Fresno, California, during a vigil for the nationwide 40 Days for Life campaign. Ertelt also noted that local TV news outlets ignored the story of the assault in their evening broadcasts, brushing it aside either because the victim’s injury wasn’t serious enough, or because they thought a story on “chocolate-covered bacon” was more important.
Victor Fierro, director of Latinos4Life, a pro-life organization, was physically attacked by a “pro-choice woman,” according to the press release by Right to Life of Central California (RLCC), which was also cited in the LifeNews.com report. The woman “shouted obscenities” at the pro-life demonstrators participating in the 40 Days for Life vigil in front of the Planned Parenthood facility, “before attempting to break the event security camera and assaulting...Fierro....The attacker cut Fierro’s arm with an unknown object, drawing blood, and then stormed back to her car and fled the scene.” The entire incident was captured by the video camera, though most of the assault occurred outside of its field of vision. However, the camera did capture her face and her car’s tag number.
ABC's World News, which has twice in the past few months rued how it's too hard to raise taxes in California, on Tuesday night used one homeowner's appreciation, for the firefighters battling the wild fires threatening his house near Los Angeles, to tout how “he would gladly pay more taxes.”
Reporting from Tujunga, Brian Rooney warned “California has burned through nearly two-thirds of its emergency firefighting money early in the season,” so “the Governor and other authorities today politicked for even more emergency funds.” After a clip of a union official, Rooney highlighted: “One homeowner, at least, says he would gladly pay more taxes after watching the performance of firefighters.” In the subsequent soundbite, the unidentified man didn't actually say he wanted higher taxes, just that the current high level is worth it for the performance of the firefighters (who only get a small sliver of the state budget): “I think we're the highest in the union, but for last night I'm happy to pay it.”
Apart from several reports on FNC, and a few on CNN, the mainstream television news media have ignored the controversial firing of former Inspector General Gerald Walpin, who had recently battled for tougher penalties against Obama friend and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson after an investigation by Walpin found Johnson had misused hundreds of thousands of tax dollars granted by the AmeriCorps program to the Johnson-founded St. Hope charity. Over the past weeks, there have been a number of developments, including the opening of an FBI investigation into the St. Hope charity, further casting doubt on the White House's decisions and bolstering Walpin's case that he was wrongfully booted.
For Time Magazine, Kevin O'Leary has decided that he's figured out why California is in such a budget mess. Is it because the state indulges over generous social programs, or always has some of the highest taxes in the nation, or because the denizens of its capitol in Sacramento are paragons of waste, fraud and theft? Nope. It's because California has Proposition 13, a measure that prevents state government from too easily raising taxes. Yep, O'Leary thinks California is in a mess because it doesn't have high enough taxes. And it's all Reagan's fault.
With some of the highest taxes in America, California is a hard place to make a living. According to the Tax Foundation, on average it takes a citizen 110 working days to earn enough money to pay his yearly tax bill. That is the fourth worst in the country. California consistently ranks in or near the top 10 worst states for its tax burdens from property taxes, to corporate taxes, to individual taxes and fees of all sorts. So, how can O'Leary imagine that taxes aren't high enough in California?
Two weeks after ABC's Laura Marquez blamed California's budget deficit on an “unwillingness to raise taxes” tied to 1978's Proposition 13 “mandating an almost unachievable two-thirds vote by the legislature to raise taxes,” on Tuesday night she repeated herself as she lamented “education and social services continue to end up on the chopping block” because “it's a lot easier to make cuts than it is to raise taxes” since Prop 13 requires “the approval of two-thirds of the legislature to raise taxes, a virtual impossibility.”
In fact, though personal income tax collections “dropped 14% last year,” a May 19 Wall Street Journal article noted they “soared 70% from 2002 to 2007.”
World News anchor Charles Gibson emphasized the victims in teasing the upcoming story: “Governor Schwarzenegger's dire warning to California: The poor, the hungry, the very young -- all facing painful cuts.”
While the liberal Democratic mayor of Los Angeles has a thing for news babes, it seems his hometown paper has a penchant for leaving out the mayor's party affiliation from reporting on his liaisons.
"A Los Angeles television reporter is dating Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, about two years after his extramarital affair with another local newscaster led to the breakup of his 20-year marriage," Phil Willon of the Los Angeles Times informed readers in a June 2 article devoid of the mayor's Democratic party affiliation:
KTLA-TV Channel 5 reporter Lu Parker, a former Miss U.S.A., has been dating Villaraigosa since March, station officials confirmed Monday. On Sunday, while working as a weekend anchor, Parker announced a story about the likelihood of Villaraigosa running for governor in 2010.
The New York Times is still having difficulty dealing with democracy in California -- namely the state's unique ballot initiatives, which sometimes produces results inconvenient to a liberal agenda. First it was last year's surprise passage of Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage that threw the Times for a loop. This week it was the rejection of five fiscal measures in a special statewide referendum on Tuesday, notably Proposition 1A, pushed by supporters and the Times as a necessary measure of fiscal solvency that would have raised or extended a variety of taxes in return for a vague spending cap.
A night after ABC's Laura Marquez blamed California's budget deficit on the citizenry's “unwillingness to raise taxes” and a law “mandating an almost unachievable two-thirds vote by the legislature to raise taxes,” on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News George Lewis similarly ignored soaring state spending as he focused on victims of upcoming budget cuts and asserted: “Part of California's problem is that it takes a two-thirds vote in the state legislature to raise taxes.”
Though the ballot initiatives turned down by voters on Tuesday involved raising and/or extending an income tax surcharge, the sales tax and the tax on cars, Lewis euphemistically described them as “a series of ballot measures, backed by [Governor Arnold] Schwarzenegger, aimed at easing the deficit.” Lewis concentrated on potential victims: “$5.3 billion would come out of education in the Governor's proposed budget, $2 billion from health programs and hundreds of millions from the state's prison system” while a college student, Lewis paraphrased, complained they “are in a bind as California hikes fees to make ends meet.”
Wow. Just wow. If this New York Times headline isn't an act of advocacy for higher taxes in California, what is? With its May 20 coverage of the vote for California's tax hiking ballot measures, the Times plainly scolds fed-up voters for rejecting them with a headline that pointedly says: "Calif. Voters Reject Measures to Keep State Solvent."
Really? The Times thinks California's voters want a state headed into bankruptcy, that they voted for insolvency? The paper is strangely furious that voters rejected tax hikes, but I hate to break this to the New York rag: voters did not "reject measures" to keep the state "solvent." What voters did was reject wild tax hikes that would only lead to more corruption and profligate spending. The voters weren't fooled and knew that these measures would not lead to any long-term solution to the state's budget woes. If the state house in Sacramento had done its job properly and proposed a sensible budget in the first place, Californians would be happy to vote for it I am sure.
A Tuesday story on ABC's World News, which ignored soaring state spending, reflected frustration with California voters for the anticipated rejection of ballot initiatives to raise taxes as reporter Laura Marquez blamed the Golden State's budget deficit on an “unwillingness to raise taxes” stretching all the way back to 1978's Proposition 13. In fact, though personal income tax collections “dropped 14% last year,” a Tuesday Wall Street Journal article noted they “soared 70% from 2002 to 2007.”
In the story pegged to Tuesday's vote on a series of initiatives to raise or extend an income-tax surcharge, a big hike in the car tax and one point sales tax jump to 9 percent, Marquez fretted that “polls show five of six initiatives aimed at reducing the budget gap are likely to be voted down,” leading Schwarzenegger, Marquez relayed, to warn “the defeat of these measures will mean billions of dollars in cuts to social services and education, and will force thousands of layoffs from the state rolls.” From San Francisco, Marquez rued:
Coast to coast, state governments are swimming in red ink, overwhelmed by the tanking economy. Here in California, the problem is even worse because of its sheer size and an unwillingness to raise taxes. Thirty years ago, Californians passed Proposition 13, mandating an almost unachievable two-thirds vote by the legislature to raise taxes.
The attacks on Miss California Carrie Prejean have gotten so bad that even same-sex marriage champion and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is taking notice.
Prejean, the runner-up of last Sunday's Miss USA pageant, has been the target of reports from the Hollywood media intelligentsia after her feud with gossip blogger Perez Hilton for the stance she took on same-sex marriage. And Newsom, who had just announced his intentions to run for governor of California, has noticed.
"I want to challenge her on her point-of-view," Newsom said in an appearance at Sapphire Energy, a bio-tech company, which aired on NBC's San Francisco affiliate on April 23. "She challenged me on my point-of-view and she spoke her conscience. What more can you ask? I speak my conscience, she should speak hers. So, I think she's being a little unfairly maligned."
On Wednesday, the New York Times did its best to muddy the seemingly clear-cut case regarding the character of cop-killer Lovelle Mixon, who shot and killed two motorcycle officers at a routine traffic stop in Oakland, then shot and killed two SWAT sergeants while on the run, before being himself killed by police.
The text box painted a mixed picture of the murderer of four officers: "A man who obeyed some conditions of parole, but not others," while the text from reporters Solomon Moore and Jesse McKinley suggested the killer had been "failed by an overloaded and flawed California penal system." Another omission: Three of the slain officers were white (the other had a Japanese surname). But even though Mixon was black, don't expect the Times to raise any hate-crime possibilities in this particular case. In fact, the Times didn't even mention their names.
When Lovelle Mixon walked out of a prison last fall in the remote town of Susanville, Calif., he knew exactly where he was headed: back to Oakland, back to his family and back to his life of dreams and zero prospects.
It seems that so-called stimulus package funding is being spread around so widely that some of its beneficiaries can't figure out how to spend it as intended.
When it became clear to a few small cities in California's Los Angeles County that they didn't have appropriate transportation projects for their promised stimulus funding, they decided to sell the rights to that funding to other nearby locales at a discount. The selling city's resulting cash would then go into its unrestricted general fund and could be spent on anything the city wished.
Apparently these transactions aren't that unusual in the topsy-turvy world of California state and municipal finance. But it was a, uh, bridge too far for LA County's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). After approving a few stimulus-related swaps (noted in stories here and here), the MTA reversed course and putting the kibosh on those and prohibiting any future deals (noted in stories here, here, and here).
Apparently it hasn't occurred to anyone, including the local media, or the New York Times's Jennifer Steinhauer, that if these municipalities really don't need and can't use the money, US taxpayers ought to be first in line to get it back.
Los Angeles's NBC television affiliate must not have gotten the memo telling them that they should not utter the name of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), lest anyone reach the "wrong" conclusions.
NBC Los Angeles is the only media outlet I have found thus far to identify ACORN's presence in a story about a "disruptive display of disobedience" by members the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) at a school board meeting Tuesday (the story credit is to "Associated Press/NBC Los Angeles," but as you will see later, I found no AP story containing an ACORN reference).
Here is the story headline that the Google News crawler apparently originally found:
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's three-year lurch to the left, with the enthusiastic assistance of Democratic majorities in the state's legislature, has sent the state's fiscal situation once again into Gray Davisland -- and this time, unlike in November 2003 when he took office, the Governator doesn't have a growing economy to make getting out of the mess easier.
The state's controller said earlier today that the state "the state will run out of cash in about two months" if the state doesn't close its current budget gap of $18 billion.
Finally, the state is attempting to do something about its disproportionately costly welfare (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) program.
The howls are predictable, if somewhat understandable (which I'll get to). Excerpts from a Sacramento Bee story by Cynthia Hubert lay out the situation:
The Oakland Tribune reports the story of a hipster granny from Berkeley that has decided to sue the U.S. military over a reporter embed she arranged in Iraq that was abruptly canceled by the government. While the Oakland Trib and the hippie granny try their hardest to make the U.S. military the villain, it's a bit hard to feel too sorry for her when the facts are considered. On top of that, the Trib absurdly calls her situation an "ordeal" which, when comparing her situation to what the soldiers have to go through, seems a bit over-the-top and silly, really.
Jane Stillwater of Berkeley, CA, had arranged an embed in Iraq and was told on January 19 that she was accepted. She immediately bought her plane ticket and arranged for the trip. Later that same day, however, she was contacted again and told her embed was canceled. Regardless of the cancellation, Stillwater flew to Kuwait anyway hoping the military would change its mind. They didn't and now she is suing in small claims court for the plane ride and other expenses.
The party-ID treatment of Fabian Nuñez, whose term as California Assemly Speaker ended on May 13, but whose term in the Assembly ended just this past Sunday, was barely better than what Kerry observed in the articles she reviewed yesterday.
Here's the rundown, which I will follow with past examples of obviously disparate treatment of Republican politicians whose sons got into much less trouble with the law:
The litmus test results are in: If you're against the legalization of same-sex marriage and are discovered, you can't be involved in the performing arts in California, even though the majority of potential patrons in your state agree with you.
Under the pressure of a threatened boycott, the artistic director of a Sacramento theater has stepped down after it was learned that he contributed to Yes side ("yes, same-sex marriage should be prohibited") of the supposedly Golden State's Proposition 8 campaign.
A boycott of the theater was called Tuesday by some in the national arts community when news broke that Eckern contributed $1,000 to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign, which supported the ban on gay marriage.
You won't believe it unless you see it with your own eyes.
On September 28, The New York Times sponsored a booth selling subscriptions at the Folsom Street Fair - the largest, raunchiest, most outrageous celebration of deviant sexual behavior in San Francisco, and quite possibly the world - but the Times refused to report on the event.
The Gray Lady averted her editorial eyes, but hawked the newspaper at a massive outdoor event featuring public nudity, sex acts, bondage and whipping in San Francisco public streets.
Check out this [emphasis added] excerpt from an LA Weekly report on Michelle Obama's appearance at a private fundraiser last Wednesday in the ritzy LA neighborhood of Holmby Hills. Mrs. Obama was addressing a crowd that reporter Patrick Range McDonald described "heavily entertainment-industry."
Obama then moved on to politics, where she first brought up her husband’s vice-presidential choice. “I think it was a really good pick—Senator Joe Biden,” she said, and later added, “People say they have amazing chemistry, and it’s true.”
Obama continued with talk about Biden when she said, “What you learn about Barack from his choice is that he’s not afraid of smart people.” The crowd softly chuckled.
As the city of Denver prepares for this week's Democratic convention, numerous Hollywood celebs are planning to attend in support of Barack Obama and to advocate for pet issues. Gushes Variety,
When Barack Obama accepts the nomination before some 75,000 people at a Denver stadium on Thursday, he'll be surrounded by a contingent of average Americans from all walks of life --- just not Hollywood performers, musicians and other famous figures who have so publicly championed his candidacy.
So what, exactly, will be the role of celebrity during the week of the Democratic National Convention?