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?
This doesn't qualify as any kind of surprise, but it should be noted nonetheless.
Thursday, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama gave a stunningly downbeat assessment of the nation's overall situation in a response to a seven year-old girl who asked him why he is running for president. Obama's media water-carriers have virtually ignored his very telling response, one that is reminiscent of Jimmy Carter's gloomiest, malaise-based assessments of America during his awful presidency.
CBS's "The Early Show," reported August 7 that a new stronger strain of the West Nile virus could spread across the country with help from the neglected pools found in foreclosed homes in California.
"Apparently ... as more and more homes are passing into foreclosure and there are many, and many of those homes have backdoor pools, these are being neglected," Dr. Alton Baron of Roosevelt Hospital Center told co-host Maggie Rodriguez. "They're not being maintained and this can become a ripe feeding ground and breeding ground for these mosquito populations."
Baron added that the new strain of the virus "invades the brain and spinal cord" and listed other horrific symptoms including nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, rashes, disorientation, severe muscle weakness, fatigue or even paralysis.
Mosquitoes, which breed in stagnant water, pass on West Nile to animals and humans when they feed off fowl that have the virus in their blood.
Foreclosures in the state of California may have hit a record high, but there are signs of a change-signs "The Early Show" ignored.
Nearly two years ago on Newsbusters, I floated a proposal that newspapers require their editorial and other writers to police themselves for accuracy by requiring them to turn in footnotes with their copy. The process would force writers to check information they think they know that isn't so.
Talk about finding every reason to push the war on climate change. National Public Radio President Kevin Klose found a way to get at the sensibilities of southern California commuters - by telling them global warming will make driving even worse.
Klose was a panelist at the forum "Covering a Changing Climate: The Media Challenge" held at Harvard University in Boston, Mass., on April 30. He said the effects of climate change will include migration from the south and cause a U.S. population boom of 100 million people. Klose told the audience this would be the subject of a series on NPR.
"We're going to do a unique one-week series called ‘The Next Hundred Million,' because in the next 30 years, absent of anything else, there will be another hundred million people living inside the United States of America," Klose said.
Old Media business reporters have a definitionally-incorrect habit of labeling single industries or economic sectors as being "in recession," when the term, as defined here, can only describe national economies or the world economy. Two examples of this are New York Times reporter David Leonhardt's description of manufacturing as being in recession in February 2007 (laughably incorrect, in any event), and the Times's employment of the term "housing recession" 25 times since October 2006, as seen in this Times search (with the phrase in quotes).
But if I wanted to be consistent with this routine form of journalistic malpractice, I would characterize the newspaper business -- at least in terms of the top 25 in the industry's food chain -- not as being in recession, but instead as going through a deep, dark, painful, protracted depression.
Yesterday, Gateway Pundit noticed what he called an "Uh-Oh... This wasn't supposed to happen" event for presidential candidate Barack Obama:
An amazing article appeared in the mainstream news today. McClatchy actually reported that Obama's church merges Marxism and Christian Gospel and preaches that the white church in America is the Antichrist because it supported slavery and segregation.
That they did. But how did they headline it, and how many McClatchy newspapers actually ran the story?
Margaret Talev's Thursday, March 20 description of the fundamental doctrines of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC) does get right to the point. Talev even goes so far as to question the candidate's motivations for his involvement with the church.
Most importantly, which I why I've bolded the related text, Talev notes that while TUCC's radical and racist philosophies will survive the Rev. Wright's retirement, their continued presence will not deter Obama from continuing to attend:
Sometimes a cough is just a cough, and sometimes a cough is a way to avoid answering messy questions about the role of your race-baiting, skirt-chasing ex-president husband with a penchant for perjury might have in your White House.
With just 20 seconds to go in a Super Tuesday interview on San Francisco's KTVU-TV, interviewer Ross McGowan asked, “How will you use your husband, Bill Clinton, in the administration?” As soon as McGowan mentioned Bill's name, Hillary's theatrical and oddly persistent coughing began--and coincidentally continued until time ran out.
During a campaign stop for his wife in Oakland, CA on January 18th, Bill Clinton became visibly annoyed when KGO ABC7 reporter Mark Mathews asked him whether Sen. Clinton's campaign should take a stronger stand against a union's lawsuit to keep casino workers from caucusing at special precincts in Nevada. View video of exchange here.
Planned Parenthood Golden Gate (PPGG) has unveiled what it calls an “edgy” TV and radio campaign that “focuses on the importance of practicing pregnancy prevention and safer sex.”
Except that the words “pregnancy” and “safe sex” are never spoken. And the pitch man in the “Mile High campaign” is flamingly gay. The TV ad is being run on MTV, VH-1, Comedy Central and TLC, and the radio ad is running on KMEL-FM, a San Francisco station. See if you can find the purported "sexual health" education messages in the ad.
Here is the text of the commercial: (click here to see the video)
That's because Californians relying on Old Media for their news about the Golden State's dire financial situation are being conditioned to believe that only a tax increase will solve the state's problems.
The latest offering in that regard is a Field poll covered at the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle, headlined "Many voters think deficit fix will require higher taxes" and "Voters resigned to higher taxes to solve budget crisis," respectively. Those headlines conveniently obscure the fact that the margin of those believing that tax increases are necessary vs. those who think that the answer is totally in spending cuts is only 48%-43%.
Barely four years after California's historic recall of sitting Governor Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger's landslide election to replace him, the Golden State is, again, in a budget crunch of its own making.
The state's Old Media, as would be expected, is moaning about cuts that might have to be made, obsessing over the possibility that "universal health care" might be derailed, and of course giving visibility to anyone and everyone who thinks even more taxes will solve the problem.
As has been the case for well over a decade, nobody that I know of in California's Old Media is considering the idea that the state is paying the price for failing to sufficiently go along with the rest of the country in aggressively reducing welfare rolls. But the numbers support the idea that if the state had done what the rest of the country has "somehow" done without visible suffering, it would be in a much better situation.
(A table and graphs illustrating the situation are after the jump.)