For a sharp and historically informed analysis of the pension follies of state Democratic lawmakers, no one is going to top Jerry Roberts’ and Phil Trounstine’s piece on Calbuzz.
Let’s be blunt. Democrats, whose political livelihoods have steadily and increasingly become dependent on union money since Jerry Brown in his first term signed the legislation that gave state employees collective bargaining rights, are terrified of moving an inch on pensions without permission and marching orders from the labor groups that finance their campaigns.
The idea that unions are a bad influence on California is hardly just a conclusion of folks on the right. In 2005, the Los Angeles Times endorsed Prop. 75, saying barring the automatic deduction of union dues from public employees’ pay would lead to a fairer balance of power at the local and state government level. The Sacramento Bee editorial page has gone after unions for being unreasonable for years; here’s a recent example. Unions are so out of control that it barely raises eyebrows when union officials and allies like state Dem Party leader John Burton advocate a policy that would prevent giving anti-convulsion drugs to kids at risk of death if the person doing the giving isn’t a union nurse. But guess who completely absolves unions? The Calbuzz boys, whose writing style/shtick builds off the idea that they’re smarter than everybody, and the L.A. Times’ George Skelton, dean of Sacramento journos. Really, guys? Not a single mention of unions in your recent dissections of California’s dysfunction? Not one? Wow.
“The Escape Artists,” the new book about the Obama administration’s economic policy-making, has an amazing story about who’s responsible for the decision to dump tens of billions of dollars in federal stimulus money into bullet-train debacles. One Chris Reed, writing at Cal Watchdog, has all the details.
From 2001-2009, many people on the left and more than a few on the right and in libertarian circles warmed to the argument that one reason George W. Bush was such a disappointing president was because he lived in a bubble, surrounded by yes men. When is the rest of California going to figure out that almost all of Sacramento is in a bubble? Exit polls after the May 19, 2009, special election showed Dems, Republicans and independents alike hated the higher taxes pushed by the Sacramento media-political establishment. Yet inside the Sacramento bubble, the columnist for the most influential newspaper writes that it is “hard to find anyone” who doesn’t think tax hikes should now be shoved down voters’ throats. And the governor whose own tax hike power play would callously put schools at risk unless income and sales taxes are increased by a November ballot measure goes on national TV to suggest that only Republican “cult” members are opposed. Yo, George Skelton! Yo, Jerry Brown! Who says the public is on your side?
Just as red and blue have become associated with Republicans and Democrats, respectively, because of Election Night maps, will green someday become a synonym for fraud and dishonesty? After listening to Jerry Brown’s two years of lies, prevarications and fantasies about “green jobs,” I hope so. It would be semantic justice.
What has happened to the Sacramento pundit class? It’s hard to fathom the casual displays of contempt for the public that its members have periodically put forward in recent years. It’s not as if the public has no right to be upset with how the state is run or no reason to question the competence of those in charge. But don’t tell that to Sac Bee columnist Dan Morain. In his Thursday column, he acknowledged that the $9.95 billion in bond seed money for the state bullet-train project was sold with lies in a 2008 ballot initiative that barely passed. But is this an outrage? Morain doesn’t think so. Bleep you, you ignorant Californians. If the Sacramento establishment manipulates you, so what? It knows what’s best.
I no longer need to make fun of Jerry Brown’s loopy, goofy, self-spoofy views on high-speed rail because the mainstream media will do it for me, having finally figured out what a farce the bullet train is. So in assessing the self-serving barrage of buncombe coming out of the gov’s mouth in Wednesday’s State of the State speech, my focus is on the gibberish he delivered on green jobs and energy, an issue where nearly all California journalists remain comfortably in the tank for old Jer. The sources I will use to refute EGB? Not “dystopic” “declinists” like myself. Instead, I turn to The New York Times and The Washington Post.
How rich: George Skelton of the L.A. Times, the crafter and enforcer of Sacramento’s reliably wrong conventional wisdom, has some 2012 resolutions he wants California journalists to follow. George instructs his lessers about taking policy more seriously; about why the Democratic reactionaries who support policies that are objectively anti-minority are liberals, not progressives; and about journos’ need to adopt the CTA talking point that reform is a chimera, so let’s worship the broken K-12 status quo. Coming a week after an amazing Skelton column in which he said it was “hard to find anyone” who didn’t think tax hikes should be shoved down voters’ throats, this confirms the Golden State’s most influential print columnist is both 1) in the tank for the Democratic establishment, and 2) in a bubble surrounded by like-minded people who never point out obvious truths or inconvenient contrary facts.
The writer Gertrude Stein’s famous quip about her hometown of Oakland — there is no there there — increasingly seems to apply to the fellow who was Oakland mayor a few years ago and is now, alas, governor of California. I listened to Jerry Brown’s post-mortem on the first year of his third term as governor and was flabbergasted at how consistently our alleged Zen master gov offered up slick disinformation about what ails California, then reiterated the Dem-media conventional wisdom that our problems would be solved if only taxes were higher. In so many key ways, Jerry Brown = Gray Davis. A Gray Davis who talks funny.
For years, I’ve gotten emails from retired teachers who accuse me of making things up about CalSTRS being in poor shape financially. Why? Because the newsletters from the nation’s second-largest pension fund pretend all is well — and because the Sacramento media basically went along with this crock for years. Now the head of CalSTRS finally admits that disaster looms, with 30 years of pain the result. It’s time for Sacramento journalists who covered CalSTRS back in 2006 to make like Otter and admit the following to their California readers: “You f—-ed up. You trusted us.”