Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dear Nancy...

Long week, short blog tonight....

Nancy Pelosi (D-Alcatraz) drops a hint...

Nancy Pelosi gives a new definition to “bipartisan.” (Madame Speaker doesn’t seem to understand that since 1895, it’s meant “relating to, or involving members of two parties ; specifically : marked by or involving cooperation, agreement, and compromise between two major political parties.”

Add Pelosi: Apparently she hasn’t gotten the message from the majority of the electorate. The message she’s spouting – “Health care first…jobs later.” Maybe Nancy needs to pay better attention to what’s going on in her own state.

"Do not make me mad!"

More D.C. fun!

From Reason’sHit & Run” blog (above): “Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke during testimony before the House Committee on Financial Services. Rep. Waters, a member of the committee since 1990, doesn't understand the difference between the federal funds rate and the discount rate. The difference between these two very distinct concepts, for those interested (and Rep. Waters, if she is reading), is explained here. CBS follows up with a reasonable question: ‘Is Maxine Waters really as dumb as she seems?’”

I thought you had to have some sort of qualifications – like experience – if you were going to be an important federal official. No, I’m not talking about that guy…no, this guy.

Another “friend” goes under the bus.

Wait – I thought they were going to get rid of The Patriot Act. Never mind

Folks, this is just the warm-up to the day (coming soon!) that our national debt is effectively doubled.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

California - it's worse than you think...

The new Great Seal? (Graphic/POLITICAL VANGUARD)

The big talk right now is that California has a $20 billion-plus budget gap. Not only is that not true, but it also is misleading when it comes to the bigger picture.

To begin with, the budget deficit actually tops $36 million. Here's the breakdown:

-$21 billion in general fund
-$7.3 billion in money owed Unemployed Insurance Fund
-$3 billion in unsold assets, like San Francisco's Cow Palace, the LA Memorial Coliseum and the State Compensation Fund.
-$5 billion in lost lawsuits, unable to pay due to lack of cash (there is at least another $5 billion in lawsuits pending)

The bigger problem, though, is California's debt. Currently, the state is at least $600 billion in DEBT (not deficit). Some state officials - on both sides of the political aisle - actually put the number above the $650 billion mark.

This debt includes:

-More than $200 billion in unfunded liabilities at CalPers (the public employees retirement system).
-$48 billion in unfunded liabilities in CalStrs (the state teachers retirement system).
-$110 billion in unfunded health care.
-In addition, there are billions owed to state trust funds (the state Recycling Fund, for instance, is owed $500 million in money that's been borrowed by the governor to cover deficits).
-California owes $8.8 billion in short-term loans that have to be paid off by June and almost $120 billion in outstanding bonds and interest that will be paid over decades.

In his lame duck State of the State address, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger noted that the cost of state employee pensions rose 2,000 percent during the last decade, while state revenues have increased only 24 percent. In addition to this alarming figure, government itself is one of the few "growth industries" in the state. The private economy has to deal with high unemployment and small business bankruptcy rates that grew 81 percent (2008-09) but f"at and happy state workers" were able to grow their ranks (by 1 percent).

"California is deeply in debt. You could say that it's bankrupt," Attorney General - and presumptive Democratic gubernatorial candidate - Jerry Brown told a group of young Democrats earlier this month. Likewise, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina talked about the possibility of bankruptcy during a recent chat with SoCal business owners.

This isn't new territory: last year, the state issued close to a half-million IOUs to vendors as well as to residents waiting on their state income tax returns. It also halted construction on thousands of infrastructure projects. Another cash shortage this summer will result in additional IOUs and delayed payments.

The state has the lowest credit rating of any state in the nation, although it still is above junk-bond status. If the state falls to junk status, some investors would be unable to buy state bonds, making it even more difficult for the state to borrow money and infuse cash into its coffers. Either way, it now costs the state more to borrow the money it needs to function. The state Constitution mandates that debt service has the second highest priority for payment, after only education, and the state continuously receives tax revenues. The state treasurer plans to sell $10 -$14 billion in bonds this year, with the first sale of $2 billion scheduled for early March.

If states weren't prohibited from declaring bankruptcy, California would have (had to) long ago.

It is, however, for all intents and purposes...insolvent.

(Sources: CA Political News, Sac Bee/Dan Walters, LA Times, governor's web site, KSFO, SF Chronicle)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over."

When Mark Twain supposedly provided the above quote during California’s early days, settlers already knew then that the future of the West didn’t lie in rich veins of gold or in glittery flakes strewn along the bottoms of mountain streams. No, they understood – as so many others have come to – that no business, community or state is possible without H20. And in California, where agriculture is the No. 1 business in an economy that is the eighth-largest in the world, water is everything.


A town founded as a Spanish pueblo in the near the Southern California coast back in the late 1700s – the City of Angels (aka: Los Angeles) – was experiencing explosive growth at the beginning of the 20th century. The city fathers, The Powers-That-Be, Hollywood, the Los Angeles Times and others knew that if LA was to grow and thrive, it – like the crops of The Nation’s Salad Bowl (aka: the San Joaquin Valley) – would need Mother Nature’s precious elixir.

So in a story we all know, thanks to a little film starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston back in 1974 (directed by Roman Polanski), LA – with the help of all sorts of politicians, moneymen and ne'er-do-wells – raped California’s lesser-known Owens Valley. William Mulholland (played by Huston in the film), then-superintendent of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power created the 223 mile-long Los Angeles Aqueduct (completed in 1913) to divert water from the Owens River. As one source notes, “Much of the water rights were acquired through subterfuge, with purchases splitting water cooperatives and pitting neighbors against each other. The purchases led to anger among local farmers, which erupted in violence in 1924, when parts of the water system were sabotaged by local farmers.”

William Mulholland - the godfather of LA water...

The rape of the Owens Valley (which LA repeated in the early 1970s), not only left a well-irrigated, fertile agriculture area a shadow of its former self, but it helped set the stage for decades of California water wars to come.

The Owens Valley and its neighbor, the San Joaquin Valley - it's all about money, water and food...

Today, in the northern part of the state, the failing levee system – which protects the San Joaquin Valley from the intrusion of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta’s salt waters – has been declared the nation's most endangered waterway system by the environmental group due to water shortages caused by the Delta's environmental challenges, declining fish populations and aging levees, among other problems. Meanwhile, the farmers of the Central Valley, because of federal Endangered Species regulations, are getting 10 percent or less of the amount of water due them – which, when combined with the failing economy (California’s unemployment rate hovers near 10 percent, but farm communities in the San Joaquin Valley are experiencing jobless rates of 20, 30, 40 percent – and more).

In addition, Southern California – which has grown far beyond anyone’s imagination – is always in a water deficit. Unable to keep itself watered, it constantly draws on any source it can…often drawing the rest of the state’s ire.

Case in point (from the Contra Costa Times): “Invoking the specter of a century-old Los Angeles water grab, Northern California farmers have filed a lawsuit that may escalate the state's ongoing water crisis. The farmers say the San Joaquin Valley communities hardest hit by drought and new protections for endangered species in the Delta — including the nation's largest irrigation district — are nevertheless illegally getting water that belongs to the northerners. ‘The last thing we want to see is the Sacramento Valley become another Owens Valley,’ said Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority general manager Jeff Sutton. He was referring to the early 20th century raid on the Owens Valley by Los Angeles, an episode made famous by the 1974 movie ‘Chinatown.’"

Against the backdrop of this latest salvo, Californians also are considering an $11billion-plus ballot proposition (which contains more than $2 billion in earmarks) in June that is championed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger but opposed by more than 55 percent of voters surveyed (not to mention key environmental groups). According to a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, “The $11 billion bond to overhaul California's water system that will go before voters in November is in big trouble, according to a poll released Thursday. The survey, paid for by opponents of the bond measure and conducted by veteran San Francisco pollster Ben Tulchin, found that 55 percent of registered voters sampled would vote against the bond if the election were held today, while 34 percent said they would vote in favor. Tulchin said support for the bond is ‘beyond low.’"

In addition (according to a report in the Sacramento Bee), “U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has proposed legislation to make it easier to transfer water to San Joaquin Valley farmers from other areas of the state, part of her ongoing effort to help farmers contending with water shortages. Feinstein made headlines last week with a controversial proposal to amend a federal jobs bill to guarantee San Joaquin Valley farmers 40 percent of their contract water deliveries from the federal government. Her 'Water Transfer Facilitation Act' has received far less attention. It was approved by a Senate committee in December and awaits a floor vote. The bill aims to streamline regulations surrounding water transfers among Central Valley farmers and water districts, who generally get their water in one of two ways: Some have actual rights to a specified allotment from rivers; others buy water under contract with the federal government. In a given year, those who contract for water get only as much as the government thinks it can provide based on drought conditions and environmental need. Such is the case for many farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, who last year got just 10 percent of their contracted amount. The system also allows for users with water rights to sell a portion of their water to another user. Feinstein has said her bill would allow an additional 300,000 acre-feet of water transfers among Central Valley users. One way it would do so is by waiving individual environmental reviews to protect the Sacramento Valley's threatened giant garter snake. Instead, a blanket review would cover all the transfers.”

What the Feinstein amendment doesn’t tell you, however, is that if it were passed it will directly benefit one of her biggest supporters – “Stewart Resnick, a Beverly Hills billionaire and one of the largest landowners in the southern Central Valley who controls the Kern Water Bank. Resnick is a political contributor to Sen. Feinstein, and if her amendment passes, he will receive more Delta water to sell at a profit to southern California developers” (according to the Fresno Bee – the paper of record in the San Joaquin Valley).


Some things never change.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

“Victory has a thousand fathers”

Last week, Joe “Plugs” Biden appeared on CNN’s “Larry King Live” to talk about all of the wonderful things the administration is doing.

Among the accomplishments Plugs said Team Obama deserved credit for was…wait…wait…wait…Iraq! Yes, that dusty killing field that General David Petraeus & the Surge essentially cleaned out despite opposition from…wait…wait…wait…the Democrats.

Coupla great guys...

According to the LA Times, here’s what Joey Plugs had to say:

“I am very optimistic about -- about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration. You're going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You're going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government. I spent -- I've been there 17 times now. I go about every two months -- three months. I know every one of the major players in all the segments of that society. It's impressed me. I've been impressed how they have been deciding to use the political process rather than guns to settle their differences.”

Larry King in better days...

Pretty amazing. Especially since the previous administration handed the success to the current one on a silver platter (on the way out).

BTW, during the interview with The World’s Oldest Living Fossil, Biden did not elaborate on what all the administration's other "great achievements" were so far.

Joey Plugs visits Mesopotamia...

What’s really interesting, though, was what happened shortly thereafter when the White House Press Corpse called the administration on Plugs’ claim.

Telling it like it is...

The following is supplied by a source within the Press Room who asked to remain unidentified. (The “Robert” and “MR. GIBBS” is Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. The “Q” is an unidentified journalist in the Press Room.)

Q: Robert, the Vice President last night said that Iraq could end up being one of the President's great achievements. Given that the Vice President was in favor of a partial partition of the country and the President opposed the surge that helped stabilize it, how is that one of the President's great achievements?

MR. GIBBS: Well, putting what was broken back together and getting our troops home, which we intend to do in August of this year.

Q : But the Status of Forces Agreement to bring troops home was signed before the President took office.

MR. GIBBS: Something that -- something that I think the political pressure that the President, as a then-candidate, helped to bring about.

Look, I think that we will long debate Iraq. We will long debate whether at a very important moment in our efforts to root out terrorism particularly in Afghanistan and on that border region with Pakistan, whether we took our eye off the ball. I think historians will debate that long after we're gone. I think they will come likely to the conclusion that no single event took our eye off of what needed to be done in order to -- in order to occupy a country that, until we got there, didn’t have a single member of al Qaeda.

So, look, obviously -- look, the Vice President has been deeply involved in fixing the political process there so that elections can be held and so that our troops can come home as scheduled this summer.


Radio fun...

If you're looking for something to do tonight and tomorrow night, feel free to tune into The John Batchelor Show from 6 - 6:30 p.m. (PST), where I'll join John to discuss the big issues of the week.

You can listen to the show at WTTK-FM 96.9 Boston, WABC-AM 77 NY, WMAL-AM 630 Washington, D.C., XM/Sirius Satellite Radio and on more than two dozen other stations (check local listings for details). If you’re not in one of the broadcast areas, you can tune-in via any of those outlets’ websites.

And as always…thanks for listening.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The hits just keep coming...

Gut punches, cheap shots, roundhouses, uppercuts, jabs...what do these have to do with this edition of The Bliss Index™? Not much...but they do seem apropos...

Who said the public healthcare option was dead? “Alive! It’s alive! IT’S ALIVE!”

Speaking of healthcare reform…there appears to be a move afoot to make sure tort reform isn’t in the mix. Hmmmm, I wonder who’s pulling those strings?

Ouch! According to a “CNN poll: 52% say Obama doesn't deserve reelection in 2012.” (Some might argue he didn’t deserve election the first time around.)

A little unhappy with the news...

If the White House gets a copy of The Wall Street Journal, they’d be wise to read and learn from this absolutely spot-on piece.

Remember when the cry was, “No nukes!”…? My, how times have changed.

Funny...didn't most of these people play music and raise money for the Obama campaign?

February 17, 2009: A date that will live in infamy.

Add Stimulus: Yeah, it ain’t really working – well, a lot of people aren’t working.

Now playing at an assassination near you:You Don’t Mess With The Mossad.”

What looks like an ordinary couple on vacation is, in reality, part of a highly trained hit team about to exterminate vermin. (photo via BBC)

Finally, he’s right: “Nobody likes Chris Matthews.” (Heck, I don’t even think Matthews likes Matthews.)

Chris Matthews (bottom right), former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter...nuf said...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wednesday Night Radio...

If it’s Wednesday night, it’s time for another edition of “Hotel California” on The John Batchelor Show (from 7:30 - 8 p.m., PST).

I’ll join John to discuss Left Coast politics, Silicon Valley and how Mother Nature is treating us out West (as opposed to the “Snowpocalypse” along the Eastern Seaboard).

You can listen to the show at WTTK-FM 96.9 Boston, WABC-AM 77 NY, WMAL-AM 630 Washington, D.C., XM/Sirius Satellite Radio and on more than two dozen other stations (check local listings for details). If you’re not in one of the broadcast areas, you can tune-in via any of those outlets’ websites.

And as always…thanks for listening.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

If at first you don't suceed...

...try something else.

Hey, GOP. Remember how profligate spending helped run the party out of Washington? Remember how Tea Parties usually zero-in on hacks and lying politicians? Then why in the heck are you doing this?

And Justice for all? Forever?

Lady Justice?...

No smart alecky remark here. This is just the Tweet O’ The Week©!

You’re getting warmer: looks like they’re starting to follow the money.

This just in from the icebox formerly known as Washington, D.C.: “UPDATE: The following Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing [has] been postponed due to inclement weather this week: The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing entitled, ‘Global Warming Impacts, Including Public Health, in the United States.’”

Congress shut down due to heavy weather. (Thank You, God!)

When it comes to science, when all else fails look at the data. (Which might explain why some of that climate change information is coming into question.)

Forget all that! If we really want to get to the bottom of this weather stuff, we need more bureaucracy.”

It didn't seem possible, but things actually got chillier in D.C...

Looks like Ol’ Rahm is the one getting the finger this time.

From the president’s mouth to tourists’ ears (Sen. Reid – please explain to the 350 or so employees that will no longer have a job how that Hope & Change is working for them.)

Demonize any place long enough and you're bound to bring some sort of Change...

I wasn’t impressed by Sarah Palin cribbing reminders on the palm of her hand (for an interview), but if you’re going to go after her at least don’t immolate yourself in the process.

Add Palin: I guess White House spokeshole Robert Gibbs wasn’t listening to his boss’ chat with the press before he took the stage.

"What does the writing on my hand say? Quit acting like a jackass..."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...

Despite a record-setting winter storm hitting large portions of the nation, leaving urban and rural areas snowbound, and essentially closing Washington, D.C., our fellow citizens - and enemies - keep making news...

How my fellow San Francisco Bay Area folks are going the extra mile for the people of Haiti.

Iran is “da bomb”…well, almost.

Meanwhile, the mullahs are promising to punch us. No, really...that's what their big-wigs are saying.

If it weren't so terrifying, it would be a bad Woody Allen movie...

This is what happens when your PR office is buried under snow.

That's a lot of global warming piling up there...

Did you know that with the new 2010 budget, a whopping “42 cents out of every dollar the federal government spends will have to be borrowed?” The Chinese do – and that worries them. At least they're investing, right?

The White House on official photos it has in its Flickr photo pool: “Nope – not yours.” (If only there was a former law school lecturer hanging around there who could set the administration straight on the basics.

"I'm tired of all these photos..."

John Murtha (D-Pork) died today at the age of 77. Let it be said he never met an earmark he didn’t like.

Looks like Republicans aren’t the only ones who think Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s trial should be held somewhere besides the same town at 9-11’s Ground Zero. (It’s about time…)

And finally…remember kids – it’s never OK to waterboard suspected terrorists…but it is OK to blow them the #$@%! up.

It's more expensive than "enhanced interrogations," but the results are also more definitive...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl drama

Late addition to The Bliss Index™: From the always enjoyable site, The People of WalMart. (From its Super Bowl edition...) - "No matter who wins the Super Bowl today, I would love to see this guy AFTER the game if this is what he is rocking beforehand. Enjoy the game (and commercials) everyone!"

The pre-pre-Super Bowl pre-show is now in its 27th hour.

You know that when the Saints made it, TV producers were just salivating...

"Hey, this'll be great - forget the Bourbon Street, creole cooking and jazz...just give me lots of tear-jerking post-Katrina stuff. Yeah, we'll talk about the devastation, the death...and how an NFL football team will make it all better. We'll play those heartstrings like BB King jamming on a solo. Make sure to add in there how Brad Pitt is somehow involved - I'll bet that'll get some ladies tuning in, too. Can anyone see if there's an Angelina Jolie/Jennifer Anniston angle here, too? Hey, I know we pretty much ignore New Orleans the rest of the year...except when Mardi Gras hits, but this is gold, baby. Gold. It's all about the drama...and celebs. Oh, and there's a football game?"

Gold, baby. Gold.

Who dat?

Super Bowl? Super radio...

Tonight on The John Batchelor Show, from 6:30-7 p.m. (PST), I’ll be joining John to discuss the economy, job figures, health care, POTUS vs some of his own party, and the big Tea Party.

For those of you who need a break from the demands of Super Bowl XXXIVLMXVIXX (parts A & B) , you can listen to the show at KSFO-560 AM San Francisco, WTTK-FM 96.9 Boston, WABC-AM 77 NY, WMAL-AM 630 Washington, D.C., XM/Sirius Satellite Radio and on more than two dozen other stations (check local listings for details). If you’re not in one of the broadcast areas, you can tune-in via any of those outlets’ websites.

And as alwaysthanks for listening.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

In appreciation...

(photo Cal Poly CLA)
Kevin Clark - portrait of the artist as a real guy...

This is the kind of poetry I wish I’d been exposed to in school, and judging from the tales Kevin Clark tells through his new book, “Self-Portrait with Expletives,” he’s the kind of guy I would have like to have hung out with back then, too. Fortunately, he’s given readers a tour through his range of life (and near-death) experiences that not only let the reader relive some of the most important times of one’s existence, but through the lens of maturity also help frame the importance of those shaping events.

When it comes to poetry, I'm far from being an expert. Frankly, it sometimes goes right over my head. Waaaaay over my head. Other times, some of it – as celebrated as it may be – seems like pointless drivel. Certain pieces sometimes grab me, but I often find other genres more appealing.

That said, as soon as I read the book’s first poem, “Eight Hours in the Nixon Era,” I was hooked. It kickstarted me on a nearly non-stop burst of reading.

Any good piece of art - writing, film/TV, music, a painting, etc. – has to draw me in, make me care and have me relating it to some part of my life. Clark’s book does all that – and more. I’ve known the author for close to a decade now and have corresponded with him regularly, so as I read his poems it was easy to see him and those in his world living in his words. That, alone, showed me that he was able to paint a true-to-life/true-to-the-artist picture. What really caught my “insides,” however, was that even though I knew what/who he was writing about, it was just as easy to transpose my own life and cast of characters into his stories. If it were radio, you’d refer to it as “the theatre of the mind.”

“Self-Portrait with Expletives” isn’t a particularly long book - just 90 pages. It’s definitely one of those you can sit down with and read in one evening. My own take on it is that you’re probably better-served going through it one piece per day – maximum. Like a good meal, it should not be rushed through. Each course should be given a good look before being consumed, “chewed” thoroughly and then left to settle…think about.

Putting it down unfinished, is no easy task. This is one of those collections of literature where days later, something in it hits you – WHAM! You either say, “so that’s what he meant!” as you relate it to something that just happened in your own life, or you think back to something in your past and connect the dots to one of Clark’s adventures (and you probably chuckle as you do).

While it's a great book for readers, it's instructive for aspiring poets. It proves that you don’t have to be cryptic… you don’t have to smother the reader with symbols or bizarre reach important places in a person. Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a superficial stroll down Memory Lane. It is, however, very accessible. What’s more, I think it’s a book that speaks to the male of our species. You see relationships, mistakes, triumphs and more from a distinctly male vantage point and from that point Clark brings a unique voice to the world of poetry. (Hollywood has made a mountain of money with romantic dramedies that are now referred to as “chick flicks”; Clark has given us “dude poetry” – and that’s a good thing. It’s about time.)

If poetry isn’t your first choice, it doesn’t matter. “Self-Portrait with Expletives” should be on your reading list - regardless. It’s a book of stories – stories that mean something. And when it’s a tale (or collection of them) worth telling – and reading – the form shouldn’t matter. Clark’s book not only deserves the kudos it’s received, but it also deserves you reading it.

Clark’s first full-length collection "In the Evening of No Warning," earned a grant from the Academy of American Poets. He’s also published three chapbooks: "One of Us" (Mille Grazie Press), "Granting the Wolf" (State Street Press) and "Widow under a New Moon" (Owl Creek Press).

Kevin Clark's “Self-Portrait with Expletives” is the winner of the 2009/2010 Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Series. His book will be published in trade paperback by Pleiades Press and distributed by LSU Press in April ($16.95 – ISBN-13: 978-0-8071-3645-4, Kevin Prufer and Susan Ludvigson, series editors). For more information on Clark, you can check out his homepage at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s College of Liberal Arts (where he is a professor).

Radio dazed...

It’s been a busy week for politics and business here in the Golden State and we’ll delve into some of the big topics on The John Batchelor Show tonight around 7:30 p.m. (PST).

I’ll join John to discuss the State of the Golden State, Silicon Valley and more. You can listen to the show at WTTK-FM 96.9 Boston, WABC-AM 77 NY, WMAL-AM 630 Washington, D.C., XM/Sirius Satellite Radio and on more than two dozen other stations (check local listings for details). If you’re not in one of the listening areas, you can tune-in via any of those stations’ websites.

And as alwaysthanks for listening.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Groundhog Day

I Got You Babe –Groundhog Day prediction from Punxsutawney Phil: 6 more weeks of winter.”

From The Washington Post: “President Obama continued efforts to open himself to direct scrutiny from his critics on Monday, sitting for a half-hour of questions submitted to YouTube during his State of the Union address last week.” Adds Don Surber on his Daily Scoreboard: “Except the White House handlers got to pick the questions. You want transparency and tough questions? Broadcast his next meeting with the Democratic Caucus.”

I Got You Babe –Groundhog Day prediction from Punxsutawney Phil: 6 more weeks of winter.”

Strike two: Looks like White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel has joined his fellow Chicagoan – and boss – in having to issue an apology to the developmentally disabled. (Interestingly enough, he apologized for using the term, “retards,” but just to those who are challenged…not the Democrats he originally pointed the barb at.)

I Got You Babe –Groundhog Day prediction from Punxsutawney Phil: 6 more weeks of winter.”

Ooops, he did it again: “President Barack Obama took another dig at Las Vegas at his New Hampshire town hall Tuesday after similar remarks got him into hot water last year. Obama said that people should now “blow a bunch of cash in Vegas” during a tough recession. Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman called for Obama to apologize after he made comparable comments last February. ‘When times are tough, you tighten your belts,” he said at the forum.” You don’t go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don’t blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.’” So much for that re-election, eh, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)?

I Got You Babe –Groundhog Day prediction from Punxsutawney Phil: 6 more weeks of winter.”

TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) is “a looming disaster?” You don’t say. (Actually, the program’s Inspector General said so.)

I Got You Babe –Groundhog Day prediction from Punxsutawney Phil: 6 more weeks of winter.”

Once again,it’s George W. Bush’s fault.” Of course it is.

I Got You Babe – Groundhog Day prediction from Punxsutawney Phil: 6 more weeks of winter.”

How do we get out of this recession? “The U.S. government must spend its way out of the recession, the Democrats' third-ranking House leader stressed Monday.” That Congressman? Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.). That philosophy? Business as usual.

I Got You Babe –Groundhog Day prediction from Punxsutawney Phil: 6 more weeks of winter.”

Monday, February 1, 2010

Too little, too late?

California – the big train(wreck) that could…go over a cliff.

Right now, the once-Golden State is on the precipice of an unimaginable economic disaster.
The state’s unemployment rate continues to run beyond 12 percent. Mortgage foreclosures are still climbing. Businesses – big and small – continue to leave for (tax) friendlier pastures. What’s more, the state’s unfunded liabilities (pensions/benefits/retirement plans) loom like gigantic, ship-killing icebergs on that foggy horizon that is the future.

As you read this, the state’s budget deficit is running somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 billion. The legislature should be making the tough decisions right now – not waiting until state law calls for a final budget no later than June. If the folks in Sacramento wait until then, it will be far too late.

The White House has thrown the state a bone – a bone that’s more than $1 billion large. Unfortunately (and you don’t have to be a Caltech math whiz to get this), that leaves a gap of…counting…counting…$19 billion.

Yes, it’s nice that the Feds recognize we’re hurting here in this Big Blue State – the one that went solidly for Democrats last election. According to the Los Angeles Times, of the “$25 billion in additional Medicaid funds for states, California is projected to receive $1.5 billion. States received a funding boost in the economic stimulus bill that Congress passed one year ago. [President Barack] Obama's budget plan would extend the funding through mid-2011. The proposal also includes $330 million to help states pay for jailing illegal immigrants. The money has long been a priority for California officials, who argue that local and state taxpayers should not have to bear the burden of Washington's failure to control America's borders. California's expected $90-million share would represent a fraction of the nearly $1 billion the state probably will spend this year on incarcerating illegal immigrants.”

So there you go. Not only will the money cover less than 10 percent of the state’s money gap, it also won’t make a big enough dent in the annual costs incurred by the state to pay for what should rightfully be a burden carried – or at least shared – by the Feds: the incarceration of illegal aliens convicted of crimes here in the United States.

California is running out of time. And whatever hope is out there for any kind of recovery is sure to be tempered by the realization that even bigger “challenges” lie ahead. For those Americans outside of California’s borders, this isn’t just the Golden State’s problem – it’s everyone’s. With a nation-leading economy that makes it among the 10 largest in the world, what happens in California impacts the rest of the nation…the rest of the world.

The old saying goes: “When California sneezes, the rest of the country catches a cold.” Well, California’s doing more than sneezing, folks…I hope you have a good health plan.