What I Learned About California Today

It seems that my prescription was right- let it burn, but my understanding of why is completely wrong and I have no clue what I am talking about. I honestly don’t know how, given what you all have written in the comments, anything can be done with that mess until you redo the Constitution. This says it all:

“The California Constitution has been amended or revised more than 500 times. It is now 157 pages. “

That just strikes me as a recipe for fail. Additionally, I learned that you all have term limits, so not only does it only take a 50+1 vote to increase spending and a 2/3 vote to raise money to pay for things, you also have special interests doing bond initiatives for anything that blows their trumpet, property tax laws that make no sense, and then to compound everything, people have no problem raising spending because when the shit hits the fan, they will have been term limited out and it is someone else’s problem. Then, the new people coming in to replace them have no experience and no authority and no way to fix it and the voters all hate them.

Pretty awesome.

I also learned that I need to read Calitics more often and that David Dayen is competing with Steve Benen for the title of “Blogger appearing simultaneously in the most number of blogs at the same time.”

Another thought from this:

The public’s contradictory impulses were laid bare by a recent Field Poll. It found that voters oppose cutbacks in 10 of 12 major categories of state spending, including the biggest, education and healthcare. Yet most voters were unwilling to have their own taxes increased, and they overwhelmingly favored keeping the two-thirds requirement for tax hikes.

Read that again, and it suddenly makes a lot more sense why California is ground zero in the foreclosure/HELOC disaster.






179 replies
  1. 1
    stacie says:

    This may sound controversial, but California has always struck me as proof that too much democracy is bad for Democracy.

    On the other hand, our federal government has always struck me as proof that too little democracy is bad for Democracy.

  2. 2
    Colette says:

    I think you’ve got it. The only ray of hope is that a majority of Californians, who are generally not as stupid as we look on TV, have repeatedly voted to do away with some or all of the mess created by Prop 13 and its evil spawn – we just haven’t mustered up the two-thirds majority needed yet. Disgust is running so high right now that we may yet get there.

  3. 3
    dbrown says:

    The old saying is true: California is not a State but rather a state of mind.

  4. 4
    Rick Taylor says:

    That’s about it. California is screwed up, but the electorate made it that way.

    From the LA Times:

    The public’s contradictory impulses were laid bare by a recent Field Poll. It found that voters oppose cutbacks in 10 of 12 major categories of state spending, including the biggest, education and healthcare. Yet most voters were unwilling to have their own taxes increased, and they overwhelmingly favored keeping the two-thirds requirement for tax hikes.

  5. 5
    mcc says:

    A major question in the 2010 California governor’s race should be– will be– whether and when we will call a constitutional convention to clean up some of the detritus that has accumulated in the California state constitution.

    Incidentally, John, I have been forced to block your blogads for the time being.

  6. 6
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    “The California Constitution has been amended or revised more than 500 times. It is now 157 pages. “

    Where’s my fucking t-shirt?

  7. 7
    jon says:

    Big deal: the South Carolina Constitution is technically illegal because it violates Article 9 of the US constitution lol.

  8. 8
    demkat620 says:

    Yeah, go look at how much one of the special elections costs and how many of Ahnuld’s ideas for reform actually passed. California needs to hit the reset button.

  9. 9
    Old Gringo says:

    Two things must be accomplished, Mr. Cole.

    1) As Commenter Sinister Sam at Marc Cooper’s blog has observed, George Lakoff has put forward a proposal :

    George Lakoff had a persuasive proposal today, to submit to the voters a one-line initiative:

    “Most Californians are not aware of the minority rule situation. . . . The Democratic leadership should immediately take the initiative on a 2010 ballot measure, a supremely simple one-sentence measure . . . :

    ‘All budgetary and revenue issues shall be decided by a majority vote in both houses of the legislature. ‘

    And as Marc Cooper states in the OP: 2)

    Arnold gets props for his enlightened energy policies and his willingness to buck California’s shrinking, detached and paleo-Republican Party on social issues. He had no problem allying with the Democratic majority in the legislature (better said he had to because his own Republicans would give him few and often not a single vote).

    But Schwarzenegger’s tenure can now be declared nothing except an historic failure. He — and the Democrats– flinched from the one issue that would have made all the difference. Everyone with an IQ above room temp has known for a long time that there can be no long-term economic viability in California without a radical, that’s right, radical retooling of our tax base. That means a scrapping of the onerous Prop 13 which, essentially, gives business and corporate interests a near free ride on already ridiculously low property taxes.

    Arnold gave a lot of leeway on a lot of issues but he stubbornly stuck to his “no taxes” Republican mantra. At least until recently when, out of necessity, he began to approve a whole new tier of increased “fees.”

    But it was all too little too late. Californians long ago grew bored by the annual budget deadlock in Sacramento. With new taxes needing a 2/3 super majority, the Repubs have just enough votes to gum up the works. If Arnold had wanted to be remembered as an historic figure, instead of one more failed Governor, he would have shown the same courage on tax reform that he did on the environment he would have led the charge for change.

    Instead, it was business as usual.

    Warren Buffet told Arnie in 2003 that he had to scrap Prop. 13. Arnie just didn’t have the balls.

    In the 2003 California recall election in which Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor, his advisor Warren Buffett suggested that Proposition 13 be repealed or changed as a method of balancing the state’s budget. Schwarzenegger, believing that taking such a step would be to touch a political third rail that could end his gubernatorial career, said, “I told Warren that if he mentions Proposition 13 again he has to do 500 sit-ups.” A 2004 Los Angeles Times Magazine cover story that detailed the proposition’s damaging effects and advocated its repeal drew heavy criticism from its supporters.

    This election broke the previous record for the lowest turnout in state history.

    http://www.sacbee.com/static/w.....ol%20Alert

  10. 10
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    Calling a constitutional convention requires — you guessed it! — a two-thirds vote from each house of the legislature, then a majority of voters to support it at the ballot box.

    I believe this is what is known as “painting yourself into a corner, where the corner happens to be full of shit and the paint is slightly diluted shit.”

  11. 11
    BDeevDad says:

    The thing with prop 13 is I wonder how many people it actually helps. My taxes are 2-2.5x my neighbors because they bought in 1992 vs me in 2004. I’d love to see someone argue age discrimination. Even if they just pegged the property taxes to match inflation instead of the arbitrary 1%, the tax revenues for a house bought in 1978 for 100k would be ~$3500 vs what they are now ~$1400 no matter how much the house is worth.

    Prop 13 is the Social Security of CA politics. Ask Warren Buffett, who got kicked off the Govenator’s economic team for bringing it up.

  12. 12
    John Cole says:

    I think it is pretty clear what is going to have to happen. I’m not sure of the technical language, but California is going to have to be put in “receivership” or whatever with the feds, and the only condition they will get any money is if they are forced to redo the constitution.

    Not sure how that happens or what the right terms are, but that seems like the only way out.

  13. 13
    Chief says:

    “Are these morons getting dumber or just louder?”
    “Dumber, sir. They want the Bear Patrol, but they won’t pay taxes for it.”

  14. 14
    joes527 says:

    @John Cole:

    … California is going to have to be put in “receivership” or whatever with the feds …

    Socialism!

    Dibs on the upper bunk when we all get put in FEMA reeducation camps.

  15. 15
    BDeevDad says:

    @John Cole: I heard this on NPR. They compared it to NY in the 70s

  16. 16
    Laura W says:

    Way to harsh my super-relaxed Spanish Garnacha mellow, John.

    So I bought me a ticket
    I caught a plane to Spain
    Went to a party down a red dirt road
    There were lots of pretty people there
    Reading Rolling Stone, reading Vogue
    They said, how long can you hang around?
    I said a week, maybe two,
    Just until my skin turns brown
    Then I’m going home to California
    California I’m coming home

  17. 17
    Old Gringo says:

    I also learned that I need to read Calitics more often and that David Dayen is competing with Steve Benen for the title of “Blogger appearing simultaneously in the most number of blogs at the same time.”

    Yes, I should have HTipped to Dave at Calitics. That’s where I found the link to Marc Cooper.

    I read Calitics regularly. Blogroll?

    As a side note, property taxes in CA are way lower than they are in Texas. That should tell you something.

  18. 18
    John Cole says:

    @BDeevDad: Damnit. I thought I had some sort of unique idea.

  19. 19
    John Cole says:

    OT, but I have an appt. with the ENT guy on Friday morning. I can’t live like this anymore. These allergies and sinuses are killing me.

    I’m seriously considering a dinner of a box of claritin and a 6 pack of samuel smith.

  20. 20
    Brachiator says:

    The public’s contradictory impulses were laid bare by a recent Field Poll. It found that voters oppose cutbacks in 10 of 12 major categories of state spending, including the biggest, education and healthcare. Yet most voters were unwilling to have their own taxes increased, and they overwhelmingly favored keeping the two-thirds requirement for tax hikes.

    This is not all that contradictory. Both the Democrats and Republicans nakedly court special interests. Having previously used redistricting and other tricks to almost guarantee that incumbents are never defeated, they feel no fear. Rather than look for ways to get efficiencies in state spending, they fell back on tax increases (after creating a huge loophole in the corporate tax structure). The worst Democrats believe that the function of the state is to insure permanent wages and benefits for public employee and teachers’ unions. The worst Republicans live a libertarian wet dream.

    What has been forgotten is that the state exists to provide services to the taxpayers.

  21. 21
    Laura W says:

    @John Cole: ooooooooo! Fun! Be sure to come back. We’ll wait here! You might be “Loosey Goosey”, as Chris Matthews said earlier.

    Actually, I was dying today too, in low energy and constant eye blurring and pain. I kept thinking about taking something, but didn’t. On accounta the wine interaction. I always wonder when I am suffering how others with really serious allergies are doing, since I am not allergy prone at all. If it’s getting to me, I figure you all are really tweaking.

    I might take a Benadryl. If you never hear from me again, send the paramedics. Or blame Janet Napolitano, and if she is not guilty, definitely look into BOB.

  22. 22
    demkat620 says:

    @John Cole: Neti pot not working anymore?

    Seriously John, this time of year usually kills me. I get such bad sinus headaches i almost want somebody to crack my skull open to relieve the pressure. I have had a few but not bad ones this year. The only thing that ever helps me is Advil Cold & Sinus or you can try 4 advil and a sudafed. Same thing.

  23. 23

    What I learned about California today is there places down there where million dollar houses have crumbling 100 year old sidewalks and nobody seems to GAS.

    I learned that DiFi thinks it’s okey-dokey to incarcerate The Terrorists in Cal jails, but that plan will probably fail if it has to go thru the initiative process. My suggesstion is to, one at a time, make them Chuck Mansons’ cellmates, then blame Nancy Pelosi when it doesn’t work.

  24. 24
    Old Gringo says:

    California is not a State but rather a state of mind.

    It also was the fifth largest economy on the planet in July of 2001. I’m not sure where it ranks now but it really might still be too big to fail.

  25. 25
    M . Bouffant says:

    Yep, we are royally screwed here on the coast.

    It’s funny to remember that the biggest single gripe that got Gov. Davis recalled & that buffoon Schwarzenegger in was a raise in car registration fees to around $400.00. The straw that broke the tax-paying camel’s back.

    Another result of the “Progressive” politics of the ’20s that gave us the initiative process is here in L. A., where the city elections are held the yr. after the presidential election. The idea was that the informed, interested voter could pay more attention to the issues & candidates w/o the fed elections distracting them. The result, as mentioned somewhere, is the minuscule turn-out, &, just as in primaries, only the most crazed vote in these off-off-yr. elections.

  26. 26
    datacine says:

    NYC in the ’70’s got “The Shock Doctrine”
    California may get the same, but it will be much uglier.

  27. 27
    robertdsc says:

    Didn’t you want to move out to San Diego, John? Still interested in doing that? Could Tunch handle the weather here?

  28. 28
    dbrown says:

    California’s solution is simple: legalize all drugs – then tax them. This would provide a vast tax revenue increase, create a whole group of new businesses that would provide good paying wages and provide even more State revenue; also, reduce the size of the jail populations by at least half and allow the police forces to be reduced (and hence lower costs for these services a great deal while still reducing crime!) and finally, provide the money for the small minority of people that would abuse the drugs and need treatment allowing most of these people to live productive lives (unlike now with our insane jail them policy.)

  29. 29
    Barry says:

    I got schooled in how immature voters are when it comes to taxes and spending a few years ago. Here in Washington state there were three initiatives on the ballot in the same election that all passed with 55-60% of the vote: one to mandate lower pupil-to-teacher class ratios, one to raise teacher pay, and finally one to roll back property taxes and limit the rate at which they could be raised (property taxes being the major source of education funding).

    Now I always vote no on any initiative that tries to set fiscal policy and I’d favor a constitutional amendment prohibiting initiatives from setting fiscal policy.

  30. 30
    HumboldtBlue says:

    Well, staff members for the Guv came up with some ideas on how to cut costs. Do you realize that we have three separate agencies collecting taxes? Do you realize that we have an integrated Waste Management board that was created solely for termed-put legislators to bide their time until they could run for a seat in the other house?

    We have redundancies throughout state government, including 12 separate groups dealing with energy, and yet, we still have a state department of energy, although their duties are murky.

    One thing I know for sure, is that we can’t, just can’t live without the Board of Naturopathic medicine, or the Telephone Medical Advice Services Bureau or the Court Reporters Board.

    And you asked on the other thread how many registered voters voted — less than 20-percent, and I was not among them. I sat this one out, quite simply because I had no clear view on just what the fuck they were asking me to vote for.

  31. 31
    BDeevDad says:

    I am just sick of it. There are currently 22 initiatives vying for the 2010 ballot. Not all of them will make it, but too many will.

  32. 32
    HumboldtBlue says:

    It’s funny to remember that the biggest single gripe that got Gov. Davis recalled & that buffoon Schwarzenegger in was a raise in car registration fees to around $400.00. The straw that broke the tax-paying camel’s back.

    Guess what went into effect yesterday, that’s right, an increase on vehicle registration fees, upwards of 125-percent from what you’re paying now.

  33. 33
    BDeevDad says:

    @dbrown: The prison guard union (second most powerful union in the state after the teacher’s) will never allow it.

  34. 34
    Old Gringo says:

    legalize all drugs – then tax them

    Reminds me of something Mencken once said and this is probably paraphrasing:

    “For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, elegant, and wrong.”

    I’m wary of such schemes because there are just some drugs that must be regulated but clearly, drug use and/or abuse is a public health issue, not a criminal one. There are limits to the criminal sanction, as Herbert Packer observed.

    I got schooled in how immature voters are when it comes to taxes and spending a few years ago.

    The ballot initiative, where the voters get to legislate, is clearly problematic.

  35. 35
    whinger says:

    It’s funny to remember that the biggest single gripe that got Gov. Davis recalled & that buffoon Schwarzenegger in was a raise in car registration fees to around $400.00. The straw that broke the tax-paying camel’s back.

    Well, okay, but isn’t that evil and regressive and stuff? For a poor family you’re talking about about a registration fee that might be between 20% and 100% of what they paid for the car.

  36. 36
    dday says:

    Thanks for the the shout-out, John. I also have the honor of having subbed for Steve as well.

    I think you’ve now got a decent handle on this thing. We’re basically screwed, because we have insane right-wingers who actively want the system to fail, and a cowed Democratic leadership with no balls to advocate for the right solutions. As a result, too many Californians believe in the Two Santa Claus theory – that we can cut taxes forever AND provide as many services as possible. And the structural barriers enforce this fantasy, and when there’s the slightest economic downturn, everything falls apart. In a recession like this, we’re closer to ruin.

    A constitutional convention is a great idea, and it doesn’t just have to be put on the ballot by the legislature. Like everything else here, you can bring it to a vote of the people by gathering signatures and putting it on as an initiative. Gavin Newsom, who’s running for Governor, actually supports it, and so does a business group called the Bay Area Council. They announced a coalition of supporters today to push for a Convention. Clearly this madness has to stop.

    I don’t think the Feds will step in and offer a bailout in exchange for constitutional reform. First of all Governor Hoover isn’t asking for any money right now – he thinks he can cut his way to victory. Second, there really aren’t any plans of this type except for guaranteeing our bonds so we can borrow to cover the deficit, which wouldn’t save the state much more than 5% of the total gap.

    Thanks again. Maybe you’ll cross post this and put another notch in my belt! :)

  37. 37
    John Cole says:

    The term limits thing really is more important than I think a lot of people realize. Without an institutional memory, people fail to remember why things were done, so you easily compound the errors.

    Imagine trying to raise a child with new parents every 6 months and you get the idea.

  38. 38
    TenguPhule says:

    Without an institutional memory, people fail to remember why things were done, so you easily compound the errors.

    History always repeats itself. First as tragedy, then as farce.

  39. 39
    NonWonderDog says:

    I found this in a comment at 538, but you know those five ballot initiatives that were supposed to keep California solvent? Here they are. All 57 pages (in 8 point type) of proposed changes to the California constitution, with entire sections reprinted and the changes in italics.

    That’s apparently what people were asked to vote on. It’s fucking insane. There’s no way I would be able to vote for that in good faith, since I can’t even understand most of it even if I had time to read it all.

    How many people voted against the initiatives because they hated taxes and wanted the state to fail, and how many people voted against them because they didn’t want to rely on a one paragraph summary of that?

  40. 40
    BDeevDad says:

    OT: I believe the Pam Anderson ad is definitely NSFW. So watch your refresh.

  41. 41
    Martin says:

    Calling a constitutional convention requires—you guessed it!—a two-thirds vote from each house of the legislature, then a majority of voters to support it at the ballot box.
    I believe this is what is known as “painting yourself into a corner, where the corner happens to be full of shit and the paint is slightly diluted shit.”

    It’s not as bad as it sounds. What you describe is no harder than passing a sales tax increase.

    And that illustrates much of our problem – profound changes to the state government are no harder to implement than normal legislative operations, and in some cases easier to do. So we can amend the constitution as simply as a marketing campaign, but we can’t get yacht buyers to pay sales tax without a 2/3 vote in both branches.

  42. 42
    Sean says:

    A constitutional convention in California isn’t crazy and people are talking about it.

    But I shudder to think what sort of a document would come out of the legislative meat-grinder currently ensconced in Sacramento.

    Although, whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be printed on 100% recycled paper with soy-based inks.

    -S

  43. 43
    HumboldtBlue says:

    Toss the initiative process in with the term limits bullshit and you get what we have seen over the past several years. Californian’s have been asked to go to the polls 13 times in the last seven years for either elections or special elections.

  44. 44
    Martin says:

    Well, okay, but isn’t that evil and regressive and stuff? For a poor family you’re talking about about a registration fee that might be between 20% and 100% of what they paid for the car.

    It doesn’t work that way. The fee scales based on the age of the vehicle. So a new car is between $400 and $1200 (Hummer), I think, but it goes down each year. We’d only be paying about $100 on our oldest and probably $300-ish on our newest.

  45. 45
    Zifnab says:

    @John Cole:

    The term limits thing really is more important than I think a lot of people realize.

    But that’s the thing. Incumbency is a double-edged sword. Having an entrenched pol like Tom DeLay in my district, I can tell you that a new set of parents every 6 months doesn’t sound so bad when the parents you’ve got lock you up in the basement and beat you with broom handles.

    Once a guy like Rick Perry or Dianne Feinstein digs a little trench and nests in your elected office, it’s a real pain in the ass to flush’m out again.

  46. 46
    fisher cat says:

    voters oppose cutbacks in 10 of 12 major categories of state spending, including the biggest, education and healthcare. Yet most voters were unwilling to have their own taxes increased

    Aside from the obvious microcosm thing, how is it even remotely possible to effectively govern CA given this set of circumstances?

  47. 47
    Old Gringo says:

    CA term limits are among the strictest in the nation.

    PPIC report on the effect of Prop. 140

    Few of the most fervent hopes of Proposition 140’s backers—or the worst fears of its opponents—have materialized. Even so, term limits have dramatically changed California’s Legislature. Many veteran legislators and staff members regret Proposition 140’s effects, which include a decline in the Legislature’s research capacity. (The Legislative Analyst’s Office, for example, lost a large portion of its staff, with the sharpest drop coming immediately in the wake of Proposition 140.) Even the measure’s major proponent, former Los Angeles County Supervisor Pete Schabarum, recently voiced his discontent with the results. Coping with term limits will mean compensating for the problems that have arisen while recognizing the value of increased turnover and legislative diversity.

    In February 2008, California voters rejected Proposition 93, the “Term Limits and Legislative Reform Act.” The measure sought to modify term limits in that state by replacing the chamber-specific limits with a 12-year limit on total service.

  48. 48
    Martin says:

    Californian’s have been asked to go to the polls 13 times in the last seven years for either elections or special elections.

    More than that if you count in special elections for vacated seats. I think we voted 4 times in a year a little bit back – primary/general/special for seat/special for initiatives.

    But the sheer number of initiatives put out to fix the budget is very telling. The governor and even the legislature are fronting these because they know they can’t get past the 2/3 requirement, and they know they only need a simple majority of voters. So they toss out $50-$100M every year to try and pass things that could be solved by just convincing *one* Republican. A hit man would be a MASSIVE budget savings…

  49. 49
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @John Cole:

    OT, but I have an appt. with the ENT guy on Friday morning. I can’t live like this anymore. These allergies and sinuses are killing me.

    This past month has been really bad along the Appalachians for some reason — asthma as well as ENT stuff — and tree pollen seems to be the culprit.

    The term limits thing really is more important than I think a lot of people realize. Without an institutional memory, people fail to remember why things were done, so you easily compound the errors.

    That reminds me of how the rent agreements at college (negotiated with the student government) always seemed to be set at 3-4 years, so that the authorities could be sure that whenever it came time to renegotiate, there were only a handful of people still around who remembered what happened with the last one. Clever sods.

  50. 50
    Martin says:

    Aside from the obvious microcosm thing, how is it even remotely possible to effectively govern CA given this set of circumstances?

    Because voters don’t understand the impact of many of the things they want or oppose. They routinely overestimate the impact of taxes and underestimate the impact of cuts.

    Either you need to ask the voters to approve *everything*, or you ask then to approve nothing and leave it to their representatives. Students scream about higher tuition, but they forget that it just increases their eligibility for student loans, so it’s not $1000 out of pocket, it’s $0 out of pocket and an extra $20/mo out of their paycheck when they graduate and get a job.

  51. 51
    John Cole says:

    @pseudonymous in nc: I’m miserable. I feel itchy and my eyes are watering and my head feels like it weighs 30 pounds and I have no energy and a sore throat from the sinus drip.

    And I have never had this problem.

  52. 52
    p.a. says:

    voters oppose cutbacks in 10 of 12 major categories of state spending, including the biggest, education and healthcare. Yet most voters were unwilling to have their own taxes increased, and they overwhelmingly favored keeping the two-thirds requirement for tax hikes.

    and a pony!

    Cali: too big to fail? Apparently, sometimes an electorate needs shock therapy. Can we send in the IMF to cut the taxes for the rich and gut the services of the poor under the cover of ‘saving the system’? Or we can maybe transfer secessionist fever westward before all falls down goes boom.

  53. 53
    Old Gringo says:

    And I have never had this problem.

    The effects of aging, Mr. Boomer.

  54. 54
    geg6 says:

    WTF is wrong with people out there? I seriously don’t get it. We have ballot initiatives here in PA. One or two every other election or so. Sometimes we say yes and sometimes we say no, but it seems to me that the voters here take these things seriously and that’s the difference. If the initiative calls for spending, we generally wanna see if it’s 1) needed and 2) comes with a plan to pay for it. Just a couple of years ago, we passed one to increase taxes slightly to pay for improving sewage and water systems. No craziness over it at all. People got the need for the improvements and decided we should kick in to benefit us all. Considering the insane asylum the call the PA legislature, the voters here are pretty practical and realistic for the most part.

  55. 55
    Colette says:

    @John, that’s why I moved out of Washington, DC and back to California 20 years ago. The allergies were minor for a few years, and then one spring they just exploded and I couldn’t see, breathe, or smell anything. I wanted to reach into my ear with a crochet hook to scratch the inside of my head. My allergist told me it was a pretty common pattern – continued exposure to high pollen levels can make you more allergic over time.

    San Francisco is lovely this time of year.

  56. 56
    John Cole says:

    @Colette: What is driving me insane is I feel like I am constantly equalizing the pressure in my ears. Maybe I just have a sinus infection that got in my ears somehow. I don’t know, but it is driving me nuts.

  57. 57
    Old Gringo says:

    Yet most voters were unwilling to have their own taxes increased

    No one is asking them about property taxes. The person who owned a home in California was sitting on a goldmine for most of the last 3 decades. I’ve watched the median home price go from an average of 180 K to over 650 K in just the last decade. It’s just dropped since the bubble burst but most people managed to walk away with a fairly good chunk of change (capital gain). Of course people don’t want their taxes raised. That’s been the problem with the ballot initiative process in every state that has it. Those that don’t do not have this problem.

  58. 58
    Laura W says:

    @Colette: I learned the same thing near the end of my 10-yr stay in CO where I suddenly became allergic to all sorts of things, having never been allergic in my life.
    When I moved to NC and started suffering with the first few changes of seasons, especially right now, with all the tree pollens, I freaked out. And of course, then you hear all the stories of people who had to leave NC due to the horrible allergens, etc.

    Makes me miss CA.
    I never had allergies when I lived on or just over the Monterey Bay (twice). Or in Napa.
    San Francisco is like Disneyland for me. Santa Barbara? Don’t get me started.
    See? California has its plusses.

  59. 59
    AhabTRuler says:

    California has its plusses.

    So does Heroin. It’s the flip side that’ll getcha every time, tho.

    For some reason, this seems appropriate.

  60. 60
    Woody says:

    The worst Democrats believe that the function of the state is to insure permanent wages and benefits for public employee and teachers’ unions.

    If’n that’s the worst the Dems have in mind for Californians, then–if you value or utilize the services of police, fire, emergency, educational professionals, at any rate–you should be applauding. They’re the folks who keep the fucking place afloat…
    chuy! que marron

  61. 61
    Batocchio says:

    David Dayen is indeed everywhere. However, the “I want stuff but don’t want to pay for it” fantasy has been along for a long time, and was the central tenet of Reaganism. (But then, maybe he tested it in California first before trying it out on the national stage…)

  62. 62
    tcolberg says:

    @Martin: The state Democrats had to struggle to get one Republican to agree to putting the propositions on the ballot. The GOP refused to cooperate. One conceded, Abel Moldonado, and having cooperated with the Democrats and trying to save the state, Moldonado’s career is widely regarded as being over.

    That’s the level of obstinateness that we have to deal with in CA. I’ve been advocating this for a while now, we need to get ourselves a constitutional convention and overthrow this broken government.

    Actually, the big concern is we could have a constitutional convention and not be able to get anything done because the differences between the liberals in LA and SF and the conservatives in…. everywhere else might be too dramatic. John, as for all those crazy Republicans you were complaining about earlier, blame that on the counties that surround LA county: Orange, Kern, Tulare, San Diego.

  63. 63
    Laura W says:

    @John Cole: A woman I work with has had this issue since last January. (Allergies into sinus infection. Really horrible ones.) I think now she doesn’t notice it so much since she is pregnant and 42. Her focus has shifted, let’s say.

    She was constantly miserable, and chronically unwell. She did go to an ENT but never really followed up with shots or further testing. You really should, you know. This is the worst part of the country for this shit (especially ATL, apparently) and it can really disable a person if not treated somehow.

    You might want to rethink that whole Down On California thing, however.

  64. 64
    asiangrrlMN says:

    Wow. When I lived in CA, it was right around the time they ousted Davis. When I found out that Arnie was gonna be governor, I thought they had one-upped MN in wacky governors (Ventura). However, Ventura did some good things, and it looks like Arnie is trying, but he can’t really buck the party–and he’s many years too late as it is.

    I dunno. Our own legislature failed to pass a budget bill, so Ratface Pawlenty is going to cut $3 billion by himself. He has opposed new taxes in this time of recession. Or, really, in any time at all. Except to pay for stadiums for the billionaire family, the Pohlads–which is never mentioned, oh, and the cigarette ‘fee’. He plans to cut education, healthcare, and other social programs. One of the local Republican leaders said that Pawlenty won’t be vindicative because he cares about Minnesotans. Wrong! He cares about a run for the presidency, so he has to be in line with the rightwingers. Besides, he doesn’t give a shit about social issues, really, so of course those will be what he cuts.

    I am sick at heart because of this. I fucking hate Pawlenty.

  65. 65
    Old Gringo says:

    @geg6

    Regarding the defeat of the ballot measures here, the non-partisan and moderately conservative League of Women Voters didn’t like most of these measures, and had no position yea or nay on the other one or two. All in all, the electorate here managed to vote wisely, IMHO.

    http://ca.lwv.org/action/prop0905/index.html

  66. 66
    John Cole says:

    @Laura W: I seriously wish it were pain or cancer or somethign that needed to be operated on.

    All it is is an annoyance and a clogged head and an itchy feeling and it IS DRIVING ME INSANE.

  67. 67
    Woody says:

    John Cole @ 50 and prev:

    Post Nasal Drip

    Not just for breakvast anymore

  68. 68
    Colette says:

    @John Cole: It’s possible – but that first allergy-attack spring, I thought I had a sinus infection, too, and it really was the allergies. Out here in NorCal I just have to take Zyrtec for a few weeks in the spring and a couple more in the fall, and that takes care of it.

    @Laura W:

    See? California has its plusses.

    Ssshhhh. The wingnuts might be listening.

  69. 69
    John Cole says:

    Fuck California.

    Laura W. and I are building a balloon juice pet commune in Montana.

  70. 70
    Old Gringo says:

    I seriously wish it were pain or cancer or somethign that needed to be operated on.

    You can have your sinuses “planed” so they drain more easily.

    It is a not too uncommon surgery.

    http://www.entnet.org/HealthIn.....urgery.cfm

  71. 71
    Laura W says:

    @AhabTRuler: I fail to see how that song has anything to do with California at all. Did Momo make you link that? Sort of sounds like something she’d dig.

    Have you ever lived there? Visited the state? Ever driven up Hwy 1 from Cambria to Big Sur?
    Ever soaked in the natural baths at Esalen on the cliffs over the Pacific Ocean at midnight?? Had the astrological Birthday Dinner with 200 others or a romantic dinner with one other at Nepenthe? Walked Asilomar State Beach in the rain with a new date at sunset? Stepped out your front door in the early morning to take your daily walk along Lover’s Point Park?

    Sorry. Where were we?

    Edit: I meant: Fuck California!
    Montana Rules!

  72. 72
    MikeJ says:

    @Laura W:

    I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. … Time to die.

  73. 73
    HumboldtBlue says:

    Umm Colette? San Francisco and its environs are not in Northern California, they’re in central California. Gettin’ tired of you valley girls and guys co-opting our good name and applying it to horrible organizations like the Giants and 49ers.

    You’re more than 300 miles South of the Oregon border so it’s sort of like claiming Delaware is part of Connecticut.

    Oh, and it appears Mayor Gavin newsom has asked to the State Supreme Court to hold off on the prop 8 ruling. He’s got a major gubenatorial kickoff event scheduled for tomorrow and it’s also the 30th anniversary of the conviction of Harvey Milk’s murderer.

    Newsom’s people say they did no such thing, would never dream of doing such a thing and are always honorable and upstanding, like Boy Scouts an’ stuff.

  74. 74
    JL says:

    @John Cole: One thing that I read is that frequent nose blowing can cause chronic sinus problems.. Now personally I have problems with the idea of just using a tissue daintily but my son swears this is true. I use saline nasal spray daily and zyrtec 24 hour nightly.
    My son has dealt with allergies all his life and has become quite an expert on what works and what doesn’t.

  75. 75
    asiangrrlMN says:

    P.S. My allergies are really bad this year, too. Worse than usual, which is saying a lot. I think age has something to do with it because I am developing food allergies as well–such as to gluten and to dairy. Blech.

    P.P.S. Can we have a goin’ Galt pets open thread again? I really need one.

    P.P.P.S. This is specific to the menz out there–is Pam Anderson attractive to you? Why or why not?

  76. 76
    Old Gringo says:

    @Laura W

    California was heaven when I got here in ’69 from NYC.

    Then the rest of you found out about it. I want to move to Portland. There’s a neighborhood there that is just like Berkeley in the 60s. And I have done most of those things. Big Sur was as far south as I’ve ever been. I saw no reason to venture further to LA. Never been there.

  77. 77
    Seebach says:

    Totally off topic, but Before the Storm, Rick Perlstein’s first book, before Nixonland, on the Goldwater campaign that started it all, has been reprinted. Nixonland is also in paperback. So now you have no excuse not to read it.

  78. 78
    fisher cat says:

    @John Cole: Don’t forget the zircon-encrusted tweezers.

  79. 79
    robertdsc says:

    This is specific to the menz out there—is Pam Anderson attractive to you? Why or why not?

    Once upon a time, she was. Now, not so much.

  80. 80
    Seebach says:

    This is specific to the menz out there—is Pam Anderson attractive to you? Why or why not?

    No, because there’s the Pornstar/Playboy plasticity to her. I also tend to be attracted to tomboyish/androgynous females. An overemphasis on so-called “feminine” features to the point of exaggeration is not attractive.

  81. 81
    Old Gringo says:

    @HumboldtBlue

    There are various schools of thought on this, One can argue that coastal CA is a totally different dimension than the inland state, irrespective of any arbitrary demarcation of north and south.

  82. 82

    @John Cole:

    One question: Have you been to a good Ear, Nose and Throat doctor?

    They have treatments today that did not exist just a few years ago.

  83. 83
    Zzyzx says:

    @BDeevDad: So I followed that link and I found “The Citizen Legislature Act.” California’s biggest problem is that term limits and gerrymandering have created a pathetic legislature. So, of course, its solution is to give them even less power and pay them less to make it even more of an amateur hour.

  84. 84
    Old Gringo says:

    This is specific to the menz out there—is Pam Anderson attractive to you? Why or why not?

    Never. I am a leg man and they (her boobs) are just too damn big. No more than a mouthful for me. But “Girls Gone Galt!” Sure.

  85. 85
    Laura W says:

    @Old Gringo:

    California was heaven when I got here in ‘69 from NYC.
    Then the rest of you found out about it.

    EXSQUEEZE ME?
    I was born and raised there, went to college there (Go Gauchos!), and did not leave till I was 37. I would still go back to the northern part, if I had the means and a reason. Or even just for a fun trip. My Mom and 94-yr-old grama live in Napa. That’s a really hard place to visit, as you can imagine. Really a hardship for me.

    (Fun BJ Factoid: TZ/HatCat/Ghost/Inflatable/HitlerPuppyKicker and I were both born at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica. Decades apart, needless to say.)

  86. 86
    MikeJ says:

    There are currently 22 initiatives vying for the 2010 ballot.

    The first things to do: triple the number of sigs to get on the ballot. Mandatory 1 year in prison per signature gathered by paid staff.

  87. 87
    jamie says:

    @ asiangrrlMN Hey! I was born and raised in Shoreview, just north of the 694 near the TV towers and have lived in West LA since 1996.

    The Republicans in MN and CA are interesting to contrast. MN Republicans are generally polite and softspoken but total rats– remember Norm Coleman was a DFLer when he ran for mayor of Minneapolis and switched parties right after he won the election because the abortion issue was “heavy on his conscience.” My dad ran for the MN state legislature a few years ago, and the Halloween before the poll, kids in the neighborhood were passing out pamphlets when they came to collect their candy; the pamphlet told the reader which candidate was the “True Christian’s choice.”
    CA republican’s basically don’t exist in any developed area. In Los Angeles they might as well be the Green Party. You’re only aware they exist when the state goes bankrupt, and you hear about all the hundreds of millions they’re cutting from the budget in order to get maybe on republican… or how Ahnold is borrowing against the future earnings of the lottery in order to keep the ERs open.

    I wonder what happened exactly that they decided to pass Prop 13… My understanding is that the assessments in the late 70s were getting ridiculous and retirees were being forced to sell their homes, because appreciation had begun to get out of control. But I think we’ve gone too far in the opposite direction, and it’s common to describe some marginally-employed person who’s gotten a big house through divorce or inheritance (or film work a decade ago) living on a HELOC a/k/a “Prop 13 welfare”.

  88. 88
    chuck says:

    San Francisco and its environs are not in Northern California, they’re in central California

    Um, that’s what we call inland CA.

    Tell ya what, we’ll call it the Bay Area, and you folks in Yreka go on ahead and annex yourselves to Oregon :)

  89. 89
    Laura W says:

    @MikeJ: I forgot to mention the Pina Coladas, huh?

  90. 90
    John Cole says:

    @asiangrrlMN: No. I hate fake boobs and I like ethnic women. Plus, while I am attracted to crazy, I am not attracted to stupid.

    Also, not a fan of blondes.

  91. 91
    John Cole says:

    @Laura W: What if you are not into yoga and have half a brain?

  92. 92
    Old Gringo says:

    EXSQUEEZE ME?

    My humble apologies, Laura. I didn’t mean “you” personally.

    I live in Sonoma Co. Howdy, neighbor!

  93. 93
    Brandon T says:

    @geg6:

    No craziness over it at all. People got the need for the improvements and decided we should kick in to benefit us all. Considering the insane asylum the call the PA legislature, the voters here are pretty practical and realistic for the most part.

    California is more than twice the population of Pennsylvania (probably much more, since the number of illegal immigrants is poorly counted), and spread over a much larger geographic area. This profoundly changes statewide campaigns, making them fantastically expensive and TV-ad driven. It’s not far off from national politics, with the idiotic sound-byte driven culture. The geographic isolation of each region of the state also means that statewide politics seem sort of distant to most people, compounding the problem states generally have with disinterest in their politics (e.g. the few newspapers around Sacramento cover capitol politics, but newspapers in say San Diego or Los Angeles are too far away to care).

    All in all, I think California is an excellent example of how governmental institutions scale poorly. We need a vastly larger state legislature and local control (along with all the other institutional issues) to really have proper oversight of state politics.

  94. 94
    John Cole says:

    @InflatableCommenter: Friday morning at 8:15.

  95. 95
    John Cole says:

    BTW- I have now had two tonight, and will stop there, but I want to reiterate that I think the most serviceable beer out there is Harpoon’s UFO. Just a splendid, splendid beer. I really think it is a fine brew and really hits my sweet spots for a beer.

  96. 96
    HumboldtBlue says:

    Tell ya what, we’ll call it the Bay Area, and you folks in Yreka go on ahead and annex yourselves to Oregon :)

    Hell, if that happens you’re going to lose the only cash crop in the state that generates any income.

    Also, not a fan of blonds.

    He was into the Four Non-Blondes during his army days and still wanders around repeating “what’s up?” over and over again.

    And I say heeey heeey heeeey heeey, heeey heeeey heeey …. eesh, now I wanna shoot myself.

  97. 97

    @Laura W:

    CA was heaven in 1969 according to your correspondent there?

    Uh, 1969, the year of the Tate- La Bianca murders?

    Ronnie Ray-Gun, governor?

    Has that person read any Joan Didion?

    Jesus. CA, heaven, in 1969? One of the oddest assertions I have ever seen. Please tell that person to get a clue.

  98. 98
    Laura W says:

    @John Cole: as long as you’re into champagne, it’s fine.

  99. 99
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @jamie: Yeah, I hear you. Norm Coleman is just despicable, no matter which party he claims as his own. As for CA, I lived in the Bay Area–a great, diverse Democratic area. Alas, it got too expensive and too messy for me.

    HumboldtBlue, I prefer Concrete Blonde myself.

    Thanks, guys, you confirmed what I thought–fake plastic is not all that appetizing.

  100. 100

    @John Cole:

    Sounds good. Good luck.

  101. 101
    Laura W says:

    @InflatableCommenter: I was but a baby. In a short, Catholic School Girl, butt-ugly plaid skirt.
    You lay it out so nicely, I think you should enlighten him.

  102. 102
    Laura W says:

    @John Cole:

    Also, not a fan of blonds.

    OK, that’s understandable.
    But what about blondes?

  103. 103
    Old Gringo says:

    @Inflatable

    Have you ever lived in Manhattan?

    True, the weather had much to do with it but there was so much more. And at 17, I wasn’t really into politics that much. Sex, drugs and Rock and Roll. And you left out the Zodiac killer.

    :-)

  104. 104
    asiangrrlMN says:

    I gotta post this video with all the love going on between John and Laura W.

  105. 105
    Old Gringo says:

    But what about blondes?

    Oooh, zing!

  106. 106
    John Cole says:

    @Laura W: I already fixed it. FFS, can my typos age for five mins?

  107. 107
    KG says:

    my dad actually told me I was insane for suggesting that Prop 13 was bad, from an economic standpoint. My argument was basically that Prop 13 created an incentive for people who would otherwise sell their houses to not sell. Ideally, the market would work this way: you buy a house when your young and have a growing family; you sell as you approach retirement and buy a smaller retirement place (really, does a retired couple need a five bedroom house?); a young family buys your older house (reviving the neighborhood); and you have a nice little nest egg to live out your golden years. His response: that’s not right, people getting taxed out of their homes. He actually offered this response: it would be like them taxing a you after twenty years at a higher rate as a lawyer so that a young lawyer could get work. When I said “your analogy makes no sense” he called me crazy.

    I get the point behind Prop 13. I really do. And I can sympathize with the sentiment that fueled it. But at the same time, you have to look at what has actually happened. And what has happened is insane, whether you’re a liberal, conservative, or libertarian. My position is this: fine, cap property tax at 1%, but allow a full reassessment of the property every 10 years.

    The funny thing is: Prop 13 is only really popular with home owners. With non-homeowners, it’s much less popular. It’s a fault line in the electorate, really – almost as much as coastal vs inland is a fault line. The problem, of course, is that homeowners tend to vote more often.

    As for the rest of it, yes, we California voters have screwed shit up, big time. And a constitutional convention is absolutely necessary. It’s just a shame we won’t get one.

  108. 108
    Seebach says:

    Thanks, guys, you confirmed what I thought—fake plastic is not all that appetizing.

    Oh, but it is, apparently. Otherwise, California’s economy would be in worse shape than it is already. I’m just unable to explain it.

  109. 109
    Randy Paul says:

    The California Constitution has been amended or revised more than 500 times. It is now 157 pages.

    Still has a way to go beat my former state of residence, Alabama:

    At 357,157 words,[1] the document is 12 times longer than the average state constitution, 40 times longer than the U.S. Constitution, and is the longest still-operative constitution anywhere in the world. [The Constitution of India, the longest national constitution, comes in at approximately 117,369 words (per the English translation, which is not the official version), making Alabama’s constitution approximately three times longer.]

    About 90 percent of the document’s length, as of 2008, comes from its 798 amendments. Thus there is in fact one amendment less than the number of the final amendment, 799, as amendment 693 does not exist. About 70 percent of those amendments cover only a single county or city, and some deal with salaries of specific officials (e.g. Amendment 480 and the Greene County probate judge). This gives Alabama a large number of constitutional officers.

    Dysfunctionality, thy tide is crimson.

  110. 110
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Laura W: Well, yes, but it does have something to say about how attachment to material possession (and the pursuit of them) will eventually lead one to ruin.

    I am sure that CA is lovely, it’s all of the flip sides that I can’t hack.

  111. 111
    John Cole says:

    @asiangrrlMN: What can I say? JSF has been AWOL for a while, someone has to pick up the slack.

    Also, this:

  112. 112
    Laura W says:

    @John Cole: No. I’m blonde. It stung.

  113. 113
    tcolberg says:

    @asiangrrlMN: Open to many things, but not stupidity, narcissism, or wingnuttiness.

  114. 114
    John Cole says:

    This is what I am actually listening to:

  115. 115
    Old Gringo says:

    I should ask Inflatable where he/she? thinks heaven would be in 1969? Coming from Manhattan, a place many people still consider the place to be, I found it here in the PNW of which NorCal is a contiguous part. And Manson was down in SoCal. We had the Zodiac up here and he’s still out there!

  116. 116
    Agi says:

    Now you’ve got it, John.

    We need to scrap our constitution and start over.

  117. 117
    AhabTRuler says:

    @John Cole: Yeah, the only problem is that I keep wanting to see if Derek Trucks still has a pulse.

    I’ve seen fossils that get more into the music than that guy.

  118. 118
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Seebach: Oh, I know it is to some people, but not to people who like the feel of real flesh. Besides, the Botox/plastic surgery business is in recession in CA as well. Poor Californians having to forgo implants….

  119. 119
    DarrenG says:

    CA republican’s [sic] basically don’t exist in any developed area. In Los Angeles they might as well be the Green Party.

    How soon they forget Richard Riordan. I mean, we’d all like to and everything, but there’s still plenty of Repubs in L.A. (not to mention Orange County and San Diego).

    I wonder what happened exactly that they decided to pass Prop 13

    This Guy. Since California was fast becoming a state of renters in the 70s, the legislature started using property tax increases as a convenient ATM since they didn’t directly affect large numbers of their constituents. The landlords, however, got pissed and teamed up with big business to put on one of the very first big money campaigns for a state initiative.

  120. 120
    Chuck says:

    I went looking to see what Amendment 666 in the Alabama Constitution was. Let’s just say “The Banality of Evil” took on new meaning.

  121. 121
    tammanycall says:

    This CA resident thinks Calitics is confusing as shit and a little too inside baseball to be of real use to the progressive on the street (particularly around election time.)
    If anyone can suggest an alternate CA progressive political resource for those of us who live here, please do.

  122. 122
    Old Gringo says:

    This Guy.

    And Paul Gann.

    Jarvis-Gann

  123. 123
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @John Cole: Where is JSF? Oh, and FU for that first vid. The second, though, not so bad.

    Tuuuunch!

    Oooooh, Richard Wolffe. He’s yummy.

  124. 124
    John Cole says:

    This Guy.

    The phrase “this guy” made me laugh for completely unrelated reasons. In the early 90’s, I had a derelict friend who was always the life of the party, and one of his favorite crude lines that always made people laugh was:

    “What has two thumbs and likes women.”

    He would then point both thumbs at his chest and say:

    “This guy.”

    I may have cleaned it up. You had to be there, I guess. Memories.

  125. 125
    Old Gringo says:

    @tammanycall

    I would if I could but I really can’t. My best suggestion would be to try to keep reading it until you are an expert on “inside baseball”. Barring that, read Dave Dayan’s (dday’s) blog.

    And Heaven Is In Your Mind (and I’m outta here before I get modded).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqqN0_WCS28

  126. 126
    Laura W says:

    @John Cole: Galt’s Ark.

  127. 127
    HumboldtBlue says:

    If anyone can suggest an alternate CA progressive political resource for those of us who live here, please do.

    Try CalBuzz, and for good coverage of the State gov read the SacBee.

    CalBuzz isn’t “progressive” (still not sure what that’s supposed to mean) but DDay’s site is another good source as well.

    I agree with you about Calitics, and I’m supposed to know the inside baseball shit, but it’s all Greek to me most of the time.

  128. 128
    LD50 says:

    I was born and raised there, went to college there (Go Gauchos!

    You went to El Cerrito High?

  129. 129
    tammanycall says:

    @DarrenG

    Party ID isn’t everything, especially for local races.

    I know a lot of older LA – area community organizers who swear Riordian was their favorite mayor. They’re all either Dems or Greens. And deep blue NYC will certainly elect Mayor Mike for his third term. I’ve noticed many people vote for the candidate they believe is more reasonable or competent, whether or not s/he is a member of their party.

    @everyone
    And thanks for the recs!

  130. 130
    Martin says:

    Republicans you were complaining about earlier, blame that on the counties that surround LA county: Orange, Kern, Tulare, San Diego.

    Presumably a constitutional convention would involve people other than, or in addition to, the existing legislators.

    OC is trending blue. Even my dear district CA-48 voted for Obama. The power is clearly still in the hands of very wealthy Republicans, but the public isn’t nearly as strongly behind them as it appears.

    Since the current system isn’t working to get the assholes out of power, I’m all for taking a completely new approach to it. We can’t possibly come out worse with a new constitution.

  131. 131
    Laura W says:

    @LD50: No, Univ. of CA at Santa Barbara.
    The other Gauchos.

  132. 132
    fisher cat says:

    @John Cole: I first heard that joke in the movie Insomnia. And yes, you did clean it up.

  133. 133
    M . Bouffant says:

    Please do not confuse authentic blond(e)s w/ those whose blond(e)ness comes from a bottle. Thank you.

    And people (P. Anderson style) who hate themselves so much they have to alter their bodies/color their hair, etc., are just not good material for relationships.

    Ms.Anderson, for hevvin’s sake, had implants removed, & then changed her mind & had another set put in. That’s just … wrong, stupid, whatever.

    Special note to the ladies: The single most attracting factor is your willingness to “do it” “hook up” w/ us lame dudes. No matter the physical whatever. We may try w/ the ice-goddesses, but we usually end up where we’re wanted, or at least tolerated.

  134. 134
    Laura W says:

    @M . Bouffant:

    We may try w/ the ice-goddesses, but we usually end up where we’re wanted, or at least tolerated.

    That was profound, touching, endearing, hysterically funny, and so very sweet.
    Hopefully you’ve found someone who tolerates you with all her heart.

  135. 135
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @M . Bouffant: Thanks. That WAS sweet. I just wish it were actually true in my life.

  136. 136
    Roger Moore says:

    @Zzyzx:

    So I followed that link and I found “The Citizen Legislature Act.”

    And that’s not even close to the most ridiculous thing out there.

    There’s the “Cut Off Our Nose to Spite Our Face Act”“Pass our Budget Act”, which automatically throws the Governor and Legislature out of office if they don’t pass the budget on time. It’s an impressive sounding threat, but what happens if you ever have to carry it out? Something tells me that the special election to replace the entire Legislature would cause a slight delay in getting the budget passed.

    Then there’s “The Crazy DFH Wet Dream Act”“The McCauley-Rooker Wealth Tax and Oceans Preservation Act”, which would confiscate more than 50% of the total wealth of anyone with more than $15-20 million dollars, add a huge inheritance tax, and jack up the personal income tax on everyone who’s earning more than low 6 figures. It would spend a bit of the massive windfall on the existing budget, but most of it would go to buying up controlling interest in specified big corporations and draining the Hetch Hetchy.
    And don’t forget the “Unintentional Irony Act”“Honor in Politics Act”, which would force Legislators to sign an affidavit swearing that they had read a bill before voting for it.

  137. 137
    Joshua Norton says:

    Term limits ain’t going anywhere. We had just as much of a mess when the same people were getting elected for 20 – 30 years in a row.

    Instead of being pissed off at the same assholes decade after decade, we get a chance to be pissed off at a new bunch every few years.

  138. 138
    The Raven says:

    The public’s contradictory impulses were laid bare by a recent Field Poll. It found that voters oppose cutbacks in 10 of 12 major categories of state spending, including the biggest, education and healthcare. Yet most voters were unwilling to have their own taxes increased, and they overwhelmingly favored keeping the two-thirds requirement for tax hikes.

    This differs from the rest of the USA…how, exactly? It would take honest pols, willing to explain and insist that services depend on taxes. Tom McCall (late of Oregon) could do that. Obama could do that. Somehow, I don’t think Arnie is up to the job.

  139. 139
    Church Lady says:

    Two observations:

    I don’t think that’s Pam’s own hand on her right tata. If it is, she also has a third arm growing out of her hip.

    Given the flirtatious back and forth tonight, I’m starting to think that John and Laura need to rendevous. What’s half way between Ashville and wherever the heck in West Virginia John is?

  140. 140
    Darkrose says:

    @Laura W:

    Ah, Usually Carrying Surf Board?

    Feel free to snark at me for working at UC No, We Swear We’re Not an Ag School (Mind the Chickens). Although I do think that the UCD Meat Lab is the most awesome campus facility ever. (Plus they sell decent meat at reasonable prices.)

  141. 141
    Laura W says:

    @Darkrose:

    Usually Carrying Surf Board?

    U Can Study Bombed

  142. 142
    asiangrrlMN says:

    In light of Church Lady’s observations, here is another song for our special couple . Of course, I have no idea if Laura W. is taken or not. I believe John is terminally single–like me.

  143. 143
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @Laura W:
    I have fond memories of driving a beat up Alfa Romeo Giulietta down to Baja and scoring ki’s to sell to UCSB students to finance my studies at Berkeley.

  144. 144
    AhabTRuler says:

    This differs from the rest of the USA…how, exactly?

    Yeah, but you are double dipping, because California is also part of “the rest of the USA.” So, you are fucked, and then you are fucked, and we are fucked along with you, and then we are fucked.
    And I have to put up with allergies.

  145. 145
    Laura W says:

    @Dennis-SGMM: I knew I recognized you! Remember the day when you’d get a “lid” for $10? My housemate and I would do just that, and then we’d roll the whole thing up into individual joints because we collected colorful rolling papers. We’d roll ’em up and stick them into a huge Mason Jar for display on our shelves, like some sculptural work of art.
    Freaks. We were total color freaks, which I remain to this day.

    I didn’t enjoy college, but let me tell you, the year that I graduated and the four that followed in Santa Barbara were some of the very happiest years of my life. Right place right time.

  146. 146
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @Laura W:
    Sweet lady; my motto was “Lids, Kids, ten bucks a pop!” The Alpha was a gray roadster, if that helps. Flogged the Alpha and went to a gray primer ’57 VW panel bus because it was such a cliche that I figured no one would bother.

  147. 147
    steve s says:

    to anyone who’s having eye allergies: ketotifen fumarate.

  148. 148
    Mnemosyne says:

    @KG:

    The funny thing is: Prop 13 is only really popular with home owners.

    Well, them and corporations, who are totally thrilled that their property taxes have remained essentially unchanged since 1977. I suspect it’s the corporations funding most of the propaganda.

    Yes, that’s right, in order to prevent little old ladies from losing their homes to too-high property taxes, commercial properties were also exempted. You’d almost think it was a scam or somethin’, wouldn’t you?

  149. 149
    Texas Dem says:

    Some have suggested a federal bailout. To paraphrase Michael Corleone, my offer to you Californians is this: Nothing. And that includes the cost of your current (and quite clearly self-inflicted) budget and tax wounds, which I expect you to pay personally. I don’t want my taxes going to bail out an electorate that has the political maturity of a nat. But you guys are welcome to come to Texas. In fact, we’re getting more and more Californians all the time.

  150. 150
    TenguPhule says:

    I don’t want my taxes going to bail out an electorate that has the political maturity of a nat.

    Said without irony by a Texan.

  151. 151
    TenguPhule says:

    ”“Honor in Politics Act”, which would force Legislators to sign an affidavit swearing that they had read a bill before voting for it.

    Otherwise Harrington chops their head off with a katana during a deathmatch?

  152. 152
    Brachiator says:

    @Woody:

    [RE: The worst Democrats believe that the function of the state is to insure permanent wages and benefits for public employee and teachers’ unions.] If’n that’s the worst the Dems have in mind for Californians, then—if you value or utilize the services of police, fire, emergency, educational professionals, at any rate—you should be applauding. They’re the folks who keep the fucking place afloat…

    Hah! Your response is exactly why the propositions got shot down. With increasingly huge shares of the budget going for salary and pension benefits, there is no money left to actually fund services.

    And educational professionals? Hundreds of millions go to an LA teachers health plan that is pointlessly expensive because the plan assumes that every teacher has at least one dependent. Even though it was pointed out that a less costly plan would still allow flexibility if a teacher subsequently added a dependent, the head of the teacher’s union insisted that the union would never give up this “hard won” benefit, even if it meant that teachers were laid off. Another proposal would cut back on school construction in the LA area because there are projections that a declining enrollment would see 110,000 fewer students in the next few years and parents in at least one area noted that a newly constructed school is practically empty. But the board refused any reallocation of funds because demographics might theoretically change in the future. Again, this stubborn attitude means means that school employees right now will lose their jobs.

    And the LA Times finally got off their lazy butts to do a story showing that teachers have become the new priesthood. Unless a teacher is actually convicted of a crime, it is impossible to remove him or her from a classroom. The presumption is that achieving tenure is like accepting a calling to become a priest. A teacher thus becomes annointed in permanent competence and perfection, even if there is strong evidence of incompetence or criminality. And these teachers continue to get their full salary even if they are removed from a classroom.

    And then there are job hopping administrators who manage to accrue multiple 100% pensions.

    And even as the state goes broke, all these people insist that while it is perfectly fine for people in the private sector to lose jobs or to have to take pay cuts, it is a sin to accept state employees to do anything other than spend money.

    The problem is that even if taxpayers accepted this, the contracting California economy makes it impossible to continue the status quo.

    Yes, that’s right, in order to prevent little old ladies from losing their homes to too-high property taxes, commercial properties were also exempted. You’d almost think it was a scam or somethin’, wouldn’t you?

    Of course, none of this would have mattered had officials done their jobs and rationally modified the system. Instead they let inflation increase property taxes so that they could claim that they never voted for a tax increase. It was a cheap and easy way to raise tax receipts — until people got fed up.

  153. 153
    Cain says:

    @Old Gringo:

    Then the rest of you found out about it. I want to move to Portland. There’s a neighborhood there that is just like Berkeley in the 60s. And I have done most of those things. Big Sur was as far south as I’ve ever been. I saw no reason to venture further to LA. Never been there.

    You must mean the Hawthorne district.. way expensive though..

    cain

  154. 154
    Cain says:

    @chuck:

    Tell ya what, we’ll call it the Bay Area, and you folks in Yreka go on ahead and annex yourselves to Oregon :)

    We don’t want you. Please form your own state. kthxbye!

    cain

  155. 155
    Whammer says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Yes, that’s right, in order to prevent little old ladies from losing their homes to too-high property taxes, commercial properties were also exempted. You’d almost think it was a scam or somethin’, wouldn’t you?

    Glad you pointed this out. Very important.

    California kick-started the “borrow and spend” Reagan revolution, and it is finally coming home to roost. The rest of the country might want to point fingers at us (that was certainly the case during the Enron years), but sooner or later it is gonna get all the rest of you too…..

  156. 156
    Ninerdave says:

    @Cain:

    We don’t want you. Please form your own state. kthxbye!

    No, please take ’em. Please. I’m asking nicely.

  157. 157
    mt says:

    I’ve got an initiative I want on the ballot (Titled Enhanced Driving in Plain Sight) in CA this fall that requires everyone to drive while naked and stoned. All we need is a majority vote. I’t can’t be overturned later unless 2/3rd’s of the voters have second thoughts. Sweet.

    Sick of tag-line initiatives.

  158. 158
    glaukopis says:

    According to Wikipedia the population of California, as of January 2009 was 38,292,687, so I think that means that about 1 out of every 8 Americans is a Californian. Yes, California has been the epicenter of the mortgage crisis, but it has also been the nursery of new businesses – I read recently that something like 40% of all new US businesses start in California. So even if you’re not here, you will feel the effects of California’s troubles.
    As for these initiatives, as others point out above, they were incredibly complex and both conservatives and progressives were against all or most of them. They also weren’t sold well to Californians. We heard ‘the sky’s falling, you have to vote for these’, and then the legislators went home and didn’t talk about them to the voters. I’m a state employee (though my salary is from a federal grant), but I’m expecting my wages to be cut. In 5 of the years since 2000, I’ve gotten no raise at all, so please don’t tell me about all the high paid state employees. We who aren’t fortunate enough to be in a union are the first to be cut.

  159. 159
    Mayken says:

    @The Raven: thanks I was going to make the same point. Americans in general are quite happy to take government services (and complain when they are not good enough al la the DMV or our highways) but completely incapable of understanding the relation between said services and taxes.
    And no, Arnie is way not up to the job.

  160. 160
    Jacob Davies says:

    The thing about Prop 13 is that it acts to co-opt the very people it is most unfair to, that is, first-time buyers who get stuck with most of the property taxes. Because, sure, you’re paying $10,000 a year now when the guy next door is paying $2,000, but you can just see that day 20 years from now when you’ll be the one freeloading off the 25-year-old couple with a new baby who bought the house next door, and man oh man will that feel good.

    It’s pretty sick really.

    The federal mortgage interest tax deduction has some of the same perversity. Even if you think it’s a bad idea, when you’re personally benefiting from it it’s tough to vote to get rid of it.

    It’s a safe formula for regressive transfer of wealth: make a system where the top 50% of earners benefit slightly more than the bottom 50%, then rely on the higher turnout in the top 50% to vote their self-interest. This is not a sustainable system.

    (The line about how good payers will have to pay more for credit cards if the banks aren’t allowed to screw the deadbeats is another twist on the same tactic.)

    I worry I’ll become another Prop 13-rationalizing zombie once we buy a house here. “Well, I never saw the point before, but now it suddenly makes sense!”

  161. 161
    OriGuy says:

    @Cain: There was an effort to join northern California with southern Oregon. See the State of Jefferson. Shelved after Pearl Harbor.

  162. 162
    Balconespolitics says:

    @Old Gringo:

    As a side note, property taxes in CA are way lower than they are in Texas. That should tell you something.

    Yep. That Texas doesn’t have an income tax.

  163. 163
    Russ says:

    There are a few things to consider before thinking California voters are loopy. We already have pretty high taxes. The money we do give, is often not well used. It is sad to see thousands of teachers now out of work, but, honestly, it won’t hurt to more carefully think about how we spend.

  164. 164
    tavella says:

    @Russ: There are a few things to consider before thinking California voters are loopy. We already have pretty high taxes.

    Not particularly; we have middling taxes. In overall taxes and fees per 1000 of income, we usually rank somewhere in the 20s; downright near median.

    When people like the Howard Jarvis Foundation pretend we have high taxes, it’s because they use the average taxes per person, which is of course higher than say a shithole like Mississippi because California has high personal income than they do.

    Now, our taxes are badly *arranged*, because of the idiocy of Prop 13, but they aren’t high.

  165. 165
    Russ says:

    tavella,

    Thanks!

  166. 166
    meander says:

    “a 50+1 vote to increase spending”

    This 50 + 1 only applies to ballot propositions, not to the legislature, where a 2/3 vote is needed to pass a budget. California is one of only 3 states with that anti-democratic requirement. And so many budgetary items are tossed to the public.

  167. 167
    kay says:

    I’m not listening to the speech, but I read it, and I’m madly in love with it.

    “I am not the only person in this city who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution – so did each and every member of Congress.”

    Hah. So there. Great line.

  168. 168
    Brachiator says:

    @tavella:

    Now, our taxes are badly arranged, because of the idiocy of Prop 13, but they aren’t high.

    Proposition 13, which is all about county property taxes, is largely irrelevant to the current state budget mess.

    And whether we in California have middling taxes or not is also kinda beside the point. Let’s review.

    The state dawdled in passing a budget. As soon as the budget was passed, the state had a deficit of tens of billions of dollars. They then craft a series of ballot initiatives designed to raise revenues. As soon as the ballot propositions are passed, the state budget is $15 billion in the whole. And the state constitution requires a balanced budget.

    The legislators knew from the jump that there is a structural deficit built into the current state budget.

    In addition, the budget deficit is increasing because state tax receipts are declining because of a contracting economy and, more importantly, because a core of the middle class is leaving the state.

    It’s a safe formula for regressive transfer of wealth: make a system where the top 50% of earners benefit slightly more than the bottom 50%, then rely on the higher turnout in the top 50% to vote their self-interest. This is not a sustainable system.

    You’re making up numbers here. As election results show, the tax raising propositions were defeated in every California county, and were turned back by the rich and poor alike.

    And as for regressive taxes. The state legislative goons threw a bone to the oil companies, corporations, the liquor industry and to wealthy owners of sport venues like the Staples Center by turning down proposals to tax these entities (the last by a 10% surtax on tickets to sports and entertainment events). Instead, they increased fees on automobile registrations, increased the sales tax, increased the income tax, and reduced some child credits. Far more regressive than other proposals might have been.

  169. 169

    […] prevent things like California’s self-induced spiral towards self-destruction.   […]

  170. 170
    omen says:

    suddenly makes a lot more sense why California is ground zero in the foreclosure/HELOC disaster.

    i don’t know, is ca really ground zero? nevada and florida is also up there.

    via a trade journal:

    Nevada’s economy has not only been hit by the broad national slowdown in production and spending, but also by a deteriorating residential housing market.

    Last month the state recorded the nation’s highest foreclosure rate with one in every 68 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing. Nevada’s foreclosure activity in April was up 111 percent from just one year ago.

    http://capitalsolutionsbancorp.....s-20090521

    another outlet:

    The national rate was one in 440, according to Realty Trac. That was up from one in 466 in January despite some banks holding off on foreclosures while federal policies were being enacted to stem the tide. Nevada, Arizona and California had the highest rates.

    Las Vegas suffered the worst foreclosure rate in February among large U.S. metro areas, with one in 60 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing.

    http://fredericksburg.com/News.....009/451804

  171. 171
    omen says:

    another thing, how does ca get all the blame? the regulatory arm over such things sits with congress in DC.

    eliot spitzer has also reported the bush whitehouse was running around blocking state attorney generals from attacking predatory lending practices.

  172. 172
    omen says:

    how do voters supporting a barrier that prevented tax hikes have to do with residential foreclosures?

  173. 173
    mrmike says:

    <blockquote>@M . Bouffant: Special note to the ladies: The single most attracting factor is your willingness to “do it” “hook up” w/ us lame dudes. No matter the physical whatever. We may try w/ the ice-goddesses, but we usually end up where we’re wanted, or at least tolerated.

    Huh. And here all these years I’ve been attracted to wit and snark. Some of my best memories are sans-hook-up. Guess I’ve been doing it all wrong.

    And property anything in CA is just wacky. Taxes, costs, rights. Just wacky.

  174. 174
    binzinerator says:

    @Martin:

    So we can amend the constitution as simply as a marketing campaign, but we can’t get yacht buyers to pay sales tax without a 2/3 vote in both branches.

    It’s pretty obvious that was what the wingnuts were after. At best it makes it easier for the wingnutters to get into a place where they can stand athwart history and yell stop, at worst it will enfeeble a government (which itself a favored wingnut strategy as well as their ideology) all the while making it harder to tax the wealthy while slowly backing the gubmint into a tub for eventual drowning.

    Those latest initiatives sounded exactly like these wingnut designs come to fruition: Budget crisis hits, remove one of the two remedies (raise taxes) so as to simultaneously ensure the wealthy still won’t pay their share while forcing the cutting of the programs, programs which, natch, the conservatives hate — those giveaways like education and healthcare.

    …voters oppose cutbacks in 10 of 12 major categories of state spending, including the biggest, education and healthcare. Yet most voters were unwilling to have their own taxes increased, and they overwhelmingly favored keeping the two-thirds requirement for tax hikes.

    That’s the condiment the conservatives were offering, the magical ingredient that made the shit sandwich appear as a free juicy steak: You don’t have to pay taxes and revenues will still go up! If you clap your hands hard enough there really is such a thing as a free lunch.

    They still are pushing it. And lots and lots and lots of otherwise common-sense people chose to smother their shit sandwiches with it. Lots of ’em still are.

    Bush the Elder called it ‘voodoo economics’. In other words, magical thinking.

    Reality seems to have hit and some people now realize it’s a shit sandwich sitting on their plate. But alas, judging from that quote, not enough.

    And I’m not trying to tool on Californians. This magical thinking went national in 1980 and even after the disaster of the Bush administration (elected and re-elected from a tour de force of more magical thinking) we still haven’t seen the end of it. There’s gonna be a lot of state budget shit sandwiches that were sold out of the conservative deli that will soon be discovered sitting on lots of other peoples’ plates.

    Damn shame I’m likely gonna have to eat one too even though I had known a couple decades ago what the conservatives in their supply-side deli were serving. For better or worse we as a nation eat what the majority decides we eat.

    Unless you’re wealthy. You can always have your steak and if you can call it capital gains you won’t have to leave much of a tip.

  175. 175
    Brachiator says:

    @binzinerator:

    It’s pretty obvious that was what the wingnuts were after. At best it makes it easier for the wingnutters to get into a place where they can stand athwart history and yell stop, at worst it will enfeeble a government … all the while making it harder to tax the wealthy while slowly backing the gubmint into a tub for eventual drowning.

    I agree with some of your sentiment, but it is not really relevant to California. Even if there were no 2/3 rule and the legislators had been able to pass a budget sooner, we would still be in a jam because they lack the political courage to address the structural deficit built into the budget.

    Immediately after a budget agreement was reached the first time around, there was a revenue shortfall. Even had the voters passed every ballot proposition, the state would still be short $15 billion, and it’s projected to go up again because the tax base is shrinking.

    The big lie pushed by some conservatives is that if you privatize everything, then budgets would magically balance and life would be heaven. But the big lie pushed by some unions and some Democratic legislators is that if you eliminate “waste” and tax the wealthy, money will fall from the sky.

    But over the past few years, spending has consistently exceeded revenues (even though by law the California budget must be balanced), and job losses and the collapse of housing has accelerated the problem. The non-partisan state budget analyst has consistently warned about and projected shortfalls. The governor and the legislature have ignored him.

    And now they are doing it again by suggesting that the voters were “confused.”

    The only saving grace is that as crazy as California often can be, our laboratory experiments in initiative balloting, gubernatorial recalls, and term limits makes for an interesting cat-and-mouse game. The legislators keep trying to kiss up to special interests and try to undo the will of the people. But every now and then we get to actually throw a few rascals out. They keep trying to ignore the message, but voters still have a few tricks up their sleeve.

    By the way, the other thing that sealed the deal on the voter revolt were a couple of web sites that put up a state tax calculator so that people could see exactly what impact the passage of these propositions would do. Voters then made an informed decision even though the legislators did all they could to try to lie about the fiscal impact on a broad range of taxpayers.

    Arnie and his cronies have only themselves to blame.

  176. 176
    Hunter says:

    I also learned that I need to read Calitics more often and that David Dayen is competing with Steve Benen for the title of “Blogger appearing simultaneously in the most number of blogs at the same time.”

    Mr. Cole, just out of curiosity, is this some sort of snark aimed at dday? Because anyone who reads his work at Calitics and Digby’s place knows his value. As far as I’m concerned, the more blogs he appears in, the better. If it wasn’t snark, then please disregard; I’m under the weather and my humor filter is out of whack.

    Yes, CA is a mess, but we’re not all a bunch of anti-tax flakes as has been pointed out numerous times in various comments above, regardless of what this or that line from a poll says. Many of us have known for years how broken the state government is, and this latest special election was viewed by many of us here as the last chance to force the issue by voting down the initiatives. I’ve been out of work for over a year now, other than a few fill-in part time gigs here and there to pay the basic bills, so I’m already well aware of the consequences of CA going belly-up. But if there’s another viable option than to start over, I haven’t seen or heard it.

    Like the blog, Mr. Cole, keep up the good work.

  177. 177
    Brachiator says:

    @Hunter:

    Yes, CA is a mess, but we’re not all a bunch of anti-tax flakes as has been pointed out numerous times in various comments above, regardless of what this or that line from a poll says. Many of us have known for years how broken the state government is, and this latest special election was viewed by many of us here as the last chance to force the issue by voting down the initiatives. I’ve been out of work for over a year now, other than a few fill-in part time gigs here and there to pay the basic bills, so I’m already well aware of the consequences of CA going belly-up. But if there’s another viable option than to start over, I haven’t seen or heard it.

    Tell it, brother.

    And good luck to you in these hard times.

  178. 178
    John Cole says:

    @Hunter: No, I like david and was just poking fun at the fact that he blogs at eleventy-three websites.

  179. 179

    […] own salaries during bad budget years. For more background on these measures, see here and here. John Cole also has a good, brief roundup of what’s wrong with California’s budget […]

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  2. […] prevent things like California’s self-induced spiral towards self-destruction.   […]

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