Howling up at the moon, and moaning under the stars…
On Friday February 14th we’ll have a memorial to remember my mother in law Sharon, whom we lost on February 2nd.
A sad day, indeed, but we’ll take some time away from grieving to celebrate her life. I first met Sharon in December of 1983, and while I doubt that she had any inkling of the long lasting and significant bond we’d develop, she warmly welcomed me into her family. Directly attributable to Sharon and my father in law Jim, are the three greatest gifts in my life: Meirve, who then brought me Megan and Kaitlin. I am eternally grateful for the way Sharon has impacted my life these last 30 plus years.
Having only had one grandmother alive when I was born, I’m thankful that Meg and Kaitie have had the blessings of being able to have had all four of their grandparents in their lives, even if only for a little while.
And while there is appreciably little I can do to assuage the the overwhelming sorrow felt by our family, I know that the promise of tomorrow, and the gladness for all our yesterdays, will allow each of us a small measure of relief.
The California Legislative Analyst’s Office’s Chief Analyst Mac Taylor is forecasting a budget surplus that could reach $2.4 billion by June 2014 and $5.6 billion by June 2015. The actual projection made by the LAO has the state at a $10 billion surplus in six years, provided that revenue and spending patterns continue at the same pace in that time span. Ignored in this reporting is the $70 billion unfunded hole the California Public Employees Pension System has, or the unfunded mandate at the California State Teachers Retirement System.
With Governor Brown telling the Legislature that the surplus should be banked for a rainy day, and Legislative Republicans largely agreeing with the Governor, we’ve also seen numerous media opinion pages asking the Legislature to follow Brown’s suggestion to bank the surpluses and to start paying down debt before considering restoring funding to programs cut during the recession that fully engulfed the state in 2007/2008.
Also missed in this economic euphoria is the fact that the surpluses are due in large part to the tax increases implemented by Proposition 30 – which, strangely enough, has projected increases in tax revenue collected that follow the expected surpluses through 2018. So, why did we need to increase taxes?
The question for now is, since California is filthy rich with a $10BILLION budget surplus through 2018, how much of that $10 billion surplus will the Legislature spend in 2014?
(*- The correct answer is $90 billion. 2014 is, after all, an election year -*)
Twenty seven years.
More detail here
Dig that 1980s formal wear.
Kudos to My Child Bride – she planned the event entirely. And we paid for the entire soiree ourselves. No debt was incurred.
Heaven forbid that I attempt to dis-assemble the wedding photo album, least I be unable so re-assemble it, so I just grabbed a small framed shot from the nightstand. Keep in mind, kids, that digital photography was nearly a decade, and almost a new century, away. We were still marveling at the new-found utility of the wheel, and fire.
Here’s a somewhat appropriate musical selection.
It’s true: ♫ The prettiest girl in the world likes to sleep when I drive…♫
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Received a delightful letter from the Republican National Committee. Seems that they are concerned that, well, I’ve gone loco.
I’ve got… a problem with this.
First, I’ve never contributed directly to the RNC. I’ve never been a member of the RNC. I have contributed to individual candidates. But I’ve never contributed to the RNC, the NRCC, the NRSC, the California GOP, or any other party committee or organization.
Second, Mr. Parker starts his correspondence with a direct attempt at shaming me into a contribution:
I don’t want to believe you’ve abandoned the Republican Party, but I have to ask… Have you given up?
Well, with an approach like this, perhaps I have given up. Besides, I put conservative principals before party, so pushing my nose in my party allegiance sin is no way to get my wallet open.
Do you recall what Ronald Reagan, noted former Democrat, said of his party switch?
I didn’t leave the Democrat Party. The party left me.
Here’s the thing - what has the party done for me? In 2012, we had a 20 year incumbent 79 year old US Senator running for reelection, sitting at a 49% approval rating. Not that the party made any real effort in fielding quality candidates. The candidate that they had shown some preference to, lost in the new California “Top 2″ open primary system. Instead of embracing a young, eager female Republican Candidate who did place second, and who might have made some inroads against a stale, aging incumbent with middling approval ratings, the answer was “it won’t make a difference, she can’t win.”
- So who, exactly, has given up?
I refuse to be complicit with a party that treats me, and my state, as an ATM to fund elections elsewhere, while abandoning our state. As long as there is cash in California, we will continue to hear from the National GOP – what we don’t hear are solutions. Solutions for our state and our nation. We don’t see candidates that are running for something, but candidates that are running against something. Or candidates that are simply running to win an election. Term-limited party retreads, jumping from seat to seat between legislative houses, and then back down to County Boards, because they’ve exhausted the available supply of State-house seats.
Further, from RNC Treasurer Anthony Parker:
As the Treasure of the RNC, I know our Party’s success depends on grassroots supporters like you. So I am surprised and concerned we’ve not heard from you this year.
That’s a funny way of leveraging the grassroots – by accusing them of abandoning the Party. Besides, doesn’t a real grassroots effort drive the movement, and not the other way around?
And you have heard from me, Mr. Parker, you shouldn’t be surprised, but you should be concerned- every fund raising call or email I receive, I indicate that the Party system has failed me, failed my state, and has failed the nation. That I will support candidates, but not the party. What more do I have to explain to the Party so that everyone understands? Further, shouldn’t the Party be explaining to me where it has failed, and how it plans to improve?
–I hope you have not deserted the Party.
Who has deserted who now?
So to address the statement in your correspondence:
… the only things standing in the way of Barrack Obama fulfilling his radical “fundamental transformation” of America are you and the RNC.
I would respond, as the RNC did to our US Senatorial Candidate and the state GOP’s request for electoral assistance:
It won’t make a difference, you can’t win.
Grassroots enough for you?
I received a charming call from a national GOP fundraiser on Saturday asking me to ‘renew‘ my commitment to the National Party. I demurred, making certain that she understood that while I had contributed to the Presidential campaign in the general election, I was dissatisfied with the national party’s efforts across all fronts: Congressional, Senatorial, and the Presidential races. We lost seats in the House, didn’t gain any ground in the Senate, and of course lost the Presidential campaign.
Further, what was the national party doing for Republicans in California? Once again, we lost both Assembly and Senate seats, in fact falling so far as to gift wrap a Super Majority in both California Houses for Democrats. The national party did nothing – nothing – for Republican US Senate candidate Elizabeth Emken – with incumbent Dianne Feinstein sitting at below 50% in the polls, a modicum of effort *might* have narrowed the gap. The majority of Mrs. Emken’s electoral deficiencies were due to name recognition. Some state-wide TV spots could have gone a long way to making the race competitive.
Where was the national GOP?
Where was the National Republican Senatorial Committee? (well – they walked away, because the primary candidate they endorsed lost. They’ve got
a stellar quite a track record!)
The knock on the GOP in California is that it is a party incapable of winning. An organization that is completely lost. And that’s a fair assessment. It might even be considerably worse than that. But why not try to fix it? Aw, it’s just too hard. Just give us your money, and we’ll make it work nationally!
And this is the tact that the fundraiser took with me. “We need your help to make sure that we take the gavel away from Harry Reid, and to protect the country from Nancy Pelosi!”
Well, certainly. But there are a lot of congressional seats in California that the party just lost. You want to stop Nancy Pelosi? Why don’t we try to run a candidate against her, and support that candidate?
But really what happens is that candidates breeze in, raise an obscene amount of money and then go enrich campaign professionals and advertising brokers. That’s where our money goes – not to change policy, but to make the careers of campaign staff and ad-men. And what changes for Californians? Nothing. Things get worse.
Then at the national level, the party is almost as ineffective. Why support that? Why not try to fix our state first, then go after the national level?
So my new policy is to support California candidates. I might be persuaded to support a national candidate, but not a national party or group.
Clearly the national party thinks California is lost – if they don’t want to help us in California, then let’s keep our money here, and at least try to fix it ourselves. You don’t help us, we don’t help you. We’re done being your ATM. Go get your money somewhere else.
Hey fellow Conservatives and the GOP, here’s my post election theme song.
Don’t call me, I’ll call you. In January. Maybe.
In this political season, I find myself missing a particular voice. A voice that was as unique as any other audibly, and in terms of his happy warrior tone.
Dean Barnett would really be enjoying this ride in 2012, and would lend a valuable voice to the current debate. A voice that could help us all out today.
The City of San Bernardino has become the third city in California to file for bankruptcy protection in the past two weeks. Essentially, the city was at a point where they weren’t going to be able to meet their payroll obligations.
Stockton filed for bankruptcy protection in June. With a projected $26 million budget deficit, Stockton became the biggest city in the United States to throw in the towel.
The city of Mammoth Lakes, in a flurry of patriotic exuberance, filed for bankruptcy protection on July fourth. The city, with a $19 million dollar annual budget, lost a $30 million judgment in court that has grown to $43 million (interest and legal fees).
More astronomical: Los Angeles has a $238 million dollar deficit this year. But with a budget of $7 billion they face an unfunded pension liability of $27 billion.
The next domino?
California is Los Angeles, writ large. It is also the United States, writ small. States cannot file bankruptcy. States also cannot print money like the federal government. Something will have to give.
If only California had a
$42.6 billion, one time projected $98 billion, sorry scratch that, $65 billion high speed rail project that can get someone from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2 hours and 40 minutes with a ticket that costs more than an airline flight that could do the same job in an hour, why, salvation would be right around the corner.