Cut teacher pay to save California

A new tax increase initiative is circulating now led by “California Now,” an Oakland based organization that claims it is “the leading, nonpartisan, multi-issue research, policy development, and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting children’s health and education…”  While helping children is always a lofty goal the idea of doing so by simply raising taxes and starting a new bureauracy program has a dubious history in California.

Proposition 10, passed in 1998 imposed taxes for early childhood development.  It was narrowly passed and had the backing of Hollywood liberal Rob Reiner.  It has collected about $5 billion in tax revenue since it was passed.  What has it accomplished?  Very little.  Fresno County issued a report in 2009 that said the program accomplished basically nothing.  In fact, a nonpartisan study of the Fresno expenditures of these tax dollars showed that of more than 400 families receiving services paid for under this “tax for the kids”, the parents receiving the most services showed the least improvement in their “nurturing” skills.

The larger issue is the fundamental question of what is wrong with education in California.  Liberals say that with all the tax dollars pulled out of citizens wallets already, that it is not enough.  They want more taxpayer money.  They say this despite the fact that many bond measures have passed to fund public education in California; they almost always pass.

They say they need more tax dollars even though the state lottery was sold to voters as a way to fund schooling, and since 1985 has “contributed” $20 billion (in mandates) to public education in California.

Even though education is the biggest ticket item in the state budget, liberals and public employee unions still generate press releases about education funding in California being among the lowest in the nation.

But who is paying attention to how all the tax dollars education already has, is being spent?

Union teachers here are among the highest paid in the nation.  Is it any wonder California’s test scores are so low?  The problem isn’t a funding problem.  It is a spending problem.  We are spending top dollar for a statewide network of overpaid teachers who are under-performing, given the test results.

Nonpartisan studies show the average teacher salary in California is always higher than the national average. In 2009, the average teacher salary here was $60,583, much higher than the national average of $49,720. The national average was $48,353 in 2008, while California paid a premium to its teachers, an average of $60,250.

California teacher salaries increased by a total of 4.1 percent from 2007 to 2009. Teaching salaries in this state have remained fairly consistent in terms of national ranking. From 2007 to 2008, the average teacher salary here ranked at 5th. Then, from 2008 to 2009, California teacher salaries dropped slightly to 6th place nationally.

This high average salary does not fully take into account the salaries of school district administrators, which reach into the $100,000s and beyond.  The Superintendent of the highly dysfunctional Los Angeles school system is paid $330,000 per year.

Yet the California Faculty Association issued a report in 2009, the same year that California teacher’s salaries ranked 6th in the nation, stating that the state has a “deteriorating educational status” in recent decades and that the state ranks 49th out of 50 states in quality of education delivered.

California needs reforms in education, that is for sure.  Those reforms should be aimed at raising school tests scores and lowering the abnormally high cost of overhead in California in delivering education – and the place to start is with our overpaid teachers and administrators themselves.  We don’t need an initiative to raise taxes to improve education, rather, we need an initiative to reduce the power of special interest groups in education like the teachers’ union, and start spending the money we have properly, and not on big salaries that the statistics prove our teachers and their administrators do not deserve.

Herman Cain is looking good

I’ve known Herman Cain for a number of years now, having done some legal work for a taxpayer foundation he chaired in the mid-2000s.  I’ve always enjoyed talking to him because he is highly intelligent, focused, a committed conservative, and he has a very broad sense of humor.  I really get Herman best when he says, “America needs a sense of humor.”

Last January I threw a little “off the record” dinner party together with Herman at the Foundation Room in Las Vegas and he had a chance to sit down and meet with a few California-based PAC leaders, national conservative leaders and an Orange County-based journalist.  The vision he gave that night for America was as profound as it was conservative. Serious, but laced with bonhomie. He showed us he was for real as a potential Presidential candidate that night.   But one of the participants decided to speak his mind to Herman after dinner was over.  Though the meeting was a private one, I don’t think Herman will have a problem with me telling this one story.  “Mr Cain,” my PAC-leader friend said, “we know you will never be elected President and that your campaign is about getting ideas out.”  The room became quiet.  Herman responded slowly, and firmly, and told him that if and when he launched his campaign, it would indeed be about ideas.  But he also told him unequivocally that if he was going to run for President, he was in it to win.

Yet that was not the irony of the story.  Today, after Herman’s exciting campaign has unfolded and his stellar debate performances, after the Florida straw poll, after polls across America, including places like Ohio that show Herman in the lead in the GOP field, our doubting Thomas in that meeting isn’t doubting whether Herman Cain can win the Presidency any longer.  In fact, he is eagerly endorsing Herman for President now, and like myself, plans to do whatever he can to help Herman win the California Presidential primary next June.

Herman is a real American success story and a tremendous human being.  Not once at our party did he dwell on his successful battle with cancer or the negatives of life we all share.  Perhaps it is not such a long march from being a janitor’s son, to the head of a national food business, to Federal Reserve official, to the cover of Newsweek magazine, to serious Presidential contender, if you are Herman Cain.  He is an amazing man and would be an inspirational President.

I look forward to sharing further thoughts about the Presidential campaign as it shapes up in the next few months, but I’ll give fair warning now that I have a candidate, and I hope you will get to know him!

Ron Paul, al Qaeda’s President, not ours.

The  al Qaeda criminal terrorist network doesn’t need to launch terror strikes anymore to be successful.  They just need to help Ron Paul get elected President.

Paul made an utterly stupid comment yesterday which should leave no doubt in the minds of the libertarians still supporting him that he not only has literally  no chance of getting the votes of most any sane people in America for President, but that his “message,” which is supposedly even more important to libertarians than getting Paul elected, is hugely flawed.  According to the New York Post, Paul said that the CIA Predator Drone attack in remote Yemen a few days ago which killed murderer Anwar al-Awlaki, the current leader of the al Qaeda network, “was unjustified because Awlaki faced no U.S. criminal charges.”

One would think that Paul is being coached on his press statements by Harvard’s favorite attorney Alan Dershowitz and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The fact is the United States IS AT WAR with al Qaeda, a DECLARED WAR, and has been since over 3,000 of our innocent citizens were murdered by al Qaeda on September 11, 2001.

Al-Awlaki was a General in this war against us, and the principles of freedom.  Though technically not “indicted” yet,  he is on several criminal “wanted lists” for his involvement in additional numerous threats against innocent Americans, such as the Times Square car bombing, the “underwear” airline bomb attempt and the “Fort Hood Massacre.”  (You do not have to be “indicted” to get on a wanted list, you simply have to kill somebody!)  For his crimes, and his actions as a foreign combatant, he was placed on a CIA “authorized to kill or capture” list by Executive Order of President Obama in April 2010.  Politically, Al-Awlaki urged an end to western democracy, the imposition of Koranic law, the suppression of women’s rights, and terror bombings against civilians in the West as a means to accomplish his political goals.  He was literally a ghoul.

Paul’s references to a lack of criminal charges suggests he feels that al-Awlaki’s “procedural due process rights” in U.S. criminal law were more important that eliminating this foreign combatant terrorist who was literally on the run in a Toyota truck from the chasing Predator Drone above.  In this regard, Paul makes the most extreme example of “form over substance” I have ever considered.  As a lawyer, and a patriot, the stupidity of Paul’s position leaves me breathless.  He would rather see al-Awlaki get away from us in that truck to go on killing innocent Americans., rather than be called to ultimate account for his war crimes.

War criminals do not have procedural due process rights.  When our troops stormed the Norman coast under heavy opposition fire in 1944 to liberate the French from Nazi Germany, they did not have to ask any Judge Advocate Corps lawyers in advance whether it was O.K. to pull the triggers on their weapons.  War is war, not the O.J. Simpson murder trial.  Paul confuses the two, and because he has done so, he has demonstrated yet again what a menace he would be to America if he were President, and what an embarrassment he must be to libertarians.

True libertarians understand that war is an unfortunate but real function of Government, especially when a war is a just war to protect freedom.  The war against al Qaeda is a just war and a declared war.   Ron Paul’s standing on misconceived “procedural due process rights” of the terrorists killing us is not libertarian.  Rather, it is crazy, and that is why Ron Paul is more al Qaeda’s candidate for President, than ours.

Will Obama Just Quit?!

Veteran political analyst Dick Morris says he thinks Obama might “pull a Lyndon Johnson” and not run for re-election.  It is a hard thing to believe but Morris’ article in The Hill newpaper this week makes the case.  And I disagree.

Morris’ theory goes like this: the economy is in shambles because of (in Obama’s mind) “partisanship” and Obama must spend all his efforts to get the United States back on economic track.  As evidenced by Michelle Obama’s dour expressions at the recent joint session of Congress (did you see those frowns?  I did and found them very strange!) the Obama’s are not having fun as President and First Lady.  Obama has not been polling well and his insistance on a sweeping liberal healthcare reform will cost the Democrats control of the Senate, meaning an Obama second term might face total Congressional control by Republicans.   Thus, rather than take on the mighty tasks of fixing the economy AND running for re-election, for an office that would be dogged into the second term by rabid investigating Republicans, he punts now and leaves office with head held high.  That is the theory.

I say it won’t happen.  Obama is a supremely political person despite the First Lady’s public pouting.  While the President is trending down in the polls, and the outlook is increasingly dangerous for him, his support is still very credible, in the 40% range, in the neighborhood of Hillary Clinton’s support during the last Presidential election.  Though he can no longer claim to be the candidate of “hope,” especially to the 50% of unemployed high school graduate age young black men in every urban setting across America, he still has a strong voter base.  They just might not have cars, insurance or gas money to all get to the polls for him next year.

Barack Obama is a Chicago politician and Chicago politicians don’t just give up.  Jesse Jackson, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., most influentially, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin would not let Obama back away from his office – their own success (and largesse) depends too much on his Presidency.  It was always a stretch to think that Barack Obama was elected on an image of “reform.”  The reality is that Cook County is a petri dish for political corruption and back room deal making that has seen criminal indictments against four – yes four – living Governors of illinois, from both parties, the most recent being the incarceration of former Republican Governor George Ryan and the trial of Democrat Governor Rod Blagojevich.  Obama himself has not been tarred with actual claims of corruption, but his administration has, including claims of bribery involving the U.S. Senate vacancy appointment of former Senator Roland Burris as well as using White House political appointments as pay-offs for political favors.  Whether Obama is personally corrupt or not, the environment in which he was “brought up” in politics was filled with corruption; and one would imagine that the job of “community organizer,” i.e., union lawyer, in the Chicago area, would not change the inputs much.  Obama owes these folks in Cook County a great deal for backing him.  And Barack Obama’s “machine” depends too much on him to be President – and fuel their fancies.  Even if HE wanted out, THEY would not let him out.

So, unless Obama’s favorable ratings continue their decline in big statewide blue states like California to levels below the popularity of former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, I think he is in it for the long haul, one-term President or not.

Ron Paul: al-Qaeda’s unintentional stooge?

I could not believe my ears when Ron Paul, during the last Presidential debate, gave justification to Osama bin Laden’s 9/11 terror killings on American soil. Paul’s strange comment was breathtaking to me, coming just four days before the 10th anniversary of the infamous incidents that took the lives of over 3,000 innocent U. S. citizens. It was insensitive and lacking compassion for the tens of thousands more of service veterans, protecting our freedoms, who have been casualties in the resulting War on Terror.

I can understand the libertarian position of non-intervention espoused by Paul. As a child of an emigrant of the Russian civil war, I disagree with it. I understand international communism to be a menace to freedom everywhere. Just like radical Islam. But I do not understand, or accept, giving justification to terror killings. That is not libertarianism. It is instead boarder-line lunacy.
The Constitution requires a President, under Article II, to be the “commander in chief” of all U.S. armed forces and to commission all military officers. The purpose of the clause is to place supreme authority in one person in government to protect the rest of us from serious foreign threats. But Paul’s debate performances are proving he is not up to that task. Paul’s concept of reality is far afield and divorced from the consensual reality shared by hundreds of millions of Western Europeans and Americans. Non-intervention can surely be an acceptable policy, as evidenced by the foreign policies of states like Sweden and Switzerland, which did business with tyrants in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia simultaneously. In those cases the neutrality was disingenuous but self-serving. But apologizing for the tyrants was not part of their non-intervention, and this is where Ron Paul flunks the statesmanship test.
I guess Paul’s crossing-the-line of reason should be expected. After all, this is the only presidential candidate who agrees with efforts of Islamists to build a Grand Mosque near the site of the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City where over 2,300 people were killed by radical Islamists. Paul’s published justification there isn’t some heady reference to the guarantee of “freedom of religion” in the Constitution, rather, it’s, “well, we shouldn’t blame Christianity for Timothy McVeigh’s terror bombing in Oklahoma City, so why deny Islam it’s Mosque at ground zero”? A false logic once again insensitive to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. And a flawed logic equal to Paul’s thinking in voting against giving Ronald Reagan a medal for his achievement in winning the Cold War.

I surely don’t think Ron Paul actually intends to be supportive of al-Qaeda terror. But his words surely are supportive in explaining away their terrorism. Some might even see it as giving “aid and comfort” to the actions of a true enemy of freedom. However, if we could be a “fly on the wall” in that remote cave deep in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan where the grizzly top council of al-Qaeda’s leadership might be meeting to discuss the U.S. Presidential race, I am certain the candidate they would like the most would be Ron Paul.

Maxine Waters is Right: Obama’s Jobs Plan Stinks

Ultra-liberal California Congresswoman Maxine Waters is on the wrong side of almost every issue except one: Obama’s jobs plan just stinks.

     Of California’s 12.1 percent unemployed, not many of them are teachers.  Teachers here, thanks to their powerful public employee union, are doing pretty good, pulling down well above average wages and excessive pension rights that taxpayers really cannot afford, which contribute mightily to our state government’s perpetual debt crisis, itself a huge drag on the economy in general.  Yet of the unemployed in California, almost 35% are young people in the recent high school graduate age category who are without work. Of those, about half of young black males are unemployed in California – three years into Barrack Obama’s presidency.  Over 21% of black Californians in general are unemployed. Where is their hope in Obama’s plan for a job?  Well, they have very little hope under Obama.
     The Obama national jobs plan outlined this week is pretty simple: hire more teachers.  But of course unemployed young black men in California don’t have the college education to qualify for the necessary teaching credential.  Oh, and Obama’s plan calls for continuing to pour more concrete in government road projects.  However, unemployed young black men, being new to the workforce, don’t have the skills to get admitted into the construction trade unions that might benefit from more stimulus spending on road construction, let alone the seniority in the union to actually get hired to work on a project.  Obama’s plan for small business is to offer more loan programs through the Small Business Administration.  However, what small businesses need is tax relief incentives to do more hiring, not bureaucratic loan programs that take weeks to apply for and complete the application forms and even then are impossible to meet the qualification regulations.  Not much hope there for any employment boost, including for black and Hispanic youth, where the unemployment problem is worst.
    It is this dirth of a real jobs program that has prompted California Congresswoman Maxine Waters to call out Obama and say, “treat blacks like they were from Iowa!”, meaning, give them the same special attention that the presidential candidates are giving to the citizens of America’s earliest presidential primary state.  Record unemployment levels in California call for attention to the unemployed across the board, not just black unemployed, but there is no denying that among black and Hispanic youth the problem is most acute.  Waters and Obama’s problem, along with many leaders in the minority communities, is their lack of willingness to embrace new, targeted solutions in the minority communities, such as the “enterprise zones” called for by famous economist Dr. Arthur Laffer, which would eliminate job killing Federal and state regulations in designated urban areas to draw capital investment and new job growth.  But more than one black economic writer has blasted the idea as “ghettoizing” and leading to creation of “sweatshops” instead of new jobs.   Union rhetoric.  So the stasis of ideas simply leads to new extensions of Federal and state unemployment compensation, leading to even more government debt, and undoubtedly sets a stage for more youth crime, leading to a host of other undesirable outcomes for the people affected, and for taxpayers.
     Reaction on Capitol Hill to Obama’s new jobs plan has been to see it for what it is: just more politics.  Obama is simply pandering to his public employee union supporters and giving himself an excuse on his dismal jobs performance when the Republican House of Representatives ultimately decides most of the plan is worthless.  Regardless, even people who should be Obama’s core supporters, like California’s Maxine Waters, can see that his economic policies are not “creating jobs”.   And the deeper analysis is that Obama’s policies are destroying wealth, and without wealth, there can be no money in the private sector to hire anybody, let alone youth unemployed.

Ed Rollins pull-back means Bachmann is done

We’ve known Californian Ed Rollins since his days as the Assembly Republican Caucus’ top consultant. He worked in the White House, helped Ronald Reagan win re-election in 1984, worked for the Huffingtons (famously chronicled in his book) and Christine Todd Whitman, really went against convention with Ross Perot in 1988, helped lots of Senate candidates, moved to New York City, got hooked up with Huckabee in 2008, and was pulled into the Bachmann campaign by younger devotees this year.


Rollins really wanted Huckabee to run for President but that candidate wisely figured he had no real chance. So the team of consultants Rollins put together to monetize this presidential election jumped to Bachmann, a real long shot. Then the Iowa straw-poll debate happened, where Bachman reportedly “scratched Tim Palenty’s eyes out” and won the straw poll. For a brief period Bachmann shot ahead in the polls and was looking good.
But Rick Perry’s entrance into the Republican presidential race within days of the Iowa straw poll changed everything, including the polls. Bachmann has tanked across America in polls since Perry became a candidate, as Perry has grabbed almost all Bachmann’s voters. Bachmann’s tanking means it is harder to raise the funds needed to pay Rollins and his team the high salaries they think they deserve, and to do the advertising they urge. That is what animates Rollins’ pull-back as manager of Bachmann’s race, health notwithstanding, and look for some of Bachmann’s team, already en route to Texas, to join Perry’s campaign.
Bachmann is an appealing personality at a Tea Party Rally but she would not be desirable as a Vice Presidential candidate to whoever wins the GOP nomination. Like Ron Paul, as just a Member of Congress, she does not have a history of winning statewide elections, or a strong regional appeal that would bring a better chance of influencing significant electoral votes to the Republican ticket. Focus groups indicate some Republican woman voters are turned off by Bachmann’s references during the Ames debate to having “24” foster children. Bachmann is a true believer, but, for the record, we think Bachmann is done as a serious national candidate.

Bill violates U.S. & State right to free speech: passes Assembly 65-12.

SB 488 is a bill by State Senator Lou Correa (D – Orange County), that imposes further regulations on election mailings, namely slate mail. While I am personally involved in producing some slates, I had nothing to do with prompting the lawyer who wrote the impartial analysis of the bill for the State Assembly, which opens with: “This measure could be interpreted to violate the U.S. Constitution and the California Constitution’s right to free speech.” With that, the California Assembly yesterday overwhelmingly passed the bill by a 65-12 vote, thus giving great satisfaction to the public employee union promoting this unconstitutional bill. The Legislators decided that they would rather pass an unconstitutional law than get a public employee union to campaign against them. I wonder if they ever considerated that the free speech lobby was also watching their votes? The Correa bill, if it passes the State Senate and if the Governor signs it, will be successfully challenged in Federal Court, at great legal expense to the California general fund, as so many other sinister anti-First Amendment bills have fallen. What a waste of money, and integrity.

Here is a link to the bill

Connie Conway, an unsung hero

California Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway has done a fantastic job of holding her caucus together this session on key votes on taxes and spending.  In particular, she deserves great credit for warding off the relentless pressure of special interests and public employee unions to urge and split-off individual Republican legislators to cave in to higher taxes, more giveaway programs and unchecked spending, all of which contribute to higher unemployment and more sour economic times in our Golden State.  In the recent budget battles, Conway’s strength as Leader and her Republican colleagues helped avoid a $58 billion tax increase being pushed by the special interests.  For that alone, Conway and her fellow Assembly Republicans all deserve a “Golden Star” for a job well-done.

Assemblymember Conway represents the 34th Assembly District, which takes in many parts of California’s Central Valley and High Desert areas.  Prior to serving in the Assembly, Conway served as a Tulare County Supervisor from 2000 until 2008. Conway currently serves on the State Board of Directors for California Women Lead, a women’s nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.  She is a practical, common sense, committed conservative.

Unfortunately, being the Assembly Republican Leader at times like these must be very much like trying to “herd cats.”  Our friend over at FlashReport, Jon Fleischman, has done a great job of helping to keep the public spotlight on Republican members that the liberals target to pick off on key votes for tax and spending bills.  That “shining light” helps Conway to keep her caucus actually voting “Republican.”  Nevertheless, there are hundreds and hundreds of bills that must be reviewed in the various committees of the State Senate and Assembly during the Legislative process, and it is in these many dark rooms where back-bone is especially required of Republicans to defend our constitution.  It is also in these committee rooms where a bill can be made, or broken, by principled review and action.  Yet sometimes even those Republican legislators who profess themselves to be the most conservative, will “leave the reservation” to try to gain “brownie points” for re-election from a public employee union or liberal think-tank by casting a stray vote in favor of an unconstitutional regulation or new spending program.  These sad situations are occurring right now as the Legislature finishes its summer business, and they happen when the odd-ball Republican legislator thinks no one is watching, or that there will be no consequence for what they think might be an over-looked committee vote.

The best legislator is the principled one, liberal or conservative, that votes his or her true conviction and that doesn’t play games with the legislative process for what they think is election gain.  Conway certainly has many of these types of members in her caucus.  Publications like ours and others are doing the watching and we can chose to highlight those odd-ball members who betray their party’s principles behind closed doors. But we are so glad that Connie Conway is not one of those types; and because of that California is all the better with her as the Republican Leader.

CA “Misery Index” tops Jimmy Carter era

The “Misery Index” economic indicator that Jimmy Carter used to defeat Gerald Ford for the Presidency was at an all-time high of 13.57% in the summer of 1976.  But it’s 14.68% now in California, and rising.  While Carter successfully campaigned that “no man responsible for giving a country a misery index that high had a right to even ask to be President,” thereby targeting a weak Republican president instead of the policies of the entrenched 40-year long Democrat controlled Congress of the era, perhaps Democrats here in California will also get away with their terrible performance on the economy by blaming someone else.

That’s because the main stream media doesn’t seem very interested in holding Democrats to task for California’s (or America’s) economic woes, even given the Democrats almost perpetual control of our State Legislature, a Democratic Governor, a Democratic President, and a Congress only one-half, and narrowly at that, controlled by Republicans.  And public opinion is still pretty good for Governor Jerry Brown, at 48% positive.  Yet the MSM seems full of stories about George W. Bush-era failings as the root of all economic evils in America, and can’t seem to write much anything about the utter failure of Obama-era spending programs, or California’s dysfunctional big spending Legislative Democrats.  While Obama hands out the shovelware, and our State Legislature debates variations of shear constitutional lunacy, our financial markets are blowing up at the seams.  Piers Morgan devotes hours on CNN to talk about a defeated Delaware 2010 GOP U.S. Senate candidate’s position on gay marriage.  It all reminds one of that story about Emperor Nero fiddling while Rome burned down.  Is anybody in a responsible position anywhere paying attention to our economy???

The “Misery Index” is a combination of the inflation rate and the unemployment rate.  It was invented by an economist named Arthur Okun.  The truth is, during Gerald Ford’s presidency the misery index actually went down.  And the average misery index for all Jimmy Carter’s ineffectual four years as President really ended higher, at 16.26%, than it was the year he was elected.

Last week California’s unemployment rate was pegged at 12%, well over the national average. The Los Angeles Times explained away the higher rate in California as a continuing result of the higher exposure here to problems in real estate markets.  The articles said nothing about the poor performance of all the Democrats job growth programs here.

According to the Federal Bureau of Labor statistics, the inflation rate in California was 2.68% in March 2011 and is acknowledged to be rising, to as high as 3% by year-end.  So a 14.68% misery index probably understates the problem in California.

Our statewide blowout of Republican candidates in the last election was a hard pill to swallow for some of us.  But really, now there is no one else left to blame in Sacramento for the long term failure of state economic policies but the Democrats.  Will our media ever tell that story?  More importantly, will a public used to hearing about how Republicans are to blame for all of our problems, start waking up?

 

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