Friday, July 25, 2008

Schwarzenegger: "Let them Eat Cake"

He didn't stutter. Even with that Austrian brogue of his, The Governator's words were understood all too well by panic-stricken state employees, who are now staring down the barrel of drastic cuts in their pay. In an attempt to force the Democratic majority in the California State Legislature to pass a budget, Governor Schwarzenegger now threatens to hold the incomes of 200,000 state workers hostage.

So it's come to this: the people who provide vital services that the state can't live without are being told that their mortgages, their auto loans, and their stomachs will have to wait until the end of August to see another paycheck - and then they will be paid at the Federal minimum wage rate of $6.55 an hour, in a state where all employers are require to abide by the state minimum wage of $8.00 per hour - even for tipped employees. This means that, during the month when families are already pinching pennies for school clothes and supplies, Junior and Juniette will have to squeeze into last year's wardrobe - the one with the jeans so fashionably accented with a ragged tear across both knees, not to mention the pending scorn from their peers about "talking to Noah."

No, Junior, we can't afford for you to play football this year. Sorry, Juniette, we can't afford the deductible for your braces right now; you'll get used to the kids (whose parents don't work for the state) calling you "snaggletooth." But here's the good news: we're all going on a crash diet!

No one can expect Governor Schwarzenegger to understand. He has a motorcade and a private jet. His wife is a Kennedy. And he still thinks he can be the President. Clearly the man is clueless - but not blameless; neither are the Democrats in the California State legislature who've failed to pass the budget.

State Controller John Chiang has stated that there is enough money to keep the state solvent for the next few months. He has also stated point-blank that he won't comply with the Governor's order. Of course, if Schwarzenegger decides he's the same kind of "compassionate conservative" that the President is, the fate of Controller Chiang is academic.

Governor Schwarzenegger, don't take this the wrong way, but your solution really sucks. Democrats have a nasty tendency toward fiscal filibusting to push through pork barrel budgets - which is nonsense. It does not, however, offset your threat to financially kill the poor as a proxy for your adversaries in the legislature.

Is it just me, or is this subprime-mortgage-induced public financial crisis starting to really freak people out?
UPDATE - GOING PUBLIC, IF NOT POSTAL: The story, as it appears in The Los Angeles Times Online has attracted a strange contrast of upset public employees and gloating private workers. State employees are threatening to strike and their privately employed critics, claim that State workers wouldn't last five minutes at jobs in the private sector. The public workers, insulted by this, charge the company men and women with being less educated, and hence, it is they who wouldn't last five minutes in the public sector. The argument simply goes downhill from there. But interestingly, both parties appear to be able - amid all of the horrifying demand - to blog during their paid working hours.
Of course, the xenophobes have weighed in as well, blaming our budget shortfall on - you guessed it - the "Illegals." Not surprisingly, they don't have much opposition.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Critiquing the Critics

I read The Huffington Post from time to time. Today, I think I decided why it is that I've never fully bought into Arriana Huffington's pet project. Jacob Heilbrunn reminded us that people who work in the Bush State Department are not free to pursue politics on their own time - as though this is something new. In his pithy posting on , "Bush Bans State Department from Obama Rally" Heilbrun misses a point that I think the political structure and the media will need to face at some point down the road, if not very soon.

Does Heilbrun think this is somehow an "extreme" position for the Bushies to take? Does anyone sincerely believe that Nancy Pelosi or any of the other majority WIMPS in the legislature will take a stand on this, when they won't even vote to impeach our despot/President for High Crimes, that only Karl Rove and Fixed News can deny with a straight face?

There are a list of offenses against the despot, George W. Bush, so grievous as to demand redress by an informed and concerned electorate, to say nothing of bringing the full and proper weight of checks and balances down on him by a Legislature and Judiciary WHO FAILED US, and continues to fail us to this day.

And what about the press - that fourth branch of the government we've all heard so much about? Why were they silent for so long, only now summoning the courage to shout at the bully when his back is to you, on his way out of the room?

Don't do us any favors, Heilbrun. The two party system needs to go. The existing press needs to go with them.