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CA Assembly to Vote Tomorrow Today on Governor’s Budget

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 9:18 pm - March 15, 2011.
Filed under: California politics

Via Flash Report, we learn that the California General Assembly will be voting tomorrow on Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal.  Now while the budget will pass because, thanks to Proposition 25, the package only needs a majority, there is one wrinkle:  legislators still need a two-thirds majority to put the proposed tax increase on the June ballot.  And to get that two-thirds, they’re going to need a few Republican votes.  And well, there is a tax hike proposal in the Democrat’s plan.

And Jon Fleishman doesn’t think any Republican votes are forthcoming:

Oh yes, Brown’s budget has not been revised to accept the political reality, which is that there are no Republican votes to place the largest tax increase in the history of any state on the ballot this June.  And Brown has not responded by putting forward the additional cuts necessary to present a real, balanced budget to the legislature. . . .

Ultimately, however, Democrats can take some consolation.  Once they absorb that they will not be seeing Republican votes for a tax increase on the ballot, they will realize that they will not need one Republican vote for a “no new taxes” budget.

In placing this tax hike on the ballot, Brown is attempting to deliver on his campaign promise not to raise taxes without a vote.  Now, some people probably voted for the Democrat thinking that he wouldn’t do such a thing because Californians had already — overwhelmingly — rejected a variety of tax increases.  He must have known, they assumed, that we’d reject them again.  Despite the failure of the May 2009 measures (backed by the state’s political class), California Republicans, including yours truly, knew that once elected Brown would indeed try to raises taxes.

Now, to be sure, Democrats are billing this as merely extending the current tax rate, but that’s extending an increase that was supposed to be temporary.  And while I do fault the governor for not cutting as deeply as he should in order to balance the budget without raising taxes and for not promoting the kinds of structural reforms that will make it easier for future legislatures to hold the line on state spending, I do appreciate his seriousness of purpose. (more…)

Does the Arthur remake make sense?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 8:19 pm - March 15, 2011.
Filed under: LA Stories,Movies/Film & TV

When, last year, I watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the third or fourth time, I realized that the movie wasn’t all that good, in fact, when Audrey Hepburn wasn’t on screen, it was actually quite dull. It was just her performance which made the movie so engaging. Indeed, while we remember her in any number of films from Funny Face to Sabrina to Roman Holiday to Charade, we realize that the stories serve primarily as vehicles to showcase her incredible screen presence and her elfin beauty — not to mention how fabulous she looked even in some of the strangest fashions of the 1950s and 1960s.

Which brings me to Arthur.  (No, not the federally funded aardvark.)

That 1981 film holds up not so much for the story (which, I’ll grant, is sweet), but the performance. While it may not be Liza Minnelli‘s best performance, it is certainly her most charming, perhaps her most endearing.  Not to mention Sir John Gielgud and Geraldine Fitzgerald.  And of course, Dudley Moore who makes you sympathize from the get-go with this spoiled rich guy who doesn’t seem capable of controlling his appetites.

So, the question arose earlier today as I drove around Los Angeles and saw countless billboards for the remake:  why remake a film when the original succeeded not as much for the story as for the performances, particularly the lead?  Can Russell Brand adopt a role that Dudley Moore — so deliciously — owned?

Or has the original so faded from our consciousness that we will not be contrasting Brand’s zaniness with Moore’s class?

Rush: ‘I Wish Rubio Would Run For Prez’

That makes two of us….


Rush Limbaugh offered that off-hand endorsement of Marco Rubio after Florida’s newest Senator announced that he would oppose any more short-term spending bills in Congress.

Meanwhile, Rubio has a few other ideas as well, notably to cut off the EPA’s efforts to expand its regulatory reach. His office announced earlier today that Rubio would attach an amendment to “every major bill” in the Senate to cut off funding for EPA enforcement of “job-destroying numeric nutrients regulations,” as well as rescind authority for spending of any unused stimulus funding.

One could argue that Rubio is too “inexperienced” to be a serious Presidential contender.  Well, I don’t recall the current Oval Office occupant sticking in any job longer than two years.  Rubio has him up on that by a mile.  And, Rubio was the Speaker of the House in the Florida Legislature.  Those two facts are just off the top of my head.

I’ve been wondering when Rubio would begin to flex his leadership muscles in the Senate.  Mark this week as the beginning of the rise of Marco Rubio.

[RELATEDHouse Budget Chmn. Paul Ryan explains how America is screwed by our debt problem.]

-Bruce (GayPatriot) 

Help me help victims of Japan’s earthquake & tsunami

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 4:45 pm - March 15, 2011.
Filed under: Worthy Causes

“Urgent” reads the print on one envelope I received recently.  “Personal and confidential,” said another.  “Surprise, Mr. Blatt,” I read, on an large manila envelope, “Here’s something you can really use and enjoy for years to come.”

Was the first an appeal for funds to relieve victims of a recent disaster?  Was the second an important letter from a friend, detailing some trying circumstances in his life that he wanted to share with me, but not trust to e-mail, fearing someone could hack into his account?  Was the third a gift from a good friend or family member who wanted to give me something to better remember him.

The answer is “No” to all three questions.  “Urgent” was written on an envelope from a charity who regularly sends out appeals to me.  It seems every other missive I receive bears that word suggesting imminent action is necessary to prevent disaster.  Annoyed with the amount of correspondence I receive from that organization, I have long since stopped giving to that organization.  And the appeals keep coming.

The envelope marked “personal” contained a form letter seeking donations for a political campaign in a different state.  The large manila envelope was from another charity which has sent me enough mail and little “gifts” to cover the cost of the $25 I once sent them.   Just today, I received three small writing pads (of various sizes and designs) from three non-profits and a large fancy envelope with about 15 pages of paper from a group I have never supported.  (This was not the first such such mailing I have received from this outfit.)

I receive all this at a time when I’m trying to find a relief organization which devotes the overwhelming amount of its resources to helping the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  And I’ve pretty much eliminated all those groups which sends me regular mail.  Such costly fundraising solicitations surely take a greater bite out of their budget, siphoning money away from the people truly in need and those we should help.

So, please, help me out here.  What organizations do you feel are doing a good job of directing their resources to those truly in need.  Once I get your feedback, I’ll prepare another post, asking our readers to support these groups.  Thanks!