All posts by John Burton

De Facto CA GOP Leader Grover Norquist Needs a New De Facto Job

Washington, D.C. insider and anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist was recently quoted by conservative columnist Debra Saunders in the SF Chronicle as saying “I think golf and cocaine would be more constructive ways to spend one’s free time than negotiating with Democrats on spending restraint.”

I have always considered golf a good walk spoiled.  As a recovering cocaine addict, I am surprised that anyone would think that it is at all constructive to spend one’s free time using that drug.

One would think that Mr. Norquist made this comment with a straw in his hand bending over a mirror full of white powder.

This is the man the California Republican Party is taking its cues from when it comes to tackling our state’s budget crisis.

It’s no wonder California Republicans find themselves out of touch not only with California voters on the whole, but even with an increasingly smaller percentage of Californians who self-identify as Republican voters.

A recent Field Poll showed that 61% of California voters were in favor of holding a special election to vote on a package of spending cuts and temporary tax increases to balance our budget. Even 56% of California Republicans are in favor of the idea.

Instead Republican leaders in Sacramento are taking their lead from their de facto leader in Washington, D.C., Grover Norquist. This isn’t good for Californians, it isn’t good for our budget process and it isn’t even good for the Republican Party.

Californians must be trusted to exercise their right to vote – that’s how things work in a democracy. What remains of the sensible part of the Republican Party needs to speak loudly against out of touch, and out-to-lunch Republicans like Grover Norquist.

A Woman’s Place Is in the House…of Representatives

( – promoted by shayera)

I’ve been saying it for over a month: We need to leave Afghanistan as soon as safely possible. Our brave men and women have performed admirably there. Now it’s time to bring them home.

In fact, a lot of Democrats have been saying that lately. So when Gen. Stanley McChrystal recently proposed sending up to 40,000 additional troops there, California’s own Nancy Pelosi stepped up in her role as Speaker of the House and said escalation would be a tough sell for some Democrats.

That’s when the National Republican Congressional Committee turned an honest debate into a shameful display of sexism.

The committee sent out a press release attacking Speaker Pelosi for her honest assessment of the situation. The release included the following line:

If Nancy Pelosi’s failed economic policies are any indicator of the effect she may have on Afghanistan, taxpayers can only hope McChrystal is able to put her in her place.

As Speaker Pelosi observed in her own defense, it’s been decades since that kind of blatant sexism and talk of “putting women in their place” was accepted in public discourse. Today you can get fired for saying something like that — unless, apparently, you work for the Republican Party.

We’ve always known from the Republicans’ regressive tax proposal, the erosion of median income under their administrations, and the way they vigorously defend our broken health care system that the Republicans would love to undo as much progress as they could. But this kind of behavior simply has no place in our politics, and we should all thank Nancy Pelosi for saying so.

But the Republicans aren’t just wrong to use such prejudiced, long-discredited language. They’re also wrong to promote blind trust in Gen. McChrystal, whose role in covering up the friendly fire death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman is undeniable.

General McChrystal certainly has many years of dutiful service to our country. That does not give him — or the Republican Party — the authority to put the Speaker of the House in “her place.” We have the people of San Francisco and her colleagues in the House of Representatives to thank for putting Speaker Pelosi in the very place she needs to be.

John Burton is chairman of the California Democratic Party. Sign up to join the Party at