Archive for 2009

TMZ Scoops Everyone on the Tiger Smash-Up

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

tigernewsTMZ, the Hollywood gossip news site, has been WAY out ahead on the Tiger Woods smash-up story including having the original police report and then tracking down and pestering Rachael Uchitel, who is, according to the National Enquirer, the “other woman” over whom Tiger and his wife Elin Nordegren may have argued before he drove his Escalade into a fire hydrant and a tree 100 feet from his driveway in Windermere, Fla.

Calbuzz, a big fan of Tiger’s exploits on the golf course, has no special insight into the Thanksgiving Smash Up although we’ve always thought Tiger helped pave the way for Barack Obama, by demonstrating that a black guy with great talent can dominate on what has traditionally been white guys’ turf. And we’re pretty sure Obama won’t be linked in the tabloids to another woman other than Michelle in the near future.

We note that in his official statement, Tiger argues, “This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.” Guess we’ll have to wait a while to find out which rumors are false, unfounded and malicious. And which aren’t.

A Second Wave Attack on Women’s Health

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

By Susan RosSusan_Rosee
Special to Calbuzz

The official word from the federally funded U.S. Preventive Services Task Force —  that most women don’t need mammograms until the age of 50 — generated passionate responses from women, medical associations and advocacy organizations.

The task force, a panel of physicians, also recommended against teaching women to do breast self- examinations. For good measure, a new recommendation to limit the frequency of Pap Smear Tests further added to the confusion about women’s health care protocols.

The timing could not have been worse for the White House, as the Administration struggles to pass health care reform.

Following closely the House passage of the disastrous anti-abortion Stupak Amendment, the new controversy has outraged many women’s organizations, leaving the uneasy Democratic coalition in Congress shakier than ever.

Why are all these attacks against standard women’s medical health practices coming now? Is it time to trust my paranoia? Is this directly connected to health insurance reform? The debate over saving money in health care suddenly seems to be tilting in favor of cutting services that serve women and save their lives.

Expressions of opposition to the new recommendations were widespread,USREPORT-US-USA-HEALTHCARE as leaders like Nancy Brinker, founder of the Susan Komen Foundation, and influential women’s health author Dr. Judith Reichman pushed back at the task force report. Even the Obama administration backed away from the recommendations, leaving Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to state that  “our policies remain the same.” Perhaps most important, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists confirmed their continuing support for the practices of screening mammograms for women from the ages of 40 to 49, as well as self-exams that can detect palpable breast cancer.

In their defense, the task force qualified their findings, saying they should be applied by “individualized decision making to the specific patient or situation” and advising the recommendations do not apply to high-risk women.

Good. That will work for my two 40-something daughters because they have a family history of breast cancer.

My story is no different than the many I have heard and the thousands repeated around the country. I was 47 years old when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had been examined by my gynecologist who missed the lump. A few weeks later I found it myself while doing a breast self-exam (BSE). The tumor was very small and I proceeded with the recommended treatments. This year I celebrated my 20th anniversary as a breast cancer survivor.

But two years after the first diagnosis, a Pap Smear revealed another cancer site unrelated to the first. It was found early, and required no additional treatment. The BSE and the Pap Smear are tests I continue to use to this day.

The task force’s recommendations have major implications for insurance coverage. As the Senate begins its debate on health care reform, ongoing analysis of the Stupak Amendment makes it clear that women may well lose all opportunities for abortions covered by insurance, because there will be little incentive for companies to provide these services. With formal recommendations from a federal task force now calling for limits on screening mammograms, why should insurers continue providing coverage for these services either?

breastcancerribbonWomen have long been second class citizens in the history of medicine, ignored or treated differently than men. For many years, research on heart attacks was done on exclusively on men and the results then applied to women. Now scientists are looking at numbers of breast cancer diagnoses and deciding whether to provide women with preventive medical treatment. At what threshold are women worth being treated? We have moved from not being counted at all to being viewed only as statistics.

Scientific research and evaluation are important and the cost of health care needs to be managed, but there must be a way to do both without denying women basic medical services.

Advocates for the task force recommendations argue that they are about evidence- based medicine, and we should not mix science and politics. Perhaps, when gender equity is truly reflected in Congressional representation, we won’t have to fight these battles. Until then, we cannot separate out politics from science.

Susan Rose served 8 years on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and writes regularly about women’s issues for Calbuzz.

Lady Gaga & iCarly vs. Arnold & the Klingons

Friday, November 27th, 2009

lady_gagaNext Up – a dramatic reading of A.B. 390: We’re pretty sure that no more than 5,999,950 of Jay Leno’s 6 million viewers were totally baffled when they tuned in to catch Lady Gaga Monday night and instead became eyewitnesses to history, as the gov made his really, really interesting announcement about California’s potentially, possibly, maybe new Lieutenant Governor.

Straightening out their sock drawers, our news department crew was sorry to miss the broadcast – but damn glad they did once they read the transcript of the painfully stagy Leno-Arnold byplay. Fortunately Dr. Hackenflack, a big Lady Gaga fan, was on the scene to provide live blog commentary on the event:

Leno: Let me ask you, what are you going to do about a lieutenant governor? We don’t have a lieutenant governor now. We haven’t had one for a while. Are you going to appoint another one? (A totally spontaneous question!)
Absolutely. (Duh)
When are you going to announce that? (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge)
Well, we can do it right here. (What the…?)
You’re going to announce it right here? (I’m shocked – shocked!)
Yeah, exactly. Why not? (Who says my delivery’s wooden?)
You picked somebody? (Enough already with the build-up)
Yes. I’m going to (Zzzz…)
Is it me? (Only good line of the whole schtick)
A: I mean, I was planning to do it tomorrow. (Oy)
Don’t wait until tomorrow. (Zzzz II)
So why not? We have already a tradition. I announced my candidacy right here on the show. (What an amusing, unconventional fellow I am!)
That’s right. (Gee, I almost forgot).
So why not announce the lieutenant governor? So it will be Senator Abel Maldonado –(Huh?)
Wow. (Wow is right – no wonder this guy’s ratings suck).

Props for Tfleischmanhe Flash: Jon Fleischman, who may be the hardest working blogger in show business, scooped the world at 4:09 p.m. Monday, citing “one of my better ‘insider sources’” to post the first report unconditionally stating that Gov. Schwarzmuscle had picked Maldonado for Lite Gov.

Having broken the news, the resourceful Fleischman immediately lurched into full advocacy mode, crafting a killer second graf for the ages:

Somebody get me a barf bag.

An hour later, perhaps chastened by switching to decaf, Fleischman thought better of the nanosecond honeymoon he’d accorded Maldonado with another post, this time offering heartfelt and sincere best wishes with a piece headlined “Congrats to Abel Maldonado.”

carly bald

Two old white guys left standing at the altar: So Carly Fiorina was scheduled to call Calbuzz for an interview Monday, but her handlers stiffed us at the last minute with a murky explanation about some supposedly late-breaking, double secret probation type emergency development thingie.

We were pleased to see, however, that iCarly was not so in distress that she bypassed a Beltway breakfast session with the crew of the conservative American Spectator.  Philip Klein’s post on the affair is well worth reading, if only for the challenge of trying to follow the rococo twists and turns of her extended riff on abortion rights.

On other issues, primary foe Chuck DeVore, R-Sirloin, jumped all over her statement that she would have voted for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, while Mrs. Chuck tweeted exception to Fiorina’s comment that she’s a stronger GOP bet by virtue of not being “a white male.”

Asked why she is a better candidate than her Republican primary opponent Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Calif.), Fiorina said that a woman stands a better chance of defeating Boxer.

“With all due respect and deep affection for white men – I’m married to one – but (Barbara Boxer) knows how to beat them. She’s done it over and over and over again.” Uh, really?

Among those who might take offense at her comment are:

1-The entire base of the California Republican Party.
2-Michelle Malkin, shrill harridan of the GOP’s Glenn Beck wing, who bashed
for an “identity-politics driven campaign.”
3- Matt Fong, the former state controller who lost to Boxer in 1998 and is decidedly not a white male.

To summarize: Hurricane Carly would have been better off calling us.

Reads of the week: Washpost media writer Howard Kurtz may be a walking conflict of interest and self-important windbag, but he churned out a helluva’ piece this week, a splendid 2,500 word feature on Emily Miller, a former Houklingonse aide who got caught up in the Jack Abramoff scandal and whose personal history is a moral lesson in the dangers of  tempting fate with blind Beltway ambition.

We also liked the Oracle of Cruickshank’s smart piece over at Calitics of how California was 25 years late to the New Deal, and an insightful column by Russ Douthat, a strong successor as NYT house conservative to the insipid William Kristol, deconstructing the anti-intellectual strains of Huckabee Palinism.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near The Klingons draw close.

Humble Thanks from the Turkeys at Calbuzz

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

pilgrim 2As Calbuzz joins in our annual national celebration of gratitude and gluttony, we recall Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous words of blessing for this special holiday:

“I love Thanksgiving turkey. It’s the only time in Los Angeles that you see natural breasts.”

With humble hearts and heaping helpings of snark, we want to thank the Calbuzz online community for all your support, encouragement, boorish comments and vicious critiques. We look forward to the next year, and hope you’ll stay with us for an exciting and entertaining ride with Crusty, Dudley, eMeg and the Commish.

Beyond that, we sincerely hope that on this joyous day, you’ll click on our ads a whole bunch of times, and that you won’t get a wishbone lodged in your throat while stuffing your pie hole. Also: take the Broncos and the points, and bet the under.

Our Department of Living History and Living Wills tells us that it was Abe Lincoln, not Miles Standish, who jump started this whole Thanksgiving thing. Nonetheless, Calbuzzers of a certain age all remember with  fondness the Thanksgiving school pageants of years gone by, when pilgrim hats made of folded black construction paper oozed gooey globs of white paste at the seams, and Pocahontas was played by the smart girl in the front row who always had her hand up, and who ended up living in Newport Beach, botoxed to the max.

We leave you with our favorite commentary on that historic period, courtesy of Calbuzzer emeritus Mark Twain:mark-twain-writing-in-bed

Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for – annually, not oftener – if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months, instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians.

Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man’s side, consequently on the Lord’s side; hence it was proper to thank the Lord for it and extend the usual annual compliments.”

Happy Turkey Day.

What eMeg’s Murphy Hire Means for Gov’s Race

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Murphy_MikeDespite their partisan differences, count Democratic consultant Garry South, the party’s Duke of Darkness, as one of Republican strategist Mike Murphy’s fans: “He’s a great guy – one of the funniest and smartest people I know in politics. He brings a centrist perspective that befits the political climate in California pretty well.”

But South – who was S.F. Mayor Gavin Newsom’s consultant in the governor’s race until the Prince dropped out last month – also warned that by bringing Murphy into her campaign, Meg Whitman runs the risk that afflicts most wealthy candidates in California (viz: Simon, Bill and Checchi, Al).

“Having more consultants doesn’t necessarily mean a better campaign,” he added. “They put together these big campaigns but they don’t know who to listen to and there’s sometimes warring camps that take hold inside and give the candidates conflicting advice.”

As word spread, in the wake of our Tuesday post, that Whitman had brought Murphy into her campaign, insiders saw both opportunities and risks in the move, balancing the high-profile consultant’s talent for messaging and strategy against his take-no-prisoners style, which can be aimed both at his candidate’s rival – as well as his own rivals within the  campaign.


One Republican strategist who has worked with Murphy described his greatest value to Whitman this way: “He’s somebody with actual political experience and the stature to push back on the candidate and her non-political advisers when it’s necessary.”

While it appears that Whitman crony Henry Gomez, her former eBay colleague and closest adviser, was the one who reached out to Murphy, his presence in the campaign will also assure that “When Henry has an idea that’s dumb, there’s someone who can call him on it,” the source said.

Like many business executives, Whitman has a low regard for political professionals, several sources said;  for this reason, she needs a strategist who is not intimidated by her, “someone who can get into her face and say ‘This is what we have to do,’” as one operative put it.

megandmittMurphy – who was no doubt recommended to Whitman by those around her old pal and mentor Mitt Romney — is such a figure. Said another former Murphy colleague: “He’s the original Big Foot. He’s charming and good company. But he’ll stomp on everybody  else. He’ll want to dominate in every respect. He’s a one-man wrecking crew.”

Murphy has a reputation for being disorganized, disheveled and sometimes difficult to get engaged. “Organization is not his forte,” said a former GOP colleague.

But those who know him suggest that Murphy – who lives now in the Hollywood Hills, hasn’t run a campaign in years and works in the entertainment industry – has no intention of taking over the campaign.

“It’s good to have as many smart people around the table as possible,” said former Schwartzmuscle spokesman Rob Stutzman and Murphy business partner in Navigators LLC, who’s now part of eMeg’s brigade of consultants.

Murphy is said to have been genuinely impressed with Whitman’s leadership skills and – no doubt – her ability to pay whatever fee he’ll be charging for his strategic and message advice. “Fortunately, this is the type of campaign that has the luxury to keep adding talent,” said one operative.


Despite speculation that his presence will diminish the role of the other consultants now feeding at the Whitman campaign trough, sources say most will welcome a figure of stature who can help focus a campaign that can’t seem to decide from day to day whether to attack Republicans Steve Poizner and Tom Campbell or go straight after Attorney General Jerry Brown, the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Calbuzz expectation: Once Murphy gets engaged, Whitman is likely to ignore Poizner and Campbell and use his acid touch to go straight after Crusty the General – unless Poizner finally decides to crack open his pocketbook and put up some serious TV and radio designed to take out eMeg before she runs away with the show.

BTW — Here’s some of the official spin on Murphy’s hire, from eMeg Central:

Murphy will work closely with the campaign’s two other senior advisors, Henry Gomez and Jeff Randle. Murphy will also work closely with Jillian Hasner, Whitman’s campaign manager. Hasner, Gomez, Murphy and Randle make up the senior leadership of the campaign.

“Our goal is to win in June and November, so we can start putting California back on track,” said Whitman. “Mike is a trusted friend and someone who brings enormous experience to our campaign. There is no one better at helping Californians understand your message, values and commitment.”

Perhaps. But before he was for eMeg, Murphy was dancing cheek-to-cheek with Poizner. In fact, he laid out a pretty serious approach for the Commish in this memo, (download it as a pdf) passed along to us from Poizner’s campaign.

Asked about the memo by the Sacramento Bee, Murphy said:

“It’s true that around July (of last year) I gave Steve Poizner some free advice about how to set up a campaign. Steve offered me a consulting position on the campaign, and I declined it. I’m fond of all Republicans, but I’ve decided I believe Meg Whitman is the strongest Republican candidate and the candidate the party should nominate in the primary. I look forward to a united Republican party behind Meg Whitman after the primary election.”