Meg Sics Bubba on Jerry (Ouch!); Carly Sniffin’ Koch


The new Meg Whitman TV ad featuring Bill Clinton attacking Jerry Brown in one of their 1992 presidential campaign debates is compelling stuff that – whether it’s accurate or not —  could have a powerful impact on whether independents and younger voters see Brown as honest.

You have to consider the source, of course. The charge is made by President Bubba who looked America in the eye and said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” But even if he’s a proven liar, Clinton remains popular with a lot of Californians.

So using Clinton as a third-party validator is killer effective. And the fact is Brown didn’t do a great job of refuting Clinton’s charges during that 1992 debate, though the evidence suggests that the CNN report Clinton cited was off the mark and that, in fact, Brown lowered taxes when he was governor exclusive of the effects of Proposition 13.

Whitman’s (and Clinton’s) evidence is a report by CNN’s Brooks Jackson; Brown’s claim that taxes were cut by about $16 billion during his tenure (not counting Prop. 13) cites the 1981 Economic Report of the Governor from the California Department of Finance.

But this is a political knife fight, not a dinner party. And the Clinton ad is a sharp stab in Brown’s throat. We have already decried the Death of Truth and no one should expect Mike Murphy and his Army of eMeggers to pay much attention to niggling details. That’s not what he’s getting paid $90,000 a month for.

The Brown camp’s response is simple: “The CNN report was wrong when Bill Clinton cited it and it’s wrong now. The tax burden was lower when Jerry Brown left office than it was before he took office, not counting Proposition 13,” said Brown flack Sterling Clifford.

Weak sauce. Better they should get Clinton to cut an ad supporting Brown and talking about how democracy would be ill served by electing someone who used her position in a major corporation to score IPOs that she flipped for a huge profit – before the practice became illegal.

But don’t hold your breath.

Carly all Koch-ed up: Hurricane Carly Fiorina is the latest conservative beneficiary of the political largesse of David and Charles Koch, the low-profile oil and gas magnates who are among the richest men in America – and who have quietly contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the activities of the Tea Party and other right-wing and libertarian organizations.

Koch (pronounced “coke”) Industries PAC is among the major sponsors of a fundraiser the National Republican Senatorial Committee is tossing for Fiorina in Washington on September 23 to boost her campaign against incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer in a race that may prove decisive in the battle for control of the Senate.

In California, the Kochs also have become active in the campaign to pass Proposition 23, which would suspend the state’s greenhouse gas emissions law. A subsidiary of their company contributed $1 million to the Prop. 23 effort last week , on the same day that Fiorina announced she also was supporting the initiative.

The Kochs own the second-largest privately held company in the nation. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are the only Americans worth more than the brothers’ combined fortune of $35 billion, according to “Covert Operations – the billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama,” Jane Mayer’s superb 10,000-word investigation of them published in the August 30 issue of the New Yorker.

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States.

And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

The previously minmially-reported political influence activities of the Kochs have drawn considerably more attention since Mayer’s expose. Dan Morain reported in his SacBee column this week, for example, how their money  played a huge role in passing California’s 1990 term limits law, and also underwrote an initiative effort to get voters to approve education vouchers in the state.

One of their latest projects is Americans for Prosperity, a group that has helped fund the tea party movement nationally, and has pushed candidates to sign a “No climate tax pledge.”

Several California Republicans have signed the pledges, including Rep. Wally Herger of Chico, Rep. Tom McClintock of Elk Grove, state Sen. Jess Denham, seeking a congressional seat from Merced, and Doug LaMalfa, a candidate for the California state Senate from Richvale.

Should make for some interesting exchanges when  Fiorina and Boxer meet for their just-scheduled second debate on September 29.

At that event, Calbuzz dearly hopes that Fiorina seizes the opportunity to connect her critique of Boxer’s views on the economy with the mental state of Marcus Stanley, Babs’ former “senior economic adviser,” whom she swiftly fired this week after he was busted bringing weed into the Capitol.

As one prominent Carly backer put it: “Republicans are always saying you’d have to be smoking something to think the stimulus was a success and it turns out, we were right: Her economic adviser was!”

Politico has a round up of lame Boxer pot jokes – “It does stunt your growth and clearly something made her 4 feet tall” – here.

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There are 3 comments for this post

  1. avatar patwater says:

    Isn’t this new Whitman ad a huge liability? I realize Clinton endorsed Newsom, but I find it hard to imagine that Clinton would stay silent on this. Party solidarity and the HUGE opportunity this creates should necessitate some sort of comment. I mean the rhetoric practically writes itself:

    (Clinton) “Look Meg Whitman wants to play games and paper of the truth with her millions of dollars. That’s her right, it’s her money. But it is decidedly NOT her right to take what I’ve said out of context and put words in my mouth. Jerry Brown is the best candidate for governor of California right now, and his record reflects that.”

    This will require some substantial rhetorical calisthenics (he actually was attacking Brown’s record), but I’m confident Slick Willys up to it. Faced with a choice between another Whitman attack ad and a very popular former president, my bet is that the people believe the man from Hope.

  2. avatar Divebomber says:

    There’s no such thing as a political ad that is not a potential liability. Everything that is said or done in a political campaign can be spun by crafty wordsmiths or true-believers (i.e. the recent Calbuzz article about Ms. Whitman complaining about the excessive building regulations in Sunnyvale when she really meant San Jose.) In reality, most people would expect Clinton to try and come to his Dem brother’s defense. The scenario you’ve written is precisely how he would be expected to do it. However, it’s no secret that Clinton and Brown don’t like each other. In fact, if Clinton does nothing, it really becomes a positive endorsement of Whitman’s ad. And if he respond as you suggest, Ms. Whitman’s team could counter that it is just another “flip-flop” from a “party that is clueless and in disarray.” And on and on… All the time missing what is important – the economic future of this state and the plan to keep us from the brink – with more government spending or with less.

    As viewed by a prospective voter, one has to ignore the ads from all sides and look strictly at the actions (not words) of the candidate. Have they supported principles that you think should be represented in the top offices of our government? What issues will they compromise on and which ones will they hold fast on? Do those issues align with yours?

    I tend to give less credence to the “they’ve never been in government” argument. Anyone who has run a large business or corporation has been in government. Same personality issues, different toolbox. (I’ve lived in both neighborhoods- I have the scars to prove it.) Does that mean they won’t make mistakes? No… they will. But they will also have expectations that won’t necessarily have been tainted by years as a bureaucrat.

    At the same time, experience in the upper levels of government is a good thing, too. It tends to bring a more realistic view of what can and can’t be accomplished in the mired bureaucracy of redundant agencies and big money interests. In a lot of ways, that’s where our last two Governors failed. Both had unrealistic expectations of what could be accomplished given the state’s circumstances.

    So again, it really comes back to the second paragraph. How well does the candidate reflect your belief of how the government should be run? You’ll beliefs and opinions will never match a particular candidate’s point-by-point. And almost every election is summarized by the cynical as “the best choice of two bad candidates”. However, unless you’re willing to throw your hat in the ring and run yourself, you’re going to have to make a decision between two “bad options”. In the case of all of these elections, you have the record of their actions. With Ms. Whitman and Ms. Fiorina, you have their business record, which directly reflects their decisions and leadership. With Mr. Brown and Ms. Boxer, you have their voting record, which also reflects their decisions and leadership.

    So ignore the hype and trash-talk, even when it spills out of the Calbuzzards. Chose the candidate that best fits your belief of how the state should be run, and remember – your vote counts just as much as the drugged-out hippy that ACORN dragged into a van, signed him up on a pre-dated voter registration card as “Mouse, Mickey”, and took to the polls that morning equipped with a sheet of “recommended candidates”.

    Oopps… sorry. I became a CalBuzzard for a moment there…

    • avatar patwater says:

      I appreciate the perspective, but I think you’re discounting a third possibility: reject this pointless charade that refuses to address the real structural issues that are driving California over a cliff and energize the people to take back their government (and the fate of the California Dream) by calling a constitutional convention. At least, that’s my stand: http://www.patrickatwater.com/2010/09/my-purpose-here.html

      Also, for the record, I take a General Lee-like line on politics: “It’s good that it’s so terrible lest we would become too fond of it.” All this rhetoric and posturing and horse race commentary (see me above) is a fun parlor game but ultimately nonsense. Policy–the substance of what actually affects society–is the only thing that I actually care about.

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