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Small Biz Group Attacks Brown in Phony ‘Issues’ Ad

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

The Small Business Action Committee, an advocacy group run by Joel Fox, proprietor of the Fox & Hounds web site, is about to unload a $1.6 million anti-Jerry Brown ad masquerading as an “issue advocacy” ad. That’s the sneaky (unethical but legal) way to take a whack at Brown without having to disclose who the donors are.

An announcer in the ad says:

Two million Californians out of work, and Attorney General Jerry Brown makes it harder to create jobs, saying he has 1,100 attorneys ready to sue over government regulations.  As a forty-year politician, he doesn’t “get” what it takes to create jobs. As governor, he grew spending, turned a surplus into a deficit and left office with 11% unemployment. And Brown’s solution to California’s deficit: more debt, which will kill jobs.  Tell Jerry Brown we need more jobs.

When we first heard about a new ad, we sent an email to Fox asking what was up. His reply was that he was in the Midwest with limited Internet access and that “SBAC is doing issue advocacy.”

That’s BS, and our friend Joel knows it. Brown campaign manager Steve Glazer is right when he told us, “The idea that small businesses have contributed $1.6 million for this ad is ludicrous on its face. The ad is being run with the single-minded purpose of defeating Jerry Brown for governor.”

So who’s financing the ad? We don’t know. Yet. Probably not the same big-money guys who financed SBAC’s actual issue ad.

The SBAC scam is just like the phony baloney issue ad the California Chamber of Commerce tried to pass off as an issue ad a while back. Except that Joel Fox is someone you wouldn’t normally expect to be behind a hide-the-ball maneuver to work as a functionary for Meg Whitman and against Jerry Brown.

In the meantime, said Glazer: “The SBAC is acting as a front group for narrow interests who know that public disclosure would severely taint their message. This is despicable gutter politics and Joel Fox should not be involved in this sleazy activity.”

We’ve asked Joel to tell us who paid for the ad and when he tells us, we’ll tell you.

Meyer Looks at Meg’s Big Bill (With Apologies to Ben)

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

“Silence is not always a sign of wisdom, but babbling is ever a folly,” Ben Franklin once said. Good advice in politics, especially as we watch the race for California governor. Jerry Brown’s Zen-like silence may or may not be an indication of wisdom: we’ll know soon enough. We’ll also know whether voters conclude that the $100 million or so Meg Whitman has spent on TV ads is nothing more than babbling.

Today, Calbuzz Editorial Pen Swordsman Tom Meyer memorably looks at In Meg We Trust.

Was It Something We Said? We now have the official, break-our-hearts turndown from the Whitman campaign. Jerry Brown accepted but eMeg won’t join us, FlashReport and Calitics in a debate. Here’s the break-up letter:

Silver bullet for silver fox? Mega-kudos to Brian Joseph, the OC Register’s man in Sacramento, who’s dug out one helluva’ story about Jerry Brown’s pension or, more precisely, the mystery surrounding Jerry Brown’s pension.

Joseph, who spent weeks trying to get to the bottom of how many actual public dollars Krusty is due for serving, variously, one term as secretary of state, two terms as governor and one term as attorney general, came up with one terrific yarn about a scam called the “Legislators Retirement System” which was so shady it got banned by Proposition 140, the 1990 term limits initiative. Almost, kinda, sort of…

Turns out that a handful of very lucky, past and present state officials are still benefiting from the LRS’s very generous terms including, apparently, one Edmund G. Brown, Jr. Seems that it’s impossible to report the exact terms of Gandolf’s pension because the administrators of the double secret pension fund are sworn to confidentiality about its workings, terms and beneficiaries. Move along, nothing to see here…

Sterling Clifford, Brown’s otherwise talented campaign flack, has been doing a lot of very intensive tap dancing, in a vain effort to deflect Joseph’s multiple and persistent questions about the matter, but his answers to date have been, to put it charitably, unsatisfactory.

Calbuzz sez: This is a very serious issue for Brown, and he needs to quickly, and with great transparency, get all the facts out into the public domain about a) what he’s getting; b) what’s he already got and; c) what’s he due to get in the future from state pension systems. As soon as possible. Also: really, really fast.

Brown has done textbook nice work in making hay about the one-for-the-books City of Bell scandal. With its outrageous details about local government salaries, benefits and tax rip-offs, Bell has become the highest of high-profile symbols of government profligacy, in a year of taxpayer utter disgust with government.

But if Brown doesn’t come clean, and soon, about the terms of his pension, this issue will bite him the ass, big time, for three key reasons:

1-Brown’s recent outrage and self-righteous investigations of the Bell matter are going to turn to dust, of the most hypocritical kind, if it turns out he’s been living large on exactly the same kind of scam as he’s publicly decrying – and probing – in that community.

2-The official secrecy surrounding Brown’s pension belies the narrative he’s pushing about his fundamental integrity and monkish frugality, in contrast to Meg Whitman’s corporate greedhead lavishness, in a way that will rebound to her considerable advantage in what you like to call your Reasonable Man Test.

3-Brown’s so-far brilliant, gravity-defying ability to position himself as the outsider to eMeg’s insider – using political ju-jitsu to use her extraordinary campaign spending to portray her as the de facto incumbent in the governor’s race – will fall to earth and crash.

Should she put a couple million bucks behind ads that assail him as a dissembling, evasive scumbag who, with his pension, is ripping off the public trust he’s proclaiming in public he’s working overtime to protect (not exactly a long shot possibility) Brown will spend the next month trying to explain the pension checks he’s cashed, not to mention the stubs sitting in the top drawer of his bureau.

Somebody – most logically the Orange County Register – should file a Public Records Act request to get all the documents and data pertaining to Brown’s state pension (damn the personnel information exemption). Calbuzz will gladly lend our extraordinary financial resources to assist any such legal effort as a friend of the court.

Ballad for a Friday night after getting dumped by eMeg:

Press Clips: On the Couch with Gibbs, Babs & Beck

Friday, August 13th, 2010

The nit wit attack that White House spokesman Robert Gibbs leveled at the “professional left,” for their grievous sin of criticizing President Obama when they could be raising money to put his face on Mt. Rushmore, set off a classic Beltway food fight and preoccupied the media for several days with insider drivel that holds little interest or importance for what you might call your “Real People.”

The nation’s capitol was transfixed by the drama: Would Gibbs “walk back” his comment? Would he “walk back” his walk back comment? Was he sending a message from the president, or “off the reservation?” Who is a member of the “professional left” and who is not? Rachel Maddow? Jane Hamsher? Brian Leubitz or Robert “The Oracle” Cruickshank? Will Dennis Kucinich mount a presidential primary challenge in 2012? Inquiring minds want to know.

After the two-day inside baseball buzz had passed, however, there were a couple of more substantive questions that remained: Are Gibbs’s problematic comments symptomatic of a much broader problem – namely that the whole White House bunch is in over their heads? And why, exactly, is the president’s mouthpiece lashing out at the “professional left” instead of, you know, the “professional right,” which has spent every minute since he took office trying to ruin his life?

We liked what Cenk Uygur, our favorite Turkish-American progressive blogger, had to say about the White House whiners missing the fundamental reason for the widespread unhappiness among Obama’s erstwhile strongest supporters:

This isn’t about whether Obama is liberal enough. It’s about whether he’s actually going to challenge the system or just be a cog in it. The system is fundamentally corrupt. Our politicians and their staffs are bought by the highest bidder. They then use the government to funnel taxpayer money to the people who bought them. Conservatives are just as angry about that as liberals are.

I guess the president and his staff think they’re clever because they played the same old Washington game a little better. I guess they think they couldn’t have done any better. I guess they think that this is the best they could do given the state of Washington. But that’s the whole point. We didn’t elect them to accept the Washington status quo as reality. We elected them to challenge and ultimately change that reality. And it seems like, on that count, they didn’t even try. That’s what we’re so disappointed by.

Even before the Gibbs outburst, Peter Wehner, writing in Commentary, latched onto another significant meme, namely that the constant whining and weeping from Administration aides about how hard they work, and how no one appreciates them, wah, wah, is a sentiment better shared with their favorite bartender than the nation’s biggest news organizations:

What is striking is the degree of self-pity we find in Obama’s advisers, which is reflected in the president’s words and attitude as well. Team Obama sounds nothing so much as overmatched and overwhelmed, unable to understand what has gone wrong, and increasingly bitter toward the nation’s capital and the pace and nature of politics.

What we are seeing, I think, is a group of supremely arrogant people humbled by events. They are turning out to be a good deal more incompetent than they (and many Americans) ever imagined. They see impending political doom in the form of the midterm elections. Yet this is not leading them toward any apparent serious self-reflection; rather, they are engaging in an extraordinary degree of whining, finger-pointing, and self-indulgence.

Life in the White House is challenging; anyone who has worked there can testify to that. And Washington, D.C., is certainly an imperfect city, as all are. But the impression Team Obama is trying to create — that no group has ever faced more challenges, more difficulties, or more hardships — is silly and somewhat pathetic…

If Obama and his aides don’t see that or anything like that — if they view politics and governing only through a lens tinted by bitterness, frustration, and resentment — then it is time for them to step aside. If not, then they should man up. Self-pity is a terribly unattractive quality.

We second the motion.

From the cutting room floor:

Speaking of knuckleheaded national press narratives: Perhaps they just made up this whole “voters are angrier than ever” thing ?

All you need to know about the prognosis for proponents of gay marriage: Glenn Beck thinks they’re nuts.

Jacob Weisberg does a swell job of getting to the core of what’s so upsetting about Sarah Palin.

We don’t care what the NYT thumbsuckers think, we still want our con-con.

Peter Schrag, our favorite Smart Fella’, digs into the campaign spending reports and comes back with a perceptual scoop – what Marx might call the fundamental contradiction. 

We get letters: Our thoughtful and restrained analysis about Barbara Boxer’s suddenly renewed interest in bipartisanship drew a characteristically civil riposte from Babs handler Rose Kapolczynski, the  only political strategist in California who doesn’t equate winning with trash-talking and spiteful meanspiritedness.

As I read Calbuzz over my cereal bowl this morning, I was shocked that you were shocked to hear Barbara Boxer talking about bipartisanship.   To help you off the fainting couch, I offer the attached list of just a few dozen of Boxer’s bipartisan initiatives.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: They put their pants on the same as us, one leg at a time. Or not.

Senate Sniper: Babs, Carly, Mobsters & Malfeasants

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

The two faces of Babs: Not since the Port Huron Statement was drafted  has there been as big a collection of left-wingers as that which gathered in San Francisco Wednesday to dedicate a train station.

Led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a parade of libs that included, but was not limited to, Barbara Boxer, Willie Brown, Gavin Newsom and George Miller offered a surfeit of mutual encomiums and plaudits on the occasion of the groundbreaking of the new regional Transbay Transit Center, being built in part with federal stimulus funds.

The presence at the festivities of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who is technically, um, a Republican, however, appeared not only to have put a damper on blatant partisan rhetoric, but also to have led to one of the most astonishing, man-bites-dog statements in the history of politics, straight from the maw of the Junior Senator from California, who was heard to say:

Lord knows we need to work across party lines, particularly in times like these.

Lord knows indeed.

Stop the presses, Maude: Barbara Boxer, the original tax loving, tree hugging, nuke hating, latte sipping, Chablis sucking, Marin County peacock feather hot tubbing scourge of oil companies, warmongers and Republicans of every stripe actually endorsed bipartisanship.

Bring on the Calbuzz fainting couch.

But wait: Just when we feared Babs might lose her lifetime senior citizen SDS honorary membership card, we were relieved to receive a copy of the latest e-blast fundraising pitch from her leadership PAC.

On behalf of Dems running in three open Senate seats, Boxer writes:

If we don’t hold on to these three Democratic seats, Republicans will increase their efforts to bring our legislative agenda to a standstill. That means more breaks for big corporations, more roll-backs of environmental protections, and few people fighting for American consumers.

Lord knows.

Just askin’: One of the three worthies that Babs is tin cupping for (the other two are Dick Blumenthal in Connecticut and Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania) is Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois state Treasurer, who’s seeking Barack Obama’s old seat.

Alexi Giannoulias? Really?

At a time when congressional Dems across the nation are trying to out-run the ethical cloud hanging over longtime New York Rep. Charlie Rangel, and when Boxer is already being slapped around by Republican rival Carly Fiorina for her relationship with Rep. Maxine Waters, who’s also facing House ethics charges, does Babs really want to be shaking people down for  Giannoulias, scion of Chicago’s scandal-ridden Broadway Bank?

In her fundraising e-mail, Boxer calls Giannoulias an “excellent progressive candidate” who “is known as a people’s champion.”

Well, but…

In Chicago, Giannoulias is also known as the guy who, as senior loan officer, oversaw $20 million in loans to two convicted mobsters from his family’s bank, which also lent another $22.5 million to now-convicted political fixer Tony Rezko, a few months after Giannoulias left his post.

We’re just sayin’.

On the other hand: The hits just keep comin’ for Hurricane Carly’s fine stewardship of HP. Now she’s been named to the Top 20 “all-time malfeasants” list of business execs who got away with murder outrageous corporate parachutes.

Not Really: Some time around 11 am on Wednesday, Jerry Brown tweeted: “Take a look at this picture of me with the godfather of soul, James Brown: http://bit.ly/bqtFmO.”

Which led to a Flickr page with this shot of Jerry Brown and James Brown and this notation: “The photo was taken 7 hours ago using a Canon MF 4320-4350.” But we don’t think so, since James Brown DIED on Christmas Day in 2006, which would mean Jerry would have been posing with a really live looking mummy which we are not aware of. Memo to Jerry: You look old enough already; don’t pose with dead guys.

Whitmanopoly: HT to Roy Rivenburg, former humor writer for the By God LATimes (who knew they EVER had any humor there?) who has come up with a great new board game: Whitmanopoly, California’s Election Buying Game, which demonstrates a keen nose for the news and eye for the absurd.  All this lifted directly from Roy’s site, notthelatimes.com:

RULES OF PLAY

PREPARATION: Meg Whitman starts the game with $150 million. Jerry Brown gets $20 million and an autographed poster of Linda Ronstadt.

TOKENS: Brown travels around the board with a 1974 Plymouth. Whitman commandeers a wheelbarrow of cash.

SCANDAL: When a player lands on SCANDAL, he or she is caught in an orgy with Lindsay Lohan, Mel Gibson and the city manager of Bell, and is sent to BAD PRESS. Do not pass DOUGH, do not collect campaign donations.

INCOME TAX: If a player lands on this space, he or she must propose a 20% tax hike to erase California’s budget deficit. The player then automatically loses the election and the game is over. The same thing happens when a player lands on BUDGET AX and proposes drastic cuts to popular programs.

BORDER SECURITY: When a player lands here, he must take a stand on illegal immigration, inevitably alienating a large bloc of voters and losing one turn. Exception: Whitman may take both sides on the issue, one in her English TV ads and another in Spanish-language spots.

BUYING VOTES: Instead of houses and hotels, players who land on a community buy radio and TV ads, skywriting messages and attack mailers. Or they can hire Leonardo DiCaprio to plant ballot instructions in voters’ minds. If both players land on the same space, a televised debate is held. However, the candidates must speak only in vague generalities and discuss inconsequential issues such as who should replace Ellen on “American Idol” and whether Comic-Con should move from San Diego to Anaheim.

DOUGH: Each time a player’s token passes DOUGH, he or she receives new campaign donations. Whitman writes herself a check for any amount. Brown holds a Hollywood fundraiser (costing him one turn), or instantly collects $1 million by kowtowing to public-employee unions.

There’s so much more at Roy’s site.

eMeg’s Secret Diary: Muffy and Bryce Come to Dinner

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Thanks to sources close to our imagination, Calbuzz brings you some purloined excerpts from Meg Whitman’s secret campaign diary.

Wednesday

Dear Diary,

So Muffy and Bryce came by last night for drinks and stayed for dinner, and they were absolutely mesmerized when I told them about my plan to create jobs, fix the schools and cut government spending.

Griff insisted we play charades, so I shoved him and smacked him around a little, but I have to admit he was very amusing when his turn came. His category was “books,” and he pantomimed performing neurosurgery on Arnold. The answer, of course, was “The Governor’s Brain is Missing.” Tres drole!

As I told Muffy, it was a real relief to spend a few hours away from all that campaign dreariness, especially those loathsome reporters and those sweltering people in Barstow and Indio and Weed, all of them snorting and hocking at their own jokes about how I should put their trailers and chain saws and snow machines up for sale on eBay, ha, ha, ha.

I had  Conchita whip up a quick cote de porc rotie, which was tasty, but the crostini for the soupe aux oignons were unspeakably soggy. So I had to box her ears a little. I simply refuse to let her fail.

Oh dear, someone’s tapping at the study door. Qui est la?

Later: So that was Henry, who’d completely failed at a very simple assignment I’d given him. I’d asked him to buy us at least one TV station in each major market, so we could stop paying retail for all this advertising. Instead he came back with some dithering excuse about the FCC or something.

So here’s what I thought about that: I had to chew him out, and then I gave him a couple of good swift Ferragamos to the shins and reminded him that I forbade him to fail.

Then I pushed him out the door, and told him to get back to it before I started eyeballing his expense sheets and he ended up like that poor Mark Hurd, with barely a penny to his name. Off he went.

Before I could get back to you, diary, it was the cell phone next (bless Sarah, the little minx, for finding that “God Save the Queen” ring tone – quelle amusant!). It was Murphy calling.

Of course he wanted to come over and talk about his script again. So I had to explain once more how focus is so important. So what I thought was, I’d tell him I’d like very much for him to give the movie project a rest and instead focus on getting me over 40 points some time before 2016, if it wasn’t too  much trouble.

But he insisted it was important to see me and before I could say no, I noticed that someone had emailed a photo. When I paused to open it, he rang off before I could stop him (reminder: tell him again to keep his shirt tucked in, or else I’ll have to shove him down the stairs).

I was so pleased to see the photo was from the boys. A mother’s biased, of course, but I must say they both look quite dashing in those orange fluorescent vests.

Now what is that commotion outside my window?

Later: Murphy’s come and gone – he wanted to know if I thought we should get Dennis Franz or Ned Beatty to play him in the movie (I suggested Danny DeVito – and thank you for asking).

In the meantime, those appalling nurses showed up on the south lawn again, parading around and beating their drums and doing their chants. All so tiresome. Although the crown on the Queen Meg person does look rather fetching, but that red velvet cape with the faux ermine will never do.

So I decided I’d have Lupe fetch a big pot of boiling oil which I thought I’d  pour down on those awful women, but as soon as I’d pushed her out of the way to lean out the window, Tucker came running in, insisting I couldn’t do that because the reporters might ask questions.

So I gave him a belt in the mouth, but then decided he might be right. So I just tossed a couple of paper weights and tennis racquets and that snow globe that plays “You are the wind beneath my wings” that Mitt gave me, and a candelabra or two down on them and that sent them scurrying off.

Oh dear, it’s past time to head for the Navigator and go meet (ugh) more  voters. Such a chore, though I’m certain they’ll be pleased to hear my plan for creating jobs, improving schools and cutting government spending.

More later, diary!

(Editor’s note: Monty Python scene a random bonus non sequitur.)