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Lingerie to Lite Gov: Top 10 Quotes of the Week

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

From the Saints’ Superbowl win to the smash mouth campaigns for governor and Senate and the Assembly’s goal line stand against Abel Maldonado’s nomination for lite gov, it was a week of thrills and spills in spectator sports of all kinds. Here’s a look at the most memorable things anyone said about what happened.

We’re going to take a hiatus on this issue.
- Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council, pulling the plug on the group’s planned initiative to convene a state constitutional convention, because of a lack of money.

It would mean a great deal to Bikram if, in lieu of giving him a birthday gift,that you instead make a donation to Jerry Brown’s 2010 Exploratory Committee for Governor of the State of California.
–Invitation for a birthday celebration tonight from multi-millionaire yoga mogul Bikram Choudury, creator of Bikram Yoga, in which practitioners – including California’s Attorney General – perform a series of poses in a room heated to 105 degrees.

It’s just incredible. The Legislature is broken. It’s chaos.
Sen. Abel Maldonado, discovering news that stays news, one day after the Assembly, more or less, rejected Gov. Schwarzmuscle’s nomination of him as lieutenant governor.

It is now very clear that the entire Republican Party must unite behind Meg’s campaign. We have an outstanding party standard bearer. Since last summer, Meg has led among GOP voters in every independent poll by enormous margins, and those same polls show that she is the strongest Republican candidate against Jerry Brown.
Former Governor and Meg Whitman campaign chairman Pete Wilson, attempting to cancel the June 7 primary, and forgetting the oldest cliches in politics:  “The only poll that matters is the one on election day.”

I’ll pay you with a pair of autographed panties.
Angelyne, famous-for-being famous L.A. billboard model and newbie candidate for governor, thanking Chronicler Joe Garafoli for explaining the meaning of the word “secession” to her.

What did Tom Campbell know and when did he know it?
Julie Soderlund, campaign manager for Carly Fiorina, getting waaayyy carried away with an unconfirmed report that rival Campbell cut a sleazy deal with Whitman to switch from the campaign for governor to Senate.

Just one thing – what’s NASCAR?
Calbuzzer Cicero, channeling Steve Poizner after our memo recommending The Commish go down-scale blue collar in his bid for the Republican nomination for governor.

Before last night, I never really understood how horrible and unfair it must be to be a man. Having a job. Dressing oneself and taking out the recycling. Practicing basic human hygiene. A devastating existence made more trying by the presence of a demanding, overbearing woman. You might even have to carry her lip balm. The horror.
–Huffpost bloggers Jehmu Greene and Shelby Knox bemoaning a series of anti-feminist Superbowl ads featuring henpecked husbands.

Change out of that skirt, Jason.
–Sportscaster Jim Nantz, narrating a Superbowl Ad in which a guy goes lingerie shopping with his girlfriend instead of watching the game.

We were very impressed with the job her hand did at the Tea Party Convention.  And we said to ourselves, let’s give Sarah Palin’s hand a job.
–Fox News Chief Roger Ailes, as channeled by Andy Borowitz, extending a job offer to the former Republican vice-presidential nominee after she used her left palm as a cheat sheet before a live interview.

Costco Carla & Lady Gaga Meet PiWi & The Flash

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Knockdown of the Week: A big alleged story in the governor’s race bounding across the blogosphere this week had Meg Whitman pulling  behind-the-scenes strings that supposedly yanked Tom Campbell out of the governor’s race and into the Republican Senate primary campaign.

But while certain members of the pajama-clad, tin-foil hat brigade spun dark conspiracy theories, Chronicler Carla Marinucci did a bit of what you might call your old-fashioned shoe leather reporting: yes, she actually called Campbell on the telephone and asked him about it.

At which point, not only did Dudley Do Right categorically deny the purported story, but also his campaign put out a statement from super-Sacto consultant Bob White, a key, unindicted co-conspirator in the alleged Whitman plot, which dumped several hundred more gallons of ice water on the paranoiac yarn.

Costco Carla’s knockdown left Julie Soderlund, campaign manager for Carly Fiorina, Campbell’s leading GOP rival, looking silly. Soderlund earlier sent out a heavy breathing e-blast trying to advance the uncorroborated blog report that portrayed Campbell as doing everything but lurking around Dealey Plaza with an open umbrella:

What did Tom Campbell know and when did he know it?
What conversations did he have with the Whitman campaign/Whitman’s supporters?
Was there some sort of quid pro quo in this situation?
And, last but certainly not least, what was he promised for jumping out of the Governor’s race?

Puh-leeze. Putting aside the fact that California voters have zero interest in this  inside baseball narrative, rushing out with a bunch of unsubstantiated, stop-the-presses innuendo simply reinforces the widening perception of Demon Sheep Carly as a flake, especially coming on the same day she dug herself a nice big hole on the issue of California declaring bankruptcy, which required emergency clarification spin from the campaign.

Steve Poizner’s campaign looked only slightly less foolish, in also rushing to judgment on the Col. Mustard-with-the-candlestick-in-the-conservatory story line.  Memo to Commish: You got your 15 minutes attacking eMeg over the now-infamous Mike Murphy email so give this line of attack a rest, man.

He calls ‘em as he seez ‘em and he always call ‘em Right: This week’s Nestor Chylak Award for first-rate umpiring goes to Jon “The Flash” Fleischman for his on-the-money essay calling on all the candidates for governor and Senate — he names no names, Meg Whitman — to debate at the upcoming Republican state convention:

This election cycle we have candidates running for major statewide offices that have no history in politics – and therefore no specific way to judge exactly what they will do…

If you are a major candidate for the GOP nomination for Governor, and you’ve not yet agreed to participate in a debate at the Republican convention, the time to do so is now.  Show your support of, and respect for hard-working GOP volunteers (not to mention the other 39 million people in California -ed.) by appearing before them with your sleeves rolled up, ready to take whatever questions should be posited [at] the event.

All this, and he used the word “posited” in a sentence, too. Calbuzz sez check it out.

Virtual Steve vs. Virtual Meg: Just can’t wait to see eMeg and The Commish go nose-to-nose over who hates the Delta smelt more? Calbuzz Online Video Political Cartoon Consultant Don Ringe previews the GOP smackdown here. Spoiler alert: Watch for eMeg’s sucker punch at the end.

If he agrees with Calbuzz, he must be right: Former state controller and Democratic big stick Steve Westly, an eMeg eBay colleague in a past life, argues at Green Tech Media that the Great Woman’s rabid opposition to the AB32 greenhouse gas legislation is not only bad policy but bad politics as well. Whitman’s promise to suspend AB32 on her first day in office, according to the erstwhile Democratic contender for governor:

…would be a stunning step in the wrong direction. Most of the people I know throughout Silicon Valley realize that to be a colossal mistake. This is the highest growth job segment. This state’s job engine for the future is in clean technology. It is one of the key reasons you will see a Democratic governor in 2010.

As we’ve noted previously, her Smokestack Meg play may play well in a Republican primary, but it’s a loser as a general election strategy.

Oh, wait, we’re already in the general election campaign, according to Whitman campaign chairman Pete “PiWi” Wilson, who claims in a this-just-in eMeg eblast:

Jerry Brown and his allies are beginning the General Election today. We must respond…It is now very clear that the entire Republican Party must unite behind Meg’s campaign. We have an outstanding party standard bearer. Since last summer, Meg has led among GOP voters in every independent poll by enormous margins, and those same polls show that she is the strongest Republican candidate against Jerry Brown.

We must unite. Meg and our campaign team are beginning the General Election today, and we are not wasting time.

Geez, who’s gonna tell Poizner? I know, let’s get Murphy to do it!

Life in imitation of art: Loyal Calbuzzers will recall that not long ago, we offered a learned discourse on the theory of political reporting known as Dull But Important, with a glimpse at the fictional magazine of the genre known as “DBI.” Imagine our surprise to learn that the eggheads and chrome domes at UC Bezerkely have broken the frame and are actually producing DBI for real.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Lady Gaga – she’s just like you and me.


New Secret Offshore Deal, AB32 Rollback Brawl

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

In the latest twist in the Tranquillon Ridge saga, Calbuzz has learned that PXP oil company and its environmental allies have submitted a new proposed agreement to the State Lands Commission aimed at authorizing expanded drilling off the coast of Santa Barbara.

Our efforts to learn how the new proposal differs from an earlier version, which the commission rejected last year, were unsuccessful, however, because neither the parties nor the commission would release a copy, saying the document is a draft, and the deal is still under review. (Our all-you-need-to-know primer on T-Ridge is here).

“We signed a confidentiality agreement,” Paul Thayer, Executive Officer of the Lands Commission, told us. “They want to get our reaction to it. It’s being reviewed at a staff level, and we’ve also asked the (Attorney General’s) office to look at it.”

The previous PXP-EDC agreement, reached in 2008, was kept secret until Calbuzz obtained a copy and published the document. At a time when controversy is still simmering over elements of the first agreement, key opponents of the project are unhappy with the news that an amended version of the proposed deal is, at least for now, being kept confidential.

“I’m disappointed that PXP and EDC are going down the same failed road,” said Democratic Assemblyman Pedro Nava, whose district adjoins the proposed new drilling. “Whatever the new agreement says, apparently both PXP and EDC believe it can’t stand public scrutiny and so they are hiding it.”

“PXP likes to claim some kind of oil company executive privilege,” he added.

As a political matter, the secrecy of the first agreement played a key role, both in its defeat before the commission, and in the widespread opposition to the T-Ridge deal generated among other environmental groups.

When Calbuzz disclosed the text of that agreement, representatives of both PXP and the Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center told us they were working on a second version, aimed at addressing various concerns that commissioners expressed in voting against the plan last year. Both organizations said that the amended agreement would be made public.

“No, it is not final yet,” Linda Krop, chief counsel for the EDC, emailed us when we asked for a copy of the new agreement.

“We have nothing to hide,” said Scott Winters, a spokesman for PXP. “Once the agreement is final, we will release to the public.”

“Substantial amendments have been added to clarify the enforceability concerns raised by the State Lands Commission (SLC) staff and members of the environmental community,” Winters added in email responses to our questions.

Thayer said the Commission’s review of the proposal was conditioned on keeping its contents confidential.

Nava said the Commission’s willingness to enter into a confidentiality agreement with an applicant “certainly piques my interest.”

“I’ll be inquiring into the terms and conditions under which (SLC) entered into such an agreement.”

Weed whacker alert: PXP’s Winters said that release of the new agreement depended entirely on when the lands commission scheduled another hearing on the project.

“As of right now, the SLC has not calendared this matter for a re-hearing. PXP’s hope is that the SLC will move expeditiously to hold a re-hearing,” he said. “The sooner the SLC schedules a hearing, the sooner the public will have another chance to consider the benefits offered by the project to discuss whether approval is in fact in the best interest of the state.”

We asked Thayer when PXP might get a new hearing in front of the commission. He said it depended on whether they filed a new application for the project, or requested a rehearing on their previous application. A new application would require staff to review it within 30 days, and commissioners to act in 180 or fewer days, he said. But PXP has asked for a faster method to gain approval, such as a rehearing. “We’ve never done one,” Thayer said, adding that the staff is investigating the possibility of such a procedure.

Jerry Blasted on AB32: The folks behind the movement to suspend AB32, California’s historic climate-change legislation, are furious at Attorney General Jerry Brown for the ballot title he has assigned to what they were hoping to sell as the “California Jobs Initiative.”

Crusty’s title:

Suspends air pollution control laws requiring major polluters to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming until unemployment drops below specified level for full year.

(Which is a little like titling the initiative to legalize marijuana as follows: Ushers in an era of human kindness and peace on earth through availability of non-toxic and eco-friendly natural substances).

The anti-AB32 initiative is backed by Assemblyman Dan Logue of Chico and U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock,  Ted Costa and others who argue the legislation is a job killer – as Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner also contend.

Score round one for Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs, who has hired our old pal Steve Maviglio to manage the opposition.

As a political matter, Brown has hardly been neutral about AB32. In fact, when he was on KGO Radio last week he referred to people opposing the measure as “Neanderthals . . . who want to turn the clock backwards.”

Here’s the dilemma for business interests who’d like to chip in to kill AB32:

1) this is likely the only legacy achievement Gov. Schwarzmuscle has going for him and he’s not going to be happy with people who try to kill it and 2) with a ballot summary like that, who’s going to vote to give a break to “major polluters”?

You never know. Maybe eMeg or the Commish will toss in a few million to the effort and campaign for it. Of course, we think it will backfire in a general election, but hey, stranger things have happened in California politics.

GOP ratfuck update: As close readers will recall, an online firefight broke out last December between Chip Hanlon, proprietor of the Red County web sites, and Aaron Park (formerly known as Sgt. York),  who was one of his bloggers. When Hanlon fired Park/York for secretly being on Steve Poizner’s payroll, we gave Hanlon a hat tip for “canning Sgt. York and disclosing the matter to his readers.”

Given what we knew then, it made sense to note that, “At a time when ethical blogging is too often an oxymoron, it’s nice to see somebody step up to defend his credibility.”

Since then, we’ve learned more, which colors our HT just a bit: It seems that buried deep in eMeg’s campaign finance report is a $20,000 disbursement to Green Faucet LLC, which is an investment firm owned by Chip Hanlon and also the parent company of his Red County web sites. The payment was made about a week after Hanlon fired Park, the erstwhile, paid Poizner sock puppet.

Hanlon tells us this was a straight-up business exchange: eMeg bought advertising on his web sites. And sure enough, her ads are there. But we spoke with another advertiser on Red County who’s paying about $300 a month – closer to the going rate for small political sites – for equivalent exposure on Red County sites. Which suggests the $20K from eMeg could be a big, fat subsidy to Hanlon – not much different than the $2,500 a month Park was getting from Poizner (and which, he says, eMeg’s people tried to match).

All of which raises questions about the use of web site commentary by MSM media, like when the Mercury News recently called on Matt Cunningham, a featured Red County blogger, to comment on Poizner’s charge that eMeg’s consultant had tried to bribe him out of the governor’s race. If you really want to get into the internecine Orange County GOP rat-fucking, you can catch up to the action here and here and here.

(Memo to eMeg Marketing Dept: Our New York-based, commission-paid advertising staff would be well pleased to get $20K for ads on Calbuzz. Hell, they’d even take $300 a month like Poizner is paying for his ad on the page. Plenty of free parking.)

How Kavanagh Makes the R&T Daily Miracle Happen

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Rough & Tumble recorded its first hit at 1:08 p.m. on the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2002*. Since then, it’s racked up more than 35 million page views and today is the first internets stop of the morning for your Calbuzzers, along with the other 1,998 people who incessantly gossip with each other about state politics. The single most essential news source for California political junkies, it’s the brain child of 30-year veteran, Emmy-winning, political reporter and online seer Jack Kavanagh. With so many people taking R&T for granted, we thought we’d interrupt Jack’s weird sleep schedule to find out how his work actually gets done.

Calbuzz: What’s the mission of Rough & Tumble?
Jack Kavanagh: The mission is to save readers time with a one stop, free, snapshot of California public policy and politics. It must be balanced so all will feel welcome.

CB:Describe the process of how you put together the daily report.
JK: I cruise about 25 sites in California, Washington and New York and create links to important stories from reliable sources. The internet is a sewer bubbling with viruses and misinformation; you need a guide.

CB: It sounds pretty grueling to put it together seven days a week, with updates throughout – when do you sleep?
JK: The bulk of the site goes together between 10:00 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. at which time I slip quietly into a sleep-deprivation induced coma. My wonderful wife gently pours hot French Roast coffee into me later in the day and I crawl out of said coma… and update the site.

CB: What’s your traffic like?
JK: Rough & Tumble readers generate about 400,000 page views (for advertisers that means 400,000 impressions) a month. Traffic is event-driven; as news breaks, traffic spikes. The peak was 34,000 page views on the day Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he was running for Governor.

CB: You seem to be pretty healthy with ads — do you think it’s possible for web sites to be self-sustaining with an advertising business model?
JK: Rough & Tumble is not about making money on the internet, it’s about giving readers the information they need. This is the information business. Give readers the information they need, and readers will find you. Advertisers will also find you.

Look at the Wall Street Journal. It knows its readers’ needs intimately and works that relationship daily. Readers pay about $150 a year for the privilege. The online Wall Street Journal is a profit center for Rupert Murdoch.

CB:What’s the biggest difference you see between print and online reporting? Do you favor print, or is there just more of it out there?
JK: There is no difference. Lazy reporting in print is lazy reporting online. Brilliant reporting in print is brilliant reporting online.

The reporting — the story telling — in the Voice of San Diego is stunning. And it’s online only. The investigative reporting by California Watch is major-league. It originates on the internet and is picked up by most major print outlets. Politico reporting is first rate. And it’s online only.

Snarky writing online is often entertaining but no different that snarky writing in print.  My sense is that readers like to be entertained, but they want to be informed first.

As newspapers closed their Sacramento bureaus, I noticed that they continued to follow the same stories and issues, they just did it locally.

Enterprise, balance, clarity and good storytelling don’t change whether the platform is print, the internet or the mobile phone.

CB: What did we forget to ask?

JK: What about pay walls?

Look for them to return soon. The Wall Street Journal thrives behind one. The Stockton Record is now behind a paywall. The Bay Area News Group (BANG) has a plan for a pay wall. The New York Times has a plan. Pay walls have been tried before and dropped at the San Jose Mercury and at Capitol Alert.

I have no idea whether pay walls will work this time. Pay walls may open up an opportunity to attract readers and advertisers to new alternative news producers on the internet.

Not every publication has the reputation — the brand — of the Wall Street Journal or The New York Times. Many subscribers of print publications have dropped their subscriptions, maybe because they did not feel the information they received was worth the cost of the subscription.

Some of those same folks will probably be standing in line to pay $500+ for an Ipad.. and use it to read…Calbuzz!

* At least that’s when Jack started using Webstat to keep track of his online traffic. He actually began his site sometime in 1995, when he was still at KOVR-TV. It was “an effort on my part to expose young, newly-arrived-in-California news producers in the KOVR newsroom to the broad scope of public policy issues in California along with the depth of reporting on those issues,” Jack recalls. “That effort failed.”

Palin Channels DiFi, Meyer Takes on Boss eMeg

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

When Sarah Palin wrote a cheat sheet for an interview on her hand, liberal pundits gleefully bashed her. But only Calbuzz* will tell you that the ex-Republican veep candidate in doing so was simply following in the, uh, footsteps of California senior Senator Dianne Feinstein.

From Arianna Huffington to Andrea Mitchell, lefty pundits pounced on Palin, after photos showed that she’d scribbled brief talking points on her palm – “energy, budget tax cuts,  lift American spirits” – before sitting for questions during last weekend’s big Tea Party convention. It’s notable, of course, that the words are among her most important, fundamental principles and so, presumably, might not need to be written on her palm. If she had fundamental principles.

But DiFi pulled exactly the same stunt two decades earlier, during a crucial debate when she unsuccessfully ran for governor against Pete Wilson in 1990. Your Calbuzzers, armed with Trash 80s and cell phones the size of sneakers, were on hand in Studio City to cover the big event, the rivals’ one-and-only face-to-face meeting of the campaign.

Wilson stole the headlines that night, by endorsing the Prop. 140 term limits initiative during the debate, but DiFi won the News of the Weird contest hands-down. Nervous before the statewide televised event, she had scrawled three words – “growth, education, choice” – on her palm in blue marker, to remind her of the basic policy themes she wanted to sound.

Since she’d been bloviating about these exact issues for months, her action raised questions about her memory, if not the depth of her commitment to her own agenda.

The goofy move also technically violated a debate ground rule, on which the campaigns had agreed, against bringing notes to the podium. When a reporter challenged her about it after the debate –- fuzzy memory tells us it was Gerry Braun of the San Diego UT — Feinstein immediately hid her hand behind her back, said, “I’m not going to show you” and quickly walked away.

Her bizarre reaction only fed the story for several days; an L.A. TV station showed blow-up pictures of her scrawled hand, while the Wilson campaign even paid for a computer-enhanced picture that they circulated to the press corps. Although not quite a Demon Sheep, it was a downright silly issue, yet it helped Team Wilson fuel the notion among voters that DiFi -– the first woman in state history to win a major party nomination for governor –- was at the time too much of an unknown to trust in the job.

In Palin’s case, the revelation about the handwriting on her hand simply adds to her well-earned reputation as a ditzy flake, not to mention something of a hypocrite: in her address preceding the interview, Palin criticized President Obama for using a teleprompter in his speeches.

* We did find that a reader named Jeff Boulier wrote into Althouse.com with a citation from the Washington Times, Oct. 15, 1990, re: DiFi’s palm reading.

Afterthought 8:30 am: The “excuse” that Obama and others use a teleprompter is bogus. This was an interview, not a speech. Had Palin come out with notes, nobody would have cared. But she wanted to have her talking points and looks like she didn’t need them. The issue is deception. Nobody likes a phony.

PS: For a great take on the whole hand-job debacle, see Colbert:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does Boss eMeg have to hide? In the best tradition of Thomas Nast skewering Boss Tweed Tom Meyer today offers his unique take on the behind-the-scenes effort by Meg Whitman’s campaign to use the size of her wallet to force Steve Poizner out of the Republican race for governor.

Which reminds us: eMeg’s refusal to debate The Commish at the upcoming Republican state convention is beyond outrage.

We understand that Whitman has major control freak issues that make DiFi look like Wavy Gravy, but re-writing the playbook for campaigning is one thing, trying to re-write the rule book for presenting your credentials to voters is quite another.

Whitman’s shoddy press conference performance in her one and only in her last major press conference, at the last Republican convention, is certainly cause for concern among her handlers and supporters. But what the hell is she going to do if she gets elected – show up before the press dressed as Amaterasu Omikami and demand the reporters all bow down before her? She’s running for governor of California, not Dear Leader of North Korea, fercrineoutloud, and it’s long past time for her to come out of the bubble and let the hoi polloi find out who the hell she is.

Before someone starts raising the question: What does Meg Whitman have to hide?

Must read: Edward Luce, writing in the Financial Times, offers a smart perceptual scoop that suggests one big reason for Obama’s shaky performance in his first year: his inner circle doesn’t extend beyond a quartet of political hacks from Chicago…For the record: The Alameda County district attorney has concluded that AG Jerry Brown’s office broke no laws in its secret taping of interviews with reporters. As a political matter, it still was felony stupid…Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Do you want ammunition with that vente blended half-caf caramel macchiato?