If there’s one thing we can’t stand in politics, it’s a display of fake umbrage.
As far as Calbuzz is concerned, pretending to take grievous offense at the not-very-grievous words or actions of a political foe — and doing so with an affected or exaggerated tone of earnestness — ranks right up there with a World Cup competitor grabbing his crotch and screaming in false agony after incidental contact, or an NBA player sprawling on the floor after a little elbow love tap inside the paint.
Therefore, we were seriously underwhelmed when anti-government extremist Jon Coupal, who long ago mastered the low art of faux umbrage fundraising, put on a frightful show of phony moaning and groaning over at Flashreport. In response to Democratic discussions of axing state spending in Republican districts, to get even for the GOP’s hold-our-breath-’til-we-turn-blue stance on the budget, the late Howard Jarvis’s favorite towel boy filed a post called “Capone Would Be Proud.”
Today, two Sacramento politicians have come up with a new approach to the old extortion game. In the updated version of the protection racket, those being extorted aren’t just shopkeepers, but everyday working people and their families, and those selling protection, Senate Pro Tem Darrell “The Enforcer” Steinberg and state Treasurer Bill “Leg Breaker” Lockyer may not be wearing fedoras, but they are nearly as menacing as the old gangsters. The threat? If you don’t make a payoff by agreeing to higher taxes, you will be targeted with the loss of state services.
Coupal’s fainting couch collapse in reaction to the Steinyer (Lockberg?) here’s-your-no-taxes-budget-right-here-pal plan would be hugely laughable if it wasn’t so intellectually dishonest. At a time when he and other right-wing mucky-mucks keep hurling vile threats at Republican lawmakers who show any sign of independence (not to mention rational thought) on the budget, hearing him squeal and wilt like a blushing Victorian virgin at the sight of a little hardball is insufferable.
An oath of silence: Coupal does get one thing right, though: If the Dems are serious about the notion of shorting Republican districts in the budget (which as a practical matter shouldn’t be all that difficult, given the new majority vote rule for approving a spending plan) they really need to put a lot more la cosa nostra into the effort.
That means not only acting with uncharacteristic, it’s-strictly-business ruthlessness (esp. Steinberg, whose concern for the feelings of others often makes him seem like an Esalen hot tub counselor, circa 1969), but also refraining from talking about what it is they’re going to do to the Reps.
Let’s review our recent wet work history: When Tony Soprano whacked Big Pussy Bonpensiero, did he let him know before inviting him onto the Stugots? When Michael Corelone had Sal Tessio taken out, did he call a press conference to announce the traitor had a date with piano wire? When Tuddy Cicero shot Tommy in the face in “Goodfellas,” so his mother couldn’t have an open casket, did he give Henry and Jimmy a heads-up?
No, no and no.
So Bugsy Steiny and Three-Finger Bill: if you want to punish Republicans just do it and stop talking about it. It’s politically safer – and far more fearfully effective — to let Senator Bob “Menopause” Dutton just suddenly discover that Redlands Community College has been zeroed out of the education budget rather than flapping your gums, waving your arms and taking out a damn ad in the Sac Bee to explain what you’re doing.
A lesson in Mafia management: Example: When New York crime boss John Gotti used the ole I-got-a-guy-who-knows-a-guy-who-knows-a-guy technique to whack some other guy, he played it waayyy close to the chest in discussing the matter with Bosco “The Yugo” Randonvich:
GOTTI: Did you take care of that thing?
BOSCO: The thing at the club? Or the thing on 12th?
GOTTI: No, the thing at Rocco’s.
BOSCO: Oh, that thing. Fugetaboutit. It’s done. Just the way you ask.
GOTTI: Remember that pain in my ass I was telling you about? I need it taken care of.
TRAMONTI: No problem Boss. I gotta guy.
GOTTI: What guy?
TRAMONTI: The guy Frankie The Hunch used.
GOTTI: Right, right. Frankie said he was a goodfella. Set it up.
The Senator from Abottabad: In other words, if editorial cartoonists like our Tom Meyer – not to mention political thugs like Coupal — are going to compare you to the bad guys on the “Untouchables,” you might as well do it right.
So if and when a new state budget passes with $13 billion of new cuts in Republican-only districts, this is the only conversation that the Democratic authors of the idea should be having:
LOCKYER: Did you take care of that thing I asked you about?
STEINBERG: What thing? The one thing or that other thing?
LOCKYER: The one thing at the place.
STEINBERG: You talking about the first thing or the second thing?
LOCKYER: What second thing?
STEINBERG: I only know one second thing.
LOCKYER: Did you talk to the guy?
STEINBERG: What guy?
LOCKYER: The guy with the thing!
STEINBERG: What thing?
LOCKYER: What are you talking about?
STEINBERG: How should I know?