Archive for 2011

Occupy Thanksgiving

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Recovering today from an over- dose of tryptophan, it oc- curred to us that it wouldn’t hurt the Occupy Wall Street folks — who still need some principles of unity, an agenda and a leadership structure — to take note of the Mayflower Compact  from 1620 (modernized a bit here) as a lesson in how to begin to bring order from chaos.

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

Just sayin’.

Calbuzz Consultanate: No Serious GOP Threat to DiFi

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Dianne Feinstein’s biggest challenge next year won’t come from a serious Republican opponent – it’ll be replenishing her war chest after it was plundered by Kinde Durkee, her longtime campaign treasurer who is suspected of looting as much as $5 million from the senior senator’s coffers.

That’s the overwhelming consensus of the Calbuzz Advisory Board of the World’s Leading Authorities on Practically Everything — a panel of the most staggeringly brilliant and experienced political consultants and strategists in California — after we asked: Who will be Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s chief Republican challenger in 2012?

That person honestly doesn’t exist,” said one GOP member of the prestigious Calbuzz California Consultanate.  “Our bench doesn’t even have a bench. But whoever figures out that DiFi is almost certain to under-perform next year could seize a great opportunity to gain the credibility and network for future statewide runs.”

While no panelist could name a GOP challenger with any degree of confidence, some suggested that making a run at Feinstein – especially by a self-financed millionaire – could buy that individual important statewide respect.

Of course, that doesn’t take into account the likelihood that Feinstein’s longtime consultant, Bill Carrick, would spend as much of Feinstein’s money as he could squeeze out of the penurious senator to shred the opponent’s reputation. (Think: “Texas oil man Californians just can’t trust.”

“I don’t think it matters a lick,” who runs against Feinstein, said one Democrat. “She is going to win. But I’m sure Bill Carrick and the rest of DiFi’s consultant team are hoping some wealthy Republican candidate sucker steps forward so they at least get a payday out of it.”

The idea of consultants making serious money wasn’t alien to Republicans, either. Said one: “[Feinstein’s opponent will be] some businessman nobody has heard of that a consultant recruits and convinces to spend his own money on TV (with commissions).”

After Calbuzz tried and failed to convince eMeg Whitman to jump into the race (mostly for our amusement), the only Republican making noise about being a candidate is whack-job birther Orly Taitz. Feinstein’s opponent, said one GOP operative with a touch of irony, will be Taitz “or someone as equally positioned to challenge Feinstein.”

But, said another less sarcastic Republican, “I don’t know who the GOP candidate against Feinstein will be but I do know who it won’t be — Orly Taitz. She was slaughtered by an unknown in a GOP primary for Secretary of State, demonstrating the media attention paid to her is silly.

“It is ironic,” this Republican added, “that when Feinstein is at her most vulnerable since 1994, California Republicans don’t even have a warm body yet to run against her.”

Likewise, one Democrat noted that “since California no longer counts Mickey Mouse votes (which would beat the Republican vote in this election), there will be no major Republican challenger — only a sacrificial lamb.”

But a Republican offered: “Mickey Mouse. However, when Minnie shows up at a news conference called by Gloria Allred and speaks of the injurious multiple affairs Mickey has consummated…Mickey withdraws and the GOP State Committee replaces Mickey with Donald Duck. Needless to say DiFi will most likely romp to reelection.”

A couple of panelists mentioned U.S. Rep. David Dreier, whose congressional district was chopped up and rendered Democratic by California’s bi-partisan redistricting commission.

“My hope,” said a Republican strategist, “David Dreier, who does not have anything else to run for and would be a credit to the ticket.”

“David Dreier,” said one Democrat. “The one thing I would say though is that in 2012 given the continued likely ugly political environment that can strike incumbents in both parties the nomination is worth having so we may be surprised by who gets in.”

Some other comments from Republicans:

— No one of consequence. Her biggest challenge will be getting back the money that her treasurer stole.

— My first question:  Does it really make any difference?   The last time a Republican won a major statewide race (forgetting the recall) was 1994.   John Seymour was the last Republican U.S. Senator.  Carly Fiorina made a valiant effort against a much less liked incumbent and lost badly.   Obama will carry the state by at least 15%.   The candidate would have to be a self-funder to be competitive, but that does not generally work well. 

— The fact that nobody has declared an intention to run at this time speaks volumes, but look to the ranks of former legislators or local government for the eventual GOP nominee.  Peter Foy, for example, could be that experienced outsider who can invigorate the base and champion a Republican message.

Time. Sen. Feinstein can have the job as long as she wants it. 

Big mountain to climb, but in this political climate and the continuing downward spiral in congressional approval ratings, maybe so.  Regardless, it would take a candidate who is smart, reform-minded, not a slave to ideology, and not from the professional political class — someone with a hefty checkbook who’s prepared to write big checks and fight to repair the system once elected.  Charles Munger Jr. comes to mind.  He spent millions taking on the ruling classes of both parties on reapportionment and won.  Not a bad story to tell.

— There is no broad-based candidate who has emerged to challenge Feinstein at this time and I am not convinced there will be one

Right now no one poses a serious challenge to Sen. Feinstein, but the election is a year away, and anything can happen. If Sen. Feinstein starts to appear vulnerable next year, the only Republican who has the resources, has been fully vetted statewide and has the experience to challenge her would be Steve Poizner.” 

 And more from some of the Democrats:

 It doesn’t matter who Feinstein’s GOP opponent will be, she can’t be beat.  Chuck DeVore has fled to Texas, so he probably won’t be running for Senate again, and Carly Fiorina couldn’t even come close to beating Barbara Boxer, despite all the millions she spent. Shall we resurrect Richard Mountjoy or Bill Jones?

— The Republican bench is so small that it must get lonely out there.  It’s hard to imagine any of them are ready to take on Dianne Feinstein. Steve Poizner still has plenty of money, but he lost his moderate brand in his bruising primary with Meg Whitman and may not have the stomach for another campaign.  Abel Maldonado is a perennial favorite of the Great Mentioner, but after his embarrassing loss to Gavin Newsom, he is smart to stay in the Congressional race against Lois Capps.  Redistricting has not been kind to members of Congress such as David Dreier, Brian Bilbray, Gary Miller and Ed Royce – but none of them have both the profile and the fundraising ability to win a statewide race.

California is home to more than 600,000 millionaires, so a last minute self-funding candidate is always a possibility. But as Sarah Palin might say, how’s that former CEO millionaire model workin’ out for you, California Republicans?

 My nomination for the strongest Republican non-candidate: San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders.  Sanders has built a profile that could appeal to the moderate voters who make the difference in statewide elections.  As San Diego’s popular police chief, he implemented community policing and afterschool programs.  As Mayor, he enacted pension reform, embraced Mayor Bloomberg’s gun control campaign, earned a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood and took a courageous stand for marriage equality. On the other hand, he’s touchy on the campaign trail, a mediocre fundraiser and pushed unpopular taxes and cuts to city services.  Not to mention that he might be presiding over the loss of the Chargers to LA.

— I have no f**king idea!  None, nada, nothing.  I asked everyone in my office to give me ideas, searched under the chairs in the conference room, but there was nothing there.  Really, does it matter?  They will lose

— Well funded player to be named later

 — Her chief challenge will be refilling her coffers after they were pilfered. As for an opponent, look for token opposition from a underfinanced Tea Party candidate, an up and coming Republican with nothing to lose, or perhaps a Republican congressman who was redistricted out of their seat.

Then there was the most unkind response of all:

“Senator Feinstein’s principal opposition comes from two cranky old journos who have a snarky blog for political junkies.”

We resent that: we are not snarky.

Voters Understand GOP’s Economic Sabotage

Monday, November 21st, 2011

With the Congressional deficit-reduction “super committee” expected to announce its utter failure today, and amid finger-pointing by both sides at the other for their “inflexibility,” it’s worth remembering that Republicans announced more than a year ago they had no intention of working with the Democrats to repair the budget, pass a jobs program or, for that matter, contribute to anything that might be seen as an accomplishment by President Obama.

It was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s who, in a moment of unintended candor, let the cat out of the bag:

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” the Kentucky Republican explained to the National Journal in October 2010. “Our single biggest political goal is to give our nominee for president the maximum opportunity to be successful.”

Not since John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate in 2008 have we witnessed such pure, unadulterated cynicism from a high-ranking member of Congress. There was no pretense here, no suggestion of anything other than a raw political machination.

Which makes you have to shake your head in amazement and disgust when the very same Mitch McConnell rises on the floor of the Senate one year later to say: “Let’s park the campaign bus, put away the talking points and do something to address the jobs crisis.”

There is, however, another side to this odious hypocrisy. Polling suggests that voters are beginning to understand that the Republicans in Washington are, in fact, working against the national interest for their own political gain.

Consider the evidence:

— A Washington Post-ABC News survey found that Americans agree 50-44% that “President Obama is making a good faith effort to deal with the country’s economic problems, but the Republicans in Congress are playing politics by blocking his proposals and programs”  compared to the statement “President Obama has not provided leadership on the economy, and he is just blaming the Republicans in Congress as an excuse for not doing his job.”

That 50-44% margin is powerful on its own, but in reality it’s even more compelling since the margin was 54-40% among independents and 57-37% among moderates. In other words, it was just Republicans and conservatives who tamped down the overall margin.

— A Suffolk University survey of Florida voters found that by a margin of 49-39% voters agree that “Republicans are intentionally stalling efforts to jump start the economy to ensure that Barack Obama is not re-elected.”

Again, the overall margin was understated by Republicans who rejected the statement. The result (Q27A) was 52-28% among independents and 59-31% among moderates.

— A survey by Public Policy Polling (whose robo-calling we always find worrisome) replicated the Suffolk University question nationwide on behalf of Daily Kos and the SEIU (consider the source) and found voters, by a 50-41% margin, agreed that “Republicans are intentionally stalling efforts to jump start the economy to insure that Barack Obama is not reelected.”

What the surveys suggest is that Obama – far from leaning too much on the “class warfare” argument – is plowing fertile ground by arguing that the Republicans in Washington are doing the bidding of the wealthy and intentionally sabotaging economic recovery. These arguments are beginning to take hold.

And for good reason: they’re true.

Oh, and while he’s at it, how about making a little more out of some data from the Treasury Department that, as one of our adult children put it the other day: “There are so many reasons why this is infuriating.”