Archive for 2012

Press Clips: The Princess DiFi vs. Orly the Taitz Show

Friday, April 6th, 2012

It’s a terrifying but true fact that state Republicans stand a fair chance of waking up on Wednesday, June 6, to find that the candidate carrying their proud banner against Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein is widely known whack job Orly Taitz.

At first glance, the specter of GOP voters stumbling into nominating Orange County Orly to challenge the Senior Senator from California seems a mildly amusing scenario that would generate some laughs for Leno and Letterman for a week or so before quickly becoming a stale ho-hum.

Unless, of course, you happen to be a serious and earnest person of the conservative persuasion working day and night to rebuild the California Republican brand, operations and influence, in which case it’s painful to imagine what the Washington Post (“California GOP Selects ‘Birther Queen’ as Sen. Feinstein Foe”), the New York Post (“Nut Case in La-La Land”) or Chris Matthews (talk about a tingle up the leg) could do with the story.

“We’re aware (Taitz) has name ID,” state GOP chair Tom Del Becarro, who’s doing all he can to boost the candidacy of little-known but party-endorsed Elizabeth Emken, told us bravely. “We think the party’s endorsement will carry the day.”

Obviously. The alternative is too awful to contemplate.

Republicans on my right, Republicans on my left: After weeks of intensive data crunching, our Department of Quantum Computing and Abacus Repair has finally completed counting all the candidates who’ve signed up for the sacrificial honor of taking on Feinstein, and reports to us exclusively that the total is 23, with 14 of them wearing the GOP label.

As Del Becarro suggests, it’s Politics 101 that the most critical factor in a big field of unknowns is name ID. And while there’s  no good polling on the Senate race yet, Martin Wisckol over at Total Buzz reports on a robo-call survey, done by Rasmussen associate Pulse Opinion Research for another Republican wannabe, that shows the Moldavian Mad Hatter running first, far ahead of the establishment favored Emken, for just that reason:

Taitz is the best known of the candidates, thanks to her numerous (birther) suits against Obama, and polls at 19 percent among Republican voters, according to the poll by Los Angeles businessman Al Ramirez. Ramirez places second at 15 percent. Danville autism advocate Elizabeth Emken received the state GOP’s endorsement on Sunday but was tied for last place at 2 percent in the Ramirez poll.

Emken is a Bay Area non-profit advocate who seems pleasant and presentable enough to avoid embarrassing her party if she can manage to finish second in June 5’s top two primary; she’s certainly working hard to improve her chances, out there getting coverage, piling up endorsements from electeds and hiring actual political professionals for the job.

“Orly Taitz has been living off tabloid controversy — it’s all downside for her and all upside for us,” said Mark Standriff, who’s honchoing the Elizabeth E. show. “I feel very good that we are running against Dianne Feinstein now and we’ll be running against Dianne Feinstein in the general.”

Standriff and Del Becarro both argue that sample ballots sent to voters, which will identify Emken as the Republican Party’s choice, will carry considerable weight in the primary. But she’s still going to need money to break through, especially as she must get by a battalion of rivals, including third party candidates, the aforementioned Ramirez, and Oceanside businessman Dan Hughes, who reported having $100,668 in the bank in his December FEC filing.

That compared to $33,441 for Emken and $3,641 for Taitz and, cough, cough, $6,574,635 for Difi her own self.

A final note: Much, far too much, has been reported and written about Orly the Taitz’s adventures as an attorney, as she’s filed, briefed and argued lawsuits across the country challenging the validity of Obama’s birth certificate, social security registration and, as far we know, his frequent flier miles and Ralph’s card as well.

What has been far less remarked upon has been her record as a dentist, another of the professional skills claimed by this extraordinary Renaissance alien humanoid Lady Gaga doppelganger on her web site (“World’s Leading Obama Eligibility Challenge Web Site”).

A good thing for her, too, at least if a quick read of Yelp reviews of her Rancho Santa Margarita dental practice means anything; here’s hoping not too much of her name ID hangs on her reputation as a tooth and tusk virtuoso:

“DO NOT GO!” counsels “Ryan L.” [Caps his] in one commentary. “They will tell you one price and then charge you way more when you walk out.  Also, the people working on you have horrific breath. “

“Crazy dentist who can’t stop talking about her quest to bring down Obama for his ‘failure’ to turn in his birth certificates,” adds “Serena J.,” a one-time only client. “I only got a consult, which was ridiculous. I’m just glad to have escaped with all my teeth.”

You want Novacaine with that election?

Press Clips: Mega-kudos to Hank Plante, veteran TV political reporter who’s being honored by the AP Press Television and Radio Association with the 2012 Stan Chambers Award for Extraordinary Achievement. As GLAAD notes:

Plante was one of the first openly gay TV reporters in the country, from the time he began a career in TV journalism thirty-five years ago. For his work, Plante has received local and national Emmys, honors from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and a George Foster Peabody Award. In 2005, GLAAD honored Plante’s groundbreaking career with the Pioneer Award.  He is known for his many high-profile political interviews and for covering the AIDS crisis at a time when information was hard to come by, especially in mainstream media.

Unfortunately, they left out the most important thing on Hank’s resume: his recent promotion as Palm Springs Bureau Chief of Calbuzz. Yo Hank, we need a quick file as soon as you pocket the plaque. Don’t forget the pictures.

Speaking of geezers: When we first saw that Costco Carla Marinucci’s yarn marking the 25th anniversary of Nancy Pelosi’s election to Congress included the Old Chronicle’s 1987 Snooze Analysis of the event composed by one of your loyal Calbuzzards, we were deeply touched and all, like, gee, how nice that she remembers the Little People she met on the way up.

Reading further, however, we were shocked beyond measure to find that she described the piece as “a trip to the time machine.”

The time machine? Really? The friggin’ time machine?

That’s right, we’ve been moldering away, buried in the back yard inside that rusty cylinder along with our old Underwood, frayed bell bottoms and avocado-colored rotary wall phone for what seems like just forever. Thanks for digging us up, kid.

Tipping the Toledo: Headline of the week honors to the New York Post copy desk for its fine work noting New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s visit to Jerusalem: “Whale at the Wall.” God we love this business.

Red Meat & Republicans: The Party’s Not Quite Over

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Unexpectedly and out of the blue, the worst news of the year for California Republicans comes in a Harvard public health research study published in the decidedly non-political Archives of Internal Medicine.

Blared the headline over one news report summarizing the study: “All red meat is bad for you.”

For a party that rewards its heroes with lusty cheers for raw public denunciations of godless gays, zygote killers, gun control wimps, the uninsured, immigrants, France and the Great Satan Obama, it’s hard to imagine many things more terrifying than to learn that “any amount and any type” of red meat “appears to significantly increase the risk of premature death.” Good thing they don’t believe in science.

Burgers, chops and steaks aside, one other big piece of lousy news for the state GOP in recent days was the abrupt and startling decision by Republican Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher to turn his back on his party and re-register as a decline-to-state independent in his bid to be elected mayor of San Diego.

As every school child knows, 35-year old Fletcher is a GQ handsome, articulate and ripped tri-athlete, an ex-Marine decorated for combat service in Iraq and the first veteran of George Bush’s War on Terror to be elected to the Legislature. At a time when the GOP is on life support in the state, he was viewed among the party’s cognoscenti as a top-rank rising star who could help replenish the weak Republican bench (which now consists of Kevin McCarthy and, um, Kevin McCarthy) and allow them to dream of some day, somehow, clawing their way back to relevance.

No less an authority on the Republican playbook for statewide success than Bill Whalen, veteran adviser to Pete Wilson (who got his start as an assemblyman and San Diego mayor, hint, hint) was shouting Fletcher’s praises from the rooftop in the days before the state GOP’s winter convention:

“The way back, it goes back to Nathan Fletcher,” Whalen said. “You’re going to have to elect people to lower offices. … The Wilson model is the kind of path that young guys should be looking at.”

Nathan, we hardly knew ye.

Dirty Harry meets GenX: Perhaps to build his cred among millennial voters, Fletcher announced his break-up with the GOP via Twitter and You Tube, where he orated for more than six minutes, in the husky voice of a young Clint Eastwood, about the evils of dysfunctional gridlock, divisive polarization and polarized divisive gridlocked dysfunction:

I don’t believe we have to treat people we disagree with as an enemy. I think we can just say sometimes we disagree…I fought in a war and I have seen the enemy. We don’t have enemies in our political environment here…I fought in a war, I put it all on the line for my country. I didn’t go through all that to come back and for office to play games.

Also: bipartisanship, pragmatism, problem-solving – all good.

Given a) the hold-our-breaths-til-we-turn blue M.O. of Republicans in Sacramento; b) their lust for purging any who dare defy the Grover-bot test of ideological purity and c) Fletcher’s record of backing gay rights, alternative energy and working with Governor Brown on a measure to raise some corporate taxes by closing loopholes, some of our most beloved, esteemed and respected colleagues quickly established a narrative about the wing nuts driving one more common sense moderate ‘round the bend.

To which we say: Yeah, but.

There’s clearly some validity to that take, and ordinarily we’re suckers for a good tale of a high-minded, principled working class hero slaying political hacks and dragons on behalf of the people united will never be defeated. But this guy doesn’t exactly send a tingle up our leg, and it seems a stretch to portray him as a symbol of a conservative-moderate war for the soul of the Republican party, or much else for that matter, for all kinds of reasons:

1-All politics is local (and mayor’s races are officially non-partisan).

2-Fletcher is running a lousy third in the June 5 race for two spots in the November mayoral run-off.

3-His big road-to-Damascus epiphany not so coincidentally came just two weeks after he tried and failed to get the local Republican endorsement.

4-The guy who got endorsed, Carl DeMaio, is openly gay, putting the lie to suggestions that Fletcher is being punished by “orthodox” social conservatives for backing gay rights legislation in Sacramento.

5-He ain’t that moderate. Flash Fleischman, who’s been publicly agonizing about his conflicted feelings about the situation, performed a valuable public service by publishing a transcript of the assemblyman’s pitch for the local party endorsement, which shows Young Nathan is not exactly Tom Campbell.

6-The loathsome David Brooks added his odiousness to the Nathan Fletcher: Post-Partisan Superman saga, reason alone to discount it, given that this guy hasn’t got anything right since 10th grade geometry.

And another thing: All that said, it must be noted that Fletcher is not the only coastal Republican in 2012 to dump the tarnished GOP label.

In Ventura County, Supervisor Linda Parks recently switched her Republican registration to decline-to-state in her 26th CD battle against Grover-bot All-Star Tony Strickland and a batch of Democrats. A little further north, Abel Maldonado, who enraged Republican apparatchiks by playing nice with Democrats over taxes and sponsoring the top-two primary system, has positioned himself as the post-partisan alternative to Santa Barbara Democratic incumbent Lois Capps in the 24th CD, and is all smiles despite losing the local GOP nod to Tea Party favorite, political rookie and C list actor Chris Mitchum.

As our betters used to tell us on the city desk, one is news, two’s a coincidence and three’s a trend.

Bottom line on Fletcher: Calbuzz likes the way San Diego GOP county committee Tony Krvaric put it: “It’s never pretty to watch a panicking politician, but that’s what we saw with Nathan Fletcher today. Nathan Fletcher running for office as an independent is about as credible as Rick Santorum trying to run as a Green Party candidate.”


Eulogy for a scribbler: As Tom Meyer weighs in with his own take on the Fletcher matter today, we asked him for some reflections on his colleague Rex Babin, editorial cartoonist at the Sacramento Bee, who died way too soon last week at 49. Here’s what Meyer said:

First let me stipulate the obvious:  editorial cartoonists for the most part are jerks. We say things that are impolitic and rude, and even though the intent may be to raise a reader’s consciousness, the way we do it is often a fish slap across the face.  It is called “the ungentlemanly art” for a reason.

That said, there are a few cartoonists who can somehow commute from work and leave the “jerk” in the car.  Rex was one of those guys.  In a profession filled with cynics, he was not.  In a profession crowded with snarky Ricky Gervaises, he was, well…Jimmy Stewart – with a cattle prod.

And even though every politician and civic leader who felt the jolt of one of Rex’s cartoons might be relieved those jolts are in the past, I’m sure another part of them will miss them, too.  Because, the fact is, by making them more accountable, he made them better.  He made California better.  Which is why we will all miss him.


Evangelicals Reject Mitt . . . Until It’s Him or Obama

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Mitt Romney, who is Mormon, has a problem with evangelical Christians. They don’t think he’s one of them, they don’t much like him, and where they constitute more than half the population of Republican primary voters, they vote for someone else, usually Rick Santorum, a Roman Catholic extremist.

But don’t be fooled. Romney’s problem with evangelicals is an issue only in the GOP primary. Once he wins the Republican nomination, evangelicals (including fundamentalists, Pentacostals and other charismatic Christians) will vote for Romney over President Barack Obama, whom they regard as a secular humanist at best and an Allah-worshiping Muslim at worst.

Evangelical Christians, especially white evangelical Christians, despise Obama more than they dislike Mormonism.

The rift between Romney and evangelicals was mostly a whisper until last October, when the Rev. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor at First Baptist Church Dallas, casually noted that, Mitt Romney is a good moral person but he’s not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. It has always been considered a cult by the mainstream of Christianity.”

As Calbuzz noted back then, Jeffress was merely reflecting a view that had been etched in stone in the Christian Workers Handbook, given as a guide book to counselors at Billy Graham Crusades for decades.

Moroni from Palmyra: Face it, just for starters, if you believe that the Bible is the inerrant work of God, you might be a bit skeptical about folks who follow the teachings of Joseph Smith Jr., the treasure digger from Palmyra, NY, who said he was visited by the angel Moroni in 1827 and guided to a box of golden plates which he said contained what is now known as the Book of Mormon, after he transcribed them from “reformed Egyptian.”

According to the Pew Research Center, Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say the Mormon religion is Christian by a ratio of 54-33%. But among Republicans and leaners who are white evangelical Protestants, it’s the opposite: just 35% say Mormonism is Christian and 53% say it’s not.

The effect is clear. As our old friend EJ Dionne noted the other day, “In 16 of the states that had voted before Illinois, exit pollsters asked whether voters were white evangelical or born-again Christians. In the states that went for Santorum, evangelicals averaged 71% of the electorate. In the states Romney won, they averaged only 33% of the electorate (and only 31% if Virginia is excluded). In both states Newt Gingrich carried, evangelicals made up 64% of the vote.”

Here’s a nifty chart from the Washington Post:





















Christians in California: Looking forward to the California GOP primary, the USC/Los Angeles Times Poll found (in special crosstabs they graciously ran for Calbuzz) that while Romney leads Santorum 42-23% overall (with Newt Gingrich at 12% and Ron Paul at 10%), among evangelical voters it’s Santorum over Romney 40-33% and among white evangelical voters it’s  Santorum 41-35% over Romney.

But when they tested a general election simulation, with Romney against Obama – finding Obama winning 59-37% overall – among evangelical voters it was Romney over Obama 76-22% and among white evangelical voters it was Romney 82-18% over Obama. That’s about the same margin evangelicals would give to Santorum over Obama – 77-21% — and about the same vote white evangelicals would give to Santorum – 82-18% — over Obama.

In other words, evangelical voters in California will vote for the Republican candidate against Obama (even if it’s Gingrich 71-24% or Paul 68-27%).

In part, this is because 60% of the evangelical voters and 65% of the white evangelicals are registered Republicans. But party registration – normally the most powerful predictor of vote — only explains part of the vote in the general election. For example, while 65% of the white evangelicals are Republicans, 82% of the white evangelicals say they would vote for Romney over Obama.

It’s possible that Romney could lose some of the evangelical vote in the general election by sidling away from the conservative positions he has staked out on abortion, women’s rights, gay marriage and other social issues as he tries to appear more moderate for the general electorate.

But there’s little evidence in polling to suggest that evangelical voters would sit back and let Obama walk away with the contest. Consider favorability, as reported by USC/LAT in our special Calbuzz crosstabs.

Overall, Obama enjoys a favorable/unfavorable rating in California of 62/36%. But among evangelicals it’s 24/71% unfavorable and among white evangelicals it’s 19/75% unfavorable.

Meanwhile, Romney, whose overall rating is 27/47% unfavorable, enjoys a 54/28% favorable rating among evangelicals and a 57/30% favorable among white evangelicals. Not quite as good as Santorum’s 64/15% among evangelicals and 71/14% among white evangelicals. But good enough.

As California, so goes the nation: The findings in California reflect that Pew has found nationally. They reported:

There is no evidence that Romney’s Mormon faith would prevent rank-and-file Republicans, including white evangelicals, from coalescing around him if he wins the GOP nomination. Rather, the same Republicans who may have doubts about Romney’s faith are among the most vehement opponents of Barack Obama. Fully 91% of white evangelical Republican voters say they would back Romney over Obama in a general election matchup, and 79% would support Romney strongly. Overall, white evangelicals would be among the strongest Romney supporters if he is the GOP nominee challenging Obama next fall.

Bottom line: Evangelical voters don’t much like the Mormon. But they hate Obama even more.