Archive for 2015

Press Clips: 6 Takeaways on Hillary’s Email ‘Scandal’

Friday, March 13th, 2015


Pop quiz: Who of the following is the biggest dunce of the week?

a) The Indiana state legislator who pursued a sexting relationship with the infamous Sydney Leathers, the same semi-pro porn actress pictured here who ratted out Anthony Weiner to the media, and who predictably ratted out the randy Hoosier to the New York Post.

b) The Ohio man who called 911 to report that his wife had stolen his cocaine and was quickly arrested by police for possession of coke.

c) Mark Halperin, the clueless but reliably self-important cable bloviator, who retracted his two-week old prediction that Hillary Clinton was “easily the next president” to now assert, “I don’t think she’ll be president.”

Answer: c)

Dog-catches-own-tail_1Dogs, snakes and cars: Halperin, of course, is just one of countless Beltway bubble brains frantically contriving a new “narrative” about the presidential race based on the self-delusional assumption that up-for-grabs voters will reject Clinton based on perfectly legal use of a personal e-mail account while serving as Secretary of State.

At one point on Wednesday, Politico, the Capitol’s greatest fount of Halperin-style dog-chasing-tail punditry (Dog chasing cars? Snake eating its tail? Snakes chasing cars? –ed.) had no less than 12 stories – twelve, count ‘em, twelve — on its home page about the email flapdoodle, almost all devoid of original reporting. Politico Editorial Supreme Leader John Harris presumably ordered up all those yarns but, perhaps unwittingly, found a way to undercut his own leadership and judgment in his own piece.

Unspoken publicly in this latest controversy, but clearly understood among veterans of Hillary Clinton’s circle, is her belief that the pious clamor for more disclosure and more revelation is fundamentally insincere. The media-political complex is not seeking a window into matters of public interest; it is looking for a weapon, one that will be brandished to produce still more stories or start still more investigations.

begalaA soft-spoken analysis: To be sure, Hillary’s inept response to the story, first reported in a faulty New York Times story that suggested she broke the law, fueled the frenzy. But the notion that it could somehow represent a candidacy killer – a storyline pushed by Republicans, bed-wetting Democrats and a press corps disingenuously portraying themselves as high-minded guardians of transparency in government — while actually just trying to conjure a better 2016 race to cover – is simply silly.

As professional Democratic spinner Paul Begala put it in a mild and measured quote:

Voters do not give a shit. They do not even give a fart…Find me one persuadable voter who agrees with HRC on the issues but will vote against her because she has a non-archival-compliant email system and I’ll kiss your ass in Macy’s window and say it smells like roses.

Not to put too fine a point on it.

Sure, Begala has been a media spear-carrier for the Clinton family for decades; that doesn’t mean he’s wrong, and his argument was embraced by some widely-respected, and cooler headed, professionals less invested than the Halperins and the Politicos of the world in inventing faux journalism to justify their seven-figure salaries.

Six takeaways on the story:

charliecookIt’s not going to matter. Charlie Cook, perhaps the Beltway’s most consistently correct media analyst, who has managed to maintain his perspective on the real world despite working in Washington since the Millard Fillmore era, put it best:

This is the classic kind of inside the Beltway, process story that politicos and reporters get in a lather over but that resonates very little with average voters. Most Americans don’t know or care what happens to the old emails of public officials. But chasing shiny objects is an occupational hazard for political journalists during odd-numbered years, because of the infrequent developments of real significance.

No, Hillary Clinton’s challenge will be determined by how she performs, what image she projects, how she is perceived—whether she comes across as likable and relevant to the future, someone who can plausibly address the challenges facing the country.

Oh, that.

hillaryclintonHillary screwed up her response. Clinton’s attempt to delay her formal announcement of candidacy has been insufferably coy and too clever by way more than half. She was days late in publicly responding to the original Times story, apparently because she didn’t want to step on coverage of a couple of staged media events trumpeting the 20th anniversary of her speech in China on behalf of women of the world. Instead that story was not just stepped on, but totally stomped, leading even some of her biggest cheerleaders in the MSM, including Gail Collins, to fret:

There won’t be a new Hillary. What voters can hope for is the best possible version of her flawed self. That while there will be messes, she will force herself to be open during the cleanup. That while she might not be a transformative speaker, she will be able to explain how she can take the issues she’s been pursuing for decades and turn them into a plan for serious change.

Also, she should keep building on her talent for holding firm during crises. But it’d be nice to have a little peace in between.

It’s all about Dianne: In fact, it wasn’t until the Senior Senator from California publicly declared that Clinton needed to “step up” and explain why she’d chosen to use her personal email instead of a government account, that Hillary seemed to realize how much the story was spinning out of her control. After Difi delivered a needed slap in the face and a bucket of ice water on her head, Clinton quickly came to her senses and consented to joust with reporters over the issue at the U.N.

Look for Republicans to overplay their hand. By week’s end, three GOP House committee chairmen had launched their own, separate investigations of Hillary’s email. That all but guarantees that undecided people in the rest of the country will quickly see the story for exactly what it is – a Republican effort to attack and embarrass Clinton – not some serious-minded effort to give the public more access to records about the workings of government, upon which the GOP’s phony cluck-clucking purports to focus.

No fewer than three House committees have launched or are considering probes into Clinton’s email practices, a feeding frenzy that could allow the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee to cast the investigations as yet another partisan witch-hunt.

It could also become a problem for Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team, which has made a point of trying to prevent multiple committees from tripping over themselves investigating the same topic.

bill-clintonGreat days for IT:  At least Bill Clinton’s cringe worthy big cigar trysting with Monica Lewinsky was something people could actually understand, if not relate to. The big fuss over Hillary’s spam files has generated reams of in-the-weeds reporting about servers, IP addresses and the ways and means of murdering a hard drive that read about interestingly as Pilgrim’s Progress:

It’s not clear from the report whether officials with whom Clinton traded emails were covered by the SMART system, which required message-by-message selection for archiving, or by other email systems, which may have taken a more automated approach. The IG review says in a footnote that the SMART system was not used by State’s “high-level principals, the Secretary, the Deputy Secretaries, the Under Secretaries, and their immediate staffs, which maintain separate systems.

Got it.

nyposthillaryThe meaning of the word “is.” As clumsy as her reaction to the story was, Hillary still displayed some of that good ole’ Clinton obfuscatory and dodgy language that all fans of cynicism have missed since the Big Dog exited the White House. Media critic Jack Shafer offered a fine take on the topic:

The press scrutinizes every utterance from the House of Clinton, parsing the couple’s words for new or hidden meanings—and for good reason. The two have a devious way with words. Bill Clinton, whose verbal cunning dwarfs that of almost anyone on the public stage, cemented his trickster reputation in 1998 when he claimed he did “not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” and offered, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” In some universe, Bill was on the level in his remarks. Unfortunately for him, it was not this one.

 So when Hillary Clinton, a veteran crisis manager in her own right, spoke twice about “not saving” her personal emails at her press conference Tuesday instead of picking the more direct and active “deleted,” newsroom ears pricked up, scanning for the lie or the omission or the message manipulation.

nydailynewstraitors“Not saving” sounds like the sensible and casual abandonment of something that has lost its value, like the gray water that gushes from your washer during a rinse cycle. “Deleted,” on the other hand, sounds purposeful, almost sinister, if you have reason to suspect that the speaker is not being candid with you—and who among us, even her fans, thinks that Hillary Clinton is ever candid?

So there’s that.

Why we love the tabloids In addition to the priceless NY Post “Deleter” cover, we offer, with no further comment necessary, the NY Daily News’s succinct observation on the 47 senators who signed the letter to Iran, seeking to scuttle President Obama’s negotiations to end their nuclear development program:


GOP Senate Wannabes: A Vicious Attack on Calbuzz

Monday, March 9th, 2015

asshatIf Rocky Chavez confounds conventional wisdom to run a stronger-than-expected race for U.S. Senate, it most certainly will not be due to the efforts of his asshat press secretary, Christopher Pickard.

In a stunning display of unprofessional oafishness, the twit Pickard physically broke up a conversation that several reporters, including your Calbuzzards, were conducting at the recent GOP convention with Assemblyman Chavez.

Now the only declared Republican candidate for the retiring Barbara Boxer’s seat, Rocky Balboa on the first night of the convention was making a nice first impression at his reception suite, during an amicable and interesting informal interview. Suddenly, and without warning, his bush-league Assembly lackey thrust his arm, legs and beefy ass in between reporters and the candidate, nearly toppling one of our aging Founders, who makes his way through life with the aid of a cane.

Chavez, likely chagrined by such a public show of incompetence, turned to greet several well-wishers, while his toady continued playing the fool, obnoxiously insisting all communications with the candidate should go through him.

Full disclosure: 1) we briefly considered finding a cop to file battery charges against the dunce, but dismissed the notion in favor of getting in his face (some witnesses reported the word “motherfucker” was used in both its noun and adjectival forms, but this could not be independently verified);  2) we felt instant, deep and seething antagonism towards Chavez’s media operation, something it took Meg Whitman’s GOP press team at least six months to accomplish in the 2010 governor’s race.

Ask eMeg how that clever bit of strategy worked out, Captain Pickard.

kamalaharris2Have we mentioned we need a race? We recount this unfortunate incident (what is it that triggers Republican aggression against Calbuzz at their conventions anyway?) by way of reporting that we actually performed our due diligence at the GOP confab, touching base with all three of the party’s allegedly serious candidates for the 2016 Senate campaign. We do these things so you don’t have to.

We confess, however, that we remain in deepest despair at the likelihood that Democrat-anointed Kamala Harris simply will be handed a U.S. Senate seat (think about that for a moment) without mussing her tresses. Still, somebody has to finish second in the primary, so we did our First Amendment duty, chasing down and interviewing Chavez, Duf Sundheim and Tom Del Beccaro, all while struggling to stave off a diabetic coma triggered by wolfed-down ice cream sundaes via the hospitality of party Secretary Deborah Wilder and gobbled seconds of a decadent chocolate dessert sampler at Jim Brulte’s karaoke bash.

Here’s how we rank their field today:

rockyChavez: The 63-year old Oceanside Republican has the build of a varsity wrestler and the no-nonsense manner of a career Marine who made colonel, both of which he used to be. On the David vs. Goliath question of how he intends seriously to challenge Queen Kamala with an “R” behind his name, Chavez said his work with military veterans around the state positions him with a campaign infrastructure of non-partisan vets organizations in all 58 counties.

On the key issue of immigration policy, Chavez said he supports “a pathway to legal residency,” if not citizenship for undocumented immigrants: “Why would a party who talks about family values be for a program that divides families,” he told Calbuzz. The idea of rounding them up and sending them back? “That’s crazy.”

(Sadly, we couldn’t follow up because of the amateur-night antics by his aforementioned staff imbecile, whose name we avoid repeating in order to spare his family’s feelings. However, you may register your displeasure about Christopher Pickard’s adolescent behavior by calling him in the Capitol at 916-319-2076 or in the district at 760-929-7998. Plenty of free parking).

sundheimGeorge “Duf” Sundheim: The former state party chair, 62, has everything Calbuzz looks for in a viable California Republican: a Stanford man, he’s smart, thoughtful, earnest, open-minded and non-ideological. Dispassionate about social issues, he’s an actual political reformer, who helped lead the redistricting and open primary initiatives. He’s also tall, unlike Rocky, over whom Boxer would tower.

To our deep disappointment, however, Sundheim refused to be coaxed into a discussion of crucial policy matters, most especially immigration and abortion rights, two threshold issues that long have thwarted statewide GOP wannabes. Apologetic about it, Sundheim insisted he truly is just “exploring” a campaign, i.e. talking to moneybags to see if he can raise enough scratch to run a serious race, and doesn’t want to deal with controversy and conflict until he’s decided if it’s worth it. He said that if he runs he wants to focus on ways to improve stagnant wages and cut the cost of living for middle class and working-class people, while boosting public schools.

delbeccaro2Tom Del Beccaro: Another former Republican state chair, who left behind a huge pile of debt (and losses in the state Assembly and Senate) when his term ended, the 53-year old wannabe journalist and low-rent lawyer seemed more interested in selling his new book, with the characteristically pompous title, “The Divided Era,” than in seriously running for Senate.

At least that was the impression we got after doing a good-cop bad-cop interview with him for an hour late Friday night, during which he refused to offer a single answer that wasn’t packed with obfuscation, gibberish and wiggle words.

Example of BS: on immigration he wants an “effective border policy” before he’ll even discuss what to do about the 11 million folks already here illegally; however, he refuses to define seriously what such “an effective border policy” is, other than to say it’s one that “sends a strong enough message so that their desire to come here illegally dwindles.” Whatever that means. Also: he claims Obama “grew up in Indonesia,” allying himself with Donald Trump, and he spent Saturday morning totally pandering to the Tea Party caucus. Puh-leeze.

Phil Wyman. Seriously?

condoleezza_rice_605_nflWeb gems: The indestructible Tony Quinn churns out a must-read piece explaining why there’s simply no-way no-how for a Republican Senate candidate here.

Josh Richman asserts that the clear-the-field early strategy by Kamala and Prince Gavin Newsom is not such a great idea.

Don’t miss: Why Dems should win back the Senate in 2016.

Please Condi, oh please, please, please.

Face plant in the guacamole: Word reached here by Pony Express today of the final results of the Condoleeza Rice Drinking Game.

As loyal readers know, the greatest excitement of the GOP convention was to be the competition among Calbuzzers who swallowed a drink each time anyone said, “I wish Condi would run.”  Early favorite Sherri Bebitch Jeffe of KNBC failed to hold off aggressive challenger and former state party chair Bob Naylor, and the two finished in a tie, both trashed well before midnight Friday. There were no injuries.