Archive for 2015

GOP Wrap: Carly Up, Carson Down, Trump Flat

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

trumpcarlytwoshotBy the time the epic Republican debate ended last night — long after Jeb Bush copped to smoking weed, Donald Trump called himself humble and George P. Shultz was denounced as a Comsymp of One World government – the awful truth had sunk in: the big winner of the whole endless, sprawling, butt-ugly evening was Carly Fiorina.

How much it pains us to say so.

But to her enduring credit, the nasty, snarling, smirking witch rose to the occasion, alternatively making a fierce case for pro-life women, displaying emotion over losing a step-child and towel-snapping Trump for having insulted her looks in Rolling Stone magazine.

“I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” she quipped, when asked about The Donald’s published dis of her looks– and his lame attempt to take it back.

Bam. There’s your most endlessly replayed moment of the debate.

A few other takeaways from the event.

Precious time wasted can never be regained. Who at CNN, exactly, thought a three-hour debate (three hours and 11 minutes actually) was just what America needed? Jeez, you could hear remotes all over America switching to Fox or Law and Order/Special Victims Unit after the first 30 minutes, which was about the time we actually stopped taking notes. Next time we’re heading to the driving range or re-reading Hamlet.

Inside the Outsiders. In an instant exit poll, our Department of Number Crunching and Abacus Repair determined with scientific precision that within the Insurgent (i.e. totally inexperienced and unqualified) Division, Fiorina’s strong performance means: a) her poll numbers will go up; b) Trump’s will stay flat: the entire conversation, such as it was, continued to revolve around him, but despite a few new cheap shots and gratuitous insults (now he’s picking on Rand Paul’s looks!) he did nothing but repeat his by now familiar schtick, which may finally be wearing thin; c) Carly’s support will come out of Dr. Ben (Wake Me, Shake Me) Carson’s skinny behind; he was variously incoherent, mumbling and just plain lost.

rubiowaterThe Establishment Favorites. Marco Rubio had another good night, even though he always sounds angry, was covered in flop sweat and looked like he used Richard Nixon’s makeup guy. Still he’s smart, very articulate and quick, and his geo-political analyses left the others in the dust.

Jeb was uneven, but got better as the night went on, as he confessed to inhaling – does anybody care anymore? – finally confronted Trump about insulting his Mexican-born wife (no apology was forthcoming, however) and got the biggest laugh of the night by saying, in response to a silly question, that his Secret Service code name would be “Eveready,” earning a high five from Trump (code name “Humble”) who constantly calls Bush “low energy.”

Best of the Rest. All the other rivals had their moments. Chris Christie smacked Trump and Fiorina around for bragging on their business careers while the middle class is struggling, but is anyone still listening to him? Scott Walker scored early with a prepared anti-Trump line saying “we don’t need ‘an apprentice’ in the White House” (get it?) but he truly is a stiff and looks to be going nowhere. Mike Huckabee has his pitch perfect dog whistle rants about gun rights and the alleged persecution of Christians down, but that crowd has other places to go. Rand Paul made more sense than anyone about reducing the use of military force and reforming incarceration and marijuana policies, but when you’re earning points from Calbuzz in a GOP primary, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Anyway, their combined support is somewhere around the margin of error for most polls.

More: Our man John Kasich still shows promise but had an off night – get a decent haircut, willya’?!?! Ted Cruz, who referred to Planned Parenthood as “an ongoing criminal enterprise,” remains the creepiest and scariest of the bunch.

stonedguyAbortion rights a loser for the GOP. Carly’s graphic rant about Planned Parenthood allegedly raking in big bucks for selling fetus parts hushed the crowd and was powerful stuff, but that only served to highlight the fact that the entire Republican field is ready, willing and seemingly happy to make an issue out of reproductive rights and the de-funding of Planned Parenthood, a major loser issue for them in a general election, even if they don’t shut down the government on the issue, which Cruz is dying to do.

Full disclosure. The Denver Bureau flew in for the debate, carrying a load of Reef Jerky, One Eye Open Sativa-Based Lemonade and Liquid Gold Delights from G Pharma Labs, so we were pretty baked when Post Game Wrap time came around. We actually thought we heard Trump say he knows of a baby who came down with autism two weeks after getting a vaccine. He didn’t really say that, did he?

Still we soldier on.

What we learned about the field: most of them are convinced (Trump and Paul the exceptions) that the problem with our foreign policy is that there’s been too much damn diplomacy, and not enough bloodshed in Iran, Syria and the Ukraine.

They also believe that efforts to combat man-made climate change are pretty much part of a commie conspiracy – astonishingly former Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz tweeted in a question on the issue and was denounced by Rubio as part of the “radical left” for his trouble – and that the key to our immigration system is not only Donald’s Wall (Carson thinks Trump would do a much better building job than the sorry-ass barbed wire fences he saw on a recent border tour) but also time stamping everyone who comes into the country like FedEx packages (thanks Chris!)

putinbearTo hell with women’s health. We’re pretty sure that when the Republican nominee gets to the general election with this kind of rhetoric on video, it’s not going to go over all that well with the majority of women voters in the USofA who actually LIKE Planned Parenthood and think you’re just a bunch of misogynist bullies for attacking the popular women’s health operation.

Likewise, the attacks on immigrants – although Carson allowed he’d let Mexicans work in agriculture because Americans won’t do the job. Building a wall, deporting immigrants, criticizing people for speaking Spanish (Trump v Bush), demonizing foreigners, opposing a pathway to citizenship or even legality – these are not positions that will endear the GOP ticket to Latino voters in November.

And as for war (with the exception from Paul, Trump and perhaps Kasich), we just haven’t had enough, dammit. Basically, the GOP position seems to be let’s get more boots on the ground in the Middle East, tear up the Iran nuclear deal and send Putin to the corner.

Front-runner Trump can hardly name a foreign leader (especially all the ones with Arab names) but not to worry: by the time he’s president he assured us, he’ll have the greatest team of experts that you’ve ever seen – so great it’ll make your head spin.

He just doesn’t know anything right now.

Simi Valley Showdown: Trump’s Slander, Carly’s Lies

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Donald-TrumpOver and over and over again, national news media wiseacres wonder aloud why Donald Trump keeps gaining support when every rational person in America knows he’s just a narcissistic blowhard spewing nationalistic populism without a single serious idea about how to govern America.

As Trump joins the 10 afterthought candidates at tonight’s big debate at the Reagan Library (don’t even get us started on the under card contenders — we can’t bear to watch that bar scene from Star Wars one more time), don’t look for a single one of the 8 bazillion Beltway blowhards and MSM knuckleheads on the scene to admit that they themselves – Fox, CNN and MSNBC in particular – are making Trump ever-increasingly infamous by giving him billions of dollars of free advertising for his ridiculous, self-important, stream-of-consciousness ramblings.

“Why is this happening?” Chris Matthews and other, even more repulsive (if you can imagine that) motormouths keep asking on air.

Why? How about: Because your network live broadcasts Trump every time he sputters another self-serving, self-referential remark or slander against anyone else he thinks is a loser.

It’s a plain fact that the cable news networks – consumed by the financial quest for ratings – have made Donald Trump the single most important person in American politics. They’re doing it themselves. Now they’ve started cutting away from serious news stories to put Trump’s rallies on the air – rallies that are large, precisely because the MSM have made him a super star.

chriscillizzaIt’s the infamy, stupid: Chris Cillizza, the Washington Post’s fount of Sillyville conventional wisdom, addressed this issue the other day in a column plaintively headlined, “Can we please stop blaming the media for Donald Trump?”

“I have two words for that theory: Absolutely ridiculous,” Cillizza said of the argument that wall-to-wall coverage of Trump has boosted his popularity:

Here’s why: To believe that Donald Trump is a media creation born of a desire for ratings, you have to believe one other thing: That conservatives, who comprise much of Trump’s support base at the moment, take their marching orders from the media. Which, of course, they don’t.

Wrong, wrong wrong.

It’s not about marching orders – it’s about exposure, publicity and infamy. (The kind of unfiltered overplay the media gave Sarah Palin in 2008 that propelled her to stardom.) Trump supporters don’t take marching orders from anyone. But if the news media gave any one of the other candidates the countless dollars of TV coverage they give to Trump, that candidate would soar in the polls.

Likewise, if every story about Hillary Clinton is about her email “scandal” – a word that used to mean something, but which now is tossed around without a shred of evidence of wrongdoing – how could she NOT drop in the polls?

What we’re witnessing is the making of national politics into reality TV — Presidential Idol, perpetrated by the American news media. And it’s a huge reason why Donald Trump is, for the moment, the most important figure in American politics.

carlyfiorinaThe return of iCarly: Carly Fiorina makes her return to California tonight, the state whose voters left her buried under a big ole’ landslide the last time we caught sight of her smirking face, and the venue for the years of fiasco and failure as a corporate executive and political candidate that left her exposed as a total fraud.

We’re intrigued that some nationals are touting the big event as The Donald vs. iCarly Show. Based upon what some of her backers are saying, that’s apparently the way the Great Woman views it too:

“This is going to be a defining moment in Carly’s career,” said Boris Feldman, a Silicon Valley lawyer and one of her supporters.

“What’s selling tickets to this is the Trump-Carly card,” he said. “Trump has a thing about anybody questioning him, but especially a woman.”

For months, Fiorina has gallivanted around the country, spinning tales of purported vast accomplishments, as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, a 2010 U.S. Senate candidate, and an alleged authority on issues of concern to Golden Staters.

Californians of course, know better, as shown clearly by the new L.A. Times poll, which reported that, “Just four years after she spent tens of millions to impress them, fewer than half of California Republicans [emphasis ours] surveyed would consider voting for her, and 23% said they would never consider it.”

And, as the indefatigable Carla Marinucci demonstrated this week, with her scoop in scoring a 218-page opposition research report on Fiorina’s flops (we’re pretty sure it was just the Cliff’s Notes version), a high percentage of Carly’s claims are utterly phony.

So to get through tonight’s eight-hour-or-so debate, we offer our readers the Calbuzz Carly Drinking Game — take a shot of your favorite beverage whenever she makes one of the following claims:

Hewlett-PackardI was a great manager at H-P.

As anyone who was around for Fiorina’s destructive, paranoid and egomanical administration of Hewlett-Packard recalls, she was dramatically fired in 2005 after the company had lost half its value, due in large part to her boneheaded acquisition of Compaq. Today, she likes to pretend getting canned was some matter of internal board politics, but the only issue in the “boardroom brawl” she keeps referencing was her incompetence.

As a Yale School of Management egghead memorably put it to the NYT, Fiorina’s H-P performance is the corporate equivalent of “the captain who caused the shipwreck of Carnival’s Costa Concordia in 2012 – ‘he will never be trusted with a public leadership role. Captains of industry must also be accountable.’”

“I know a little bit about Carly Fiorina, having watched her almost destroy the company my grandfather founded,” Arianna Packard, the granddaughter of the Hewlett-Packard co-founder David Packard, wrote in a letter in 2010, when Mrs. Fiorina was a candidate in California for the United States Senate.

hightechI’m the avatar of tech.

Not only do Carly’s hardline anti-gay and anti-abortion rights stances conflict with the dominant views of Silicon Valley, but more importantly, her positions on key tech issues are also severely impinging her ability to raise any money there, as Politico reported in a terrific yarn:

She opposes pending legislation to ward off frivolous lawsuits by “patent trolls” — a top priority for companies like Apple, Facebook and Google…While the leading Internet companies have expressed support for the Federal Communications Commission’s new net neutrality rules.. Fiorina has rejected the regulations as “crony capitalism.”

Her confusing stance on surveillance reform isn’t meeting with much enthusiasm in the Valley, either. On one hand, Fiorina has questioned the National Security Agency’s power to collect telephone records en masse — a view broadly shared by the tech industry. But when asked at the presidential debate if she agrees with companies like Apple and Google about the need for encryption, she urged tech companies to “tear down cyber walls” and cooperate more with the government.

For an industry still shaken by revelations of NSA spying, her record of close ties with the CIA may give some in the Valley additional pause. From 2007 to 2009, she was a member of an advisory board to then-CIA Director Michael Hayden, a role that gave her access to counter-terrorism and cybersecurity briefings…

boxerfiorinacollageI made my political bones running a tough race against Barbara Boxer.  

Carly never came close to Babs, running against one of the nation’s premiere liberals in an off-year election when Republicans racked up huge gains across the nation.  She stumbled at the start with revelations that she’d barely bothered to vote in previous elections, and things only got worse the more her nasty personal style was exposed to the public.

After she tried to explain away her failure to vote because she felt “disconnected” from the political system, Michael Hiltzik took her down:

During her reign at Hewlett-Packard, according to public records, her corporation spent $4.7 million to lobby Congress and donated more than $390,000 to political candidates through its political action committee. Fiorina and her husband, Frank, a former AT&T executive, have made more than $100,000 in political donations personally since 2000.

That suggests not that Fiorina ‘felt disconnected’ from what was going on in Washington, but rather that she understood all too well that in politics, money talks. Why bother to vote when you can get what you need with greenbacks?

In other words, she believes in the political system, just not the one that non-millionaires have to use.

droughtLiberals caused California’s drought

Once she gets into actual policy discussions, Fiorina gets truly deranged. Her mega-pander to the sizable anti-science faction of the GOP is to claim that California wouldn’t have a drought if only those treacherous liberals had built more reservoirs and dams and conveyances in years of normal rain.

As Andrew Fahlund, deputy director of the California Water Foundation, explained, however, “thinking that building more reservoirs will get you out of a drought is like assuming that opening more checking accounts when you’ve lost your income will help you pay your bills.” He estimated to ThinkProgress that Fiorina’s build-our-way-out plan would have resulted in a “net increase of one percent to the state’s water supplies.”

Governor Gandalf was less measured in his response to her claim.

“I’ve never heard of such utter ignorance…Building a dam won’t do a damn thing about fires or climate change or the absence of moisture in ground and vegetation of California. I think these people, if they want to run for president, had better do eighth grade science before they make any more utterances.”

The bottom line: There are more, too, too many more, lies that iCarly routinely utters, from her fatuous gibberish on climate change to her reckless demagoguery on vaccines and, perhaps worst of all, her cynical effort to position herself as a friend to women.

On second thought, forget the whole drinking game thing. Just assume Carly’s lying if her lips are moving and start swilling the moment she’s introduced. If you’re lucky, you’ll fall out early and miss the whole awful night.

Stop the Presses: Rational Republican Seeks Senate

Monday, September 14th, 2015

dufsundheimGeorge “Duf” Sundheim, the Silicon Valley lawyer and former California Republican Party chairman who last week joined the race for U.S. Senate, has two big problems:

1) He’s too damn reasonable for the knuckle-dragging, right-wing GOP voters who in recent years have dominated first-round voting and;

2) He’s a Republican in a state where that brand has been poisoned by those same folks who think he’s too damn reasonable.

Sundheim’s no fool. He understands that his party’s popularity (down to 28% of registered voters) is pathetically weak.

But he seems to genuinely believe, “I can make a difference . . . Think what would it do to the Republican brand if I won.”

A noble cause. But to make the November ballot he’ll first have to beat out, not only the other Republicans in the race – former GOP chairman Tom Del Beccaro and Assemblyman Rocky Chavez—but also finish in the Top Two in the primary against Democrats, U.S. Rep Loretta Sanchez or Attorney General Kamala Harris.

GOP conundrum Here’s Duf’s challenge: While he’s an economic and foreign policy conservative (he opposed the Iran nuclear deal, for example), he’s essentially pro-gay marriage, favors a pathway to legality for undocumented immigrants, opposes further offshore oil drilling, takes a libertarian stance on abortion rights and wouldn’t shut down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood and, perhaps most politically perilous of all, believes – gasp – in actually governing.

give-take-compromise“I’m a man of principle,” he told Calbuzz in an interview last week. “And one of my principles is principled compromise.” You don’t set out to compromise, he said. But compromise is not capitulation. He wouldn’t immediately repeal Obamacare, for example, but he’d like to replace it with a system based on medical care, not medical insurance controlled by Washington.

His biggest concern is that the economic system is not working for average, working Americans – “people with full-time jobs, stagnant wages and rising costs” who are being squeezed by a system that doesn’t work for them.

He’d like to resurrect the community bank system, make it easier for small businesses to depreciate capital equipment and “encourage job growth in the U.S.” (although exactly how he’d do that is still rather fuzzy). Of one thing he’s certain: “The middle class is being hollowed out.” And he’d be dedicated to reversing that.

He says he’s for clean air and water, but he also argues that some environmental regulations go too far (like EPA regulations on truck emissions, for example) and that the feds could do more to help streamline development of manufacturing plants and keep gasoline taxes from overwhelming small businesses.

donaldtrump61815How about the Donald? Calbuzz asked him if he’d be comfortable running as a Republican with Donald Trump as the GOP nominee for president. He didn’t say yes, but he didn’t say no. “I think he’s tapped into something that’s a major reason why I’m running – a current of anger and angst people have because they’re not being listened to.”

On the other hand, the GOP contenders he’s most comfortable with, he told us, are Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Marco Rubio. He also thinks Carly Fiorina is doing an excellent job of making her case (although his politics seem far less right-wing than hers).

Although stopping short of calling himself pro-choice — he takes a libertarian position on abortion rights, he said — he wouldn’t try to overturn Roe v Wade. Nor would he send ground troops to the Middle East to fight ISIS (although he adds the boilerplate that he “wouldn’t take anything off the table”).

On immigration, he says he wouldn’t try to round up and deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants already here (except felons, who he would expel), but instead would like to see a system where they can win legal resident status.

HT_kim_davis_jef_150903_4x3_992Seeking common ground. Sundheim disagrees with U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on many issues, but says she’s the kind of bi-partisan, deliberative senator he’d want to be – someone who seeks to find solutions. His favorite U.S. Supreme Court justices are Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito (and he liked Sandra Day O’Connor).

He’s a supporter of religious freedom but thinks Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis had an obligation to follow the law and issue marriage licenses. “The job has to be done. Gay marriage is legal and it’s up to the state to issue licenses.”

Sundheim has barely gotten his campaign off the ground and doesn’t have real staff yet, but he says he’s received informal advice from Bob White, Marty Wilson and Jeff Randle – three smart, moderate Republicans. Not a bad trio in the Calbuzz playbook.

Bottom Line: Duf Sundheim is a thinking person’s Republican. We’re just not sure there’s a thinking person’s party out there on his side of the aisle.