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Archive for the ‘Ron Nehring’ Category



Calbuzz Joins the Party with the GOP in Sacramento

Friday, March 18th, 2011

At least half of the Calbuzz Crisis Intervention and White Russian Affairs Desk will converge on Sacramento today to follow the progress of the Sovietization of the California Republican Party.

Our wall readers have been keeping close tabs on postings from secret members of the Comintern, and here are some of the key questions they’ve raised that may be answered this weekend:

1. Will the troglodytes triumph? Celeste Greig, president of the California Republican Assembly, has drawn widespread attention with her resolution to purge the party of the “traitors” who dare to take seriously their responsibility to govern. Next up: the CRA calls for exiling all GOPers who turn left at stop signs.

2. Will the GOP 5 be tarred and feathered? Senators Tom Berryhill, Sam Blakeslee, Anthony Canella, Bill Emmerson and Tom Harman are already being denounced for negotiating with Governor Jerry Brown about the shape of the table. If any of them shows his face at the Hyatt Regency bar, here’s hoping a rabies-ridden delegate doesn’t try to chew it off.

3. Will Sutter Brown show up to debate Grover Norquist? Party leader Ron Nehring backed down instantly when the governor’s office offered First Pooch Sutter to accept Mr. Chairman’s invite for a debate with anti-tax jihadist Norquist. Now we hear the cagey Corgi may be prowling the lobby in an effort to sniff out Muppet Man Grover.

4. Will the Stalinistas strike a blow for authoritarianism? Fiercely  determined to shrink the size of their party as much as possible, ideologically pure apparatchiks are sponsoring a rules change to put all the power to decide which candidate in any top-two primary is or is not a “real” Republican in the hands of the GOPs most conservative bureaucrats. This one’s so far out even the Tea Party’s against it.

5. What will Fleischman’s bar bill be? Jon “Ice Axe” Fleischman, the noted bitter-ender Bolshevik blogger, has promised to buy drinks for the entire press corps. It’s a small price to pay for the ink slingers’ outstanding efforts to make him a Big Deal. You like me, right now, you like me!

We can only wish that we were making this stuff up. In fact, our key questions align quite closely with the actual struggles being waged within the Grand Old Party.

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Convention cognoscenti tip sheet

Barbourian at the gate: Beyond all the turf battles and litmus tests, the biggest behind-the-scenes convention story has been been the hair-pulling and garment-rending by members of the so-called “news media” about the awful timing of the speech by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, which has prevented Dr. P.J. Hackenflack from organizing one of his spectacular dinners.

Instead, people on expense accounts – we name no names — will have to listen to and report on the pearls of wisdom offered by the corpulent drawler, even though the chance that he’ll be the next president of these United States is about as likely as finding a Union flag in Yazoo City.

The only presidential contender who decided to come, Barbour will be the keynote speaker on Saturday night, although reporters may be more interested in asking him about how he made a fortune as a lobbyist for big oil, tobacco companies and the Mexican government (just for starters).

He also is still trying to explain his relationship to some of the less savory racial forces in the South. As this Wiki excerpt accurately puts it:

In December 2010, Barbour was interviewed by The Weekly Standard magazine. Asked about coming of age in Yazoo City during the civil rights era, Barbour, who was 16 when three civil rights workers were murdered in the state in the summer of 1964, told the interviewer regarding growing up there, “I just don’t remember it as being that bad.”[54]

Barbour then credited the White Citizens’ Council for keeping the KKK out of Yazoo City and ensuring the peaceful integration of its schools. Barbour dismissed comparisons between the White Citizens’ Councils and the KKK, and referred to the Councils as “an organization of town leaders.” Barbour continued in his defense of the Councils, saying, “In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you’d lose it. If you had a store, they’d see nobody shopped there. We didn’t have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City.”

Barbour’s statement did not address the role of the white supremacist group in publicly naming and blacklisting individuals who petitioned for educational integration and how it used political pressure and violence to force African-American residents to move This led to a considerable outcry in which critics such as Rachel Maddow accused Barbour of whitewashing history. In response to criticism, Barbour issued a statement declaring Citizens’ Councils to be “indefensible.”

Calbuzz will attend Gov. Barbour’s press avail: inquiring minds want to know.

At least it’s not Michael Bolton: In addition to informative and enlightening remarks from the likes of Congressman Jeff Denham and Damon “Hard Hat” Dunn, Friday night’s main speaker will be John Bolton, whose star-spangled career has included: fighting reparations to Japanese-Americans interned during WWII; neck-deep involvement in the Iran-Contra affair; derailing a 2001 biological weapons conference in Geneva; pushing for inclusion of a false statement in President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address that British Intelligence had determined Iraq had attempted to procure yellowcake uranium from Niger (inhale) and being named U.N. ambassador on a recess appointment (after losing Democratic and Republican support), having argued that “There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is only the international community, which can only be led by the only remaining superpower, which is the United States.”

Saturday’s lunch speaker will be alleged pollster Frank Luntz. His sparkling resume includes being reprimanded by the American Association for Public Opinion Research, censured by the National Council on Public Polls and called a “moron” by respected Republican pollster Bill McInturff for mocking Sen. John McCain’s inability to use a Blackberry (which he can’t because of the injuries he sustained as a prisoner of war in Vietnam).

Luntz is the wordsmith who coined favorites like “death taxes” (estate taxes), “energy exploration” (oil drilling), “climate change” (global warming) [he actually advised environmentalists against using "climate change"] and “government takeover” (health care reform). He also once argued in a radio interview that “To be ‘Orwellian’ is to speak with absolute clarity, to be succinct, to explain what the event is, to talk about what triggers something happening… and to do so without any pejorative whatsoever.”

We can hardly wait.

Meanwhile: Fully half of the Calbuzz National Affairs Desk will be in the Republican stronghold of the Central Valley, paying homage to the late David Broder by discussing the weighty matters being debated at the weekend confab with Actual Voters (and soon-to-be-in-laws). Vox populi, vox dei.

Press Clips: Sartre & Beckett vs. Krusty & Hobbes

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Top Calbuzz executives assigned our Department of Belle-Lettres and Ersatz Erudition the most pressing, mission critical job of the week: finding a literary reference to best describe the California Doomsday Scenario.

As the on-again-off-again closed door negotiations between Pope Jerry and Republican Capitol bishoprics  kept flickering, it became clearer by the hour that if their talks collapsed, the state was headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.

If, as our sources insist, the governor simply won’t countenance a Democrat-only solution to get his tax extension plan on the ballot, the specter looming over Sacramento, should Republicans stiff him, is that he’ll next put forth a cuts-only fiscal plan, which his party’s lawmakers will never accept, leaving the whole shtunk exactly…nowhere…

And so: What story, what narrative, what metaphor can our fine-writing-done-cheap trolls employ to cut to the chase in labeling this dreadful state of affairs – and that also fits in the headline?

Due consideration, of course, was paid to Sartre’s “No Exit” (“Hell is other people”), to Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” (“Nothing to be done”) and, not least, “Ghostbusters II” (“Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! 40 years of darkness! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!”)

And then, amid much mulling, what you like to call your Jesuit-trained governor came up with the answer himself: Leviathan.

Krusty’s elegant bookish solution surfaced in a conversation with our friend George Skelton, who churned out the most enterprising budget story of the week. While others in the Sacramento press corps kept writing the same process story (we name no names -  there’d be too many) Skelton captured the Little Pulitzer for Best Political Commentary That Includes Food.

Scoring the first substantive interview with the governor since the inauguration, George covered all the bases: 1) finagling his way inside Jerry and Anne’s loft, 2) copping a free turkey and cheese sandwich (and crucially, working the food into the story; 3) winning some face time with Sutter. All that plus, characteristically, asking Brown the key question: what does the future hold in the not-unlikely event you can’t reach a compromise with the GOP?

Events will unfold like this, (Brown) predicts without hesitation, if the Legislature fails to muster the required two-thirds majority vote … “I put up an all-cuts budget” … Then the Democrats change [the all-cuts budget] and put in gimmicks. Then I veto it. Then everybody sits there until we run out of money. It’s not going to be a pretty sight. It’s like one-two: No tax, all cuts, gimmicky budget, veto, paralysis.”

“It’ll be a war of all against all,” Brown added.

Or, as we say around the newsroom: “Bellum omnium contra omnes.”

Enclosed by the temporal boundaries of space and time in his (print is dead) column, Skelton unfortunately lacked the breathing room to fully explicate Brown’s classical reference. No worries – that’s who we are and what we do.

Bellum omnium contra omnes,” as every school child knows, was coined by Thomas Hobbes in 1651, and is pretty much the only thing anyone ever remembers about reading “Leviathan” in Humanities I in freshman year:

In such condition, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Now, we don’t necessarily subscribe to the Hobbesian notion that mankind — in the absence of a powerful central authority — is innately avaricious and self-destructive. But let’s face it: if California can’t get a budget, there will be blood.

Forces on the left will set out to soak the rich, slap taxes on oil drilling and services, split the property tax roll and give communities power to raise taxes with a majority vote. Forces on the right will seek to cap state spending, unravel collective bargaining rights of public employees, slash pensions, eliminate union shops and decimate social services and environmental regulations.

Non belle visus.

That said, Calbuzz does strongly agree with Hobbes on at least one key matter of the human condition:

All generous minds have a horror of what are commonly called ‘Facts.’ They are the brute beasts of the intellectual domain.

Amen, brother.

Furry little monster: Speaking of nasty, brutish and short, Grover Norquist turned up this week in the biggest grandstand play since Terrell Owens stole pom-poms from  cheerleaders for the 49ers.

In a less than dazzling display of political gamesmanship, GOP honcho Ron Nehring trumpeted a letter he’d addressed to Brown, which was scooped up by Costco Carla Marinucci, purporting to invite him to debate the anti-tax tyrant at next weekend’s Republican state convention.

Brown mouthpiece Gil Duran responded with just the right tone, offering to send the aforementioned Sutter to debate the Great Toad Man.

Left   unanswered and unassuaged, however, was Nehring’s pitiable lament that Governor Gandalf was behind a “variety of verbal attacks” heaped on Norquist, as editorialists, columnists and sensitive New Media Guys have recently called him out for threatening retribution to any GOP lawmakers who dare cast a vote allowing people who actually, you know, live in California, to decide the fate of Krusty’s tax plan.

Alarmed by Nehring’s allegation, our Department of Ethical Standards and Cheap Shot Journalism Prophylactics swiftly checked our clips and determined that our recent characterizations of the D.C. demagogue – “nihilist,” “extremist,” “Emperor Nero” – could in no way be construed as “verbal attacks.” Whew.

Recommended further reading: Politico examines a hint of a split between Norquist and some establishment right-wingmen, while Washpost whiz kid socialist Ezra Klein conducts a scrupulously fair Q&A with the porcine provocateur.

ICYMI: What can we say, we’re suckers for a doggie conga line.

Brown Goes Public With Tax Plan Vote Demand

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Blunt, feisty and funny, Gov. Jerry Brown called out Republicans Monday night, aggressively challenging them to allow Californians to vote on his proposal to extend $12 billion in temporary tax increases – or have the guts to put  forth their own, all-cuts budget plan.

With a civil but tough tone, he also directly confronted the statewide coalition of local officials who are furiously campaigning against his bid to eliminate redevelopment agencies, saying that “core services” like education, police, fire and health care for the poor are more crucial than their real estate developments projects; positioning himself directly in the political center, he also urged Democrats and liberal advocates for education and social welfare programs to make their own sacrifice, by accepting the $12 billion of cuts he wants.

As a political matter, Brown aimed his 1,722 words, not at the state office holders who crowded into the Assembly chamber to hear him, but at millions of voters beyond the Capitol.  Seeking to build popular support for what he repeatedly called his “honest” strategy to erase a $25 billion deficit, he clearly made the calculation that the time had come to frame the political debate in public, after weeks of low-key, backroom talks with lawmakers.

From the time I first proposed what I believe to be a balanced approach to our budget deficit – both cuts and a temporary extension of current taxes – dozens of groups affected by one or another of the proposed cuts have said we should cut somewhere else instead. Still others say we should not extend the current taxes but let them go away. So far, however, these same people have failed to offer even one alternative solution.

While Brown embroidered his 14-minute State of the State address with appeals for bipartisan cooperation to restore the “exceptionalism” of the California dream, his central message was clear, focusing on turning up the pressure on Republicans to abandon their hold-our-breath-til-we turn-blue stance against providing the handful of votes needed to put a tax measure on the June ballot.

“That’s his style,” said Robert Huckfeld, political science professor at UC Davis and director of the UC Center in Sacramento. “To his credit, he doesn’t pull his punches and he tells it like he sees it.”

“You don’t often see politicians speak that way,” agreed UC Davis environmental science professor Mark Schwartz. “But he’s got nothing to lose and he’s got to get something done.”

The money quotes:

Under our form of government, it would be unconscionable to tell the electors of this state that they have no right to decide whether it is better to extend current tax statutes another five years or chop another $12 billion out of schools, public safety, our universities and our system of caring for the most vulnerable…

When democratic ideals and calls for the right to vote are stirring the imagination of young people in Egypt and Tunisia and other parts of the world, we in California can’t say now is the time to block a vote of the people.

In the ordinary course of things, matters of state concern are properly handled in Sacramento. But when the elected representatives find themselves bogged down by deep differences which divide them, the only way forward is to go back to the people and seek their guidance. It is time for a legislative check-in with the people of California.

Formally dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and red tie, Brown in his plain-spoken words and firm demeanor took on the role of the tough-love truth-teller he had promised during his campaign for governor. Sounding like the adult in a roomful of squabbling adolescents, he pleaded for an end to silly partisan gamesmanship:

This is not the time for politics as usual…

If you are a Democrat who doesn’t want to make budget reductions in programs you fought for and deeply believe in, I understand that. If you are a Republican who has taken a stand against taxes, I understand where you are coming from.

But things are different this time. In fact, the people are telling us–in their own way–that they sense that something is profoundly wrong. They see that their leaders are divided when they should be decisive and acting with clear purpose.

Responding for the California Republican Party — but not necessarily for all the Republicans in the Legislature — CRP Chairman Ron Nehring proclaimed,  “We are determined to fight this unaffordable tax hike, no matter how many ways the Democrats try to soft sell it. Should the governor ever get around to embracing the serious, structural reforms our state needs, we’ll be equally supportive in those efforts.”

Nor were Brown’s allies on the labor left willing to fall in line. Art Pulaski, leader of the California Labor Federation priased Brown’s “vision for long-term recovery that’s been painfully absent in recent years,” but he decried “deep cuts to In-Home Supportive Services, health care and higher education {that] threaten to undermine his vision to rebuild California.”

A few other observations:

The influence of Anne: In his first turn as governor, Bachelor Brown  built a well-earned reputation for rudeness, as he routinely and dismissively dispensed with the niceties of politics. As a 72-year old married to the savvy former business executive Anne Gust, his approach last night was  civil and courteous, despite its tough message. He thanked lawmakers for their “cordiality and good will,” repeatedly invited them to share ideas with him and declared that he looked forward to “working with all of you,” doing a good job of at least faking sincerity.

Ad libs: A year and a half ago, Calbuzz recounted a LMAO appearance Brown made on CNBC   in which he broke the fourth plane, holding a white sheet of paper in front of his face and inviting reporter Michelle Caruso-Cabrera to truncate the interview after she ascribed craven political motives to a case he had brought as attorney general and tried to shine on his attempt to discuss its merits.

In his speech last night, Brown again broke through the bounds of convention, departing from his text  several times to deliver one-liner asides to the assembled politicians, in the manner of a comic telling jokes to the band: At one point he literally called attention to the elephant in the room: “I want to see some Republicans clapping,” he said as stone-faced GOP lawmakers sat on their hands; “That’s ambiguous,” he cracked at another point, after saying public pensions should be “fair to both taxpayers and workers alike.”

The vision thing: As he did in his inaugural address, Brown coupled his unvarnished description of the state’s budget woes with a high-minded appeal to the romantic ideal of California, leavening his message of painful choices with an optimistic view of the future:

Wherever I look, I see difficult choices. But I also see a bright future up ahead and a California economy that is on the mend…

We have the inventors, the dreamers, the entrepreneurs, the venture capitalists and a vast array of physical, intellectual and political assets. We have been called the great exception because for generations Californians have defied the odds and the conventional wisdom and prospered in totally unexpected ways. People keep coming here because of the dream that is still California, and once here, their determination and boundless energy feeds that dream and makes it grow.

Bottom line: While not as trenchant as the inaugural, the SOS was notable for its pull-no-punches candor — a top-notch performance.

Final count: eMeg $159 million, Krusty $36 million; 4.4-to-1 Whitman over Brown. She spent about $38.50 per vote; he spent about $6.60 per vote…But if you add in the primaries, the grand total for eMeg was $178.5 million and for Brown it was $36.7 million.

Krusty Krashes, Meg De-Friended, Flash Squished

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Gandalf Discovers Technology, Chapter 23: Reports that Jerry Brown’s web site crashed, moments after Barack Obama e-blasted a political support pitch for him, may have caused some brief embarrassment to Krusty’s bare-bones campaign staff, but it was quickly overcome when Jerry’s Kids started toting up the bottom line impact of the message.

Obama’s email (…meeting these challenges will be possible only if we have bold leaders like Jerry Brown working alongside us, yadda yadda…) hit our inbox at 12:13 p.m. and Gandalf’s site went down around 12:45, coming back up about 10 minutes later.

Even at that, said trusty Krusty flack Sterling Clifford, more than 3,000 people signed up for campaign emails in the first hour, or about one every 1.2 seconds, according to calculations prepared by the Calbuzz Division of  Critical Mathematical Thinking and Old Abacus Restorations.

Not half bad and, while we waited and waited until push-the-button time for Brown’s vast and far-flung IT department to ship us more data about the Obama readership spike, it seemed impressive enough to keep us from crafting another full-length cheap shot about how hideously over-matched his online and tech operations are against the Empire of eMeg.

“We’ve been in regular touch with the White House political team for months, going back to last winter,” said Clifford, explaining the genesis of Tuesday’s presidential play. “They’ve offered help in a number of ways…with presidential involvement.”

Brown’s campaign, however, offered only clichéd coyness when we asked about any plans for Obama to fly out for a fundraiser in the fall. “That’s for us to know and you to find out,” Clifford actually said. “This is not the only time we’ll see the support of the White House.”

I thought you were my friend. Calbuzz pal Barbara O’Connor, one of our favorite, well-informed eggheads on the subject of state politics and government, checked in to say that reports about her supporting Meg Whitman are not only wrong but also result from a manipulative practice by Team eMeg.

Meg Whitman’s Facebook ad misused my name. They said I was a supporter because I looked at her website and Facebook page as an observer. So much for trying to see what they are posting. If you see my name on any of their materials please complain and ask it to be pulled. I am not supporting her.

Duly noted. To get off the list, she defriended eMeg. (Gasp!)

By the numbers: State GOP chairman Ron Nehring has gotten a lot of mileage out of bragging on the gender and ethnic diversity of the Republicans statewide slate.

“We’ve got a statewide ticket that looks like California, that reflects the diversity of California,”  Nehring told reporters over the weekend.

Among those who ran with Mr. Chairman’s spin was the grassroots blogger Mayhill Fowler – yes, the very one who captured Obama’s famous “cling to their guns and religion” private comment during the 2008 campaign –in her Huffpost report about the convention:

The top of the state ticket has the flavor of inclusiveness that Americans like in their politics now: three women (Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina and Mimi Walters), an African-American (Damon Dunn) and a Hispanic (Abel Maldonado). Diversity was on display in San Diego.

Fair enough, but let’s not get too carried away. While Nehring would have us think the GOP has practically become the UN, the Republican ticket “looks like California” exactly as much as does the Democratic slate: both parties nominated three women and five men, six whites and two minorities for  eight statewide offices.

It’s also worth noting that the most recent demographic data on the parties, a report from the Field Poll released last summer, showed that white voters still account for 79 percent of registered Republicans, although whites are now a minority – 43 percent – of the state’s overall population; by comparison, white voters represent about 55 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents.

Of course, a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, as Mao Tse Tung, the Ron Nehring of his own party, was fond of quoting Lao Tzu.

Final word from GOP confab: Jon Fleischman, the state Republican party’s Man of Many Hats, was in a state of constant motion throughout the just-concluded weekend convention, careening from event to event to fulfill the duties – or further the machinations – of his various roles as apparatchik, blogger and political conspirator.

Around midnight Saturday, Fleischman collapsed his hefty frame into a chair in the Grand Lobby Bar of the convention hotel, joining a trio of off-duty journos who were about 13 or 14 drinks into the mission.

Amid the gossip and good fellowship, Flash recounted an absorbing yarn of how, as a 21-year old knuckledragger-in-training in the early 1990s, he had been roughly flung and pinned to the floor, face ground into the carpet, by two of Pete Wilson’s bodyguards – for the ideologically pure, if woefully misguided, act of shouting personal insults about tax increases at PeeWee while running towards the governor at a high rate of speed down an otherwise deserted hotel corridor.

It explained a lot about Fleischman.

Mid-tale, he glanced at his phone to read a text message he’d just received.   Sent seconds before by state Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth who, as it happened, was sitting with a lively group a mere 10 feet away, the text read: “Hanging out with squishes?”

After sharing the message with his journalistic companions, who took it as a compliment, Fleischman finished his story and his drink, then wearily rose to join Senator Hollingsworth’s party, shaking his head at the unstinting demands placed on a man with multiple agendas.

Final photo from GOP confab: Pictured here: The volcanic Sarah Pompei, eMeg spokeshuman, on the convention floor on Friday night, shortly before she mysteriously disappeared and turned up missing from the Dr. Hackenflack dinner.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: We’re pretty sure the numbers on peeing in the pool are wayyyy low.

Post Mortem: GOP’s Top 10 Shocking Sights

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

SAN DIEGO — You know you’re struggling to craft a strong political message when your top convention speaker is a guy running for secretary of state who shows up wearing a hard hat, demonstrates merely average rhetorical skills and lifts his best line from a 34-year old movie.

As the state Republican convention ended Sunday, the best news for the GOP was that almost nothing happened, at least nothing that might be of the slightest interest to what you call your Real People.

For the political junkie crowd, however, there was no shortage of spectator entertainment. Here are the Top 10 events of a Lost Weekend in San Diego.

10-Calbuzz gets carded: The convention’s biggest surprise came when a thickly muscled bouncer demanded that your Calbuzz correspondents (combined age: 122) produce I.D. to gain admittance to some second-rate pizza-joint-with-a-full-bar in the Gaslamp Quarter which they stumbled upon in the pre-dawn hours. The move by Thor (not his real name) reflected not only his apparent legal blindness, but also some CYA concerns he clearly felt in noting we were two decades younger than the average GOP convention worthy swarming the streets.

9-The CRA deems Meg a squish: The closest thing to a conflict, let alone drama, was the right-wing California Republican Assembly’s unauthorized, opening day press conference assailing Meg Whitman for her softening views on immigration and climate change. The CRA’s unhappiness was  manifest in a proposed resolution urging the party to formally endorse Arizona’s immigration law, which eMeg opposes; party chair Ron Nehring, with a major assist from state Senator Tony Strickland, worked behind the scenes to ensure the proposal didn’t see the light of day.

8-Carly tap dances on immigration. Though the right-wing faithful are well pleased with Senate nominee Carly Fiorina, at least in contrast to wanna guv eMeg, the CRA’s resolution also put the Hurricane on the spot, at a time when she is ever-so-quietly trying to shift to the political center on several issues. Closely questioned by Calbuzz at her Saturday post-speech press conference about the wisdom of the state GOP going on record in the matter, Carly put on a fabulous display of bobbing and weaving before allowing that the proposal was “appropriate.”

7-Mom loves me more than you. Strickland, the party’s nominee for controller, and secretary of state hopeful Damon Dunn battled during their Friday night speeches to see who could suck up to Meg more. Dunn (who arrived at the podium wearing a white hard hat– see above –  for a sight gag that flopped) briefly interrupted the angry tone of his speech (“I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” he kept repeating, quoting the 1976 film “Network”) to gush that “Meg Whitman won my heart,” while Strickland batted goo-goo eyes at her while declaring with terminal earnestness that he’s proud to be “part of what I call ‘Team Whitman.’” Yuck.

6-Strangers in the night. After-hours party sources told Calbuzz it was no accident that eMeg and iCarly never crossed paths at the convention, because Whitman, having made generous contributions to the  GOP, made clear that’s how she wanted it. eMeg no doubt has marginal concerns that Carly’s hard line on issues like abortion, gun control and offshore oil might reflect harmfully on her own mad dash to the center, but the bottom line is simply this: as a political performer, Fiorina is three times the candidate Meg is, and her sharp, punchy and engaging presentation style casts a big shadow on Whitman’s awkward plodding.

5-San Francisco Democrats. As we noted right after the primary, Republicans got a political gift when Democrats nominated a ticket of constitutional nominees heavily tilted to Bay Area liberals. Lite Gov. Abel Maldonado put the Gavin Newsom piece of the package together all weekend, including this must-see video he showed the delegates during his Saturday night speech.

4-Dutch treat. As reporters milled around the press pen early Friday evening, our Assistant Deputy Managing Editor for Cultural Sensitivity and Linguistic Ethnic Profiling got an emergency summons to smooth over a potentially volatile situation, when ace SacBee blogger Torey Van Oot challenged the blatant inaccuracy of “The Tulip,” the nickname Calbuzz gave her in our convention advance. “I’m not Dutch,” she archly informed us, leading management to issue a formal apology, along with a copy desk memo announcing that her new nickname is “Don’t Call Me Dutch.”

3-Cooley’s debut. We got our first extended look at GOP Attorney General nominee Steve Cooley, the L.A. district attorney, and he did a boffo job of ripping the mask off  rival Kamala Harris, the other San Francisco liberal on the Democratic ticket. With his hangdog,  baggy suit, old-school style, Cooley is every inch the career prosecutor, and his authentic outrage was palpable over Harris’s handling of the Edwin Ramos triple murder case and her failure to seek the death penalty in the killing of police officer Isaac Espinoza; when Calbuzz asked him after his speech why he didn’t even mention San Francisco’s drug lab scandal, which Harris also stands in the middle of, he replied, “I only had a certain amount of time.”

2-Meg’s secret message to Goldman Sachs. We’re still trying to parse out precisely what eMeg meant when she dropped this code word thought balloon into the middle of her speech on Friday night: “Do you know who’s as excited about this election as we are? The people of New York. They have suffered the financial reforms that are going to crimp our ability to raise capital and they want California to turn the corner.”

Whether she was complaining that poor Goldman Sachs is suffering unduly under new federal financial regulations, or suggesting that Wall Street types would joyously celebrate the election of a like-minded $oul, you can safely bet that Jerry Brown will use the quote to help paint her as the darling of investment bankers everywhere.

1-The Dr. Hackenflack Dinner: Once again, all right-thinking people agreed, the unquestioned highlight of the convention was the Dr. P.J. Hackenflack dinner, which brought a top-drawer collection of players together at Osetra. Amid fun, frivolity and a wide variety of alcoholic beverages, the group cast secret written ballots for the candidates they think, as of today, will win (not who they prefer). The results:

Governor: Brown 12,  Whitman 5
Senator: Boxer 10, Fiorina 7

The not-so-random voter sample included: Republican operatives (5); MSM reporters (5); Bloggers (3); Civilians (3); Recovering journalist (1). A sixth MSM reporter refused to cast a ballot (don’t ask), making turnout 94%.

Consumer Advisory: This is heir to the same group that a dozen years ago  voted conclusively that Al Checchi would win the Democratic nomination for governor in 1998.