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Archive for the ‘Steve Cooley’ Category



Meyer on Meg’s Money; Bonus: Her Personality

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Whether Meg Whitman tastes personal triumph or bitter defeat on Tuesday, her do-it-my-way campaign for governor will end with a bunch of winners: the scores of media, polling, online, policy and strategic consultants who backed up the truck and hauled off many, many millions of dollars of her money.

In a year when the Supreme Court threw off all restrictions on corporate and labor campaign spending, Karl Rove pioneered new methods for funneling secret funds into races across the country and more than half of the members of the U.S. Senate were millionaires, eMeg secured her own special place in political history by tossing at least $140 million of her own fortune into the pot – making her bid for governor a more expensive proposition than Al Gore’s effort to become president in 2000. As of this week, her burn rate was up to $1.4 million a day.

As sartorially splendiferous editorial cartoonist Tom Meyer bids farewell to the nouveaux riches Legions of eMeg today, it’s worth poring through the dusty volumes of ancient Calbuzz writings to excavate a piece from the earliest days of the site, when we examined the checkered history of self-funding candidates for top offices in California:

Pity the poor billionaire seeking high office in California : Not once in modern political history has a self-financed candidate captured a top-of-ticket party nomination and gone on to be elected governor or U.S. senator in the state.

This historic trend again marks California as a great exception, in contrast to states like New Jersey and Texas , where multimillionaires routinely prevail.

Good luck and Godspeed on Tuesday, Meg. Sorry we never got to have that dinner.


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eMeg — The Person: Despite considerable sideline agitation by the esteemed Dr. P.J. Hackenflack, our staff psychiatrist, Calbuzz has refrained by and large from trying to explain Meg Whitman’s personality, or to examine her skills at mothering, or to look too deeply into her intellectual, emotional or spiritual motivations. Frankly, we don’t really know the woman. Our attempts to get up close and personal have been rebuffed, so we have — for the most part — not gone all psychological on eMeg (as we have on Jerry Brown, aka Krusty the General, aka Gandalf).

But while writers at Gawker have not been so restrained, neither are the folks over at the Bay Citizen, which posted a story on Friday titled, “At eBay, Whitman Was Known for Fierce Temper.” The story had the following subhead: “Former employees say her angry outbursts and imperious management style raise questions about how she’d govern.”

“She was very angry, irrational when under stress, very difficult to be around,” said a former eBay technology executive who was present at a meeting to discuss a June 1999 crisis in which the eBay computer system crashed and could not be reliably restored. This executive said that Whitman threw a phone or pager at a marketing representative from Veritas Software who had brought the unwelcome news that a Veritas engineer could not attend the meeting. One other employee present corroborated this employee’s account, and a third employee present corroborated that Whitman was irate and used profanity but was unable to see whether or not she threw something at the marketing representative.

About 20 people, including eBay staff and personnel from Oracle, Veritas and Sun Microsystems, were present. Whitman “just went ballistic,” the technology executive said. “She was in a rage, swearing. Really hard-core swearing. I don’t know how many times she said ‘fuck.’ Over and over and over. She laid into this poor woman. She just went on, wouldn’t let go. Everybody was in shock and astonished at what Meg was doing. You just don’t see this kind of thing in business meetings.”

So, maybe Nicky Diaz — the housekeeper she fired abruptly after nine years, after finding our she was an illegal immigrant — got off easy.

She actually said the words: After eMeg got some rough treatment at a stop at a Cuban bakery in Glendale Friday, she was asked about the recent spate of polls showing her significantly behind Jerry Brown. Whereupon she responded with the hoariest cliche in politics, always a clear signal that it’s wayyyy past time for the campaign to be over:

“Polls schmolls,” Whitman said. “The only poll that really matters is the poll on Election Day.

This just in: Joe (Ballgame) Garofoli reports that Barbara Boxer is — oddly — saying the magic words as well.
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Field Poll numbers: Latest survey has Gavin Newsom leading Abel Maldonado in the Lieutenant Governor’s race 42-37% and Steve Cooley and Kamala Harris at 39-38% in the race for Attorney General. Jump ball.
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Meg’s Latest Jerry vs Jerry ad: Nice clip from 1995 of CNN’s Frank Sesno asking Brown “What did you lie about as governor?” Says Jerry: “It’s all a lie!” And Team Whitman wants you to remember that’s what he said. Jerry’s Kids will probably say, “Hey, that’s back when he was a radio host, trying to be provocative. Old news.” If they bother to respond at all.

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.





Road Trip! National Affairs Desk Heads to San Diego

Friday, August 20th, 2010

The center of the political universe will shift to San Diego this weekend, as eMeg, iCarly and scintillating Board of Equalization candidates from throughout the state meet in solemn conclave in a city that actually selected the phrase “Happy HAPPENS!” as its official slogan.

Our National Affairs Desk, joined by the staff and Secretary of the Department of Social Anxiety, Recreational Usage and Hollow Leg Dinner Affairs will collaborate, coordinate and cooperate to provide Calbuzz readers 24/7, real time, deadline-every-minute-coverage of the Republican State Convention all weekend.

Unless there’s nothing worth writing, in which case you’re on your own.

On me!

(Inside tip for conventioneers: We hear Jon Fleischman is buying drinks for anyone who sees him at the Manchester Grand Hyatt convention hotel and says: “You really should plug Calbuzz more on Flashreport.”)

The weekend’s highlight is expected Friday night, when Meg Whitman,  widely known horsewoman and GOP nominee for governor, is to deliver a stemwinder called “Political Management by Corporate Objective: Using Corporal Punishment for Pushing State Employees to Work More for Less.”

She’ll be joined on the dais by fellow statewide candidates, “Taliban Tony” Strickland and Damon “Don’t Call Me Dominick” Dunn, who will attempt to explain to the assembled octogenarians and by-then-sleepy delegates exactly what it is that the Controller and Secretary of State actually do.

Attending?

No word yet on whether birther whack job Orly Taitz, defeated by Dunn in the primary, will be on hand for the celebration. Hope springs eternal.

Keeping with the party’s “No Such Thing as a Free Lunch” theme, delegates and guests will be required to listen to Senate candidate “Hurricane” Carly Fiorina, AG hopeful Steve “Go Lakers” Cooley and Republican wannabe Insurance Commissioner “Landslide Mike” Villines, in order to have their mid-day meal tickets punched on Saturday.

That night’s headliner will be right-wing favorite and Lite Gov. Abel “Tax Man” Maldonado. Which is too bad for him, since most of the press corps will be chopping it up at the Dr. Hackenflack Dinner, except for the unfortunate Joe “Paisan” Garafoli and Torey “The Tulip” Van Oot, who somehow got stuck doing the pool report.

Watch this space all weekend for on-the-scene reporting of all the Republican hijinks and general hilarity. Plenty of free parking.

Out Foxed: There was lots of fierce competition for this week’s Little Pulitzer False Equivalence Award, what with Newt Gingrich equating construction of a Muslim community center two blocks from Ground Zero to Nazis putting up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington  (he was kicked out of the competition because of the automatic disqualification rule for anyone using a Nazi comparison to describe American politics).

The runner-up was Team Whitman, for its ongoing, flog-a-dead-horse attempt to equate eMeg’s $100+ million champagne taste campaign spending with the beer budget, Bad News Bears efforts of the California Working Families for Jerry Brown independent expenditure committee, which is kind of like comparing a Bugatti Veyron to a Nissan Versa. (Memo to eMeg Communications Shop: This whole “Jerry Brown Inc.” thing is hella’ lame, and the real problem is that it just doesn’t make any sense. Think about it for one minute: your whole line of attack on Krusty is that he’s bought and paid for by unions; so your tag line therefore portrays him as an evil corporation? C’mon. But we digress).

The week’s hands-down winner, however, was Calbuzz friend Joel Fox, usually one of our favorite conservative bloggers.

The weak gruel defense Fox offered up for refusing to make public the names of the contributors footing the bill for his operation to air a straight-on, anti-Brown attack spot in the guise of an alleged “issues ad” not only compared his donors to Revolutionary War patriots (sheesh) but also  evoked the First Amendment as the basis for his stonewalling.

Reporters said that donors to the ad should be disclosed even though that is not required, and these same reporters defend not disclosing their sources at times and often for the same reason…

Reporters defend a similar course of keeping sources protected from retribution by not disclosing them. Speaking the truth about an issue can displease politicians who have the power to punish through regulations, lawsuits, and other means..

Excuse us while we build a coliseum big enough to hold our laughter.

Comparing reporters protecting whistleblower sources from punishment and retribution for calling attention to public and private wrongdoing is only exactly 180 degrees different from letting a squadron of stuffed-wallet suits and corporate sultans slither away from the spirit of the law by sucker punching a political candidate under cover of secrecy.

Alas, we fear that Joel has conflated the First Amendment freedom of the press with the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

We got nothin’ against anybody spending their however-gotten gains any way they like, including pitching in to help a poor rich gal who’s down to her last 12 or 13 zillion dollars win an election. But at least man up and take some personal responsibility for the decision to do it. We’re just sayin’.

Final word: Calbuzz mourned on Monday, when baseball immortal Bobby Thomson passed away at the age of 86. The great New York Giants second baseman was the author of the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” the most magical moment in baseball history.

On Oct. 3, 1951, Thomson lined a three-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth off Ralph Branca, completing one of the greatest pennant stretch runs in baseball history, as the G-men bested the dog-ass determined Dodgers in a three-game playoff to win the National League championship and advance to the World Series.

Here’s the famous Russ Hodges call of the play, one more time for the Flying Scotsman. 

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