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Archive for the ‘California Politics’ Category



GOP Confab Highlight: Condi Drinking Game

Friday, February 27th, 2015

condoleezza_rice_605_nflTony V has totally wimped out on California’s Senate race, leaving state political writers in desperate need of a story — and reduced to downing shots each time someone says, “I wish Condi would run” at this weekend’s Republican convention.

Sad but true: as the Calbuzz National Affairs and Social Activities Desk heads to Sacramento for the Republican’s twice-yearly celebration of bolo ties and geriatric activism, GOP fantasy figure and ex-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice represents the last, dire hope for them – and us! – to make the 2016 Senate election something other than a coronation for the state attorney general, Queen Kamala Harris.

As loyal readers know, Condi led the recent Field Poll of possibles to replace the retiring Barbara Boxer. Unless you’re just now waking up with a blackout hangover after celebrating the Seahawk’s historic Super Bowl choke job (ha!) for the last four weeks, you also probably know she has absolutely no intention of running.

Having signaled in every possible way her utter lack of interest in grassroots efforts to draft her for the gig, short of planting a sign on the 13th green at Pebble Beach, Condi seems content to wallow in her cushy sinecure at Stanford, instead of achieving, in one swell foop, the task of restoring Republicans to relevance in California.

Or, more importantly, in stepping up to do her duty to humanity, by helping out a couple of aging hacks yearning for one more good campaign to cover, before we go gently into that good night. Sniffle.

Witch. Why would she start caring about humanity now?

High atop the convention floor: While Kamala’s busy checking fabric and carpet swatches for her new digs in the Hart Senate Office Building this weekend, Dr. P.J. Hackenflack will oversee our vast convention staff as they work day and night to dig out answers to the five crucial questions at this weekend’s convention:

Former Sen. Jim Brulte visits the Capitol Bureau.1-Will Brulte get flagged for “excessive celebration”? Since taking over as state GOP chair two years ago, Jim Brulte has done everything he said he’d do: paid off the party’s massive debt, restored it to the black and denied Democrats two-thirds majorities in the Legislature, while beginning to nudge Republicans back into the mainstream and out of the Twilight Zone of social issue obsessions. Brulte’s Saturday morning meeting with the press corps is almost always the best event at the convention, and if he doesn’t win a new term by acclamation, grassroots Reeps are even dumber than we think.

2-Will your Calbuzzards once again be the youngest people at the convention? Brulte’s done a good job of recruiting more women and minority candidates – admittedly, not all that hard, given how low the bar was to start with – but we’re still looking for the day the average age at one of these affairs falls below 85. Oh sure, there’s the loud, obnoxious College Republican drunks, but those guys couldn’t stagger through a precinct without falling down on the sidewalk; even their legendary hero, Jon Fleischman, is seriously starting to show his age.

chris-christie-dou_2473051b3-Will Chris Christie fit through the double doors of the ballroom? New Jersey Governor, and quickly fading presidential wannabe, Chris Christie is what passes for the big name at the event, but given his recent embarrassing legal defeat over efforts to cut pensions in the Garden State, he might better spend his time sneaking across L Street from the Hyatt Regency to the Capitol, for a sit-down with Jerry Brown on how to manage public finances. Yeah, yeah, we know he’s lost weight – and God forbid we would ever take a cheap shot at somebody for being fat – but word on the street is that hotel management has its carpentry department on call, should they need to knock out a wall to squeeze Mr. Beef into the Regency Foyer.

mialove4-Will immigration officials bust up Mia Love’s speech? The Saturday night keynoter is freshman Rep. Mia Love of Utah, a Haitian-American Mormon woman whom Republicans point to as evidence they’re taking diversity seriously. Love was elected last fall in a gerrymandered district after the local political press failed to follow up hard on allegations of felony hypocrisy brought forth by Mother Jones reporter Stephanie Mencimer, who disclosed the fundamental contradiction between Love’s round-‘em-up-and-move-‘em-out immigration stance and her very complicated family history. Anchor babies aweigh.

5-Who’s the press corps champ? The weekend’s big competitive contest will focus on who’s the last to face-plant in the guacamole in the Great Condoleeza Rice Drinking Game. Handicapping the field, it’s clear that Hearst Chron ranter Debra Saunders, ex-state GOP chair Bob Naylor and Dr. Sherry Bebitch Jeffe of KNBC are the early favorites. Betting tip: never lay money in a drinking game against someone with a PhD.

antonionewyorkerFirst we thought he wouldn’t, then we thought he would, now we just don’t care: As for the aforementioned dog-ass Tony V, aka former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the less said the better.

After doing a Dianne Feinstein-worthy Dance of the Seven Veils over whether to run for weeks, hanging out close associates by having them tell reporters it was a done deal and self-importantly basking in media attention as the world awaited his monumental decision, Tony simply chickened out.

Count us among those who won’t bite the next time he tries this, most likely a Hamlet play over whether to challenge Prince Gavin for governor in 2018. Take a hike, loser.

(Editor’s note: Due to an onset of utter idiocy, a draft version of this column containing some shady information was stupidly posted early yesterday for about five hours. We regret the error, along with many other matters in our lives). 

Field Poll Buzz: Condi vs. Kamala Dream Match-Up

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

riceThe new Field Poll, testing whether voters are inclined or not to vote for various individuals for U.S. Senate, is most significant for one reason: as a demonstration that Republican former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice could be a strong contender if she got into the race.

Compared to the rest of the mentionables, Rice draws the most number of respondents who are inclined to vote for her – 49% — more than all the others, including one declared candidate, Attorney General Kamala Harris, who pulls 47%.

Most important, this far in advance of the election — and with absolutely no indication from Rice that she’s interested in running — is that while 74% of Republicans say they’re inclined to vote for her, so too are 31% of Democrats and 54% of independents.

Harris, likewise, draws inclinations for 74% of Democrats, but only 10% of Republicans and 42% of independents.

In other words, absent any kind of campaign, which surely would give her plenty of solid whacks, the former cornerstone of the Bush-Cheney-Rice triumvirate would appear to be in a strong position to seek a seat in the Senate from California.

A lot stronger than the more likely candidate – Democratic former mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio “Tony V” Villaraigosa.  Just 35% of voters are inclined to vote for him right now – 57% of Democrats, 12% of Republicans and 22% of independents.

Rice has told people that she is not interested in leaving her cushy job as Provost at Stanford for a shot at the Senate. She’d face inevitable questions about her private life and, of course, there’s the small matter of being a, uh, war criminal; alas, she’d probably have to give up her dream of becoming NFL commissioner. And when push comes to party, she is still going to be a Republican in deep blue California.

Despite her disavowal of interest, it wouldn’t surprise us if Rice now gets some pressure from national Republicans to take a more serious look at running: stealing a safe Democratic seat in California would be a fantasy come true for the GOP, a big play that instantly would give the GOP a huge boost in its effort to re-establish relevance in the state.

More grist for that argument: for the moment, when no one has yet laid a glove on her, 52% of whites, 48% of Latinos, 51% of blacks and 38% of Asians all are inclined to vote for her. For Harris it’s 42% of whites, 52% of Latinos, 78% of blacks and 41% of Asians. And while Villaraigosa pulls interest from just 26% of whites, 60% of Latinos say they’re inclined to vote for him, 62% of blacks and 23% of Asians.

The Sacramento Bee posts all of the Field Poll crosstabs here, if you want to check out all the mentioned potential candidates.

In the interest of having a story to cover, Calbuzz now is also rooting for Rice, along with Tony V, to get in the race. Not that she’d make a particularly good U.S. Senator. But it would be a hell of a contest.

Among Latinos, Tony V Thumps Kamala for Senate

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

KamalaTonyVCalifornia Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris may be leading the field statewide in 2016 race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer – we won’t actually know until we see some public polling data – but it appears that among Latino voters who say they’re likely to vote, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio “Tony V” Villaraigosa is the clear favorite.

A poll commissioned by California Majority Report – the partisan web site run by Democratic consultant Steve Maviglio – has found that among Latino likely voters, Tony V leads Princess Kamala 23-15%, with a whopping 35% undecided.

Private Poll Worth Citing While Calbuzz seldom reports on private polling, in this case the pollsters — Bendixen and Amandi International – shared their methodology, their report to their client and answered all of our questions. And while CMR is rabidly pro-Democrat, Maviglio and co-publisher Jason Kinney, have no horse in the Senate race.

According to the survey of 600 likely Latino voters, Villaraigosa at 23 percent and Harris at 15% are followed by Democratic U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (11%), Democratic U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra (8%), Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (3%), and Republican Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin (2%). Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, former Republican Party chairmen Duf Sundheim and Tom Del Beccarro each received one percent.

In a head-to-head matchup, Villaraigosa leads Harris 44-29% among Latino likely voters.

amandi“This race is wide open and fluid,” said pollster Fernand Amandi, noting that 59% of voters said they could change their mind by the June 2016 election with only 38% firm in their decision. Fifty-six percent of Harris voters said they could change their minds, while 51% of Villaraigosa voters said the same.

While the results might encourage Tony V to make a decision to enter the race – knowing that he would have a good chance of rallying Latino voters – it would mean little in a statewide contest unless he were able to get those voters motivated to turn out.

That’s a serious challenge: In November 2014, Latinos comprised just 15% of the statewide vote, slightly below the average Latino proportion of the vote (17%) over the past six election cycles, according to date complied by pollster Jim Moore of Sacramento.

Who Likes Whom? The pollsters tested the images of the candidates and some other political leaders and found Villaraigosa with the highest positives (55%) and highest negatives (21%) while Harris had an image that is only 32% positive but just 9% negative. These are mixed blessings: 76% of Latino voters already have an opinion about Tony V but only 43% have an opinion about Princess Kamala. Tony V’s net positive rating is 34% positive; Harris’s is 23% positive.

condiriceLatino voters barely know who the potential Republican candidates are, but there is one Republican political figure they know and kinda like – Condoleeza Rice, the former Secretary of State who has made no indication that she’s thinking of running for Senate despite the fervent dreams of many Republican partisans.

According to the survey, Rice’s positive image among Latino voters is even stronger than Harris’s – 48% positive and 20% negative – a 68% recognition level with a 28% net positive rating. If she were to get into the Senate race she’d start from a pretty strong base among Latino voters – at least until she took stands on issues like pathway to citizenship, abortion, climate change, national medical insurance and gay marriage.

The strongest image among any political leader tested was Hillary Clinton, at 72% positive and 21% negative – a recognition level of 93% with a 51% net positive rating. One leader who has a lot of work to do among Latinos is Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom who, on Wednesday, announced he’ll be running for governor in 2018. Newsom’s positive was 25%, his negative 14%, for a net positive of just 11% and a recognition level of a paltry 39%.

For a more complete summary of the survey, try California Majority Report. The survey by Bendixen and Amandi included a random sample of 600 California registered voters who identified themselves as Latino and said they were likely to vote in the Senate race in 2016. They were called on landline and cell phones by live, bi-lingual interviewers between Jan. 30 and Feb. 2. The margin of error in the survey is +/- 4%.

Why Only Whack Jobs Don’t Vaccinate Their Kids

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

measlesboyThere are certain things we do as an advanced, civilized society to protect our children: We require that if they are transported in a car, they must be strapped into in a car seat; they must wear a helmet when they ride a bicycle; they can’t be made to work in sweat shops; they’re not allowed to drink alcohol; they’re legally protected from sexual molestation.

And, if we’re lucky enough to have developed a vaccine for various deadly or life-threatening diseases, they are immunized as early as possible.

The only people who would violate any of these kinds of social strictures are those who hold some other values higher than the safety of our children and the survival of the species.

They are self-absorbed, uneducated or willfully ignorant. They choose not to understand that their decision to violate these kinds of norms not only endanger their children, but threaten other people, especially other children who are not their own.

vaccination-5Bad Parental Choices In some communities (we name no names, Marin and Orange counties), gluten-free, breatharian liberals or live-free-or-die government haters will go to court to prevent children from bringing allergy-inducing peanuts into the school lunchroom while refusing to have their own children vaccinated against measles, mumps or whooping cough.

“Parental choice” is their banner; hypocrisy is their manner.

So, in the wake of an outbreak of measles in Disneyland and about 100 cases of the dangerous disease now reported in California (far more than panic-inducing Ebola), it makes sense that Democratic Sens. Richard Pan of Sacramento and Ben Allen of Santa Monica have introduced legislation in Sacramento to eliminate the “personal-belief exemption” that allows parents to refuse to inoculate their children merely because they are philosophically opposed to immunizations.

Children with a valid medical reason for not being vaccinated, would still be exempted.

“We do not need to wait for a child to sicken or die before we act. And that’s what we’re doing here today,” Pan told a Capitol news conference

California’s U.S. Senators are also on the case.

“While a small number of children cannot be vaccinated due to an underlying medical condition, we believe there should be no such thing as a philosophical or personal-belief exemption, since everyone uses public spaces,” Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein wrote in a letter to California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley. “As we have learned in the past month, parents who refuse to vaccinate their children not only put their own family at risk, but they also endanger other families who choose to vaccinate.”

hillarytwitterFirst Grandma Steps Up Likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton joined the fray last week, tweeting:

“The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest

That was at least in part in reaction to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, both of whom – in an apparent attempt to straddle the gap between modern science and know-nothing, anti-Big Brother libertarians — issued statements that essentially said, “Sure vaccines are good, but parents ought to have control.”

So now they’re pro-choice? Who knew?

The whole “personal exemption” thing in California has gotten out of hand and demands reform.  Thanks to an excellent wrap-up by Lisa M. Krieger and Jessica Calefati at the Mercury News, we know that:

Vaccine exemptions have been available since 1961, when California first required all public school teachers and students to be inoculated against polio. But there has been a surge in their popularity in recent years. From 2000 to 2014, the rate of parents seeking exemptions tripled, from 0.77 percent to 2.5 percent — or one in every 40 kids. California is one of 19 states that allow exemptions based purely on parents’ personal beliefs.

“An exemption is something we can only allow under the condition where it very rarely is exercised,” said Stanford University’s David Magnus, a professor of pediatrics who directs the Center for Biomedical Ethics. “The fact that there has been so much misuse means it is time to tighten things.”

urgent careHow Best to Fight Idiocy We know young mothers who are afraid to take their children to mothers’ groups because they have no idea whether some self-absorbed parent is toting a little one who’s carrying measles or some other highly-contagious disease. After hearing about nearly 200 children who were exposed to Disneyland measles at one urgent care center in Mesa, AZ, lots of parents are now afraid to take their kid to the pediatrician’s office.

There’s a debate among pro-vaccination people about how best to deal with the anti-vaxxers. Some, like Dr. Saad B. Omer, argue:

For epidemiologists like me, eliminating exemptions may seem satisfying, but it is not the wisest policy for protecting kids. Instead, we should borrow a concept from behavioral economics, and use administrative rules and procedures to “nudge” parents to immunize their kids, rather than trying to castigate or penalize these parents.

On the other hand, writers like Matt Novak argue that the anti-vaccination movement, if not the individuals, should be ridiculed (like the Ku Klux Klan or anti-gay marriage forces have been) because shame works.

Given that there is absolutely no scientific basis on which to base their beliefs, it would seem that ridicule is not a bad strategy.

In case you forgot, here’s part of a New York Times piece recounting just how discredited is the notion of a link between vaccinations and other maladies:

wakefieldIt turns on a seminal moment in anti-vaccination resistance. This was an announcement in 1998 by a British doctor who said he had found a relationship between the M.M.R. vaccine — measles, mumpsrubella — and the onset of autism.

Typically, the M.M.R. shot is given to infants at about 12 months and again at age 5 or 6. This doctor, Andrew Wakefield, wrote that his study of 12 children showed that the three vaccines taken together could alter immune systems, causing intestinal woes that then reach, and damage, the brain.

In fairly short order, his findings were widely rejected as — not to put too fine a point on it — bunk. Dozens of epidemiological studies found no merit to his work, which was based on a tiny sample. The British Medical Journal went so far as to call his research “fraudulent.” The British journal Lancet, which originally published Dr. Wakefield’s paper, retracted it. The British medical authorities stripped him of his license.

So, anti-vaxxers, shame on you.

RIP Rick Orlov: He Lived and Breathed LA Politics

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

rickyRick Orlov, who died Monday at age 66, wasn’t just an ace veteran reporter for the Los Angeles Daily News, he was a relentlessly decent, talented and generous man who was, for 30 years, immersed in the bloodstream of L.A. politics.

Newsmen and women, politicians and consultants all admired and respected him for his devotion to his craft, his reportorial skill and his love of civic life. He didn’t interview subjects, he had conversations with people, on and off the record, using every bit of knowledge to shine light on the goings on at City Hall and in the politics of L.A. and California.

He was a fierce competitor as a newshound, but would share whatever he could with colleagues and friends. We were lucky enough to be among them.

Orlov, who had battled diabetes and had been on dialysis for years. He suffered a fall recently and had been hospitalized. He died of complications, his family reported. Born April 12, 1948, in Chicago, Orlov worked for Copley News Service in Los Angeles in the 1970s before moving to the Daily News in 1978.

“He was such an incredible part of the political landscape,” said L.A. consultant Bill Carrick. “He loved politics, the news and reporting. And for lots of people in L.A., he was the Daily News.”

We’ve lost one of the best. RIP Ricky.