Archive for the ‘California Politics’ Category

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.

Press Clips: Willie’s World Takes Turn for the Worse

Friday, September 11th, 2015

willie3(Updates below) A San Francisco political insider forwarded an ICYMI copy of a Wall Street Journal scoop this week that detailed a new case of Willie Brown sleaze, and appended this question to the email: “Wonder how he’ll wiggle out of this one?”

The answer could not have been easier: “By clearing himself in his column,” we wrote back, “that runs in the NEWS PAGES of the Hearst Chronicle.” Cap letters ours.

What’s the story: At post time, the Chron had yet to acknowledge the juicy WSJ story, which quotes documents from a legal file involving a domestic violence case against one Gurbaksh Chahal, a rich, self-important Silicon Valley scumbag who apparently enjoys beating up women.

It seems that Chahal, aka “G,” implored venture capitalist Steve Westly — former state Controller and current wannabe’ governor — to help him out of a legal jam, after he was charged with 45 felony counts for allegedly hitting and kicking his girlfriend 117 times in half-an-hour. Westly, Journal sleuth Jeff Elder reported, was motivated to help in order to protect a $100 million planned IPO in which both stood to make a killing.

No fool he, Westly naturally sent his rich and repulsive pal Willie’s way, suggesting Mr. Fixit was well-positioned to help:

gurbaksh-chahal-clickagentsVenture capitalist and one-time California state controller Steve Westly, who joined RadiumOne’s board in November 2013, suggested in a Dec. 3, 2013 email to Mr. Chahal that lawyer Willie Brown, former San Francisco mayor and State Assembly speaker, “believes that he can help you.”

Mr. Westly, who is considering a second run for governor, wrote that Mr. Brown knows the district attorney and “may be able to ‘back him off,’” adding that Mr. Brown is a “very good deal broker.”

Six days later, in an email with the subject line “Willie Brown,” Mr. Chahal wrote to Mr. Westly: “Just met him. Wants $1 million if he can make this go away. Just gave him a $250K retainer. If you meet him tomorrow. Apply some pressure on him to make this go away in 2013.”

Mr. Westly responded: “Wow. That’s pricey, but probably worth it if he can make it happen. I suspect he will pull out all the stops to get this done.”

Nice client, Willie.

Pop quiz: There’s much more to the story, but for Press Clips purposes, that’s the gist of it (the WSJ piece is here if you can navigate past the subscription wall, while good overviews from SF Business Times and SFist are here and here if you can’t).

Our question is: where will Chron readers find Brown’s comments on the matter?

A) in context in a news story;

B) in “Willie’s World,” Brown’s own ballyhooed Sunday column.

C) nowhere.

Based on a recent case study, your best bet is B).

shrimpboytatoosFor that’s exactly where the journalistic geniuses at the tweeting incubator formerly known as The Voice of the West allowed Brown to address another recent yarn about corruption in which his name surfaced.

In the tangled affair known in this space as the Shrimp Boy Scandal, Chron reporters Bob Egelko and Emily Green reported, in an excellent, if complicated Page 1 story, about new documents filed in the case; the story said that a city commissioner, allegedly implicated in funneling bribes, told an undercover FBI agent that San Francisco was a “pay to play” city and that she had learned her trade from none other than Willie Brown.

In another conversation reported in the court filings, Jones told the agent she wanted a $10,000 commitment and said, “You pay to play here. … We are the best at this game … better than New York.”

Apparently referring to [S.F. Mayor Ed} Lee, Jones said, “He is a moderate, business-focused mayor. He was pretty much trained and developed by Willie Brown and the same as myself, and we were trained to get the job done.”

No comment from Brown about the assertion followed, however. That came the next day, when Chronicle editors blithely allowed Brown himself to address it – and knock down any suggestion that it might be true — in “Willie’s World,” his Sunday column in the news columns of the paper.

Denying that he’d ever even discussed the subject of campaign contributions with the commissioner – heaven forbid! – Brown wrote that, upon reading the Saturday story, “I could only chuckle.”

Ha, ha, you old rascal you.

No ethics for old men: You don’t have to doubt the veracity of Brown’s account to believe that his perspective belonged in the original news story where he was mentioned, so that readers could weigh and judge for themselves his comments in their full context – not in the self-serving, self-referential clown show that is his Sunday column.

Let’s review: San Francisco’s leading power broker, a lawyer who doesn’t disclose his clients to readers or editors but commands $1 million fees from millionaires to make ugly criminal charges “go away,” a lobbyist so brazen he used his Chronicle column picture to register with the city — gets the news pages handed over to him to laugh off his well-earned reputation for shameless, scheming and guileful behavior while shouting from the rooftops that he’s got the Chronicle in his pocket.

chroniclepageFormer Hearst Chron editor Ward Bushee, who originally brought Brown in to write the column, set down the company line several years ago, when he said that “Willie is…not bound by the (Chronicle’s) ethics policy.” Or anyone else’s either, for that matter.

As loyal Calbuzzers know, we’ve long ragged on this issue, which violates the most basic values and standards of journalism, while sacrificing the collective integrity of the news staff to the personal and financial agenda of one powerful influence peddler. Sad to say, Fifth and Mission rank and filers are troubled by the arrangement with Brown, but fear the bosses’ retribution for saying so.

Bottom line: The most thoughtful piece on the subject, published in the Columbia Journalism Review, was written by veteran editor John Mecklin, who worked for a time in San Francisco.

I have my own opinion on Brown’s column, and it’s a simpler one: I think the Chronicle’s decision to give Brown a column is just plain wrong, by any assessment based on standard notions of journalistic ethics. If readers are to trust newspapers, the people who write regularly for them need to avoid creating doubt about their credibility; particularly, they need to assure readers of their disinterest in the financial implications of the activities they cover—or to clearly disclose conflicts they do have. Willie Brown’s persona is based on the notion that he is absolutely in the game, a real player in the high-dollar dealings of government. As it stands now, readers have no reliable way to tell whether Brown might be or might not be a player in any governmental or political endeavor that he—or other Chronicle journalists—describe. In that regard, in my view, Brown’s column undercuts the entire paper’s credibility.

Amen, brother.

(Update Friday 8:38 am: SF Gate has now posted an edited version of the SF Business Insider story, not a staff-written piece, on the Chahal affair. It reports that Brown could not be reached for comment; strange that the Chron couldn’t reach their own columnist).

(Update Saturday 10:41 am: SFGate Chron has now published a move-along-nothing-to-see-here version of the WSJ story in the form of a Matier and Ross column that is a straight rewrite of the Elder piece, except for its strong pro-Willie perspective and a couple of self-serving Wilie quotes — it seems poor Mr. Chahal had a “desperate need” for legal representation and the public spirit-minded former mayor gallantly lent his servicesgleaned from Phil Matier’s own interview with the Human Hot Air Balloon on KGO yesterday. If your head is spinning on our old friend Phil’s multi-platform roles in this saga, stay tuned for tomorrow, to see if Willie’s World, ghost-written by the ubiquitous Matier, contains even more details about the heroic role the great man played in this immorality play.

Meanwhile, for those keeping score at home, the resourceful Elder’s latest blog post on KGO’s Matier-Willie tete-a-tete, may be found here.)

(Update Sunday 3:10 pm: Calbuzz gets results:”Willie’s World,” a Brown-Matier Production, ran in the print edition of the Hearst Chron today, but the great man had not a word to say about the Chahal scandal. It was a clear cave-in to Calbuzz, while also an effort to distort the results of our multiple choice quiz, above; in retrospect, of course we should have included the Matier and Ross column as possibility d) of where Willie’s comments would appear. His Willieness got a nice ride in the M&R piece with this as the, um, money quote: “Brown had an interesting explanation for why he took on such an apparently distasteful client. He told us Friday that ‘$1 million was the fee that I hoped (Chahal) could not pay. I did not want to deal with a client that had 45 counts of domestic violence, but he said, ‘All right.’ ” Poor Willie, Chahal left him no choice but to represent the scumbag).


Op-Ed: Dems Should Dump New Motor Voter Bill

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

i dont voteBy Bob Mulholland
Special to Calbuzz

(The conventional wisdom among Sacramento Democrats is that Assembly Bill 1461, to register automatically anyone who obtains or renews a driver’s license, is a terrific idea to enfranchise millions and address California’s disgraceful voter turnout.

To our great surprise, Bob Mulholland, Democratic National Committee member, dedicated career operative and true believer, argues that the conventional wisdom is wrong. This is a version of a letter he sent on Tuesday to Secretary of State Alex Padilla and others, who trumpet the legislation as a great reform).

I join many others in opposition to AB 1461, which would force people onto the voter registration rolls – without their permission.

I started registering Democrats (pre-postcard, implemented July 1, 1976) when citizens could not register themselves. We used a county-provided booklet (8.5 X 14″) with carbon paper.  The turnout in the presidential election in November 1972 (age 18-21 could vote for the first time) was 82.1% in California and it was 81.5% in November 1976, but 1976 had 458,748 fewer voters. The enthusiasm of the youth vote had already dropped.

Poll-tax1The history of the world: Over the last 100 years, governments have made significant improvements in the voter registration and voting process in California. The most important:

1. The XIX Amendment (1920) “granting” the right to vote to women.

2. All Native Americans were finally, with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, given the right to vote.  After WWII, 25,000 Native American veterans were denied the right to vote in some states.

3. The XXVI Amendment passed (1971) lowering the age to vote to 18.

4. In 1972, the deadline to register to vote was reduced from 54 days to 30 days.

5. In 1975, the deadline was reduced to 29 days (Mondays).

6. On July 1, 1976, pre-postage paid voter registration cards went into effect.

18CanVote17. Gov. Jerry Brown (yes, the same Brown) signed legislation (implemented in 1978), to allow registered voters to vote by mail without needing a reason, such as traveling, being sick, etc.

8. Motor Voter became effective in California on June 19, 1995, after a court battle with Republican Gov. Pete Wilson who blocked it. This put a box on all government forms whereby a citizen could voluntarily register to vote.

9. Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation (Speaker Hertzberg’s bill) in 2000 reducing the deadline to register to vote to 15 days.

10. Gov. Davis also signed legislation in 2000, which allowed any voter to sign up as a Permanent Absentee Voter (PAV).  Both Republican Governors George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson previously vetoed such measures.

11.One of the best changes, giving full access to registering to vote, came when Secretary of State Debra Bowen updating the SOS website in the fall of 2012, allowing nearly a million people to register to vote. Registration increased a net of 1,092,271 from June to November 2012.  But in 2008 the net change was even greater at 1,180,304. The 2008 presidential election was more interesting than the 2012 election. The 2008 turnout was 79.4% vs. only 72.4% in 2012.

12. The Student Voter Registration Act of 2003

13. Now we are moving to limited Election Day registration.

All these changes have made the registering/voting process more user-friendly.  In 2014, the turnouts in both June (25.2%) and in November (42.2%) were the lowest ever in California.

Key point: These dismal turnouts had nothing to do with the registration process.

aliUnintended consequences loom: If AB 1461 had already been implemented, the November turnout would have been in the 30s. And none of these changes forced a citizen onto the voter registration files, without their permission.

In Kentucky, a county clerk refused to issue marriage certificates to gay couples.  We are aghast once again, like in the 1960s, to see clerks not following the law. Would the California Legislature consider a bill to marry all non-married co-habituating gay couples, without their permission, but give them 21 days to notify the government that they want to be divorced?

Eminent domain allows governments, through a legal process, to take ownership of private property (with just reimbursement) for the public good. That makes sense to most people. What I and many others find disturbing is that the Legislature is moving a bill to force a citizen to be registered to vote, as if a person was just eminent domain! Australia forces people to vote and they get fined, if they don’t vote — a terrible idea.

The language in this bill that states, if a person is ineligible to vote, but is registered to vote due to this legislation, and do vote, they will not be held legally accountable.

Murphy’s Law ensures there will be such people who get such notices from the government and will vote. Then the stories will go from newspaper front pages to across the country. The angle will be that California is not only welcoming undocumented immigrants but they are allowing them to vote.

Egg on everyone’s face, and it will used by some legislatures to advocate more stringent measures to block more people from voting.

padillaBottom line: There are many reasons, why citizens do not want to register to vote: they don’t like any of us; English is their second language; they are struggling with our low minimum wage; they are stretched with two jobs and kids, they mistakenly believe it means jury duty, etc.

I have been involved in politics for more than 40 years, including 19 years with the California Democratic Party doing campaigns, conventions and media.

Our joint work over the decades was to open the process up but never to use government power to force someone into the voting process.