Archive for the ‘Maid Saga’ Category



Here’s to 2010: The Top 10 Stories of the Year

Friday, December 31st, 2010

As Tom Meyer presents his right brain look back at the political detritus of 2010, the left progressive brain types in our Department of Belles-Lettres and Fine Writing Done Cheap wish you all the best for a new decade with this update of our annual New Year’s column:

The hoariest cliché in the news business – besides  Where Are They Now, the Irrelevant Anniversary yarn and frying an egg on the sidewalk during a heat wave – is the end-of-year Top 10 list.

And at Calbuzz, we’re nothing if not hoary clichés. Or maybe clichéd whores. Whatever.

As you find yourself face down in a bowl of gelatinous guacamole on New Year’s morn, trying to remember why you’re wearing rubber underwear and Raider wrist bands, here’s some bathroom reading, the Calbuzz Top 10 stories of the year, a 2011 primer for those who got drunk and missed 2010.

(Click the cartoon  for a larger image)

GOP awakens the sleeping giant. From Steve Poizner’s demagoguery on illegal immigration  to Meg Whitman’s serial mishandling of her own housekeeper scandal, Republicans worked overtime in the 2010 campaigns to alienate Latino voters throughout California. In the end, their no-path-to-citizenship kow-towing to the right-wing  proved an utter disaster, as Democrats reaped big totals among the state’s increasingly crucial electoral bloc, which represented nearly one in four votes on election day.

eMeg’s secret diary. When a slow news day spurred our fervid imaginations to post a spoof version of Meg Whitman’s private thoughts, we had no way of knowing that it would become a case study of life in imitation of art. But her real-life treatment of the help, coupled with her corner-cutting business ethics and rules-don’t apply to me campaign style combined to transform the race for governor into a referendum on her character, which voters decided they didn’t much like.

The triumph of St. Ignatius. When a national political reporter asked Jerry Brown early in the campaign how he would deal with eMeg’s mega-bucks spending, the governor drew deeply upon his Catholic  education and sniffed that he would respond with “Ignatian indifference.” His subsequent decision  to essentially ignore Whitman’s summer-long assault on him, along with the aid of some independent expenditure advertising by labor allies, made Saint Iggie look like a genius as Krusty wrote yet another new chapter in the half-century saga of his political evolution.

Scientists measure standard quantum limit of money. Along with the rest of the political world, Calbuzz watched in endless fascination as Her Megness shattered all previous records for a self-funded candidate; desperate for a metaphor to help measure its ultimate impact, we turned to the field of theoretical physics. When the deal went down, Herself forked out more than $200K every 24 hours for every day she was in the race, and the only ones who had much to show for it were the vast legions of consultants and hangers-on who took her to the cleaners.

California’s got the blues. In a mid-term election when national Republicans opened an extra-large can of wupass on Democrats, contrary Golden State voters proved solid gold for the party of donkeys and jackasses. Amid waves of wise and well-intentioned advice on what they might do differently, state GOPers decided to double down on idiocy as they shunned candidates who might actually be electable and turned Senate wannabe Carly Fiorina into an angry, snarling parody of a right-winger mouthing political stands more befitting the state of Utah and proving anew  that ideology is more important to Californians than gender.

Truth, no consequences. After death panels, the birther movement and the consistently sensational ratings of Fox News, we shouldn’t have been surprised that California’s airwaves filled to bursting with misrepresentations, half-truths and lies. Naifs that we are, it took a while to understand that we were witnessing nothing less than the death of truth in politics.

Don’t let the door hit you in the ass. There were few better examples of the truth-is-always-fungible politics than Governor Schwarzmuscle’s endless exertions aimed at portraying his years in office as an era of splendid success. In case you missed our in-depth one-word analysis of his record – FAIL – you can find more dispassionate and detailed, but no less damning, takes on the matter here, and here.

Tree huggers ascendant. Amid 12+ % unemployment in the state, some cynical smokestack types tried to reignite the economic growth vs.  environmental protection conflict. California voters not only saw through the either-or argument on climate change but also broke off their brief flirtation with offshore oil drilling after the Earth Day Deepwater Horizon disaster led Arnold to abandon his ill-laid plans to award the first state lease in more than 40 years.

Reform on life support. Amid a trove of smart proposals for political, governance and budget reform,  all the good ideas went exactly nowhere. Fueled by corporate cynicism, the contradictory views of voters and the steady transformation of democracy into a plutocracy the forces of the status quo won out yet again.

ABC: Always Believe Calbuzz. Reporting more than 3 million page views in 2010, an analysis by our Department of Weights and Measures advises that along with the heavily-hyphenated-meat-and-potatoes-sizzle-and-steak-cheeseburger-and-fries-day-in-day-out political coverage our readers look for, loyal Calbuzzers also count on our special-brand-of-journalism-you-won’t-find-it-anywhere-but-here-world-exclusive scoops, whether it’s the inside story of Jerry Brown’s secret eyebrow makeover, prize winning reporting on John Burton’s foul mouth or world-class forecasting on Major League Baseball (Giants win!).

With all best wishes for a happy and safe amateur night celebration, we thank you all for reading. See you in 2011.

Cocodrilo Tears re Latinos & a Sad Farewell to Truth

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

We had to laugh when we saw Rob Stutzman, one of Meg Whitman’s top strategists, telling columnist George Skelton that Republicans in California need to demonstrate some “empathy” for Latinos if they hope ever to convince them to vote for one of their candidates.

Not because his comments were funny, mind you, but because they were breathtakingly ironic.

For under his guidance, Stutzman’s candidate eMeg:

– Kicked her Latina housekeeper, Nicky Diaz, to the curb when she confessed she was an illegal immigrant, eventually calling for the woman’s  deportation.
– Flipped-flopped on whether undocumented immigrants should have a path to legalization (concluding they should not).
– Endorsed Arizona’s “papers please” immigration law (for Arizona, not California, a distinction that meant little to Latinos).
– Told a young Latina honors student she was taking up space at Fresno State that rightfully belonged to a California citizen.
– Relied on former Gov. Pete (“Hijo de Puta”) Wilson as her campaign chairman and third-party validator.

No wonder Latinos voted 80-15% for Brown over Whitman, 75% had an unfavorable view of her and 65% said they didn’t even consider voting for her, according to the USC/LA Times post-election survey.

But what’s got to worry Stutzman and every other Republican going forward is this: 34% of Latino voters told the USC/Times they “would never consider voting for a Republican.”  That’s one third of the Latino vote that is off the table even before they hear what the candidate has to say.

As Calbuzz noted throughout the election, in plenty of time for Whitman and her campaign geniuses to take it seriously and even after Nicky Diaz made news, Whitman made a strategic error by opposing a pathway to citizenship – a position that at least eight and perhaps as many as nine in 10 Latinos view as a threshold issue.

What that means is this: if a candidate is opposed to allowing undocumented workers an opportunity to go through a process to become legal residents, Latinos don’t even care what their position is on the economy, jobs, education or anything else. They can’t get past the threshold.

It’s not about “empathy” — it’s about concrete stands on real-life issues. Which is why Calbuzz gently suggested the California GOP needs to change its position on a pathway to citizenship if it ever hopes to become relevant.

Just as the Republican Party was the Northern standard-bearer for the abolition of slavery in the 1850s and 1860s, so could the California Republican Party become the advocate for citizenship for honest working men and women who have come to the U.S. to make better lives for themselves and their families.

Another reason we laughed when we read Stutzman’s argument: “We’ve got to stop looking at it as purely a legal issue . . . If you want to make it a moral issue, we should appreciate the virtue of men and women trying to make the best life possible for their families.”

At least Stutzman has the cerebros y cojones to face up to the problem, unlike numbnuts like Michael Der Manouel, Jr., who wrote over at FlashReport:

I think there are plenty of Republicans and conservatives, like me, that appreciate all hard working people, regardless of country of origin and skin color.  Making a case that this is somehow a gateway to getting Hispanic votes is not only simplistic, but ignores the fact that 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanics seems to be, well, just as leftist as leftists . . .

And this nonsense about ignoring our immigration laws in order to curry favor with one voting block (sic) is just nonsense.  I guess if we really needed the Muslim vote Stutzman would be advising us to go soft on terrorism too . . .

It seems to me that a pattern of voting for the wrong person has emerged in the Latino community.  Until they truly feel the pain of their poor decision making, we are at their political mercy.  Instead of “appealing to them” we should spend what few dollars we have on a permandent (sic) educational campaign highlighting the conservative platform, to all voters, including Latinos.  This would be much more effective than “understanding” people.  Give me a break.

This is exactly the kind of stupid, dead-elephant thinking that will continue to render the California Republican Party a permanent minority.

Mr. Scopes, Meet Mr. Fleischman: The fact that a majority of Republicans still believe in the “theory” of creationism, positing that God put humans on earth within the past 10,000 years, is the clearest evidence yet that facts, science and rationality are increasingly lacking to political debate in the U.S.

The new Gallup Poll research demonstrating widespread disbelief in the science of evolution, coupled with a just-released University of Maryland study showing that Fox News viewers become more ignorant the more they watch Fox News, suggests that Neo-Luddism will only grow more popular when the GOP takes control of the House next month, empowering political giants like Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner, who’ll bring his climate change denial stance to the Science Committee; Ron Paul, poised to demand a return to the Gold Standard as an overseer of the Federal Reserve and Peter King, who plans to launch a wide-ranging investigation of American Muslims as chair of the Committee on Homeland Security.

Alas, this distressing trend, part of a broad political shift which Calbuzz has dissected as the Death of Truth, flourishes as well in California, where the hate-government crowd routinely substitutes opinion for fact in decrying our fiscal woes, recklessly asserting that the state stands on the brink of bankruptcy because of an orgy of public spending, a huge, bloated government bureaucracy and a vast exodus of businesses fleeing a blood-sucking burden of regulation.

Now comes Treasurer Bill Lockyer, joined by economist Steve Levy, to put the lie to each of these canards, in a splendid op-ed that should be required reading in the re-education of every yahoo in Sacramento:

Critics have suggested the state will default on its debt payments, that it is addicted to spending and that it has a hostile business climate. The criticism is long on inflammatory rhetoric, but it lacks any evidentiary foundation…

Our critics say we are addicted to spending. But the numbers show that isn’t true. Thirty years ago, general fund expenditures totaled about $7.43 for every $100 of personal income. In the 2009-10 fiscal year, that ratio was almost $2 less, at $5.52 for every $100 of personal income. In the current fiscal year, per capita general fund expenditures will total $2,246, less than the $2,289 spent 10 years ago and roughly equal to the inflation-adjusted level of 15 years ago.

Moreover, state and local government has grown slimmer relative to California’s population. In 2009, the state had 107 state employees per 10,000 residents, the fourth-lowest proportion in the nation and 25% below the national average. California also has the sixth-lowest combined number of state and local government employees relative to population, 12% below the national average and 16% below Texas.

Sadly, demonstrable fact matters little to the know-nothing dervishes whirling in the mosh pit of ape dance debate over state finance, a lamentable state of affairs spanning a nation beset by the strange triumph of failed ideas.

Queen Kamala II: Those lusty screams that shattered windows on the executive floors of Calbuzz World Headquarters came from loyal fans of Attorney General-elect Kamala Harris, who expressed the view that our dispassionate analysis of Herself’s transition operation was somewhat, um, asymmetrical (Lock up the kids, Maude – there’s hyperbole on the internets!).

Deeply committed as ever to doing all we can to lower the temperature on the kind of inflammatory, name-calling, ad hominem cheap shot politics and media that makes our blood boil and which we oppose with every fiber of our beings, we encourage readers to avail themselves of an opposing view about the matter. All hail the Empress of River City!

Dr. H Returns, Calbuzz Classic, Weird Holiday Dogs

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Despite his annual struggle against Seasonal Affect Disorder, Calbuzz staff psychiatrist Dr. P. J. Hackenflack has bravely battled his way through the stacks of mail that have piled up since the election, and graciously agreed to return today to answer our readers’ burning psycho-political questions.

Dear Dr. Hackenflack,
Now that the election’s over, is Meg Whitman feeling any regrets about the way she treated her housekeeper, Nicky Diaz?
– Gloria La Rouge, West Hollywood

Totally. She can’t find anyone to clean the kitchen or do the wash, let alone bring in  the mail.

To the Honorable P.J. Hackenflack,
I’ve noticed that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa all of a sudden is traveling around the country trying to raise his profile. Wussup with that?
– Cass A. Nova, Reno

Ignore the political speculation. Just happens Tony V’s run through all the female anchors in L.A. and feels ready to move up to network news babes.

Dr. H,
Why is Dianne Feinstein running for another term at her age? I’ve seen younger faces on cash.
– Tom C. Silicon Valley

She’s determined to pass Strom Thurmond on the all-time Senate geezer list.

Yo Doc,
A friend said Jerry Brown is going to make his wife his chief of staff in the governor’s office. Do you think that’s a good idea?
– Jacques B, Paris, France

Yo Jacques – the doc is still trying to finagle invites to the big inaugural parties, so no way I’m touchin’ that one, dude.

To whom it may concern,
One of the Hollywood blogs said Arnold Schwarzenegger is in line to play the lead in a remake of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” True?
–  J.M. Stewart, Indiana Pennsylvania

False. He’s actually signed to play Willy Loman in an update of “Death of a Salesman.”

Sir,
I saw on the news that Senate Republican leader Bob Dutton sat in the audience instead of onstage at Jerry Brown’s first public hearing on the budget. Do you think that was an effective protest?
– Darrell S, K Street Mall

Bob who?

Hello Dr. Hackenflack,
Ana Matosantos seems like a nice, smart person, but it seems strange that Jerry’s keeping on Arnold’s finance director. Can you shed any light?
– Harry P, Sacramento

Turns out Governor Gandalf was time traveling when he met her and thinks he’s rehired Adriana Gianturco.

Hey Doc,
Now that San Francisco’s mayor’s been elected lieutenant governor, there’s a big fight to replace him. Who’s the best candidate?
– W. Brown Mineola, Tex.

Clearly Gavin Newsom. He has absolutely nothing else to do for the next four years.

Calbuzz Classic: Less than three weeks before he takes the oath of office as governor, Jerry Brown is already making moves to assume the powers of the state’s chief executive.  So we thought it was an appropriate time to start measuring Brown’s acts against his words in the campaign. Here’s a piece we ran on April 13, 2009, based on the first major interview with Krusty that focused on his bid for governor:

Reflecting on his first incarnation as California governor, Jerry Brown says he was overly concerned with the importance of new ideas and not focused enough on the practicalities of getting things done.

In the first extensive interview about his 2010 gubernatorial bid, Brown told Calbuzz that if he wins back, at the age of 72, the office he first captured when he was 36, things will be different.

“Then I emphasized new ideas, now I would emphasize management more,” he told us. “It was very exciting then, but without losing that sense of innovation, I’d be more practical-minded, very detailed, focused on follow through and consensus building . . . I’d be looking for people who are seasoned administrators.”

In a telephone interview last week, Brown said he is motivated to seek a second turn as governor by his own “unspent potential,” a notion he credited to the anthropologist Gregory Bateson: “The key to flexibility is not spending all your potential.”

Speaking in rushing streams of high-speed sentences, Brown talked of everything from how to attack Sacramento’s partisan dysfunction to the hair products used by Democratic rival Gavin Newsom. Boasting that his two terms as governor were “good years” for California, he rattled off a list of accomplishments, while uncharacteristically acknowledging some shortcomings.

“My sense of management has been refined and developed,” said the man who, as governor, was known to mock and belittle the pathways, processes and procedures of state government and those who work in it.

His candidacy still formally undeclared, Brown only occasionally used the phrase “if I run,” in portraying himself as a master politician whose experience in elected office at every level – mayor, attorney general, state party chairman, to name a few – affords him unmatched understanding of government organization and operations which he would wield at California’s intractable problems.

“I have a greater sense of how things get done and don’t get done,” he said. “I have a much better, hands-on understanding of how (government) functions . . . a sense of how things work . . . a much better sense of sizing people up and how you go about building an administration.”

We wanted to interview Brown to ask his views on seven key questions we posed to all the candidates in one of our first posts. In his own fashion, he addressed most of them. However, Brown staunchly refused to specify what combination of cuts and tax hikes he would support to deal with chronic deficits, beyond stressing his view that California is a “very high tax” state and dismissing as politically impractical the proposal to amend Proposition 13 by taxing commercial and industrial property at higher rates than residential property.

“Anyone who answers that (tax and cuts question) will never have a chance to be governor,” he said. “It’s very hard to discuss with particularity anything that can be turned into (campaign) fodder.”

Moreover, he added, “dictating from the corner office does not work . . . If eliminating the structural problems in the California budget were easy, Wilson, Davis and Schwarzenegger would have done it.”

How would he deal with fiercely ideological legislators on the left and the right?

“I’m going to become an apostle of common sense,” he said. “I will disabuse them of their ill-conceived predilections.”

“There’s an embedded partisanship that has to become disembedded,” he said. “In my bones, I’m not that partisan. I’m an independent thinker. That’s my tradition. I’ve been wary of ideology since I left the Sacred Heart Novitiate (in 1960).”

(Nostalgia footnote: Brown’s reference to “common sense” reminded us that when we covered his 1992 “Winter Soldier” campaign for president, he signed copies of Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” at a bookstore in Nashua, New Hampshire.)

[Only later did we discover that there had been a TV series about one of Brown's intellectual inspirations, hosted by Dale Ahlquist, President of the American Chesterton Society, titled " G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense."]

We asked Brown this key question: What do you want to do as governor?

He quickly ticked off four key concerns with specific ideas in each area: Renewable energy; prison reform; education reform; water policy (we’ll report details on these in future posts).

He acknowledged that pushing through innovative solutions on these issues would be difficult in the polarized atmosphere of Sacramento. He labeled as “a type of anarchy” the view of some GOP lawmakers that sending the state into bankruptcy is preferable to voting for a budget that includes tax increases.

“That kind of subversive attitude is unacceptable,” Brown said.

Asked about structural reforms, Brown said he doesn’t “think term limits have been helpful” because they create a revolving door mentality, with lawmakers constantly running for the next office.

“People being around 20 years is a problem. But people being around for just six years is a bigger problem,” he said. “They become more dependent on interest groups because they don’t have time to develop loyalty in their districts.”

While not a fan of the two-thirds majority vote needed to pass budgets, Brown said he doesn’t think there is a “mechanical” cure to structural financial problems.

Sounding most unlike an old-school Jerry Brown Democrat, he argued repeatedly that regulations making California less competitive than surrounding states must be challenged. “We have to make sure that regulation does not curtail business,” he said, echoing the Chamber of Commerce more than the Sierra Club.

On the issue of his age, about which Newsom and others (including Calbuzz) have needled him – Brown said the question was “meaningless.”

“Is their premise that my opponents think faster than me? Do they want to challenge me to a timed multiple-choice test?”

Informed that he’s older than the ballpoint pen, Brown laughed. “I remember the ballpoint pen,” he said, recalling that when the instrument came out, it was available to students only in blue ink (and it leaked).

The age attack “has no meaning . . . If Feinstein is so old, how come she’s 20 points ahead (in polls listing her as a candidate)?”

“It’s all about creativity . . . The fact that they’re attacking me is a plus, not a minus . . . I don’t know that it’s bad to be associated with Linda Ronstadt and the Beatles.”

As for those behind the line of attack on his septuagenarian status, Brown personally chided Newsom and his strategist Garry South:

“I don’t know whether he’s sniffing his hairspray or what,” the buzz-cut Brown said of South. “Between the hairspray and the gel (favored by Newsom) I think they’re getting a little intoxicated.”

Ho, ho, ho: Just because we can’t resist pictures of dogs in goofy costumes.

It Wasn’t the Economy, Stupid, It Was Character

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

In their last pre-election survey, Oct. 10-17, the Public Policy Institute of California found that six in 10 likely voters said jobs and the economy represented the most important issue facing California and that by a margin of 47-39%, Meg Whitman would do a better job on this pressing concern.

Moreover, while the survey showed Brown leading Whitman 44-36%, it oddly found “independents” – that is, respondents identified as likely voters who said they were registered as independents — divided 36-37% for Whitman.

But in PPIC’s post-election survey taken Nov. 3-14 and released Wednesday night, Brown won the “independents” 56-38% — a staggering shift of 19 points in Brown’s favor. In addition, according to PPIC, Latinos who favored Brown 51-22% in October ended up voting for Brown over Whitman by 75-22% — a 24 point move to Brown.

By comparison, the Field Poll’s last survey (based on actual registered voters surveyed Oct. 14-26) had Brown winning independents 49-33% and the L.A. Times/USC survey from Oct. 13-20 (also based on registered voters) had independents for Brown 55-26%.

Field had Latinos favoring Brown 57-27% before the election and the LAT/USC survey had Latinos backing Brown 59-23%.

Before trying to make sense of these numbers, consider a few findings from the LA Times/USC survey also taken Nov. 3-14 among actual registered voters:

1) Among those who said they think of themselves as independents instead of Democrats or Republicans (not the same as PPIC’s question which asks respondents how they are registered), just one third of those who said they’re independents were actually registered as Decline-to-State voters.

2) Among Latino voters, Whitman’s unfavorable rating was 71% compared to 17% favorable. Among registered DTS voters, it was 65% unfavorable and 22% favorable.

3) Latinos favored Brown over Whitman 80-15% (compared to the National Election Pool exit poll that said Latinos backed Brown 64-30%).

Confused yet? What the hell actually happened?

Did something occur in the closing weeks of the campaign that drove all of the undecided “independents” in PPIC’s survey to Brown? Or were they already lined up behind him as Field and LAT/USC found? How big was the Latino margin for Brown in the end? What actually drove the vote?

First, let’s look at the independent voters. According to the LAT/USC survey, they voted 59-33% for Brown which is not far off from PPIC’s 56-38%. The difference is in the shift that PPIC found versus what the LAT/USC and Field had before the election. PPIC’s survey suggests a huge movement of independents for Brown. It’s hard to see what could have driven that.

But the movement among Latinos – about 15-20% of whom are likely DTS voters – is easily explained by Whitman’s handling of her housekeeper, Nicky Diaz. In the end, somewhere between 65-80% of Latinos ended up voting for Jerry Brown. With a 71% unfavorable rating among Latinos, that’s not hard to comprehend.

Mark Baldassare of PPIC argues that his polls in October and November were both correct, and that the same things that drove Latinos to Brown also may have propelled independents. We suspect it’s more likely that the problem is rooted in using questions, rather than actual voter lists, to identify “independents” and that the October survey, for whatever reason, didn’t capture what was actually happening among actual DTS voters. (PPIC has to ask questions to identify likely voters and to classify them by party because it uses random digit dialing instead of working from the Secretary of State’s list of registered voters.)

But let’s go back to that PPIC finding in October that showed the economy was the top issue and that voters saw Whitman as better on the issue than Brown.

What the data all seem to suggest is something Calbuzz has argued several times before: that the race for governor did not turn on issues, but on character. In the end, voters saw Brown as the more authentic candidate whose values reflected more closely their own. By emphasizing that he would not raise taxes without voter approval, he made himself safe to moderate voters who didn’t like what they saw from Whitman.

By emphasizing “at this stage of my life” Brown wanted nothing more than to do what needed to be done, he undercut the attacks that portrayed him as a tool of unions and other special interests.

In other words, the conventional wisdom – that the election would turn on the economy and jobs – turned out to be completely wrong. That’s the ground on which team Whitman wanted to fight, but once the Bill Clinton ad blew up in her face and she refused to take it down, and once Nicky Diaz surfaced, the stories that captured voters’ attention were all about character and integrity.

Why does any of this matter? Because when the story of the 2010 California governor’s race is written, it should not make it all about independents and Latinos except to the extent that these voters were moved by impressions of the character of the combatants.

BTW, the PPIC survey goes into great detail looking at the propositions and the initiative process. It’s chock full of interesting data that we’re not even touching on here.

Fraud at Polls: Palin, Nicky, eMeg Meet DWTS & JFK

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Press Clips: This week’s coveted Dorothy Kilgallen Investigative Gossip Award goes to Jezebel’s Tracie Egan Morrissey for uncovering the scandal of  Sarah Palin’s vote scam on behalf of daughter Bristol’s candidacy on “Dancing With the Stars.”

Along with much of the blogosphere, the Calbuzz Department of Popular Culture Trends and Mortifying Guilty Pleasures erupted with outrage on Tuesday, when Palin the Younger made it into this season’s DWTS finals, while pop singer Brandy got the boot.

Bristol’s lumbering terpsichorean exertions recall nothing so much as one of those tutu-clad dancing baby hippos from “Fantasia” – and we mean that in the nicest possible way.

Nevertheless, she has been kept on the show week after week, while far more talented and appealing, third-rank “celebrity” dancers have been cut. Despite consistently getting the lowest scores from the show’s panel of professional judges, she’s survived because of a weekly barrage of phoned and texted votes from among DWTS’s audience of 20 million viewers.

From the start, all right thinking people agreed there was something fishy about the whole thing, amid widespread suggestions that Sarah Palin was somehow gaming the system on behalf of her offspring, through the use of her Tea Party network of acolytes and sycophants. But it was all just speculation – until Jezebel finally nailed down the truth, which seems to be the biggest case of ballot fraud since Mayor Daley delivered the cemetery vote for JFK.

While Bristol Palin denies any Tea Party conspiracy theories, there’s no denying that conservatives have been pushing for votes for Bristol, using blogs and Twitter to start a movement. But what isn’t widely known is the evidence—via message board comments on some conservative sites—that this mobilization involves fixing this (albeit meaningless) election through a technical snafu on ABC’s website, which allows Palin’s supporters to cast an infinite number of email votes.

Scouring Tea Party and Sarah fan sites, the resourceful Morrissey quickly discovered mountains of proof about the plot, which was organized and dubbed “Operation Bristol” by Palin political hacks, sprinkled among the comments left by the witless TPers themselves:

“Here’s a hint: They don’t have to be VALID email addresses to register them with ABC.com, there is apparently no validation process. The just have to be formatted like a valid email address, and you must use a valid zip code and a birthdate that makes you old enough to vote. I’m voting like a democrat, all night long…”

“No, it doesn’t have to be a valid email address – I had one of my anonymous ones XXX@yahoo.com that I used, and then just did the sign-up process all over again with XXX1@yahoo.com and it worked.”

“Got my 80 votes in online…took 2 hours. I am beat”

“I only got 42 in, I have some catching up to do!”

“Lord have mercy, I voted for 3 hours online! I got 300 in.”

Well and good, but what, we hear some regular readers asking, is the political significance of this kerfuffle to me, a member in good standing of the Calbuzz Cognoscenti? Just this: In a week when Sarah Palin declared that she can beat President Obama in 2012,  the incident speaks volumes about the character and qualifications of the erstwhile half-governor of Alaska, in at least three ways:

1-Palin freely countenances lying, cheating and fraud to get what she wants, despite her constant caterwauling about the corruption of Democrats and ridiculous self-portrayal as a reformer.

2-The Palinistas’ blind determination to make Bristol a winner, despite her obvious lack of ability, reflects the world view of Sarah and her followers, which embraces know-nothing anti-intellectualism and rejects meritocracy in favor of personal prejudice.

3-The “Operation Bristol” campaign displays a malevolent, us-against-them manicheism, as when pro-Palin commenters, not content to boost their gal, also feel compelled to smear and trash Jennifer Grey, the graceful and talented front-runner on the show, as a “Hollywood elite,” even as Bristol herself portrays anyone who opposes her as a “hater” and offers less than  half-hearted apologies for the homophobic ravings of her charming sister, Willow.

Shame on you, John McCain, for unleashing this  whack job on America.

For the record: Calbuzz wishes to make perfectly clear that we disassociate ourselves completely from the actions of Steven Cowan, the 67-year old Wisconsin man who blasted his TV with a shotgun after watching Tuesday’s DWTS. We would never shoot our TV, at the risk of missing an episode of “Detroit 187,” but instead would aim at the nearest table lamp or kitchen appliance.

You just can’t find good help: Nice work by Chronicler Carla Marinucci for her comprehensive, multi-platform, follow-up coverage of eMeg Whitman’s former housekeeper getting the last word in their politically charged dispute over back wages, and mega-kudos to the Sacbee’s Susan Ferris for digging into the tantalizing, still-unanswered question of how eMeg maid Nicky Diaz found her way to media-savvy Gloria Allred.

As Ferris reports, leaders of the California Nurses Association refused to deny that they played the key role in the behind-the-scenes Nicky machinations that helped torpedo Whitman’s campaign, and that now have led to working class heroine status for Diaz herself. Regardless, there is no question that the CNA emerged as one of the biggest winners of the 2012 campaign, as Jim Carlton of the Wall Street Journal ably reports.

And while we’re on the subject, Joe Mathews is just wrong, wrong, wrong with his Fox and Hounds argument that the Nicky revelations would have sunk eMeg whenever they came.

As a political matter, by surfacing the story herself the summer before, Meg not only would have pre-empted the matter by timing it early enough so it would be old news by the time the campaign started for real, but also could have finessed a big negative into a positive, but saying something like: “My own personal experience really brought home to me the complicated human and emotional issues involved in this problem, which is an important reason why as governor I will do my best to help find effective solutions to illegal immigration, which affects so many Californians in so many ways.”

Instead eMeg decided to try to cover up the whole mess and, when it inevitably came to light, tried the modified, limited-hangout route before deciding that Nicky should just be deported. The rest is history.

BTW: Just about every other news outlet that covered the Allred-Diaz appearance before the labor board in San Jose (where Mr. Whitman, aka Dr. Griff Harsh, agreed to pony up $5,500 in back pay to Nicky) had posts up online about the happenings before the, ahem, San Jose Mercury Snooze. Just sayin’.

Just because: South Koreans love them some Santa-clad penguins.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Calbuzz to use “sentiment analysis” to gauge value of using more “dancing baby hippos” references in future posts.