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Posts Tagged ‘Arlen Specter’



Calbuzz Secret Plan to Plug Gulf Coast Oil Gusher

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Along with the rest of the nation, Calbuzz finds ourselves in the unlikely position of rooting for the predatory greedbags at BP, desperately hoping they succeed with their latest half-baked scheme to stem the poisonous, filthy geyser of oil that their rapacious recklessness has sent spouting from the sea bottom in the Gulf of Mexico.

The avaricious thieves at BP are trying to stop the toxic torrent with a method called “top kill” which, as the New York Times explains, “involves pumping thousands of pounds of heavy fluids into a five-story stack of pipes in an effort to clog the well .”

Sounds good, but we have one important suggestion:

Instead of thousands of pounds of “heavy fluid,” why not jam up the hole with thousands of pounds of “ bungholes and bores,” the kind of self-absorbed pols and media celebrities who give Calbuzz a major pain, stuffing them down in there until the flow is stopped by the sheer mass and weight of every annoying and unbearable cretin, nitwit and schmuck we can round up.

Feel free to email us your own list of candidates, but for our money, here’s the Top 10 List of “Top Kill” nominees to squish down into the well.

1-Chris Matthews – How we wish this self-deluded pea brained, loudmouth putz, who keeps setting new standards of stupidity, would choke down a couple barrels of sulfurous crude, which might be just the thing to cure his chronic case of logorrhea. Of course, then we couldn’t watch him.

2-Glenn Beck – By itself, the combination of Beck’s fat head and fat ass could be enough to seal off the entire pipe, particularly if we throw his friggin’  blackboard in there with him. Plus: the phony tears this repulsive wiggler loves to shed on cue could take the place of that “heavy fluid” the Times keeps mentioning.

3-Gavin Newsom – The vast clouds of natural gas pouring from the well would help Newsom keep his over-inflated sense of self-importance at a high level, and he’d never even notice a couple thousand extra gallons of oil in his hair.

4-Sarah Palin – Corking up an oily hole would be cosmic justice for Ms. Drill Baby Drill and, given her latest whack job Facebook rant, she’d no doubt be well-pleased to escape the prying eyes of Joe McGinnis.

5-Arlen Specter – The ghastly and decrepit octogenarian has-been is well-suited to navigate any unexpected twists, turns and bends in the undersea pipe, given his sorry history of political contortions, not to mention his authorship of the Magic Bullet theory.

6-John Boehner – A good thick coating of rust-colored grease is just what the insufferable House minority leader needs to keep his unnatural skin color slick and shiny, not to mention that the federal deficit will likely plummet when taxpayers quit forking out for his daily spray man tans.

7-Lindsay Lohan – A mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico is just about the only place Lilo could possibly succeed in not having a drink, or getting a spoon stuck up her nose, for five minutes. The only non-pol to make the list, she’d also finally get a break from her monstrous father, Michael.

8-Bill Clinton – That massive pie hole of his is big enough to head off half the goo destined for the coast of Florida, and the cruel sacrifice of him not being able to hear himself talk for the first time in six decades is worth the chance he might win a special citation Nobel, finally getting even with that anti-fossil fuel goody-goody Gore.

9-Rand Paul – He’s no doubt right that Barack Obama’s bashing of BRITISH Petroleum is un-American, so here’s his chance to be a hero on behalf of private enterprise, nice and cozy in the one place he doesn’t have to worry about people who look different plopping down in a seat next to him.

10-Arnold Schwarzenegger – Putting aside the high-value, practical plugging worth of his bulging pecs, lats and glutes,  the guy ain’t good for much else, let’s face it.

Black Gold, the sequel: On Tuesday, we told you about Democrat John Laird whacking Republican Sam Blakeslee with an ad about offshore oil in the special election race in the 15th senate district, one of two  campaigns in the neighborhood where the issue takes center stage.

A little further south, a hotly contested primary battle in the 35th Assembly District, in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties,  has Democrats and environmentalists divided in their support for coastal advocate Susan Jordan and S.B. city councilman Das Williams.

The district has been ground zero in the long-running battle over the now defunct Tranquillon Ridge plan, and the Jordan-Williams match-up is the political manifestation of local polarization over the project.

Jordan is married to termed out 35th AD Assemblyman Pedro Nava, who led the successful fight against T-Ridge in the Legislature, and when she first announced her candidacy to succeed him last year, Williams said he was backing her.

But Jordan was fighting fiercely against the offshore proposal, which was backed by other local enviros, including Williams, who in short order  dropped his backing of her to declare his own candidacy, saying he was doing it because of T-Ridge, co-sponsored by several Santa Barbara green groups and PXP oil company.

Fast forward to the present, and the two are exchanging volleys of mailers and angry charges on the subject. Williams, seeking to inoculate himself, sent out a brochure  highlighting his past opposition to drilling, without mentioning the politically complicated PXP matter; Jordan counter-punched hard, with a mailer featuring a big ole color photo of the Deepwater Horizon exploding and burning, with a screamer headline: “Das Williams supported the PXP oil drilling deal – even after the Gulf spill.”

At which point the local Democratic county committee, which is led by a close pal of Williams, called a press conference to denounce Jordan for alleged dirty campaigning, a move that served to make it more likely that the PXP offshore drilling will be the decisive issue in the race.

We’re just sayin’: One of the big issues in the T-Ridge debate was whether or not the state would have the power to enforce end dates for PXP to stop drilling off federal platforms near Santa Barbara, a key feature of the proposal.

Jordan, among others, repeatedly insisted the authority on the federal leases would eventually rest with the U.S. Minerals Management Service. and that the agency has a natural pro-drilling bias that could upset the whole deal. After reading the new Inspector General’s report on the MMS, it’s hard to argue with that position.

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Happy 2010: Oy Vey, an Election is Breaking Out

Friday, January 1st, 2010

HangoverThe 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 this New Year’s morn, trying to remember why you’re wearing rubber underwear and Raider wrist bands, here’s the Calbuzz Top 10 stories of the year, a 2010 primer for those who got drunk and missed 2009.

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Difi (Hearts) D.C. Calbuzz launched March 16, with a hiding-in-plain-sight perceptual scoop saying flatly that Senator Dianne Feinstein wouldn’t run for governor. Despite her septuagenarian coquette act and unstinting effort to keep a few moldering embers of interest flickering about a late-entry campaign, Difi’s demurrer was the biggest 2009 factor that shaped the race, which we’ve handicapped with updated analyses here and here. (This just in: she’s still older than the Golden Gate Bridge.)

jerryflippedThe re-incarnation of Jerry Brown.  Casting himself as “an apostle of common sense,” Brown sent a clear signal he was in it to win it when he gave Calbuzz an extended interview discussing the governor’s race, then promptly retreated to his tent to insist that he was  reviewing all his options. Right. While at least one would-be analyst suggested that Crusty the General cleared the field, he did no such thing: Brown’s singular status as the Democrats’ presumptive nominee emerged from the collapse of erstwhile rivals Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa as  the Philandering Twins proved to be little more than a sideshow.

Why Rich Guys Don’t Win Elections. Back before it was fashionable, we reported on the sorry history of wealthy folks trying to buy top-line offices in California, a bit of Calbuzz conventional wisdom that will be challenged in 2010, with three zillionaires running for governor or Senate.caveman

Where did all the cavemen go? Way back in March, we noted the oddness of a California Republican primary race for governor without a true-blue movement conservative in the field  and, beginning with Arlen Specter’s party switch, we’ve tracked the way the Tea Party’s national purge movement is manifest in California.

Why won’t this woman go out with us? Win or lose, eMeg’s campaign is poised to become 2010’s most entertaining show for fans of politicmegs as spectator sport. With an imperious manner not seen since Catherine the Great, a campaign budget bigger than the GDP of Belize and an army of consultants the size of the U.S. Postal Service, eMeg has already provided the cognoscenti lotsa laughs with a smash hit performance about her voting record, her messy corporate divorce from Craigslist  and her passionate bid to win the hearts and minds of people who don’t vote in California. That this titan of industry apparently lives in mortal fear of sitting down to Dim Sum with Calbuzz  just adds to the general hilarity (memo to legal dept: check on residuals and copyright for Calbuzz “eMeg” coinage).

outrageThe voters are outside, and man are they pissed. From the May 19 special election debacle to the real-life terror of living through a withering recession, Californians are in a foul mood for the ages. The electorate is changing and they want change, but no one now in the arena seems to know exactly what that’s supposed to look like.

Why California can’t be governed. The flip side of populist anger at Sacramento is the inconvenient truth that voters themselves are largely responsible for tying state government into knots, having approved three decades worth of low-tax-high-spending initiatives and a series of crackpot  reforms, from term limits to  the tyranny of minority rule, which add up to Capitol policy makers lacking the tools or clout to do what needs doing.

What does rsinclairpainteform look like? The upside of all the doom and gloom about state government is that it’s yielded some of the most interesting reform measures since Hiram Johnson was chewing on Abe Reuf’s leg. Despite the collapse of tax reform, led by the screw-the-pooch performance by Friend of Arnold Gerald Parsky, the seriousness and substance of policy questions being raised by advocates for a constitutional convention and for the California Forward reform measure are complex, intriguing and important – even when they get deep, deep into the weeds on issues from Prop. 13 to the crucial Sinclair Paint decision.

Environment vs economy. California’s economic decline has reignited a long-simmering debate about the economic impacts of the state’s sweeping environmental protections. eMeg has already thrown down the gauntlet, calling for a roll back of the landmark AB32 climate change legislation, which is likely to become a big deal in the election this year. The other environmental debate that just won’t go away is the bitter dispute about the Tranquillon Ridge offshore project, an issue whose weeds Calbuzz never tires of whacking.

calbuzzartThe Calbuzz Haiku Contest. Amid all the political and policy fun and games, the best thing about Calbuzz’s first year has been getting in touch with a community of highly informed readers, thoughtful commenters and roster of triple smart guest writers (thanks Penny Elia, Merv Field, Steve Maviglio, David Ferry, Jon Fleischman, Fran Gibson, Ron Kaye, Fred Keeley, Linda Krop, Greg Lucas, Mark Massara, Bob Naylor, Mark Paul, Heather Reger, Susan Rose, Jean Ross, Richie Ross, Marc Sandalow, Tanya Schevitz, Dan Schnur, Don Sipple, Phil Ting, Evan Wagstaff, Anthony Wright and the late Msrs. Dylan Thomas and Mark Twain, as well as the members of the Calbuzz Board of Anonymous Advisers – you know who you are and we promised not to say).

See you Monday.

What Specter’s Defection Means for California Republicans

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

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Exhibit A for why the California Repo Party is doomed to minority status, at least for now: state GOP chairman Ron Nehring’s cut-off-your-nose declaration rejoicing in Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter’s decision to become a Democrat.

Nehring’s statement, issued Tuesday, shows that while CRP likes to declare itself a Ronald Reagan big-tent party, it’s actually captive to a red-meat, hard-right, conservative wing which demands ideological purity from its candidates before allowing them to represent the GOP in general elections.

Put aside Nehring’s insipid statement that Specter’s big switch from the R to the D column was “a poll-driven decision based purely on selfish interests.”

(OMG, you mean there’s politics in the Senate? OF COURSE, Specter’s decision was political: this is not a man known for unyielding principle. [Recall that Specter was the Warren Commission staff member who famously tried to explain away physical evidence in the JFK assassination with the “magic bullet” theory.] So he jumped when the right-wing jihadists, in the person of Club for Growth leader Pat Toomey, had him in their sights in the Pa. Senate GOP primary).

Stipulating his decision was poll-driven doesn’t negate the enormity of Specter’s crossover or what it says about the Republican Party nationally and – as Nehring clearly explains – in California.

“The Republican Party didn’t leave Arlen Specter. Arlen Specter left the Republican Party some time ago,” Mr. Chairman said in his statement. “Arlen Specter decided on his own – no one forced him – to violate core Republican principles by voting for the wasteful $787 billion stimulus bill while every single House Republican, including California’s entire Republican delegation, voted with taxpayers in opposition instead.”

Warming to his task he added, “We’re extremely proud of our Republican members of Congress from California for consistently standing with taxpayers while Arlen Specter was busy implementing Barbara Boxer’s agenda.”

Here’s the problem with his logic: for six of the last eight years, the Republicans in Congress were the ones rolling up record deficits behind record government spending. None of the puristas among the skunk Specter crowd seemed too worried about excessive government spending when they held power.

As a political matter, the Reagan and beyond-era Republican Party was organized around three key core issues:

– Fiscal conservatism. The GOP’s low-tax, low-spending policies lost the second half of that equation, first in the Bush I, read-my-lips era, and then in the two terms of Bush II, where tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, coupled with massive spending on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, simply defied the law of gravity. And whether cause and effect or not, the fallout following eight years of tax cuts coupled with more spending – the global credit crunch, the collapse of the banking business and the routing of the stock market – have convinced the majority of Americans who support Obama’s fiscal policies that more Keynes and less Arthur Laffer is in order, at least for now.

– National security. The September 11 attacks gave Republicans new purchase on the issue of national security, which had been slipping away since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall. But W’s adventurous war in Iraq, which increased the ranks of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists rather than reducing them, the stalemate in Afghanistan and the instability in nuclear Pakistan reframed the issue, so that Americans seem ready to give Obama’s diplomacy-first policies a chance.

– Cultural issues. The anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-gun control evangelical Christian wing of the Republican Party is virtually its only remaining core constituency. Besides reducing the GOP nationally to what is now essentially a Southern regional party, the moral certainty – i.e. intolerance of opposing views — of this Republican bloc seems to have become the fundamental dynamic now driving its politics.

Hence, the happy huzzahs from the Limbaugh-Hannity-Michael Steele set who applaud Specter’s defection, as if losing prominent party members holds the key to growing the party and returning it to majority status.

Nowhere in the country is there greater “devaluation of diversity,” as Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, called it in a Wednesday NYT op-ed than within the California GOP. As she argues: “Ideological purity is not the ticket back to the promised land of governing majorities.”

There would be no room for Arlen Specter in the California Republican Party, just as there is no room, really, for former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell, who keeps tilting at windmills in his indefatigable efforts to win a statewide nomination.

It remains to be seen if the state GOP will allow itself to embrace former eBay CEO Meg Whitman and/or Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, Silicon Valley business moderates. Both are — shhh – pro-choice.

Oddly, the 2010 governor’s race could prove a turning point for the GOP: If no knuckle-dragging conservative candidate emerges to challenge two Silicon Valley Zschauists, perhaps the GOP will be forced to choose between candidates who might actually have a chance in a general election against a Democrat.

This won’t be because the party has signaled its readiness to accept the Arlen Specters of the world. It’ll be because Grand Old Party had no choice.

We’re just sayin’.

Feinstein Deals Major Blow to Landmark Labor Bill

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office put out a low-ball statement Friday making clear she won’t be supporting the Employee Free Choice Act, the labor movement’s top congressional priority, at least in its present form.

The little-noticed move makes Feinstein the only Democrat in the California congressional delegation to withhold backing for the Employee Free Choice Act.

As a policy matter, the measure would make it easier for employees to organize unions; as a political one, it would give President Obama, who campaigned in support of the legislation, and majority Democrats in Congress, a visible achievement on behalf of workers at a time of seething public anger at CEOs and corporations.

A co-sponsor of the legislation in the last Congress, Feinstein in recent days has been the target of an organized netroots campaign to pressure her into coming out in favor of the bill. The online effort came during a three-day Capitol Hill lobbying effort by the Teamsters, which sent a delegation to her office Thursday.

While Feinstein does not face re-election until 2012 as a senator, her flip-flop on labor’s most crucial legislation would be problematic in a contested Democratic primary for governor — another sign that she is unlikely to enter the race for governor next year.

Given the political stakes of Feinstein’s action, it’s surprising how little notice it received, no doubt one of the reasons her statement was released on a Friday afternoon. Beyond a few liberal blogs, James Oliphant of the L.A. Times Washington bureau was the only mainstream media reporter to file on it, in a piece his editors played inside the A section.

“I have thought for some time that the way to approach this issue is by trying to see if there can’t be a compromise between the business community, the agriculture community and labor,” Feinstein’s statement said. “This is an extraordinarily difficult economy, and feelings are very strong on both sides of the issue. I would hope there is some way to find common ground that would be agreeable to both business and labor.”

Merits of the legislation aside, Feinstein’s can’t-we-all-get-along statement is breathtaking in blithely ignoring a) what some might term, uh, the fundamental contradiction between capital and labor and b) the fact that the “extraordinarily difficult economy” is a key reason organized labor is pushing for the free choice act, which was introduced on March 13. According to the AFL-CIO’s home page blog, “(W)orkers who belong to unions earn 28 percent more than non-union workers. They are 52 percent more likely to have employer-provided health coverage and nearly three times more likely to have guaranteed pensions.”

As a communications matter, business and corporate lobbyists won the framing debate on the issue. They succeeded in short-handing the bill as “card check” and in focusing media attention on a provision of it that would allow a union to be certified without an election if a majority of employees signed union cards. The bill also would increase penalties for firing workers for participating in an organizing campaign and require companies to submit to arbitration if they could not reach agreement on a contract with a newly certified union after four months. The latter is perhaps the biggest concern for business.

Feinstein’s move came one day after Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter announced on the Senate floor that he would not support the labor law reform. Taken together, the loss of the two Senators is a major tactical defeat for its sponsors, because they need 60 votes to move it out of the Senate to the House, where it was expected to pass more easily. Specter was the one Republican that labor hoped to get to vote in their favor, in addition to all 59 Democrats (assuming Minnesota’s Al Franken gets seated sometime this century).

A proposed “third way” compromise was put forward last week by executives from Whole Foods, Costco and Starbuck’s, but labor leaders denounced it as a pro-business gutting of their proposal.

Feinstein’s position is in sharp contrast to Senator Barbara Boxer, who gave the kickoff speech last week at a Washington convention of Teamster organizers who gathered to lobby Congress on the free choice act.

Boxer was introduced by Teamster President Jim Hoffa as “our friend” and one of 41 senators who have signed on to the bill as co-sponsors. “For me, it’s a family thing,” Boxer said, adding that her husband’s father had been a Teamster. She said she was behind the bill “for the good of the country and for a strong middle class.”