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Posts Tagged ‘Calitics’



AB32 Fight: Smokestack Steve vs. Monoxide Meg

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

smokestacksteve2Throughout our so-called careers, Calbuzz has been consistently entertained by our friend Richie Ross’s talent for concocting cut-to-the-bone epigrams about political campaigning.

“When you’re behind,” Richie once told us, amidst a race where he was running some now-forgotten dog, “always pick a fight.”

The formulation came to mind this week, as Smokestack Steve Poizner took out after Monoxide Meg Whitman, insisting to all who would listen that his position on the environment was waayyy worse than hers.

One day after our piece examining eMeg’s fierce opposition to California’s landmark AB32 climate change legislation (Coincidence? You be the judge) The Commish whacked her as an opportunistic, closet tree-hugger.

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“Meg’s rhetoric on AB32 is again a sign of the two Meg Whitmans,” said Jarrod Agen, Poizner’s slasher-in-chief. “Campaign trail Meg is making claims that directly contradict her actions and Republican voters will not trust her.”

The me-too attack came as Poizner endorsed the so-called “California Jobs Initiative” being co-sponsored by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Paleolithic, and Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Sirloin. The measure, now being signature circulated, calls for suspension of AB32, until employment levels get back to where they were before it passed in 2006.

056-597But the endorsement was really just an excuse to remind GOP primary voters of eMeg’s eleemosynary contribution of $300K to the Environmental Defense Fund, a strong supporter of AB32, not long after the measure passed, as well as her gushy past praise for ex-Obama Green Czar Van Jones – “I’m a huge fan!” – whom she met on a save-the-earth cruise that also included Jimmy Carter, fercrineoutloud.

Pshaw, dismissively responded the volcanic Sarah Pompei, eMeg’s well-paid responder. Whitman, she said, don’t need no stinkin’ initiatives to crank up the thermostat on the world all by herself.

“The authority to suspend AB32 already exists and Meg is committed to using it on her first day as Governor,” Pompei said, adding that, “as a result of the struggling economy, Meg was the first candidate to call for a suspension of AB32 . . . If there was any possibility that Steve Poizner could be touting those same credentials, well then, he probably would be.”

And thank you for that.

On Monday we presented the case, and the polling to back it up, that a majority of Californians don’t see a huge conflict between environmental protection and economic growth. While Calbuzz is open to being proven wrong (in fact, we’ve made a pretty good living at it), we think racing to the bottom on pollution is strictly a GOP primary strategy that won’t sell in a general election.

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Milk Carton Report: Phil Angelides, who had a charisma bypass before such surgery was fashionable, strode his way into the national spotlight Wednesday, as he opened as chairman the much-anticipated hearings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

“People are angry,” Angelides said, with the heads of the nation’s two largest banks and two biggest Wall Street firms sitting, under oath, before him.

They have a right to be. The fact that Wall Street is enjoying record profits and bonuses in the wake of receiving trillions of dollars in government assistance — while so many families are struggling to stay afloat — has only heightened the sense of confusion.

Not bad stuff for a guy who ran the worst campaign for the top spot since John D. Sloat didn’t cop a single vote. Given his financial bona fides as a former state Treasurer, not to mention his classic training at the hand of Angelo Tsakopoulos, Angelides ain’t a bad pick for the gig, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi helped him land.

It’s hard to imagine the commission coming up with much in the way of true reform, however, although the hearings do have some entertainment value. Best coverage we’ve seen is the live blog over at Huffpost  which also has a dandy piece co-authored by former N.Y. Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who managed to keep his pants on for the occasion.

halperinBeltway wisdom gone awry: There are few people in the political news business more obnoxious, self-referential and self-absorbed than ABC’s Mark Halperin, so we were delighted at Jason Linkins’ superb takedown of “Game Change,” the ’08 campaign account Halperin co-authored with John Heilemann, and which their fellow Beltway snobs are lapping up like melted Ben & Jerry’s.

Under the terrific hed “The Blackhearted Ethos of Game Change,” Linkins writes:

What you will get from this tome is the experience of being dragged through a great, teeming, gossipy Superfund-sized pile of shit, lovingly accumulated by two authors who have basically allowed anyone willing to offer nasty hearsay, trash-talk, or score-settling to dump away.

Calbuzz sez check it out

We’re from the press, we’re here to help: Kudos to Calitics for being first on the scene early Wednesday with a list of how-to-help contact info for the victims of the horrible earthquake in Haiti. Best bitchslap of the insufferable Pat Robertson: thank you Andy Borowitz for “Haiti? I Thought They Said ‘Hades’”


Three Dot Thursday: Cheap Shots at the Wounded

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

photos2Memo to Methuselah: Jerry Brown airily dismisses Gavin Newsom’s bid to make a generational contest of the Democratic primary, but maybe that’s because Crusty the General hasn’t looked in the mirror lately.

Calbuzz was shocked – shocked! – while viewing a TV report on Brown’s recent visit to the Central Coast to realize that the 71-year old former everything really, really, um, looks his age on the tube.

Since we’re a solution-oriented outfit, we immediately dispatched some recent photos of Brown to the Calbuzz Division of Superficial Issues and Cosmetology Fixes for some quick action step recommendations.

ebsenAfter a full-body scan, in-depth analysis that lasted until a few minutes before lunch, our highly-trained and highly paid technicians reached consensus that Brown needs some work on those geezer eyebrows, which make him look like a cross between Jed Clampett and the prophet Isaiah.

Yo Anne! What – they don’t sell products in Oakland?

Using the latest in online, web-based, digital era technology, Calbuzz herein proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that a little dye job would take 20 years off the guy’s face; once you’re done with that, General, we can discuss those white-as-snow sidewalls . . .

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Gay Marriage – The Long March: Same-sex marriage advocates made a smart calculation by pushing plans for a new initiative to roll back Prop. 8 into 2012 instead of next year.

For starters, there’s the boost in voter turnout guaranteed in any presidential election; beyond that, recall that Kuwata’s Law holds that every campaign includes three fundamental pieces: money, organization and message. Two years provides a much more realistic time frame than a 2010 rush job for assembling the first two and for carefully framing the third in a way that addresses the pro-marriage side’s political weaknesses within religious and minority communities, which proved fatal in 2008.

As for the governor’s race, the move takes a little steam out of Newsom’s gov run by nulling his signature issue, but also makes it easier for him to appeal to Latino and African American voters, who supported Prop. 8 in large numbers last year. Although it won’t be an issue in the June primary, gay marriage might still provide a little traction for whoever the Democrat candidate is in November, assuming either Meg Whitman or Steve Poizner wins the GOP nomination (Tom Campbell favors gay marriage).

Without gay marriage on the ballot, the wannabe governors will be forced to focus more than ever on state finances as the dominant and driving issue of the campaign; in scoping out a distant second, don’t discount illegal immigration, legalization of marijuana and, of course, the constitutional convention; initiatives on all three subjects are either circulating, or sitting at the Attorney General’s office awaiting title and summary.

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Poizner vs Whitman, Round 62: While Meg Whitman’s top priority on a recent visit with Santa Cruz Republicans appeared to be barring Calbuzz from the event, chief rival Steve Poizner was busy scoring grassroots points elsewhere on the Central Coast.

While eMeg basks in being the darling of Beltway Big Feet, Poizner keeps rolling up the backing of street level pols, the kind of guys and gals who’ve, you know, actually run and won elections in California. His latest list of Central Coast endorsers includes former Assemblyman and current Assessor Tom Bordonaro Jr. of San Luis Obispo, Councilman Jim Monahan of Ventura City, Vice-Mayor Jim Reed of Scotts Valley, Vice-Mayor Victor Gomez of Hollister, Councilman Glen Becerra of Simi Valley, Councilwoman Charlotte Craven of Camarillo, Councilman Leo Trujillo of Santa Maria, Trustee Robert Huber of Ventura County, and former Councilman Jim Heggarty of Paso Robles.

Of course, Fred Barnes and George Will have never heard of any of these people.

Three dot special: Over at Calitics, Dante Atkins reports that he was awakened last Sunday morning by a poll-taker for Fairbanks, Maslin, Maullin and Associates who was apparently testing lines of attack for PXP oil company, in its continuing efforts to win state approval for an offshore drilling lease at Tranquillon Ridge, off the coast of Santa Barbara. This one ain’t going away anytime soon, sports fans . . . Hardcore junkies will want to check out Politico’s early line on what the wannabes are up to a mere 1,182 days before the 2012 presidential election . . . News that stays news: LiveScience.com reports that the average dog is as smart or smarter than a two-year old curtain climber; the key question remains unanswered, however:  how much smarter are Rex and Fido than the average teenager? . . . Norm Pattiz, founder and chairman of Westwood One, America’s largest radio network, UC Regent, Joe Biden buddy, Democratic donor and mongo Lakers fan gets inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. Calbuzz is impressed .

Press Clips: Fun Facts & Fine Kerfuffles

Friday, July 31st, 2009

mbaldassareWelcome to the NFL: Torey Van Oot, the rookie California blogger hired by the Bee to juice up its online “Capitol Alert” (which has flagged considerably since the departure for the L.A. Times of the indefatigable Shane Goldmacher) set off a fine kerfuffle Thursday over polling, politics and the smash-mouth issue of offshore oil drilling in California.

Van Oot put up an early morning post about the new PPIC poll’s finding that a majority of Californians now favor offshore oil drilling. The item included an attack on the institute’s survey methodology by anti-drilling Assemblyman Pedro Nava, who called the results “completely worthless” and opined that “PPIC should find another line of work, if this is the best they can do.”

For those who know PPIC president Mark Baldassare (along with the Field Poll’s Mark torey22DiCamillo) as one of the smartest, most trustworthy and thoughtful pollsters in the nation, Nava’s wild man act was an hysteric, over-the-top, shoot-the-messenger rip job that ignored the rather important facts that a) PPIC has been asking the same question since 2003 and b) there’s undeniable evidence throughout their data that a significant shift in public opinion on the offshore issue has taken place (primarily among independents).

The piece was notable for one other reason: it carried not a word from Baldassare, or anyone at PPIC, responding to Nava’s charges, although he  directly assailed the professionalism and competence of the San Francisco-based outfit.

A few hours later, apparently after Baldassare and the Bee Blogger had a full and frank exchange of views, Van Oot posted an update that included a 243-word response from the pollster, which looked like a billboard slapped up on the page, setting the record straight about his methodology:

“At the end of the day, we feel it’s our obligation to as accurately as possible reflect the opinions of all Californians in our polling, so particularly on controversial issues like this one, we take special care to use national survey questions and repeat questions over time to give us a sense of whether opinions are changing,” he concluded.

A feperry white 2w hours after that, Nava issued a press release walking back his direct criticism of PPIC. Transforming himself into a journalism critic, he instead insisted that the media had “misled” the public by writing too narrowly about the offshore drilling question instead of taking a broader approach to other data about environmental issues that “should have been the focus of yesterday’s stories.”

Yo! Perry White! Here’s a tip from the political desk: When you’re in a hole, first stop digging.

World’s First Legislator: The Handbook of Political Writing Cliches requires that all stories about California’s budget include at least one use of the phrase “draconian cuts,” as confirmed by a random check of recent budget yarns in the Bee-minus, the Chron and the By God L.A. Times, as well a quick Google search of “draconian cuts California budget” (126,000 hits).

Ever desperate for a fresh angle, Calbuzz assigned our highly trained and highly paid Department of Evolutionary Linguistics to get to the bottom of this hoary phrase. A wide-ranging investigation, including an in-depth check of Wikipedia, revealed that it derives, neither from Harry Potter pal Draco Malfoy nor Star Wars Imperial Knight Antares Draco, but rather from the uni-named Draco, credited as “the first legislator of ancient Athens.”

Besides his more or less direct responsibility for the free cars, per diem payments and fulltime salaries for part-time work afforded today’s California lawmakers, Mr. Draco also laid down the first written constitution, a rather harsh collection of laws that required debtors to be forced into slavery and called for capital punishment for even minor offenses.

Draco, according to Plutarch, “when asked why he had fixed the punishment of death for most offences, answered that he considered these lesser crimes to deserve it, and that he had no greater punishment for more important ones.”

Ouch.

Eventually karmic justice caught up with Draco, who reportedly died after a demagogic performance at the Aeginetan theatre, when his supporters, in a traditional sign of approval,  “threw so many hats and shirts and cloaks on his head that he suffocated, and was buried in that selfsame theatre.”

Now there’s an idea for a ballot initiative to rein in the Legislature.

More fun facts about language: Calbuzz’s political correctness antennae stood straight up when the redoubtable David Dayen over at Calitics referred to our most recent budget rant, not once but thrice, as “shrill.”

Now while it’s true that the members of the Calbuzz Executive Content Production Team are not technically, well, of the female persuasion, we have been around long enough to know that calling someone “shrill” is just asking to be denounced by sensitive souls, such as ourselves, for some type of “phobia” or “ism.”

But now comes Dayen, graciously concealing his smirk at our utter lack of hipness, to disclose that “shrill” represents a compliment in what you call your online blogging community, high praise for cutting to the bone instead of mealy-mouthing an issue, as explained here.

So little time, so much to learn.

How to fix California: A prolific sort, Dayen churned out an excellent thumb-sucker on a California constitutional convention, one of a pair of intriguing posts this week that highlight the vast ideological divide over the ways and means needed to fix the state.

Chris Reed over at Politicker offered the second, a brisk policy prescription for the excessive spending and trough-feeding public employees whom he perceives as the fundamental cause of the Mess in Sacramento, a package which includes a tight spending cap, pension reform and restrictions on political donations by unions.To Dayen, though, the problem is much more one of structure: “Right now, we have a progressive legislature and a conservative system, which frustrates efforts at accountability.”

And there it is, spectator sports fans: two looks at the dysfunction of state government from opposite ends of the telescope, a case study of the political chasm a con con will have to confront and bridge.

Lou_Cannon-175Must reads of the week: For those looking for one piece on California’s woe that puts it all together, Lou Cannon offers up a smart and stylish overview on Politics Daily that shows why he’s a Hall of Fame political writer…Nice scooplet by Anthony York at Capitol Weekly, who reports that the final vote on last week’s defeat of Arnold’s offshore oil drilling proposal mysteriously disappeared from the official record of the Assembly….Finally, Kevin Roderick, the City of Angels bard who never sleeps, dashed off this very Calbuzz kind of item that demonstrates the true power and importance of links:

Best city for deli: L.A.?

From the Jewish Journal’s food blog, posted by editor Rob Eshman:

‘I just got a peek inside David Sax’s new book, “Save the Deli,“ due out Oct. 19, and can report that it is official: L.A. is the best deli city in America.

Bite that, New York….’”

Memo to Calitics: Thanks for the Link

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

friedrich-engels1To: Calitics Commissar David Dayen
From: Useful Idiots Phil and Jerry
Re: Your infantile disorder

When we read your hissy fits about Calbuzz’s coverage of the Parsky Commission, the words of Friedrich Engels came to mind:

“What childish innocence it is to present one’s own impatience as a theoretically convincing argument!”
(Programme of the Blanquist Communards)

As regular readers of Calitics, we admire your passion, if not your common sense. But let’s be clear that our mission at Calbuzz is quite different than the ideological ranting that is your stock in trade: it’s called “journalism.”

Let’s be blunt: You knew bupkus about the maneuvering and politics unfolding behind-the-scenes at the tax commission until we started covering it. To attack us for digging out the story is to mistake the map for the territory, using the same kind of tiresome, rigid,  WATB ideological projections as you decry in the Yacht Party.

Unlike you, we don’t pretend, to ourselves or anyone else, that we know enough about economics, tax policy or public finance to lecture our readers about such matters or tell them What Is To Be Done. (You don’t either, but we’ll leave that between you and your comrades for your next self-criticism session.)

We see our job as ferreting out the facts of what’s going on politically with policy-makers; with all due respect to our MSM and online colleagues, there simply hadn’t been a hard look at the commission’s work, and the strategies behind it, before we started reporting on it a few weeks ago.

That you would have remained clueless about what was happening there, and would therefore have nothing to throw your little temper tantrum about, is to underscore the huge difference between the Calbuzz brand of political reporting and what Lenin would call the left-wing “infantile disorder” that defines Calitics.

As you’ll recall, this fundamental contradiction came fully into view at the Democratic convention, when your netroots pals couldn’t stop slobbering over Barbara Boxer at her press conference, while we old guys just did that old boring thing of asking her hard questions.

We’re just sayin’.

P.S. We’ll leave to others the task of analyzing your obsessive use of the words “fetish” “fetishism” and “fetishistic,” which is probably a matter best dealt with in therapy. You might consider asking our in-house political psychiatrist, Dr. P.J. Hackenflack, for some help.

Best Bets for Tuesday’s Prop. 8 News

Monday, May 25th, 2009

The California Supreme Court has announced it will issue its landmark decision in the Proposition 8 gay marriage case at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The court’s web site says the opinion will be immediately available here.

For the view on the breaking news from the anti-Prop. 8/pro-gay marriage side, check out our friends at Calitics, React from the pro-Prop. 8/anti-gay marriage proponents will be here.