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Posts Tagged ‘EDC’



Maddaus on CD 36: Liberal vs Liberal vs Ultra-Liberal

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

As Secretary of State Debra Bowen jumped into the race for the 36th Congressional District race and L.A. city council member Janice Hahn added Sen. Dianne Feinstein to her long list of establishment endorsers, we heard from political writer Gene Maddaus, who took issue with some key elements of the Calbuzz early line, published last week.

Maddaus, who covers politics for the LA Weekly, is all over the campaign to succeed the departing Rep. Jane Harman day-to-day. Among his other lead-the-pack coverage – here, here and here – he broke the news of Bowen’s entry Tuesday. Here’s his take on our take of the race.

Gene Maddaus
Special to Calbuzz

1. Janice Hahn is no moderate. Along with Jose Huizar and Richard Alarcon, she is one of the three most liberal members of the (quite liberal) LA City Council. She opposed gang injunctions. She backed a $30 million tax to pay for more gang intervention workers. She is among the most likely to defend city jobs as an end in themselves. She would be a moderate in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, but not here.

2. The race isn’t so much about moderate vs. liberal — because Bowen and Hahn are both very liberal — as it is about a beer-track Democrat (Hahn) versus a wine-track Democrat (Bowen).

Bowen’s base is pro-choice, pro-consumer/trial lawyer, and pro-environment. Hahn’s base is labor labor labor, plus African-Americans. (That’s thanks to residual affection for Kenny Hahn, though, unfortunately for her, there aren’t many black voters in the 36th.)

If either of them is a moderate, it’s Bowen. She was a Republican in her misspent youth, and she had a reputation in the Assembly for bucking the party leadership. (Though that was probably out of necessity, since she represented a 50/50 district and the leadership was Willie Brown.)

3. The L.A. County Fed will back Hahn, and their support can be determinative in a low-turnout primary. UNITE HERE Local 11 (Maria-Elena’s old shop) endorsed Hahn last week, so the Fed can’t be far behind. Their turnout operation is justly feared/admired and union density is high in the Harbor area. Bowen’s hope would be that she can turn out wine-track Dems in the beach cities, where the Fed is less potent (ask Nick Karno in the 53rd AD) and that she can persuade independents and Republicans to back her in order to stop Hahn.

4. If anything, the jungle primary helps Bowen. Without it, Winograd and Bowen split the Westside liberal vote while Hahn has the Harbor/labor vote to herself. In the runoff, Hahn faces a token Republican. Advantage: Hahn. But with the jungle primary, Winograd gets kicked out after Round 1 and the Westside liberal vote consolidates behind Bowen. Advantage: Bowen. (Unless, of course, a Republican makes it through the runoff).

5. Both Hahn and Bowen are to the left of Harman, so now Winograd has to go even further left to maintain her brand. (Winograd’s questions for Bowen include: Will you visit Bradley Manning [the Wikileaks leaker] in solitary confinement?) A lot of that Winograd vote is anti-Harman. Not sure how seriously the electorate will take her this time around.

6. Harman said she’s resigning so the election can be consolidated with the special statewide vote on taxes. There’s a chance that this won’t cost the state any money, if a candidate gets 50% of the vote. If not, the runoff would be in August, when turnout is at its lowest and a good turnout operation is most important.

Harman also said that the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where she’ll be taking over as executive director, approached her after the November election, because they didn’t like their first round of candidates to replace Lee Hamilton, the former Indiana congressman who’s retiring from the think tank.

The oil rig that wouldn’t die: Overlooked in much of the budget coverage that followed Kevin Yamamura’s scoop on the Legislative Analyst’s worst-case scenario report is the sudden resurfacing of the hugely contentious Tranquillon Ridge offshore oil drilling project.

Less than a year after ex-Governor Schwarzmuscle folded his long-sought effort to win approval of the Santa Barbara County coastal project, in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, analyst Mac Taylor tucked it into the new report his office prepared, which offers a detailed look at the kinds of cuts and other moves lawmakers would have to make if Governor Krusty doesn’t get his way on extending $12 billion in temporary tax hikes.

The T-Ridge project called for a new state oil lease – which would be the first since the 1969 Santa Barbara spill – authorizing the PXP oil company to drill into state waters from its existing Platform Irene facilities in federal water, more than three miles offshore from Vandenberg Air Force base.

Among a whole batch of bitter political conflicts, the proposal caused a civil war within the green community in Santa Barbara, where the environmental movement began; some, led by the Environmental Defense Center, backed the lease as part of a negotiated package they said would end future drilling in federal waters from Irene and three other platforms. Others, notably former S.B. Democratic Assemblyman Pedro Nava, said it would set a dangerous precedent that could open California’s coast to more drilling.

For Brown, the project, one of the few  budget moves in Taylor’s report that would generate new revenue, would represent a special quandary. A longtime foe of offshore drilling, Gandalf would be under pressure to back the plan, estimated to bring $100 million a year into the treasury, because of his call for shared sacrifice across the political spectrum.

“Friggin’ cats only have 9 lives,” Nava, who led the opposition to the plan in the Legislature, told Calbuzz. “This feels like at least a dozen.”

ICYMI: There’s a do-gooder move afoot to take down various video posts of the truly bizarre clip of CBS LA correspondent Serene Branson’s live report from the Grammys the other night, amid still unanswered medical questions about whether she had some kind of neurological malfunction on the air. Before it’s gone for ever, you can judge for yourself.

Measuring Goldman Taint; More on Arnold Flip Flop

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Alert readers might have noted that Calbuzz has, in recent weeks, paid a lot of attention to billionaire Meg Whitman’s links to Goldman Sachs.  They may also have gleaned that we kinda, sorta think that the stock spinning made possible by Goldman when eMeg was CEO of eBay, was, well, pretty darn unethical.

So when Steve Poizner pounced on eMeg’s Goldman taint, we gave The Commish a pretty good ride. But let’s be honest: Poizner’s not some poor schmo with a tin cup begging for nickels so he can run for governor. A zillionaire himself, he is certainly no Goldman Virgin.

In fact, back in 2004 when he was running for the Assembly, (as a Republican, btw when eMeg wasn’t even a registered voter, let alone a Republican – but we digress)* Poizner got himself a $500,000 loan on VERY favorable, preferential, best-customer terms (the federal funds rate + 60 basis points ) from Goldman Sachs. He repaid the loan about six months later, but he got use of the money at practically no cost – terms he was afforded because the loan was backed by his personal assets in a Goldman brokerage account (as noted in his 12/03 FPPC Form 700).

The whole loan and other complex Poizner/Goldman details are spelled out over at Whitman’s favorite conservative blog (at least she pays them huge amounts for her ads over there) Red County. The loan has also been noted here, here, here and here. Point being, the Whitman folks have shopped this one around, trying to suggest, “Hey, Poizner’s got just as much of a problem with Goldman Sachs as Meg does.”

But an exclusive Calbuzz analysis of the Goldman Sachs Taint of Scandal accruing to each of the candidates for governor – let’s not forget Attorney General Jerry Brown’s sister works there and the city where he was mayor had a credit deal with Goldman – demonstrates that the GSTS Factor for Whitman is 80%, compared to 15% for Poizner and 5% for Brown. (See chart above)

Bottom line: This is how smart, New Media Age guys and news gatherers avoid falling prey to the dreaded False Equivalence Syndrome – by scientifically analyzing the metrics and measurables of any given scandal – taking into account, of course, a margin or error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

Terminator terminates T-Ridge: Gov. Schwarzmuscle’s stunning, 180-degree flip flop on offshore drilling near Santa Barbara astonished us for many reasons – not least of which was the utter lack of political grace he displayed towards his erstwhile environmental allies, whom he totally hung out to dry.

“Arnold loves to do that – it’s part of his control issues,” said former Assembly member and T-Ridge environmental  booster Hannah Beth Jackson. “Consistency and rationality have never bothered him in the least.”

In delivering a sudden and unexpected coup de grace to the fiercely debated Tranquillon Ridge project on Monday, Arnold totally blindsided the embattled coalition of Santa Barbara environmental activists who had put reputations, credibility and personal friendships on the line in fighting for the plan for the last two years.

Having appropriated for his own purposes a complex legal agreement over leasing arrangements that Santa Barbara’s Environmental Defense Center had reached with the Houston-based PXP oil company, Schwarzenegger couldn’t be bothered giving the enviros a heads-up before airily dismissing the painstakingly negotiated deal as if he were dispatching a fly, during the course of a press conference he’d called on an entirely different issue.

“We had absolutely no idea this was coming,” said Linda Krop, general counsel for the EDC, who spent nearly three years working on the PXP agreement, and who’d been enlisted by Schwarzenegger’s Department of Finance in his own, budget driven efforts to gain approval for it. “We were completely surprised.”

Krop only learned that Schwarzenegger had switched his position more than an hour after his press conference, when reporters started to call. The architect of the EDC-PXP deal,  she has long argued that giving the company  a short-term lease to drill into state waters, from a platform it already operates in federal waters, is a worthwhile trade off for its promise to end permanently most of its federally leased drilling in the region.

Whatever you think, as a policy matter, of the agreement she crafted – and environmentalist opinion was bitterly polarized on the issue – Krop is a smart, determined and passionate coastal protection advocate who’s paid her dues and deserves better than being dissed by a muscle-bound, metrosexual movie actor without a principled bone in his sagging body.

Whaddya mean you work for me? Of course, enviros don’t seem to be the only ones who failed to see Schwarzenegger’s switcheroo coming.

Last Saturday, Chronicler Marisa Lagos did a good piece probing whether the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe had triggered any rethinking within the Administration about its full-square support of the T-Ridge project. No effin’ way, one of Conan’s army of mouthpieces insisted to her:

As oil spewed Friday from a blown out well in the Gulf of Mexico and spread into Louisiana’s sensitive wetlands and rich fishing grounds, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration defended a plan to allow new drilling off California’s Central Coast.

A spokesman for Schwarzenegger said the proposed Tranquillon Ridge project off Santa Barbara County is attractive because the oil company behind the project has agreed to end drilling off the coast in exchange for a permit to do so for the next 14 years…

“This doesn’t really change anything, because we’re looking at a platform that’s already in operation,” said Jeff Macedo, the governor’s spokesman. “If anything this makes the T-Ridge project that much more important, because it would put a sunset date on when it shuts down.”

Oh, never mind.

Two days later, Schwarzenegger stood before reporters and sounded exactly the opposite opinion.

Without the simple courtesy of telling someone to pick up the phone and let the pro-T-Ridge environmentalists know what he was about to do, Arnold instantly and categorically rejected the entire environmental argument in favor of the project.

He not only turned his back on his previously stated certainty that the PXP deal, by aiming to close out currently open-ended federal offshore leases, would actually make an oil spill near Santa Barbara less likely; he also shrugged off the importance of the $100 million the project would have brought to the state annually – after more than a year of thundering about the crucial importance of that money to California’s fiscal condition.

Not surprisingly, he said he changed his mind after watching TV.

* correction

Kaboom! And a Happy Earth Day to You, Too!

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

It may be a tad early to assess the political impacts of the explosion and sinking of an BP oil rig off the coast of Louisiana, but it seems safe to say that the horrific images of the disaster won’t speed up the cause of the controversial Tranquillon Ridge project in California.

The strange bedfellow alliance among and between Governor Arnold, several Santa Barbara environmental groups and the Houston-based oil company PXP recently re-launched their effort to resurrect the project, after it was turned down by the State Lands Commission and the Legislature last year.

Now, the metastasizing oil spill*** in the Gulf of Mexico, and the apparent loss of the lives of at least 11 oil workers that followed a blow-out on a rig on Tuesday night – Earth Day – provide a sudden and grim reminder of the high stakes of offshore drilling.

The T-Ridge plan calls for the lands commission to award PXP a lease to drill in state waters, the first since the 1969 Santa Barbara spill, from an existing platform in federal waters. Environmentalists on both sides of the internecine warfare over the issue insist that their position represents the  best way to prevent more spills like that now engulfing the Gulf.

In the move that split old alliances and fractured California’s environmental community, local groups in Santa Barbara have pushed the T-Ridge plan as a way to trade more drilling in the short run for less in the long run, exchanging their political support for a PXP lease to slant drill into state waters for the oil company’s legal promise – which they insist is ironclad – to cease all drilling from four federal platforms in the area within 14 years.

Amid all the political, legal and financial wrangling over the issue for the past two years, it’s hard to imagine a more powerful argument against  drilling than that presented by pictures of firefighters vainly battling the deadly and violent blaze that sunk the oil rig. It’s worth noting that the T-Ridge platform is located just over three miles from shore, far closer to land than the  Deepwater Horizon rig that sank about 50  miles off the coast of Louisiana.

Many backers of the governor’s proposal have argued that oil drilling operations have undergone huge technological advancements in the past 40 years, making unlikely a massive spill like that poisoned the Santa Barbara Channel in 1969.

Among those who have embraced the technology-makes-it-safe argument are Republican wannabe governor Steve Poizner and his front-running rival, Meg Whitman.

“When I started this process, I was against offshore oil drilling,” Whitman told reporters in Santa Barbara last year, “and then I began to understand deeply the new technology that is available to extract oil from existing wells.”

For the record, Jerry Brown does not support the T-Ridge proposal. As Attorney General, and the lawyer for the State Lands Commission, Brown’s staff recommended that the commission reject PXP’s project last year. As a candidate, Brown “does not believe off-shore drilling is the answer to our problems,” said campaign flack Sterling Clifford.

*Update: Early fears of huge spill may be unfounded.

**Update II (4/24): Now they’ve found an underwater leak a senior Coast Guard official describes as “a game changer.”

***Update III (4/27): Spill now 40 miles X 50 miles - so much for “unfounded” fears.

****Update IV (4/29): Send in the Marines.

FYI: The Associated Press reports “Since 2001, there have been 69 offshore deaths, 1,349 injuries and 858 fires and explosions in the gulf, according to the Minerals Management Service. ”

Weed whacker alert: In order to jump start the T-Ridge proposal, PXP needs to file a new application for a hearing before the lands commission and, so far, has not done so, SLC executive officer Paul Thayer told Calbuzz.

Thayer said that the commission staff, analyzed a revised version of the agreement between PXP and the Environmental Defense Center several months ago. The commission rejected the original proposal last year and still has problems with it, despite some improvements, he said.

The “beneficial aspect” of the new agreement it reviewed is that it strengthens the state’s ability to intervene legally if PXP does not honor its terms, he said. But the final authority over end dates for drilling from facilities in federal waters still rests with the Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service, not the state: “Ultimately, MMS controls what’s going on out there.”

Thayer also cited the “precedental value” of the existing 41-year old prohibition against any new drilling leases in state waters, which has been in force since the 1969 Santa Barbara spill.

“California’s congressional delegation has made use of that,” in fighting against expansion of drilling in federal waters off the coast of California, he said.

P.S. Kudos to KQED’s John Myers for getting Abel Maldonado on the record about his stance on T-Ridge this week, in advance of his confirmation vote for lieutenant governor, a post from which he gets a deciding vote on the project on the lands commission.

Live from the California Nurses Association: Queen Meg!

The latest in guerrilla theater from the CNA, Queen Meg, escorts, a horse-drawn carriage and a proclamation that reads:
“In honor of her $150 million campaign treasury, the people of California do hereby crown Meg Whitman as Queen Meg of California.  Her husband Griffith Harsh IV is crowned Prince Griffith of Palo Alto, and the Whitman-Harsh royal motto shall be ‘Healthcare for the nobility, Education for the few, Prisons for all.’”

Chamber’s Hypocritical Swing at Brown on Prop. 13

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

It’s not often in politics that an esteemed organization like the California Chamber of Commerce produces and finances a political ad that is as cynical and disingenuous as “Enough is Enough” — the Chamber’s attack on Attorney General Jerry Brown, masquerading as an “issues ad.”

“California’s lost one million jobs, we’re 200 billion dollars in debt and Jerry Brown has a 35-year record of higher spending and taxes,” the ad begins, as if these assertions are  related.  And that’s just the opener.

“Governor Brown opposed Prop. 13. Spending increased 163 percent. He turned a budget surplus into a massive deficit,” the ad continues, ignoring the inconvenient truth that former Governors George Deukmejian (Steve Poizner camp) and Pete Wilson (Meg Whitman camp) and the California Chamber of Commerce itself — and almost every major corporate entity in California — opposed Prop.13 at the time.

In other words, Allan Zaremberg’s executive committee at the Chamber — which got clearance from the Chamber board to do issue advocacy — has instead leaped into the governor’s race with both feet as a rank partisan opposed to Jerry Brown.

“It’s not an attack ad,” Zaremberg insisted to Calbuzz. “This is an issue ad.”

“We want to ensure that we integrate the issues that are critically important to our members and Californians into the election debate,” he said in a press release “The goal of these ads is to press the candidates to articulate how their views about taxing and spending are likely to impact our job climate in the future.”

To which Calbuzz says: Ah, horseshit. This is an attack ad. Watch it yourself.

What is galling about this is not that Zaremberg has decided to go to war with Brown — we frankly don’t have a dog in that fight. It’s the smarmy, hiding-behind-the-skirts pretense of principles that we find loathsome.

Meg Whitman’s campaign strategist, Mike Murphy, had no qualms about describing the ad. “Cal Chamber runs TV ad to remind voters of Jerry Brown’s 35 yr record of fiscal disaster. Large media buy. See it here: http://bit.ly/bZfS3A,” Murph tweeted.

If  Zaremberg wants to lead the Chamber into battle against the Attorney General, then  man up, go to the board — including the CEOs of the University of California, State Universities and Community Colleges — and get them to agree to open fire.

As for the truth of the ad, Brown’s people vehemently dispute virtually every statement. Their response can be found  . . .  oops, looks like Brown’s campaign brain trust has decided, for strategic reasons, not to post their rapid response. Huh? But you can find a partial defense of Brown at Calitics, written by the Oracle of Cruickshank himself.

BTW, the Chamber didn’t fund this ad through its political action committee which would have been subject to disclosure regulations. Instead it’s funding the ad  — reportedly more than a $1 million buy — on its own, complete with a phony front site.

P.S. The news that Peter Schurman, founding director of lefty MoveOn.org, has decided to challenge Brown in the Democratic primary can only benefit Crusty. With Meg Whitman bashing Brown as a statist commie, Schurman’s platform of sweeping tax increases gives the General a handy opportunity to position himself more visibly in the middle on budget issues.

Boon or boondoggle: A new Public Policy Institute of California study of illegal immigration, showing that a legalization program would have little impact on the economy, is significant for both policy and political reasons.

As a policy matter, it sharply conflicts with recent reports out of USC and UCLA, both of which predicted a huge boost to California’s economy from legalizing the state’s several million undocumented adult workers, at a time when the immigration debate has been renewed in Washington. As a political matter, it comes amid a campaign battle over immigration that has been raging for weeks between Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner in the Republican primary for governor.

The new PPIC report is based on an analysis of data compiled by the New Immigrant Survey, a joint project sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and several universities. Among its key conclusions:

–There is little evidence for claims, such as those in the USC and UCLA reports, that legalization would help boost the economy by generating large amounts of new tax revenue.

–Charges that newly legalized immigrants would put a new burden on government through heavy reliance on welfare programs are also without much quantitative foundation.

–Newly legalized immigrants rarely move into better paying jobs because of their changed status and, for that reason, do not represent much competition for jobs with native-born workers.

Said researcher Laura Hill:

A legalization program is unlikely to lead to dramatic changes in the labor market. We wouldn’t expect it to significantly affect the job prospects of low-skilled workers in the short run – whether immigrant or native-born.

eMeg vs. The Commish: One conclusion that reasonable people (we name no names) can draw from the PPIC report is that all sides in the debate routinely overstate the effects of illegal immigration, an intriguing point given the rug-chewing hysterical froth that Poizner has worked himself into over the issue in the past several weeks.

Immigration barely registered as a concern for state voters in last month’s PPIC poll, but Poizner has been beating the drum on it because he knows that there’s an ideological passion gap on the issue, with Republicans and conservatives far more concerned than Democrats or independents, which suits his paddle-to-the-right primary bid just fine.

But some of the cross tab findings on immigration in the new L.A. Times/USC survey may give him pause.

It is true that by 2-to-1 margins, both Republicans and self-described conservatives support Poizner’s Prop. 187-like call to “turn off the magnets” and deny virtually all government services to illegals, one of the key issues he harps on.

But it’s also true that Republicans (65-to-29) and conservatives (61-to-33)  support a “path to legalization” as described in the LAT/USC poll, which makes them not much different than  Democrats and independents alike.

Poizner has been bashing eMeg for a statement she made last fall in favor of a “path to legalization” by accusing her of backing “amnesty,” a hot button word that does not truly describe the framework of a compromise plan being discussed in Washington , which calls for undocumented immigrants to pay fines and back taxes, perform community service, learn English and pass a background check, among other requirements.

This just in: The Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center will launch its latest effort to revive the Tranquillon Ridge offshore oil project Wednesday, with a news conference, including local favorite Rep. Lois Capps, positioning the proposal for a new state drilling lease as a way to stop expanded oil drilling. Key question: will they release the text of the new agreement they’ve reached with PXP energy company, after getting beat up for keeping an earlier version secret?

Wrap: Megablunder; Offshore Blues; Free Mickey!

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

The Calbuzz Department of Handicapping and Short Jockeys has been pretty darn impressed with how few major mistakes Team eMeg has made thus far in her maiden voyage into big-time California politics.

With a couple of exceptions.

Blunder #1, as we’ve noted before, was Whitman’s stand against AB32, California’s historic measure to control greenhouse gasses. It was unnecessary in the Republican primary and will pose a problem for her among moderates and independents in the general election.

And now comes Blunder #2: Whitman’s call last week to build more prisons, to be paid for by cutting other programs. We saw the story, by Torey Van Oot in the Sacramento B Minus but didn’t see any follow-up, which was odd, given what a huge strategic screw-up this was on Meg’s part.

“Whitman, who opposes raising taxes and wants to reduce the state work force, declined to identify a specific funding source for the costly new facilities, saying instead that cash could be freed up by cutting other areas of government,” Van Oot reported.

It didn’t take Attorney General Jerry Brown long to see that Meg had drawn a line dividing prisons on the one hand and schools on the other.  Crusty jumped right in where any good Democrat would be – on the side of schools.

Brown called Whitman’s plan to build prisons while reducing spending “snake-oil math.” Moreover, he said, “It is a gross misrepresentation to say you’re going to cut taxes, you’re going to somehow build more prisons and you’re not going to cut (education and other) spending.

“When you build more prisons, that costs money, then you put people in it, that costs money, then you have to build more hospital beds … it’s gigantic.”

Don’t say Calbuzz didn’t give you a heads-up that a dichotomy between schools and prisons – with Jerry on one side and Meg on the other – will be a major line of attack when Brown gets around to engaging Whitman one-on-one.

We’re just sayin’.

Let Mickey Speak! You don’t have to agree with Mickey Kaus, the pioneer political blogger and rabble-rousing Democrat who has declared himself a candidate for U.S. Senate, to believe the guy ought to have a chance to speak at the California Democratic Party state convention in a couple of weeks.

But he’s not on the official list of approved speakers Party Chairman John Burton has deemed viable to seek the party’s nomination.

Of course, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer is the incumbent. She’s beloved within the Democratic Party. And she’s going to win the nomination. But Kaus is a serious political thinker who argues 1) the Democratic Party’s approach to immigration is essentially an open-border policy that is unfair to native-born, low-income workers and 2) the party is so beholden to big unions — especially the California Teachers Association — that it has conceded its positions on virtually every issue to what’s best for the preservation of the unions, not necessarily for California’s schools or its working class.

“I have no beef with Barbara Boxer. I’ve voted for her twice,” said Kaus. “I’m not running against Boxer as a person. If she wins, I’ll support her.” But, he argues, Boxer has the wrong stand on his two critical issues and so he’s challenging her.

“If I can just reach half the people who agree with me, I’ll do shockingly well,” he said, pointing for inspiration to Ron Unz’s run against Gov. Pete Wilson in  1994, when he won 34% of the Republican primary vote.

“It seems odd that John Burton can just scratch me off the list,” Kaus said of the CDP chairman. “He’s a little like Ahmed Chalabi in Iraq.”

See, that’s another reason — besides the fact that he’s a blog hero — that Kaus should be allowed to speak: he’s entertaining. Which is a lot more than we can say for most of the characters who will be hogging the microphone at the convention.

Offshore Obama: The president’s Sister Souljah play on expanding offshore oil drilling, at least off the coasts of red states,  won’t change the debate over Governor Schwarzmuscle’s push for the Tranquillon Ridge project in Santa Barbara (the defining piece on the issue is here ): Arnold will keep trying to resurrect it, and both sides in the enviro feud over its virtues will claim that Obama’s new policy confirms their position is the correct one.

Green backers of the plan, to allow the PXP energy company a state lease to drill from an existing platform in federal waters, can properly argue that the Administration’s decision not to allow new drilling off California removes, at least for now, the specter of the Minerals Management Service awarding new federal drilling rights for the site, after the current lease expires.

That issue has been central to the debate about whether an agreement with PXP, negotiated by the Environmental Defense Center, has enforceable “end dates” for drilling.

However, opponents of the project can now rightfully claim that last year’s vociferous campaign against T-Ridge by much of the state’s environmental community was partly responsible for the hands-off California policy, by sending a clear and strong political signal to Obama that he’d be touching a very hot stove in California if he even suggested expanded drilling here.

If Schwarzenegger now gets his way on T-Ridge, it will re-open the door for drill-baby-drill types to point to the new state lease as evidence that expanded drilling off the coast is still politically tenable.

Calbuzz bottom line: Advantage opponents.