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Posts Tagged ‘Eric Hogue’



Press Clips: Fox (Mis)Fires, Oligarchs on the March

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Joel Fox is a temperate and thoughtful guy whose online opinings usually skip the fact-free cant and bombast that mark so many offerings from elsewhere in California’s conservative blogosphere.

So imagine our surprise when Fox fired his latest broadside at Calbuzz over at Fox and Hounds, a truly woeful – or was it willful? – misreading of our recent dispatch chronicling the state and nation’s steady march from democracy to oligarchy.

Filled with straw men, fatuousness and borderline hysteria, our friend Joel’s ravings served up a pungent hash of off-point platitudes, boiler plate bromides and red herring reasoning that did everything but attack our ancestors — while managing to utterly avoid addressing the central argument of our thesis.

Other than that, it was a helluva’ piece.

Dr. Corey meet Dr. Fox: We’ll spare you most of the gruesome details, except to note that, among other things, Fox fabricated his own premise for our argument (“Calbuzz…claim(ed) the way to save California is to tax the rich and tax businesses”); misrepresented the thrust of Jerry Brown’s 1992 presidential campaign (it wasn’t the flat tax, as Fox claims, which was only one issue that Brown employed to make the broader point that the political system is rigged to redistribute wealth upward – but what do we know, we only covered it); and leaned on sweeping, unproven assertions in lieu of evidence to make pre-cooked points (Tiger Woods and the tennis-playing Williams sisters prefer Florida to California because of tax laws, he says, and they “are just the tip of the iceberg” – Ah, the old ipso facto iceberg sum proof – Irwin Corey would be proud).

We could go on, but shooting at life boats ain’t our style. Except sometimes.

We’re political writers, not advocates like Fox, so we bring this whole thing up because we’re still scratching our heads about why he mysteriously neglected in his bashing to even mention, let alone critique, the analysis that we actually proffered.

Namely:

1-There has been a massive shift in wealth in the U.S. over recent decades, to the overwhelming benefit of the richest one percent of the population and the detriment of almost everyone else.

2-This shift has occurred – and been enabled by – 30 years of policies based precisely on the tax-cut, low-regulation ideology that Fox and his cohort just love, and which they continue to champion, despite the fact its real-life impact has been to trigger the greatest recession since the 1930s.

3-Awareness of the accumulating evidence of how and why wealth is becoming more and more concentrated in the hands of a tiny, oligarchic class is growing; as it moves into the mainstream, this awareness over time will change the terms and framework of political debate dramatically:

Paradoxically, the recent idiocy of Capitol Republicans, who blocked a popular vote on whether to extend a few modest taxes and fees that would  affect almost all Californians, has now made the GOP’s natural base among the very wealthiest taxpayers a far more narrow, rich and inviting target for pols and interest groups who are looking for Plan B to balance the budget while heading off even more cuts to education and other services; Plan B’s  Exhibit A is last week’s announcement by the California Federation of Teachers that they will push for a 1% income tax hike on the state’ richest 1%, a proposal that a new Ben Tulchin poll shows is backed by nearly three in four voters.

Such a proposal would find fertile political ground, in part because the dramatic national trend of growing wealth inequality is, if anything, more pronounced in California.

Which, of course, would hardly be a boon for bumper sticker, anti-government orthodoxy or the cozy “taxpayer advocate” political network that’s so well served the interests of Fox et al. since Howard Jarvis was still stumbling around in a boozy haze.

Hey, maybe that’s why he didn’t mention what we said.

Recommended reading:

– Here’s a nifty infographic primer on what’s actually happening to real people in the U.S. economy.

–Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, now a professor at Cal, writes about the implications of the oligarch economy in a clear, accessible, frequent and timely way, as in this recent essay on the subject.

–Also this and this or this. Or this or this and this.

Rip Van Calbuzz: Not sure how this one got by us at the time, but the eagle-eared Steve Harmon had an intriguing scooplet on Sacramento’s budget mess that mysteriously seems not to have been picked up.

Mike Genest, the finance director under ex-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, had a revealing comment in a wide-ranging budget discussion on Capital Public Radio today.

Genest, now a political consultant advising Republican senators who are in talks with Gov. Jerry Brown, was asked if Brown’s tax extension should be placed on the ballot. He said:

“As a Republican, I kinda hate to say it but our tax burden is less now because of recession. The amount of the economy going to state government is lower than it has been for several years. Except for right at the bottom of the recession, you go back 30 years to find tax revenues at this low a level. So, there is a case to be made that we might need to keep those taxes at a higher level for a while.”

He went on to say, however, that Republicans “shouldn’t lose the opportunity while contemplating doing this. We ought to take that opportunity to get serious reforms.”

Politics is all about exploiting opportunities, but the brazenness of the ask couldn’t have been clearer. A Republican who is advising GOP senators in talks with Brown, acknowledges that the tax burden is low and the current rates should be continued — but that they might as well extract as much as possible since they have the leverage of a two-thirds vote that’s required to put a tax issue on the ballot (with the goal, of course, of, as Genest said, “helping the economy grow”).

Guess that’s why Genest hasn’t moved to Florida with Tiger, Serena and Venus.

Where’s the Inquistor when you need him: Genest isn’t the only Republican talking out of school: we can only imagine what torments right-wing talk show host Eric Hogue will endure on the rack for uttering this heresy, suggesting that the children of illegal immigrants are actually, um, people.

For Republicans to spend time in crafting legislation that refuses qualified, achieving high school graduates is highly corrosive. Granted, Americans are rightfully frustrated with the lack of attention from the federal government toward illegal immigration and its impending fiscal costs placed upon taxpayer supported state and federal budgets – not to mention the effects (good and bad) illegal immigration has upon our private sector economy. But we must learn to restrain ourselves from legislation and ballot initiatives that do nothing but evolve into political wedge issues and cultural ‘cat nip.’ Funneling any initial state reforms through the children of illegal immigrants (to get back at the parent’s illegal behavior) is mean-spirited, politically corrosive and wrongheaded.

Fleischman! Fox! Hogue and Genest to the dungeon at once!

Convention Wrap: CA GOP Seems Headed for the Cliff

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Like a herd of wooly mammoths at the end of the Pleistocene epoch, the California Republican Party is on the verge of extinction.

It may still recover. The CRP has come back from near death before. And redistricting, alongside the top-two primary system may yet revive it. But judging from the infighting, narrow thinking and rigid ideological positioning on display at the party’s organizing convention last weekend in Sacramento, the signs are not good.

As former GOP Assembly leader Bob Naylor put it succinctly Sunday morning, “It’s on life support.”

The party did pull back on some issues that would have help drive it off a cliff. And there’s a new chairman — Tom Del Baccaro, a bright, attractive fresh voice who hopes to connect with a broader range of voters than the 20% to which the GOP usually speaks.

“We have a message problem, folks,” Del Beccaro told delegates. “Quite frankly, we have trapped ourselves into talking to the converted instead of inspiring a new generation of voters.”

Which, of course is true, but not to the point. The GOP’s fundamental problem is that the content of their message on too many key issues is simply unacceptable to the vast swath of moderate California voters.

Moreover, the mass message his party seemed to endorse at the weekend organizing convention essentially was: “Love Us or Leave Us.”

“We’re just a party of narrow ‘no,’” said conservative radio talk show host (and fellow Buckeye) Eric Hogue, who, along with the rest of the news media was only allowed to attend the noon keynote speech after reporters angrily protested. “The California Republican Party is on its way to becoming the third party in California, behind Decline to State,” said Hogue, whose rants from the right sometimes would make Attila blush.

“They’re very set in their ways,” said a 29-year-old Latino delegate from the Inland Empire who was afraid to let his name be used. “They say, ‘That’s the way it’s always been,’ whether it’s on immigration or the environment or marriage,” said the U.C. Davis graduate whose grandfather came to California as a bracero.

In short, the CRP shows no signs of intending to adopt the pragmatic  and doable five-point plan Calbuzz laid out back in November for the Revival of the California Republican Party.

The troglodyte wing of the party – the California Republican Assembly – withdrew its resolution to censure, denounce, expel and castrate any legislator who votes to put Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax extensions on the ballot. But as CRA president Celeste Greig herself noted – the point was made: this is a pup tent party.

And despite much drama and name-calling, the party adopted a rule for endorsements that essentially respects the top-two primary system until 2014, when they intend to run a vote-by-mail primary for Republicans. Of course, that was after state Sen. Sam Blakeslee (the only one of the five GOP senators who are negotiating with Brown to attend the convention) was verbally bitch-slapped at a Rules Committee meeting (of course he did accuse the other side on the endorsement issue of “thuggery”).

There was a lot of lip service from party leaders to “reaching out” to Latino voters, but not even a suggestion of moving toward creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants – the sine qua non for Mexican-Americans in California. The prevailing attitude at the convention seemed to be the Republicans lost every major statewide race and have been reduced to a strident minority because Republican candidates were too weak on conservative principles and besides,  people are lazy and stupid.

This was nicely summed up by Karen Klinger, a delegate from Sacramento, who declaimed, “We need Republicans with balls . . . People don’t know who their party is any more.” Voters don’t align with the GOP these days because “people automatically want to be subsidized . . . (but) Republicans stand for hard work.”

CRP members cheered John Bolton, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, who said he is “considering” running for president and who, after calling President Obama’s foreign policy “pathetic,” said he’d have unilaterally attacked Libya.

They also were smitten with Fox News fake pollster Frank Luntz, who advised a party that is reviled by Latinos to reward immigrants who came here legally and punish those who came her illegally. Don’t ever vote for tax increases — ever — Luntz advised (contrary to those pinko former governors like Ronald Reagan and Pete Wilson.)

And they delighted in the message from Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour who demanded someone should explain to him “How do businesses thrive and hire when government is sucking up all the money?” (Pithy note on Gov. Barbour from GOP wiseman Allan Hoffenblum: “How likely is it that the governor of Mississippi is going to defeat the first black president of the United States?”)

Over and over, the Republicans talked about the “opportunities” they face but nowhere was there an attempt to address some of the, um, facts, provided to Calbuzz  by troublemaker Bob Mulholland, the former political director of the California Democratic Party:

– There are 7,569,581 registered Democrats (44%) and 5,307,411 registered Republicans, (31%). This is the lowest GOP percentage in the history of California.

– Democrats hold 123 of the 187 partisan seats in California (66%).

– Democrats won all nine statewide races last November and now hold all 10 state offices (including both U.S. Senate seats). Since 1988, Democrats have won all five presidential races and all eight U.S. Senate races.

– President Obama won California by 24 points (61% to 37%) or by 3,262,692 votes.

– Democrats hold 34 of 53 House seats; 52 of 80 Assembly seats and 25 of 40 State Senate seats.

To this, we might note, there are also 3,507,119 DTS voters (Decline To State a party) (20%) – double the percentage from 1994. Polling and voting data find that these voters — by and large — think and act more like Democrats than Republicans on electoral issues most of the time.

It’s not as if ideas aren’t available to the GOP to maintain its principles but make itself less odious to Latinos and moderates. Consultant Patrick Dorinson, the former communications director for the party who calls himself the “cowboy libertarian,” for example, said “what scares these folks is that if all those immigrants become citizens, they’re going to vote (for Democrats).”

So, he suggested, the party could adopt a stand supporting the notion that any illegal immigrant who wants to vote as a citizen would have to go back to Mexico and come back legally, but those who just want to stay and work could become permanent legal residents, without the right to vote.

Delegate Michelle Connor of Solano, 33, had another idea: “If you go into the armed forces and you’re willing to die for your country, you should be able to become a citizen. Or if you graduate from college and pass your citizenship test.”

Right now, we suspect, the first response a lot of party Republicans would have to such ideas would be: “What would John and Ken say?”

Quiet conversations with several Republicans confirmed what GOP finance chairman Jeff Miller was saying: that donors “think the party is on the brink of irrelevance . . . They think the party focuses most of its time speaking to 30% of the state rather than the majority of the state . . . (donors are watching to see if) we’re going to continue to focus on eating our own, as opposed to focusing on electing more Republicans.”

Or as Dorinson put it: “Only a buzzard feeds on its friends.”

Convention Notes

An accounting from our advancer:

1. As noted above, the cave people did not exactly win since they withdrew their resolution to rub out anyone who helps put a tax extension measure on the ballot. But if getting publicity for their tiny strike team of reactionaries was the goal, they triumphed handily.

2. The GOP 5 couldn’t be tarred and feathered because only one showed up and while he didn’t get the medieval treatment, he was accused of  “selling us out on taxes” and made to understand that should he ever wander out of his district, the right wing will jump his ass.

3. Sutter Brown and Grover the Norquist did not make appearances but there was plenty of doggy doo and more than a few delegates stepped in it.

4. The Stalinistas failed to pass their plan to give a cadre of party purists the authority to anoint candidates in the top-two primary system.  U.S. Rep Kevin McCarthy and others put the squeeze on to keep the party — as he said at Saturday night’s dinner — from bringing back the back room.

5. Comrade Jon “Josef” Fleischman, who was working the hallways, salons and bars like a cheap hooker, never bought one lousy drink for any reporter that we’re aware of, despite the fact that the news media have literally made his name a household word.

Other notes: Chairman Del Baccaro, who is young and good looking, was literally mobbed by GOP women Saturday night at his reception where he signed baseballs. Why did he sign baseballs when he never played hardball? “It’s the team thing,” he told Calbuzz, which got its own autographed ball.

Certain numbnuts in the party tried twice — at the Rules Committee meeting on Friday and the Saturday luncheon with Fox Poll Clown Frank Luntz — to keep reporters out. That is so stupid. First, too many of us would just sit there and demand to be arrested and why do you want to make it look like you’re doing secret business?

Somebody at the L.A. Times needs to lighten up a bit and let poor Seema Mehta and Maeve Reston skip boring, unremarkable speeches and meetings when Calbuzz party time is happening. Same for B people re. Torey “Don’t Call Me Tulip” Van Oot. We spent time on the road with some of their bosses and they never missed trial fun for crapchurn.

He will be missed: Sadly, Doug McNea, 64, of San Jose, collapsed while dancing and died at Kevin McCarthy’s party Saturday night. Our condolences to friends and family of the longtime leader of the  Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association.

How the FPPC Should (and Shouldn’t) Meddle Online

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Calbuzz is generally not too keen on any regulatory movement, cause or organization, especially not one that’s intent on regulating us. But we have to say there are good reasons to extend – carefully — to the online world some of the disclosure requirements on political campaigns that now apply in the old media world of broadcast and print.

The trick is for California’s Fair Political Practices Commission to use a light touch so as not to kill the baby in the crib. Internet political communications still are in their infancy. You Tube, for example, by which so much of today’s online political messaging is conveyed, wasn’t even created until February 2005 and it didn’t really catch on in the political world until the 2008 cycle.

When the FPPC considers rule-making this fall, the fundamental principle should be this:

Keep the burden of disclosure on the candidates, campaigns and advocates without creating undue burdens on the media through which they choose to communicate. (Especially us.)

We agree with the FPPC report on this issue that:

When a committee or candidate engages in campaigning, the public should know that the communication is being paid for, regardless of the form that communication takes. In the current networked world, political communication by a regulated committee or candidate that occurs over the Internet is the functional equivalent of a broadcast ad, and an email is the functional equivalent of a mailer.

Fortunately, the FPPC and its staff have been cautious, open and deliberate as they approach the issue. They recognize, for example “that it is difficult to regulate a moving target. Innovation is not predictable and could be stifled by moving too quickly and regulating too strictly.”

Who’s paying for what: The FPPC report recognizes that you can’t require the same disclosure for a postage-stamp-sized web ad, a tweet or a Facebook message that you demand in a TV commercial. But you could require that a web ad or even the name of a tweeter or Facebooker  who’s pushing campaign communications should link to a page on which it’s disclosed who is behind the message so that an online reader understands where the message is coming from and who’s paying for it.

As the report noted:

Some paid advertising does not allow adequate room for disclaimers required by current law (e.g., some forms of electronic advertisements, twitter communication, etc.). In those cases, candidates and committees must provide information in ways that are practicable given the limitations of the medium (e.g., on the website that is accessed when one clicks on an ad; on pages providing information about the source of tweets; on appropriate places in social networking sites; through information that pops up when the mouse is rolled over word or phrase).

The Maryland Board of Elections recently passed new electronic media rules to provide just such flexibility. The Maryland regulations provide that if electronic media advertisements are too small (e.g., a micro bar, a button ad, a paid text advertisement that is 200 characters or less in length, or a small paid graphic or picture link) to contain an “authority line,” the ads will comply with the required disclosure of the political committee authorizing the message if the ad allows the viewer to click on the electronic media advertisement and the user is taken to a landing or home page that prominently displays the authority line information.

That makes sense to us.

Sock puppets and web whores: There’s one place where we’re not sure the FPPC goes far enough: requiring online communicators like bloggers to disclose if they are being paid by a campaign or political committee for more than the standard value of their advertising.

The rationale for not requiring disclosure by sock-puppet bloggers is this: 1) the FPPC does not want to dampen robust free speech on the internet and 2) payments to bloggers will be disclosed in the campaign or political committee’s expenditure reports.

We heartily agree with the principle of doing nothing to dampen free speech on the Internet,or anywhere else. But there is a big difference between Steve Poizner placing an ad on Calbuzz at the same rate that ad space is sold to anyone else, compared to Meg Whitman paying $15,000 a month to Green Faucet, the parent of the Red County blog, in order to secure a steady stream of favorable coverage and support masquerading as news coverage.

One is just a business transaction in which the web site selling advertising is not a paid mouthpiece for a campaign but instead a free agent on the Internet.

The other is little more than paid campaign communications. Blogs that are subsidized by a political committee – and who have thereby crossed the line into paid advocacy — ought to be required to make that clear to their readers.

Voluntary disclosure is not good enough. There are too many unscrupulous cheats out there and too many web whores. Moreover, it’s nothing for a campaign with big resources to set up a web site that looks like a neutral observer but which is, in reality, just an extension of the campaign.

At the very least, expenditure reports should be modified to specify  “internet communications,” and “online advertising.” Something along the lines in the FPPC report, which calls for:

…requiring that expenditure reports contain more detail of payments for activity on the Internet, including payments to bloggers, so that these payments can be more easily discerned. The brief description on the expenditure report would include the name of the recipient of payment for electronic communication, the purpose of the payment, and the name of website or other similar address where the communication (blog, tweet, Facebook page, etc.) appears.

For now, the report says:

We do not recommend requiring disclosure in blogs at this time because of our concern about stifling this robust and growing source of political discourse. We considered an alternative that would require bloggers compensated by a campaign committee to disclose on their blogs that they have material connections to a campaign. This was based, in part, on a recent Federal Trade Commission guideline requiring bloggers endorsing products to disclose their financial connections to the manufacturers of the product. Requiring disclosure of paid bloggers would also be analogous to Section 84511 of the PRA mandating disclosure of paid spokespersons in ballot measure ads.

We recommend instead that the Commission continue to monitor the development of activity on weblogs and assess whether disclosure through expenditure reports is sufficient to ensure voters know when a blogger is part of a political campaign and when she is acting as an interested citizen expressing her political views. If the Commission determines that the failure to require more disclosure of compensated political bloggers has undermined the right of the public to be informed about the course of political communication, the issue of appropriate regulation should be revisited.

Calbuzz prediction: unless the FPPC requires disclosure, plenty of unethical bloggers, tweeters and Facebookers will fail to tell readers who’s buying their loyalty.

In search of a bright line: There are some other issues still to be fleshed out. For example, who is to be considered “news media” and who is not.

The report says the Political Reform Act’s media exemption (on advocacy) “should be interpreted to include online media sources, whether or not they also participate in print or broadcast media.”

Importantly, however, blogging should not automatically be considered to trigger the media exemption unless the blog meets the standards for being considered part of the media. It is not necessary to expand the media exemption to include uncompensated bloggers who are unaffiliated with campaigns because they are protected by the exemption recommended above for volunteer uncompensated political communication.

This gets really tricky.

Relevant passages in the Political Reform Act define news media as “a regularly published newspaper, magazine or other periodical of general circulation which routinely carries news, articles and commentary of general interest” or “a federally regulated broadcast outlet” or certain kinds of newsletters or regularly published periodicals.

What does that make an online political news site like Calbuzz? Or partisan sites like Calitics or FlashReport? Or an aggregator like Rough & Tumble? All of which have or would gladly accept, advertising from candidates and political committees. What would you call Red County? Or California Majority Report? Do they “meet certain standards for being considered part of the media?” Or are they advocates for causes and candidates?

Click on the “eBay: Don’t Buy It Now” ad on this page and you get taken to California Working Families which tells you the page is “Paid for by California Working Families for Jerry Brown for Governor 2010, a Coalition of Public Employees, Firefighters, and Building Trades Organizations. I.D. # 1324632.  Not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate.” That’s the way it should work.

Likewise, if you click on “It’s Time for a New California” on the FlashReport home page, you get taken to Meg Whitman’s campaign home page which tells you at the bottom “Paid for by Meg Whitman For Governor 2010.” They probably ought to include their FPPC identification, but that’s a quibble.

But if you click on erichogue on Twitter, there’s no way to know that the screeching right-wing tweets from the conservative radio commentator just might be influenced by that $1,000 payment he got in the last reporting period from the Whitman campaign.

So what’s his Hogue News?  He’d like us to believe his site is “news media.” But he’s already proved he’s a for-rent mouth breather. Trouble is, the only people who know are those who’ve followed the arcane news about campaign finance or those who’ve read through Whitman’s expenditure reports and stumbled across the payment to him.

It won’t do for the FPPC to define “news media” in a way that includes only the dead and dying old media, as the current regulations do. But it also won’t do to ignore the fact that some online practitioners feel no compunction to level with the public about their status as paid advocates.

Plenty of free parking: Calbuzz would be happy to participate in further discussions with the FPPC on these issues. And if the FPPC would like to buy an ad on our site, they can find the rate card right here.

Grabbag: Big Ideas, Bad Ideas, Burton Ideas

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

One of the coolest new campaign tools we’ve ever seen was developed recently by 32-year-old Crystal Martin, a marketing consultant in Yuba City, who thought up and produced an audio mailer for Democrat Jim Reed of Redding, who is running against U.S. Rep. Wally Herger (R-Chico).

It’s an audio mailer — like those greeting cards you can get with recorded songs and voices — that recounts how Herger said “Amen, God bless you, now that’s a great American,” after a man stood up at one of his town hall meetings in Redding and declared himself a “proud right-wing terrorist.”

You can see the mailer here and listen to the pitch — mostly in Reed’s voice. But the mailer also includes a recording of  Keith Olbermann of MSNBC’s “Countdown,” who labeled Herger the “Worst Person in the World.”

Having raised very little money, Reed’s initial mailing was just 2,500. But the mailers generated attention, in the Redding Record Searchlight and on Daily Kos, after a writer for the blog got one in the mail and immediately wrote it up.

Martin, a graduate of UC Davis, said she came up with the idea at her daughter Lorelai’s fourth birthday party when the little girl threw away other birthday cards and was only interested in the one that had audio. “I had an epiphany,” Martin said. If she could do that for clients, people might actually listen to what they had to say.

So she searched until she found a company that could produce the voice chip in bulk and made it happen — for about $1.50 per mailer. The idea was so hot, she’s already picked up jobs from AARP and from a big conservation group.

Martin’s consulting business is Smart Marketing and her new venture is Mailpow, which also now has a system for recording individual voices which can then be sent to legislators, voters or whomever. Calbuzz is impressed.

Keeping score: We have great respect for Joel Fox, keeper of the Prop. 13 flame, even if we often disagree with him on policy matters, but his attempt to trumpet a third-rate poll, purportedly showing Meg Whitman 17 points ahead of Steve Poizner in the GOP primary, is utterly lame.

The survey is sponsored by Fox’s own Small Business Action Committee, and with him and his Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association cronies strongly backing eMeg, the poll has zero credibility.

Its fanfare release was no doubt aimed at changing the campaign narrative showing Poizner closing fast on Whitman, but if the new PPIC poll, scheduled to be made public tonight, confirms that the GOP race is close, Fox’s move will look just plain silly.

As the outfit most afflicted with OCD about public opinion research methodology, Calbuzz is pleased to see that no one in and around the Rough and Tumble orbit bit on the Fox poll, except for radio talk show host and blogger Eric Hogue, who’s in the tank for Whitman anyway.

On the other hand, we totally agree with Hogue’s argument that Poizner’s dumb attack on eMeg over pornography is beyond the pale.

Putting aside the constitutional issues, the move not only looks desperate but also is likely to backfire: Whitman’s connection to porn being peddled on eBay is tangential at best, and raising the subject three weeks out from the election makes Poizner, not her, the one who seems sleazy.

As for Whitman’s new big idea, convening a statewide “grand jury” to investigate alleged waste, fraud and abuse in government spending: Really?  Brother Lucas over at California’s Capitol reported out this dog with fleas, and said most of what needed to be said to put it to rest.

Except for one item: As far as Calbuzz can tell, the governor doesn’t have the power to convene a grand jury. We asked Whitman’s campaign to tell us what authority would allow it and spokesman Tucker Bounds told us: “Meg would pursue legislation to create the Statewide Grand Jury on Fraud, Waste and Abuse.” Oh. So she wouldn’t have the power to do what she’s proposing unless the Democrats gave it to her? Right.

Shooting at lifeboats: Although Governor Schwarzmuscle’s abrupt withdrawal of support for the Tranquillon Ridge oil project off  Santa Barbara effectively killed the project, a just released analysis by the State Lands Commission suggests the proposal probably wouldn’t have won approval in any case.

The study, sent by Executive Officer Paul Thayer to the three members of the commission Tuesday, concludes that a revised agreement between the PXP oil company and Santa Barbara’s Environmental Defense Center did not allay several environmental and legal concerns that led to the project’s defeat last year.

After the commission, on a 2-to-1 vote, turned down the first PXP-EDC agreement in 2009, the oil company and the enviros reworked their previously-secret agreement and released a new version last month,  hoping the changes would overcome opposition by commissioner and state Controller John Chiang, or win the support of recently appointed Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado; the third member of the commission represents the governor, who strongly backed the T-Ridge proposal until his recent flip flop.

But a review by the staff of the commission concluded that promises by PXP to stop drilling in federal waters, in exchange for a new lease to drill into state waters from an existing platform, might not be legally enforceable, because authority for the federal leases would rest with U.S. Mineral Management Service, regardless of the terms of the PXP-EDC agreement.

The staff also said that a new state lease could encourage oil industry efforts to gain more leases for drilling in federal waters, by breaking a 40-year precedent of not allowing new drilling in waters controlled by California, up to three miles from shore.

“Further, the new agreement does not address the Commission’s concern over the increased risk of oil spills created by oil and gas development at Tranquillon Ridge,” the report said. “This risk and its consequences have been demonstrated in the past off Santa Barbara and are now affirmed by the huge spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion and loss of the Deepwater Horizon platform.”

The Burton correction goes national: Check out NPR’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!”. Go to the 00:49 mark in the “Lightning Fill in the Blank” portion of the show to hear John Burton and his “Go bleep yourself” correction on Calbuzz as an answer in the national news quiz.

Also, Jason Linkins at Huffington Post took note in his Eat the Press column.

If that’s not enough, check out Craig Silverman’s “Regret the Error” column in Columbia Journalism Review, in which the whole back story is spelled out and the “correction” is analyzed in terms of who wanted (and got) what out of the deal.

GOP Extra II: New Boffo Hit By Demon Sheep Auteur

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Cue the dancing bears: Wannabe Senator Carly Fiorina rolled out a full-throttle, multi-media extravaganza for her turn in the limelight Saturday, the Republican state convention’s most boffo box office so far.

Taking full advantage of her scheduled time on the convention program, Team Carly essentially relaunched her campaign, with a production that included music by Van Halen, a free-swinging speech delivered by the candidate channeling Miss Scarlet, and a new, mad genius video by gonzo media consultant Fred Davis.

“We call it the announcement on steroids,” Davis told Calbuzz.

In contrast to Meg Whitman, whose Friday night speech to delegates may be found in the dictionary under “somnolent,” Fiorina’s talk was energetic, punchy and well-crafted.

Wielding a hand mike, she paced a small stage erected in the middle of an audience of 500, wearing a bright red pencil skirt and matching ruffled jacket as she punctuated a rip job attack on Barbara Boxer with steady chops of her left hand (NB: Opposed on principle to all forms of sexism, Calbuzz mentions her wardrobe choice solely as a contextual element in describing the production values of her convention appearance).

Assailing Boxer on issues from abortion to the Delta smelt and the 1992 House banking scandal, and never mentioning her primary rivals, Hurricane Carly insisted she is the only Republican who can defeat the 18-year incumbent.

She portrayed Boxer as a narcissistic, ineffective captive of Democratic special interests, from unions to “radical environmentalists,” as she generated the only spontaneous enthusiasm in the room thus far in the convention (not counting the boos when GOP moderate Sen. Abel Maldonado was introduced).

“Isn’t it ironic that Barbara Boxer would work so hard to protect a two-inch fish, but not lift a finger to protect the unborn,” she said at one point.

“Bring ‘em on,” she thundered at another, after cataloging liberal special interests that will fight to defend the incumbent.

All the fiery rhetoric aside, and notwithstanding the full ear blast of Van Halen’s “Jump” which closed the Hurricane’s star turn, the highlight of her coming out act was “Hot Air: The Movie,” a 7 minute-30 second acid flashback web video produced by Davis, the auteur of Fiorina’s now-infamous “Demon Sheep” ad attacking GOP foe Tom Campbell as an ersatz conservative.

“I thought of (Boxer’s) head inflating, getting bigger and bigger, until it burst through the top of the Capitol,” Davis said by way explanation of his latest oevre, which must be seen to be genuinely appreciated.

This just in: The “Tea Party Rally,” which promised a big blast of  anti-government populist anger, turned out to be a big bust, a bunch of standing around by maybe 150 people, most of them appearing to be guys named Eugene who formerly populated the high school radio club.

BTW, the NYT’s Kate Zernike has an excellent takeout on why the movement is focused on economics to the near exclusion of traditionally right-wing social issues.

Overheard: “It’s very important for us not to peak too soon.”
–A spinner for wannabe governor Steve Poizner, tongue firmly in cheek, to a gaggle of wretched ink-stained types.

Old conventional wisdom: Meg Whitman is a super-wealthy political novice who’s trying to buy the election and won’t even talk to reporters.

New Conventional wisdom: Meg Whitman is a super-wealthy political novice who’s trying to buy the election but who talks to reporters.

We read this stuff so you don’t have to: The Calbuzz Press Clips scores are in for next day coverage of eMeg’s surprise press session on Friday, which yielded the most information to date on where she stands on a host of substantive policy issues:

Chroniclers Carla Marinucci and Joe Garofoli had the best bullet-point overview (from policy to politics), while Jack Chang at the Bee produced the most detailed piece on where she stands on pension reform (which should have public employees waking up in a cold sweat and SEIU leaders going deeper into their wallets on behalf of Jerry Brown), as Timm Herdt of the Ventura County Star breaks it down on Whitman’s stance on illegal immigration, which is considerably less hardcore, or more compassionate, depending on how you look at it.

Update 9:30 p.m. Steve Poizner Saturday night followed Franklin Roosevelt’s famous dictum for public speaking: “Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”

In his big dinner speech to the delegates, The Commish spoke for just under 10 minutes, after a strong videotaped endorsement (“We can’t afford Arnold Schwarzenegger’s third term”) from right-wing Rep. Tom McClintock, a California conservative favorite. By contrast, Friday night had the feel of an expansive “evening with Meg Whitman,” as she spoke for about 30 minutes with the use of a teleprompter, preceded by a formal introduction by Mitt Romney and followed by a way-long phony “conversation” with conservative talk show host Eric Hogue tossing softballs to eMeg and Mitt, who sat perched on stools on the stage.

It was hard to avoid the notion that eMeg’s expanded time slot was somehow related to the $250,000 she donated to the state GOP last year, but Poizner, pacing the stage as he spoke without notes or a podium, made the most of his opportunity.

Although he’ll never be confused as an orator with Barack Obama, he delivered a crisp statement of the criteria for his candidacy and clearly framed the distinctions between Her Megness and himself , declaiming on the virtues of “individual liberty…personal responsibility…free markets (and) smaller, more accountable government.”

“As Tom McClintock said, there’s a big battle going on right now for the heart and soul of the Republican party. There’s basically two camps. One camp wants to re-brand; one camp wants to move the Republican party to the center; one camp wants to reposition the Republican party. I just couldn’t disagree with that more.”