Posts Tagged ‘factcheck.org’



Jerry Blows His Only Play, Turns on Clinton

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Updated 8 am: In our original post, Calbuzz set out what we thought was Jerry Brown’s best option for dealing with Meg Whitman’s new killer ad.

Brown then turned around and did the one, ridiculous thing it never occurred to us he could be dumb enough to do: Pick a new fight with Clinton, as shown on this video clip reported by Time’s Mark Halperin and ABC’s Jonathan Karl.

Unbelievable. Good luck with getting help from the Clintons now, Gandalf.

(For the record, at 8 am, we also updated the hed on this post, which originally read: “Jerry’s Only Play: Get Clinton to Attack Brooks Jackson”).

Fueled by 5-Hour Energy Berry Flavor shots, Calbuzz spent an edgy, sleepless weekend closely monitoring short-wave radio reports about the blazing fusillades of budget facts and figures the rival campaigns for governor exchanged over Meg Whitman’s latest ad attack on Jerry Brown.

The ad features a short clip from a contentious April 1992 Democratic presidential primary debate between Brown and Bill Clinton, during which Bubba cited CNN to charge that a) Krusty raised taxes as California governor and b) lied about his record in doing so.

As we forecast on Friday, shortly after Team Whitman first aired the tough spot, the truthiness of its allegations would be found in weighing the conflicting evidence presented by Brown’s campaign and Brooks Jackson, the former CNN reporter who now runs factcheck.org at the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Whitman’s (and Clinton’s) evidence is a report by CNN’s Brooks Jackson; Brown’s claim that taxes were cut by about $16 billion during his tenure (not counting Prop. 13) cites the 1981 Economic Report of the Governor from the California Department of Finance.

There followed a 48-hour whirl of unstinting effort by Department of Finance flack H.D. (“guess I lost your number”) Palmer, determined persistence by MSM journos Ken McLaughlin and Seema Metha, and fact-checking of two decade old fact-checking by stand-up-guy Jackson himself.

“I was wrong when I said that “state taxes were still higher” during his last year than when he began. In fact, they were a bit lower,” Jackson wrote after reviewing the actual facts.

Now that the smoke has cleared over the battlefield, Calbuzz can ride in to shoot the wounded while reporting the clear and unequivocal bottom line of the episode as follows:

1-Taxes inarguably went down over the period of Brown’s two terms as governor, according to non-partisan state budget records.

2-Jackson’s 1992 report, and therefore Clinton’s derivative attack on Brown, was incorrect, because, as he acknowledged, Brooks used the wrong start and end dates to make his calculations.

3-The Empire of eMeg couldn’t care less about the truth or falsity of the substance of the attack they’re making, and intend to keep running their killer ad.

Sez eMeg chief deputy under assistant purse carrier Tucker Bounds:

CNN is a lot less relevant than the indisputable fact that Bill Clinton, not me, said that Jerry Brown turned a $6-billion surplus into a $1-billion deficit, opposed Proposition 13 and ‘doesn’t tell people’ the truth.

To which Sterling Clifford, trusty Gandalf message bearer, stamps his foot and responds:

For Meg Whitman to continue running an ad she knows is false is intentional dishonesty, and voters should expect better from a candidate for governor.

Oh, that.

No truth, no consequences: As all loyal Calbuzzers know, the Whitman for Governor campaign represents Exhibit A for the most distressing national and state political trend of the millennium (“Ground Zero mosque” anyone?) which we termed in this essay, “The Death of  Truth.”

It’s now clear that a candidate with unlimited resources can and will blow off complaints, critiques and factual analyses of those who dare to speak up and will instead declare that the truth is whatever he or she says it is — in their paid advertising and the assertions of their mercenary prevaricators.

To summarize the instant case: independent, unbought-and-unpaid-for, third party finders of fact determine that Whitman’s charge is untrue, but she pays no price for continuing to air it, as her army of lavishly paid water-muddiers simply persist in performing an ape dance of ersatz fact-based debate, which to an average voter may seem so…confusing…and…boring and…oh look, there’s Bill Clinton calling Jerry Brown a liar again…

Why take down the ad if it’s working? That’s got to be eMeg’s calculation.

So what’s a 72-year old Zen Jesuit to do? Brown has four options:

a-Put up his own ad calling Meg a liar for continuing to run an ad which isn’t true. Problem: talk about your expensive He-Said-She-Saids.

b-Complain endlessly to the MSM. Problem: Have you looked at newspaper circulation trends lately?

c-Ignore it and move on. Problem: The key to his campaign narrative is his authenticity vs. her phony marketing campaign – he can’t afford to have a debate over honesty simply be a draw.

d-Get Clinton to make an ad, or at least a public statement, on Brown’s behalf, to wit: “My charge back in 1992 that Jerry Brown raised taxes when he was governor was based on a news report we now know was incorrect.  Jerry Brown didn’t raise taxes. And Meg Whitman knows it. It’s just dishonest of her to use me to make her case. ‘Cause if I could vote in California, I’d vote for Jerry Brown and I think you should too.”

As a tactical matter, Brown has at least a couple of plays here: Plead with Dianne Feinstein to make a call to her pal Hillary Clinton to have her make a call to Bubba, if she can find him. Or enlist AFSCME president Jerry McEntee or another labor bigwig close to Hillary, to make the ask. Or call on Barbara Boxer, who is close to the Clintons, or Ron Burkle, or Steven Spielberg.

Oh sure, there’s a long history of, um, really bad blood there. But Brown can certainly appeal to Clinton’s historic relationship to California — in 1992, he became the first Democrat to win the state since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and, in the process, picked what was at the time called “the lock” Republicans had on the electoral college. If he ever wants Hillary (Chelsea?) to be president, he sure doesn’t want Whitman as governor of California. He may not like Brown, but wouldn’t he rather have him as governor than her?

And as Shimon Peres famously said, “Peace is made with yesterday’s enemies – what is the alternative?”

eMeg Grills the Earth & Gandolf Gets the Lead Out

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Tom Meyer, the Cartooning Calbuzzer and Sharpest Pen in the West, casts his gimlet-eyed gaze today on the Meg Whitman-Carly Fiorina Grilled Earth Society, dedicated to boosting carbon fuels and laughing off climate change.

Unfortunately for them, the eMeg-iCarly burn-baby-burn approach to global warming is a minority opinion in California, as we’ve noted. For our latest take on the issue, check out our piece on the Bee’s op-ed page today.

Calbuzz gets results: Since we dropped the hammer on Krusty’s woefully understaffed communications shop a couple weeks ago for its oh-so-20th-century not-very-rapid response to some of eMeg’s unstinting attacks, it’s only fair to note – and we’re nothing if not fair – that his campaign’s performance has improved.

On Monday, Team Whitman dropped its daily ad on Brown’s head, a response to last week’s spot from the pro-Brown California Working Families independent expenditure committee, in which she punches back by presenting a few more cadaverous images of Attorney General Gandolf over the announcer’s voice saying, “the special interests have chosen their governor – how about you?” Here’s how the deal went down:

2:28 p.m. – The volcanic Sarah Pompei alerts reporters about the new ad.
3:41 p.m. – Brown flack Sterling Clifford weighs in one hour and 13 minutes later with response – “Whitman repeats old lies with new pictures” – and once again cites Fact Check.org’s dis of similar eMeg allegations.
3:43 p.m. – California Working Families checks in with its own response, in which I.E. honcho Roger Salazar charges that Our Meg “wants to once again buy her way out of trouble.”

Not bad speed for Team Krusty except for one thing: Even before they got their stuff out, the ubiquitous Ms. Pompei had fired off a second eblast, calling attention to a new Survey USA poll purporting to show Whitman leading Brown. The Brownies took slightly longer to respond to this one, but when they did, they came back strong:

3:14 p.m. – Email announcing poll, which shows eMeg up 47-39%, arrives.
4:31 p.m. – Clifford’s blast hits our mailbox one hour and 17 minutes later – but it comes with an attachment from Jim Moore. He’s our favorite California pollster, not least because his universe of likely voters is actually derived from the voter file, not based on a sloppy sample of robocalled self-identified likelys.

I’m pleased to report that our survey of 600 likely November voters has been completed and it shows Democrat Jerry Brown with a 3 point lead over Republican Meg Whitman. The survey was conducted between July 7th and July 10th among 600 likely November 2010 registered voters from the Secretary of State’s voter file and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2%.

The overall results are similar to the recent Field Poll, although we are seeing different internal distribution. Of particular note, our survey shows a much greater ratio of support for Jerry from Latinos.

Daily score: Whitman 1, Brown 1. Doesn’t anybody take vacation anymore?

Tinkers to Evers to Chance Redux: Kudos to our old friend E.J. Dionne, the erudite political columnist for the WashPost, who was the only scribe in America to report the historical significance of President Obama’s personalized attack on Republican congressional leaders last week.

Taking note of the president’s speech in Kansas City, in which he pushed back hard against the looming spectre of the GOP taking control of the House in the November mid-terms, E.J. wrote:

Turning all this around is a White House mission, and the president’s campaign stops last week in Missouri and Nevada previewed his effort to paint Republicans as both extreme and recalcitrant. His speech in Kansas City included one major innovation, an echo of a legendary 1940 assault by Franklin D. Roosevelt against his political opponents in Congress — “Martin, Barton and Fish.”

Obama went after the alliterative trio of “Barton and Boehner and Blunt,” references to Reps. Joe Barton of Texas, John Boehner of Ohio and Roy Blunt of Missouri. Challenging them for their resolute opposition to every Democratic approach, Obama asked “if that ‘no’ button is just stuck.”

As the late William Safire explained in his “Political Dictionary,” the “Martin, Barton and Fish” line was written for FDR by Judge Samuel I. Rosenman and dramatist Robert E. Sherwood, and was “made effective by the use of rhyme and rhythm in encapsulating the names of opponents” of the Democratic president.

Those opponents were GOP congressmen Bruce Barton and Hamilton Fish of New York and Joseph Martin of Massachusetts; in Rosenman’s autobiography, he reported that the speechwriters in their first draft attacked the GOP trio in that order – Barton, Fish and Martin – but made an important revision in the second:

We sat around – I remember we were writing in my apartment in New York City – working on that paragraph. Then as we read those names, we almost simultaneously hit on the more euphonious and rhythmic sequence of Martin, Barton and Fish. We said nothing about it when we handed the draft to the President, wondering whether he would catch it as he read the sentence aloud. He did. The very first time he read it, his eyes twinkled, and he grinned from ear to ear…He repeated it several times and indicated by swinging his finger in cadence how effective it would be with audiences.

The sequence, Safire noted, works in part because it’s an echo of “Wynken, Blynken and Nod,” the 1889 children’s poem by journalist Eugene Field.

It’s not clear whether it was Obama’s speechwriter or the man himself who added an extra “and” after Barton in the 2010 sequel, throwing in an extra beat to no apparent purpose.

New: Calbuzz Video, Hit on Meg, Cleveland Curse

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

In today’s installment of Calbuzz Video, multi-media reporter Jennifer Fey serves up her own take on Meg Whitman’s unexpected bump in the polls among Latinos, chatting with Field Pollster Mark DiCamillo and Cal politics guru Henry Brady, and hanging out on the Fourth of July to ask voters what they think about the Megabucks campaign.

For us, Fey’s money quote comes from Brady, Dean of the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, whose commentary carries echoes of the Calbuzz Standard Quantum Limit Theory of campaign finance:

This is a lot more money than we’ve ever seen before…She’s got a lot of money and we don’t know in this territory whether if you spend enough money, you can get such an indelible impression out there that it’s very hard for anybody to turn it around.

As for Jennifer’s question of “how Brown plans to combat Whitman’s war chest,” part of the answer came Friday, when the labor-backed I.E. California Working Families rolled out a new whack on Whitman that doesn’t pull too many punches, from its opening line:

How many lies can Meg Whitman jam into one ad?

The answer, it turns out, is seven, according to Camp Jerry’s interpretation of the analysis performed on eMeg’s last blast at him by Fact Check.org . The pro-Brown I.E’s use of the widely respected truth testing outfit at the University of Pennsylvania as a source to stand up its “lies” charge resulted in the entertaining spectacle of highly caffeinated eMeg spokeshuman Sarah Pompei  sputtering and spluttering a 141-word stream of consciousness response brimming with non-sequiturs and shaggy dog run-on sentences.

Fact checkers did not come to Jerry Brown’s defense on fiscal issues while he was Mayor of Oakland or Governor of the state (huh?)…During his career, Brown has championed Sacramento’s philosophy of raising taxes to the tune of billions of dollars, including personally signing into law a $2 billion-plus gas tax increase before he left the state reeling with a deficit and, as the media described it, “on the brink of bankruptcy.”

Jeez, for $100 million you’d think they could afford to hire a copy editor.

Roll ‘em and smoke ‘em: The new Field Poll showing Proposition 19, the legalize and tax marijuana initiative, trailing, is nothing but a buzz kill, sez Calbuzzer Barstool Blondie:

I didn’t get into the weeds on the methodology but… the stoner vote is going to turn out big. They’re not going to show up in the polls in enough numbers to make a dent but may well do so on election day. There hasn’t been another ballot measure in a long time so poised to rile the youngsters out of civic apathy.

Sounds like a match made in heaven for John Burton. Calbuzz is betting, however, that there’s going to be a lot of people who aren’t going to admit to pollsters that a) they ever smoked dope and b) that they’re going to vote to make it legal.

King James of Clowns: With deep roots in the Buckeye State, the Calbuzz Department of Professional Sports Haplessness and Home Town Hopelessness was born, raised and beat down broken hearted by Willie Mays’ catch of Vic Wertz’s drive to center, Michael Jordan shooting over Craig Ehlo, the Drive, the Fumble and the Great Satan Art Modell, among countless other depresso ray events leading to a lifetime of fan despair.

So we take this whole LeBron James to Miami thing real personal, and find our only solace in the bitter words of Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Bill Livingston.

James is…the great player who left unfinished business after quitting on his team on the court and left unanswered questions by quitting on his city off it….

By waiting to leave until after his high-profile basketball camp in his hometown of Akron, by surrounding himself there with current and former Cavs teammates, and by scheduling a one-hour national cable “event” just to exploit this city’s suffering, he hit the trifecta in deplorable behavior.

He had before invoked all the connotations of home, only to leave it. He had before summoned an image of family, only to reject it. He had before cherished loyalty, only to betray it. He wears “Family” and “Loyalty” tattoos on his torso. Dermabrasion, please. The sooner, the better…

Because home is gone. Because it’s personal here too.

Alas, the Curse of Rocky Colavito lives .

Update: Charles Apple at Visual Editors.com has a terrific collection of front page images showing how LeBron’s decision was portrayed in a batch of daily papers, including an instant classic from the Plain Dealer, where our old friend Susan Goldberg reigns supreme.

Fishwrap: Jerry as Mel Brooks; eMeg’s Nose Grows

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Not since the supermarket scanner flummoxed George Bush I in 1992 has a politician worked as hard as Jerry Brown to make sense of the here and now.

Given his ’90s retro web site and his campaign’s Geezer Speed attack response team, of course, it’s not surprising that the 2000-year old man is just now hearing that in the 21st century, political rivals send operatives out to record campaign events of their foes – and then put them on the internets! Can you say “macaca”?

Krusty got sandbagged this week, when Team eMeg sent a spy to one of his speeches. The plant captured him foolishly saying he doesn’t want to “rock the boat” as governor and then promptly posted to it to You Tube, a Whitman tactic about which he complained in his weekly on-air interview with KGO-radio:

She’s very good at recording. Everywhere I go, she has one of her little kind of unidentifiable gnomes that have their iPhone and they pop it up and they put it up on their Internet. Everywhere I go, it goes directly into her campaign. It’s kind of an eerie feeling, but I’m getting used to it.

Hold the phone, ma! What’s next – electric movin’ pitchurs that come right into the house?

P.S. Props to Seema Mehta of the By God LA Times for catching Krusty’s comments on KTTV’s “Good Day LA,” including this gem about why he opposes the legalization of marijuana:  “We got to compete with China, and if everybody’s stoned, how the hell are we going to make it?”

eMeg’s latest lies: Fortunately for Brown, at least some of the mysteries of the world of online digital content are working in his favor. On Friday, Fact Check.org, the web’s premier political verisimilitude verification outfit, gave a big thumbs down to “Legacy of Failure,” Whitman’s latest 60-second attack ad on him.

Financed by the Annenberg Foundation at the University of Pennsylvania, and honchoed by the terrific investigative reporter Brooks Jackson, the site flatly declares that “Meg Whitman’s attack ad fails to tell the truth.”

Citing 29 independent sources, Fact Check reports that a number of the claims made in the Whitman are simply untrue, while others are taken way out of context, a practice we call “lying with the facts.”

Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown Jr., the Democratic candidate for governor of California, has been involved in politics for more than four decades. And it’s all been a “failure,” according to an ad from Meg Whitman, his GOP opponent. But it’s Whitman who fails when it comes to the facts.

Jeez, paired with Meg’s previous Pinocchio performance, this latest is almost enough to make you think there is something to that eMeg-Goebbels comparison that Brown rather unfortunately raised a few weeks back, a notion not lost on the ever-resourceful comedy writer Chris Kelly.

But what analogy should Brown have used? On the one hand, comparing people to Nazis is kind of ignorant and shrill (see Beck, Glenn) on the other hand, when you’re looking for an example of someone putting a lot of time, money and effort into repeating a set of lies for political gain, J. Goebbels is your almost-too-obvious go-to.

Kelly’s intriguing answer to the essay question – Whitman and Goebbels – compare and contrast – may be found here.

We’re sorry we brought the whole thing up: Calbuzz didn’t really mean to stir up a tea time tempest when we reported – and then retracted – Brown’s false claim that he had “sold” the state plane during his first stint as governor (h/t Dan Walters).

But after the Stone Agers’ favorite blog belatedly picked up on our correction, and the Minions of Meg started bashing Krusty for claiming credit for a budget-saving measure actually taken by then Gov. Ronald Reagan, the reliable Anthony York was forced to come in and clean up the whole mess on the L.A. Times site.

York got it almost right. He correctly reported that while Reagan sold the plane, Brown ended the state’s lease for it, giving Krusty leave to parse the matter by saying he “got rid of the jet,” but incorrectly identified the broadcaster who voiced the incorrect factoid in a long-ago TV story about Brown; it’s Morley Safer, not Walter Cronkite whose stentorian tones may be heard on the disputed tape at the center of the kerfuffle.

Quick hits:

It’s an undeniable fact that Hillary Clinton and Lady Gaga have never been spotted in the same room.

Our hero Dale Peterson suddenly finds himself with some high firepower competition for best ad of the year.

Life in imitation of art: John Boehner fights the tyranny of the tanning tax.