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Posts Tagged ‘George Skelton’



Hot Flashes from Sacramento; Campaign ’18 Update

Friday, April 1st, 2011

When Republican Senate leader Bob Dutton publicly complained that Governor Brown ignored him during budget talks – while First Lady Anne Gust Brown “yelled” at him – most Capitol insiders no doubt had a good laugh at his expense, all the while thinking, “That Bob Dutton – he’s sure a wussy wimp!”

But not Calbuzz.

No, around these parts, the immediate reaction of our Department of Emotional Intelligence and Sensitive New Age Guys was to dispatch a company-wide email urging a corporate show of sympathy for the 60-year old senator.

The reason? The aggrieved Sen. Dutton clearly suffers from one of the most tragic syndromes that can afflict a man: the heartbreak of male menopause.

“The governor never asked for my help,” Dutton told reporters Thursday, doubtless bottling up sobs as he was questioned about the collapse of budget talks. “Frankly, I was yelled at more than I was talked to…and mostly by Mrs. Brown, not even Gov. Brown.”

That really makes our blood boil: What kind of woman does such a thing?

While more insensitive souls than ours instantly and cruelly tried to change the subject back to the state’s $27 billion deficit – “the dog barked at him, too,”  stone-hearted Brown flack Gil Duran said, for example – the alter cockers in our newsroom understand only too well the hurt and pain that come when other people ignore our emotional needs at a time of life when we’re at our most vulnerable.

So on behalf of those, like Dutton, who have suffered in secrecy, shame and silence for far too long, we offer some important information in hopes of building public awareness:

What are the Symptoms of Male Menopause?

Male menopause symptoms are very similar to those experienced by women during menopause, only much less intense. Common menopause symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, muscle and joint aches. Men also suffer from emotional symptoms like mood swings,  irritability, depression, and listlessness. (emphasis ours).

The primary treatment…is Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT). Like estrogen replacement in women, testosterone replacement aims to bring hormonal levels back up to a healthy level. Once testosterone levels are increased, most men begin to experience fewer symptoms. Unfortunately, testosterone replacement doesn’t always work well to combat erectile dysfunction. Because this is such a severe symptom for most men, other treatments for erectile dysfunction should be investigated.

Take heart, Senator Dutton, and please, get some help – it doesn’t have to be this way. And know that you’re not longer any more alone any longer.

We had to destroy the party in order to save it: Dutton’s little hissy fit highlights the utter inability of the current crop of California Republican leaders to see the big picture about their ongoing demise as a viable political party in the state.

Handed their biggest opportunity in years to achieve some cherished policy goals, Republicans instead snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and came away from budget negotiations with zilch.

Witnessing this sorry spectacle, one mad dog GOP blogger, of course, thumped his chest and did a little touchdown dance (“there is NO public policy trade off that makes it okay to then vote to place taxes onto a special election ballot”). Less, um, excitable party types (also less prone to using CAPITAL LETTERS TO MAKE THEIR POINT), have a different view, as the LAT’s Halper and Mishak ably report:

After the collapse of those negotiations, many in the Capitol are asking whether, in declining to provide those four “ayes,” the Republicans have cemented their fate as a dying minority party in this largely Democratic state.

“These opportunities don’t come up too much in Sacramento,” said Bill Whalen, a GOP political consultant who was an advisor to former Gov. Pete Wilson.

“If I’m the Republicans … I would argue for a minimalist approach,” he said. “Be able to declare victory and retreat. … That should have been part of the calculus.”

Or not.

In addition to the Republicans, however, our friend George Skelton sees plenty of blame to go around, listing for starters Brown’s kow-towing to labor and the apparent belief of state union goons that they, alone, should be spared from any budget pain, a pox-on-all-your-houses-view made manifest today by Calbuzz cartoonist Tom Meyer.

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A leisurely stroll through the 11th hour, 53-point list of demands that Dutton presented to Brown when a deal was close, however, makes clear that giving equal weight to Krusty’s serious effort to find a compromise acceptable to Republicans on pension reform and the GOP’s unwavering irresponsibility about the state’s finances is a big-time false equivalence.

Moreover, for the CA GOP to complain now that Brown broke off negotiations — after they damn near adopted a resolution to castrate any legislator who even considered negotiating with Brown — is just nuts.

Campaign ’18 update: Lite Gov Gavin Newsom’s political advisers are miffed over a blind source item that the Chronicle’s Matier and Ross proffered the other day, reporting that Lt. Starbuck is already gearing up to run for governor.

Only weeks after Calbuzz waved the starter flag on the most important political race in California — the 2018 Democratic primary for governor — the paper’s gold dust twins tried to speed up the pace even more:

Less than three months on the job, and already Gavin Newsom is prepping to run for governor again.

A city insider who asked not to be named tells us the new lieutenant governor approached him at a charity fundraiser the other day with a request for help to start raising money for a renewed gubernatorial bid…

Newsom has opened a re-election campaign committee for 2014 – but there’s nothing to stop him from transferring any money he might raise to an exploratory gubernatorial run.

“The Matier and Ross item is silly,” counters Jason Kinney, Newsom’s political adviser. “They’re finding a story where none exists.”

Kinney, who oddly wasn’t quoted in the M&R column, told us he’s been in most of the meetings Newsom has had with political supporters, where the good lieutenant has made the point that he needs to put a political operation together for his re-election.

When Newsom’s asked, Kinney acknowledged, he discusses future options — like governor, Senate, whatever – as any other pol would do. But Newsom always makes clear that he will never run against Jerry Brown, Dianne Feinstein or Barbara Boxer, he added: “He’s talking about future plans — six, eight, ten years down the road.”

Gavin for Senate in 2028!

(Secret P.S. memo to Newsom: Dude, what’s with that whole unbuttoned second button thing, anyway? What’s next — tying up your shirttails to show off your midriff?)

Press Clips: Sartre & Beckett vs. Krusty & Hobbes

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Top Calbuzz executives assigned our Department of Belle-Lettres and Ersatz Erudition the most pressing, mission critical job of the week: finding a literary reference to best describe the California Doomsday Scenario.

As the on-again-off-again closed door negotiations between Pope Jerry and Republican Capitol bishoprics  kept flickering, it became clearer by the hour that if their talks collapsed, the state was headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.

If, as our sources insist, the governor simply won’t countenance a Democrat-only solution to get his tax extension plan on the ballot, the specter looming over Sacramento, should Republicans stiff him, is that he’ll next put forth a cuts-only fiscal plan, which his party’s lawmakers will never accept, leaving the whole shtunk exactly…nowhere…

And so: What story, what narrative, what metaphor can our fine-writing-done-cheap trolls employ to cut to the chase in labeling this dreadful state of affairs – and that also fits in the headline?

Due consideration, of course, was paid to Sartre’s “No Exit” (“Hell is other people”), to Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” (“Nothing to be done”) and, not least, “Ghostbusters II” (“Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! 40 years of darkness! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!”)

And then, amid much mulling, what you like to call your Jesuit-trained governor came up with the answer himself: Leviathan.

Krusty’s elegant bookish solution surfaced in a conversation with our friend George Skelton, who churned out the most enterprising budget story of the week. While others in the Sacramento press corps kept writing the same process story (we name no names -  there’d be too many) Skelton captured the Little Pulitzer for Best Political Commentary That Includes Food.

Scoring the first substantive interview with the governor since the inauguration, George covered all the bases: 1) finagling his way inside Jerry and Anne’s loft, 2) copping a free turkey and cheese sandwich (and crucially, working the food into the story; 3) winning some face time with Sutter. All that plus, characteristically, asking Brown the key question: what does the future hold in the not-unlikely event you can’t reach a compromise with the GOP?

Events will unfold like this, (Brown) predicts without hesitation, if the Legislature fails to muster the required two-thirds majority vote … “I put up an all-cuts budget” … Then the Democrats change [the all-cuts budget] and put in gimmicks. Then I veto it. Then everybody sits there until we run out of money. It’s not going to be a pretty sight. It’s like one-two: No tax, all cuts, gimmicky budget, veto, paralysis.”

“It’ll be a war of all against all,” Brown added.

Or, as we say around the newsroom: “Bellum omnium contra omnes.”

Enclosed by the temporal boundaries of space and time in his (print is dead) column, Skelton unfortunately lacked the breathing room to fully explicate Brown’s classical reference. No worries – that’s who we are and what we do.

Bellum omnium contra omnes,” as every school child knows, was coined by Thomas Hobbes in 1651, and is pretty much the only thing anyone ever remembers about reading “Leviathan” in Humanities I in freshman year:

In such condition, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Now, we don’t necessarily subscribe to the Hobbesian notion that mankind — in the absence of a powerful central authority — is innately avaricious and self-destructive. But let’s face it: if California can’t get a budget, there will be blood.

Forces on the left will set out to soak the rich, slap taxes on oil drilling and services, split the property tax roll and give communities power to raise taxes with a majority vote. Forces on the right will seek to cap state spending, unravel collective bargaining rights of public employees, slash pensions, eliminate union shops and decimate social services and environmental regulations.

Non belle visus.

That said, Calbuzz does strongly agree with Hobbes on at least one key matter of the human condition:

All generous minds have a horror of what are commonly called ‘Facts.’ They are the brute beasts of the intellectual domain.

Amen, brother.

Furry little monster: Speaking of nasty, brutish and short, Grover Norquist turned up this week in the biggest grandstand play since Terrell Owens stole pom-poms from  cheerleaders for the 49ers.

In a less than dazzling display of political gamesmanship, GOP honcho Ron Nehring trumpeted a letter he’d addressed to Brown, which was scooped up by Costco Carla Marinucci, purporting to invite him to debate the anti-tax tyrant at next weekend’s Republican state convention.

Brown mouthpiece Gil Duran responded with just the right tone, offering to send the aforementioned Sutter to debate the Great Toad Man.

Left   unanswered and unassuaged, however, was Nehring’s pitiable lament that Governor Gandalf was behind a “variety of verbal attacks” heaped on Norquist, as editorialists, columnists and sensitive New Media Guys have recently called him out for threatening retribution to any GOP lawmakers who dare cast a vote allowing people who actually, you know, live in California, to decide the fate of Krusty’s tax plan.

Alarmed by Nehring’s allegation, our Department of Ethical Standards and Cheap Shot Journalism Prophylactics swiftly checked our clips and determined that our recent characterizations of the D.C. demagogue – “nihilist,” “extremist,” “Emperor Nero” – could in no way be construed as “verbal attacks.” Whew.

Recommended further reading: Politico examines a hint of a split between Norquist and some establishment right-wingmen, while Washpost whiz kid socialist Ezra Klein conducts a scrupulously fair Q&A with the porcine provocateur.

ICYMI: What can we say, we’re suckers for a doggie conga line.

Press Clips: Corgis, Mermaids & Buffalo Beasts

Friday, February 25th, 2011

This just in: At this hour, the Calbuzz Little Pulitzer Jury is meeting in closed-door, emergency executive  session, intensely discussing how to sort out the impact on this year’s journalism awards of Carla Marinucci’s game-changer, global exclusive interview with Jerry Brown’s dog.

As the world now knows, Costco Carla not only obtained the first sit-lie-rollover face-to-face with Sutter, the stylish and charming Welsh Corgi recently named California’s First Dog, but also somehow obtained permission to walk the dog around the Capitol.

The key  issue in the hush-hush meeting of the LP prize panel is this: While Marinucci’s incredible, multi-platform storytelling feat makes her the clear front-runner for this year’s Blair Witch Award for cinema verite enterprise journalism (25K daily circulation category), should she be DQ-ed for not reporting a crucial bit of historic context?

To her credit, with the glaring exception of the phrase “era of bi-pawtisanship,” the latter-day Lois Lane produced her canine chronicle with a minimum of bad dog puns (alas, the same cannot be said of Debra J. Saunders, who provided the print-only version of the big event).

Nevertheless, senior Calbuzzers on the jury expressed concerns about her assertion that the comatose display of full underside nudity, provided by the passive pooch while under questioning, marked “the first time…a subject has fallen asleep DURING an interview.”

Maybe so, several judges acknowledged, then quickly countered that the veteran news hen failed to mention a famous and relevant journalism case study of how a California REPORTER once fell asleep during an interview.

Sources recalled that, in the summer of 1990, when Your Calbuzzards were bitter rivals and fierce competitors, both were granted interviews on the same day with Pete Wilson, then the Republican nominee for governor, in the lobby of the San Jose Fairmont Hotel.

After the pair nearly came to blows over who would go first, a coin flip decided the matter; moments later, an astonishing scene unfolded, as the go-first ink slinger (we name no names) nodded, drowsed and then fell completely asleep during Wilson’s protracted answer to a question about land use planning.

“The combination of Pete’s extraordinarily tedious monotone and his amazing ability to never pause for breath has an overwhelming somnolent neurological effect,” the nonplussed newshound said in his defense. “It’s truly hypnotic.”

Will Marinucci’s omission of this media milestone doom her chances with the contest judges? We’re standing by to bring you the news of their decision in the case as soon as we get it. Back to you, Brian.

The not-so-little mermaid: Mega-kudos to Timm Herdt for a fine yarn highlighting the hypocrisy of local officials who won’t stop caterwauling about Brown’s move to shut down redevelopment agencies, shouting to the heavens that it’s an outrageous violation of Proposition 22.

That measure, for those who were still drunk from celebrating the Giants championship and missed election day, was aimed at blocking Sacramento from grabbing money from cities and counties to paper over the state deficit. Local officials now fighting Brown on the redevelopment issue insistently invoke Prop. 22, with the same level of fervor (and logic) Tea Partiers use when they triumphantly note that the Constitution doesn’t specifically give  Congress the right to pass laws about cell phones.

As the wily Herdt notes, however, Brown is simply using the same argument that Prop. 22 boosters themselves used to sell voters on the initiative:

Last fall, the League of California Cities, which spent $2.5 million to promote a ballot initiative, argued forcefully that property taxes should be used only to pay for essential public services…

In the 463 words of the cities’ ballot argument in favor of Proposition 22, “911 service” is mentioned five times, “fire protection” four times, “police service” four times and “senior services” twice. “Redevelopment” — which pays for none of those things — was mentioned not at all…

To argue that voters gave a mandate to protecting redevelopment is dishonest and silly.

Putting redevelopment into their initiative was an overreach on the cities’ part, and one that now complicates any possible compromise that would allow redevelopment agencies to continue while also turning over a greater portion of their tax revenue to be spent on basic government services.

As we posited this week, with unusually measured restraint (“Strident, indeed. Hysterical, overwrought and hyperbolic, too. Seldom have we witnessed such widespread, collective urban self-centeredness coupled with apparent disregard for the social fabric”), redevelopment types are simply on the wrong side of history on this one.

As Tom Meyer demonstrates today, making manifest a splendid column by our friend George Skelton, the self-righteousness of the statewide urban developer-political hack nexus is too much to bear when you start to look at what some of these latter-day Phidias types are actually building.

Dive Bar features what is billed as the largest nightclub aquarium in the world. That’s impressive, sort of. But is a mermaid bar — any bar — really what tax money should be spent on when governments are struggling to keep their heads above water?

Maybe laid-off teachers can land jobs as mermaids.

“Not everything that dives in the water is a mermaid,” goes a Russian proverb. True dat; sometimes it’s just taxpayers taking a bath.

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Dumbo and the Beast: Corgis notwithstanding, for pure, unadulterated buzz this week, it’s impossible to top the effort of Ian Murphy, editor of the Buffalo, N.Y.-based site The Beast. Murphy’s cojones enormes, world-class quick-wittedness and beyond-Beckett sense of the absurd yielded him the biggest phony story scoop since Orson Welles led the aliens in invading New Jersey.

His pantsing and punking of the repulsive Wisconsin governor Scott Walker,  who along with his senior staff totally fell for Murphy’s low-rent imitation of oligarch David Koch, was not only an all-time, real-time prank, but also a white-bright laser beam that instantly illuminated the high stakes political dynamic playing out in the Badger State.

That said, one thing it wasn’t was journalism, at least as practiced in the U.S. for the last hundred years or so. Although the Society of Professional Journalists aimed a scalding screed at Murphy, citing chapter and verse of how he’d violated every ethical tenet in the book, what their bashing demonstrated more than anything is the vast distance between the venerable ethics, standards and values of the MSM and the warp-drive universe of the internets. Not to mention the utter futility of codifying any standards whatsoever for the drive-by, Mad Max online frontier that extend beyond self-policing.

Let’s review: the SPJ calls Murphy’s hijinks “underhanded,” “inflammatory,” and “inexcusable” – this aimed at a guy who advertises The Beast as “the world’s only website,” features on the home page a sad image of a starving kid urging readers to “donate now” to help the editors buy drugs, and features in his list of sponsors a pharmaceutical cure for those who suffer from “Oldness.” Talk about ships passing in the night.

So journalism, it’s not. High-end new media theater? Way.

Press Clips: Special SOS-WWJD Edition w/o Flounder

Friday, February 4th, 2011

The Little Pulitzers: Scoop of the week honors to the inevitable Steve Harmon, first to jump on the key, unanswered question coming out of the new/old governor’s first* State of the State speech:

What Will Jerry Do if legislative Republicans stick to their irresponsible position of blocking a  measure on his $12 billion tax plan from a special election ballot?

Clearly aware that Brown has backed himself into a corner with his “no taxes without a vote,” as George Skelton sagely notes,  Harmon reports that labor groups and goons are quietly war gaming ways to punish groupthink knuckledraggers — already under double threat from the new reapportionment/top two primary rules that will reshape the political landscape of 2012 — by pressuring from the middle with some long overdue, district-by-district hardball (not to mix a metaphor):

Labor allies of Gov. Jerry Brown are actively considering backing moderate challengers in next year’s Republican legislative primary campaigns with the aim of forcing GOP incumbents to think twice about opposing Brown’s plan to push a tax extension measure on the ballot.

They are also considering ramping up direct mail efforts or door-to-door canvassing within the next several weeks in the districts of potentially vulnerable Republicans who continue to threaten to block a vote on Brown’s tax plan.

No sooner had the plugged-in Harmon used his not-for-attribution sources to stomp the competition than the redoubtable Kevin Yamamura battled back with a good second day yarn, broadening the story by getting Senate leader Darrell Steinberg and other D’s to think out loud about ways and means of forcing Reps to take ownership of the extra $12 billion in cuts that would be required if Brown’s tax plan flops.

Despite Jon Coupal’s intellectually dishonest effort to give the GOP cover by re-framing the special election debate, the plain facts are that the all-cuts crowd: 1) knows full well that whacking the $25 deficit solely with spending decreases is an unserious proposition, unless they pencil out the total budgets for higher ed and prisons, just for starters and; 2) lives in mortal terror that voters will go along with Brown’s bid to extend temporary higher tax rates, thus bringing to an abrupt end their interminable, one-note-symphony about tax cuts being the answer to all of life’s problems (and, in the process, eliminating the raison d’etre, not to mention the fat salaries, of Jarvis fetish advocates like Coupal).

Nonetheless, as the clock runs against Governor Gandalf’s March deadline to move the tax measure to the ballot, his biggest political problem remains the sad fact that a huge majority of Californians have not the slightest interest in lack the basic knowledge to follow the details and nuances of this debate, which preoccupies every waking hour of folks, like Calbuzz, who have no life.

Viz: a dandy myth-and-fact primer by the Bay Citizen’s Jonathan Weber (“Only six percent of adults can identify where the bulk of the state’s money comes from, and how it is spent”) or the more direct, people-are-really-stupid column by Dan Walters  (“Voters ignorance about budget matters a big factor”).

Costco Carla back in town: Carla Marinucci, working desperately to overcome her career-threatening blunder of missing the big Dr. Hackenflack dinner with the flimsy excuse that she was “on vacation,” partially redeemed herself in SOS week when the Little Pulitzer judges honored her with the George Gurdjieff Award for whirling dervish reporting.

The ace Chronicler’s recent, l’etat c’est moi self-appointment as CEO of Shaky Hands Productions was an enterprising if failed attempt to fake her way into the first stop on Meg Whitman’s Reinvention Tour; she didn’t let the disappointment of her brief-lived stint as a high-powered business executive, however, get in the way of quickly reaffirming her status as the best multi-platform political reporter in the state, as she and her trusty video camera were everywhere at once, finding stories that no one else had.

In the space of 21 hours and 13 minutes (you could look it up), Marinucci scored the best post-speech Silver Fox quotes about the GOP blockade of his budget proposal, scooped the world on Brown wandering into the Republicans’ well-oiled back-to-session bash and enabled the aforementioned Coupal in floating his Plan B special election trial balloon.

Whew. Inquiring minds want to know: Is the mighty Hearst Corporation paying overtime these days?

Safire’s corpse takes to spinning: Our Department of Vocabulary, Grammar and Spell Check Tune Ups was shocked – shocked! – to find Governor Brown committing a horrific crime of misusage in a Voice of the West SOS advancer: :

…if we don’t get this budget fixed, California will flounder, and it will really be a real impediment to doing all the other good things the state should be engaged in.

Flounder? Really? Seriously?

As every schoolboy knows:

5. FOUNDER vs. FLOUNDER

To founder means to sink or fail. A ship founders when it goes down–as does a company. To flounder means to act clumsily or ineffectively, or to thrash about helplessly. (As a mnemonic device, imagine a flounder on dry land, flopping about helplessly.)

~Before it finally foundered, the company floundered for several months.

Jesuit education, indeed.

Egyptology: It was John Madden who famously said “big players make big plays in big games” a lovely little homily that will apparently come as news to several of the nation’s biggest name, most overpaid, media hucksters.

While Anderson Cooper led the charge in doing Actual Reporting on the scene in Egypt, CBS diva Katie Couric spent the early days of the crisis  hard at work lavishing coca butter on her all-over tan in South Beach. To her credit, Katie finally got out of her lounge chair and made her way to Cairo — well after Brian Williams, Christiane Amanpour and other network types got there.

And the increasingly insufferable Tom Friedman, supposedly the world’s leading authority on the Mideast, was in Singapore, offering us yet another droning first person lecture about, well, we’re not sure about what, leaving it to firehorse colleague Nick Kristof to deliver the goods to Times readers.

ICYMI: We’re not sure who wrote his stuff, but Mitt Romney’s delivery of the Top 10 List on Letterman the other night was quite good, raising his score in the Calbuzz Republican Wannabe Standings by 1.4%.

Thank you, CalChannel: 20 years ago today, CalChannel started broadcasting gavel-to-gavel coverage of the California Legislature.  In celebration, they’re showing the greatest hits.

“The California Channel.” as they explain, “is an independent, non-profit public affairs cable network governed by California’s cable television industry, and modeled after the national CSPAN service. The channel’s primary mission is to provide Californians direct access to “gavel-to-gavel” proceedings of the California Legislature, and other forums where public policy is discussed, debated, and decided – all without editing, commentary, or analysis and with a balanced presentation of viewpoints. To view streaming and archived video, or to learn what station carries the California Channel on your local cable system, visit www.calchannel.com.”

Calbuzz pick: Packers 31-28.

* (The speech was technically Brown’s eighth SOS, as he was quick to remind everyone after Steinberg introduced him saying it was his seventh. Sic temper tyrannis).

Arnold’s Exit Reeks; Must Read for Political Junkies

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Our first inclination was to let Arnold Schwarzenegger’s long-awaited and very welcome departure from Sacramento pass, feeling content to bid good riddance to bad rubbish without remarking on the occasion.

Unfortunately, and despite the big blast of fresh air that Jerry Brown’s inauguration blew into the capital this week, the atmosphere still reeks of the feculent odor produced by the final acts of the phony huckster who held California captive to his unbridled narcissism for the past seven years.

The parade of hacks, sycophants and cronies that he and his Chief of Staff Susan Kennedy shamelessly appointed to six-figure scam government jobs is reprehensible enough; sadly, however, it differs mainly in degree from the actions of previous one-step-ahead-of-the-posse administrations. What is truly different, and truly stomach-churning, is Schwarzenegger’s cowardly action in reducing the prison sentence of the punk son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez in the knife attack killing of a student at the San Diego State campus several years ago.

What Dan Walters properly and precisely labeled the “foul stench”  of Schwarzenegger’s move had one and only one motive – to misuse his public trust power to do a personal favor for a political ally; the big bad movie tough guy didn’t even have the courage – let alone the common decency – to notify the dead kid’s family, who had to learn the news from a reporter while  the gutless ex-governor sneaked out of town like a “con man on the run,” as Chronicler Deb Saunders aptly put it.

It’s instructive that young Nunez, clearly raised with a keen sense of entitlement, boasted to his friends after the killing that his father was a big shot who would help them avoid the need to take responsibility for their craven actions.

In a broad sense, the most destructive impact of Schwarzenegger’s move is the message it sends to Californians that they’re right to hold a low opinion of state government as a fix-is-in special interest operation doling out goodies and personal rewards to privileged insiders – even one convicted of a senseless act of manslaughter – while treating as a bunch of chumps ordinary folks whose daddies don’t happen to be close pals of the governor.

“The significant damage is that his behavior merely reaffirms the cynicism and disgust most Californians hold for the institution of government,” George Skelton wrote in an on-the-money column on the matter.  And as Tom Meyer illustrates today, the spectacle of such disgusting behavior performed by an alleged, self-described “reformer” is a mockery that reveals Schwarzenegger to be a bigger fraud than even Calbuzz thought possible.


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Life after (thank God) Arnold: If you didn’t get a copy under the Christmas tree this year and you’re jonesin’ for a fix of unfiltered California politics, you should pick up a copy of “California After Arnold,” an insightful look at where we’ve been and where we might be headed by a couple of longtime Democratic intellectuals.

Steve Cummings and Patrick Reddy have gone to a lot of trouble to pull together an enormous compendium of polling, census and voting data on California, which is just the 208-page appendix to their smart analysis of  Schwarzenegger’s election and governorship and a survey of the history, structure and likely future of California politics.

This is not a breezy read. But it’s packed with keen observations and research that allows them to make conclusions like:

– The preliminary assessment (of Schwarzenegger’s performance) is on the edge of either a B-minus or a C-plus.

– From a fiscal standpoint, Jerry Brown was much more like Ronald Reagan than Pat Brown.

– For some forty years, Californians have wanted a blue state culture financed on a red state budget.

– Proposition 187 shook the Hispanic giant out of its slumber because it threatened the one thing they consider most precious – their children.

Besides having the brilliance to quote liberally from Calbuzz, Cummings and Reddy appear to have read and digested every poll, voting tabulation, census factoid and consultant’s playbook for the past several decades.

Their unflinching analysis of Tom Bradley’s narrow loss to George Deukmejian in 1982 not only considers the effect of the Handgun Registration Initiative and lackluster Latino turnout for the black Democrat, but even extends to “urban white precincts that were in close proximity to black neighborhoods.”

If Tom Bradley had won every white Democrat who voted for the extremely unpopular Jerry Brown [for US Senate] that same day, he would have been governor of the nation’s most populous state. There is no explanation for the loss of white working class voters other than race.

Published after the 2010 governor’s race had begun but before it was over, Cummings and Reddy provided nice capsule profiles of the various candidates but were unable to analyze the outcome.

But even before the final combatants were known, they predicted, “If the general election is between Brown and a conservative, Brown will win. The Republicans have simply no one to match up with him.”

They got that right, too.

Make way, make way: Looks like your Calbuzzers aren’t the only ones to look askance at the excessive self-regard and blatantly over-the-top ambition to be governor that have marked the early days in office of Attorney General Kamala (Landslide) Harris.

” So far, there is plenty of evidence that she’s running. Her inauguration lasted almost twice as long as Jerry Brown’s swearing-in, and she promised much more,” writes the Sacbee’s ace editorial columnist Dan Morain. “It’s heady to be a contender for governor, maybe the front-runner. Harris has the talent to rise. But first, she needs to tend to the job she has and leave foreign policy to her pal in the White House…”