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Posts Tagged ‘Harry Reid’



Why Did Obama Ignore Omar? Krusty to Cable Talk?

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

ABC – Always Believe Calbuzz: Now that even Harry Reid publicly complains that Barack Obama fears confrontation and is too willing to play kissy-poo with Republicans, we regretfully recall that the president blundered badly last year, by ignoring four prescient words of advice we humbly offered: Channel your inner Omar.

With Democratic prospects for the mid-term election swirling down the drain, and the Administration engaged in an embarrassing public fight with Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the party’s chances of keeping control of the Congress, Senate Majority Leader Reid recently pointed his finger squarely at the White House to explain the dreadful dire straits in which his party finds itself:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid critiqued President Obama’s “peacemaker” approach to policy-making and suggested he embrace a tougher posture toward Republicans in an exclusive interview with Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston during the congressional recess.

“On a few occasions, I think he should have been more firm with those on the other side of the aisle,” Reid explained. “He is a person who doesn’t like confrontation. He’s a peacemaker. And sometimes I think you have to be a little more forceful. And sometimes I don’t think he is enough with the Republicans.”

Ya’ think?

Yet, a full nine months ago this space, upon observing troubling signs of presidential faintheartedness, threw a flag at his craven performance in the heat of the health care battle, and urgently recommended he review the collected wisdom of one Omar Little, the extraordinary character whom Obama had repeatedly identified as his favorite cast member in “The Wire,” the greatest television series ever made.

From liberal West Coast precincts to the op-ed pages of the New York Times, Obama’s base is pointedly questioning the stiffness of his political spine and the strength of his personal convictions:

Those Obama fans who are disappointed keep looking for explanations. Is he too impressed by the elite he met in Cambridge, too eager to split the difference between left and right, too willing to compromise? As he pursues legislation, why does he keep deferring to others — whether to his party’s Congressional leaders or the Congressional Budget Office or to this month’s acting president, Olympia Snowe? Why doesn’t he ever draw a line in the sand? What’s with all this squishy need for a “bipartisan solution?”

This state of affairs poses a serious risk to Democrats in the 2010 mid-term elections and to Obama’s second term prospects as well.

Ahem.

While it may already be too late, if you buy John Dickerson’s persuasive argument that Americans have already stopped listening to the president, it’s worth reprising at least one of the nine profound Omarisms we suggested Obama take to heart:

“The game’s out there and it’s play or get played.”

Omar’s definition of how things work on the streets is useful advice for the president: From his first day in office, Obama extended his hand in the name of bipartisanship, only to be bitch-slapped by Republicans for his trouble.

It’s way past time for him to start channeling his inner Harry Truman and expose the just-say-no GOP crowd as the know-nothing obstructionists they are. His mealy-mouthed appeasement of a tyrannical minority, who get up every morning thinking about how to destroy and delegitimize him is not  “change we can believe in” but a simple case of political weakness.

The trouble with Jerry: With 1,126 paid staff members, Meg Whitman’s communications shop has a lot of time to sit around and do silly busywork, like its regular series of eblasts called “Yup, Jerry Brown said it,” which mock whatever Krusty’s latest foot-in-mouth comment may be, picked up by Team eMeg’s statewide network of Big Brother electronic listening devices.

On Tuesday, they snarked at something Attorney General Gandolf said about Whitman on radio in San Diego: “She in many ways is more the incumbent than I am.”

It’s an offbeat comment, to be sure, but not for the reason that the Empire of eMeg thinks.

As a political matter, viewing Whitman as the incumbent in the governor’s race is actually an interesting take: her over-the-top spending, the ubiquity of her ads, her multi-channel, overbearing non-stop marketing blitz all have positioned her so Brown might frame the election as a referendum about her, casting himself as the foil to all-Meg-all-the-time.

Interesting thought, interesting point. The problem for Brown, however, is that he’s talking like he’s a political analyst, not a candidate; since the day after the primary, most of what he’s said has been focused on the process of the campaign – Meg’s money, Meg’s ads, his cheapskate approach to the race – not on anything that voters might actually care about, or what affects their lives.

There are few people more interesting to talk or listen to about the business of politics than Jerry Brown, but this ain’t a rolling seminar in campaign methodology.

What’s he most sorely lacking in his campaign is any sign of a narrative, a political meme about, oh say, the state of the state, why he wants to be governor, why voting for him will help the middle class, why and how we must fix the schools, things like that.

Until he starts discussing bread and butter issues like building the economy, helping people who are in foreclosure, growing jobs, re-prioritizing the state budget or reclaiming the UC system, everything else he’s talking about is just a tryout for Hardball or the John King show.

On the other hand, Calbuzz recognizes that the Brown campaign makes a point when they note that in the 35 days since the start of the general election:

While Attorney General Jerry Brown has done 26 public appearances or media interviews [mostly as Attorney General], Meg Whitman has done nine. While Brown has taken the tough questions about the race and the future of California, Whitman refuses to talk. While Brown has accepted 10 debate invitations from nonpartisan groups around the state,Whitman will agree to only one in October.

In case you missed it: Why Sarah Palin is a complete ditz, Chapter 686: She can’t even make it through an interview with Bill O’Reilly without making a fool of herself. Sheesh.

3-Dot Cheap Shots: DiFi, eMeg, iCarly and Krusty

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Buzz kill: Calbuzz is scratching our collective head at the sight of the MSM prominently displaying stories about Senator Dianne Feinstein’s declaration of opposition to Proposition 19, the November ballot measure to legalize pot: Why exactly is this news?

From her earliest days in politics, DiFi’s political antennae have always been hyper-attuned to the slightest possibility that somewhere, someone might be having fun.

Her nickname around City Hall was “Goody Two Shoes,” and one citizen of San Francisco’s gay community famously summed up her well-earned school marm reputation:  “Dianne Feinstein doesn’t care who you sleep with, as long as you’re in bed by eleven o’clock.”

The Senior Senator from California, in fact, first made a name for herself in the ‘60s by carrying on a one-woman crusade against the production and presentation of X-rated movies in S.F., where entrepreneurs such as the infamous Mitchell Brothers were then pioneering the genre with aesthetic and commercial successes like “Behind the Green Door.”

The controversy Feinstein generated greatly raised her profile, at a time she was preparing to launch her first bid for office, a fabulously successful effort that made her the first woman elected president of the Board of Supervisors.

But her anti-smut campaign did not earn unanimous acclaim in Baghdad by the Bay: the late Charles de Young Thieriot, then publisher of the Chronicle, threw her out of his office when she came in to demand he stop running ads for adult theaters in the paper, while Charles McCabe,  a cranky and literate libertarian scribbler for the Chron, bashed her as a prudish busybody in a series of columns headlined, “Dianne Faces Life.”

What really moved Mrs. Feinstein to her little adventure, and her later demand that right-mindedness be enacted on all of us is something you don’t have to be a big brain to figure out. The real reason lies in the hearts and minds of a segment of elderly Irish biddies and Jewish mothers and Italian mama mias and German hausfraus. These ladies, most of whom are mothers, are threatened by porno and take an awfully strong line on the same subject. This they communicate one way or another, and often through priests and rabbis who have a vested interest in sin, to their duly elected representatives of whom Mrs. Feinstein is one. And conscientious.

The way to prevent the men from indulging their brutish natures is to pass laws, and more laws, and still more laws, to keep their pants firmly zipped at all times, except when the population explosion is to be assisted.

Roll ‘em and smoke ‘em Dianne.

eMeg to the ER stat: Here’s another thing we don’t understand: Why Meg Whitman keeps picking fights with the California Nurses’ Association.

Having already erected a new web site exclusively dedicated to brawling with the nurses’ union, and sent a personal letter to every member of the CNA, Her Megness announced yesterday that she is “forming an advisory board of nurses to advise her on issues during the campaign.”

The “Meg Whitman Nurses’ Advisory Board.” Got a real ring to it, no?

For their part, the nurses have announced a big demonstration and town meeting in Whitman’s home town of Atherton Thursday night, which is scheduled to include a stop at eMeg’s estate. So it looks like the baffling battle will only escalate.

Yeah, we get that Team eMeg has so much money they can afford a whole separate campaign against the nurses, while simultaneously running against Jerry Brown. But what’s the political play here exactly?

We consulted with Dr. P.J. Hackenflack, our staff psychiatrist and chief of medicine at Calbuzz Memorial Hospital and Outpatient Veterinary Clinic, who offered five possible reasons:

a–She’s still bitter that she didn’t get into medical school because organic chemistry kicked her butt.

b-If you’re going to start busting unions why not begin with one of the most popular in the state?

c-Murphy’s still pissed the nurses rolled him in his failed initiatives campaign for Arnold.

d-eMeg feels a special connection to the helping profession because her husband is a famous neurosurgeon (memo to Meg: don’t count on nurses being overly enamored of a guy named Dr. Harsh).

e- She really doesn’t like that whole “Queen Meg” thing.

Calbuzz sez: b) and e).

Grisly grizzlies: Setting the bar higher than ever for Republican whack job women, Nevada Tea Partier Sharron Angle has announced that God is behind her challenge to Senator Harry Reid,  a development that caused Calbuzz considerable concern that our own Hurricane Carly Fiorina may be falling way behind in the female division of the knuckledragger sweepstakes.

So we were delighted to learn from the Orange County Register that iCarly was recently blessed with a campaign contribution from Sarah Palin,  the Queen High Wingnut of Amazon Republicanism herself, who’s traveling the country on a mission to elect battalions of what she calls “Mama Grizzlies.”

As she trumpets Palin’s personal endorsement, Carly appears to believe that Screwball Sarah’s seal of approval will win hearts and minds throughout the state, which is only one of many big differences she has with her rival, incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer, whose campaign is working to drive traffic to a web video examining the Republican sisterhood of the traveling pants suits.

While Whitman has so far cautiously kept her distance from the tenets of Palinism, Neanderthal Carly has bought the whole package, eagerly embracing the right-wing’s positions  on abortion rights, climate change, gun control, immigration and offshore oil drilling, among others.

So completely has Fiorina festooned herself as a “pro-life feminist,” that one prominent anti-choice leader recently told our pal Carla Marinucci, that Carly “now stands tall alongside Palin and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, in a pantheon of new female political leaders.”

Michele Bachmann. Wow. Makes you proud to be a Californian, doesn’t it?

Historical Footfault: “If there is another $100 million spent on the Republican side, we will have our message,” Jerry Brown told KGO the other day. “Everyone in this state who votes will have more information than they want.”

So when will Krusty and His Band of Merry Guerillas unload their muskets? 

“So we’re holding our fire,” Brown said, although not apparently remembering first-hand. ” If you remember the Battle of Lexington, the American revolutionaries said wait until you see the whites of their eyes before you start firing.”

Except — as most school children know –  if it was said at all, it was said by one of the colonial commanders — Israel Putnam, John Stark, William Prescott or Richard Gridley — at the Battle of Bunker Hill, not the Battle of Lexington.

Press Clips: Morain, Marinucci & a Tale of 2 Tic Tocs

Friday, March 26th, 2010

What is eMeg so afraid of? Although our friend Dan Morain has become a full-fledged, thumb-sucking (all rise) Opinion Page Columnist, the guy just can’t stop himself from doing Actual Reporting. That’s why he’s the winner of this week’s coveted Little Pulitzer for Investigative Punditry, for his look inside Meg Whitman’s Proust-length campaign spending report, a piece that included an angle we didn’t see anywhere else:

She also frets about security.

Whitman has paid $204,000 to John W. Endert, a former eBay security executive who has a permit to carry firearms and describes himself as experienced in corporate investigations, executive protection and threat mitigation. She categorized the $10,500 per month expenditure as a campaign worker salary.

Whitman paid $3,500 to what she called a “campaign consultant.” The recipient, Walsingham Associate Inc., says on its Web site that it specializes in detection of eavesdropping equipment.

Last year, Whitman’s campaign paid $20,383 to a company called Western Limited and called the expenditure “polling and survey research.” Western Limited describes itself as a private investigations firm that seeks to “solve your case – whether it is obtaining damaging video, locating the background records that you need, or obtaining a statement that helps you make a claims or business decision.”

All this, plus details of eMeg’s luxury private jet travel and a close look at her catering bill that was almost as hard-hitting as our own.

Why it matters what candidates say: In his infinite wisdom, Joe Mathews has taught all us geezers that it’s a waste of time to write down the actual words that politicians actually speak. Now, it turns out, once in a while, their utterances actually become newsworthy. Say it ain’t so Joe!

Joe Garofoli and Carla Marinucci, the Twin Terrors of Fifth & Mish, were the first to jump on Her Megness for a total flip flop about releasing her tax returns, which was only fitting as it was Costco Carla who raised the question, during Whitman’s breakthrough media scrum in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara at the GOP convention, that elicited the quickly broken promise to make public 25 years of tax returns.

ABC (Always Believe Calbuzz): The Get a Life Division of our Department of Obscure Campaign Intelligence was the first to throw a penalty flag at eMeg, more than two weeks ago, for her dog-ass idea of organizing legislative “teams” to implement her personal agenda for California:

As we may have mentioned once or twice, eMeg’s major downside is that she appears not to understand that politics is a give-and-take, give-some-to-get-some business, that legislators are also elected by the people, and that the Capitol is a teeming cacophony of conflicting interests, not the site of an Imperial Governorship. In the KNBC interview, she made quite clear that she sees the role of lawmakers as secondary, when she graciously said they’d be welcome to serve on her “jobs team” or her “schools team.”

“Where do I sign up?” Senate leader Darrell Steinberg is no doubt asking.

Now comes the B Minus to report that Whitman not only isn’t backing away from this ludicrous notions, she’s expanding on it, demonstrating once again her staggering lack of understanding of how Sacramento works.

Which begs the question: Since some of the people around her do understand how the legislative process works and how the Legislature and the governor interact, is she just so pig-headed, she simply ignores advice from those in the know around her? Or are her legions of purse carriers just so blinded by the huge sums of money they’re sucking out of the campaign that they’re afraid to challenge her?

Her authentically alien approach to governing — I’ll decide what should happen and everyone will join teams to make those things happen — raises another key question: Is Long Island really another planet?

Health Care Hotline: Who’s the real hero who saved health care reform?

On Sunday, the NYT, in a P1 triple signer tic toc by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Jeff Zeleny and Carl Hulse, gave the nod to Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

In a series of impassioned conversations, over the telephone and in the Oval Office, she conveyed her frustration to the president, according to four people familiar with the talks. If she and Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, were going to stick out their necks for Mr. Obama’s top legislative priority, Ms. Pelosi wanted assurances that the president would too. At the White House, aides to Mr. Obama say, he also wanted assurances; he needed to hear that the leaders could pass his far-reaching plan.

“We’re in the majority,” Ms. Pelosi told the president. “We’ll never have a better majority in your presidency in numbers than we’ve got right now. We can make this work.”

One day later, however, the Washpost’s Ceci Connolly credited President Obama for his “singular” performance in saving the day, in her own 8 zillion word narrative reconstruction:

The remarkable change in political fortunes thrust Obama into a period of uncertainty and demonstrated the ability of one person to control the balance of power in Washington. On Jan. 19, that person seemed to be(newly elected Massachusetts Senator Scott) Brown.

But as the next 61 days would show, culminating in Sunday night’s historic vote, the fate of the legislation ultimately rested in the hands of Obama, who in the hours before Brown’s victory was growing increasingly frustrated as Pelosi detailed why no answer was in sight.

Intriguingly, both pieces used essentially the same anecdotal lede – the top-dog meetings at the White House in the immediate wake of Brown’s stunning victory – but reached entirely different conclusions.

Three dots are better than two: Credit LAT man Evan Halper for noting Jerry Brown’s nifty job of threading the needle on health care, paying lip service to looking into GOP demands that he join other attorneys general in a constitutional challenge to health care, while making it perfectly clear he would do no such thing…Perceptual scoop honors to Washpost whiz kid Ezra Klein for beating the pack to the story of how Republican Beltway types are now backing away from their angry promise to repeal the health care legislation…

More medical meanderings: Kudos to Dan Weintraub at Healthy Cal for a clear, detailed and useful Sunday look at exactly what was in the damn bill in advance of the big vote…HT to Hall of Fame Calbuzzer Kam Kuwata for pointing us to this excellent health care mash-up.

Just because: Andy Borowitz does it again.