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Posts Tagged ‘Howard Kurtz’



Berkeley Gov Panel Outrage; Brown’s Bitter Medicine

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

The Calbuzz State, National, International, Global and Intergalactic Desks will be attending the quadrennial governor’s race post-mortem sponsored by the august Institute of Governmental Studies at Berkeley Jan. 21-22. We’ve already noted our disappointment and disgust that no one from eMeg Whitman’s loser campaign has accepted an invitation to attend what has always been an informative conference.

Now we are incredulous that the head of the program, Ethan Rarick, chose not to invite either the chief strategist or the campaign manager for Gavin Newsom’s bid for governor to the upcoming conference. Nor has he included on the panels anyone from the San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, San Jose Mercury News or the Associated Press. Not to mention Calitics or Flash Report or any other on-line media outlet.

Rarick insists he did what IGS has always done – allowed the campaigns to pick their spokespeople. But in a Nov. 18 email to strategist Garry South – who was the key player in the Newsom campaign for governor for 15 months – he said, “After some consideration, I decided not to put you on the panel representing Newsom since you went on to run a competing campaign against Newsom, and therefore I think you cannot really represent the Newsom viewpoint.”

Which is bullshit, since Newsom dropped out of the governor’s race in October, South joined Janice Hahn’s campaign for lite gov in December, and Newsom didn’t jump into the LG’s race until mid-March. Nor does it explain why he didn’t invite Nick Clemons, the Newsom campaign’s day-to-day manager and former executive director of the New Hampshire Democratic Party who ran five successful state campaigns for Hillary Clinton in 2008.

Rarick said he spoke to Newsom “through an intermediary” who said the former SF Mayor wanted Peter Ragone, who was an unpaid communications adviser to the campaign, to represent him. We have nothing against Peter. He’s a friend. But he wasn’t in the daily nitty-gritty of the campaign and we suspect can’t really add much to the historical record – which is what the IGS post-mortem is supposed to be all about. (See Rarick, E, “California Votes.”)

Rarick also chose four journalists to moderate panels – three from the By God (“maybe they’ll subsidize us”) Los Angeles Times,  two of whom (both from the Times) didn’t actually, you know, cover the campaign, leaving out of the mix people like Carla Marinucci, Joe Garafoli, Jack Chang, Juliet Williams, Judy Lin, Ken McLaughlin, Steve Harmon and others who labored day-in and day-out to keep California informed.

When we told Rarick that some reporters who busted their asses covering the campaign were insulted that they’d been stepped over, Rarick told us, “If they’re offended or insulted I’m sorry, but I’m not terribly concerned if they feel insulted.”

Interestingly, after we got off the phone with Rarick, we got a call from our old friend Darius Anderson of Platinum Advisors of Sacramento and Chairman of the IGS National Advisory Council – the program’s chief fundraiser.

He wondered why we’d been beating up on poor Ethan on the phone. We explained why, in a perhaps intemperate voice in which the words “craven” and “boot-licking” may have been uttered.

But when we asked Darius why Rarick had said he’d been the one who decided not to invite South or why Clemons hadn’t been asked to participate, Anderson asked: “Do you think it would be smart to piss off a member of the Board of Regents?”

Ah, ha. So when Rarick wrote in his book on the 2006 post-mortem that “the conference proceedings serve as the principal historical record of California gubernatorial campaigns,” he forgot to add, “unless they piss off a Regent, in which case we redact them.”

Take that, California! Tom Meyer’s instantly iconic image of the supersized suppository Jerry Brown believes will cure what ails state finances provides a clear and unflinching look at the challenge the new/old governor faces in ramming his fiscal fix through the body politic.

The half-cuts, half taxes prescription that Dr. Silver Fox is offering is already drawing shrieks of terror, both from goofballs on the left and nitwits on the right, not to mention newly-minted solons whose goo-goo concerns about the realignment of state and local government responsibilities apparently keep them awake nights, or OCD-crazed process junkies who insist nothing in the Capitol can be done in ONLY SIX WEEKS!

Amid all the predictable grievance-peddling, umbrage-taking and bumper strip sloganeering that has greeted Brown’s presentation of the first honest budget in memory, none rankles more than the cuckoo caucus’s insistence that California voters do not deserve the right to decide for themselves whether or not to raise their own taxes.

Thus, a surly collection of Howard Jarvis fetishists, union bashers and gold standard crackpots summoned the press this week to hurl mighty oaths and cheap threats at any Republican lawmaker who might dare think about casting a procedural vote to put Brown’s plan on the ballot:

“From the perspective of taxpayers, any official who supports placing a tax increase on the ballot is expressly supporting that tax increase,” said their statement.

With all due respect to the ringleaders of this ragtag outfit, our friends Jon Fleischman and Jon Coupal, who elected you guys to anything? (Come to think of it, Fleischman was elected as the state GOP’s Chief Deputy Undercommisar for Enforcement of Non-Deviationist Thinking, but that doesn’t really go to our point).

Do you honestly believe that people aren’t smart enough to decide for themselves what’s in their best interest? Or is it just that you live in mortal fear of what they might say? Hmmm?

Press Clip:  Moments after Calbuzz finally received in the mail the handsome fake gold tie clasps commemorating our capture of Second Place in the 2010 Best Correction sweepstakes, word reached here that our chances of repeating in 2011 already are at huge risk.

Seems that self-styled media critic Howard Kurtz, who’s trying to reinvent himself as a cool new media guy after spending a couple centuries at the WashPost, has not only committed a boner for the ages, but also covered it up for six weeks, then promptly tried to pin the blame on someone else.

As first reported at Gawker, Howie the Putz last November churned out a beastly post about California Rep. Darrell Issa, the GOP’s Torquemada, and his plans to re-institute the Inquisition on Capitol Hill. The piece was based on a rather long telephone interview with Issa.

Except it wasn’t.

Turns out that during his no doubt probing interview, Howie was actually talking to, um,  Issa’s flak. A small factoid that Kurtz chose not to share with his readers for over a month, before he assured them it wasn’t his fault anyway. Exactly the kind of top-drawer ethical journalism that we’ve come to expect from this fraud.

Jason Linkins at Huffpo has the best take.

Block that Dick: Now that Obama’s enjoying a little uptick in the polls, we’re betting the White House staff redoubles their efforts to keep him off the phone for any locker room calls he’s inclined to make during this weekend’s NFL divisional round.

Obama stepped in it a few weeks back, when he rang up the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles to congratulate him for giving quarterback Michael Vick a second chance, after Vick’s imprisonment for canine serial killing, a bonehead move that earned the president the wrath of pooch lovers across the political spectrum.

Tevi Troy now provides full context for the misstep, in a lovely little piece recounting the many problems presidents have had with football through the ages:

Even back in the 1920s, when gridiron great Red Grange visited the White House, the laconic Calvin Coolidge bizarrely said “Nice to meet you, young man. I’ve always enjoyed animal acts.” But Coolidge’s comment was relatively harmless to his presidency. Other presidents have made enough mistakes on football to populate an entire blooper bowl, particularly Richard Nixon.

Nixon’s poor judgment in sending failed football plays to Washington Redskins coach George Allen prompted the columnist Art Buchwald to write “If George Allen doesn’t accept any more plays from Richard Nixon, he may go down in history as one of pro football’s greatest coaches.”

And in 1969, Nixon handed University of Texas coach Darrell Royal a plaque after his team defeated Arkansas and completed an undefeated season. The problem was that Penn State also went undefeated that season, and the national title, which was decided by the AP and UPI polls in those pre-BCS days, went to the Longhorns. Penn State fans have forever blamed Nixon for Texas finishing No. 1 that year. Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno was so bitter that, years later, he publicly wondered, “How could Nixon know so little about Watergate and so much about football?”

Calbuzz picks: Take the points and Ravens, Packers & Seahawks, give the points and take the Pats.

Myth Busting: Latino Vote, Independents, Prop 13

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Calbuzz is here to correct two important myths from the 2010 general election in California, before they are committed permanently to history and passed along ignorantly like the so-called “Bradley Effect” and other dunderhead theories:

1) Latinos did not constitute 22% of the electorate as reported by the Edison Research exit poll and blabbed along by those who would make the Latino vote look more important than it is (for the record, our two posted references to the 22 % factor, one from a guest columnist, the other a suggestion, are here and here). Latinos accounted for 16% of the vote*,  just as the better pollsters had predicted (and just 1-point lower than the LA Times/USC poll found after the fact).

2) “Independents” did not account for 27% of the voters, as reported by the exit poll and some pollsters (we name no names) who rely on party identification – a practice Calbuzz can’t fathom when party registration is available. Actual independents, that is, decline-to-state voters, accounted for 17% of the electorate.

These facts, part of the data pulled from the final voter file by Bob Proctor of Statewide Information Systems of Sacramento*, are important because they demonstrate that Latinos were not driven to vote in historic numbers (although they apparently voted en masse for Jerry Brown over Meg Whitman), nor was there a surge (or depression) among independents.

The 2010 turnout in California was not a Democratic blow-out. Nor was there any important enthusiasm gap between the parties, as so many Republican operatives had predicted. In fact, the partisan composition of the 2010 general election was just about what you’d have expected if you had never listened to any of the self-proclaimed experts: 45% Democrat, 34% Republican and 17% independent (DTS).

Despite Mike Murphy’s predictions right up to election day, the Armies of eMeg produced no discernible bump in the GOP vote. Nor did the Democrats do much to goose the numbers. What they did do – and it was no mean feat – was get the Democrats, including Latinos, to vote heavily for the Democratic candidates.

Target mail may well have been a factor since an historic 51% of the vote was cast by mail – including 49% by those who are permanent absentee voters. And in case you were looking for some massive surge by youth, forget about it: 56% of the vote was cast by people age 50 and older while just 12% of the vote was cast by people age 18-29.

The fact that just 16%* of the electorate were Latinos does nothing to diminish their importance as a voting bloc. The fact remains that Meg Whitman, who lurched to the right on the issue of a “path to citizenship” during the GOP primary and who unceremoniously canned her Latino housekeeper, drove Latinos to Jerry Brown.

But it’s important to understand that while the Latino vote is growing in California, it still has a long way to go. The Giant is awake and pissed off at the Republicans, but it has yet to throw its weight around as it will some day.

About Proposition 13:  Calbuzz readers know that we have already laid out the Path to Normalization of the California budget in excruciating exactitude but when Anthony York of the By-God LA Times reported the other day that Jerry Brown “walked right up to the third rail of California politics,” we think some confusion may have been unleashed.

We weren’t there (what’s new) so we’re relying on York and others who reported that Silver Fox said, “Proposition 13, because it took away the power of counties to tax, for the most part, it sent the decisions up to Sacramento. So we want to redistribute all that.”

What Brown (and Senate Majority Leader Darrell Steinberg) are NOT talking about, it should be made clear, is fooling around with the property tax on homes as permanently reduced by Proposition 13 (although splitting off commercial and industrial property off for separate treatment might be in the mix).

Rather it sounds like they’re talking about giving cities, counties and school districts the ability to raise other kinds of taxes and/or bonds with a majority or 55% vote (as opposed to the 2/3 vote required by Proposition 13) to go along with taking over the responsibility for programs and services that have been paid for by the state since Proposition 13.

So note to Sacramento tax watchers: It’s highly unlikely that Brown and his allies would screw with the property tax. But they might well want to make it easier for local entities to raise taxes and bonds on their own for the services they want to deliver.

For a good wrap of Brown’s budget challenges and intentions, check Ken McLaughlin and Paul Rogers of the Murky News. And for a well-sourced look at what the governor is likely to unveil today, check out Shane Goldmacher’s lookforward in Sunday’s By-God LA Times.

And thanks to Calbuzzer Jay Johnson, who sent us this cool Photoshop of  Jerry and the upcoming budget.

So much for taking personal responsibility: While it may be over the top argue that Sarah Palin has “blood on her hands” in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others in Arizona, it’s revolting to watch Palinistas try to wash their hands of any responsibility by declaring they’re shocked – shocked! – that anyone could even hint the slightest connection to the horror  and her frequent, reckless use of violent rhetoric and weaponry images.

For Palin’s mouthpiece to claim that the crosshairs icon the loudmouth demagogue slapped on Giffords’ district last fall was really an innocent  “surveyors’ symbol”  not only ignores Palin’s own description of it as a “bullseye” but more importantly ignores her history of smirking viciousness in suggesting that those who disagree with her deserve the same fate as the caribou she delights in slaughtering:

“Don’t retreat, reload,” indeed.

And while we’re at it, we have to note our disgust with Palin apologists like the smarmy twit Howard Kurtz of the Beastly Daily Beast, who seems utterly incapable of understanding that the atmosphere of violence promoted by Palin et. al. is not just a riff on standard political fare.

Howie the Genius apparently sees poor St. Sarah as a victim of a media drive-by: “One of the first to be dragged into this sickening ritual of guilt by association: Sarah Palin. . . . This kind of rhetoric is highly unfortunate. The use of the crosshairs was dumb. But it’s a long stretch from such excessive language and symbols to holding a public official accountable for a murderer who opens fire on a political gathering and kills a half-dozen people, including a 9-year-old girl.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Sickening, too.

* After this post appeared, a respected Sacramento consultant passed along to us counts made by Political Data Inc. which, by adding in about 140,000 foreign-born voters who apparently did not have Spanish surnames, would increase the total Latino vote to 17%. It’s possible also, as a friend from the LA Times suggested to us, that some Latino voters, like Latinas who have married and taken their husband’s non-Spanish name, might also have been under-counted. But this can’t add much to the total percentage of Latino voters.

Daily Kos Pollster Busted; The Shame of Lara Logan

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

We’re sorry to say Calbuzz was not all that surprised to hear that Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas on Tuesday announced he plans to sue Maryland based pollster Research 2000 for fraud, charging, in essence, that surveys the firm did for the liberal blog were cooked.

Loyal readers will recall that last summer, in a post jointly published in the Los Angeles Times, Calbuzz threw gallons of cold water on a Survey 2000 poll for Daily Kos that said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom had pulled within nine points of Attorney General Jerry Brown in what was then a primary campaign for governor.

We noted then, among other problems, that the Survey 2000 poll had a screwy method of deciding who was a registered voter – including some voodoo statistical dancing and prancing to supplement their list of voters with “self-identified” Dems and Reeps.

So Markos is surely on solid ground when he says: “We were defrauded by Research 2000, and while we don’t know if some or all of the data was fabricated or manipulated beyond recognition, we know we can’t trust it.”

That’s how we felt about the Daily Kos results back in May, which had Jerry Brown’s favorable/unfavorable at 48-43% and Meg Whitman’s at 47-38%. It just made no sense.

We have, in the Calbuzz library, a copy of Michael Wheeler’s important 1976 book titled “Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics,” which owes its title to a saying attributed to both Benjamin Disraeli and Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies – lies, damned lies and statistics.”

But since at least half of us has worked in the polling business, we know it’s possible to field public opinion surveys that actually measure public opinion. On the other hand, we also know there are some people who claim to be pollsters who really are hucksters. Looks like Daily Kos bought into one of them.

Toldja II: We’re also sorry that it didn’t take long for our prophecy to be fulfilled  about the journalism geniuses in Washington pulling a Lord of the Flies number on Michael Hastings, whose superb Rolling Stone report about Afghanistan instantly rebooted the national debate over the longest war in U.S. history.

Because Hastings, a mere freelancer, managed in the process to skunk and show up all the sycophantic, self-important establishment reporters on the beat, they naturally had to try and make him look bad, with Howard Kurtz,  high priest of the temple of MSM Beltway journalism, leading the charge.

Kurtz is a walking conflict of interest who gets paid by the Washpost to cover media affairs, including those involving CNN, his other employer.   Conveniently for CNN, they also pay the oleaginous Kurtz for hosting “Reliable Sources,” a Sunday morning gab fest about the media, and a powerful pulpit that he used this week to undercut the legitimacy of Hastings’ reporting.

The show began with a long distance interview with Hastings, who was then still in Afghanistan, in which Kurtz tried to channel Mike Wallace, asking the writer a series of confrontational questions, and consistently interrupting when Hastings tried to answer.

He followed with a segment featuring Lara Logan, chief foreign correspondent for CBS News, whom he noticeably did not interrupt, instead letting her spout off freely and proceed to basically call Hastings a two-faced liar and challenge his otherwise undisputed reporting.

Michael Hastings, if you believe him, says that there no ground rules laid out.* And, I mean, that just doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me….I mean, I know these people. They never let their guard down like that. To me, something doesn’t add up here. I just – I just don’t believe it.

Well, all righty then. If Lara Logan doesn’t believe it, notwithstanding that she has no, you know, facts to sustain her very strong feelings, hell that’s good enough for us.

Not content to hurl mere fusillades of innuendo at Hastings, the dynamic duo followed with this colloquy:

KURTZ: When you are out with the troops and you’re living together and sleeping together, is there an unspoken agreement –
LOGAN: Absolutely.
K: – that you’re not going to embarrass them by reporting insults and banter?
L: Yes.
K: Tell me about that.
L: Yes, absolutely. There is an element of trust. And what I find is the most telling thing about what Michael Hastings said in your interview is that he talked about his manner as pretending to build an illusion and, you know, he’s laid out there what his game is. That is exactly the kind of damaging type of attitude that makes it difficult for reporters who are genuine about what they do, who don’t – I don’t go around in my personal life pretending to be one thing and then being something else. I find it egregious that anyone would do that in their professional life.

Where, oh where do we start?

First, here and throughout the interview (the transcript is here) Logan absolutely makes the case, argued by Hastings among others,  that MSM types like her owe their first loyalty to their sources, and see their role as being part of the team – rather than being, first and foremost, the eyes and ears of their readers and viewers.

Second, listening to Lara Logan hold forth about “trust” is kind of like hearing Meg Whitman lecture on the virtues of poverty, given that LL is a notorious home wrecker who was square in the middle of the infamous  “Steamy Baghdad love triangle” a few years back.

That sordid little bit of business ended with her married to a guy who happens to be a top-drawer State Department military contractor, which makes her objectivity on this whole war effort thing more than a little suspect.

“Living together and sleeping together,” indeed.

*(Hastings never said there were no ground rules. He said that everything he reported was on the record, and that if someone asked him to keep something off the record, he did).

Must reading: Matt Taibbi’s head absolutely exploded over Logan’s shameless performance, and he responded by dealing her one of the best body slam take downs (delicately titled “Lara Logan Sucks”) in memory, while Geoffrey Dunn’s skewering of her is somewhat more surgical but no less effective and Charles Calderon at Yahoo News has the best links and overall takeout on the continuing controversy.

Today’s sign that civilization is getting better all the time: I’ll have the meat lovers combo!

Lady Gaga & iCarly vs. Arnold & the Klingons

Friday, November 27th, 2009

lady_gagaNext Up – a dramatic reading of A.B. 390: We’re pretty sure that no more than 5,999,950 of Jay Leno’s 6 million viewers were totally baffled when they tuned in to catch Lady Gaga Monday night and instead became eyewitnesses to history, as the gov made his really, really interesting announcement about California’s potentially, possibly, maybe new Lieutenant Governor.

Straightening out their sock drawers, our news department crew was sorry to miss the broadcast – but damn glad they did once they read the transcript of the painfully stagy Leno-Arnold byplay. Fortunately Dr. Hackenflack, a big Lady Gaga fan, was on the scene to provide live blog commentary on the event:

Leno: Let me ask you, what are you going to do about a lieutenant governor? We don’t have a lieutenant governor now. We haven’t had one for a while. Are you going to appoint another one? (A totally spontaneous question!)
Arnold:
Absolutely. (Duh)
L:
When are you going to announce that? (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge)
A:
Well, we can do it right here. (What the…?)
L:
You’re going to announce it right here? (I’m shocked – shocked!)
A:
Yeah, exactly. Why not? (Who says my delivery’s wooden?)
L:
You picked somebody? (Enough already with the build-up)
A:
Yes. I’m going to (Zzzz…)
L:
Is it me? (Only good line of the whole schtick)
A: I mean, I was planning to do it tomorrow. (Oy)
L:
Don’t wait until tomorrow. (Zzzz II)
A:
So why not? We have already a tradition. I announced my candidacy right here on the show. (What an amusing, unconventional fellow I am!)
L:
That’s right. (Gee, I almost forgot).
A:
So why not announce the lieutenant governor? So it will be Senator Abel Maldonado --(Huh?)
L:
Wow. (Wow is right – no wonder this guy’s ratings suck).

Props for Tfleischmanhe Flash: Jon Fleischman, who may be the hardest working blogger in show business, scooped the world at 4:09 p.m. Monday, citing “one of my better ‘insider sources’” to post the first report unconditionally stating that Gov. Schwarzmuscle had picked Maldonado for Lite Gov.

Having broken the news, the resourceful Fleischman immediately lurched into full advocacy mode, crafting a killer second graf for the ages:

Somebody get me a barf bag.

An hour later, perhaps chastened by switching to decaf, Fleischman thought better of the nanosecond honeymoon he’d accorded Maldonado with another post, this time offering heartfelt and sincere best wishes with a piece headlined “Congrats to Abel Maldonado.”

carly bald

Two old white guys left standing at the altar: So Carly Fiorina was scheduled to call Calbuzz for an interview Monday, but her handlers stiffed us at the last minute with a murky explanation about some supposedly late-breaking, double secret probation type emergency development thingie.

We were pleased to see, however, that iCarly was not so in distress that she bypassed a Beltway breakfast session with the crew of the conservative American Spectator.  Philip Klein’s post on the affair is well worth reading, if only for the challenge of trying to follow the rococo twists and turns of her extended riff on abortion rights.

On other issues, primary foe Chuck DeVore, R-Sirloin, jumped all over her statement that she would have voted for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, while Mrs. Chuck tweeted exception to Fiorina’s comment that she’s a stronger GOP bet by virtue of not being “a white male.”

Asked why she is a better candidate than her Republican primary opponent Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Calif.), Fiorina said that a woman stands a better chance of defeating Boxer.

“With all due respect and deep affection for white men – I’m married to one – but (Barbara Boxer) knows how to beat them. She’s done it over and over and over again.” Uh, really?

Among those who might take offense at her comment are:

1-The entire base of the California Republican Party.
2-Michelle Malkin, shrill harridan of the GOP’s Glenn Beck wing, who bashed
her
for an “identity-politics driven campaign.”
3- Matt Fong, the former state controller who lost to Boxer in 1998 and is decidedly not a white male.

To summarize: Hurricane Carly would have been better off calling us.

Reads of the week: Washpost media writer Howard Kurtz may be a walking conflict of interest and self-important windbag, but he churned out a helluva’ piece this week, a splendid 2,500 word feature on Emily Miller, a former Houklingonse aide who got caught up in the Jack Abramoff scandal and whose personal history is a moral lesson in the dangers of  tempting fate with blind Beltway ambition.

We also liked the Oracle of Cruickshank’s smart piece over at Calitics of how California was 25 years late to the New Deal, and an insightful column by Russ Douthat, a strong successor as NYT house conservative to the insipid William Kristol, deconstructing the anti-intellectual strains of Huckabee Palinism.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near The Klingons draw close.