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Posts Tagged ‘Huffington Post’



AB32 Fight: Smokestack Steve vs. Monoxide Meg

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

smokestacksteve2Throughout our so-called careers, Calbuzz has been consistently entertained by our friend Richie Ross’s talent for concocting cut-to-the-bone epigrams about political campaigning.

“When you’re behind,” Richie once told us, amidst a race where he was running some now-forgotten dog, “always pick a fight.”

The formulation came to mind this week, as Smokestack Steve Poizner took out after Monoxide Meg Whitman, insisting to all who would listen that his position on the environment was waayyy worse than hers.

One day after our piece examining eMeg’s fierce opposition to California’s landmark AB32 climate change legislation (Coincidence? You be the judge) The Commish whacked her as an opportunistic, closet tree-hugger.

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“Meg’s rhetoric on AB32 is again a sign of the two Meg Whitmans,” said Jarrod Agen, Poizner’s slasher-in-chief. “Campaign trail Meg is making claims that directly contradict her actions and Republican voters will not trust her.”

The me-too attack came as Poizner endorsed the so-called “California Jobs Initiative” being co-sponsored by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Paleolithic, and Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Sirloin. The measure, now being signature circulated, calls for suspension of AB32, until employment levels get back to where they were before it passed in 2006.

056-597But the endorsement was really just an excuse to remind GOP primary voters of eMeg’s eleemosynary contribution of $300K to the Environmental Defense Fund, a strong supporter of AB32, not long after the measure passed, as well as her gushy past praise for ex-Obama Green Czar Van Jones – “I’m a huge fan!” – whom she met on a save-the-earth cruise that also included Jimmy Carter, fercrineoutloud.

Pshaw, dismissively responded the volcanic Sarah Pompei, eMeg’s well-paid responder. Whitman, she said, don’t need no stinkin’ initiatives to crank up the thermostat on the world all by herself.

“The authority to suspend AB32 already exists and Meg is committed to using it on her first day as Governor,” Pompei said, adding that, “as a result of the struggling economy, Meg was the first candidate to call for a suspension of AB32 . . . If there was any possibility that Steve Poizner could be touting those same credentials, well then, he probably would be.”

And thank you for that.

On Monday we presented the case, and the polling to back it up, that a majority of Californians don’t see a huge conflict between environmental protection and economic growth. While Calbuzz is open to being proven wrong (in fact, we’ve made a pretty good living at it), we think racing to the bottom on pollution is strictly a GOP primary strategy that won’t sell in a general election.

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Milk Carton Report: Phil Angelides, who had a charisma bypass before such surgery was fashionable, strode his way into the national spotlight Wednesday, as he opened as chairman the much-anticipated hearings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

“People are angry,” Angelides said, with the heads of the nation’s two largest banks and two biggest Wall Street firms sitting, under oath, before him.

They have a right to be. The fact that Wall Street is enjoying record profits and bonuses in the wake of receiving trillions of dollars in government assistance — while so many families are struggling to stay afloat — has only heightened the sense of confusion.

Not bad stuff for a guy who ran the worst campaign for the top spot since John D. Sloat didn’t cop a single vote. Given his financial bona fides as a former state Treasurer, not to mention his classic training at the hand of Angelo Tsakopoulos, Angelides ain’t a bad pick for the gig, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi helped him land.

It’s hard to imagine the commission coming up with much in the way of true reform, however, although the hearings do have some entertainment value. Best coverage we’ve seen is the live blog over at Huffpost  which also has a dandy piece co-authored by former N.Y. Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who managed to keep his pants on for the occasion.

halperinBeltway wisdom gone awry: There are few people in the political news business more obnoxious, self-referential and self-absorbed than ABC’s Mark Halperin, so we were delighted at Jason Linkins’ superb takedown of “Game Change,” the ’08 campaign account Halperin co-authored with John Heilemann, and which their fellow Beltway snobs are lapping up like melted Ben & Jerry’s.

Under the terrific hed “The Blackhearted Ethos of Game Change,” Linkins writes:

What you will get from this tome is the experience of being dragged through a great, teeming, gossipy Superfund-sized pile of shit, lovingly accumulated by two authors who have basically allowed anyone willing to offer nasty hearsay, trash-talk, or score-settling to dump away.

Calbuzz sez check it out

We’re from the press, we’re here to help: Kudos to Calitics for being first on the scene early Wednesday with a list of how-to-help contact info for the victims of the horrible earthquake in Haiti. Best bitchslap of the insufferable Pat Robertson: thank you Andy Borowitz for “Haiti? I Thought They Said ‘Hades’”


Hump Day: Tom C, Tony V & eMeg’s eMails

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

tomtwirlWhen speculation began about Tom Campbell possibly switching from the governor’s race to the U.S. Senate contest, the instant conventional wisdom said such a move would help Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Stonehenge,  now tied with former HP CEO Carly Fiorina in Republican primary polls.

That idea rests on the notion – fueled by some knuckle-draggers on the right –that Hurricane Carly is a squishy, Silicon Valley moderate masquerading as a fiscal conservative. And, the argument goes, because former U.S. Rep. Campbell is also a Silicon Valley squish, he’d naturally draw votes from Carly, to the benefit of DeVore.

But wait! Facts intrude. Or at least, what we like to call potential facts, suggested by the recent Los Angeles Times/USC Poll in which DeVore and Fiorina were tied at 27% each.

As Calbuzz reported more than a month ago, DeVore voters favor Campbell over eMeg Whitman 42-35% in the governor’s race, with another 16% for Steve Poizner. More importantly in this context, voters who support Campbell in the governor’s race prefer DeVore over Fiorina in the Senate race by a whopping 42-24%.

carlychuckcollageThis means there’s some connection, in voters minds, between Campbell and DeVore; when we studied the crosstabs from the survey, we found it’s not gender, ideology, geography or age. What does seem to explain the connection is income – which makes some intuitive sense, as the two are the only poor boys in either race.

The poll found Whitman leading Campbell in the governor’s race 35-27% overall. But among downscale, gunrack Republicans – those with incomes under $50,000 who made up 37% of the sample – Campbell was beating Whitman 34-28%. That’s a huge swing.

And guess what? While DeVore and Fiorina were tied at 27% overall, among the trailer park Republican cohort, DeVore was leading Fiorina 34-17% — another massive shift.

So what’s up here? Lower-income Republicans (and for Campbell, the over-65 voters, too) seem to cluster around Campbell and DeVore. Which could well mean that if Campbell got into the Senate race, it could actually boost Fiorina’s share of the vote.

Here’s what Calbuzz believes: While Campbell would have a hell of a time winning the GOP nomination for Senate, he would be the most formidable opponent against Sen. Barbara Boxer in a general election because he’s pro-choice and a moderate on the environment, issues that would help him with independents in the general election.

antonionewyorker

Being 80 is the new black: Speaking of the Senate, the flat-out silliest political story in months was to be found on the home post of Huffpost in recent days. Headlined “Antonio Villaraigosa may call the U.S. Senate ‘home’ in 2012,” the piece predicted the L.A. mayor will be an all-but-certain bet to take over Dianne Feinstein’s seat two years hence.

It’s an abiding mystery why Huffpost editors thought this a worthy page one candidate (though we expect Arianna’s recent big push for her L.A. page provides a big clue) given the goofiness of the column, written by some guy named Feldman, a self-described “journalist and media consultant” whose current job appears to be doing “investigative reporting” for AM radio.

Under the Feldman Scenario, Villaraigosa’s march of triumph to the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body will be enabled by Difi either a) deciding to run for governor or b) choosing not to seek another Senate term because she’s just too damn old. As hard evidence for either option, Feldman cites the undeniable fact that…well, he really, really believes it might happen.

It is…probably foolish to make this next political prediction — and, if it turns out wrong — someone, somewhere, someday will no doubt cite it as yet another example of why such tea leaf reading is a dangerous art, indeed.

“Probably”? “Someday”? “Indeed,” indeed. At least he got the “foolish” part right.

diannePutting aside the fact that Tony V’s erratic performance as mayor better qualifies him as a used car salesman than a U.S. Senator, the notion that Feinstein will run for governor is sooo 2008 , and the idea that she’d give up her hard-earned sweet gig in D.C. if she was 112, fercrineoutloud,  ignores the fact that she’s been immersed in politics and government since 1956. She wouldn’t know what to do if she retired, except drive Dick Blum crazy by nagging him to prune the hedges or something.

In point of fact, Feinstein is already raising money for her 2012 race, and Calbuzz makes her a good bet to challenge Robert Byrd and the late Strom Thurmond in the oldest-coot-ever-to-serve-in-the-Senate sweepstakes.

“She’s not going anywhere,” one associate told Calbuzz, “and if Antonio runs against her, she’ll beat him like a drum.”

emegebay

Update from Delaware: All good Calbuzzers recall that we’ve noted the significance to eMeg Whitman’s candidacy of the big eBay vs. Craigslist civil suit smackdown now taking place in Delaware.

Absent a political record, Whitman has pointed to her experience as eBay’s CEO as the primary rationale for her candidacy for governor, so the trial offers some insider perspective about her values and performance in that role.

The case focuses on a dispute that followed eBay’s acquisition of 28 percent of Craiglist, at a time when Whitman was CEO of the online auction giant. eBay alleges that Craigslist violated terms of the agreement to deny them any say; Craiglist executives charge that eBay and Whitman used the agreement to obtain confidential information in order to set up a new online classified operation as a competitor.

On Tuesday, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster testified about an email exchange between eMeg and eBay executive Garrett Price that followed an interview Buckmaster gave to business reporter Matthew Boyle of Fortune; in response to a question about possible conflicts between the two companies, Buckmaster told Boyle, “our first instinct is to trust eBay to take the high road.”

Price emailed a copy to Whitman, asking if she had seen the piece:

Whitman: “Did. Pretty funny.”
Price: “Yes. I am glad to read that he trusts us.”
Whitman: “Love this.  :)

Referencing the email string, Craigslist’s attorney asked Buckmaster, “Did you think it was ‘pretty funny’ that you trusted eBay?”

“No,” Buckmaster replied sadly.

Following our earlier kvetching about a dearth of trial coverage, we’ve been pleased with the sudden stream of stories and commentaries that appeared this week (Coincidence? You be the judge).

Topping the list is our friend Jackson West, who reported over at NBC Bay Area about Monday’s appearance by Buckmaster,  who testified that Price at one point threatened him with being confronted by “Evil Meg” unless he went along with her designs on his company. As Randall Chase, the AP’s man in Delaware reported the Buckmaster testimony:

jim-buckmasterPrice said he needed to remind Craigslist officials that there were “two Meg Whitmans,” Buckmaster said

Craigslist officials, he was told, had met the “good” Whitman in July 2004, when she convinced Buckmaster, who had broken off discussions and decided not to do business with eBay, to go forward with negotiations that eventually resulted in eBay’s 28 percent minority stake in the online classifieds company.

Buckmaster said Price warned him that there also was an “evil Meg, and that we would best be served if we got with the program, or we’re going to meet the evil Meg.” Price added that Whitman, who is now seeking the Republican nomination for governor in California, could be a “monster” if she got frustrated, according to Buckmaster.

(Yikes! Memo to scheduling: should we rethink this whole eMeg dinner thing?)

The wily West got off the best line in the face of the emerging, unflattering portrait of eMeg, noting that “revelations about Whitman will actually play pretty well to the Republican Party base she’s courting in the gubernatorial primary.”

Press Clips: Why Is NPR in Thrall to Prince Gavin?

Friday, August 7th, 2009

newsom_2_JPGWe were floored to listen to Madeleine Brand’s nine-minute story on the California governor’s race on NPR on Tuesday. Not because that’s a huge amount of time to spend on the race — which it is — but because half the damn thing consisted of an interview with Gavin Newsom (she didn’t interview any other candidates).

The piece also included an interview with the Chron’s Carla Marinucci, whose comments were edited so her money quote cast the race exactly the way  Newsom and his strategist, Garry “Svengali” South, want to define it: as a “generational contest.” Whether Prince of Prides Newsom can succeed in cubbyholing Crusty the General Jerry Brown as a drooling geezer seems to Calbuzz a dubious proposition, at best.

What we found most interesting in the NPR piece was Newsom’s decision to underline strongly his claim to fame as the No. 1 advocate for gay marriage, after  downplaying it in recent months; when Calbuzz asked him about it in March, for example, he said, “People, from my perspective, have really moved on . . . The new realities of the economy are much more pressing in people’s minds.”

But on NPR, he not only embraced his role on the issue, but reveled in it. For the record, he said: “There are certain fundamental values that I hold dear and there are principles that I’ll fight for. I believe in equality. It’s not just a slogan; it’s not just rhetoric. Actually, I want to champion it, I want to fight for it. I’m someone who just doesn’t believe separate is equal . . . I won’t equivocate.”

burningpapersThe decline and fall of practically everything: Thanks to our friend Alan Mutter over at Reflections of a Newsosaur for pointing us to an excellent post at Content Bridges that provides the first quantitative analysis of the journalistic impact of all the financial cuts in the newspaper industry.

The site is operated by former Knight-Ridder guru Ken Doctor, who put together stats on the number of journalism jobs slashed by daily newspapers – 8,500 in the last two years alone – and reductions in pages devoted to news – an estimated half of the 40 percent decline in newsprint usage – to calculate a loss of 828,000 news stories a year, “neither written nor read,” as Doctor put it.

It’s easy enough to trash newspapers and those who run them, and Lord knows Calbuzz does our share, for being arrogant, out of touch and slow off the mark to adjust to the wacky world of the web. But 828,000 fewer stories means that people across the nation know a helluva’ lot less about what’s going on in city halls, cop shops, courtrooms, school boards and state capitals than they did just a few years ago. And that ain’t good for the public interest, no matter how clueless some newspaper editors may be.

P.S. The big buzz in the news industry this week was Aussie press baron Rupert Murdoch’s announcement that he intends to start charging readers for content on all web sites of his far-flung News Corp. empire.

difipencilNext up – podcasting with Dianne: Check your thesaurus for an antonym for “blogger,” and you’ll find a big picture of Dianne Feinstein; California’s straight-laced Senator is just about the purest antithesis imaginable of the pajamadin.

So Calbuzz was shocked the other day to find Difi joining the likes of Alec Baldwin, John Waters and Nora Ephron in Arianna’s lineup of celebrity bloggers over at the Huffington Post.

No doubt, Herself’s piece on warrantless wiretaps was Really Important but still: She managed in a single post to  a) put everyone to sleep from the start by employing the dreaded historical lede –- 2 ½ paragraphs worth of it; b) leave us scratching our heads about her central point by omitting the crucial nut graf, and c) churn out a thicket of verbiage as impenetrable as a Brillo pad, laced with bureaucratic Beltway-speak like this:

“Initially, the OLC based its opinion on the president’s inherent constitutional authorities as Commander-in-Chief. Subsequently, the OLC shifted its rationale to rely upon the Authorization for the Use of Military Force…”

Memo to Dianne: Don’t quit your day job.

mouthpiece

Not exactly “Frontline”: Class act kudos to Chris Cillizza of “The Fix,” for graciously extracting himself from “Mouthpiece Theatre,” the WashPost’s dreadful experiment in multi-media infotainment.

For the past several months, Cillizza served as sidekick to the spectacularly unfunny Post humor writer Dana Milbank in an online video schtick called “Mouthpiece Theatre” in which the two donned smoking jackets, wielded pipes and parodied political pundits, playing it for yuks, which were few and far between.

Last week, they keyed off Obama’s “beer summit” with Harvard Professor Henry Lewis Gates and the Cambridge cop who arrested him, assigning several dozen obscure brands of beers to various politicians; the creaky episode collapsed completely when they put up a photo of Hillary Clinton and Milbank suggested she should drink “Mad Bitch” beer, a crack that earned the players and their paper widespread condemnation in media, political and feminist circles.

Over at the Columbia Journalism Review’s site, Megan Barber wrote:

“One wonders how much of the Post staff’s time and resources were devoted to researching, writing, staging, shooting, and editing such an extraordinarily value-free contribution to the annals of political commentary. Milbank and Cillizza are no Stewart/Colbert—they’re not even Letterman/O’Brien—not only because they’re simply not as funny, but because their status as (ostensibly) reporters means that they owe us more than lame-puns-for-the-sake-of-lame-puns, as per the typical humor of late-night TV.”

In a substantially lighter vein, comic Andy Cobb did a terrific You Tube send-up of the show

On Wednesday, media writer Howard Kurtz broke the news that the suits at the Post had pulled the plug on “Mouthpiece Theatre.” Cillizza, to his credit, made a clean breast of things on his blog.

The smug,  self-absorbed, fratboy Milbank also apologized in Kurtz’s piece, kinda, sorta but did so in a predictably self-serving way:

“It’s clear there was an audience for it out there, but not large enough to justify all the grief. My strength is in observational, in-the-field stuff, and that’s what I should do. I’m sorry about the reaction it’s caused but I think it’s important to experiment. The real risk to newspapers is not that they take too many risks, but that they don’t take enough risks.”

Calbuzz decoder ring translation: The little people just aren’t smart enough to appreciate my genius.

lingand leeLee and Ling and One Limp Neo-Con: Like all journalists, Calbuzz felt great concern about Euna Lee and Laura Ling and, back in June, offered space to Betty Medsger to advocate on their behalf. So we were delighted when former president Bill Clinton was able to bring them home from North Korea the other day. It was a wonderful exercise of personal diplomacy with the nutcase Kim Jong Il, who was most likely confused about whether he was posing for snaps with Clinton or Elvis, his one true hero.bolton Anyway, we were jazzed by the release of the two journos.

So when former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton immediately declared that the successful mission actually was “a classic case of rewarding bad behavior,” we just had to make a note — of what a complete dick this guy is.

No Time for Cal Dems, but Tony V Makes Time in DC

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

tonyvin-dcIn case you missed it, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (not currently a candidate for governor, we’re told), who was so deep in budget negotiations he pulled out of a planned appearance at the California Democratic Party state convention a couple of weeks ago, took a breather from emergency fiscal talks this weekend to head to Washington for some serious hobnobbing at the White House Correspondents Dinner. But horror of horrors, as Kevin Roderick of LAObserved observed (under the headline “Isn’t that Mayor Newsom?”), Huffington Post caught this shot of him and posted it on their site with this caption: “Jason Binn (l), Matthew Settle (c) and Rachael Leigh Cook (r) with a guest.” Oooh. “That must really drive AV nuts,” chortled Gavin Newsom consultant Garry South.

PS — It’s the second pic in HuffoPo’s story.