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Posts Tagged ‘Kamala Harris’



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…”

How “San Francisco Democrats” Could Hurt Brown

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

It speaks volumes that Meg Whitman’s first public appearance as the Republican nominee for governor will be a joint event with the GOP’s other statewide candidates while Jerry Brown plans to hold a rally of one.

California has scant history of campaigns that feature major party candidates running in tandem with down-ticket nominees, but last night’s results on the Democratic side offer eMeg plenty of reasons to try to tie Krusty the General closely to some of his party colleagues.

With all the money in the world to run multiple campaign themes, don’t be surprised if Whitman constructs a narrative that appeals to independent voters and underscores her attack lines on Brown, by identifying him as the leader of a statewide ticket of Bay Area Democratic liberals.

With such a gambit, eMeg could try to frame the election as a choice between an outside challenger (her) and a California political status quo dominated by arrogant and ineffective lefties (Jerry and his Kids) whom she portrays as weak on taxes, soft on crime, permissive on illegal immigration and in the thrall of public employee unions.

The notion recalls the 1984 presidential race, when President Ronald Reagan was nominated for a second term at a convention that rocked with raucous bashing of “San Francisco Democrats,” who had nominated the ill-fated Walter Mondale in that city a month earlier.

“It’s a very plausible strategy,” said one top Republican consultant. “That’s what I would do if I was running against Jerry,” chimed in a Democratic statewide strategist. “Duh,” said another.

The basics were suggested weeks ago, by Democratic political consultant (and Jerry Brown hater) Garry South, who argued that his client for Lite Gov — Janice Hahn — would be a better “running mate” for Brown than South’s former client, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, a liberal white male who’d be a drag on Brown statewide.

As a political matter, Whitman would certainly have raw material to work with:

– Newsom, the lieutenant governor nominee, is known statewide for his sneering “whether they like it or not” comment, flung at foes in his role as the High Priest of Gay Marriage, not to mention the anything-goes values and left-wing politics associated with his city around the state.

– San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, the attorney general nominee, is not only embroiled in a scandal involving the city’s drug lab which has threatened  prosecutions in hundreds of drug cases, but also the architect of a decision not to seek the death penalty in the high profile case of a cop killer, among other controversies.

– U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, since beginning her career in Marin County, has long been a vivid symbol of California liberalism, a three-term incumbent with a reputation for arrogance that went on full display in her now-famous dressing down of a military leader for not addressing her as “Senator” during a public hearing.

And that’s not to mention U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco liberal conservatives love to hate (often with absolutely no rationale.)

The Bay Area lefties strategy, of course, carries considerable risks, as well as opportunities.

For starters, Democrats still dominate Republicans in voter registration statewide, and President Obama remains very popular in California, two factors that could make the move backfire. A majority of independents appear, also, to identify with Democrats more often than with Republicans on many issues.

For another thing, while Whitman might be quick to frame Brown and the Democrats as a purported “ticket,” she would likely be loathe to invite comparisons with the Republican slate, which at times bears resemblance to the bar scene in Star Wars:

Lite Gov nominee Abel Maldonado has a well-earned reputation as a flip-flopping wiggler who is hardly a beloved figure among his own party; Attorney General candidate Steve Cooley was assailed by GOP primary rivals for being soft on Three Strikes prosecutions and Senate candidate Carly Fiorina is, well, she’s Hurricane Carly and all that implies.

The Dem reply to an attempt to ticketize Jerry’s Kids might well be to cast Carly and Meg together and ask: “Do you want to be represented by a pair of greedy business moguls who would take away your right to choose, cut pensions for cops, firefighters and teachers and turn back the clock on global warming?”

To be sure, some political professionals just don’t think the ticket strategy works in California.

“That assumes the whole ticket effect and I don’t buy that for California,” said one prominent GOP consultant. “Guilt by association, the boogie man – I don’t think is going to be effective with voters.”

On the other hand, we’ve never seen what you can do with an unlimited campaign budget, have we?

Meyer on Meg & Goldman Sachs; Press Clips

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

All the news that fits: Today’s Tom Meyer take on ‘eMeg’s Goldman Sachs connection offers some insight into the potential of the campaign issue that the billionaire business background of Her Megness hands to Jerry Brown; one sign of how effective the matter may be is the energy that Team Whitman is devoting to flogging Dan Walters’s oldie but goodie saga of Crusty’s financial connections to Indonesian oil.  And speaking of money and politics, LA Timesman Michael Rothfeld’s examination of when, exactly, eMeg became a candidate and what spending she should be required to report is a first-rate piece of campaign enterprise reporting.

Is that a spoon stuck up your nose or are you just happy to see me? Chroniclers Phil Matier and Andy Ross did a fine piece of Actual Reporting that offers a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes political calculations of San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, whose aspirations to become attorney general are hardly helped by the widening drug lab scandal in the city, where hundreds of felony cases have been put at risk because a veteran police lab technician kept sniffing up all the evidence.

Harris, who insists she knew nothin’ about nothin’ for months after the top drug prosecutor in her office wrote a memo warning of the problems at the lab, has now booted the whole mess to AG Brown, because her ability to handle many of these cases has been compromised after many prosecutors were interviewed by the cops investigating the matter.

Harris is supposedly a strong front-runner in the crowded Democratic AG’s race, but the case of the mysterious disappearing cocaine, coupled with her starring role in releasing illegal immigrants charged with felonies into a jobs program  leads us to wonder if her campaign slogan will soon be:  “Kamala Harris – The Only D.A. FOR Crime.”

Don’t miss: Tony Quinn probably knows more about reapportionment than anyone else in California, and his splendid Fox and Hounds piece about the sleazy machinations involved in the Democrats’ attempt to repeal the Proposition 11 redistricting reform is a must read…Amid Abel Maldonado’s belated confirmation as lieutenant governor, it’s worth taking a second look at the well researched LAT op-ed by Garry South, who notes that it’s been 40 years since an appointed statewide official in California was elected to the office for which he had been tapped…We refuse to be the last to comment on our old friend Mark Leibovich’s superb profile of Mike Allen, star reporter for Politico , which has been dissected by at least 8 zillion blogs before it’s even been published as this Sunday’s NYT mag cover piece, but we do suggest you check out the yarn by Allen’s colleagues Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin deflating the media bubble around the Tea Party.

Sometimes a good read is just a good read: It’s got nothing to do with politics or media but N.R. Kleinfield’s piece on doormen in New York is just a lovely gem of feature writing that’s worth a read, as is Hudson Sangree’s atmospheric offering in the Sacbee on the Welcome Grove Lodge.

Just because: This is the greatest baseball play we’ve seen this season.

10* of the Top Quotes of the Week in CA Politics

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

From The Commish taking a big swing at eMeg to Hurricane Carly aiming a low blow at the the sheepish Dudley Do Right, this week easily scored as the most entertaining to date of 2010, simply because of the surfeit of great quotes flying across the internets. Here are 10 of the best things anybody said about California politics. [Make it to the end for the contest challenge.]

1-”Usually that sort of thing occurs in a one-on-one conversation. It takes a true imbecile to put it in writing.
– Former federal prosecutor Donald Heller offering a lawman’s perspective on eMeg strategist Mike Murphy’s ham-handed effort to force Steve Poizner from the governor’s race.

2-“Part of this is politics.”
– Michael Semler, Sac State political science professor with a lofty thought about the Poizner-Whitman political extortion clash. Ya think?

3-“There are some things that sound easy, but you might as well send somebody a get well card.”
– Speaker Nancy Pelosi, suggesting Hallmark is to be preferred over trying to pass health care reform in pieces.

4-“My goal is to get things noticed.”
– Fred Davis, guerrilla ad man for Hurricane Carly Fiorina, on the viral sensation of his Demon Sheep ad attacking Tom Campbell..

5-If she emerges from the primary she’ll find that California voters of all parties will reject her brand of strong-arm politics.”
– An unctuous John Burton, who would disembowel relatives just for saying the word “Republican,” objects to Meg Whitman’s brand of campaigning.

6-“Kamala Harris opposes the death penalty. In fact, she refused to seek the death penalty even for a convicted cop-killer. She also refused the death penalty for an illegal immigrant gang member who murdered an entire family. This murderer was on the streets only because Harris had released him when he was arrested a few weeks earlier. And he was able to stay in San Francisco despite being arrested because Harris opposes deporting illegal immigrants, even after they commit violent crimes.
“She also created a program that trains illegal immigrants for jobs in the U.S. One illegal immigrant from her program robbed and then tried to murder his victim.”
– Description of San Francisco D.A. and Democrat attorney general wannabe Kamala Harris from poll question by primary rival, Assemblyman Ted Lieu. We think they were testing her negatives.

7- ‘Let’s say what we mean, mean what we say.”
– Meg Whitman, in her new TV ad, which she was forced to change after being caught exaggerating about how long she’s lived in California.

8- “I think some of these Neanderthals, is what I’d have to call them, who want to turn the clock backwards, don’t fully understand the job-creation potential that AB32 and our climate-change laws in California will be able to stimulate . . .
– Undeclared Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jerry Brown, talking about his soon-to-be-formal GOP opponents on KGO Radio.

9-“No matter where you go in the world, people still want to come to California. There’s no one screaming, like, ‘I can’t wait to get to Iowa.
– The diplomatic Gov. Schwarzmuscle, endearing himself to folks in the Hawkeye State.

10-“After reading the ridiculous charges made by Steve Poizner during today’s strange press conference, all I can say is that I’m starting to worry about the Commissioner’s mental condition.”
– Meg Whitman senior adviser Mike Murphy responding to charges that he tried to extort Poizner out of the governor’s race (see #1 above)

* We lied. Here’s one more quote we couldn’t resist:

“Our campaign will forever be a demon sheep free zone.”
– Chuck DeVore, trying to raise money off Carly’s awful ad.

CONTEST HERE! To the Calbuzzer who posts an even better quote than the ones we have here before Monday — two coveted Calbuzz buttons! Totally arbitrary judging by Dr. P.J. Hackenflack.

Arnold Tries Again on T-Ridge & Rumors of the Week

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

offshoreGovernor Schwarzmuscle rolled out a new version of his twice-defeated plan for expanded offshore drilling Friday, but it’s tough to imagine his latest tweaks changing many minds.

Despite his 0-2 record in pushing for a lease to allow the PXP energy company to drill in state waters off the coast of Santa Barbara, Arnold doggedly added the Tranquillon Ridge offshore oil project to his just released, ugly budget plan.

As a financial proposal, the much chronicled project (memo to those who’ve been sightseeing in Albania since May: see Calbuzz archive) is intended to generate a quick, couple hundred million bucks for the recession ravaged state treasury. Politically, however, Schwarzenegger must overcome the passionate and visceral opposition to offshore drilling which reflects longstanding California environmental policy.

The project was voted down by the State Lands Commission early last year, then rejected by the Legislature at the end of the long summer budget battle. Now Schwarzenegger is trying again, tarting up the proposal politically with some key tactical changes:

Process: The budget plan calls for T-Ridge to be sent back to the State Lands Commission for rehearing.

The change is crucial, because reconsideration by the lands commission is exactly what the faction of environmentalists who back the project, led by Santa Barbara’ Environmental Defense Center, have been seeking, as an alternative to Schwarzenegger muscling the matter through the Legislature. His move instantly paid off in the form of a quick EDC statement in support of the governor’s latest plan:krop_lg

“We look forward to the opportunity to have this project reconsidered by the State Lands Commission,” said Linda Krop, EDC’s chief counsel, expressing “appreciation” to the governor. “Reconsideration by the State Lands Commission is the only process that we support to address this unique proposal.”

Despite the new process, however, Schwarzenegger’s budget document also states that if the drilling plan is “not approved by the Commission, legislation will be necessary,” making it clear that he will take another run at the Legislature if state lands turns it down again.

Abel Maldonado: The administration’s clear political calculation is that  Senator Abel Maldonado, whom Schwarzenegger has nominated for  Lieutenant Governor, would vote for the measure on the lands commission.

The Lite Gov is one of three members of the commission, and John Garamendi, the former occupant of the office who was recently elected to Congress, cast the deciding vote against PXP’s plan last year. Although Maldonado also voted against it as a state senator, his well-earned reputation for political opportunism makes it not unlikely he’d see things the governor’s way if the Legislature confirms him.

State Parks: The money generated by the PXP project would be earmarked for state parks, many of which were slated for closure last year, until Schwarzenegger reinstated funding. By tying the new lease to parks financing, he forces a choice for the lesser of two environmental evils.

Pedro-Nava“The governor has truly sunk to a new low, by making the parks system, the jewel of California, reliant on new offshore oil drilling,” said Assemblyman Pedro Nava, who has led legislative opposition to the drilling proposal.

Warming to his task, Nava said that linking parks and offshore oil was like “offering a rent reduction to a victim of domestic violence in exchange for forcing them to go back and live with the abuser.”

That little vein in his ample forehead throbbing vigorously, he added:

“If anybody thinks there wasn’t an agreement reached by Abel Maldonado (with Schwarzenegger) then think again. This is one of the most cynical acts I’ve ever seen.”

Beyond the PXP conflict, the offshore debate is certain to become even more combative this year with the introduction by Republican Chuck DeVore, an Orange County assemblyman and contender for the U.S. Senate nomination, of legislation to effectively open up the entire California coastline to new drilling.devore

DeVore said his plan, which would impose a 40 percent royalty on offshore oil and natural gas extraction, could generate as much as $16 billion by 2011: “My proposal generates billions of dollars this year, when California needs it most,” he said.  “Allowing new offshore leases under this plan prevents cuts to education, public safety and other government services.”

T-Ridge and the DeVore measure are the latest examples of the intertwined politics of the economy and the environment moving center stage in 2010 campaigns.  Check back on Monday for more on this development.

Rumors of the week: Calbuzz hears that Steve Cooley, L.A.’s hardass, three-term district attorney, plans to jump into the Republican race for Attorney General, perhaps as early as next week.

SteveCooley_picCooley’s entry would be a game-changer in the race, giving the GOP a top-drawer candidate with a good chance to win statewide office. Cooley also offers a sharp contrast to Democratic front-runner Kamala Harris, the San Francisco district attorney who’s against the death penalty and  embroiled in controversy over a program to funnel illegal immigrant felons into a jobs program instead of prison.

Add rumors: We got no inside info on this one, but we won’t be surprised if GOP wannabe governor Tom Campbell announces a switch to the Senate soon after his impending return from his Panamanian vacaciones. Bill Whalen’s got a good post looking at the implications of such a move.

Quote of the week:* Our pal Alan Mutter, noted media analyst and Chicago deep dish pizza aficionado, was interviewed by the New York Times for a story about the struggle of newspaper owners against the rise of the web, and replied:

“One of the problems is newspapers fired so many journalists and turned Mutterthem loose to start so many blogs,” Mr. Mutter said. “They should have executed them. They wouldn’t have had competition. But they foolishly let them out alive.”

*Calbuzzer Alert: Send us your nominees for Quote of the Week, which we’ll run each Saturday. Winners get two free Calbuzz buttons; second place gets three.