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Posts Tagged ‘Kent Conrad’



Dr. Hackenflack Returns: Special Carly Edition

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

dr-hackenflackCalbuzz staff psychiatrist Dr. P.J. Hackenflack has been on a leave of absence, serving as a special consultant on health care reform to Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. He returns today to catch up on the Old Mailbag and answer reader questions on some recent political developments.

Dear Dr. Hackenflack,
I see that former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is running for the U.S. Senate and wondered why she’s known as “Hurricane Carly”?
– M. Whitman, Silicon Valley
Wherever she goes, she leaves destruction in her wake.

Attention: Dr. P.J. Hackenflack,
I thought the Calbuzz reference to Senator Kent Conrad as “a four-eyed, hose-nosed twit” very nearly almost came close to bordering on incivility. How do you respond?
– Earnest Bill, Superior, Wisc.
You should have seen it before the copy desk toned it down.

My Dearest Dr. Hackenflack,
I’ve enjoyed Senator Abel Maldonado’s fascinating tweets about what he eats during late-night legislative sessions but would like some information about what Assemblyman Chuck Devore does for snacks?
– Julia C., Montecito
Generally, he just chews on Carly Fiorina’s ankle.

Yo Hack!
Garry South said that Jerry Brown has had “more positions than the Kama Sutra.” What’s his favorite one?
– Ms. Cosmo, N.Y. N.Y.
Loosely translated it ‘s “Old Gray Stallion Trots to the Left Then Gallops to the Right,” according to Calbuzz’s Department of Sanskrit Documentation.

Dear Colleague: Is it true Steve Poizner recently had surgery?
– B. Casey, M.D., Hollywood
Yes. I’m happy to report he’s recovering nicely from a charisma bypass.

Dr. H,
I understand that as S.F. mayor, Gavin Newsom ignores and blows off the Board of Supervisors. What does that portend for how he’ll deal with the Legislature as Governor?
– Aaron P., Civic Center
How he’ll deal with the WHAT?

Mein Lieber Herr Hackenflack,
A friend of mine compared Carly Fiorina to Marie Antoinette. What in the world could these two have in common?
– Deborah B., Sacramento
Neither of them ever voted. Zut alors!

Doc,
I heard on the street that Meg Whitman is running her own campaign,  modeled on Lincoln’s 1858 Senate race. What’s her expert opinion on how Abe managed his election operation?
– Fleischman Flash, Gettsyburg, Pa.
She’s sure he blundered by agreeing to all those pesky debates with that guy Douglas.

Dear Mr. Big Shot Shrink,
So Tom Campbell says he should be governor cuz he’s a big brain Chicago School economist who trained with Milton Friedman. Big deal – I wonder how many of those guys it takes to change a light bulb.
– A. Bunker, Queens
None. If the light bulb needed changing the market would have already done it.

To whom it may concern,
I can’t thank you enough for publishing that short sample of Barbara Boxer’s new novel, which I greatly admired for its literary quality. Do you perchance have an excerpt of the roman a clef Carly Fiorina is supposedly writing?
– Bulwer Lytton, Knobworth House
Sure: “Cara Sneed caught an approving glimpse of herself in the glass reflection of the post office window. “Yum, you look good, girl,” she chuckled with amusement to herself.

Entering through the entrance door, she caught the admiring glimpse that the shabby tech geek standing on line gave her, and imagined to herself a little thought balloon bouncing in the air above his head – “Whoa, she looks good – I bet that woman can move some digital printers.” Then she softly tee-heed once again to herself.

She gently slipped her absentee ballot into the yawing maw of the patriotically colored mail box, and pivoted gracefully on her strappy Manolos to saunter out through the door, when a sudden flash of dread struck her in the tummy.

“Oh no,” she thought, “I forgot to put a stamp on it again.”

Press Clips: Reporting the Good, the Bad and da Ugly

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

megcarlyCalbuzz is happy to see the “national media” weigh in on California politics, and we’re always pleased to chat with our colleagues from DC and NYC when they’re gathering string and trying to figure out the lay of the land. But when they screw it up – especially after they’ve spoken with us – we find it annoying.

Thus it was with the Wall Street Journal’s  “California GOP Pins Hopes on Ex-CEOs” — which was thrown together mid-week, on-the-fly and then, we’re told, slashed before making print.

By writing that “many in the party are pegging their hopes on two former corporate chief executives: Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina,” reporter Jim Carlton gave the WSJ headline writers free rein to suggest Meg and Carly are the great hopes for the future of the California GOP. This is exactly the story eMeg and Hurricane Carly wanted to spin and — in our humble opinion — puts the cart way before the horse. Maybe that’s the story Carlton’s editors wanted, but we’re not convinced that it reflects what we sometimes refer to as “actual reality.”

What’s the evidence, for example, for the assertion that “The star power of both CEOs is likely to give them some momentum.”? Clearly the WSJ didn’t check the clips for the March Field Poll in which 17% of Republicans had a favorable view of Whitman, 11% unfavorable and 72% no opinion. Fiorina’s standing was 24% favorable, 17% unfavorable and 59% no opinion — also among Republicans. That’s not momentum or star power. To suggest otherwise is to swallow the swill peddled by Whitman and Fiorina spinners.

And here’s a neat writing trick: the piece posed “political observers” who say Meg and Carly’s business credentials could be helpful to them (on one side) versus (on the other side) “Democratic strategists” who say they come from a reviled class of CEOs. That’s a loaded match-up — positing neutral observers against partisans.

Especially since at least one neutral “political observer” the WSJ talked to (we name no names) made the point that being a business leader in this economic and political climate is a tremendous deficit for any candidate, Republican or Democrat. Also, eMeg and Hurricane Carly are from the same party as the governor whose approval rating is about 30% at a time when about 80% of voters say the state is on the wrong track.

And what, exactly, did this add to the conversation that it would qualify as a kicker quote?
“Whoever our candidates are,” says Mike Villines, former Republican leader in the Democrat-dominated state Assembly, “the key for Republicans in the state is definitely focused on winning.”

Why does any of this matter? Because unless reporters get it right, their clips create a body of “information” upon which more stories are built, getting it more and more wrong. There is no big flashing red light that pops up when the next reporter from out of town does a Google search on the California governor’s race. Up pops the WSJ story, with all its misstatements and misjudgments. This in turn can affect fundraising and momentum in the race itself. Thus, the spin works even if it doesn’t reflect “actual reality.” And this pisses off Calbuzz.

Late breaking P.S. (8:53 a.m.) The Journal this morning published this correction of the Carlton piece:  “Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard Co. chairman and chief executive who is exploring a run for the U.S. Senate in California, is pro-life on the abortion issue. A Saturday U.S. News article misstated her position as pro-choice.”

Back on the home front: Debra Saunders, our old pal who spins her own view at the Chron, would normally lean toward eMeg and Hurricane Carly, but you gotta give her big credit for taking them to task for being lousy citizens in her piece asking:  ”How do you run for California’s top political offices when you often have failed to vote yourself and have no political experience?”

conrad

He really IS a twit: Sam Stein and Ryan Grin have a first-rate takedown on Kent Conrad, Calbuzz’s least favorite U.S. Senator and the guy whose winning total in his last re-election wouldn’t be enough to get a seat on the L.A. Community College Board.

While Conrad loves to portray himself as some kind of deficit hawk hero on government spending, the Huffbloggers nail him for 1) opposing fiercely Obama’s bid to cut $10 billion in wasteful agriculture subsidies whose beneficiaries include constituents of Conrad’s, who get paid for not growing crops and; 2) enjoying nearly two million other reasons to fight against a public option and on behalf of private insurers to keep the health care status quo:

“Beyond ideology or pragmatism, however, the North Dakota Democrat has a pocketful of other reasons to oppose a public option. Despite being from a state where campaigns cost a relative pittance, Conrad has found himself the recipient of largess from a host of private actors with interests in the health care debate. Over the course of his career he has received more than $828,000 from insurance companies, $610,000 from health professionals, and $255,000 from pharmaceutical and health product companies, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.”

This is the guy who is one-sixth of the Senate Finance Committee that’s holding health care reform hostage. Hailing from such politically important places as North Dakota, Montana and Maine, the six-pack deciding the future of America’s medical treatment collectively represent 2.77 percent of the U.S.population. Sheesh.

Prince Gavigavinmicrophonen gets good ink: It was a good media week for wannabe governor Gavin Newsom, who got a whole bushel of huzzahs from a trio of UC Berkeley eggheads, who’ve studied San Francisco’s universal health care program and gave it high marks in a NYT op-ed.

While it’s always nice to have the chrome domes on your side, we expect Newsom and chief henchman Garry South were even more thrilled at the major props thrown his way on health care by our blogging colleagues at the AFL-CIO.

On the other hand, those polls by Jim Moore and David Binder, reported in the Chronicle, where Newsom is losing within San Francisco to Crusty the General Jerry Brown: OY! At least former SF Mayor Dianne Feinstein had a base in her home town when she set out to win the Democratic nomination for governor back in 1990.

Big picture guy: Nice work by New America Foundation scholar and sometime Calbuzzer Mark Paul, who has a first-rate, big picture takeout on the collapse of California in the new issue of The American Interest. Paul covers a lot of familiar ground with clarity and punch, and adds an intriguing new element to the debate about the awful woes of the Golden State:

omarlittle

“California is no longer a state of arrival. Population growth by natural increase now outpaces migration by three to one. Californians, especially the native born and the young, are less likely to migrate than the residents of all but three other states. By the time today’s California youth reach middle age, native-born Californians will make up the state’s majority for the first time in its history…Middle Americans who once thought of ‘California’ as a byword for ‘opportunity’ now see it as a signal of dysfunction.”

As the late great Omar Devone Little would say, “In-deed.”

Hold the parade: While Laura Ling and Euna Lee have been celebrated in the U.S. as journalistic heroes since their release from North Korea, there’s a group of human rights advocates, bloggers and Christian pastors in South Korea who aren’t exactly feeling the same way.

The Times reports that a number of human rights and religious workers trying to help North Korean refugees, the story Ling and Lee were trying to cover when they were arrested, say the pair “needlessly endangered the very people they tried to cover, North Korean refugees and the activists who help them.”

South Korean blogger Joo Sung-ha, a North Korean defector who works in Seoul as a newspaper  reporter,  “berated the American reporters, urging them to ‘shed their martyrdom image.’ In a separate interview, Mr. Joo said he was also ‘disgusted’ by the way ‘some American media are giving them some kind of hero’s welcome home.’”

Since their return,” he added, ‘they haven’t said a peep about the fate of the people they have endangered, though unintentionally.’” So much for happy endings.

Fishwrap: Mysterious Behind the Scenes Secrets

Friday, August 21st, 2009

conradDeliberative body delivered: The next time Senator Kent Conrad starts holding forth on the tube about why Americans are not allowed to choose a public option for their health care insurance, remember this name: Kelly Candaele.

Conrad is the four-eyed, hose-nosed twit from North Dakota whose self-important pronouncements that there will be no public option in health care reform are eagerly sought and duly recorded by the badge-sniffing stenographers of the Beltway MSM. Conrad was last elected to the Senate with 150,416 votes.

Candaele is a four-term member of the Los Angeles Community College Disrict Board of Trustees.* One of seven members, he was last elected with 151,218 votes – 802 more than Senator Dufus.

The fact that Conrad, an alleged Democrat who has bogged down health care reform legislation along with his buddy, Landslide Max Baucus (who won his seat with one-third fewer votes than President Obama scored in Alameda County – 345,937 to 489,106 – fercrineoutloud) suggests that The Framers weren’t exactly planning ahead when they came up with this whole bicameral, one-house-represents-land-instead-of- people notion.

That cheap suit characters like Conrad and Baucus have the power to hold hostage a health insurance policy that 77 percent of Americans favor is an authentic outrage that makes Calbuzz wonder exactly what a Willie Brown – not to mention Lyndon Johnson – would do to these wigglers, after grabbing them up by the scruff of the neck and tossing them and their office furniture out the window to somewhere south of the Watergate parking garage.

We’re just sayin’.

Candaele*As for Kelly Candaele, who mysteriously – oooh – shares initials with Kent Conrad, Calbuzz was unsuccessful in repeated efforts to reach him to seek his views on health care reform, which seem to us at least as important as those of Mr. Dork from North Dakota. We strongly suspect that  Candaele, a journalist, filmmaker and former labor organizer, (whose mother batted .290 in the women’s professional baseball league memorialized in “A League of Their Own” – you could look it up)  is more of a single payer, public option kind of guy.

nixonParsky Channelling Nixon? Calbuzz is picking up grumblings from some members of  the Commission on the 21st Century Economy who are not happy with the Nixonian tendencies of the group’s chairman – Gerry Parsky the investment firm chairman who once served in (you guessed it) the Nixon administration.

Seems the commission’s agenda doesn’t give anyone a clue about what’s coming up for discussion, members have no time to read position papers or analytical documents before they’re released at or just before meetings and Parsky doesn’t even respond to some pretty credible people trying to stay on top of what’s going on with the commission.

For example, see the agenda for the Commission Workshop on the commission website. See if you can figure out what’s being discussed at that meeting.

Or check out the correspondence from Steve Levy from the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy. Steve, one of the smartest guys in California, suggests to Parsky et. al. ways to evaluate various tax proposals and asks how the commission intends to do this. But has Parsky or anyone responded to Levy?  Nope.

Meanwhile, they’re talking about scrapping most of California’s tax structure and replacing it with a net business receipts tax – a monumentally complex idea which no other state has attempted. Does anyone on that commission actually understand the implications? We don’t think so.

meginchair

Will She or Won’t She: Kudos to Chapman University for pulling together an October 28 debate with the Republican candidates for governor. Oh wait, make that most of the Republican candidates for governor.

Tom Campbell and Steve Poizner, who share the quaint idea that candidates for office who want the voters to hire them ought to subject themselves to standing face-to-face with their rivals for the job, both accepted the invite with alacrity. Not so fast for Meg Whitman, who acts like it’s five days before the election and she’s sitting on some precious two-point lead.

As Poizner reliably banged on eMeg for running and hiding on her earlier promise to participate in three debates this fall, a spokeswoman for  Whitman offered this, uh, explanation:

“As you know, Meg has made it very clear she is looking forward to debating the issues in the upcoming election, having sent a letter stating those intentions over 2 months ago,” campaign press secretary Sarah Pompei told Calbuzz via email. “She is committed to ensuring Californians know her plans to create jobs, cut spending, and fix education.  Right now, we are looking at the various debate options to see what will work best in our schedule.”

All righty, then.

Gossip: A well-informed, reliable and top-rank California Republican pol whispers that Her Megness, with the aid and comfort of long-time coat holder Henry Gomez, has decided that this whole politics thing isn’t all that different from running a business and so is pretty much directing her own campaign, despite the 87 gazillion dollars a month she’s forking out for consultants. Watch for what you wish for, eMeg.

Health Care Must-Reads: Media critic Jason Linkins, who can be quite tiresome when live blogging the Sunday shows for Huffpost, absolutely nails it in this piece holding the WashPost to account for a dog-ass story packed with anonymous sources attacking “the left” for its hang-tough position on including a public option in health care reform.

And in another morsel of what seems a concerted White House effort to distance themselves from the policy that Obama, um, campaigned on – “We’re shocked! Shocked that these liberals would be wedded to such a thing! – that old mischievous nameless source show up in this nice piece about former DNC chief Howard Dean doing the Lord’s work on health care.

Paging Rodney King: Calbuzz readers gave major props and style points to Garry South, Gavin Newsom’s chief consultant, for his well-honed one liner in our post about Jerry Brown’s expansive views on abortion  the other day.

“This guy’s had more incarnations than Zelig and he’s taken more positions than there are in the Kama Sutra,” South said, to the wild applause of the Croatian judge – “9.9, 9.8, 9.9” – and many others.

While some Democrat critics scold and wag their fingers at South and Newsom for refusing to sign a no-negative-attacks pledge for the primary, others believe in a more positive approach.

Thus, a longtime party loyalist spent several hours Google searching for a  quote in which South actually had something nice to say about Brown:

“I never got to know Jerry very well,” South said in 2007. “But he did a very effective job of becoming a pragmatic mayor in Oakland.”

Ommm….