Posts Tagged ‘KGO’

eMeg Jumps NASCAR, Carly IEd, Meyer’s Latest

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

In the greatest tactical move since Hannibal whup-assed the Romans, Meg Whitman has stolen a march on Steve Poizner, copping an invite to fly the flag a day early at this weekend’s NASCAR racing in Fontana.

With Poizner set to ride in the pace car at the start of tomorrow’s Sprint Cup Auto Club 500, eMeg will wield the green flag for tonight’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Stater Brothers 300, with a field of drivers that includes auto racing buzz queen Danica Patrick.

“Sunday will be the only time Steve Poizner leads a race all year,” snarked Team Whitman spokeshuman, the volcanic Sara Pompei.

Although the Saturday night race is the AAA equivalent to Sunday’s Major League event, eMeg’s late entry into the NASCAR panderstakes came as a surprise that may take some of the steam out of the appearance by The Commish.

Bottom line: When Calbuzz speaks, the campaigns listen.

P.S. eMeg’s sudden agreement Friday to participate in a second debate with Poizner, this one to be broadcast May 2 on the electric television, may also help to blunt Poizner’s effort to foment trouble with a peasants-with-pitchforks petition demanding the two to face off at the March 13 GOP convention.

On the other hand, it kinda undercuts the “Hey, Hey, Steve, Steve, Get Out of My Race” line that the Armies of eMeg have been broadcasting to agree to join him in a debate in May. Talk about your mixed messages.

Negative Exposure for Hurricane Carly: The latest independent expenditure committee to surface in California — in the wake of the two aimed at boosting Jerry Brown for governor —  is “CarlyExposed.com,” an operation by the Lantern Project, a labor-funded political organization that waged a campaign against now-former Republican U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

“The first aim of the Lantern Project’s work in California is to make sure as many voters as possible are exposed to the facts about Carly Fiorina,” says Julie Buckner, a Los Angeles political strategist working with The Lantern Project. “It is absolutely our goal to help Californians understand that Carly is nothing like the innovative, problem-solving high-tech whiz kid she portrays herself to be, and to blunt misleading information conveyed to voters by Carly’s slick and well-financed campaign committee.”

At the moment, Buckner acknowledged, Carlyexposed is just a web site, a media plan and a fund-raising plan. But Buckner, an experienced political operative in Los Angeles (who also runs InYoga Center which fronts for her Laurel Canyon Media Group out back), and partner Celia Fischer expect to have a thriving anti-Carly operation running soon.

A preview: On the site is a video clip from a report by Mark Matthews of KGO-TV showing that Fiorina was for taxing internet sales before she was against it.

Buckner, Fischer and their liberal labor allies are strong supporters of Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer who, according to sources, is more worried about a challenge from Fiorina (because she is a woman with some appeal to independent voters), than she is about Assemblyman Chuck DeVore or former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell. Thus the focus on Fiorina.

“On the occasion of Barbara Boxer formally getting into this race, it comes as no surprise that her public employee union allies would use a shady 527 organization to falsely attack Carly,” said Fiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund. “Carly is clearly the candidate Boxer would least like to face in the general election because she knows Carly can beat her and will hold her accountable for her failed record.”

Whether Fiorina represents the greatest threat to Boxer, however, is arguable. Because he’s pro-choice, pro-gay rights and pro-environment, Campbell might well represent an even greater threat to Boxer in a general election. Helping knock out Fiorina in the primary could backfire on Boxer’s allies in the fall. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Tom Meyer today offers perspective on the, um, PR problem facing the spinners for Blue Cross Anthem, after the company imposed 39 percent health insurance rate increases for California customers.

In a weird week filled with political meltdowns and corporate furors, the Blue Cross controversy  was just one of many challenges facing highly-paid professional liars, who did their collective best to draw happy faces on dreadful situations.

Here’s the Calbuzz Top 10 quotes of the week.

I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did was not acceptable.
–Tiger Woods, master of understatement and major jackass

It’s not a secret that she has a medical condition for which she’s being treated. That condition does not affect her ability to do her job as a senator. But it can make her irritable, and when she’s irritable, she lets it be known.
–David Miller, press secretary to state Senator Pat Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa, challenging Tiger on spin, after his boss went nuclear at a hearing when a staffer forgot to refill a water pitcher.

History shows that great companies learn from their mistakes.
–Toyota USA president and CEO Jim Lentz, getting a little ahead of himself, in a full-page ad seeking to stop the bleeding as consumer confidence in his company plummets.

I was thinking tonight, I was trying to figure out that if I did announce, what the hell would I say?
–Jerry Brown, offering insight into why he’s running for governor, in a widely panned speech in San Francisco.

On a personal level I am glad that (Jerry Brown) has married. As I watched him awkwardly dance in the 1980’s with a songstress late at night at Eilish’s Bar, I gave his social development little chance. The subsequent growth may indicate some Brown progress.
–Former Congressman and current Calbuzz commentator Ernie Konnyu on how well Brown is not only aging, but maturing too.

If a Customer cannot comfortably lower the armrest and infringes on a portion of another seat, a Customer seated adjacent would be very uncomfortable and a timely exit from the aircraft in the event of an emergency might be compromised if we allow a cramped, restricted seating arrangement.
–A spokeswoman for Southwest Airlines, dancing as fast as she can, after the airline was criticized for booting 340-pound director Kevin Smith off a flight for being too fat.

So, what I’m trying to do is run a smart, strategic campaign. We’re trying to get our message out.
–Republican wannabe Governor Meg Whitman moments before fleeing into the night to avoid answering questions from reporters at an appearance in Lafayette.

I was stupid and careless and fucked up and thought [the copy from the Wall Street Journal) was my own stuff, or it somehow slipped in there.
–Fired NYT business reporter Zachary Kouwe, setting a world record for prevarication to avoid taking responsibility for being a plagiarist.

If the Olympic champion doesn’t know how to jump a quad, I don’t know. Now it’s not men’s figure skating. It’s dancing. Maybe figure skating needs a new name.
–Dethroned Olympics skating champion and roundhouse jerk Yevgeny Plushenko trash talking American Evan Lysacek’s victory performance for not including a quadruple jump.

You know, I don’t live here.
–Jacques Barzaghi, international man of mystery and banished and disgraced former Jerry Brown aide caught lurking around Oakland by the Chronicle’s Chip Johnson.

How Gov Candidates Sell Amid Doom and Gloom

Monday, February 1st, 2010

California’s candidates for governor face the gnarliest combination of public anger and economic distress in decades, making the 2010 race a text book case study in political communications: How does a wannabe governor effectively tell extremely pessimistic voters he or she understands the depths of their misery, without succumbing to despair, and while offering hope for the future that doesn’t over-reach or seem totally naïve?

Call it the Carter Conundrum, in homage to failed one term President Jimmy Carter, who simultaneously faced double digit inflation, huge unemployment and the first assault on America’s national security by violent Muslim fundamentalists. He famously screwed the pooch in that deal by tapping fully into the gloom and anxiety of voters about the seemingly intractable conditions they faced – and got walloped by a sunny and upbeat Ronald Reagan in 1980 for his trouble.

In watching the candidates for governor so far, Calbuzz sees markedly different approaches to the problem. Here are some rail bird observations on the strengths, weakness and holes in their strategies, at the first turn of the race.

What the candidates face. A few factoids to set the stage:

California voters have a most dismal view about the direction of the state, as both the Field Poll and PPIC show about eight in 10 voters saying we’re on the wrong track.

Part of it is the state’s higher-than-national unemployment rate, part the years of failed leadership, massive budget deficits and political gridlock in Sacramento. The Field Poll reported that 59% of voters, including 54% of Republicans, expect Gov. Schwarzenegger to leave the state in worse shape than he found it – along with near universal (95%) agreement that we’re experiencing bad economic times and the feeling among a significant strong majority of people (54%) that they’re personally worse off than they were a year ago.

Interestingly, the last high point for optimism, when Californians thought the state was clearly on the right track, was back in August 2000, as 59% of voters said they were better off than the year before and Gov. Gray Davis enjoyed a 59-35% right track-wrong track assessment.

Of course the economy was in far better shape and neither the Enron-induced energy crisis nor the 9/11 terrorists had struck yet.

As a political matter, however, there was another dynamic at play: Davis, consciously and conscientiously, chose NEVER to convey bad news, but personally only conveyed good news. If the Parks Department was going to cut fees, for example, that was an announcement for the governor. If the Parks Department was going to raise fees – that was an announcement for the Parks Director. It was at least part of the reason why his approval rating was around 60%, two years after his election.

To some extent, this is simply political Public Relations 101, which Schwarzenegger seemed not to understand, at least at first. He spent his first two years in office constantly decrying how bad things were in California. The result: People believed him.

After voters waxed his 2005 2004 initiatives, he re-emerged as Hopeful Arnold and his approval ratings went back up. That they’ve fallen again is mostly due to global, national and state economic woes, but also  because he consistently focuses on problems and points the finger of blame – his State of the State speeches are notable exceptions – that remind everyone things are terrible with no way out.

The Jerry & Jeremiah show: Given Attorney General Brown’s duck-and-hide, Rose Garden strategy, it’s early to assess fully the themes he intends to stress on the campaign trail. Back in April, in his speech to the state Democratic convention, he was a thundering populist, railing against investment bankers and corporate power. In September, in a talk to Willie Brown’s power breakfast in San Francisco, he tried a new line – “optimism of the will” –  that was one-part Joel Osteen and one-part Frederic Nietzsche, which combined with stock rhetoric about hope and the Golden State.

More recently, however, he’s devolved into full Jeremiah mode, recalling the biblical prophet of doom and gloom who played a central role in the aptly named Book of Lamentations.

“The state is profoundly screwed up,” Brown said on KGO the other day, “and anybody who thinks they got an idea, I would say, ‘Give me a call, I’d like to listen to it.’ Because I can tell you we’re in for blood, sweat and tears over the next four years no matter who runs.”

Putting aside the fact that, because it’s Jerry, we’re not entirely sure whether the blood sweat and tears reference was to Churchill or the guys who made “You Made Me So Very Happy,” the statement itself would have made his top political consultants wince, if he had any top political consultants:

Here’s the thing: People know the state is profoundly screwed up – they don’t need to elect somebody to tell them things are screwed up. What they’re looking for in a leader is someone to show them a way the state might not be screwed sometime in the pretty near-term future.

If Brown stays with the Jeremiah act, he’ll end up getting tossed into a cistern, just like the original guy. Especially with those Old Testament eyebrows.

eMeg and the culture of “I.” Meg Whitman’s message could not be clearer: “I will not let California fail.”

Echoing the Brown line, eMeg tells people, in her carefully controlled appearances , that California is screwed up, schools are lousy, we spend too much, state workers are greed heads who deserve to be fired and nobody in Sacramento knows anything.

Pivoting, she then essentially says that the only hope for the state is Meg Whitman – “I will not let California fail.” eMeg can turn things around because she has experience in the private sector, knows how to whack a payroll, cripple the unions and smack sense into the worthless Legislature.

She can do all these things, it seems, because she has “a spine of steel,” i.e. she’s got more backbone than Schwarzenegger, who made essentially the same arguments as her in winning the 2003 recall. So: She’s more muscular than Mr. Universe. Really? Will voters believe this?

Her diatribes about California being a mess may resonate, but what, really, can she do about it? Will voters believe that she has a clue how to get things done in the political hothouse of Sacramento when her only experience is being the Alpha Dog in a corporation where she yapped and everybody around her yelped? That’s not how politics works.

Poizner: Yes we can. Interestingly, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who’s nowhere in the polls, is at present the only guy who’s selling a message of better days ahead.

Part of it is his strong focus on private sector expansion. Where eMeg aims her moral rectitude and disapproval at the need to inflict pain on the processes and politics of the Capitol, Poizner seems to view Sacramento as a side show and focuses his campaign critique on the need for economic growth.

Part of it, too, is the specificity of the solutions he offers. As a policy matter, we happen to think his prescription of radical tax and spending cuts is Flat Earth Society stuff, but at least he’s got a plan, which he presents in a soft-spoken but upbeat manner.

Poizner’s biggest problem is one of stature: He looks like a nerd, especially compared to the commanding figure of eMeg and the ascetic Brown.

But that’s not altogether a bad thing: If Californians have a history of electing charismatic governors – Reagan, Jerry Brown I and Schwarzenegger – they also have a tendency to course correct with low-key, pragmatic nerds – George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Davis come to mind. It’s no accident that Deukmejian just endorsed Poizner.

Poizner sells himself essentially as an engineer, a guy who wants to get under the hood and get his hands dirty fixing stuff. There are worse messages to try in the troubled political landscape of 2010.

Little Pulitzers: Myers, York, Collins, Skelton . . .

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

john-myers-158x225Hiding in Plain Sight: This week’s I.F. Stone all-I-did-was-read-the-documents award goes to the steady John Myers over at Capital Notes, for his report that Gerry Parsky’s famous Business Net Receipts Tax would result in a $10 billion decrease in state revenues. We probably missed other takes on this, but Myers for sure got the full import of the Assembly Rev and Tax hearing Wednesday, when he noted that the Leg Analyst’s take on the fiscal impact of the pet project of Arnold’s guy “may be the final nail in the coffin” for the Parsky hustle.

The report uses 2007 tax data in finding that the commission plan would lower personal income taxes by $13 billion and completely wipe out $28 billion in sales taxes and $8.7 billion in corporate taxes. The BNRT, says the LAO report, would bring in $39.2 billion… thus, a loss of $10. 2 billion.

High time someone put this dog with fleas out of its misery.

Hiding in Plain Sight II: Sameway kudos to Anthony York at Capitol Weekly and to Beekeeper Dan Walters, who both wrote in plain English what everbody in the world already knows – that the well-pleased-with-himself  “Collectanator’s” brilliant strategy of shaking his fist at Washington has absolutely no chance of shaking the feds down for the imaginary billions of dollars he phonied up to skate through his budget presentation last week.

How many more times will the bookers on “Meet the Press” fall for this guy’s act before they catch on to what a total blowhard he is?

chestertonEnough already: Tom Campbell’s endless farewell-to-the-governor’s race tour, which feels like it dragged on since he last ran for Senate, put us in mind of G.K. Chesterton, author of our all-time favorite quote about journalism:

Journalism largely consists of saying ‘Lord Jones is Dead’ to people who never knew that Lord Jones was alive.

And speaking of whatever happened to what’s his name, we greatly enjoyed Capitol Weekly’s where-are-they-now feature on former Insurance Commissioner and GOP Golden Boy Chuck Quackenbush, hounded out of office by scandal just one step ahead of the posse and, it appears, was scared straight by the experience:

After his resignation, Quackenbush left California – he had lived in Rio Linda north of Sacramento – and moved to Hawaii. He also lived briefly in Ohio. In 2005, he moved to Lee County, Florida, which includes Fort Myers and Bonita Springs, and became a sheriff’s deputy –quackenbush first as a reserve deputy, then as a full-time law enforcement officer. Quackenbush also planned to become a helicopter pilot for the Lee County Sheriff’s Department.

The 55-year-old Quackenbush had largely avoided the public eye until 2008, when he shot and critically wounded a suspect in a domestic disturbance who allegedly was resisting arrest. Quackenbush was cleared of any wrongdoing.

At least he was in Florida.

All right-thinking people agree with us: Rant of the week honors to NYT’s Gail Collins, who let loose on the spectacle of a gaggle of comb-over U.S. Senators representing states with more pumas than people setting policy for the U.S., regardless of that whole pesky election thing, a Calbuzz pet peeve made manifest by the terminally annoying Kent Conrad.

People, think about what we went through to elect a new president — a year and a half of campaigning, three dozen debates, $1.6 billion in donations. Then the voters sent a clear, unmistakable message. Which can be totally ignored because of a parliamentary rule that allows the representatives of slightly more than 10 percent of the population to call the shots.

Why isn’t 90 percent of the country marching on the Capitol with teapots and funny hats, waving signs about the filibuster?

Sign us up.

You can’tnone_skelton_ be serious: Investigative punditry award yet again goes to the ever-reliable George Skelton, whose tone of pure bafflement about the views of Prop. 8 backers, regarding the shaky institution of marriage, was delightful:

The idea that marriages are first and foremost about baby-making-and-rearing was expressed by (pro-Prop 8 lawyer Charles) Cooper in October in an unsuccessful attempt to dismiss the suit filed by two same-sex couples against Prop. 8.

‘We say that the central and defining purpose of marriage is to channel naturally procreative sexual activity between men and women into stable, enduring unions for the sake of begetting, nurturing and raising the next generation,’ Cooper told U.S. Chief District Judge Vaughn R. Walker in San Francisco.

‘Well,’ the judge replied, ‘ the last marriage that I performed, Mr. Cooper, involved a groom who was 95 and the bride was 83. I did not demand that they prove that they intended to engage in procreative activity. Now, was I missing something?’

‘No, your honor.’

Uhh, so what are we doing in court, exactly?

jerryhandsMust-listen of the week: Mega-kudos to KGO radio’s Ed Baxter and Jennifer Jones for scoring a splendid sandbagging interview with Jerry Brown, in which Crusty let loose with all manner of truth-telling.

Brown, who was on the phone to talk about Prop. 8, went on a real tear when the morning news anchors slipped in some “as long as we have you” questions about the campaign for governor, opposition search and his planting of a negative story about S.F. Mayor Gavin Newsom.

“Some people pretend they don’t do that. But they hire their henchmen….and they whisper, whisper into the ear of the various reporters. And you find out that most of these reporters’ stories derive from the opposition campaign. That’s kind of the dirty little secret of the news media,” he told KGO.

“Most of the political news is dug up by the oppositon research teams and then handed over to the media, and then put out as though the journalist found it and it’s news. When it’s really just part of the ongoing war between the candidates,” he said. “If you’re not prepared for it, you gotta get out of it.”jennifer-love-hewitt-3

That’s what makes Brown so much fun as a candidate. Like he did in his irreverent interview with CNBC back in October – he’s unafraid to get caught up by conventional political and media bullshit. You can hear the whole thing at Thursday’s 8-9 am hour on KGO.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Is that a disco ball in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?