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Posts Tagged ‘L.A. Times’



Boyarsky’s Latest: How LAT Invented L.A.

Friday, December 11th, 2009

boyarsky 5Former L.A. Times City Editor Bill Boyarsky has written a new book telling the extraordinary story of how that newspaper and its owners shaped the history of Southern California – and it’s terrific.

In “Inventing L.A.:  The Chandlers and Their Times” Boyarsky weaves a compelling narrative through a collection of several hundred photographs, many of them gallery quality, pulled together by Peter Jones, a filmmaker who produced a PBS documentary of the same title.

“The likeness of the first publisher, General Otis, made him appear fierce,” Boyarsky writes, recalling his first day at the paper in 1970, and his first view of the bust in the lobby of founder Harrison Gray Otis, who spawned the Chandler clan that dominated the Times and the region for more than a century.

From that day until I retired in 2001, I never looked at his bust without otis01h3thinking how much I’d have hated to have to ask this man for a raise. His steely determination and Harry Chandler’s cunning and business skill – combined with a vision they shared – helped transform L.A. from a dusty frontier town to a huge metropolis that extends far beyond the city boundaries into the vast area of the Southland. Norman (Chandler) made the paper into a profitable enterprise. His son, Otis, made the Los Angeles Times a great newspaper that was even more profitable.”

Calbuzz caught up with Boyarsky the other night at a Borders book signing in Goleta. He told us that much of the research for the book was based upon volumes of previously unpublished source material, including oral histories by Chandler family members, that had been assembled by Jones.

photo000006ChandlerHarryFor much of its history, the Times “was not only a right-wing rag, it was a boring right-wing rag,” Boyarsky said. “The whole paper was a publicity machine for L.A.-oriented promotional projects.”

It wasn’t until Otis Chandler became publisher in 1960 that the Times escaped its legacy of bias and boosterism and began to focus on journalistic excellence:  “Otis made it a great paper,” he said, “and it was a great paper.”

An old school newspaperman who made his bones working the night police beat at the Oakland Tribune in the 1950’s, Boyarsky was hired onto the Times in 1970 by then-City Editor Bill Thomas, straight from a picket line in a strike against AP, for whom he’d gone to work in Sacramento.  Boyarsky devoted the next three decades to a storied career at the paper, where, among other things, he covered politics, wrote a city column and became a kick-ass city editor before walking away in 2001 with three team Pulitzers in his pocket.

One was for the 1997 North Hollywood shoot-out, in which two bank robbers triggered a long and deadly gun battle with LAPD officers, whose firepower was overmatched by the fully automatic weapons and body armor of the criminals. All you need to know about Boyarsky is that when he heard a bulletin about the incident on his car radio while heading into work, he immediately diverted and drove straight to the scene.

The new book is his sixth, including one co-authored with his wife, Nancy. Framed by the stories of the Chandler family’s four publishers, it tells the  img_nixon2parallel tales of the paper and the region, from water and land grabs, racism, political and police corruption to fanatical anti-union crusades, the murderous 1910 bombing of the Times building and Otis Chandler’s drive to redeem the past by turning the Times into a world class paper – at least until rival family members seized control.

Chandler’s surprise resignation as publisher in 1980 signaled the start of a  chain of events that eventually led to the sale of the Times to the Tribune Co. which later sold to real estate mogul Sam Zell, whose troubled ownership has now put the company into bankruptcy

In the mid-’90s, the board installed as the paper’s top executive Mark Willes, a cereal industry executive who got his journalism training at General Mills, and who brought embarrassment and scandal to the paper with his determination to “tear down the wall” between the newsroom and business operations. Willes and his protégé, publisher Kathryn Downing, did a deal in 1999 with Staples Center to share advertising revenue from a special issue of the paper’s magazine about the center’s opening that was produced by the editorial department, unaware of the secret agreement.

When the newsroom staff revolted, the departed Otis Chandler called Boyarsky on the city desk and asked him to read a message to the staff: “I delivered the message, much to the chagrin of my bosses,” Boyarsky recalls.

Otis_1960s_LATAs reported in “Inventing L.A.,” Chandler’s words are worth recounting:

To the employees of the Los Angeles Times, particularly of the editorial department because they have been so abused and misused…[by] the downsizing of the Times…the shrinking of the Times in terms of employees…the ill-advised steps that have been taken by current management….breaking down barriers, the traditional wall between editorial and the business departments.

My heart is heavy, my emotions are indescribable because I am afraid I am witnessing now a period in time in the history of this paper that is beyond description…I applaud the efforts of individual reporters who have spoken openly at their recent meeting with Kathryn Downing, and I also heartily endorse the letter that was presented to [Editor} Michael Parks on November 2 which calls for a full and impartial publishing of all of the events that led up to the Staples controversy.

If a newspaper, even a great newspaper like the Los Angeles Times, loses credibility with its community, with its readers, with its advertisers, with its shareholders, that is probably the most serious circumstance that I can possibly think of. Respect and credibility of a newspaper is irreplaceable. Sometimes it never can be restored no matter what steps might be taken in terms of apology by the publisher, apology by the head of Times Mirror or whatever post-event strategies might be developed in the hopes of putting the pieces back together.cover

When I think back through the history…of this great newspaper…I realize how fragile and irreplaceable public trust in a newspaper is. This public trust and faith in a newspaper by its employees, its readers, the community, is dearer to me than life itself.

Amen.

“Inventing L.A.” is available from Angel City Press or at Amazon.

Friday Fishwrap: Polls, Pols, Snoozers and Gems

Friday, August 14th, 2009

MarkosScrewEmMoulitsasThe most intriguing point in the curious new  Daily Kos survey  is the odd finding that half of California Democrats say they are undecided between Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom in the 2010 primary for governor — a reported factoid that is likely to fuel speculation about a third candidate entering the race.

The survey of 600 likely voters (400 Democrats, we think*), done for the influential lefty web site by Research 2000, shows that  General Jerry  leads Prince Gavin, 29-to-20. (Note: the survey also shows gay marriage in a dead heat, with a whopping 54% of independents in favor — another puzzling result.)

Half the voters are also supposedly undecided on the GOP side (400 of them, too?*), where Meg Whitman leads Tom Campbell, 27-to-21 and Steve Poizner brings up the rear at 9. In general election match-ups, Brown leads all three Republican wannabes, with margins between 6 and 9 points, while Newsom ties all the GOP contenders.

With some Democratic insiders unhappy about the choice between Brown and Newsom — “What’s that old Leiber-Stoller song: ‘Is That All There Is?’” one grizzled SoCal pol told Calbuzz –- there’s been a spate of stories in recent days about a late entrant into the race, with the names of rich techie  Steve Westly and Rep. Loretta Sanchez thrown around most often.

But Westly couldn’t beat Phil Angelides, fercrineoutloud, and Sanchez has about 12 cents in the bank despite the good optics her campaign could present. If forced to name a long shot, Calbuzz would grudgingly go with Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who’s at least sitting on a wad of campaign cash. But we lean towards today’s conventional wisdom, propounded by our friend John Wildermuth that “the speculation is for entertainment value only.”

“Like them or not, the folks out there on the campaign trail right now — and that includes you, Jerry Brown –- are the ones you’re going to see on the primary ballot come June,” John Boy posted over at Fox and Hounds Daily.

Calbuzz has some questions about the poll’s methodology, but it reports data about both the race for governor and Barbara Boxer’s re-election bid, so at the least it’s fun to talk about. While Newsom and his faithful cheerleaders will doubtless trumpet the survey as proving that the race with Brown is tight, they’re unlikely to mention that the poll shows Prince Gavin is viewed negatively statewide: 42 percent have an unfavorable opinion while 40 percent view him favorably, which compares poorly to Brown who has a 48-to-37 percent positive image.

* Pollster weedwhacker questions: Research 2000 says, “A total of 600 likely voters who vote regularly in state elections were interviewed statewide by telephone. Those interviewed were selected by the random variation of the last four digits of telephone numbers. A cross-section of exchanges was utilized in order to ensure an accurate reflection of the state. Quotas were assigned to reflect the voter registration of distribution by county. . . There was an over sample conducted among Democratic and Republican primary voters totaling 400. The margin of error is 5% for both.”

Calbuzz, with considerable experience at statewide polling in California wants to know: 1) If the survey had 600 “likely voters who vote regularly in state elections,” was the sample drawn from the voter list or was it a random distribution of telephone exchanges (RDD)? If the former, what’s the deal with a “cross-section of exchanges”? If the latter, how were likely voters identified? 2) Were voters called who only have cell phones? 3) If quotas were assigned, what’s with the “over sample” and how did the survey come up with 400 Democrats and Republicans from a total of 600 likely voters? 5) The demographics say there were 271 Democrats, 180 Republicans and 149 Independents (600) and also that there were 172 Democratic men and 228 Democratic women (400) and also 208 Republican men and 192 Republican women (400).  We don’t get the math. 6) How did the surveyors decide that 21% of the sample should be Hispanics? 7) Why are voters age 60+ only 19% of the sample? 8.  Were independents included in the primary match-ups?

If it’s news, it’s news to us: In what we thought at first was an exercise in  self-parody, the By God L.A. Times ran a Monday piece discovering the Parsky Commission, which has been laboring for months to rewrite California’s tax code, amid widespread reports and analysis of ideological battles within the group.

Earnestly hewing to the Times’ unwritten code – OK to write it last, as long as you write it long – Eric Bailey churned out a 1,000 word snoozer including such astonishing scoops as this:

“A 14-member panel of political appointees dubbed the Commission on the 21st Century Economy has been meeting quietly since the start of the year to ponder potentially revolutionary changes.”

(Uh, actually, not all that quietly, bro).

“As envisioned by Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders, the notion was to bring together a collection of mostly apolitical wonks to settle issues that deeply divide the Capitol.

It has not been easy.”

Stop the presses, Maude – the Times says there’s politics afoot at the Parsky Commission!

Why Tterry grosserry Gross should be enshrined: Calbuzz pick for smartest political piece of the week is Geoffey Nunberg’s NPR essay on Terry’s  “Fresh Air” about the Republican success in reframing political debate by reinventing  usage of the word “government.”

Nunberg, a professor of linguistics at UC Berkeley, said the GOP is winning the fight over health care reform primarily by deriding Democratic proposals as medicine-by-government:

“In sickness and in health, Republicans have always been better than Democrats at singing from the same hymnal, and right now they’re all turned to the page that’s headed “government takeover.” The charge makes supporters of the Democrats’ health care plans apoplectic. There’s nothing remotely like that in the plans, they say — it’s like equating the provision of public toilets with a takeover of the nation’s bathrooms. Even so, the supporters would as soon leave the word government out of the conversation, which is why they describe the proposed federally run insurance program as the “public option.” Public is the word we use when we want to talk about government approvingly, by focusing on its beneficiaries -– as in public schools, public servants, public lands, and public works.”

Nunberg traced the roots of “government” as epithet back to Wendell Wilkie, but credited Ronald Reagan with finishing off the partisan task of turning it into a curse word:

“Reagan’s real contribution was to shrink the cast of characters to a simple opposition between government and “the people.” Big business was eliminated from the political landscape, absorbed into “the market,” where everyone was free to shop around for the ripest tomatoes. You could no longer ask the question, “Whose side is government on?” — government simply was the other side.”

The transcript of the piece is here and a podcast is here.

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Not so fast there: Chronster Carla Marinucci had the best second day story on the decision by Equality California, the state’s leading gay rights group, to delay until 2012 a new gay marriage initiative, reporting on the anger amid more populist gay groups determined to push a measure for 2010.

Equality California set forth all the political reasons for waiting until 2012 in an analysis you can download here and took a bunch of incoming fire for their trouble.

Equality California “is following the wishes of some of its donors who have cold feet, and not the wishes of the grassroots and the common man and woman in the community,” John Henning of an L.A. group called Love Honor Cherish told Ms. Carla. “They’re ignoring an enormous amount of momentum that is out there. People want this to be voted on and they expect it to be — and soon.”

Calbuzz says:  Careful what you wish for.

Swap Meet: Google Text Ads Meet Health Care Riots

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

stevepointingAt least he’s not defensive: Thanks to the anonymity-please Calbuzzer who forwarded a Steve Poizner Google text ad encountered during a no-doubt vigorous session of web surfing. It reads, in full:

“Be Well Informed in 2010 – www.StevePoizner.com –Meg isn’t the only candidate. See the alternatives.”

To which the alert member of the Calbuzz Insider News Tip Team smartly opines: “A little defensive, don’t you think?”

Yes, we do, though it’s not hard to understand the frustration that led Team Poizner to post it. While the Insurance Commissioner has begun to make  himself accessible to the press and is offering substantive speeches and policy proposals on issues like water, Meg merrily captures national attention by doing little more than flashing her Cabbage Patch smile.

Latest example of eMeg’s duck-the-press strategy is freezing Calbuzz out of a “Lincoln Speaker Series” fundraiser tossed by the Santa Cruz County GOP, a move which likely has Honest Abe spinning in his grave.

“I’ll be sure to let you know when there’s another event in the area that will be open to media,” Whitman flack Sarah Pompei told us.

Hey thanks a bunch for your faux sincerity, Sarah, we’ll be sure to hold our breath. Sorry about that whole volcano thing, BTW.

Milton_FriedmanWhat would Milton do: Speaking of defensive, Joel Fox over at Fox and Hounds Daily risked dislocating a hip by leaping up and rushing forward to respond after Joe Matthews Mathews wrote a smart column on the same site suggesting that the late, iconic economist Milton Friedman would see the present need to amend Proposition 13.

“I think it is safe to say,” Fox wrote, with a bit of a protests-too-much tone, “that if Milton Friedman were asked today if he would vote for Proposition 13, his answer would be ‘yes.’”

The brainy Mathews isn’t so sure.

He recounted an interview he had with Friedman four years ago in which the great chrome dome said that Prop. 13 had turned out to be a “mixed bag.” Even though Uncle Milton supported the tax cut measure at the time it passed – even making a TV ad for it – he said in the interview that “it’s a bad tax measure because the property tax is the least bad tax there is” adding that it helped bring about an over-reliance on sales and income tax revenue.

Mathews’ otherwise thoughtful piece was badly flawed, however, by his gratuitous inclusion of the fact that he – Mathews, not Friedman – was just five years old when Prop. 13 passed in 1978. A bushel of big fat raspberries from the Calbuzz AARP and Geezer Auxiliary Division for that crack, pal.

Assembly’s Hidden Ball Trick: The By God L.A. Times finally caught up with Capitol Weekly’s Anthony York, who first reported last week on how the political geniuses in the Assembly expunged the official record of the big budget vote against Arnold’s offshore oil drilling proposal. True, the Times did broaden the story to talk about the mischievous practice of dumping vote tallies on other controversial legislation (leading widely-known media critics to suggest their newsroom still operates on its pre-digital principle: “it doesn’t matter if we write it last, as long as we write it long”). But it was left to the reliable Timm Herdt to actually report the damn vote on his blog for the Ventura County Star.

yudoff

Say it ain’t so Mark: Calbuzz has been second to none in bashing Senator Leland Yee for his preposterous notion to turn over governing authority of the UC system to the clown show of the Legislature. But even we have to admit that the Regents offered up a big fat argument in favor of the notion with their latest let-them-eat-cake move, awarding comfy raises and bonuses to top administrators at the same meeting that President Mark Yudof presented the board his plan to whack the salaries of every other UC employee through a mandated furlough policy. The relentless Nanette Asimov dug out the story for the Chron.

A shameful spectacle: All Right Thinking People agree that the recent spate of thuggish shout-downs and near-riots at town hall meetings, convened to talk about health care by members of congress across the nation, are a pure and simple disgrace, orchestrated in part by the kind of vicious-minded reactionary consultants who doubtless find amusing the dangerous ranting of the lunatic Glenn Beck and the repulsive Michelle Malkin.

These Brown Shirt exhibitions of George Wallace throwback behavior fuel not-so-latent racism and visceral fear of the rapidly changing economy among white working class folks who scream with fury when asked about a public option for health care insurance one minute, then shout out huzzahs for Medicare the next.

Always solution oriented, Calbuzz has a small but substantive suggestion for lowering the volume: require attendees to show some form of identification at the door to prove they actually live in the congressional district where the town hall is being held.

Breathless anticipation: Only 305 days to the 2010 primary. Have a great weekend.

Fishwrap: Jerry Flip Flop and Flip Out; See Carly Run

Friday, July 10th, 2009

EGBrown1EGBrown Flip Floppery: Calbuzz notes with distaste Jerry Brown’s weasley response to Insurance Commish Steve Poizner’s demand that Brown return $52,500 in campaign contributions he had received from an investment firm and relatives of two California businessmen he is investigating in a public pension fund corruption probe.

We scoffed last month when the insurance commissioner called on the AG to give back the money. “What’s the problem?” we asked.

Brown had taken $48,000 in contributions from relatives of Sacramento lobbyist Darius Anderson and another $4,500 from a company run by LA fundraiser Daniel Weinstein, according to the Sacramento Bee. Later, it became known that New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo was investigating Anderson’s Gold Bridge Capital and Weinstein’s Wetherly Capital for their roles in helping money management firms secure multimillion-dollar investments from public pension funds in several states.

Since Brown was just doing his job, why in the world should he have to give the money back, we wondered. The AG himself called the demand from Poizner “the silliest thing I’ve heard of.”

But on Wednesday, we learned from Peter Hecht in the Sacramento B- that Brown is giving the money back “so that the contributions would not distract from the work of the attorney general’s office,” according to  Rubeena Singh, treasurer of Jerry Brown 2010.

Which sounded to Calbuzz like Brown was weasling.

So of course Poizner jumped in and claimed victory with a press release declaring: “In Case You Missed It: Jerry Brown Returns Campaign Contributions After Pressure From Steve Poizner”

We tracked down Brown on vacation at the Russian River but he wouldn’t explain himself beyond the Singh statement. “This is not a court of law here. We’re just trying to be practical,” he said.

So apparently Brown had an epiphany and decided that returning the contributions would cause him less political grief than keeping them. What a shichen chit move. Is he now going to go through every campaign contribution he’s ever received and return the money from anyone who might “distract from the work of the attorney general’s office?”

We bet that’s a long list that some op researcher will serve up on a silver platter.

jerry_brownPaddle to the left, paddle to the right: Shortly after talking to Calbuzz, General Jerry took another break from vacation to pick a politically intriguing fight with Peter Schrag over at California Progress Report.

Schrag, former longtime pundit for the B-, had posted a CPR piece attacking Mark Leubovich and his Sunday New York Times takeout on California’s governor’s race, as a once-over lightly gloss job overly focused on personalities and not enough on policy substance and ordinary people afflicted by the budget mess.

Along the way, Schrag took some j’accuse shots at Brown, pointing the finger at his sophomoric style during his first reign as governor as being partly responsible for the passage of Prop. 13 and all that has followed.  Schrag wrote:

“And while Jerry Brown, in his prior tenure as governor was indeed labeled “Governor Moonbeam” (by a Chicago columnist) for his space proposals, as Leibovich says, the label applied much more broadly to his inattention to the daily duties of his office and, most particularly to his dithering while the forces that produced Proposition 13 began to roll.

“Brown later acknowledged that he didn’t have the attention span to focus on the property tax reforms that were then so urgently needed to avert the revolt of 1978. But to this day, almost no one has said much of Brown’s role in creating the anti-government climate and resentments that helped fuel the Proposition 13 drive.

“It was Brown, echoing much of the 1970s counter-culture, who, as much as anyone, was poor-mouthing the schools and universities as failing their students and who threatened to cut their funding if they didn’t shape up. It is Brown who spent most of his political career savaging politics and politicians, even as he ran for yet another office. Now this is the guy who wants to be governor again…”

Whereupon Brown leaped from his Russian River mud bath to post a riposte taking sharp and serious issue with Schrag’s analysis, memory and motivations, if not his ancestry:

“Mr. Schrag’s latest screed is a good example of why politics in Sacramento is so dis-functional…In recent years, Schrag has become increasingly bitter…That’s very sad because he once was an open-minded person with real insight into the predicaments of modern society. Finally, his memory is not serving him well regarding Proposition 13 and the factors that constituted the ethos of that period. In fact, there was a long and hard fought battle to get property tax relief that got all the way to the state Senate but foundered just short of the necessary two thirds vote…”

Ad hominems aside, the exchange carries significance for the 2010 race because it marks the start of what is likely to be an extended struggle to frame and define Brown’s role and responsibility in the lead-up, passage and aftermath of Prop. 13.

At a time when California teeters on the abyss of financial failure, and when reformers across the state are urging amendment of Prop. 13 as a crucial first-step for fixing the broken machinery of government, Brown’s blog-burst demonstrates both his extreme sensitivity on the subject, and his determination to shape the historic narrative.

Our own, occasionally fallible, off-the-top recollections lean towards Schrag’s version of history, but it’s an extremely important subject for another day that deserves a full airing of the Calbuzz Dustbin of History files.

For now, we’ll offer one scene from June 29, 1978; three weeks after Prop. 13 passed, Gov. Brown faced an angry crowd of state employees, demonstrating in Capitol Park in support of a pay raise – opposed by Brown – notwithstanding  billions in local government tax cuts the governor and legislative leaders were seeking to backfill through bail-out legislation.

As loud cries of “Bullshit!” repeatedly interrupted his speech, Brown said that “100,000 citizens of our state are facing layoffs” by cities, counties and special districts in the wake of Prop. 13.

To a roar of disapproval for Brown, one heckler shouted: “Whose fault is that?!”

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But which one gets to drive? Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is quietly stepping up preparations to enter the Republican primary race for the right to face off against Senator Barbara Boxer next year, says a dispatch from ace L.A. Timesman Michael Finnegan, who reports Fiorina is winning her battle against cancer and spending her days phoning up key GOPers to enlist their support.

A Fiorina candidacy raises the astonishing scenario that she and Meg Whitman, who both served as surrogates for John McCain last year, could give California Republicans the chance to make party history by putting forth two legitimate, high-profile women candidates for statewide office in the same election, should eMeg triumph in her nomination bid for governor.

Shades of 1992, when Democrats Boxer and Dianne Feinstein both won election to the Senate in what the late, great political reporter Susan Yoachum dubbed the “Thelma and Louise campaign.” Who says the Republicans aren’t cutting edge?

dr-hackenflackPaging Dr. Hackenflack:

Dear Dr. H,
Re: Your web site’s recent attack on the Chronicle. I  understand that you think the paper’s giving the San Francisco mayor a free pass on his record, but I thought saying that Gavin Newsom is “peddling swill” was an overly personal, over-the-top attack. What gives?
E.J. South, Garry, Ind.

Clearly you’ve never heard of the legendary Chronicle editor Scott Newhall; in the future, please do not read Calbuzz unless you’re wearing your Dr. Hackenflack Decoder Ring.

– By Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine

Flea Market: Ensign-Newsom Sorry Similarities

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

ensignSex, Lies and Politics: The sordid tale of how Republican presidential wannabe and Nevada Sen. John Ensign had an affair with a campaign aide who happened to be the wife of a senior adviser in his Capitol Hill office  carries unfortunate echoes for Gavin Newsom.GavinNewsom

The San Francisco mayor and wannabe California Governor copped to a dangerous liaison involving an eerily similar triad two years ago, a scandal that came and went in S.F.’s laid back liberal culture, but is likely to resurface in the heat of Newsom’s first statewide campaign. (The GOP has already trotted it out on cable news.)

There is at least one big difference between les affaires politiques, however: Newsom to his credit stood up tall and accepted responsibility when he acknowledged the whole icky mess, while Ensign has spent the days since his admission trying to slime the unfortunate couple, who say their “lives have been ruined,” with shaky allegations of being blackmailed.

That said, the magnitude of the breach of trust involved with both cases is considerable. Former governor and ex-Marine Pete Wilson used to say that being in a political campaign with someone was the closest thing to going through war with them. Some way to treat your foxhole buddy, eh?

More on sex: A sharp-eyed reader opines that Calbuzz misread a recent L.A. Times analysis examining the impact of sex scandals involving Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa on the governor’s race; we characterized the piece as kissing off the importance of the political playboys’ wandering, um, eyes, but Cathy Decker’s nut graf, buttressed by an academic study, states that it will truly matter to some voters. Busted.

boxerangryBoxer Rebellion: Barbara Boxer’s snippy insistence that a military officer address her as “Senator” instead of “Ma’am,” – “I worked so hard to get that title” – offers a good measure of how fiercely she intends to fight to keep it.

Although we keep reading speculation about how formidable and well-financed former Silicon Valley executive Carly Fiorina will be as a Republican challenger when (if?) she finally gets into the arena, Boxer got a nice boost from an unlikely source this week when Steve Forbes, the erstwhile GOP presidential contender and silver spoon publisher bashed Fiorina is his new book, “Power Ambition Glory.”

“Examples of business leaders who rise to heights of corporate power only to be brought carly_fiorina_630xdown by their egos include…Carly Fiorina, former head of Hewlett-Packard,” Forbes writes. “As leaders of corporate empires, both failed because they focused on what flattered, instead of what mattered.”

There’s more: Fiorina was “high-handed,” “brusque” and “concerned more with publicizing herself and socializing with entertainers and high-fashion figures than with promoting HP and running the business.

“There were even rumors that she was positioning herself to run for political office.”  Imagine that.

Thanks to Calbuzzer CA Politech for the cites.

We Get Letters: Big Bad Dan Walters cries “foul” over our Fishwrap item that trashed the California press for whiffing on the no-go fed rescue of the state budget story. BeeDan sniffs at a WashPost piece we highlighted as “old news,” and forwards his column from May 22 saying “the Obama Administration said it couldn’t underwrite loans (for California) without congressional authority.”

Fair enough, but his column was referencing public congressional testimony, constructed with Clintonian obfuscatory precision (or precisely Clintonian obfuscation) by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner; the new Post piece advanced the ball considerably, reporting private White House meetings involving Obama’s big brain troika of Geithner, Lawrence Summers and Christina Romer…

Comment of the Week: Buddyg takes home a coveted “I’m a Calbuzzer” button for his calbuzzertake on our latest post on Senator Difi’s shifting position on the Employee Free Choice Act. As winner of our first Calbuzz Comment of the Week, he also gets his comment highlighted in full:

DiFi has always been too MOR for this state, on too many issues. In this case, she is also naive if she thinks there is a compromise that will give even ‘half a loaf’ to both sides.

There can be no denying that federal labor law is broken and employers regularly take advantage of that when resisting union campaigns and collective bargaining negotiations.

Simply put, the cost and consequences of violating the law are just not substantial enough to make it worthwhile for employers who don’t care about workers’ rights to comply. That is the reality, and has to be the analytical starting point, which of course, the Cs of C of the world will deny forever.

Until DiFi gets over the idea of (dis)pleasing everyone and realizes there is a right and a wrong on this, she will continue to be pressured. It would be fitting and just for labor to mount a campaign to knock her out of the box, and take Arlen Specter with her!”

– By Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine