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Posts Tagged ‘meltdown’



Memo to Pundits; Carly Comes Clean; Don’t Miss TV

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

Jeez, it’s not even Labor Day and your austerity-based Calbuzz pundits are already deep in despair from listening to East Coast pundits-for-hire punditize for big bucks about California’s campaigns, as if they actually knew something about the state.

But we don’t complain.

However, we do suggest that rather than endlessly spouting superficial crapchurn, the Beltway Big Thinkers educate themselves about the not-so-Golden State, starting with the Public Policy Institute of California’s latest set of profiles on the electorate.

Wherein the savants will discover that:

– Democrats comprise 44% of likely voters, Republicans 35% and independents 18%.

– Six in 10 voters are either liberal (31%) or moderate (29%) while just 40% are conservative.

– About four in 10 independents (39%) lean Democrat and about three in 10 each lean Republican or toward neither party.

– Latinos, of whom 65% are Democrats, comprise 18% of the likely electorate and two-thirds of them are either moderate (33%) or liberal (32%) while about one third are conservative.

Here’s the nut graph in the PPIC report:

Because neither of the major political parties has a majority of California’s registered voters, independents are influential in statewide elections. For example, in the previous gubernatorial election, 54% of independents in our post-election survey said they voted for Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. But in the 2008 presidential election, most independents (59%) said they supported Democrat Barack Obama. In each case, the outcome reflected the choice of the majority of independents.

This explains in part why Calbuzz has consistently argued that Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina’s opposition to 1) a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and 2) California’s pioneering climate-change law, AB 32 (which polling shows independents favor), represent a substantive problem for the Republican candidates.

On the other hand, more voters now prefer lower taxes and fewer state services (48%) compared to those who prefer higher taxes and more services (43%) – a potential problem for Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer.

California elections remain a battle for the moderate and independent voters who have only loose ties to either Democratic or Republican orthodoxy.

As the unerring-instinct-for-the-obvious cable TV swamis endlessly repeat,   polling shows that the economy is the No. 1 issue among voters; that would be what you call news that stays news.

But we remain convinced that for many voters in the crucial precincts of the moderate middle, once they identify a candidate as extreme on certain threshold issues – like choice, environment and legalization of immigrants – they don’t care what their position is on the economy or anything else. They’re off the table.

Elephant gives birth to mouse: Did Carly Fiorina burn the midnight oil after Wednesday night’s debate, cramming to get up to speed on Proposition 23, the oil-company sponsored initiative to roll back California’s greenhouse gas emissions law?

Through 15 rounds of excruciatingly annoying avoidance, Fiorina refused, both in the debate and in a brief press conference that followed, to state a clear position on Prop. 23, even though it was clear to every person who hadn’t fallen sound asleep that she supported the measure, given her endless attacks on the landmark climate change legislation the thing would repeal.

“I’m focusing on a national energy policy,” she solemnly informed debate moderator Randy Shandobil, when he pleaded with her to answer a simple yes or no question about her stance on the measure.

So on Friday, after being roundly mocked for her bush league hemming and hawing (not to mention bashed on the air by John and Ken, our favorite L.A. radio knuckledraggers ) Fiorina finally put out a release about her  positions on the ballot props.

Turns out she supports Prop. 23. Stop the presses Maude…oh, never mind…

Which raises the question: Why all the game playing Wednesday night? Why not just say she’s for Prop. 23 and be done with it, instead of creating a pointless kerfuffle about all her wiggling around? Six possible reasons:

a) She was confused. The Prop. 23 question didn’t come up in debate prep, and she was so tightly wound that her dyslexia kicked in so she couldn’t remember whether Prop. 23 suspended AB 32 or Prop. 32 suspended AB 23.

b) She was being a control freak. Under pressure, her OCD kicked in and she thought it would be wayyyy too messy to disclose her positions on the other eight props in the press release aimed at the all-important Saturday papers, having already let the cat out of the bag on the big one.

c) She was being calculating. Anxious about coverage describing how she’s gotten so far out on the right that she’ll have trouble attracting independents, she thought maybe she could finesse the issue.

d) She was being stupid. See c) .

e) She was conflicted. She really, really wanted to take some time reflecting and pondering the complexities and nuances of the measure. (Oy/ed.)

f) She hadn’t been told what she thought yet. The Wilson-Khachigian axis was still determining the final “band aid” spin to explain her opposition.

Calbuzz sez:  f).

In case you (somehow) missed it: Here is the must-see video of Arizona Governor and chief nitwit Jan Brewer melting down in a televised debate  (h/t Jason Linkins).

Second City’s imagined take at how the deal went down is here and Craig Ferguson’s sound effects version (warning: not for those averse to fart jokes) is here.

Hard to believe, but Brewer actually did herself a favor with that world-class Bambi-in-the-high-beams performance, as it distracted attention from her much more serious screw-up of excitedly telling the world about beheadings in the Arizona desert that,well, actually didn’t happen.

"Off with their heads!"

For good measure, you can find Brewer’s dig-yourself-in-deeper comments that 1) she only did the debate because she wanted to get public campaign funding; 2) doesn’t like “adversarial” situations; 3) won’t participate in any more debates here.

eMeg Meltdown II & What Poiz Will Renounce Next

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

eMeg Shipwreck, The Sequel: Meg Whitman got a little payback Wednesday for her year-long campaign  to stiff the California political press corps in favor of giving interviews to friendly national types, when The Fix, the Washpost’s widely read national politics blog, did a long post that featured video of her embarrassing media meltdown in Oakland the day before.

Kudos to Randy Shandobil of KTVU and Hank Plante of  KPIX, who each turned in a nice piece of story-telling on the debacle, giving insiders and other hacks across the state and nation a chance to hoot and cackle at the spectacle. Given the breathtaking stupidity of the play, it’s a challenge to pick one favorite image from the event:

a) eMeg’s Alfred E. Neuman act, as she sits behind a mike wearing a moronic rictus grin and utters the words that serve as the brand of her whole campaign: “I think we’re not going to be taking questions right this minute.”

b) The unfortunate Sarah Pompei’s portrayal of Ron Ziegler, after Her Megness turns to her press secretary in doe-eyed desperation: “How do you want to handle this, Sarah?”  Pompei first shoos the press out of the room, as a guy who looks like the third-string nose tackle for USC starts blocking and body checking the cameras, before the campaign mouthpiece fabricates a total whopper about Union Pacific, host for the event, being the ones who imposed the no-question rule.

c) The bizarre shot of a white screen hurriedly set up to block any video of Whitman being interviewed by Debra Saunders, the Chron’s conservative pundit. Knowing from long experience that the most dangerous place you can ever stand is between Debra and a TV camera, we’re pretty sure that if there were pictures, they’d show the columnist gnashing her teeth throughout the sit-down with eMeg.

Calbuzz pick: a).

Being a CEO means never having to say you’re sorry: Both Shandobil and Plante reported at the end of their yarns that Whitman personally called them late in the afternoon to apologize for what happened, although her explanation to Randy – more press showed up at the event than they expected – makes absolutely no sense.

The pencil press was less fortunate in the area of soothed feelings: Josh Richman of the Bay Area News Group did receive a smooth-it-over call from the lavamoric Pompei, but Chronicler Carla “Costco” Marinucci got zilch. We’re sure it’s just a coincidence that she’s the one who’s been leading the charge in demanding that eMeg be more accessible to the press.

What will Steve disavow next? Channeling his inner Goldwater, Steve Poizner in recent weeks has energetically been tossing red meat to the true believers – crack down on illegals, slash taxes of every kind, etc. – while piling up a host of high-profile right wing-endorsements, from Mr. Cranky Pants himself, Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Sirloin, to the Tea Party-tinged California Republican Assembly.

Along the way, of course, the Commish has also enthusiastically jettisoned a batch of common sense policy stances from his not-so-long-ago days as a liberal moderate Republican, from offering school districts an easier way to pass bonds to backing public funding of abortions for poor women.

While these flip flops make him look like a total weenie neo-neo-con who’s seen the light, sources close to our imagination tell Calbuzz that Poizner is reportedly making plans to renounce more of his past positions, in an effort to attract more conservative support.  Be alert for these upcoming big moves by The Commish.

1-Retitling his tax and spending cut agenda from the “10-10-10 plan” to the “11-11-11 plan.”

“The number 10 smacks of statist, Stalinist-era, five-year plans and 10-year programs,” we hear that Poizner plans to say.  “But 11, as a prime number divisible only by 1 and itself, represents the essence of individualism and liberty, core principles of my life for the last couple months, unlike that commie Meg Whitman.”

2-Changing his name legally from “Steve Poizner” to “Steve Patriot.”

“Since boyhood, having a “Z” in my name has troubled me,” a draft Poizner press release says. “The letter recalls  Eurotrash egghead poetry places like Czechoslavkia and Islamo-fascist outposts like Azerbaijan, where the liberal Meg Whitman would no doubt feel right at home.”

3-Demanding his wife return to him the $21,000 he sent to the Democrats and Al Gore.

“I swear she told me the money was for the Visa bill,” reads a talking point memo from inside the campaign. “So today I’m calling on my wife to re-deposit the money in our checking account, so I can buy more ads in Fresno bashing eMeg as a commie liberal.”

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Just think what she could have gotten if she sold the little buggers on eBay.

UCSB Forecast: CA May Be Headed for Depression

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

billwatkinsAs California’s recession steadily worsens with no end in sight, the state’s economy may descend into a full-blown depression, according to a new statewide forecast released Wednesday.

The state’s budget meltdown weighs heavily on California’s economy, according to the respected UCSB Economic Forecast, fueled by the political ineptitude of the Capitol’s leaders, who show that “even when faced with extraordinary crises, California is unable to make hard decisions.”

“California’s economy continues its descent into the depth of its most serious recession since World War II,” economist and Calbuzz contributor Bill Watkins writes in the forecast.“…It is possible that when this is over this recession will meet the technical definition of a depression in California.”

The UCSB forecast ( membership), presented to a business group today in Salinas, presents a gloomier picture than some other recent economic reports, which have projected a recovery beginning in 2010.

By any measure – employment, housing, retail, tourism, industrial, banking – the UCSB study found little evidence for optimism and plenty for California’s economy continuing “to perform far worse than will the U.S. economy.”

Forecasting “continuing job losses and declining economic activity,” Watkins said his analysis of economic data and trends found “no signs of any positive innovations in the forecast horizon.”

The state budget mess presents a two-track problem, because tax increases and spending cuts both accelerate a negative feedback loop that deepens the slowdown in the overall economy:

“California’s budget issues are likely to be made worse by continuing economic decline,” he wrote. “Perversely, the budget then negatively feeds back into the economy.

“The problem is not likely to see relief, at least in terms of increased revenues, before late 2011. Therefore, it is likely that the uncertainty associated with the budget and the declining spending or increased taxation will be a drag on California’s economy for several quarters to come.”

Watkins also cast a jaundiced eye on the efforts of the governor and the Legislature, saying politicians of both parties have simply reverted to knee jerk positions during an extraordinary crisis that requires bold leadership and innovative solutions:

“It is truly striking to see politicians of both parties use the same arguments in the current budget debate that they have used for years” in the wake of the May 19 special election debacle, he said.

“Interpretations of that election have varied, but it’s impossible to interpret the election as a resounding affirmation of the status quo. But, based on what I’m hearing from Sacramento, that appears to be the position that our political leaders are taking.”

– By Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine