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Posts Tagged ‘Mike Villines’



Road Trip! National Affairs Desk Heads to San Diego

Friday, August 20th, 2010

The center of the political universe will shift to San Diego this weekend, as eMeg, iCarly and scintillating Board of Equalization candidates from throughout the state meet in solemn conclave in a city that actually selected the phrase “Happy HAPPENS!” as its official slogan.

Our National Affairs Desk, joined by the staff and Secretary of the Department of Social Anxiety, Recreational Usage and Hollow Leg Dinner Affairs will collaborate, coordinate and cooperate to provide Calbuzz readers 24/7, real time, deadline-every-minute-coverage of the Republican State Convention all weekend.

Unless there’s nothing worth writing, in which case you’re on your own.

On me!

(Inside tip for conventioneers: We hear Jon Fleischman is buying drinks for anyone who sees him at the Manchester Grand Hyatt convention hotel and says: “You really should plug Calbuzz more on Flashreport.”)

The weekend’s highlight is expected Friday night, when Meg Whitman,  widely known horsewoman and GOP nominee for governor, is to deliver a stemwinder called “Political Management by Corporate Objective: Using Corporal Punishment for Pushing State Employees to Work More for Less.”

She’ll be joined on the dais by fellow statewide candidates, “Taliban Tony” Strickland and Damon “Don’t Call Me Dominick” Dunn, who will attempt to explain to the assembled octogenarians and by-then-sleepy delegates exactly what it is that the Controller and Secretary of State actually do.

Attending?

No word yet on whether birther whack job Orly Taitz, defeated by Dunn in the primary, will be on hand for the celebration. Hope springs eternal.

Keeping with the party’s “No Such Thing as a Free Lunch” theme, delegates and guests will be required to listen to Senate candidate “Hurricane” Carly Fiorina, AG hopeful Steve “Go Lakers” Cooley and Republican wannabe Insurance Commissioner “Landslide Mike” Villines, in order to have their mid-day meal tickets punched on Saturday.

That night’s headliner will be right-wing favorite and Lite Gov. Abel “Tax Man” Maldonado. Which is too bad for him, since most of the press corps will be chopping it up at the Dr. Hackenflack Dinner, except for the unfortunate Joe “Paisan” Garafoli and Torey “The Tulip” Van Oot, who somehow got stuck doing the pool report.

Watch this space all weekend for on-the-scene reporting of all the Republican hijinks and general hilarity. Plenty of free parking.

Out Foxed: There was lots of fierce competition for this week’s Little Pulitzer False Equivalence Award, what with Newt Gingrich equating construction of a Muslim community center two blocks from Ground Zero to Nazis putting up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington  (he was kicked out of the competition because of the automatic disqualification rule for anyone using a Nazi comparison to describe American politics).

The runner-up was Team Whitman, for its ongoing, flog-a-dead-horse attempt to equate eMeg’s $100+ million champagne taste campaign spending with the beer budget, Bad News Bears efforts of the California Working Families for Jerry Brown independent expenditure committee, which is kind of like comparing a Bugatti Veyron to a Nissan Versa. (Memo to eMeg Communications Shop: This whole “Jerry Brown Inc.” thing is hella’ lame, and the real problem is that it just doesn’t make any sense. Think about it for one minute: your whole line of attack on Krusty is that he’s bought and paid for by unions; so your tag line therefore portrays him as an evil corporation? C’mon. But we digress).

The week’s hands-down winner, however, was Calbuzz friend Joel Fox, usually one of our favorite conservative bloggers.

The weak gruel defense Fox offered up for refusing to make public the names of the contributors footing the bill for his operation to air a straight-on, anti-Brown attack spot in the guise of an alleged “issues ad” not only compared his donors to Revolutionary War patriots (sheesh) but also  evoked the First Amendment as the basis for his stonewalling.

Reporters said that donors to the ad should be disclosed even though that is not required, and these same reporters defend not disclosing their sources at times and often for the same reason…

Reporters defend a similar course of keeping sources protected from retribution by not disclosing them. Speaking the truth about an issue can displease politicians who have the power to punish through regulations, lawsuits, and other means..

Excuse us while we build a coliseum big enough to hold our laughter.

Comparing reporters protecting whistleblower sources from punishment and retribution for calling attention to public and private wrongdoing is only exactly 180 degrees different from letting a squadron of stuffed-wallet suits and corporate sultans slither away from the spirit of the law by sucker punching a political candidate under cover of secrecy.

Alas, we fear that Joel has conflated the First Amendment freedom of the press with the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

We got nothin’ against anybody spending their however-gotten gains any way they like, including pitching in to help a poor rich gal who’s down to her last 12 or 13 zillion dollars win an election. But at least man up and take some personal responsibility for the decision to do it. We’re just sayin’.

Final word: Calbuzz mourned on Monday, when baseball immortal Bobby Thomson passed away at the age of 86. The great New York Giants second baseman was the author of the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” the most magical moment in baseball history.

On Oct. 3, 1951, Thomson lined a three-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth off Ralph Branca, completing one of the greatest pennant stretch runs in baseball history, as the G-men bested the dog-ass determined Dodgers in a three-game playoff to win the National League championship and advance to the World Series.

Here’s the famous Russ Hodges call of the play, one more time for the Flying Scotsman. 

-30-

Right Thinking: Musings of a True Conservative

Friday, June 18th, 2010

By Jon Fleischman
Special to Calbuzz

You kids get off my lawn! As a daily reader of Calbuzz, it’s easy to start calling Jerry Brown “Krusty.”  But lately he really has been living up to the name.

Between the Goebbels-Whitman comparison, and telling reporters that he’ll talk about his economic plans after he’s elected, you get the impression of a codger who should be retiring and taking it easy.  Certainly not someone running for the state’s top elective office.

Portsiders dominate the B minus: I was on a panel last Wednesday with Stuart Leavenworth, the opinion page editor of the Sacramento Bee, talking to a room full of Republican candidates.

It was rather amusing to hear him acknowledge to all assembled that the total number of Republicans on the Sacramento Bee editorial board is… zero.  But then again, if you keep an eye on their editorials, that isn’t too surprising.

The doctor is in: If the California Medical Association backs a Democrat pickup of Assembly District 5, where Republican Roger Niello is termed out, that means only one thing: the CMA is pushing for a two-thirds Democratic majority in the legislature.

The fact that a doctor is the Democratic candidate really is irrelevant.  The fact that Doctor Richard Pan is a hardcore liberal does matter.

Family feud: Either former Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines will be the GOP nominee for Insurance Commissioner, or he won’t.  But if he is, he will have a big challenge ahead of him.

Most Republicans supported Brian FitzGerald because of his superior ballot title (“Department’s Enforcement Attorney” to Villines’ “Businessman/State Assemblyman”).  But many Republicans voted against Villines because of his unrepentant role as an architect of the largest tax increase in California history.

Time for retirement: If we are going to solve our state’s public pension tsunami problem, two bold ideas are going to have to be on the table.

First, we need to move public employees to a 401(k)-style retirement plan in which the government, as an employer, pays out each year but is then done with its obligation; responsibility for the management of that employee’s fund, and for the decision of when it is valued high enough to retire, should be on the individual employee.

The other point: you can’t solve the problem by simply changing the rules for new hires.  Current employees will need to have a new, less generous benefit for their remaining years of service, such as the 401(k)-style account.

Insiders and outsiders: The apparent victory of Minuteman founder Tim Donnelly in Assembly District 59 is heartening to conservatives.

Not only because it is cool to know that you can win the GOP nomination in a Republican seat with just $22,000 and a lot of volunteers – but because the voters will be sending a strong voice to Sacramento to oppose the kind of insider, tax hiking deal that led to incumbent Anthony Adams’ retirement in that very seat.

Coastal views: This Tuesday’s special election to fill the vacancy in Senate District 15 presents a stark contrast to voters.

Democrat John Laird is so liberal that he makes his moderate Republican opponent, Sam Blakeslee, look like a right-winger.  What is the differentiating issue that matters?  Laird wants to raise taxes so the government sector can grow (or shrink less), Blakeslee wants to keep taxes low, so that the private sector can recover and produce more jobs.

Memo to Frisco: A note to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who are implementing a new regulation out of concerns of radioactivity coming from cell phones: It’s not the phones, it’s the drugs and your status as an international magnet for freaky people that are the causes of strangeness in your city.

Kudos to a pal: Congratulations are really in order to my longtime friend Jeff Randle.  Jeff and I came up in politics at the same time, though on different paths within the Republican Party.

All of these years later, I’m happily publishing a website.  Jeff, on the other hand, is playing a lead role in the election of the next Governor of California.  Very impressive, Jeff.  You deserve much credit – the next round of beers are on you (what you do pays better than what I do).

Jon Fleischman is editor and publisher of FlashReport and Vice Chairman, South of the California Republican Party.  His views are his own.

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.