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Posts Tagged ‘political cartoon’



Calbuzz Classic: Mega Thanks From Your Turkeys

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Tom Meyer’s mandatory Thanksgiving turkey cartoon, featuring a big bird ogre whose cranium is festooned with hatchets, not only sheds a frightening bright light on the cartooning Calbuzzer’s just-below-the-surface sociopathic tendencies (which some day will likely result in us being quoted as telling some know-it-all, whippersnapper reporter that Meyer “was always a quiet loner”) but also offers a scary glimpse at the terrifying political threat that California’s  not-so-jolly giant budget deficit represents to Jerry Brown, who will have to  slay the awful monster if history is to judge as a success his gubernatorial second act.

And for those keeping score at home, that’s a crisp, three-year-old 100-word lede, three times as long as the traditional MSM  industry standard to which New Media over-the-hill guys thankfully no longer must adhere. But we digress.

Not since the Fifth Labor of Hercules, when another son of a famous political family was assigned to muck out the dung produced by a herd of immortal cows chewing their cuds in the Augean Stables, has a public figure faced such a daunting task as Brown. Even in a state familiar with chronic deficits — and with chronic, gimmick-laden “solutions” to them — the latest red ink estimate of $25.4 billion sent chills through denizens of the Capitol.

As a brilliant political analyst recently noted, Governor-elect Krusty will begin his term with policy options that are straitjacketed, both by a host of long-standing restrictions imposed by initiatives, and by a whole new batch of ballot measures just voted in by California’s have-it-both-ways voters – More services! Less taxes! – including Props 22, 24 and 26.

Add to that the disappearance of federal stimulus money, not to mention the pig-headed intransigence of Republicans to even rational new revenue ideas, and you’re left wondering why in the world Brown ever thought moving back to Sacramento would be a good idea at the ripe old age of 72.

During his campaign, Gandalf made few proposals to fix the budget, beyond a fuzzy promise to convene bipartisan kumbaya meetings, where sweet reason will allegedly replace the bitter ideological gridlock that grips the Capitol. Good luck with that.

“This will take all the know-how that I said I had,” Brown said the day after election, “and all the luck of the Irish as I go forward.” Indeed.

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Pilgrims rout Indians – lead series 2-1: As we approach the end of our second full year of publishing, our Department of Green Eyeshade Performance Based Measureables and Obscene Year-End Executive Bonuses reports that our page view total is certain to exceed the number of votes won by Meg Whitman.

Given that our little enterprise seems in much better shape than her out-of-business campaign, and that we’ve managed this feat by spending a teeny bit less on expenses than her, we feel entitled to celebrate by indulging ourselves in that hoariest of journalism practices – reprinting our annual Thanksgiving message to readers. Herewith a slightly updated version:

As Calbuzz joins in our annual national celebration of gratitude and gluttony, we recall Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous words of blessing for this special holiday:

“I love Thanksgiving turkey. It’s the only time in Los Angeles that you see natural breasts.”

With humble hearts and heaping helpings of snark, we want to thank the Calbuzz online community for all your support, encouragement, boorish comments and vicious critiques. We look forward to the next year, and hope you’ll stay with us for an exciting and entertaining ride with Gandalf  the Wizard, Prince Gavin, Lady Difi and all the other colorful characters who populate the ever-entertaining court of California politics.

Beyond that, we sincerely hope that on this joyous day, you’ll click on our ads a whole bunch of times, and that you won’t get a wishbone lodged in your throat while stuffing your pie hole. Also: take the Saints, give the points, and bet the under.

Our Department of Living History and Living Wills tells us that it was Abe Lincoln, not Miles Standish, who jump started this whole Thanksgiving thing.

Nonetheless, Calbuzzers of a certain age remember with fondness the Thanksgiving school pageants of years gone by, when pilgrim hats made of folded black construction paper oozed gooey globs of white paste at the seams, and Pocahontas was played by the smart girl in the front row who always had her hand up, and who ended up living in Newport Beach, botoxed to the max.

We leave you with our favorite commentary on that historic period, courtesy of Calbuzzer emeritus Mark Twain:

Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for – annually, not oftener – if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months, instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians.

Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man’s side, consequently on the Lord’s side; hence it was proper to thank the Lord for it and extend the usual annual compliments.

Happy Turkey Day.

 

Jerry Brown vs. Charlie Sheen; Higher Ed Hypocrisy

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

As Jerry Brown prepares to hit the road to campaign for his tax plan, our Department of Political Tour Logistics and Grateful Dead Wannabes has drafted a strategy memo with seven key words of advice for the governor:

Try not to act like Charlie Sheen.

As Tom Meyer illustrates today, there are eerie similarities between the  governor’s upcoming tax extension road show and the whack-job actor’s current “Violent Torpedo of Truth” tour.

Both men are scions of a famous father who paved the way for his son’s success in the same profession; both now face an epic crisis that may define his career; both are seeking to escape his predicament by trying to get his hands on other people’s money – Brown in order to finance public schools and health care while cleaning up the state’s fiscal mess, Sheen to make up what he lost by being fired from his highly-rated TV show for the purpose of maintaining his party hearty jones for coke and hookers.

As Brown heads off to far-flung locales in a bid to bring pressure on Republican lawmakers, however, he’s well advised to avoid the blunders Sheen committed in venturing onto unfamiliar turf, far from Mulholland Drive orgies and sensory delights, for his disastrous opening night appearance in Detroit:

1-Don’t refer to women as goddesses. When Sheen hit the stage, he swiftly introduced his self-styled “goddesses,” the porn star and the alleged actress with whom he lives, who promptly locked lips, to wild applause.

Although Anne Gust Brown, Brown’s wife and most trusted adviser, would probably appreciate deification, the other most important woman in his life, Department of Finance director Ana Matosantos, would surely find it unprofessional, if not a matter for the EEOC. More broadly, Brown needs help from every women voter, the most likely group to back his pitch for public schools, and acting like a drooling degenerate creepo sleaze would run the risk of losing their support.

2-Don’t threaten to pummel Bob Dutton. Sheen keeps boasting about his “fire breathing fists,” and how he plans to use them on his former producer and his ex-co-star, as well as Dr. Drew of “Celebrity Rehab,” who said the actor should be on psychiatric medication (“I think me and [Dr. Drew] should jump in the ring and he should see how unstable these fists of flaming fury are,” responded Sheen).

As much as ex-boxer Brown might justifiably harbor similar feelings for Dutton, the whining menopausal GOP senate leader,  he’s probably better off maintaining a veneer of bipartisanship, at least in Dutton’s Rancho Cucamonga  district.

3-Don’t say “I’ve already got your  fucking money, dude.” Sheen used those very words to bait a booing audience member in Detroit, as others loudly demanded refunds. On his tour, Brown no doubt will face folks who are understandably suspicious of politicians treating the public treasury as a  personal bank account, so the governor needs to avoid sounding entitled, while selling his tax plan as an extension of his skinflint cheapskate brand.

In the end, the biggest difference between Governor Krusty and Crazy Charlie is this: Brown (who has never claimed to have tiger blood in his veins) lives in a world based on facts, and will appeal to voters on the basis of rational argument, while Sheen (a self-described warlock) lives in a la-la-land world of fantasy, much like, oh say, most legislative Republicans.

In the California GOP’s world, truth is whatever they say it is. The laws of arithmetic don’t apply, the poor and destitute are invisible, workers don’t have rights, education can be fixed in a jiffy with vouchers and home schools, and corporate loopholes and business-biased tax policies are crucial characteristics of “free markets.”

Selling tax extensions in Inland California is not an easy task for Brown – employing facts, figures and hard evidence to win over citizens whose elected representatives and anti-tax “advocates” have for decades  cynically fed them a steady diet of failed ideology, flat earth sloganeering and Fox News bloviation.

Be careful out there, governor.

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I’m studying for a Ph.D in Poltroonery: Calbuzz yields to no one in our support for California’s system of higher education: we have not only studied but also worked in the system ourselves, we have kids and friends on campuses throughout the state and we staunchly believe that high-quality public universities, colleges and community colleges are crucial to the civic and economic health and future of the state.

So it pained us to see that 250 administrators from public universities and colleges descended on Sacramento Tuesday to argue that they should under no circumstances be asked to absorb any more than the $1.4 billion in cuts they’ve been given because of California’s budget deficit.

“We have done our part,” CSU Chancellor Charles Reed told a crowd outside the Capitol at the start of a day of lobbying. “But you know what? That’s enough.”

Oh really? And if there are no tax extensions or other new revenue sources approved, who should suffer further cutbacks: widows and children, the elderly, blind and disabled? Please, oh self-interested scholars, spare us your self-pity.

Where were Charlie Reed, UC President Mark Yudof and community college Chancellor Jack Scott when the crucial need was rounding up two Republicans in the Assembly and two in the Senate to put tax extensions on the ballot to head off doubling the universities’ $1.4 billion haircut?

Where were the organized legions of trustees, boards of directors, alumni associations*, lobbyists and cronies putting the screws to GOP legislators? They didn’t have the guts to come out, push and pressure for tax extensions and now they want to be protected? What unmitigated gall.

Had the higher education lobby worked and argued fiercely and publicly for extending taxes and fees, they’d be in a far stronger position to fight against further cuts and scenarios of turning away 400,000 community college students, more from CSUs and UCs, not to mention raising tuition and slashing whole programs, institutes, courses and offerings.

Instead, the fainthearted “leaders” of the higher education community let Brown and the legislative Democrats do all the heavy lifting on the overall budget strategy while they singularly argued for more revenue only for California’s once-great system of higher ed. And now, caught once again in the divide-and-conquer budget trap, they call for special treatment.

All of which brings to mind the words of our most venerable mentor, sage and metaphysical consultant, the great Calbuzzer, Confucius:

To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice.

*UPDATE: Thanks to Adrian Diaz for informing us (after our post) that the Cal Alumni Association DID press its members to push for tax extensions with this letter:

Dear Cal Alumni and Friends,

On February 18, the Cal Alumni Association (CAA) Board of Directors, in an unprecedented action, voted to support placing Governor Jerry Brown’s current proposal for maintaining existing taxes on the June 2011 ballot.

Why did the CAA Board take this action? Without the maintenance of existing taxes, the excellence and access of UC Berkeley will be jeopardized by further drastic budget cuts.

In 2009-2010, all departments at UC Berkeley, including academic departments, took a permanent budget cut averaging 19 percent. Last year, approximately 600 staff positions were eliminated. Another 280 are slated for elimination this year. State funding for UC Berkeley is now less than federal funding, less than student fees, and less than private donations.

What can you do? Before Californians can vote on the maintenance of existing taxes, the measure first has to get on the June ballot. The State Legislature must decide by March 10, 2011 to get the measure on the ballot.

Please send an email telling your legislator to put a revenue measure on the ballot, so California voters can decide whether to maintain existing taxes that will help save UC Berkeley.

Governor Brown’s budget already includes a $500 million cut to the UC budget. Without the tax extensions, the Legislative Analyst Office predicts that the UC budget could be cut by an additional $500 million. Of this $1 billion reduction, $160 million could be cut from the UC Berkeleycampus alone.

Californians face a difficult choice — do we balance the state budget by cutting expenditures alone or do we minimizing the damage to one of our greatest educational institutions by balancing the budget with a combination of expense reduction and revenue generation?

While we recognize that no one likes to pay taxes, we are also assured that the Governor’s current proposal does not include any new taxes, only an extension of the existing taxes. Please send an email telling your legislator to put a revenue measure on the ballot, so California voters can decide.

Join the Cal Alumni Association in our efforts to ensure the excellence of our alma mater for today’s Cal students and future generations of Golden Bears.

Fiat Lux,

Alan C. Mendelson ’69
President, CAA Board of Directors

Hot Flashes from Sacramento; Campaign ’18 Update

Friday, April 1st, 2011

When Republican Senate leader Bob Dutton publicly complained that Governor Brown ignored him during budget talks – while First Lady Anne Gust Brown “yelled” at him – most Capitol insiders no doubt had a good laugh at his expense, all the while thinking, “That Bob Dutton – he’s sure a wussy wimp!”

But not Calbuzz.

No, around these parts, the immediate reaction of our Department of Emotional Intelligence and Sensitive New Age Guys was to dispatch a company-wide email urging a corporate show of sympathy for the 60-year old senator.

The reason? The aggrieved Sen. Dutton clearly suffers from one of the most tragic syndromes that can afflict a man: the heartbreak of male menopause.

“The governor never asked for my help,” Dutton told reporters Thursday, doubtless bottling up sobs as he was questioned about the collapse of budget talks. “Frankly, I was yelled at more than I was talked to…and mostly by Mrs. Brown, not even Gov. Brown.”

That really makes our blood boil: What kind of woman does such a thing?

While more insensitive souls than ours instantly and cruelly tried to change the subject back to the state’s $27 billion deficit – “the dog barked at him, too,”  stone-hearted Brown flack Gil Duran said, for example – the alter cockers in our newsroom understand only too well the hurt and pain that come when other people ignore our emotional needs at a time of life when we’re at our most vulnerable.

So on behalf of those, like Dutton, who have suffered in secrecy, shame and silence for far too long, we offer some important information in hopes of building public awareness:

What are the Symptoms of Male Menopause?

Male menopause symptoms are very similar to those experienced by women during menopause, only much less intense. Common menopause symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, muscle and joint aches. Men also suffer from emotional symptoms like mood swings,  irritability, depression, and listlessness. (emphasis ours).

The primary treatment…is Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT). Like estrogen replacement in women, testosterone replacement aims to bring hormonal levels back up to a healthy level. Once testosterone levels are increased, most men begin to experience fewer symptoms. Unfortunately, testosterone replacement doesn’t always work well to combat erectile dysfunction. Because this is such a severe symptom for most men, other treatments for erectile dysfunction should be investigated.

Take heart, Senator Dutton, and please, get some help – it doesn’t have to be this way. And know that you’re not longer any more alone any longer.

We had to destroy the party in order to save it: Dutton’s little hissy fit highlights the utter inability of the current crop of California Republican leaders to see the big picture about their ongoing demise as a viable political party in the state.

Handed their biggest opportunity in years to achieve some cherished policy goals, Republicans instead snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and came away from budget negotiations with zilch.

Witnessing this sorry spectacle, one mad dog GOP blogger, of course, thumped his chest and did a little touchdown dance (“there is NO public policy trade off that makes it okay to then vote to place taxes onto a special election ballot”). Less, um, excitable party types (also less prone to using CAPITAL LETTERS TO MAKE THEIR POINT), have a different view, as the LAT’s Halper and Mishak ably report:

After the collapse of those negotiations, many in the Capitol are asking whether, in declining to provide those four “ayes,” the Republicans have cemented their fate as a dying minority party in this largely Democratic state.

“These opportunities don’t come up too much in Sacramento,” said Bill Whalen, a GOP political consultant who was an advisor to former Gov. Pete Wilson.

“If I’m the Republicans … I would argue for a minimalist approach,” he said. “Be able to declare victory and retreat. … That should have been part of the calculus.”

Or not.

In addition to the Republicans, however, our friend George Skelton sees plenty of blame to go around, listing for starters Brown’s kow-towing to labor and the apparent belief of state union goons that they, alone, should be spared from any budget pain, a pox-on-all-your-houses-view made manifest today by Calbuzz cartoonist Tom Meyer.

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A leisurely stroll through the 11th hour, 53-point list of demands that Dutton presented to Brown when a deal was close, however, makes clear that giving equal weight to Krusty’s serious effort to find a compromise acceptable to Republicans on pension reform and the GOP’s unwavering irresponsibility about the state’s finances is a big-time false equivalence.

Moreover, for the CA GOP to complain now that Brown broke off negotiations — after they damn near adopted a resolution to castrate any legislator who even considered negotiating with Brown — is just nuts.

Campaign ’18 update: Lite Gov Gavin Newsom’s political advisers are miffed over a blind source item that the Chronicle’s Matier and Ross proffered the other day, reporting that Lt. Starbuck is already gearing up to run for governor.

Only weeks after Calbuzz waved the starter flag on the most important political race in California — the 2018 Democratic primary for governor — the paper’s gold dust twins tried to speed up the pace even more:

Less than three months on the job, and already Gavin Newsom is prepping to run for governor again.

A city insider who asked not to be named tells us the new lieutenant governor approached him at a charity fundraiser the other day with a request for help to start raising money for a renewed gubernatorial bid…

Newsom has opened a re-election campaign committee for 2014 – but there’s nothing to stop him from transferring any money he might raise to an exploratory gubernatorial run.

“The Matier and Ross item is silly,” counters Jason Kinney, Newsom’s political adviser. “They’re finding a story where none exists.”

Kinney, who oddly wasn’t quoted in the M&R column, told us he’s been in most of the meetings Newsom has had with political supporters, where the good lieutenant has made the point that he needs to put a political operation together for his re-election.

When Newsom’s asked, Kinney acknowledged, he discusses future options — like governor, Senate, whatever – as any other pol would do. But Newsom always makes clear that he will never run against Jerry Brown, Dianne Feinstein or Barbara Boxer, he added: “He’s talking about future plans — six, eight, ten years down the road.”

Gavin for Senate in 2028!

(Secret P.S. memo to Newsom: Dude, what’s with that whole unbuttoned second button thing, anyway? What’s next — tying up your shirttails to show off your midriff?)

Press Clips: Krusty’s Koans Stir Up Stormy Weather

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Jerry Brown shifted into full Zen mode this week, offering increasingly cryptic commentary amid a political atmosphere that grows ever more cloudy and gray.

As nicely illustrated by Calbuzz meteorological doodler Tom Meyer today, the cold front arising from  long-stalled talks over the Capitol’s budget mess has built up a mass of cumulonimbus thunderheads that threaten at any moment to erupt into a tempestuous political storm.

Press corps forecasters were hampered in their task of wringing clarity out of a muddy situation by contending reports offered by the Field and PPIC* polls, the Doppler radar twins of California political augury. (We refer you to a) our post-graduate dissertation on the high priest polling methodologies that generally account for some of the differences between the Two Marks and b) the secular humanist explanation offered Thursday by Joe Garafoli:  “Confused? Get in line”).

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Far more than clashing public opinion surveys, however, it was a series of odd and oblique  public utterances by Gandalf himself that blew a thick layer of mystifying mist over the political high pressure area (think we’ve tortured the weather metaphor enough yet? -ed.). Brown suddenly transformed his earlier Catholic rhetoric about the budget fight into a flurry of widely-reported Buddha-like pronouncements, which offered precious little enlightenment about what was going on with the budget in the here and now, let alone what would  happen in the next moment.

In a brave effort to end the epidemic of head scratching that followed Governor Gautama’s pronouncements, Calbuzz conducted its own unscientific polling, the better to capture a snapshot in time of what ordinary Californians think about whatever the hell it is Krusty’s been talking about the last couple days. Among the key results:

1-“Whichever way I look, I see bears in the forest.”

Four of 10 of those surveyed (40%) believe that Brown actually meant to say that he sees “bears shit in the woods” wherever he looks, while nearly one-third (32%) agree with the NRA argument that his statement proves there are way too many bears, and one-in-five (20%) back the Sierra Club position that he should not be walking in the woods without filing an EIR.

2-“We’ll know the deadline when we’ve passed it.”

Voters polled were evenly divided about the meaning of this gubernatorial  comment. One-third (33%) believe he saw a “teaching moment” opportunity to educate the public about the illusory nature of time; one-third (33%) felt  he was referencing the ultimately subjective nature of reality, and one-third (33%) said it was likely the first time Brown had ever used the word “deadline” and clearly had no idea what it meant.

3- “I can confirm I am not unconsidering anything that I ought to consider.”

A large plurality of Californians (49%) told our researchers that Brown has quickly tired of serving as governor and is auditioning to be the press spokesman for Meg Whitman’s next campaign. Nearly as many (48%) said that the governor was spiritually channeling Donald (“there are things that we know, there are known unknowns”) Rumsfeld, while a tiny minority (3%) felt he was just being plain inconsiderate.

4 “There is not as yet a clear delineation as to what will seal the deal. We’re still waiting for what I’d call a term sheet. What’s the bedrock of what Republicans need to put this before the people?”

Brown’s uncharacteristic use of business world phrases like “term sheet” and “seal the deal” convinced six in ten (60%) registered non-voters that he had stayed up too late trying to plow through one of wife Anne Gust’s old Management by Objective handbooks, while three in ten (30%) unregistered voters felt “very strongly” that he’d been spending way too much time with the “The Dictionary of Cliches”; the remainder (10%) of non-registered non-voters said the governor was quoting Dr. Irwin Corey.

5-”There’s a sense on the part of some that they’re going to come up with something good…There are positive vibes.”

A slight majority (51%) among those surveyed believe that Brown believes it is still 1976 and was feeling “groovy” when he made his remark to reporters, while the rest were divided evenly between those (44.5%) who said he’d been told there was going to be a Beach Boys concert in Capitol Park and those (44.5%)  who’d heard that Jacques Barzaghi will soon be joining the administration.

The Calbuzz survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 179%.

PS: The famous bear reference we think Jerry may have been trying to evoke was from the anti-Soviet 1984 Hal Riney ad for Ronald Reagan that began, “There is a bear in the woods.”

* What PPIC poll actually shows:

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There was a lot of breathless reporting about the PPIC finding that shows support for Brown’s proposal to hold a special election on tax extensions dipping to a mere 51% among likely voters, from 66% in January.

But if anyone explained what was behind the shift, we missed it.

Here’s what happened: there was a relentless, two-month partisan campaign against Brown’s idea and it worked; the move against the idea was double among Republicans what it was among voters overall.

With anti-tax jihadist Grover of Norquist, radio clowns John and Ken, Howard Jarvis Wannabe Jon Coupal and GOP gunslinger Jon Fleischman screaming their lungs out against the idea of putting a tax-extension measure on the ballot, lo and behold, Republican voters (and some independents who lean Republican) responded to the call.

While the net drop in support for placing a tax measure on the ballot was -7% among Democrats and -23% among independents (as self-identified by PPIC), the net drop in support was a massive -41% among Republican likely voters.

Among Democrats and independents, a little number crunching reveals,  57% of likely voters – about six in 10 – still support the notion of putting a tax measure on the ballot. It’s mainly Republicans who have been brow-beaten away from the idea.

Governor Brown has proposed a special election this June for voters
to vote on a tax- and-fee package to prevent additional state budget cuts.
In general, do you think the special election is a good idea or bad idea? (PPIC)
January March
Good Bad Good Bad
Likely Voters 66 31 51 40 -24
Democrats 75 23 68 23 -7
Independents 65 32 50 40 -23
Republicans 53 43 30 61 -41

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Press Clip Three Dot Lounge:

Sportswriter starts prostitution ring – publishers see new revenue stream to save ailing newspapers.

Just asking: Is a story about incendiary racist hate speech by a half-wit city council member really the best place to employ on-the-one-hand-on-the-other false equivalence journalism?

Jay Rosen reports that many cringeworthy MSM types still haven’t gotten the memo that Y2K has come and gone.

Stewart offers full coverage of the real inside stories unfolding in Japan and Libya.

ICYMI: To the moon, Alice.

Calbuzz Joins the Party with the GOP in Sacramento

Friday, March 18th, 2011

At least half of the Calbuzz Crisis Intervention and White Russian Affairs Desk will converge on Sacramento today to follow the progress of the Sovietization of the California Republican Party.

Our wall readers have been keeping close tabs on postings from secret members of the Comintern, and here are some of the key questions they’ve raised that may be answered this weekend:

1. Will the troglodytes triumph? Celeste Greig, president of the California Republican Assembly, has drawn widespread attention with her resolution to purge the party of the “traitors” who dare to take seriously their responsibility to govern. Next up: the CRA calls for exiling all GOPers who turn left at stop signs.

2. Will the GOP 5 be tarred and feathered? Senators Tom Berryhill, Sam Blakeslee, Anthony Canella, Bill Emmerson and Tom Harman are already being denounced for negotiating with Governor Jerry Brown about the shape of the table. If any of them shows his face at the Hyatt Regency bar, here’s hoping a rabies-ridden delegate doesn’t try to chew it off.

3. Will Sutter Brown show up to debate Grover Norquist? Party leader Ron Nehring backed down instantly when the governor’s office offered First Pooch Sutter to accept Mr. Chairman’s invite for a debate with anti-tax jihadist Norquist. Now we hear the cagey Corgi may be prowling the lobby in an effort to sniff out Muppet Man Grover.

4. Will the Stalinistas strike a blow for authoritarianism? Fiercely  determined to shrink the size of their party as much as possible, ideologically pure apparatchiks are sponsoring a rules change to put all the power to decide which candidate in any top-two primary is or is not a “real” Republican in the hands of the GOPs most conservative bureaucrats. This one’s so far out even the Tea Party’s against it.

5. What will Fleischman’s bar bill be? Jon “Ice Axe” Fleischman, the noted bitter-ender Bolshevik blogger, has promised to buy drinks for the entire press corps. It’s a small price to pay for the ink slingers’ outstanding efforts to make him a Big Deal. You like me, right now, you like me!

We can only wish that we were making this stuff up. In fact, our key questions align quite closely with the actual struggles being waged within the Grand Old Party.

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Convention cognoscenti tip sheet

Barbourian at the gate: Beyond all the turf battles and litmus tests, the biggest behind-the-scenes convention story has been been the hair-pulling and garment-rending by members of the so-called “news media” about the awful timing of the speech by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, which has prevented Dr. P.J. Hackenflack from organizing one of his spectacular dinners.

Instead, people on expense accounts – we name no names — will have to listen to and report on the pearls of wisdom offered by the corpulent drawler, even though the chance that he’ll be the next president of these United States is about as likely as finding a Union flag in Yazoo City.

The only presidential contender who decided to come, Barbour will be the keynote speaker on Saturday night, although reporters may be more interested in asking him about how he made a fortune as a lobbyist for big oil, tobacco companies and the Mexican government (just for starters).

He also is still trying to explain his relationship to some of the less savory racial forces in the South. As this Wiki excerpt accurately puts it:

In December 2010, Barbour was interviewed by The Weekly Standard magazine. Asked about coming of age in Yazoo City during the civil rights era, Barbour, who was 16 when three civil rights workers were murdered in the state in the summer of 1964, told the interviewer regarding growing up there, “I just don’t remember it as being that bad.”[54]

Barbour then credited the White Citizens’ Council for keeping the KKK out of Yazoo City and ensuring the peaceful integration of its schools. Barbour dismissed comparisons between the White Citizens’ Councils and the KKK, and referred to the Councils as “an organization of town leaders.” Barbour continued in his defense of the Councils, saying, “In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you’d lose it. If you had a store, they’d see nobody shopped there. We didn’t have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City.”

Barbour’s statement did not address the role of the white supremacist group in publicly naming and blacklisting individuals who petitioned for educational integration and how it used political pressure and violence to force African-American residents to move This led to a considerable outcry in which critics such as Rachel Maddow accused Barbour of whitewashing history. In response to criticism, Barbour issued a statement declaring Citizens’ Councils to be “indefensible.”

Calbuzz will attend Gov. Barbour’s press avail: inquiring minds want to know.

At least it’s not Michael Bolton: In addition to informative and enlightening remarks from the likes of Congressman Jeff Denham and Damon “Hard Hat” Dunn, Friday night’s main speaker will be John Bolton, whose star-spangled career has included: fighting reparations to Japanese-Americans interned during WWII; neck-deep involvement in the Iran-Contra affair; derailing a 2001 biological weapons conference in Geneva; pushing for inclusion of a false statement in President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address that British Intelligence had determined Iraq had attempted to procure yellowcake uranium from Niger (inhale) and being named U.N. ambassador on a recess appointment (after losing Democratic and Republican support), having argued that “There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is only the international community, which can only be led by the only remaining superpower, which is the United States.”

Saturday’s lunch speaker will be alleged pollster Frank Luntz. His sparkling resume includes being reprimanded by the American Association for Public Opinion Research, censured by the National Council on Public Polls and called a “moron” by respected Republican pollster Bill McInturff for mocking Sen. John McCain’s inability to use a Blackberry (which he can’t because of the injuries he sustained as a prisoner of war in Vietnam).

Luntz is the wordsmith who coined favorites like “death taxes” (estate taxes), “energy exploration” (oil drilling), “climate change” (global warming) [he actually advised environmentalists against using "climate change"] and “government takeover” (health care reform). He also once argued in a radio interview that “To be ‘Orwellian’ is to speak with absolute clarity, to be succinct, to explain what the event is, to talk about what triggers something happening… and to do so without any pejorative whatsoever.”

We can hardly wait.

Meanwhile: Fully half of the Calbuzz National Affairs Desk will be in the Republican stronghold of the Central Valley, paying homage to the late David Broder by discussing the weighty matters being debated at the weekend confab with Actual Voters (and soon-to-be-in-laws). Vox populi, vox dei.