Posts Tagged ‘Ross Douthat’



Press Clips: James Brown Meets Big Lebowski

Friday, January 8th, 2010

carlaI feel good: Mega-kudos to Chronicler Carla Marinucci, who came roaring back from the holidays to win the James Brown Hardest Working Person in Show Business award for her stellar performance at Arnold’s SOS speech Wednesday.

Following the paper’s long tradition of dispatching its political editor to Sacto for first week of session, Ms. M. did everything but cut the grass in Capitol Park: in the space of 3 hours and 58 minutes, she filed four strong web pieces offering different angles on the speech, including the role of former Reagan speechwriter Landon Parvin, before heading off to write her print edition analysis for the next day’s paper.

Most significantly, she appears to have been the only MSM political writer with the wit to file a separate on Jerry Brown. Her piece included a series of comments relevant to his soon-to-be-campaign for governor on key budget issues he’s been trying to avoid discussing with his shadow candidacy.

“I would never approve of a tax increase unless the voters themselves called for it and voted on it,” he said, adding some thoughts about lessons learned from the Prop. 13 tax revolt in his first stint as governor:

There’s a big difference. The last crisis, we had a $6 million billion surplus. Now the trouble is, we’ve been spending it. And now, we have the same crisis, but we have no surplus….there is no easy answer. The main point is, don’t hide the ball. Level with the people and tell them, ‘This where we are. We didn’t get here overnight, and we’re not going to get out of it (overnight).’nap time

Pillow and teddy bear in hand, Calbuzz padded off for a nappie, exhausted from just watching her.

Footnote: The Oracle of Cruickshank over at Calitics, took a whack at Carla and Crusty the General for not observing, as he did, that Jerry is “Trapped in 1978.” So there was at least one other full-scale political commentary about Brown posted on Wednesday.

Cliches for the ages: The best New Year’s piece we saw came from the venerable Ron Rosenbaum over at Slate, who captured the coveted  William Safire Memorial Linguistics Usage award for his piece on over-used catch phrases that should be banned from the language.

Noting the dThe_Big_Lebowski___Jeff_Bridgesreadful excess of “15 minutes of fame” that swept through Google during the flap over the Salahis crashing Obama’s State Dinner, Rosenbaum put a few other phrases on the chopping block:

Among those I wanted thrown off the island and under the bus: it is what it is (in the “tough-luck” sense), the optics, drill down, under the bus, not so much, and the take-away. Oh, yes, and dude—at least when it’s a Big Lebowski reference.

Speaking of clichés, shame on Politico for using the most hackneyed possible lede for its mini-profile of Brown in its tired “25 politicians to watch” New Year’s feature:

Yes, it’s that Jerry Brown—the former California governor who served two terms beginning in the mid-1970s and made three failed bids for the White House.

Yes it’s that kind of unimaginative boilerplate that’s a reliable cure for insomnia (Sleep theme today ? –ed).

hoffmanasrainman

What’s your margin of error, pal? In a fine piece over at Capitol Notes, the otherwise prudent John Myers asserted  that Arnold’s speech contained 3,507 words, a number shockingly at odds — by 560 words! — with the total reported by the Calbuzz Department of Mathematical Advancement and Spilled Toothpicks Counting (of course, I’m an excellent driver).

Unlike Myers, who acknowledged his number was merely “by my count” Calbuzz, as always, used the most complex, up-to-date and rigorous statistical methodology to gather our findings, and we’re nothing if not transparent in disclosing it: Starting with the speech transcript posted on Capitol Alert, we 1) clicked to the print version 2) painstakingly selected all and copied it 3) carefully pasted it into Word 4) used “word count” to complete our in-depth study. The margin of error is plus or minus zero. Thank you Bill Gates.

belvadavis-200x300Three Dot Lounge:* Nice work by Lisa Vorderbrueggen of the Coco Times on a good appreciation profile of the one and only Belva Davis, who put up with your Calbuzzers  many Friday nights a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…In the latest Triumph of the Old Guys, Peter Schrag reaffirms his standing as California’s top substance-of-state-government reporter, with a smart yarn offering a practical 10-point plan to fix the budget . . . Speaking of old guys, if you read only one piece on national politics this week, make it Tom Edsall’s analysis of why 2010 will be the biggest year ever for negative campaigning . . . The New York Times showed unusual nimbleness in rushing Peter Baker’s terrific 8,000 word takeout about Obama’s national security operation onto its web site, two weeks before it was to be published in the Sunday magazine, because of the Christmas Day bomber story ( HT to Politico’s Peter Calderone) . . . The Ross Douthat Fan Club was stricken with20061213mcdonalds awe yet again, when the Great Man released his own plan for Fixing Everything, using the phrase  “tour d’horizon” to boot.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: You want fries with that?

*With homage HT to Chron sports columnist Bruce Jenkins, who belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Stocking Stuffer: From eMeg Elf to Parking Rage

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

047-260Frankly, we don’t give a damn that the boys at Craigslist think Meg Whitman is a “monster,” cuz she’s the only candidate for governor classy enough to send us an eCard for the holidays.

eMeg’s holly jolly web message has all the essentials of the classic political jing-jing-a-ling greeting card: pine boughs on the mantle and a carefully positioned poinsettia, not to mention a bright red sweater direct from Mrs. Claus’’s closet.

That said, our Holiday Special Event Planning team has a few upgrade suggestions for her production crew. For starters, where’d they get the lighting guy – the night shift at Candlestick Park? He sure didn’t do the boss lady any favors by letting her forehead shine like the Christmas Star, or leaving the right side of her face in a shadow suitable for Darth Vader.

Starshine Roshell, the popular third wave feminist columnist and Calbuzz Health, Beauty and Girly Stuff Consultant, also notes that poor eMeg’s tired eyes look like she’s been doing hard time at Guatanamo.

“What, her makeup person never heard of frownies?” Starshine said.

All that aside, we greatly appreciate Meg including one of us (the coal-in-the-stocking guy is still pouting) on her holiday list, along with three or four million of her other closest friends.

Best wishes for the New Year – and let’s do dinner soon!

sayaahOpen and say ahhh: As Calbuzz spends countless hours in closed-door caucus hashing out our position on the Senate health care bill – Tastes Great! Less Filling! – the noisy debate between principled  progressives and hard-headed moderates pragmatists about whether the legislation would do more harm or good for the nation’s troubled health care system rages on.

Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association, offers a strong critique from the medical front lines for the former view here while the lefty Progressive Change Campaign Committee has put up a TV ad in Wisconsin attacking Obama as a sell-out on health care, in an effort to pressure liberal Senator Russ Feingold, who’s been critical of the bill, to oppose the measure.

All of which caused John Harwood’s head to explode.

Chief Washington Correspondent for CNBC, Harwood leveled a realpolitick blast at liberals that had some ‘60s veteran Calbuzzers breaking out the love beads and lip synching “Purple Haze.”

So much of the commentary that I’ve heard has been really idiotic. Liberals who want universal health care ought to be thanking Harry Reid for getting this done rather than talking about what’s inadequate in the bill. I’m not saying the bill is a good bill.

But if you’re a liberal and you want universal coverage in this country, and think that you can do better, that Harry Reid can do better than he’s done, that the White House can do better, they ought to lay off the hallucinogenic drugs because we’ve had a vivid demonstration of the limits of political possibilities on this issue.

Ohhhh…man…I took 500 mics and now I’m hearin’ weird shit on the electric television…

Ahem. An interesting under card debate to the main event is the question of how big a broken campaign promise is represented by Obama tossing the public option under the bus.

The Man himself claimed in a Washington Post interview that he “didn’t campaign on the public option.” But Sam Stein, Arianna’s resourceful political go-to-guy, did a super job of exhaustively examining the record on the issue, turning up a batch of pro-public option statements by Obama, along with a long string of reports reprising his support, which Big O’s  mouthpieces never pushed back on during the campaign.

One of the best things written on what the president’s performance on health care reveals about him, his beliefs and values, besides our own analysis of course, comes from Drew Westen, who’s big time underwhelmed:

What’s costing the president are three things: a laissez faire style of leadership that appears weak and removed to everyday Americans, a failure to articulate and defend any coherent ideological position on virtually anything, and a widespread perception that he cares more about special interests like bank, credit card, oil and coal, and health and pharmaceutical companies than he does about the people they are shafting.

Press Clips: The Ross Douthat Fan Club was once again agog this week when the Drew Pearson of the New Millenium managed to squeeze Pochahontas, Jedi Knights and Leszek Kolakowski into a 750-word riff on pantheism, the virgin birth and the works of Eckhart Tolle. On the seventh day, Ross rested.

Must-read of the week: The WashPost’s wide-ranging investigative feature on the Salahis, a tale of one obnoxious couple’s struggle to find fame, fortune and free dinners in Our Nation’s Capital. Worth the price of admission: The previously untold anecdote of how they caused a scene, when it came time for everyone to take their assigned seats at the famous state dinner, by faking they’d just learned of a family medical emergency.

Tiger Beat: It’s bad enough that Tiger Woods has lost his good name, his wife’s affections and millions in endorsements (not to mention his mom being really mad at him). Now he’s lost his column in Golf Digest. Having been fired from a few columns ourselves back in the day, we finallytrotsky found something that made us shed a tear for poor Elwick.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Every gentlewoman of our acquaintance knows to check her purse for wallet, keys and ice pick before walking out the door, in the event she gets into a beef over a parking spot. Leon Trotsky call home!