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Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Pompei’



Team eMeg Grabs the Green, Proves They’re Yellow

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Not since Vice President Dick Cheney hid out in the “secret” bunker under the old U.S. Naval Observatory following the attacks of 9/11 have we seen an act of political cowardice as brazen as the announced refusal by Meg Whitman’s lavishly paid loser consultants to show up at the upcoming post-election debriefing sponsored by the Institute of Governmental Studies at Berkeley.

Well, maybe that’s unfair to Cheney. He had an excuse: the military and Secret Service insisted on protecting the chain of command in the face of uncertainty.

But Henry Gomez, Mike Murphy, Rob Stutzman, Jeff Randle, Mitch Zak, Jilian Hasner, Tucker Bounds and Sarah Pompei have no such excuse. Especially our friend Murph, who was paid a $1 million signing bonus (masquerading as an investment in his film company) and $60,000 a month, plus what else we’ll know when the final financial report is released.

“I don’t think we’re going to go,” Stutzman told the L.A. Times. “It’s self-indulgent, by self-important scholars and journalists. It is what it is.”

No, this is what it is: the logical extension of eMeg’s infamous statement to her housekeeper, Nicky Diaz: “You don’t know me and I don’t know you.” Chickenshit, dismissive arrogance.

Since its inception after the 1990 campaign, IGS “has brought together the state’s politicos after each gubernatorial election,” wrote Ethan Rarick in the preface to the book on the 2006 conference. “At the center of the conference are the consultants and staff members who ran the major campaigns, but the event also draws the state’s most involved and observant pollsters, political journalists and political scientists. For two days, the Berkeley campus becomes the center of the state’s political universe, a hotbed of debate and discussion about California and its voters.

“The sessions – open to the public and on the record – are videotaped, and the transcript is then edited into a readable and cohesive form. Published as a book, the conference proceedings serve as the principal historical record of California gubernatorial campaigns.”

Never before has a major campaign failed to represent itself at the conference. Moreover, the 2010 governor’s race – with eMeg’s unprecedented spending (we expect it’ll tilt the scales at $180 million, when all is said and done) – cries out to be studied, dissected, analyzed and understood.

Gov.-elect Jerry Brown’s team will be there. That will be worthwhile. But truth be told, Steve Glazer, Sterling Clifford, Anne Gust Brown, Jim Moore, Joe Trippi and Krusty the General himself, all were pretty damn accessible and transparent during the campaign. If you had a question about strategy, tactics, intentions, fundraising, polling, whatever, they held back very little.

Maybe they’ll come clean about who called Whitman a “whore” for trading pension benefits for the support of police groups. (Although we guessed it was Anne and tried unsuccessfully to get her to break the news to us.) But we don’t expect to hear a lot of insider details that will alter how we saw their campaign unfold.

Team Whitman, on the other hand, was the most self-important, impenetrable political death star we’ve ever encountered in California politics. And that includes the fact that at least one of your Calbuzzers was frozen out in 1998 by the Al Checchi campaign altogether after writing the (unchallenged) history of his (mis)management of Northwest Airlines.

“It’s amazing to me that somebody [Murphy] would do five minutes on a national television program [Meet the Press] but won’t go back and forth with the California political writers,” said Democrat Roger Salazar, who managed the independent committee California Working Families for Jerry Brown. “Not showing up at one of the most respected forums in California politics is cowardly. You’d think that $60,000 a month would buy you some guts.”

Gomez has no history in California politics. He was eMeg’s lapdog at eBay and was her No. 1 horse whisperer during the race. But Murphy, the longtime strategist who put presidential would-be Lamar Alexander in a Pendleton back in 1996, was the chief political professional in the Armies of eMeg – the only one who had private time with Whitman in the backstage green rooms at all three debates, for example.

He’s not talking about his reasons for not showing up. Which leaves Stutzman as the next most senior strategist to comment. “There’s a lot of things people are going to ask that we’re never going to disclose — and that are none of their business,” he told the S.F. Chronicle the other day.

In other words: fuck you, you fucking fucks.

The Team Whitman principals deny they have non-disclosure agreements that are keeping them from discussing the internal workings of the campaign (although their agreements could require them to deny they exist). Which suggests their refusal really is just about cowardice and arrogance.

Frankly, we don’t get it. It would be in Team Whitman’s interest to justify their decisions and defend their performance. Otherwise, the journalists, scholars and politicos will have to depend on Whitman’s opponents and neutral analysts to explain:

– Why the best they could do — with unprecedented campaign resources, a raging pro-Republican year and a retread 72-year-old opponent – was 10 points more than GOP registration.
– What were their strategic and tactical goals at various points throughout the campaign? How did they craft their messages? What data did they rely on?
– Who knew what and when about Nicky Diaz? What was their initial plan to deal with Whitman’s lack of a voting history? Why did they decide not to emphasize her family?
– How did they intend to overcome the Democratic registration advantage? What did they think Brown’s greatest weaknesses were? Why could they never sustain a message about the issues? What was the effect of the independent expenditure campaigns against Whitman during the summer?
– Who made the decision to shield Whitman from California political writers? What happened to their much-vaunted voter-targeting strategy? How much of their media experimentation was just a test run for future clients? How come they couldn’t help any other Republican candidates?

These are just a few of the questions Team eMeg won’t be answering anytime soon. But Rarick, who runs the program at IGS, is holding out hope that the Whitman campaign will be represented.

“We would be delighted if Ms. Whitman wants to attend personally. I was surprised to see Rob Stutzman quoted on the Chronicle’s blog to the effect that Ms. Whitman was not consulted on the decision to skip the conference,” he told us in an email. “I think it is incumbent upon us to make every possible effort to allow the Whitman campaign to defend itself, and thus although candidates do not normally participate directly in this conference, we have reached out this morning and invited Ms. Whitman to attend personally and participate on the panels. We’d be delighted if she would like to attend.”

As for Calbuzz, we’d still like to have dinner with Meg.

Voters Turn to Web for Politics (Calbuzz Sets Pace)

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

All but overlooked in the latest Public Policy Institute of California poll is some intriguing new data that shows a dramatic shift in how people get their political news in the state: web sites and blogs have now left newspapers in the dust as primary sources of such information.

“People more and more are getting their news and information about California politics and elections on the internet,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC’s CEO and director of the survey. “Television and newspapers are not what they used to be.”

The survey asked respondents to identify where, ”you get most of your information about what’s going on in politics today.” The results show that while TV remains the top choice for 37 percent of Californians, the internet is now in second place, at 24 percent, while newspapers lag  behind in third, with only 15 percent saying it is their main source for politics.

The findings cap a decade-long cultural trend: When PPIC asked the same question in 1999, 45 percent listed TV as their leading choice, while 30 percent said newspapers and only five percent pointed to the internet.

While the influence of political coverage in newspapers has sharply declined, however, there was some good news in the poll for the industry: Among those who use the internet for politics and elections news, 47 percent said they turn to newspaper web sites, only slightly fewer (50 percent) than those who said they use other types of websites (we name no names).

As for those who still consider newspapers their leading political source, nearly three in four (73 percent) said they read the paper version of the publication, a significant drop-off since 2007, when PPIC first asked the question, and 87 percent said they preferred the paper rather than the‘net.

The PPIC research is just the latest in an ever-accumulating mountain of evidence that shows the traditional MSM business model, which consisted of publishing or broadcasting a general interest news and information product to a mass audience which is then marketed to advertisers, continues to crumble.

With the rise of the internets, the mass audience has fragmented, and consumers now have a virtually unlimited number of niche news sources where they can find more in-depth and detailed information about specialized topics (we name no names).

The good news: a vast array of choices for readers and viewers. The bad news: consumers, citizens and voters never again have to read or watch something with which they disagree.

“People can now find many sources of information they agree with, instead of seeking a broader view,” said Baldassare. “The trend certainly has pluses and minuses.”

Late Edition: At our request, PPIC ran another crosstab which found that among those who have both a cellphone and land line, 34% get their political information from TV, 26% from the internet, 16% from newspapers and 11% from radio. Among those with a land line only, 62% get information from TV, 12% from the internet and 10% from newspapers. This is a HUGE difference and suggests that the shift to the internet for information is moving right along with the shift toward cell phones and away from land lines.

When it rains it pours: Speaking of digital technology, we can only hope that Her Megness found it amusing when her spokeshuman, the volcanic Sarah Pompei, made a one-letter URL error on a Twitter message she was forwarding from chief strategist Ned Beatty Mike Murphy, and accidentally directed the entire Golden State political press corps to a You Tube video of a Korean transvestite bass player.

The story about Pompei’s mis-tweet promptly went viral, though Calbuzz is not entirely certain that it counts as good news for a campaign in the closing days that the most popular message you put out is about a Korean transvestite bass player.

No word yet on who the guy is endorsing, and apparently no truth to the rumor that before he makes up his mind he’s demanding more info on eMeg’s position on intellectual property rights.

How dare you? Belated mega-kudos to our old friend Cathy Decker, High-Ranking News Sheriff and Ace Rewrite Person for the by-God L.A. Times’ vast political team, for neatly working the word “umbrage” into a recent analysis about the low-rent controversies, including the whole “whore” kerfuffle, that pockmark California’s campaign for governor:

It was not immediately clear who uttered the comment; the Brown campaign said it was not the candidate. The candidate was not heard disabusing the speaker, in any case.

Whitman’s campaign responded in full umbrage, calling the word choice “an insult to both Meg Whitman and to the women of California.”

“This is an appalling and unforgivable smear against Meg Whitman,” her spokeswoman, Sarah Pompei, said.

And yet the same Whitman campaign last June tried to dismiss as inconsequential reports that the candidate, during her tenure as chief of EBay, had cursed at and pushed a young woman underling.

Decker’s splendid adjectival construction provides an entry point into a re-examination of “umbrage politics.” In this silly political game, a candidate or campaign takes deliberately misconstrued, overdrawn or reductionist offense — of the “I’m shocked – shocked to find that gambling is going on in here” variety — at some statement or act by a rival (see: Fiorina, Carly; entire campaign).

Or as Michael Kinsley put it, in a lovely little piece called “Do People Really Want a Stupid President” over at Politico:

This puts us in the fashionable world of “umbrage politics,” where the game is to take as much offense as possible at something someone said or did. Usually this will involve giving the controversial statement or action an interpretation, or at least an importance, your victim obviously never intended and hiding the obvious fact that — far from being “saddened” or “outraged” — you are delighted to have this stick to beat him or her with.

Obama said that “facts and science and argument [do] not seem to be winning the day” at the moment “because we’re hard-wired not to always think clearly when we’re scared. And the country is scared.” (Columnist Michael) Gerson riffs on this: “Obama views himself as the neocortical leader —  the defender … of cognitive reasoning. His critics rely on their lizard brains — the location of reptilian ritual and aggression.” In short, he takes this single sentence from the president, deconstructs it thoroughly enough to qualify for tenure in many an English department and calls the result “some of the most arrogant words ever uttered by an American president.” Then he goes to town.

We’re shocked – shocked!- to find that umbrage politics is going on in this campaign.

Final word on whore: Better late than never, Boston Globe columnist Joanna Weiss breaks it down once and for all. Let us not speak of this matter again.

New: Calbuzz Video, Hit on Meg, Cleveland Curse

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

In today’s installment of Calbuzz Video, multi-media reporter Jennifer Fey serves up her own take on Meg Whitman’s unexpected bump in the polls among Latinos, chatting with Field Pollster Mark DiCamillo and Cal politics guru Henry Brady, and hanging out on the Fourth of July to ask voters what they think about the Megabucks campaign.

For us, Fey’s money quote comes from Brady, Dean of the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, whose commentary carries echoes of the Calbuzz Standard Quantum Limit Theory of campaign finance:

This is a lot more money than we’ve ever seen before…She’s got a lot of money and we don’t know in this territory whether if you spend enough money, you can get such an indelible impression out there that it’s very hard for anybody to turn it around.

As for Jennifer’s question of “how Brown plans to combat Whitman’s war chest,” part of the answer came Friday, when the labor-backed I.E. California Working Families rolled out a new whack on Whitman that doesn’t pull too many punches, from its opening line:

How many lies can Meg Whitman jam into one ad?

The answer, it turns out, is seven, according to Camp Jerry’s interpretation of the analysis performed on eMeg’s last blast at him by Fact Check.org . The pro-Brown I.E’s use of the widely respected truth testing outfit at the University of Pennsylvania as a source to stand up its “lies” charge resulted in the entertaining spectacle of highly caffeinated eMeg spokeshuman Sarah Pompei  sputtering and spluttering a 141-word stream of consciousness response brimming with non-sequiturs and shaggy dog run-on sentences.

Fact checkers did not come to Jerry Brown’s defense on fiscal issues while he was Mayor of Oakland or Governor of the state (huh?)…During his career, Brown has championed Sacramento’s philosophy of raising taxes to the tune of billions of dollars, including personally signing into law a $2 billion-plus gas tax increase before he left the state reeling with a deficit and, as the media described it, “on the brink of bankruptcy.”

Jeez, for $100 million you’d think they could afford to hire a copy editor.

Roll ‘em and smoke ‘em: The new Field Poll showing Proposition 19, the legalize and tax marijuana initiative, trailing, is nothing but a buzz kill, sez Calbuzzer Barstool Blondie:

I didn’t get into the weeds on the methodology but… the stoner vote is going to turn out big. They’re not going to show up in the polls in enough numbers to make a dent but may well do so on election day. There hasn’t been another ballot measure in a long time so poised to rile the youngsters out of civic apathy.

Sounds like a match made in heaven for John Burton. Calbuzz is betting, however, that there’s going to be a lot of people who aren’t going to admit to pollsters that a) they ever smoked dope and b) that they’re going to vote to make it legal.

King James of Clowns: With deep roots in the Buckeye State, the Calbuzz Department of Professional Sports Haplessness and Home Town Hopelessness was born, raised and beat down broken hearted by Willie Mays’ catch of Vic Wertz’s drive to center, Michael Jordan shooting over Craig Ehlo, the Drive, the Fumble and the Great Satan Art Modell, among countless other depresso ray events leading to a lifetime of fan despair.

So we take this whole LeBron James to Miami thing real personal, and find our only solace in the bitter words of Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Bill Livingston.

James is…the great player who left unfinished business after quitting on his team on the court and left unanswered questions by quitting on his city off it….

By waiting to leave until after his high-profile basketball camp in his hometown of Akron, by surrounding himself there with current and former Cavs teammates, and by scheduling a one-hour national cable “event” just to exploit this city’s suffering, he hit the trifecta in deplorable behavior.

He had before invoked all the connotations of home, only to leave it. He had before summoned an image of family, only to reject it. He had before cherished loyalty, only to betray it. He wears “Family” and “Loyalty” tattoos on his torso. Dermabrasion, please. The sooner, the better…

Because home is gone. Because it’s personal here too.

Alas, the Curse of Rocky Colavito lives .

Update: Charles Apple at Visual Editors.com has a terrific collection of front page images showing how LeBron’s decision was portrayed in a batch of daily papers, including an instant classic from the Plain Dealer, where our old friend Susan Goldberg reigns supreme.

Brown Accepts Blogosphere Debate, Nine Others

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Democrat Jerry Brown today accepted the invitation for the proposed Sept. 13 Blogosphere Debate with Republican Meg Whitman, featuring questioning by Calbuzz, FlashReport and Calitics. Brown also accepted nine other debate offers and called on Whitman to join him.

Sources in the Whitman campaign have not been encouraging to Calbuzz about their candidate’s participation in the Blogosphere Debate at San Jose State University, with sponsorship by SJSU, the School of Social Sciences and the Commonwealth Club silicon Valley. But now that Brown has accepted, perhaps they’ll take up the challenge.

Brown also accepted debate offers from: Faith Forum; CPR/KCRA/Univision/Sacramento Bee/ UC Davis; CBS; KTVU/Chronicle/KQED;  PPIC/CBA;  Dominican University/NBC;  La Opinion/KPCC;  The Women’s Conference, and ABC/League of Women Voters.

“Partisan bickering and attack-dog politics have created an awful mess in Sacramento, and I think Meg and I now have an opportunity to change the tenor of politics in California by conducting a responsible campaign that shows people there is a better way to do business,” Brown said in a written release.

“Every one of these debates is hosted by a credible organization, guaranteeing a fair and open forum,” Brown continued. “There is no reason not to participate, no reason not to say what we really mean, and show the voters who we are.”

UPDATE 3:40 PM:
From Sarah Pompei of the Whitman campaign — “We’re happy to see that Jerry Brown has finally accepted Meg’s challenge to debate at Dominican University in October. While Jerry Brown has been on the sidelines, Meg has been busily campaigning in front of real voters for a year and a half. We are excited to review every debate option on a case by case basis and we will be weighing in accordingly. The fact is there will be plenty of time for debates, and we are committed to having strong substantive debates, but we’re running out of time to hear what Jerry Brown plans to do about job creation, taxes, pension reform, government spending, and so many other issues.”

eMeg vs. Krusty: The Empire Strikes First

Friday, June 11th, 2010

For those keeping score at home: Meg Whitman’s Imperial Troopers staged a strong, focused and coordinated offensive march Thursday, while Jerry Brown and his Rebel Alliance scrapped and scraped to hang in against her lavishly financed campaign operation.

It was an early test of how Democrat Brown’s who-needs-consultants guerrilla strategy matches up in the governor’s race against Republican Whitman’s top-shelf marketing machine, as Team eMeg quickly put Team Krusty in a defensive posture while he spent the day responding to her aggressive, out-of-the-box tactical moves.

While the GOP candidate herself enjoyed a triumphant Silicon Valley homecoming rally, chief strategist Mike Murphy published a trenchant essay setting forth his frame for the general election, as the Whitman communications staff spent the day throwing marbles in front of Brown while unveiling her first TV ad of the campaign.

Not surprisingly, it was a positive spot, as eMeg needs to spend time and money reviving her battered image from the damage sustained during her thunder-to-the-right brawl with defeated GOP rival Steve Poizner. But by emphasizing her promise to focus on creating jobs, she also struck first to claim the top concern of voters in recession-wracked California.

California Labor Federation communications director Steve Smith reacted angrily on Brown’s behalf calling it “patently offensive that a billionaire like Whitman would even suggest she understands what families that have been devastated by unemployment are going through.”

“Meg Whitman’s life of wealth and privilege means she’s never had to worry about losing her home, paying household bills or affording to put her kids through college,” he said in a statement. “We need real solutions to the jobs crisis, not slick sound bites that fit neatly into a 30-second TV ad. And we certainly don’t need a billionaire telling our state’s unemployed that she understands the ‘human cost’ of joblessness.”

On eMeg’g behalf,  Sarah Palin contributed a televised  gratuitous shot to Brown’s shorts:

I guess I don’t have enough grace to apply to Jerry Brown when he says he isn’t going to be one for taxing Americans…I guess I don’t have enough grace to say “Hey Jerry, I believe ya.

Brown manager Steve Glazer immediately grabbed hold of Palin’s cheap shot for a web video pitch for money , while Brown’s labor pals  used their  Independent Expenditure committee to mock Whitman’s disgraceful voting record and the great man himself took a swing at Her Megness for her royal style:

The path forward is going to be honesty, not pamphlets and consultants’ scripted propaganda, but straight talk. Not flying around in private planes in a bubble of security guards and people protecting you every moment.

But as a new overnight poll showed the candidates tied (no surprise since Whitman no doubt got a bump out of all the fawning election election night coverage) the thinness in the ranks of Brown’s operation showed itself, as the candidate found himself exchanging charges with Sarah Pompei, eMeg’s press secretary, who’s three levels removed from her principal.

Confronted by reporters with Whitman’s quite legitimate charge that he hasn’t issued any specifics about his plan for the state, even on his website,  Krusty the General responded with a whining wheeze about being outspent:

“Hey, she has spent about $1 million dollars on her website, we have spent about $20,000 so I am running to catch up,” he said leaving a big opening for the volcanic Pompei to bitch slap him on behalf of her boss:

Despite having a $20 million campaign war-chest and the profits from his family’s oil fortune at his disposal, Governor Brown implied that he didn’t have enough money to put any new ideas on his website.  It’s ridiculous.  After 40 years in politics, it’s not surprising that Jerry Brown’s excuses are more specific, creative and innovative than his policy proposals are.

It was only one day in a long campaign but, after Brown’s shop-worn, John McCain-like call for 10 town hall meetings the day before, it demonstrated the extent to which the Democrat’s innate cheapness and stubborn contempt for campaign handlers can leave him in the free-fire zone against the Legions of Meg.

Memo to Jerry: It’s not 1974, and Meg ain’t Houston Flournoy.

(Memo to Jerry II: She’s also not Joseph Goebbels, Goebbels? Really? Goebbels? Nazi references in the governor’s race: Way, way over the line).

Luckily for Krusty, California Working Families, the labor-union-Ron Burkle-independent committee has a clean hit on Meg queued up and ready to run on Monday, reminding voters that Whitman has only a passing acquaintance with voting, can’t really explain why, and now is spending $150 million to get your vote.

Remind me again why they call her “Hurricane”? Having jammed one foot squarely into her mouth barely 24 hours after winning the Republican Senate primary, Carly Fiorina waited only a few hours to plug the other one into her pie hole, too.

As we noted Wednesday, iCarly put on a remarkable open mic diva act while awaiting an interview with KXTV, providing a splendid view to the state – indeed, the nation! -of her self-regarding arrogance and smugness, as the tape quickly debuted on the gab fests of the cable news shows.

Not content with having insulted Sister Meg’s “bizarre…bad choice” to go on Sean Hannity’s show (though not quite as bizarre as Fiorina’s own behavior) and meowed about Barbara Boxer’s hair, Hurricane Carly decided to do a little damage control by trooping over to Greta Van Sustern’s show shortly after to explain that it was all someone else’s fault.

See it wasn’t really Carly trashing Babs’s hair (BTW, wussup  with the “soooo yesterday” anyway? “Carly Fiorina – the only Valley Girl running for the United States Senate.” But we digress). No, she was just passing on something somebody else had said:

“I was quoting a friend of mine,” she told Greta, trying to laugh the whole thing off. Ha, ha, ha.

Sure l’affaire de hair is a silly little trifle. Beyond the clear evidence it provides that she’s constitutionally unable to stop flapping her gums, however, Fiorina’s gaffe on the first day of her campaign also is a perfect example of one of the character flaws most cited by her critics back at Hewlett Packard: her inability to take responsibility for her actions and her knee jerk reaction of pointing the finger at someone else.

Should be an interesting campaign.

Prop 14 redux: Check out this map from the Secretary of State’s web site showing the geographical breakdown of the vote on Proposition 14, the controversial “Top Two” election reform. Looks like everyone in the state who thinks that the partisan dysfunction in Sacramento is just swell – the commies in the People’s Republic of San Francisco and the right-wing royalists in the Kingdom of Orange – voted for it, while voters in the other 56 counties thought, what the hell, why not try something new.