Posts Tagged ‘tax cuts’



Jerry ‘Been There, Done That’ Brown Hits the Air

Monday, September 6th, 2010

After months of being pounded on TV by Meg Whitman and her allies, Jerry Brown takes to the airwaves this week, introducing himself to younger voters, reminding older voters of better times and reassuring them all – especially moderate and independent swing voters — that he will not raise taxes without a vote of the people. His first ad is here.

Krusty the General’s first 30-second spot – released at 7 a.m. on Labor Day — asserts that when he was governor in the 1970s and 80s, “He cut waste, got rid of the mansion and the limo; budgets were balanced; four billion in tax cuts; world-class schools and universities; clean energy promoted; one-point nine million new jobs created. California was working.”

Then Brown tells viewers, “California needs major changes. We have to live within our means. We have to return power and decision-making to the local level, closer to the people. And no new taxes without voter approval.”

The takeaway (we still wonder if it’s really sticky) is delivered by a voice-over: “Jerry Brown: the knowledge and know-how to get California working again.”

eMeg spent about $24 million over the summer portraying the attorney general and former governor as a failed and hypocritical tax-and-spend liberal. But Krusty’s allies in the labor movement spent about $10 million over the same period attacking Whitman to keep Brown from falling hopelessly behind — as Kathleen Brown and Phil Angelides did in earlier contests. As a result, the race has remained – in most reliable polls – nearly a dead heat.

The question insiders have been wondering all summer was this: Once Brown takes to the air, what will he say? What’s his message?

The release of his first TV ad (we hear the buy is more than $1.5 million for the first six days) begins to answer that question. Brown is in effect saying – especially to crucial swing voters – “I’m a safe alternative to that woman who has been assaulting your senses all summer. California was working when I was governor and I’ll make it work again. I’m frugal, experienced and I know what I’m doing.”

Made by longtime Brown ally and media meister Joe Trippi, the ad seeks to convince voters that Brown was and remains a tightwad with the experience and integrity to govern California at a time of crisis. Brown’s campaign brain trust – after much polling and many focus groups – understands that the No. 1 concern about him among independents is whether he’ll raise taxes and spend like a drunken sailor.

Calbuzz was only somewhat surprised that Bob Dylan’s “My Back Pages” wasn’t the soundtrack, with Jerry twanging:

A self-ordained professor’s tongue, too serious to fool,
Spouted out that liberty is just equality in school.
“Equality,” I spoke the word, as if a wedding vow.
Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.

While footage for this ad was shot in San Francisco, other footage, still to be stitched into commercials, was shot at director Francis Ford Coppola’s private facility in Napa.

What the Brown ad campaign still lacks is a tight, strategic message like “Change You Can Believe In,” “Compassionate Conservative,” or “A New Deal.” Brown’s bumper stickers just say “Jerry Brown,” suggesting that the man is the message.

Always seeking to be helpful, we’ve consulted Calbuzzers G.K. Chesterton, St. Ignatius, Pierre Teillhard de Chardin and E.F. Schumacher to come up with some proposals that are a bit snappier than “Let’s Get California Working Again”:

– “Jerry Brown: Been There, Done That.”

– “Too Cheap to Fail.”

– “This Time I’ll Get it Right.”

– “Jerry Brown: No Sale on My Watch.”

– “Too Old to Lose.”

– “Age Quod Agis.”

Update: A couple of other notes:

1-Krusty wisely got a serious eyebrow job before taping the spot. The e-blast press release that was sent out with the ad trumpets Brown’s “energy,” among several references aimed at heading off the Gandalf issue, a message that would be seriously undercut without the key cosmetic fix you read about here first, which takes about 900 years off his face.

2-The ad is narrated by actor Peter Coyote, a long-time pal of Brown’s whom he appointed to the California Arts Council in his first turn as governor, a board that became very controversial during the same era, after Krusty also  appointed Jane Fonda, then widely known as “Hanoi Jane.”

3-Don’t be shocked if the “no new taxes without voter approval” kicker becomes a point of contention between him and eMeg.

Along with his call for returning power to the “local level,” Brown appears to be offering the framework for a proposal, kicked around the Legislature in several forms, to return responsibility to cities and counties for some programs the state took over funding after passage of Prop. 13; the trade-off would be letting local voters decide about financing them.

When we asked Whitman about the idea during the Republican state convention last March, after it had been raised by state senate Democrats, she flatly opposed the notion, saying no taxes should be raised, whether local voters approved them or not.

Update II: Three hours after Brown’s ad was released, an under assistant deputy flack from eMeg sent out a response reprising her summer attacks on Brown, saying he “is the last person we can trust for ‘major change’ in Sacramento.”

After 40 years in politics protecting the status quo, it’s no surprise that Jerry Brown is kicking off his campaign with a misleading historic renovation of his own record.

And for anyone who’s ever remodeled their house, or even just seen “The Money Pit,” you know how painful those historic renovations can be.

Consumer’s Guide to eMeg’s Empire; Debate Round II

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

In a bold attempt to go where no one has gone before, some of Jerry’s Kids, using campaign finance reports and information from the web, have pieced together an org chart of the Armies of eMeg Whitman for Governor campaign – that massive, impenetrable bureaucracy that is responsible for spending (and receiving) something approaching $150 million of eMeg’s money.

Counting people up, across and over (which sometimes puts people in more than one sector of the Invasion of Normandy graphic) we find eight people in scheduling and advance, 10 staff and consultants in policy, 16 in coalitions, 16 in field operations, 27 in fund-raising and finance and 24 in communications, including eight in the research group.

“In the green box marked ‘Miscellaneous Campaign Staff,’ there are an additional four staffers who have made more than $100,000 from Whitman, and we have no idea what they’re doing,” Brown’s research director told Calbuzz.

Brown campaign manager Steve Glazer likens Whitman’s campaign to a massive aircraft carrier that is stalled in the middle of the ocean, floating listlessly, unable to gain momentum despite spending millions and millions and millions on TV and radio advertising, internet communications, mail, telephone banks, fundraising, event planning and execution – you name it, USS eMeg has paid for it.

Whether that’s an accurate portrayal of a campaign operation with no equal in the history of California is still uncertain. This we know: No governor’s office we’re aware of ever had such a massive org chart, unless you count all the agencies and departments that are part of an administration and the CHP protective detail.

Also, no one in a governor’s office ever made this kind of money: strategist Mike Murphy’s Bonaparte Productions, $861,474; adviser Henry Gomez, $769,216; campaign manager Jilian Hasner, $667,552; adviser Jeff Randle, $572,949; security director John Endert, $261,682; communications director Tucker Bounds, $293,349; press secretary Sarah Pompei, $154,872; yadayadayada. That’s not even all the big-tick items and it’s only up to the most recent financial reporting period.

Another Calbuzz blow for truth, justice and the American way. We report, you decide.

China in a bull shop: In sifting the detritus of Wednesday night’s big Senate debate, we hereby declare that the wrong-headed wags who described it as a “dud” or “boring” apparently  tuned in to the wrong channel, and were watching the Dodgers game or something.

All right-thinking persons agree that Carly Fiorina and Barbara Boxer both were strong, smart and sharp in acquitting themselves favorably in the debate, and that their relentless, tough but civil exchanges made for one of the more impressive such events in recent memory (given the state of our short-term recall facility, of course).

That said, the rivals also each owned their fair share of foibles and fumbles, even if they did manage to avoid making utter fools of themselves. Here’s a look at some lowlights for each:

Hurricane blowing in the wind: Fiorina’s thoroughly baffling refusal to publicly endorse Prop. 23 – a stance that can only anger conservative backers while earning her exactly zero props from the anti-greenhouse gas gang – has already been well chronicled and chewed over here and here (don’t miss the part where she says, “look, I’m not trying to be evasive here”).

As lame as her performance on climate change was, the much under-reported nadir of her night came at the post-debate press conference, when she engaged in a cringeworthy colloquy with the Sacbee’s Dan Morain on the subject of China. Peering over his little gold spectacles and speaking in a gentle voice, Morain hooked Carly like a fish, asking her, in effect, what such a champion of capitalism and liberty as herself found so appealing about an authoritarian communist-run state as a place to do business.

Q: You spoke favorably about China and what China has done to create jobs. Is- are there things that China does that you think California ought to do?

A: Absolutely. China has done wonderful things to create jobs. Let’s start with the fact that they created things called ‘special economic zones’. Now we have things that are called something similar here in California, but we didn’t follow through with policies that actually create jobs….

I have called for the creation of something similar called “Jobs for American Zones”, and in those “Jobs for American Zones” we would give very specific tax cuts and tax credits…to hire American workers we would use the power of the federal government to cut through regulation and we would make sure that we are rewarding innovation.

Every single one of those things I just mentioned, China rewards innovation better than we do…and if you ask a manufacturer how easy it is to build a new manufacturing plant here in California what they’ll tell you it has become virtually impossible because of the taxes they have to pay and the thicket of permits and regulations they have to go through. So yes, let’s learn from what the Chinese have done.

Q: Well, well China has very different rules as relates to labor and human rights and things like that

A: And I certainly do not suggest that we follow Chinese rules on labor. That is not why most companies go to China…certainly technology companies are not going to China for the cost of labor. That’s a very small piece of the cost of a technology manufacturing plant.

To recap:

1-Personnel costs: negligible business expense.
2-Shortage of child labor laws and environmental regs: no discernible benefit to balance sheet.
3-60 hour work weeks at 60 cents an hour (and they pay us for the bed they sleep in, boss!):  no big deal to bottom line.

Please remove your shoes and AK-47s while going through security: We also were scratching our heads over Carly’s line of attack accusing Boxer of not having authored enough legislation; we always thought conservatives were pretty much in favor of that whole…governs best which  governs least thing, no?

Simply put, isn’t breathing fire about excess regulation and then ripping your opponent for not writing enough bills sort of like complaining the restaurant food’s lousy and the portions are too small?

Let’s leave that one off the highlight reel: Another iCarly low moment came with her sputtering defense of her previous statements of support for the sacred Second Amendment rights of folks who appear on the government’s post-9/11 don’t-fly list, a dumb and  unnecessary pander to right-wing primary voters that she’s now stuck with.

Calbuzz debate hint: As a general rule, fighting from a deep defensive crouch while desperately trying to explain that you really didn’t mean to say that terrorists have an unalienable right to bear arms is only rarely an effective tactic. (And don’t get us started on her stirring call for We the People to throw off the shackles of government so we can all walk the streets, heads held high, free men armed to the teeth with assault rifles and criss-crossed bandoliers of ammo).

Who’s on first: It was an interesting coincidence that Boxer also managed to screw the pooch on the arms-for-dangerous-airline travelers issue.

Presented with a big ole’ hanging curve ball she should have belted into the third deck, Babs only hit a weak foul ball in her response on the matter. Rather than portraying Hurricane as a dangerous extremist intent on arming jihadis, Babs inexplicably lurched off into a nonsensical riff about how, uh, my opponents position on this issue, coming during a GOP primary debate a couple months ago, uh, really upset Tom Campbell, who, uh, almost never gets excited, but this time got so upset he said, “oh my” or something.

At which point living rooms all over California suddenly filled with conversations like:

Huh? Wot’d she say? Who’s Campbell? The soup?

No, dummy, the one running for Senate…

I thought it’s Fiorina’s running for Senate…

Oh. Yeah? Campbell’s for governor then…

No, Whitman’s for governor, the one makes the candy, not the soup…

Point of order, point of order: Babs also had no answer for Fiorina’s criticism (contradictory and politically self-canceling as it was) of her thin legislative record.

Every time Hurricane raised the issue, the junior Senator from California  started dithering about “a thousand Boxer measures” or a “thousand Boxer provisions,” language that no doubt is useful for chopping it up with the parliamentarian in the Senate cloakroom, but isn’t quite as compelling for what you might call your Real People.

Next up: Boxer’s thousand points of light…

Your slip is showing: Boxer’s worst gaffe came in her otherwise strong closing statement, which she screwed up by solemnly declaring that she is “fighting for taxes for the middle class and small business.”

Oops.

It didn’t take Babs manager Rose Kapolczynski,  always cool as the other side of the pillow, to issue one of those “What Senator Boxer meant to say” statements:

Throughout the debate, Barbara Boxer described the importance of tax cuts for small businesses and the middle class.  In her closing statement, she skipped a word mistakenly saying that she is “fighting for taxes for the middle class and small business” rather than fighting for “tax cuts for the middle class and small business,” which her record clearly demonstrates.

Freud never sleeps.

Dateline Moraga: Live Blogging the Senate Debate

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Play-by-play below, but here’s the bottom line: Nobody “won” the debate which means Carly Fiorina did not do what she had to do — kneecap Barbara  Boxer or force her to make a mistake.

Fiorina, a smart, articulate and attractive candidate stood toe-to-toe with a United States Senator and handled herself with skill and grace.

Boxer defended her record in the U.S. Senate and pushed issues like choice, climate change and gun control into the debate that put Fiorina on the defensive.

The single matter that emerged that likely will resonate most: Fiorina’s record of laying off 30,000 workers as CEO of Hewlett-Packard — in Boxer’s terms (not entirely accurate) of shipping those jobs to China.

Her response — sometimes you have to cut some jobs in order to save others — sounded like an eerie echo of  the famous line from the Vietnam War: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” (That’s how it’s remembered even if it’s not exactly right.) And it wasn’t just a slip of the tongue — Fiorina said it in the debate and at her press conference afterwards as well.

We wonder if this will come back to haunt Fiorina: “This is the 21st Century — any job can go anywhere.” BTW, in the debate she said: “It’s an agonizing choice (for a CEO) to lose some jobs in order to save more.”

It was a clear contrast. Fiorina is a tough conservative who would overturn Roe v Wade if she had the opportunity, is opposed to California’s AB 32 climate-change law and would extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers.

Boxer is a die-hard liberal who is known as a partisan, pushes cap and trade legislation, would end the Bush tax cuts for the rich and is more worried about easing the way for illegal immigrants than she is about securing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Untested political newcomer versus career politician. Republican stalwart versus Democratic diehard.

The most baffling thing is this: Why won’t Fiorina, who sees AB 32 as a “job killer,” come out in support of Prop. 23 — which would gut the measure? Pushed at her press conference, she made all the arguments against Prop. 23 but refused to take a stand. All she would offer is that when it comes time to vote, she will take a position.

Also, what happened to term limits that Fiorina is so hot for? Never came up.

It was a lively debate, showed the ideological contrast between the candidates and gave viewers a chance to see both candidates talk and chew gum at the same time, so to speak. Carly was more tightly wound, but crisp; Boxer was more conversational but equally sharp on her attack points.

Boxer kept saying she’s enacted a thousand measures but could not refute Fiorina’s assertion that she’s only got her name on four bills. Not much for a 18-year Senator.

(Live blog begins here.)

Calbuzz went to the extraordinary expense of dispatching the entire National Affairs Desk to St. Mary’s College in Moraga (De La Salle Christian Brothers) to cover the Barbara Boxer-Carly Fiorina U.S. Senate debate – and has been promptly relegated, with the rest of the press corps, to watch the event on a giant TV while the real deal goes down across the way in the LeFevre Theatre.

Plenty of free parking here where it’s 97 degrees outside and TV correspondents are trying not to sweat on camera during their stand-ups.

Cookies too, thanks to the terrific St. Mary’s communications staff – chocolate chip, peanut butter, double chocolate and (ugh) raisin – along with a bunch of fruit that Calbuzz hasn’t the slightest interest in touching.

We’ll be live blogging the debate as soon as it starts in about 15 minutes.

6:57 p.m. KTVU, which is co-sponsoring the debate with the Chron and KQED-FM, just showed live shot of extremely sweaty protesters outside.

“Carly, no es mi amiga” vs. “Boxer, you’re fired.”

Inside the press room, Jon Fleischman of FlashReport, just called the debate for Fiorina.

7:00 – It’s on. Big hand for Carla Marincucci’s hair in the press room.

Boxer, wearing a gray pantsuit, is on the left. Fiorina, in a teal skirt suit, is on the right.

First opening to Carly: “I have lived the American dream.” Trying to give herself blue collar roots, even though her father was a law professor who was almost appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We need some common sense and problem solving ability in Washington, D.C.” First whack at Babs:  She’s been in D.C. forever and her policies have been disastrous. Very aggressive in taking on the incumbent.

Boxer: “I’ve enacted a thousand measures,” coming right back at Fiorina charge that she’s done nothing. Whack at Carly: I’m working to stop companies from shipping jobs overseas. And, oh yeah, Carly got fired and took $100 million in severance.

Great start.

Marinucci asks first question of Fiorina:

Carly says it’s all about jobs — tax cuts — Carla asks — small business owners are struggling — death tax — Boxer voted for taxes — to create jobs we need to make sure business is free from stangling regulation and taxation.

Boxer says 16,500 teachers got pink slips, what’s important than out children — my opponent called the bill a disgrace — but she doesn’t like it because we paid for it by stopping tax breaks from companies overseas.

Question 2: Scott Shafer asks Babs whether Iraq war “was worth it.” She says she opposed the war but voted for more money for troops and veterans. Credits Obama for getting out, and supports him in Afghanistan but supports hard time line to bring troops home “by 2011″

Carly staff is walking around the press room dropping off  “Debate Fact Sheet” on everybody’s work station, challenging BB’s earlier assertions.

Carly on Iraq: Boxer’s “rhetoric doesn’t match her record.” Attacks Boxer for not voting for body armor, and also hits on her on small business legislation speaking government-speak gibberish about “TARP Jr.” and “TARP Sr.”

Question about immigrants: Carly wants to educate everyone but she’s against amnesty for people here illegally –

Boxer says she’s proud of her record on veterans — says Carly called immigration reform “a distraction” — we need comprehensive immigration reform.

Question 4 comes on tape from a guy in Oakland named Tim Tam who wants to know why Boxer doesn’t give somebody else a chance after 28 years in the Senate. Barbara sez “there’s a clear choice” and turns it to hit Carly: “We don’t need those Wall Street values.”

Fiorina says Boxer “mischaracterizes my record” on shipping jobs overseas. “Agonizing choice to lose some jobs in order to save more.”

Next question from Tom Watson, retired HP executive who bashes Fiorina with her record of “right sourcing” jobs and saying that no one has “a God given right” to a job. Great question.

Carly is now listing all the countries in the world – not to mention “Texas and Brazil” about….something…she seems to have been caught a little off guard by this.

Strong comeback on jobs by Boxer noting that Fiorina has opposed every jobs bill that’s come up since she started running.

Carly asks Boxer about famous incident when she asked General not to call her “ma’am.” She gives same answer as Calbuzz previously supported reported.

Fiorina comes back to say that Boxer is using H-P “a treasure of California” as a “political football.”

Randy Shandobil the moderator tells both of them to stop going over time, and get to the point and answer the damn questions. Yay Randy.

Shafer asks about gay marriage. Fiorina says marriage should be “between a man and a woman.” Says that because voters had such a clear decision “not appropriate” for “a single judge” to overturn. Umm, isn’t that why we have three branches of government?

So says Boxer, noting that America has a system of checks and balances. She cites Justice Ron George’s opinion opposing Prop. 8.

Fiorina gnomes just dropped off fifth fact check – almost make you think they had them ready in advance.

Boxer is asked about bipartisanship — is she too partisan — she says he works with Republicans all the time — a time line for withdrawl from Afghanistan is one example.

Carly says Barbara is long on talk and short on achievement — one of the most bitterly partisan — only has four bills with her name on them –

Carla asks about Roe v Wade — I am pro life, because of my personal experiences, her husband’s mother was told to abort him for health reasons — recognize that not everyone agrees with me — I am comfortable funding for adult stem cell research — but if embryos are produced for destruction then she’s opposed — says Boxer’s positions are extreme — has said a baby doesn’t have rights until it leaves the hospital –

Randy — Roe v Wade — she acknowledges she would overturn if she had the opportunity.

Boxer says she respects people’s — says Fiorina would criminalize women and doctors — says this is not about personal views.

Re. the “four bills” says she’s approved 1,000 Boxer provisions — you can see them online.

Shafer asks when Dems are going to stop blaming Bush and Rep congress for economic woes. Boxer says “we have” and are working on it…now she’s talking about the good old Clinton years and is blaming Bush for “the worst job creation record since Herbert Hoover.” “We didn’t get here overnight and we’re not going to solve it overnight.”

Fiorina: “Recovery summer has become the summer of despair in California.” She hits Boxer for voting for stimulus bill which she says “has failed.” Good riff on Boxer record of voting against balanced budget amendments: “Her record is crystal clear.”

Fiorina is asked if she thinks global warming is real or just a problem with the weather as she said in an ad — Carly says the ad was about military security — says we need a national and comprehensive energy bill — not answering whether she’s for Prop. 23 — we need to fund energy R&D — we cannot put bills in place that punish energy—

Randy re asks — Prop 23 — says her focus is on national policy — says she hasn’t taken a position — AB 32 is a job killer.

Boxer — if you cant take a stand on Prop 23, I don’t know what you will take a stand on — it’s a critical issue — my opponents is used to creating jobs in China, Germany, etc. – which would be the result of overturning AB 32 — “no bill I ever wrote superseded CA law.”

St. Mary’ student asks about ag policy. Zzzzz.

Fiorina now hitting BB on water – claims Babs “pressured” Feinstein to drop an amendment…

Viewer question – why do you think it’s a good idea for people on terrorist no fly list to have guns – what – are you nuts?

CF: “The no fly list isn’t particularly well managed.” We should not be taking constitutional rights away from citizens and giving them to terrorists – and that’s exactly what Barbara Boxer wants to do.”

BB: “It’s hard to know where to start.” Boxer trumpets her legislation letting pilots be armed.” Recalls watching debate where Fiorina said this and says Tom Campbell get excited “for the first time in his life.”

“Oh my goodness,” Boxer says Campbell said.

How about the assault weapons ban? Fiorina says it’s far too broad…Babs says dumping it “makes no sense at all.” Big wet kiss to Difi for sponsoring the bill.

Closing statements:

Carly: She’s been struck by the “beauty” of California. Also fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Recounts alleged anecdotal conversations with people who don’t like regulation…very sappy yarn about some lady who said she’d never voted but registered to vote for Carly and “don’t forget us.” Oy. She’s for average people who “give a lot and ask for a little.”

Barbara: “This a very clear choice.” I’m fighting for jobs and she laid off 30K people and sent jobs to China. Made in America vs. Made in China. Someone fighting for tax cuts for middle class and someone fighting for CEOs and billionaires. Clean energy vs someone supported by big oil and big coal. Pro-choice – Fiorina would “turn a woman into a criminal” for having an abortion…Offshore oil. I fought for Wall Street reform and she acts “just like a Wall Street CEO.”

Randy apologizes for not getting to more questions. No worries man, good work.

Debate Watcher’s Guide to Babs and Hurricane Carly

Monday, August 30th, 2010

As the U.S. Senate candidates prepare to debate Wednesday evening, Republican Carly Fiorina and Democrat Barbara Boxer face two, very different challenges:

Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, wants to make the case that Boxer is a left-wing extremist who should be tossed out of Congress and that she would make a solid replacement for her rival.

First elected in 1992, Boxer has to demonstrate that she has been, and can continue to be, effective in the Senate. It’s an added bonus if she can portray Fiorina as a right-wing whack job.

Look for Fiorina to move aggressively to steer the conversation to jobs, portray the economic stimulus bill as a prime example of excessive government spending and mock Boxer’s record of achievement (or lack thereof) in the Senate.

Watch for Boxer to argue that the stimulus saved many thousands of jobs in California, and to try to focus on a woman’s right to choose, climate change, offshore oil drilling and Fiorina’s record of achievement (or lack thereof) at Hewlett-Packard.

Throw down a shot every time Fiorina mentions Boxer’s 28 years in office and another when Boxer mentions HP and “You’ll be pretty toasted at the end of that game,” says Julie Soderlund, Fiorina’s spokeswoman.

Boxer is a big supporter of President Barack Obama and the stimulus. So Fiorina will home in on the sense that the president’s policies have failed to restore economic security. But every time Fiorina mentions the economy, she will open herself up to attacks about laying off thousands of HP employees, shipping jobs abroad and mismanaging the company, from which she was fired.

Both will have much to say about extending the Bush tax cuts: Fiorina likes them and Boxer argues they benefit only the rich. Both have strong views on immigration: Fiorina accuses Boxer of favoring amnesty and being soft on illegals; Boxer can’t understand why Fiorina is opposed to a path to citizenship for undocumented workers.

Listen for how many times either candidate refers to “green jobs,” policy proposals that posit California can combine economic growth with environmental protection by building up wind, solar and battery industries to cushion the shock of tough regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Note how many times the two reference agriculture and – heaven help us – “family farming.” Is one of them for getting water to the Central Valley and the other opposed? Would one of them drain the Delta in order to flood parched farmland?

The issue of abortion rights is perhaps the brightest line difference between the two.

Boxer knows that Fiorina’s anti-abortion stance differs from mainstream views of most California voters, including the independents who tilt the balance in statewide elections. She also knows, however, that Fiorina has a personal narrative to explain her position – she and her husband, Frank, were unable to have children, while his mother recalls that she was urged to abort him for health reasons – so Boxer must handle it carefully.

While voters may hope the candidates will keep the debate focused on issues, some personal, snarky moments are all but guaranteed – the targets are just too tempting.

Will Fiorina refer to Boxer as “ma’am,” to remind viewers of her notorious confrontation over titles with a top general at a committee hearing? Will Boxer, as one of her advisers suggested, mention Fiorina’s yacht trips with her grandchildren? Will either offer a reminder of Fiorina’s dis of Boxer’s way-yesterday hairdo early in the campaign?

How about term limits, Barbara? Carly’s for them and has even pledged to serve only 12 years in the Senate. Is this just a cheap rhetorical trick or are you planning to lead a nationwide drive to get approval for a constitutional amendment, Carly?

Carly, are you for tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas, like you did at HP? Barbara, do you want to raise business taxes to make it even harder for companies to hire workers when California’s unemployment rate is pushing 13 percent?

As they prepare for the debate, both sides are talking up how skilled the other is at public speaking and argument, part of the raise-expectations game.

But there are some expectations that viewers can rightfully bring to the debate-watching experience. Boxer, who often stands on a box to look taller, has to maintain the dignity and decorum of a United States senator, even if she takes shots at her challenger. Fiorina has to look and sound like a United States senator and not Suze Orman on steroids.

Viewers might want to put a couple of columns on a piece of paper: Junk Yard Dog and Dignified Public Servant. Every time either candidate sounds like one of these, mark her name in the appropriate column. Total them up at the end.

The results will have absolutely nothing to do with who actually wins the election.

This article, without clever Calbuzz art, appeared originally in the Sacramento Bee on Sunday, 8/29/10.

Humpday: Bell Chimes for Krusty, eMeg in 2016!

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Back when George Stephanopoulos was peddling his memoir of life in the Clinton White House, he often began his stock talk to audiences with a classic joke premised on him defining the word “politics,” which went something like this:

“It derives from the Greek root ‘poli,’ meaning ‘the many,’” he’d say, then pause a beat. “And the word ‘tics,’ meaning, “blood sucking parasites.’”

Given this Calbuzzian weltanschauung, George would naturally be our top pick to interview Meg Whitman for “Good Morning America,” far better suited than the rest of the steel-bellied airheads who populate the network airwaves at that time of day. And when he faced off for a 4:33 sit-down with Her Megness early Tuesday, he did a pretty good job of asking a few tough questions within the patty cake parameters of the GMA genre.

Unfortunately for any viewer who hoped to learn something new or authentic about eMeg, she also performed well, slipping, sliding and dodging throughout, as she stayed relentlessly on her straight jacketed message and tediously stuck to her tiresome talking points.

For Calbuzz, the highlight came when Stephanopoulos asked her if she wanted to run for president, the first time we’re aware that any national type raised the issue since we warned the world to keep an eye on the burgeoning Our Meg in 2016 campaign.

Sorry to say, he loosely worded his question so to give the slippery eMeg an easy out, as she instantly chuckled the phoniest laugh since 1950, when LFN made its debut on the pioneering Hank McCune show.

GS: You win in November, you’re automatically at the top of the Republican party list, not only in California., but the country. Ever thought about running for president?

MW: No (big burst of head tossed back fake hilarity). I am here to run California. I want to fix California. Where goes California goes the country.

“Where goes California goes the country”? Really?

Calbuzz sez: Not exactly what you call your Shermanesque statement. Keep those “Meg 2016” buttons – they could be worth big bucks on eBay.

More on Meg in the morning:

1-eMeg first tried to duck the question of whether she supports congressional Republicans in pushing to extend the Bush tax cuts; when George S.interrupted her filibuster – “Let me get back to my question” – she promptly threw in with the Laffer Curve crowd: “I do.”

In between, she served her usual fog of gibberish about “targeted tax cuts” in California, a mumbo jumbo mashup she uses to disguise a supply side agenda of gifting corporations and billionaires like herself, as the superb financial writer Michael Hiltzik made clear in Sunday’s LAT.

2-Stephanopoulos asked an excellent question about the well-deserved dismal public image of corporate executives, but failed to follow up, letting eMeg off the hook for her own sleazy history of  dealings with Goldman Sachs and Craig’s List, not to mention her manhandling of a subordinate press aide at eBay.

GS: Why should the public trust business leaders any more than politicians? These days they see all of the shenanigans on Wall Street and there’s just as much distrust of the business world today as there is of politicians.

MW: I would tell people to look at my eBay experience, blah, blah, blah…

3-Interesting visual: In his lead-in to eMeg, GS said, “We continue our series of interview with new faces on the political scene,” over a graphic display of newcomers that included wannabe California Senator Carly Fiorina, South Carolina GOP gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley, Tea Party Kentucky Senate nominee Rand Paul and…Jerry Brown.  “New face on the political scene”? No way. Way! Chalk up one for Gandolf.

The Bell tolls for thee: In a sudden burst of energy,  Brown this week showed off his consummate skill as a political ambulance chaser, breaking all land speed records to dive into the middle of the story surrounding the widening scandal of gold-plated salaries and benefits local officials paid themselves in the small Southland city of Bell.

Wearing his Attorney General hat, Krusty immediately launched an investigation of the rancid mess, uncovered through first-rate enterprise reporting by the By God L.A. Times, managing in one swell foop to a) garner reams of free media attention in what is Topic A in L.A.; b) thumb his nose at eMeg who keeps insisting she’s shocked – shocked! – at the notion of an attorney general getting political benefit from the exercise of his official duties and c) find a strong pony to ride in the campaign contest to exploit  outrage over public employee pay and benies, without offending his allies in labor.

Debate over debates: We’re feeling a bit confused over Tuesday’s exchange of fire over debates in the governor’s race, as eMeg said she was challenging Krusty to three, and he responded that he’d already challenged her to 10 so she owed him an answer on three, but one of those she accepted was not in the original 10, so yadayadayada.

We’ll leave the untangling of all this to others. All we know is that Our Meg snubbed the gracious  Calbuzz/Flashreport/Calitics invite for an historic Blogosphere Debate, which Brown earlier accepted. As the late Calbuzz Joseph Marie Eugene Sue was fond of saying:
“La vengeance se mange très-bien froide.”