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Posts Tagged ‘The Fix’



eMeg Meltdown II & What Poiz Will Renounce Next

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

eMeg Shipwreck, The Sequel: Meg Whitman got a little payback Wednesday for her year-long campaign  to stiff the California political press corps in favor of giving interviews to friendly national types, when The Fix, the Washpost’s widely read national politics blog, did a long post that featured video of her embarrassing media meltdown in Oakland the day before.

Kudos to Randy Shandobil of KTVU and Hank Plante of  KPIX, who each turned in a nice piece of story-telling on the debacle, giving insiders and other hacks across the state and nation a chance to hoot and cackle at the spectacle. Given the breathtaking stupidity of the play, it’s a challenge to pick one favorite image from the event:

a) eMeg’s Alfred E. Neuman act, as she sits behind a mike wearing a moronic rictus grin and utters the words that serve as the brand of her whole campaign: “I think we’re not going to be taking questions right this minute.”

b) The unfortunate Sarah Pompei’s portrayal of Ron Ziegler, after Her Megness turns to her press secretary in doe-eyed desperation: “How do you want to handle this, Sarah?”  Pompei first shoos the press out of the room, as a guy who looks like the third-string nose tackle for USC starts blocking and body checking the cameras, before the campaign mouthpiece fabricates a total whopper about Union Pacific, host for the event, being the ones who imposed the no-question rule.

c) The bizarre shot of a white screen hurriedly set up to block any video of Whitman being interviewed by Debra Saunders, the Chron’s conservative pundit. Knowing from long experience that the most dangerous place you can ever stand is between Debra and a TV camera, we’re pretty sure that if there were pictures, they’d show the columnist gnashing her teeth throughout the sit-down with eMeg.

Calbuzz pick: a).

Being a CEO means never having to say you’re sorry: Both Shandobil and Plante reported at the end of their yarns that Whitman personally called them late in the afternoon to apologize for what happened, although her explanation to Randy – more press showed up at the event than they expected – makes absolutely no sense.

The pencil press was less fortunate in the area of soothed feelings: Josh Richman of the Bay Area News Group did receive a smooth-it-over call from the lavamoric Pompei, but Chronicler Carla “Costco” Marinucci got zilch. We’re sure it’s just a coincidence that she’s the one who’s been leading the charge in demanding that eMeg be more accessible to the press.

What will Steve disavow next? Channeling his inner Goldwater, Steve Poizner in recent weeks has energetically been tossing red meat to the true believers – crack down on illegals, slash taxes of every kind, etc. – while piling up a host of high-profile right wing-endorsements, from Mr. Cranky Pants himself, Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Sirloin, to the Tea Party-tinged California Republican Assembly.

Along the way, of course, the Commish has also enthusiastically jettisoned a batch of common sense policy stances from his not-so-long-ago days as a liberal moderate Republican, from offering school districts an easier way to pass bonds to backing public funding of abortions for poor women.

While these flip flops make him look like a total weenie neo-neo-con who’s seen the light, sources close to our imagination tell Calbuzz that Poizner is reportedly making plans to renounce more of his past positions, in an effort to attract more conservative support.  Be alert for these upcoming big moves by The Commish.

1-Retitling his tax and spending cut agenda from the “10-10-10 plan” to the “11-11-11 plan.”

“The number 10 smacks of statist, Stalinist-era, five-year plans and 10-year programs,” we hear that Poizner plans to say.  “But 11, as a prime number divisible only by 1 and itself, represents the essence of individualism and liberty, core principles of my life for the last couple months, unlike that commie Meg Whitman.”

2-Changing his name legally from “Steve Poizner” to “Steve Patriot.”

“Since boyhood, having a “Z” in my name has troubled me,” a draft Poizner press release says. “The letter recalls  Eurotrash egghead poetry places like Czechoslavkia and Islamo-fascist outposts like Azerbaijan, where the liberal Meg Whitman would no doubt feel right at home.”

3-Demanding his wife return to him the $21,000 he sent to the Democrats and Al Gore.

“I swear she told me the money was for the Visa bill,” reads a talking point memo from inside the campaign. “So today I’m calling on my wife to re-deposit the money in our checking account, so I can buy more ads in Fresno bashing eMeg as a commie liberal.”

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Just think what she could have gotten if she sold the little buggers on eBay.

eMeg’s Money Pit, Maldo vs Pedro, Spin & Marty

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Wannabe Governor Meg Whitman tossed another $20 million into the pot like so much couch dust this week, leaving Republican primary rival Steve Poizner to whine about her per unit Return On Investment.

“Twenty million dollars bought Meg 45 percent of likely Republican voters in a January poll,” a Poizner flack sniped, pointing to the first $20 million personal check Her Megness wrote to her campaign. “That’s (sic) means Meg has so far spent $444,444.44 for every percentage point.”

Yeah, and…so what? It’s not like Republicans have something against rich people spending their own money.

Team Poizner also recycled the observation, by blogger Bill Bradley, that the $40 million eMeg  generously donated to herself, six months before the primary, already matches what Governor Al Checchi, the previous record holder, self-funded during his entire, miserably failed 1998 bid for the Democratic nomination.

True that, but again, what’s the point?

The bottom line is that Whitman’s lavish spending has bought her two, very valuable things in the race: 1) she’s clearly established herself as the front-runner, if not yet the GOP presumptive nominee, and; 2) she’s accomplished this largely with an under-the-radar radio campaign that has managed to avoid triggering a she’s-trying-to-buy-the-election backlash, at least outside of insider circles.

For Whitman, $40 million is chump change, a tiny sliver of her billionaire fortune; if it’s working, why not keep working it? Poizner made a brief splash last month by fronting a mere $15 Large of his own dough, but given his below-par outside fund-raising to date, Smokestack Steve will have to go to the wallet for a lot more than that to catch Monoxide Meg.

Brown-Coakley redux: With no exit polls from the big Massachusetts Senate race – who can afford them these days? – we’re unfortunately left with a wide-open bazaar of conflicting, unconfirmable  theories about what happened, none of them based on data.

That said, the most interesting take we’ve seen comes from Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, who advances the case that Republican Scott Brown’s late surge past rival and erstwhile front-runner Martha Coakley coincided with the release and publication of two robo-polls (so-called IVR polls, which auto-dial respondents) and which apparently triggered the flood of web fund-raising that boosted Brown. Mellman, writing in The Hill (HT to Gale Kaufman for the link):

(W)ithout the close polls, the circumstances that made Republican victory possible would have been insufficient to bring it about. The polls were the spark that ignited the dry kindling on the forest floor. Without the spark provided by the polls, though, there would have been no conflagration.

Is there anything wrong with polls influencing elections? If the polls were accurate reflections of reality, it’s hard to complain. Though we will never know for sure, my own strong sense is that these two IVR auto-dial polls significantly overstated Brown’s support when they were completed.

Another chewy take-out: the Washpost’s Chris Cillizza at “The Fix” lists five “myths” about the Bay State election: 1) Brown didn’t win, Coakley lost it; 2) Brown’s win means health care is dead; 3) Dems are headed for oblivion in mid-terms; 4) Obama’s brand is dead; 5) Mass. Voters won’t elect a woman.  It’s here.

The daily fix for our T-Ridge jones: Anthony York, over at  “California Politics,” the online collaboration between the LAT and Capitol Weekly, posted a juicy little report on the spat between Lite Gov. Wannabe Abel Maldonado and Assemblyman Pedro Nava over Calbuzz’s idée fixe, the Tranquillon Ridge offshore oil project.

Lobbying in print for his confirmation. state Senator Maldo reminded York of his past consistent opposition to the project,  insisting the offshore issue should not derail his appointment:

“I’ve voted against the proposal three times,” Maldonado said. “As lieutenant governor, I would take each issue as it comes before the commission, but I don’t know how much clearer I can be on that issue.”

Maldo also ripped Assemblyman and AG Wannabe Nava (D-Tree Hugger), who told Calbuzz earlier that he believes the Republican senator pledged support for T-Ridge before Schwarzmuscle nominated him for lite gov.

“It’s so crazy,” said Maldonado. “No deal has been cut.” Nava is “spreading stories that have absolutely no basis in fact.”

When asked about Maldonado’s comments, Nava said, “It’s hard for me to believe there wasn’t an agreement reached” between Schwarzenegger and Maldonado. “Let him sign a written public pledge that he will vote no on T-Ridge. Then I might feel some comfort.”

This just in: T-Ridge foes were caught by surprise when the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office recommended Thursday that the Legislature approve the project. While it’s a fairly tepid endorsement, coming after a laundry list of policy criticisms of the proposal, it’s an endorsement nonetheless, and from a very influential source:

While the Legislature will want to evaluate the proposal accounting for the policy concerns that have been raised, it should weigh these concerns against the opportunity to gain much-needed revenues for the General Fund. Analyzing the potential risks and trade-offs, we find, on balance, that the Tranquillon Ridge proposal merits legislative approval.

Jerry’s time warp: Crusty the General’s offhand reference to Mike Curb this week was just the latest evidence that he’s in danger of being stuck in a pre-1980s time warp. Here’s the Calbuzz Next Ten list of folks we look for Brown to reference in coming weeks:

1-Spin & Marty
2-S.I. Hayakawa
3-John Brodie
4-Gale Storm
5-Houston Flournoy
6-Willie Kirkland
7-Ozzie Nelson Dr. Irwin Corey
8-Caryl Chessman
9-Earl “The Pearl” Monroe
10-Wavy Gravy

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Weird hair showdown pits Donald Trump vs. Lady Gaga.


Just Because ‘Survey Says…’ Don’t Make It So

Monday, August 31st, 2009

This article was also published today in the Los Angeles Times.

gavinjerry

Daily Kos, the influential liberal web site, recently released a poll they commissioned that found that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was just nine points behind Attorney General Jerry Brown in the Democratic primary race for governor.

Within minutes, the San Francisco Chronicle posted a blog item saying the poll showed  the race was “narrowing,” comparing it to a June survey, conducted by a different company, which gave Brown a 20-point lead over Newsom. The item was quickly picked up and posted by Rough & Tumble, California’s premier political news aggregator. Then it was reported and re-blasted by The Fix at the Washington Post, one of the top political sites in the country. Within 12 hours, this characterization of California’s race for governor became received wisdom.

There was only one problem with this wisdom: it was wrong.

The incident illustrates how political misinformation and misinterpretation can be more viral than the truth in the Internet News Age, as reporting on polls pulses through the electronic highway, launched by news organizations with little time to evaluate and sift the quality of research. In recent weeks, a series of California political surveys have produced a cacophony of often conflicting analysis, opinion and reporting that served to confuse readers and distort political perceptions.

For example, comparing and measuring the Daily Kos poll, conducted by Research 2000, against the previous poll – done with a completely different methodology by Moore Methods Research of Sacramento – created a false equivalency. In fact, a recent follow-up poll by poll director James Moore, who has long experience in California, found that, far from tightening, Brown’s lead over Newsom has grown to 29 percentage points.

A poll’s methodology – including the sample size, method of selection and phrasing of questions– is crucial. The Kos survey, for example, used random digit dialing to reach California adults. To identify them as “likely voters,” pollsters asked respondents several questions, including whether they considered themselves Democrats or Republicans. But  identifying 600 likely voters didn’t provide the number of Democrats and Republicans statistically necessary to measure the primaries, so pollsters called more people until they had 400 self-identified Republicans and 400-self-identified Democrats. Then, as they put it, “Quotas were assigned to reflect the voter registration of distribution by county.”

After this statistical slicing and dicing, the survey produced a final sample of alleged likely voters that included 18% under age 30 and 19% age 60 and older. But according to a real-world screen of likely voters — based on actual voting histories — the June 2010  primary electorate is expected to include about 6% people under 30 and 38% people over 60.

These issues alone would be enough to distort the state of the Brown-Newsom race. But will any of them surface when the next reporter Googles the California governor’s race, looking for standings? Not a chance. Why does it matter? Because misreporting of  polls  allows campaign spinners not only to boost or suppress candidate fundraising, but also to manipulate news coverage frame campaign narratives and shape public perceptions.

The Kos poll is far from an isolated incident, as misreading and misinterpretation of survey research have become endemic on the Web. Consider the following:

A recent poll by the widely-respected Public Policy Institute of California, for example, reported that 53% of registered voters now favor more drilling off the California coast, a finding trumpeted by supporters of the policy. But respondents were asked their view on drilling as one of several approaches “to address the country’s energy needs and reduce dependence on foreign oil sources,” a question — as Calbuzz explained — likely to elicit a much different response than one about the environmental impacts of drilling.

A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll reported that only 43% of those surveyed supported a “public option” for health care reform – an apparently dramatic swing from its previous poll, which found 76% support for the policy. Upon closer examination, though, it turned out pollsters in the first survey asked people if they wanted the “choice” of a public option. In the later poll, they omitted the key word “choice,” asking simply whether respondents favored a public option. When Survey USA a short time later used the original language, 77% of respondents said they favored the public option, confirming the finding in the first NBC/WSJ survey.

Some political analysts, citing an increase in the number and proportion of “independent” voters who decline to affiliate with a major party, have argued that California is becoming a post-partisan “purple state.” But the recent release of 30 years of surveys by the Field Poll showed how wrong this analysis is. On a host of ideologically divisive issues, like abortion rights and same-sex marriage, independents have much the same attitudes as Democrats, keeping California a very blue state.

As established news organizations increasingly cut costs, first-rate, independent, non-partisan polling is becoming scarcer. So polling stories should be viewed by readers– and voters– with great skepticism, and news outlets should use greater care in analyzing and disseminating survey data. Reducing political views to a number does not necessarily make them scientific. Caveat emptor.


Calbuzz New Deal: World Domination Looms

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

calbuzz_adSpaceAnd now a word from our (self) sponsors: Okay,  okay we admit that as branding slogans go, “Shooting the Wounded Since March 2009” doesn’t quite rank up there with “Just Do It,” “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” or “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.” But we’re working on it, eye’ite?

That said, our Department of Weights, Measures and Worldwide Marketing is pleased to announce the launch of another big project: the Calbuzz New Deal.

Starting today, we’re offering a limited number of home page advertising positions for companies, campaigns and candidates working in the wacky world of California politics. (They’ll run as 120 x 90 pixel spot ads on the right side of the cover page, as in the example here, and on the jump pages.) We’re looking for a small number of preferred clients who want to get their messages in front of the eyeballs of our cognoscenti audience of decision makers, movers and shakers, insiders, flacks and other hacks.

At the risk of sounding earnest for a moment, we’ve been completely surprised by the response Calbuzz has received since we launched what we thought would be an occasionally updated, grumpy old guy blog back in March. From our first post -– a much-discussed analysis of why Dianne Feinstein won’t run for governor -– we’ve been extremely gratified by the interest, support and (mostly) positive feedback we’ve gotten from readers .

calbuzzartIn the months that have followed, Calbuzz has offered a steady stream of original reporting, analysis and commentaries –- ours, along with those of star political players — not to mention snarky cheap shots and the blinding insights of our staff psychiatrist, Dr. P.J. Hackenflack. Along the way, our stuff has been cited everywhere from the New York Times to NBC’s “First Read,” and we became the only non-partisan site selected by “The Fix,” the Washington Post’s influential insider’s blog, for its short list of top-rank, go-to online sources in California.

What began as a labor of love has become a passionate avocation, and the time has come for us to find ways to build and sustain the enterprise into the future. The Calbuzz New Deal offers a limited number of display ads on the right hand column of our home page, with preferred placement for those who sign up first.

Okay, that’s it –- no high pressure pitch (although we do know where you live). If you’re interested, please contact Anna Roberts, our advertising director, in our New York office in way cool TriBeCa (where she reports “you can see the Statute of Liberty if you hang out the window”). You can reach her by email at annacamiller@gmail.com or at (805)680-3029.

Thanks for listening. We now resume our regularly scheduled programming.

shootinfoot

Circular firing squad alert: For decades, Democrats were mocked by Republicans for  their self-destructive zest for internecine warfare. Now, it appears, California’s GOP has finally been turned on to the appeal of the  intramural sport.

Over at Flashreport, our friend Jon Fleischman is leading a crusade to ban independents from voting in Republican primaries, a proposal that will come up for a vote at the state central committee meeting in a few weeks. Given that independents are the fastest-growing group of voters in California, while the GOP is fast becoming an endangered species, the move would seem, uh, a bit counter-intuitive, despite Fleischman’s characteristically vigorous argument in its favor.

Strictly observing our non-interventionist policy with sovereign states, Calbuzz takes no official stance on this partisan issue, but finds veteran wise man Tony Quinn’s thoughtful essay quite persuasive on the politics of the matter.

ramosMore bad news for Gavin: It seems appropriate that a Republican site is the first to call attention to the elephant in the room regarding Newsom’s bid for the Democratic nomination for governor.

While Newsom’s famous “whether you like it or not” comment about gay marriage, and all it implies about his character, is most often viewed as his key weakness, the aforementioned Jon Fleischman today surfaces the case of “Newsom’s Willie Horton,” the Edwin Ramos case.

Ramos is an illegal immigrant who shot and killed an innocent father and two sons on a San Francisco street. Before the tragic episode , Ramos  committed several other violent crimes, but was shielded from deportation by the city’s liberal Sanctuary policy for immigrants. Newsom offered little more than a pro forma expression of sympathy to the men’s family, which sued the city.

Odd that Fleischman would sluice this out there now, unless his thinking is that Newsom poses a greater threat to a GOP candidate than does Jerry Brown. This is the kind of move you’d make now only if you want to knock the guy out of his primary (see South vs. Riodran, 1998 2002).

Washington Post Ranks Calbuzz a Top Political Site in California

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Less than a month into the mission (and even before our redesign), calbuzz.com was named one of the top three political blogs/sites in California Thursday, by The Washington Post’s “The Fix,” written by that paper’s top blogger, Chris Cillizza.

As the ultimate insider’s insider journalist in Our Nation’s Capitol, Cillizza publishes an annual list of “the best political blog (or blogs) in each of the 50 states.” In his updated list, which appears on the home page of his blog every day, Cillizza put calbuzz in the Golden State’s top tier, joined by our friends at FlashReport and Calitics, both featured in our blogroll.

Cillizza made his selections based on recommendations of readers, which means we got a bunch of support from calbuzzers across the state. We hugely appreciate not only your readership but also the great contributions made by calbuzz contributors from every point on the political spectrum, from Fred Keeley to Dan Schnur, from H.D. Palmer to Jude Barry.

You can see Cillizza’s entire list here. Thanks again for your support.