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Posts Tagged ‘Tony Strickland’



Know Nothings and the Death of Political Compromise

Monday, February 28th, 2011

President Ronald Reagan often compared leaders of the Soviet Union to the movie producers against whom he once bargained as president of the Screen Actors Guild. That early experience, Reagan told serial biographer Lou Cannon, was where he “learned to negotiate.”

“The purpose of a negotiation,” Reagan added, “is to get an agreement.”

What a quaint notion.

The conversation, related by Cannon during a forum sponsored by UC Santa Barbara’s American Presidency Project last week, illuminates a fundamental difference in the Manichaeistic politics of millennial conservative leaders, who endlessly exalted the former president during recent celebrations of his centennial, and the real-life record of Reagan himself.

From his days as California’s governor, when he backed what was then the largest tax increase in state history as part of a bipartisan budget agreement, to the world-changing agreements on nuclear arms reduction he forged with Mikhail Gorbachev, Reagan managed to maintain his commitment to his  conservative principles while finding ways to cut acceptable deals with Democrats in the Legislature and the Congress.

His approach contrasts with the current crop of ideologues, from Washington to Wisconsin and Sacramento, who sneer at the concept of compromise and dismiss the idea of negotiation, the twin foundations of governance that have long made representative democracy work.

“While Reagan tried to stuff everything he heard or read into the view of the world he had brought with him to Washington, he appreciated the value of compromise and negotiation,” Cannon wrote in “President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime,” his seminal biography.

“And on nearly all issues, Reagan was simultaneously an ideologue and a pragmatist. He complained to aides that true believers on the Republican right…preferred to ‘go off the cliff with all flags flying,’ rather than take half a loaf and come back for more, as Reagan believed liberals had been doing since the days of the New Deal.”

The Wisconsin con: Compare this attitude to that of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who’s become an instant hero to the mossback crowd with his political jihad against the right of public employees to engage in collective bargaining. In a taped conversation with a person he believed to be his right-wing patron David Koch (who was actually an alternative newspaper editor who punked the governor and his staff), Walker offered a candid look at his crude and autocratic theory idea of governing.

At one point, for example, he expressed contempt for the moderate Democratic leader of the Wisconsin senate, who has reached out to Walker in an attempt to settle the partisan deadlock over unions, saying the senator is “pretty reasonable, but he’s not one of us…He’s just trying to get something done. . . .He’s just a pragmatist.” Perish the thought.

“I don’t budge,” Walker then told the liberal journalist posing as Koch; he added, in what he believed was a private conversation, that while he might publicly pretend to be open to compromise discussions with Democrats, he would do so only as a way to con them: “I’m not negotiating,” he said.

A Capitol caucus of sheep: These rabid sentiments echo in Sacramento, where 30 Republican legislators last week announced a so-called “Taxpayers Caucus.” At a time when even Republican-tilted business organizations in the state back Jerry Brown’s deficit plan to allow voters to decide whether to extend $12 billion in temporary higher taxes and fees, membership in this Know Nothing caucus requires a blood oath to obstruct all bids to put the measure on the ballot.

It is instructive that the leader of this cadre is right-wing senator Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark.

Running in one of the few competitive districts in the state, Strickland in 2008 defeated Hannah Beth Jackson, an extremely liberal former Assembly member, by exactly 857 votes out of more 415,000 cast; rather than moderating his personal ideology to reflect the broad range of views held by his constituents, however, Landslide Tony chooses to grovel at the feet of Grover Norquist, the Washington-based anti-government extremist who threatens with retribution any Republican who votes to put Brown’s tax plan before voters.

While Strickland and his reckless brethren try to gussy up their stance as a matter of conservative principle, it rests instead on a set of intellectually dishonest and purely partisan canards and deceits.

Decrying Brown’s budget plan, GOP legislators refuse to put forth one of their own, placing partisan gamesmanship ahead of governance in the full knowledge that attaching numbers and detail to their worn-out rhetoric would prove the absurdity of their call for an all-cuts budget.

Rejecting reality, the poseurs pretend that the $85 billion budget is filled with vast amounts of wasteful discretionary spending, knowing that the state’s money overwhelmingly goes to K-12 schools, higher education and health programs, expenditures that enjoy widespread public support and which they lack the courage to openly and specifically oppose.

Putting ideology over rational debate, they fear California’s voters, mindful that an election testing the popularity of their no-taxes-ever policies may  reveal the emptiness of their politics. Chronicler John Diaz offers a trenchant summary of their puerility:

The governor, who relishes intellectual interchange, confronted Republicans last week in a highly unusual appearance before a budget conference committee. As is often the case with Brown, he mixed humor and in-your-face persuasion in searching for common ground with his adversaries.

“Pledges are interesting, they make good theater,” Brown told legislators. “But the fact is we have to have a plan, we need a solution, and for those who say they don’t want to vote, then why are you here?”

Good question: Why are they here, collecting their nearly six-figure salaries plus per diem, if they consider the state’s predicament the other party’s problem and none of their concern?

The great exception, again: In a recent national poll, the Pew Research Center reported results that at first glance seem to give an edge to kneejerk hardliners. By 49-42%, the findings showed, Americans favor “political leaders who stick to their position without compromise” over those “who make compromises with someone they disagree with.”

But in this matter, as in many others, California goes its own way, as gauged by a Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California poll taken during last fall’s campaign for governor. As we reported then, the survey:

…offers a glimmer of hope for California, finding that voters by a 2-1 margin say they’d prefer a governor “who can work effectively with others across party lines” to one who “is single-minded and will fight for what he or she thinks is correct.”

Democrats, moderates and liberals are most in favor of a governor who works with the opposition, but even Republicans and conservatives would rather have a governor who can work effectively across party lines.

The problem in Sacramento, however, has not been finding a governor who will work across party lines; the problem is finding enough legislators who will work with the governor.

How Brown is like Reagan: At a time when Brown is offering to compromise with Republicans on big issues they purport to care about, from pension reform to business regulation and a state spending cap, it defies common sense for the GOP to turn away from Reagan-style negotiated agreements. Cannon again:

Reagan did not fit the neat ideological stereotype that was presented in alternative forms by movement conservatives and liberal activists…

“He liked to see the people around him work towards an acceptable compromise, said White House cabinet secretary Craig Fuller. “Both words are important. Acceptable in a sense that it met his criteria, narrow as they might be. Compromise in that nobody got exactly what they wanted, but nobody lost.”

Like Reagan, Brown is at heart a traditionalist, embracing the old-school belief that politics is the art of the possible, fueled by negotiations in the service of finding agreement. That is why Brown keeps expecting Republicans to want to negotiate for things they want in exchange for things he wants. But the vast majority of the GOP minority doesn’t want to negotiate, because they don’t want an agreement.

Brown’s focused and patient efforts to craft a budget deal belie the  decades-old rap on him as too heedless and flaky for the painstakingly hard work of governing. He can only hope, however, that amid all the posing, grandstanding and strutting in the Republican caucus, there are at least a couple of grown-ups with the backbone to stand up and help him do the job.

Recommended reading:

Timesman Frank Rich offers a national perspective on the rejection of compromise and negotiation.

Dana Milbank of the Washpost looks more deeply at the Khaddafi-like views of Scott Walker. 

Dan Morain has an excellent take on the goofball Taxpayers Caucus.

Steve Harmon exposes the urban legend of Republicans being politically destroyed for backing tax increases.

Post Mortem: GOP’s Top 10 Shocking Sights

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

SAN DIEGO — You know you’re struggling to craft a strong political message when your top convention speaker is a guy running for secretary of state who shows up wearing a hard hat, demonstrates merely average rhetorical skills and lifts his best line from a 34-year old movie.

As the state Republican convention ended Sunday, the best news for the GOP was that almost nothing happened, at least nothing that might be of the slightest interest to what you call your Real People.

For the political junkie crowd, however, there was no shortage of spectator entertainment. Here are the Top 10 events of a Lost Weekend in San Diego.

10-Calbuzz gets carded: The convention’s biggest surprise came when a thickly muscled bouncer demanded that your Calbuzz correspondents (combined age: 122) produce I.D. to gain admittance to some second-rate pizza-joint-with-a-full-bar in the Gaslamp Quarter which they stumbled upon in the pre-dawn hours. The move by Thor (not his real name) reflected not only his apparent legal blindness, but also some CYA concerns he clearly felt in noting we were two decades younger than the average GOP convention worthy swarming the streets.

9-The CRA deems Meg a squish: The closest thing to a conflict, let alone drama, was the right-wing California Republican Assembly’s unauthorized, opening day press conference assailing Meg Whitman for her softening views on immigration and climate change. The CRA’s unhappiness was  manifest in a proposed resolution urging the party to formally endorse Arizona’s immigration law, which eMeg opposes; party chair Ron Nehring, with a major assist from state Senator Tony Strickland, worked behind the scenes to ensure the proposal didn’t see the light of day.

8-Carly tap dances on immigration. Though the right-wing faithful are well pleased with Senate nominee Carly Fiorina, at least in contrast to wanna guv eMeg, the CRA’s resolution also put the Hurricane on the spot, at a time when she is ever-so-quietly trying to shift to the political center on several issues. Closely questioned by Calbuzz at her Saturday post-speech press conference about the wisdom of the state GOP going on record in the matter, Carly put on a fabulous display of bobbing and weaving before allowing that the proposal was “appropriate.”

7-Mom loves me more than you. Strickland, the party’s nominee for controller, and secretary of state hopeful Damon Dunn battled during their Friday night speeches to see who could suck up to Meg more. Dunn (who arrived at the podium wearing a white hard hat– see above –  for a sight gag that flopped) briefly interrupted the angry tone of his speech (“I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” he kept repeating, quoting the 1976 film “Network”) to gush that “Meg Whitman won my heart,” while Strickland batted goo-goo eyes at her while declaring with terminal earnestness that he’s proud to be “part of what I call ‘Team Whitman.’” Yuck.

6-Strangers in the night. After-hours party sources told Calbuzz it was no accident that eMeg and iCarly never crossed paths at the convention, because Whitman, having made generous contributions to the  GOP, made clear that’s how she wanted it. eMeg no doubt has marginal concerns that Carly’s hard line on issues like abortion, gun control and offshore oil might reflect harmfully on her own mad dash to the center, but the bottom line is simply this: as a political performer, Fiorina is three times the candidate Meg is, and her sharp, punchy and engaging presentation style casts a big shadow on Whitman’s awkward plodding.

5-San Francisco Democrats. As we noted right after the primary, Republicans got a political gift when Democrats nominated a ticket of constitutional nominees heavily tilted to Bay Area liberals. Lite Gov. Abel Maldonado put the Gavin Newsom piece of the package together all weekend, including this must-see video he showed the delegates during his Saturday night speech.

4-Dutch treat. As reporters milled around the press pen early Friday evening, our Assistant Deputy Managing Editor for Cultural Sensitivity and Linguistic Ethnic Profiling got an emergency summons to smooth over a potentially volatile situation, when ace SacBee blogger Torey Van Oot challenged the blatant inaccuracy of “The Tulip,” the nickname Calbuzz gave her in our convention advance. “I’m not Dutch,” she archly informed us, leading management to issue a formal apology, along with a copy desk memo announcing that her new nickname is “Don’t Call Me Dutch.”

3-Cooley’s debut. We got our first extended look at GOP Attorney General nominee Steve Cooley, the L.A. district attorney, and he did a boffo job of ripping the mask off  rival Kamala Harris, the other San Francisco liberal on the Democratic ticket. With his hangdog,  baggy suit, old-school style, Cooley is every inch the career prosecutor, and his authentic outrage was palpable over Harris’s handling of the Edwin Ramos triple murder case and her failure to seek the death penalty in the killing of police officer Isaac Espinoza; when Calbuzz asked him after his speech why he didn’t even mention San Francisco’s drug lab scandal, which Harris also stands in the middle of, he replied, “I only had a certain amount of time.”

2-Meg’s secret message to Goldman Sachs. We’re still trying to parse out precisely what eMeg meant when she dropped this code word thought balloon into the middle of her speech on Friday night: “Do you know who’s as excited about this election as we are? The people of New York. They have suffered the financial reforms that are going to crimp our ability to raise capital and they want California to turn the corner.”

Whether she was complaining that poor Goldman Sachs is suffering unduly under new federal financial regulations, or suggesting that Wall Street types would joyously celebrate the election of a like-minded $oul, you can safely bet that Jerry Brown will use the quote to help paint her as the darling of investment bankers everywhere.

1-The Dr. Hackenflack Dinner: Once again, all right-thinking people agreed, the unquestioned highlight of the convention was the Dr. P.J. Hackenflack dinner, which brought a top-drawer collection of players together at Osetra. Amid fun, frivolity and a wide variety of alcoholic beverages, the group cast secret written ballots for the candidates they think, as of today, will win (not who they prefer). The results:

Governor: Brown 12,  Whitman 5
Senator: Boxer 10, Fiorina 7

The not-so-random voter sample included: Republican operatives (5); MSM reporters (5); Bloggers (3); Civilians (3); Recovering journalist (1). A sixth MSM reporter refused to cast a ballot (don’t ask), making turnout 94%.

Consumer Advisory: This is heir to the same group that a dozen years ago  voted conclusively that Al Checchi would win the Democratic nomination for governor in 1998.





Road Trip! National Affairs Desk Heads to San Diego

Friday, August 20th, 2010

The center of the political universe will shift to San Diego this weekend, as eMeg, iCarly and scintillating Board of Equalization candidates from throughout the state meet in solemn conclave in a city that actually selected the phrase “Happy HAPPENS!” as its official slogan.

Our National Affairs Desk, joined by the staff and Secretary of the Department of Social Anxiety, Recreational Usage and Hollow Leg Dinner Affairs will collaborate, coordinate and cooperate to provide Calbuzz readers 24/7, real time, deadline-every-minute-coverage of the Republican State Convention all weekend.

Unless there’s nothing worth writing, in which case you’re on your own.

On me!

(Inside tip for conventioneers: We hear Jon Fleischman is buying drinks for anyone who sees him at the Manchester Grand Hyatt convention hotel and says: “You really should plug Calbuzz more on Flashreport.”)

The weekend’s highlight is expected Friday night, when Meg Whitman,  widely known horsewoman and GOP nominee for governor, is to deliver a stemwinder called “Political Management by Corporate Objective: Using Corporal Punishment for Pushing State Employees to Work More for Less.”

She’ll be joined on the dais by fellow statewide candidates, “Taliban Tony” Strickland and Damon “Don’t Call Me Dominick” Dunn, who will attempt to explain to the assembled octogenarians and by-then-sleepy delegates exactly what it is that the Controller and Secretary of State actually do.

Attending?

No word yet on whether birther whack job Orly Taitz, defeated by Dunn in the primary, will be on hand for the celebration. Hope springs eternal.

Keeping with the party’s “No Such Thing as a Free Lunch” theme, delegates and guests will be required to listen to Senate candidate “Hurricane” Carly Fiorina, AG hopeful Steve “Go Lakers” Cooley and Republican wannabe Insurance Commissioner “Landslide Mike” Villines, in order to have their mid-day meal tickets punched on Saturday.

That night’s headliner will be right-wing favorite and Lite Gov. Abel “Tax Man” Maldonado. Which is too bad for him, since most of the press corps will be chopping it up at the Dr. Hackenflack Dinner, except for the unfortunate Joe “Paisan” Garafoli and Torey “The Tulip” Van Oot, who somehow got stuck doing the pool report.

Watch this space all weekend for on-the-scene reporting of all the Republican hijinks and general hilarity. Plenty of free parking.

Out Foxed: There was lots of fierce competition for this week’s Little Pulitzer False Equivalence Award, what with Newt Gingrich equating construction of a Muslim community center two blocks from Ground Zero to Nazis putting up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington  (he was kicked out of the competition because of the automatic disqualification rule for anyone using a Nazi comparison to describe American politics).

The runner-up was Team Whitman, for its ongoing, flog-a-dead-horse attempt to equate eMeg’s $100+ million champagne taste campaign spending with the beer budget, Bad News Bears efforts of the California Working Families for Jerry Brown independent expenditure committee, which is kind of like comparing a Bugatti Veyron to a Nissan Versa. (Memo to eMeg Communications Shop: This whole “Jerry Brown Inc.” thing is hella’ lame, and the real problem is that it just doesn’t make any sense. Think about it for one minute: your whole line of attack on Krusty is that he’s bought and paid for by unions; so your tag line therefore portrays him as an evil corporation? C’mon. But we digress).

The week’s hands-down winner, however, was Calbuzz friend Joel Fox, usually one of our favorite conservative bloggers.

The weak gruel defense Fox offered up for refusing to make public the names of the contributors footing the bill for his operation to air a straight-on, anti-Brown attack spot in the guise of an alleged “issues ad” not only compared his donors to Revolutionary War patriots (sheesh) but also  evoked the First Amendment as the basis for his stonewalling.

Reporters said that donors to the ad should be disclosed even though that is not required, and these same reporters defend not disclosing their sources at times and often for the same reason…

Reporters defend a similar course of keeping sources protected from retribution by not disclosing them. Speaking the truth about an issue can displease politicians who have the power to punish through regulations, lawsuits, and other means..

Excuse us while we build a coliseum big enough to hold our laughter.

Comparing reporters protecting whistleblower sources from punishment and retribution for calling attention to public and private wrongdoing is only exactly 180 degrees different from letting a squadron of stuffed-wallet suits and corporate sultans slither away from the spirit of the law by sucker punching a political candidate under cover of secrecy.

Alas, we fear that Joel has conflated the First Amendment freedom of the press with the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

We got nothin’ against anybody spending their however-gotten gains any way they like, including pitching in to help a poor rich gal who’s down to her last 12 or 13 zillion dollars win an election. But at least man up and take some personal responsibility for the decision to do it. We’re just sayin’.

Final word: Calbuzz mourned on Monday, when baseball immortal Bobby Thomson passed away at the age of 86. The great New York Giants second baseman was the author of the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” the most magical moment in baseball history.

On Oct. 3, 1951, Thomson lined a three-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth off Ralph Branca, completing one of the greatest pennant stretch runs in baseball history, as the G-men bested the dog-ass determined Dodgers in a three-game playoff to win the National League championship and advance to the World Series.

Here’s the famous Russ Hodges call of the play, one more time for the Flying Scotsman. 

-30-

Swap Meet: Greasy Poll, eMeg Patrol, GOPer Trolls

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

oilrigMargin of error: The oil company based in Houston that is trying to win a lease for drilling in state waters off the coast of Santa Barbara is e-blasting an alleged summary of poll results about the controversial project, providing a case study of how scientific public opinion surveys can be manipulated for political purposes.

Days after Calbuzz examined the misuse of polling data, both on our site and in the L.A. Times, Plains Exploration & Production Co. (PXP) is circulating a memo titled “Highlights from Statewide Poll,” which claims – surprise, surprise — that two-thirds of California votpxpers favor their proposed Tranquillon Ridge project. The sheet consists of a series of bullet points, all of them purporting to show statewide support for the project among some genus or species of Californian.

PXP said the survey was done by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates — a polling firm for which we have high regard but which does a lot of work for advocates and candidates with clear-cut agendas. Our request for the oil company to send us the actual survey results, questions and cross-tabs was unsuccessful, as were those of Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, Pedro-Navawho’s led the legislative fight to defeat the project last month.

Nava is putting out a daily press release demanding PXP cough up the data, and sarcastically asking if they asked a series of slanted questions that would favor the anti-drilling position: “I intend to ask a question every day until I get some answers,” Nava told us. “It’s obvious they don’t intend to release it – they intend to continue to mislead us.” Calbuzz sez: Free the Secret PXP Poll – and All Political Prisoners!

blakesless

Oleaginous update: The proposal to authorize the T-Ridge lease, which was earlier rejected by the State Lands Commission, has been resurrected by Assembly minority leader Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, Nava told us, using a “gut and amend” maneuver to dump the substance of an energy bill and insert the PXP project language previously voted down in the Assembly.

Lots of subplots on this one, including the fact that fingers were pointed at Blakeslee  last month when Capitol Weekly disclosed that the Assembly vote on the PXP measure had been expunged from the record. Blakeslee, who denied it, nonetheless sure had a motive: he represents a coastal area but voted in favor of the lease. If he, as expected, goes after the Senate seat now held by Abel Maldonado, who opposed the offshore project, he’d represent even more coastal constituents.

Calbuzz has a hunch that the endgame of all of this will be a PXP-sponsored ballot initiative seeking to circumvent the Legislature and win voter approval for T-Ridge. The strategy would run some risk, however, as it could also trigger support for proposals to impose a severance tax on companies extracting oil in California, the only state that doesn’t have such a levy.

megyoutubeSteve (doesn’t) Heart eMeg: Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, whose team rolls out an average of 316 press releases a day bashing GOP guv rival Meg Whitman, may finally have gained some traction with one of his attacks.  It’s a You Tube spoof of the “Love Boat” which skewers Her Megness for some gushy comments she made about Van Jones, the former Oakland lefty who’s become Obama’s green jobs adviser – and is now in the free-fire zone over at Fox News.

If you haven’t seen the video, it’s pretty damn funny and you can watch it here. Chronicler Joe Garofoli has the play-by-play of the Stevie Wonder-eMeg exchange on the issue here, including Team Whitman’s Friday statement, which tries to make the whole thing go away. The defensive tone, the length and detail of it, however, shows that Poizner has stung her by highlighting associations with lefties for the edification of conservative GOP voters. Only 276 days until the primary!

More on eMeg: Whitman’s 493-second encounter with reporters in Santa Barbara Tuesday  smoked out some interesting new nuggets (block that metaphor!) about her views on key issues, demonstrating why it actually matters that All Right-Thinking Journos in California keep pressing her campaign for interviews, avails and accessibility.  Examples:

1-When Calbuzz asked her about offshore oil drilling, she disclosed that she’s changed her position since the beginning of the campaign:

“I would say that when I started this process, I was against offshore oil drilling and then I began to understand deeply the new technology that is available to extract oil from existing wells – slant drilling and other things and I think we ought to look at this very carefully because there’s no question that the resources off the coast of California and other parts of the country can help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil…I don’t think it’s sending a bad (environmental) signal. You have to look at the situation in which we find ourselves…We have to say times have changed and we’ve got to look at this again.”

2-When Susan Rose, Calbuzz correspondent on women’s issues, asked her about abortion rights, eMeg filled in some blanks, both on her position and on her perspective of how it may affect her among pro-life GOP voters:

“I am pro choice…I’m not for late term abortion or partial birth abortion and I did vote ‘yes’ on the parental notification proposition that went on the ballot. And I don’t want to take choice away from women…(Her position) will help in some sectors and it will not be helpful in others… (P)eople will know my positions on the social issues and if they are single issue voters and I don’t agree, they won’t be for me but hopefully they will put the whole package together and say ‘got it.’”

3-When Mark Mason (CB handle: “Planet Santa Barbara”) asked why voters would think she’d do a better job than Arnold Schwarzenegger, who made similar promises, she expounded on the differences between them:

“The governor has done a number of good things. Workman’s compensation…I’m a fan of Proposition 11, the redistricting (measure) but I will say that the results – unemployment, infrastructure, the health of the economy, are not good and the governor has to be accountable for the results…The biggest difference …is my business experience.”

McCain_Meg_art_400_20080610122428

eMeg fun factoids: She’s a Leo and the youngest of three kids (which explains a lot, as all astrological students of birth order know); her mother served four years with the Red Cross in New Guinea during WWII (“she knew where the need was greatest”); she was a high school jock (tennis, swimming, soccer); Princeton ’73 (fourth class in history with women in it); came to California when her neurosurgeon husband had to choose between Harvard and UCSF for a residency (“your mother lives in Boston, we should go to California”); her favorite Hasbro toy while working there was Mr. Potato Head (NOT  Barney or Teletubbies, she pointed out).

But what about the little guy? In recent months Jerry Brown has been putting on a clinic on how to align his public duties as Attorney General with his political aspiration to be governor again, getting his fingerprints on  high-profile cases from Anna Nicole to Michael, all the while attacking international drug rings, sleazy investment firms and consumer scams of every persuasion –- not to mention pushing to include climate-change impact statements as a requirement for new developments.

govjerrybrownNow Brown is taking aim at the mother lode of populist outrage, launching an investigation of Health Management Organizations, in which he promises to probe how HMOs “review and pay insurance claims submitted by doctors, hospitals and other medical providers” amid reports that the state’s top five insurance provides are denying nearly 40 percent of claims.

“These high denial rates suggest a system that is dysfunctional (ed. note – ya think?),” Brown said in statement put out by the AG’s press office, “and the public is entitled to know whether wrongful business practices are involved.” Cue it up, Omar: “In-DEED.”

Three-dot Republicanism: Here’s how Whitman is playing among right-wingersTonyStricklandBball

Latest sign that the quixotic crusade to ban independent, decline-to-state voters from GOP primaries is in trouble comes from Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark. Taliban Tony is the real, hardcore deal, a drown-it-in-the-bathtub movement conservative who made his bones playing Ronald Reagan in his 4th grade class debate in 1980  and came up through the ranks serving as squire to Skinflint Tom McClintock;  Timm Herdt reports that Strickland turned thumbs down on the no-indies rule, which can’t be good news foken-khachigian-copyr Flashreporter Jon Fleischman, sponsor of the plan…

Hell freezes over: Ken Khachigian, the squish-squishing senior statesman of California Republicanism, caught giving advice to Barack Obama.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Fishwrap: Gossip on Who’s Hot, Cheap Shots, Three Dots

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Who’s better on Prop 1A? Steve Poizner gained a step on Meg Whitman this week in the Republican primary race to the right, with his aggressive moves aimed at grabbing the mantle of Leading Scourge of 1A. Poizner put together a nice cross-platform bit of political marketing that combined his ”Not Another Dime” website (join the Facebook group!), an Orange County campaign event and suck-up drop-by appearance on the John & Ken show that sent a clear message aligning him with anti-1A conservatives. Ms. Meg meanwhile seemed content to rest on the, um, laurels of her dozzzzzzy old op-ed on the subject in the Sac Bee; hasn’t anyone told her newspapers are dead? Key question remains: which of the zillionaires will be the first to throw down big bucks of their own for the air war against 1A? . . .

Visual scoop of the week: Shane Goldmacher, who runs the Bee’s terrific Capitol Alert online feature, seems like the hardest working man in show business. His best coup this week was scoring that color photo of GOP senator Tony Strickland suited up to join the L.A. Lightning of the International Basketball League for their season opener. At 6’5” Strickland was a serious baller at Whittier College, Big Dick Nixon’s alma mater where he played small forward (Strickland, not Nixon) and broke the school’s single game scoring record. But this posed photo looks like a ’50s dork in the high school yearbook, who’s in critical need of a sun lamp. As for those jiggly arms, where’s Michelle Obama when you need her? . . .

This just in: California’s best hope for economic recovery now appears to lie in the Democratic primary race for attorney general, where campaign consultants are lining up around the block to cash in on a field of no less than seven wannabes maneuvering to be the state’s top cop. With S.F. DA Kamala Harris, L.A. city attorney Rocky Delgadillo and most of the male population of the state Assembly already signed up to run, Santa Monica councilman Bobby Shriver, Maria’s brother and the owner of a full set of authentic Kennedy pearly whites, is the latest to sniff around the starting line. . . .

Elder statesman: Now that Ms. Shriver-Schwarzenegger has batted down the silly rumor that she might run for governor, those looking around for a long-odds, undeclared dark horse are keeping an eye on Treasurer Bill Lockyer, about the only Sacramento pol who’s acted like a grown-up in recent months, managing not to get too much budget muck splashed on him. . . .

Short-lived revolution: Largely overlooked in all the fuss about the governor’s free falling ballot measures was the news unearthed by PPIC poll-taker Mark Baldassare that support for repeal of the two-thirds vote budget vote requirement has also plummeted. Just two months ago, Baldassare reported that for the first time a majority of voters (53%) favored such a change, stirring hope among the liberal netroots and other progressive types that repeal might be possible. Now that erstwhile support has quickly crumbled, as only 43% favor tossing out the two-thirds rule, while 49% say it’s a damn fine idea whose time has not yet passed. . . .

Memo to Hank Morris: WTF were you thinkin’, man?