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Posts Tagged ‘Van Jones’



AB32 Fight: Smokestack Steve vs. Monoxide Meg

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

smokestacksteve2Throughout our so-called careers, Calbuzz has been consistently entertained by our friend Richie Ross’s talent for concocting cut-to-the-bone epigrams about political campaigning.

“When you’re behind,” Richie once told us, amidst a race where he was running some now-forgotten dog, “always pick a fight.”

The formulation came to mind this week, as Smokestack Steve Poizner took out after Monoxide Meg Whitman, insisting to all who would listen that his position on the environment was waayyy worse than hers.

One day after our piece examining eMeg’s fierce opposition to California’s landmark AB32 climate change legislation (Coincidence? You be the judge) The Commish whacked her as an opportunistic, closet tree-hugger.

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“Meg’s rhetoric on AB32 is again a sign of the two Meg Whitmans,” said Jarrod Agen, Poizner’s slasher-in-chief. “Campaign trail Meg is making claims that directly contradict her actions and Republican voters will not trust her.”

The me-too attack came as Poizner endorsed the so-called “California Jobs Initiative” being co-sponsored by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Paleolithic, and Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Sirloin. The measure, now being signature circulated, calls for suspension of AB32, until employment levels get back to where they were before it passed in 2006.

056-597But the endorsement was really just an excuse to remind GOP primary voters of eMeg’s eleemosynary contribution of $300K to the Environmental Defense Fund, a strong supporter of AB32, not long after the measure passed, as well as her gushy past praise for ex-Obama Green Czar Van Jones – “I’m a huge fan!” – whom she met on a save-the-earth cruise that also included Jimmy Carter, fercrineoutloud.

Pshaw, dismissively responded the volcanic Sarah Pompei, eMeg’s well-paid responder. Whitman, she said, don’t need no stinkin’ initiatives to crank up the thermostat on the world all by herself.

“The authority to suspend AB32 already exists and Meg is committed to using it on her first day as Governor,” Pompei said, adding that, “as a result of the struggling economy, Meg was the first candidate to call for a suspension of AB32 . . . If there was any possibility that Steve Poizner could be touting those same credentials, well then, he probably would be.”

And thank you for that.

On Monday we presented the case, and the polling to back it up, that a majority of Californians don’t see a huge conflict between environmental protection and economic growth. While Calbuzz is open to being proven wrong (in fact, we’ve made a pretty good living at it), we think racing to the bottom on pollution is strictly a GOP primary strategy that won’t sell in a general election.

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Milk Carton Report: Phil Angelides, who had a charisma bypass before such surgery was fashionable, strode his way into the national spotlight Wednesday, as he opened as chairman the much-anticipated hearings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

“People are angry,” Angelides said, with the heads of the nation’s two largest banks and two biggest Wall Street firms sitting, under oath, before him.

They have a right to be. The fact that Wall Street is enjoying record profits and bonuses in the wake of receiving trillions of dollars in government assistance — while so many families are struggling to stay afloat — has only heightened the sense of confusion.

Not bad stuff for a guy who ran the worst campaign for the top spot since John D. Sloat didn’t cop a single vote. Given his financial bona fides as a former state Treasurer, not to mention his classic training at the hand of Angelo Tsakopoulos, Angelides ain’t a bad pick for the gig, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi helped him land.

It’s hard to imagine the commission coming up with much in the way of true reform, however, although the hearings do have some entertainment value. Best coverage we’ve seen is the live blog over at Huffpost  which also has a dandy piece co-authored by former N.Y. Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who managed to keep his pants on for the occasion.

halperinBeltway wisdom gone awry: There are few people in the political news business more obnoxious, self-referential and self-absorbed than ABC’s Mark Halperin, so we were delighted at Jason Linkins’ superb takedown of “Game Change,” the ’08 campaign account Halperin co-authored with John Heilemann, and which their fellow Beltway snobs are lapping up like melted Ben & Jerry’s.

Under the terrific hed “The Blackhearted Ethos of Game Change,” Linkins writes:

What you will get from this tome is the experience of being dragged through a great, teeming, gossipy Superfund-sized pile of shit, lovingly accumulated by two authors who have basically allowed anyone willing to offer nasty hearsay, trash-talk, or score-settling to dump away.

Calbuzz sez check it out

We’re from the press, we’re here to help: Kudos to Calitics for being first on the scene early Wednesday with a list of how-to-help contact info for the victims of the horrible earthquake in Haiti. Best bitchslap of the insufferable Pat Robertson: thank you Andy Borowitz for “Haiti? I Thought They Said ‘Hades’”


Calbuzz Interview: How Poizner Courts Conservatives

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

stevepoiznerSteve Poizner faces two key challenges in seeking the Republican nomination for governor: appeasing the GOP’s social conservative mullahs while convincing its anti-government jihadists his economic views fit more with their absolutist ideology than Meg Whitman’s.

An erstwhile Silicon Valley moderate, Poizner now positions himself as an Arthur Laffer-like disciple of economic growth through tax cuts and roll-backs in regulation, while finessing his pro-choice stance on abortion for the pro-life, cultural right-wing of his party.

The 52-year old Insurance Commissioner also has joined the crusade for a part-time legislature, a move that recalls how former Gov. Pete Wilson assuaged conservatives with his embrace of term limits in the 1990 gubernatorial race. All the while, Poizner keeps pounding chief rival Whitman, portraying her as a Schwarzenegger-like, neophyte squish whose vow  to run government like a business is no match for the Democrat-dominated Legislature.

“This is going to come down between Meg Whitman and me,” Poizner told Calbuzz in a sit-down interview, “(Voters) don’t want a career politician for sure, but they also don’t want a rookie, and I really do think that voters understand that politics is different from running a company.

“Being in a board room, I can just tell you, is different. There’s no hiring, no firing, no stock options (in government). The tools are different,” he added. “Between Meg and me, only one of us…has a track record.”

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First exchange: For the first time, Poizner and Whitman in recent days have exchanged sharp fire in an effort to paint the other as too liberal to represent the hard-line conservatives who dominate the Republican primary electorate.

Whitman struck first, distributing a video of Poizner’s 2004 Assembly campaign, when he advocated early release of some state prisoners, in sharp contrast to the tough stance he has taken against such a policy in the governor’s race. At the same time, Steve Harmon of the Contra Costa Times reported how Poizner’s “past support of taxes could haunt him” in the primary, detailing his record of backing a measure that made it easier to raise taxes for schools, among other past fiscal positions anathema to the GOP right-wing.

The attacks exposed Poizner’s vulnerabilities among conservative voters, as John Wildermuth showed in an analysis called “Poizner apologizes for being a moderate.”

megonvanyoutubePoizner quickly countered Whitman’s attack with a You Tube video that sent the message his rival is a liberal, cultural elitist; it featured Whitman singing the praises of Van Jones, Obama’s green jobs guru. Jones resigned over the weekend under conservative pressure, following disclosures of portions of his leftist record that included diatribes against Republicans and claims that the Bush administration was complicit in the 9/11 attacks.

“This is an epic battle,” Poizner said of his campaign. “This election will be the most important election in the country in 2010, maybe the most important gubernatorial race in California history, given the mess that we’re in.”

The interview: Cautious and wary, Poizner recently sat down with Calbuzz to talk about the race, his platform and the mess in California. Sitting in an outdoor cafe, he munched from a bag of potato chips after pushing away the nastiest-looking egg salad sandwich in the history of the world, which an aide had bought for him to eat during the late afternoon interview, after a day of campaigning.

“You had to get egg salad,” he said. “You think there’s anything more difficult I could possibly eat?

Here are some weed-whacking excerpts from the interview

ECONOMIC ISSUES

Taxes: “If you want to raise tax revenue the best way to do that is by reducing tax rates.”

“We are looking at broad-based, across-the-board tax decreases to make California more competitive, job-wise. In the next few weeks, we will put out a detailed proposal that will go into specifics of which taxes, how much. We’re going to combine some of our ideas about tax decreases with some reforms of the regulatory system as well. It’s really going to be a jobs proposal, jobs package.

“I went to one of those meetings (Commission on the 21st Century Economy) and, of course, there’s no consensus in that group…

“The (business net receipts) tax has the feel of the sales tax. The thing that worries me…is that people will perceive a major tax cut just happened – they won’t see the impact of the business value-added tax because it will be built into the price of the product. I’m afraid that politicians will want to ratchet up the sales tax over time because people will think it’s so low…

“I oppose a split roll (property tax) and a carbon tax. This is not the time to be adding new taxes.”

EDUCATION

Cuts in education: “I’m very concerned that we’re under-investing in education but the answer is not to increase taxes, because then you get into this accelerated death spiral. It’s going to be painful for the next year or two or three in order to get out of the mess we’re in, there’s going to be pain…

“I support higher tax revenues through lower tax rates and I want to invest these higher tax revenues in higher education and K-12…

“People from universities in other states are creating raiding parties of the UC system, our professors are going to get pilfered left and right here.”

Teachers unions: “(Teachers) are the ones that told me there’s so much money that never makes to the classroom. There are 600,000 people who work in K-12 and over half of them aren’t in the classroom…

“I want to empower teachers. People ask me this all the time – you’re a Republican, how are you going to deal with the unions? My education reform platform is going to appeal to teachers. There’s 300,000 members of the CTA and I’m going to communicate with all of them…

“There are 5,000 schools that report to 1,000 schools districts that report to 58 county boards of education that report … to a whole mixture of…bureaucracy and overlap…We’ve got to totally flatten that out.”

Dysfunctional state-schools financing: “We have to fix that.”

THE CAMPAIGNpoizner

Platform: “How I run for governor is going to be critical to my strategy. I’ll be issuing more and more details – I’m going to be very specific. I will drive my political consultants nuts. Political consultants don’t want you to be specific – ‘don’t let them pin you down.’ But that’s not the way I’m going to be running this campaign.”

“Some of my TV advertising may say the following – ‘please do not vote for me unless you agree with me’…I’m hoping I get elected by a landslide.”

Part-time legislature: “From 1850 to 1967, California had a part-time legislature. I want people who have been successful in their community and then they’re sent to the Legislature to make wise decisions…I want to figure out a way to attract a different kind of person.”

Gov. Schwarzenegger: “I think (he’s) been scattered. Sometimes he’s working in this direction, sometimes he’s working in that direction. I really do admire that he’s gotten the reform movement started…but he doesn’t have necessarily my same devotion to a set of core principles.”

Jerry Brown: “I look forward to running against Jerry Brown. He’ll be a tough, formidable candidate – he’s crafty, it will be a tight campaign. He is the epitome of someone who has never had any experience whatsoever except in politics and I bet you the majority of voters are going to say ‘thank you but it’s time to retire.”’

Tom Campbell: “Tom Campbell…is a great person, but he’s advocating tax increases – he’s running in the wrong primary. He’s not going to get into double digits, he’s not going to be the Republican nominee.”

Meg Whitman: “This is going to come down to between Meg Whitman and me and when people dig in they’re going to realize that only one of us has actually started companies from scratch. The other one is a large company marketing executive – that’s a difference…Only one of us has actually run for office and won. I’m the only Republican to get elected in a regularly scheduled election since 1994…The difference is track record.”

SOCIAL ISSUES

Abortion rights: “I’m pro-choice but I really do feel quite passionate about being against abortions. I want to drive the number of abortions down to as close to zero as possible.

“I just don’t think you can or should outlaw abortion – I mean that’s just not going to happen, wrong step. I’m in favor of outlawing late term abortion…I support parental notification, I support some logical steps that put some reasonable restrictions on abortions and most importantly I’m in favor of bold education programs for teenagers.”

Gay rights: “I don’t support gay marriage (and I support) Prop. 8. I do support civil unions and domestic partnerships.”

Social conservatives: “I’m finding that a lot of very conservative social conservative types they understand that my top priority is family values. There’s nothing more important than making sure that families can make ends meet…

“So we don’t completely agree on the social issues but we’re not 100 miles apart. On fiscal issues we’re 100% in lock step.”

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!

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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.”

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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.