Posts Tagged ‘veto’

Press Clips: Sartre & Beckett vs. Krusty & Hobbes

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Top Calbuzz executives assigned our Department of Belle-Lettres and Ersatz Erudition the most pressing, mission critical job of the week: finding a literary reference to best describe the California Doomsday Scenario.

As the on-again-off-again closed door negotiations between Pope Jerry and Republican Capitol bishoprics  kept flickering, it became clearer by the hour that if their talks collapsed, the state was headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.

If, as our sources insist, the governor simply won’t countenance a Democrat-only solution to get his tax extension plan on the ballot, the specter looming over Sacramento, should Republicans stiff him, is that he’ll next put forth a cuts-only fiscal plan, which his party’s lawmakers will never accept, leaving the whole shtunk exactly…nowhere…

And so: What story, what narrative, what metaphor can our fine-writing-done-cheap trolls employ to cut to the chase in labeling this dreadful state of affairs – and that also fits in the headline?

Due consideration, of course, was paid to Sartre’s “No Exit” (“Hell is other people”), to Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” (“Nothing to be done”) and, not least, “Ghostbusters II” (“Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! 40 years of darkness! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!”)

And then, amid much mulling, what you like to call your Jesuit-trained governor came up with the answer himself: Leviathan.

Krusty’s elegant bookish solution surfaced in a conversation with our friend George Skelton, who churned out the most enterprising budget story of the week. While others in the Sacramento press corps kept writing the same process story (we name no names –  there’d be too many) Skelton captured the Little Pulitzer for Best Political Commentary That Includes Food.

Scoring the first substantive interview with the governor since the inauguration, George covered all the bases: 1) finagling his way inside Jerry and Anne’s loft, 2) copping a free turkey and cheese sandwich (and crucially, working the food into the story; 3) winning some face time with Sutter. All that plus, characteristically, asking Brown the key question: what does the future hold in the not-unlikely event you can’t reach a compromise with the GOP?

Events will unfold like this, (Brown) predicts without hesitation, if the Legislature fails to muster the required two-thirds majority vote … “I put up an all-cuts budget” … Then the Democrats change [the all-cuts budget] and put in gimmicks. Then I veto it. Then everybody sits there until we run out of money. It’s not going to be a pretty sight. It’s like one-two: No tax, all cuts, gimmicky budget, veto, paralysis.”

“It’ll be a war of all against all,” Brown added.

Or, as we say around the newsroom: “Bellum omnium contra omnes.”

Enclosed by the temporal boundaries of space and time in his (print is dead) column, Skelton unfortunately lacked the breathing room to fully explicate Brown’s classical reference. No worries – that’s who we are and what we do.

Bellum omnium contra omnes,” as every school child knows, was coined by Thomas Hobbes in 1651, and is pretty much the only thing anyone ever remembers about reading “Leviathan” in Humanities I in freshman year:

In such condition, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Now, we don’t necessarily subscribe to the Hobbesian notion that mankind — in the absence of a powerful central authority — is innately avaricious and self-destructive. But let’s face it: if California can’t get a budget, there will be blood.

Forces on the left will set out to soak the rich, slap taxes on oil drilling and services, split the property tax roll and give communities power to raise taxes with a majority vote. Forces on the right will seek to cap state spending, unravel collective bargaining rights of public employees, slash pensions, eliminate union shops and decimate social services and environmental regulations.

Non belle visus.

That said, Calbuzz does strongly agree with Hobbes on at least one key matter of the human condition:

All generous minds have a horror of what are commonly called ‘Facts.’ They are the brute beasts of the intellectual domain.

Amen, brother.

Furry little monster: Speaking of nasty, brutish and short, Grover Norquist turned up this week in the biggest grandstand play since Terrell Owens stole pom-poms from  cheerleaders for the 49ers.

In a less than dazzling display of political gamesmanship, GOP honcho Ron Nehring trumpeted a letter he’d addressed to Brown, which was scooped up by Costco Carla Marinucci, purporting to invite him to debate the anti-tax tyrant at next weekend’s Republican state convention.

Brown mouthpiece Gil Duran responded with just the right tone, offering to send the aforementioned Sutter to debate the Great Toad Man.

Left   unanswered and unassuaged, however, was Nehring’s pitiable lament that Governor Gandalf was behind a “variety of verbal attacks” heaped on Norquist, as editorialists, columnists and sensitive New Media Guys have recently called him out for threatening retribution to any GOP lawmakers who dare cast a vote allowing people who actually, you know, live in California, to decide the fate of Krusty’s tax plan.

Alarmed by Nehring’s allegation, our Department of Ethical Standards and Cheap Shot Journalism Prophylactics swiftly checked our clips and determined that our recent characterizations of the D.C. demagogue – “nihilist,” “extremist,” “Emperor Nero” – could in no way be construed as “verbal attacks.” Whew.

Recommended further reading: Politico examines a hint of a split between Norquist and some establishment right-wingmen, while Washpost whiz kid socialist Ezra Klein conducts a scrupulously fair Q&A with the porcine provocateur.

ICYMI: What can we say, we’re suckers for a doggie conga line.

Swap Meet: Dr. H & eMeg Conquer Time & Space

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

We regret the whole thing: It’s hard to believe, but your Calbuzzards were just a couple years too young to cover the dramatic political events that unfolded in California in January 1860. As a result, we missed our chance to interview Lt. Gov. John Downey, or we would have known that he, not Jerry Brown, is the youngest governor in state history.

Here’s a full report from our Dr. P.J. Hackenflack who was on the scene:

Born June 24, 1827 in Rosscommon County, Ireland, , the late Gov. John Gately Downey constitutionally ascended to the governorship just five days after the inauguration of Gov. Milton Latham.

Milt, it turned out, coveted the chief executive post primarily so he could appoint himself to a seat in the U.S. Senate. It became open when incumbent David C. Broderick was  shot and killed in a duel by state Supreme Court Chief Justice David Terry, a month before in San Francisco. Their dispute was either over slavery or a bunch of trash-talking,  depending on who you ask.

In any case, Downey was just 32 when he stepped up, as Latham split for Washington less than a week after being sworn in. Downey not only captures youngest governor honors, but also owns the historic distinction of being the first foreign-born chief executive of the state; move over Arnold Schwarzenegger. (It seems likely that members of the Legislature were greatly relieved when Latham left town: his inaugural address droned on for 4947 words, while the youngster Downey brought his in at a crisp 206 words. But we digress).

The claim that Brown was the state’s youngest governor when he was first elected at the age of 36 in 1974 has been widely disseminated and a standard part of the journalistic narrative about him for years. But wrong.

With a big HT to alert L.A. Times reader Henry Fuhrmann, we apologize for the confusion.

Make way, make way for Her Megness: Meg Whitman did a round of live feed interviews from a studio on the Stanford campus with TV stations around the state this week, one more weapon in the carpet bomb strategy she’s using to fight a two-front war against Brown and Commish Steve Poizner, along with her ubiquitous broadcast ads, web attacks and staged meeting with voters.

With eMeg sitting for a one-shot in front of a “Meg Whitman 2010” backdrop, she uplinked to local newsers around the state, some of whom preceded mysteriously to pretend she’d come by the studio for an excloo.

“Meg Whitman stopped by today,” one interviewer began.

“I’m happy to be here,” responded our Meg, a moment later.

At one point Wednesday,  she did a 9:07 stretch with KNBC’s “Raw News” in which she not only covered all her tiresome talking points but also dropped this bombshell:

“You have to veto everything that isn’t on the focused agenda,” Whitman said, vowing twice not to sign any bills passed by the Legislature that don’t conform to her agenda of creating jobs, improving schools and cutting spending.

Really? Veto everything?

As we may have mentioned once or twice, eMeg’s major downside is that she appears not to understand that politics is a give-and-take, give-some-to-get-some business, that legislators are also elected by the people, and that the Capitol is a teeming cacophony of conflicting interests, not the site of an Imperial Governorship. In the KNBC interview, she made quite clear that she sees the role of lawmakers as secondary, when she graciously said they’d be welcome to serve on her “jobs team” or her “schools team.”

“Where do I sign up?” Senate leader Darrell Steinberg is no doubt asking.

If Her Megness does manage to get elected, it’ll be interesting to see how  smoothly the confirmation process goes for her nominees – “the appointment process is incredibly important,” she noted duhhly in the interview – when she swaggers into the Capitol and announces her game plan to “veto everything.”

And thank you for that.

Press Clips: Most interesting take on Roy Ashburn, the Republican state Senator who was outed after getting busted for drunk driving the other night, comes from his hometown Bakersfield California. Seems the Californian interviewed Ashburn previously about his sexuality but didn’t print anything because the editors decided it wasn’t relevant.

They outed their own well-considered, if overly cautious, decision in their follow-up story on Ashburn’s arrest for drunk, a very complete piece with lots of background, context and detail, as the paper hustled to focus what became a national, and then a viral, story through a local news lens for their readers…For more on the subject, check this smart post by Brian Leubitz over at Calitics…Worth a look: a one-minute history of the world of media – including What It All Means – from Columbia J-School chrome dome  Richard Wald.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: When in Rome…