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Home Stretch: Meg and Jerry on Air and Ground

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

The early onset senility sweeping through the executive suite of Calbuzz has caused us to forget the author of the best recent tweet on the governor’s race so, with apologies to this anonymous Twitter talent, we’ll just rip it off:

Jerry Brown is your crazy uncle and Meg Whitman is your mean aunt.

Unfair, to be sure. But concise and on point.  Pick your poison: The haughty billionaire and self-appointed savior of California who’d casually kick you to the curb if you’re an inconvenience and later deny it ever happened. Or the dedicated but distracted, impulsive and hyperactive political savant who’s always eager to inform you he’s the smartest guy in the room.

As they charge into the final two weeks of the campaign, both candidates are seeking to alter those meta-images. eMeg has hopped on a bus to hit every diner and coffee shop she can find across the state, wolfing down cheeseburgers and milk shakes at a heart-stopping rate while promising she’ll get everybody a job; Krusty the General has been focused more on substance, talking incessantly about budgets, taxes and the green job economy (with a dash of hothouse populism on the side).

Whitman’s sudden interest in being with the folks, which seems to us something she might have done, oh say, in the summer of 2009, is an effort to repair her badly sagging favorability ratings, as nearly a year of overwhelmingly negative ads worth something north of $100 million seem to have convinced California voters she’s just not a very nice person.

Add to that the facts that, a) from the start, very few of her ads have been positive and of those not one has been memorable and b) Her Megness on the natural doesn’t appear to be the kind of person you feel all warm and fuzzy about when she walks in the room, and it’s clear why her strategists have decided their best play is putting her out on the road.

We’ll fight them in the air…There’s no question that the strategy team at Camp Whitman believes the race is within the margin of error — a few points either way — depending on what the turnout is. If the Democrats, who have a 13-point registration advantage, show up with 10% more Ds than Rs, Whitman’s in deep yogurt. But at an 8-point spread, it’s a jump ball, they think. Not to mix a metaphor.

“We’ll beat them in GOTV [more on this later],” said Mike Murphy, Whitman’s chief strategist. “The issue is how we can increase DTS (decline-to-state voters) . . .  We have a lot of DTS mail afoot right now.”

Meanwhile, on the air, Whitman is running two tracks: a positive ad titled “Baloney,” that has a warm, talk-to-the-viewer Meg talking about jobs, schools and cutting government; and negatives that savage Brown as weak on the death penalty – with cops in (some sort of) uniform calling him a Rose Bird-loving wuss – and fiercely in favor of raising your taxes, stealing your purse and allowing fat, lazy, 55-year-old, retired state workers to eat bonbons and sip champagne.

As for Brown, he has spent most of the campaign pretending there isn’t a campaign. When he finally, reluctantly, announced his candidacy, he did one web video and then retreated to his clubhouse headquarters in Oakland, foraying out only to make self-serving weighty announcements connected to his duties as attorney general.

Given that a vast swath of the electorate has only dim recollections about his first turn as governor, he has risked being defined in the race by Whitman’s attack ads, which have portrayed him as a wild-eyed socialist, consorting with Castro and out to seize the public treasury on behalf of his labor thug friends. Fortunately for him, his union cronies spent $14 million attacking Whitman all summer long and kept her from breaking away.

Brown’s own straight-to-the-camera ads, consistently emphasizing “no new taxes without voter approval,” have had a decidedly home-movie quality about them compared to Whitman’s high-gloss spots. That, Brown aides tell us, was intentional – to underscore the essential fault line Krusty hoped to bring to the campaign: Whitman is phony; Brown is authentic.

Thus his recent strong emphasis on Meg’s proposal for a capital gains tax cut, which positions him as a fighter for the middle class, his discussions of his green jobs plan and his gauzy recitations of how he just can’t wait to dig into the details of the messed-up budget with his 120 closest friends in the Legilsature (Calbuzz sez: Watch what you wish for, Jerry).

The bright kids at Camp Krusty believe their guy has been picking up 1-2 points per week since Labor Day and that the race is now moving firmly in their direction. They think they’ve got both the issues and the character arguments on their side and that she has blown it with Latinos, women and moderates — all key components of a Democratic statewide victory.

On the air, Brown has used his cached $20 million to burnish his “knowledge and know-how” to balance the budget, create jobs and make the tough decisions. But he’s also running blistering ads that attack Whitman’s character, suggesting (with a polygraph running in the background) that she’s a liar and another citing tough language about Whitman from a San Jose Mercury News endorsement and highlighting the backing from most of California’s major newspapers. Tuesday morning Team Krusty rolled out still another new ad, this one with clips of Whitman and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger making almost identical arguments for how they would lead California.

We’ll fight them on the ground…Meanwhile, in the background, the Whitman campaign apparently is operating a major effort to micro-target voters and get them to cast a ballot for Meg. She’s not only got TV ads in Mandarin and Cantonese, but phone banks with people who speak Korean and Farsi, commercial information about voters’ incomes, automobiles and magazines.

Bottom line, they’ve got the ability to find a one-eyed, pickup-driving, Basque subscriber to Field & Stream in Atwater, if they think he’ll vote for Whitman.

So fancy is their program, that Garry South, the former consultant to Gray Davis (the last Democrat elected governor since Brown), is practically drooling. He’s been quoted in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post praising Whitman’s voter targeting efforts and slamming the California Democratic Party and its chairman, John Burton for a) giving $3.85 million to Brown and b) not having a decent GOTV effort of its own.

“This is not the way it’s supposed to work,” South told the Journal. “The Democratic nominee for governor in this state has to be the primary funder of coordinated campaigns.”

Brown, he told the Post, “will be arguably competitive on the air for the last four weeks, but I do not believe there is anything approaching a get-out-the-vote operation on the ground that is going to be up to the task.”

South’s praise for the Republican campaign and his dismissal of his own party’s effort drew a sharp rebuke from the CDP’s executive director Shawnda Westly. “In eight years he’s done nothing of note and it’s no surprise that Garry’s on the sidelines in one of the most competitive races in history,” she said. “He simply doesn’t know what’s happening in the current Democratic Party.”

We’ll fight them on the web...In 2009 and 2010, CDP Chairman Burton and the Democrats have raised a whopping $21.5 million which has been meticulously divvied into state and federal accounts because of varying limits on contributions, party officials told Calbuzz.

Even after giving Brown a big chunk of dough (“John doesn’t want a governor who will fuck poor people,” one CDP source said.) the party for the first time has been operating a $4 million voter contact program over the last three months of the general election. (That’s in addition to $2 million in anti-Whitman issue ads about Goldman Sachs that the party ran during the primary campaign.)

Not including training and voter-list sharing and technology disseminated last year, the party is using that $4 million to hunt down a million occasional Democratic voters, get absentee ballots to them, get them to turn them in and on a planned four-day door-to-door walk to find and bring out voters who still haven’t been contacted or convinced to vote, we’re told.

The Democrats’ targeting is surely not as elaborate as Whitman’s is purported to be. But it’s a far cry from the flaccid efforts the CDP made when South and Davis were in power in Sacramento. Back then, the governor was raising money for the party just to keep the lights on at headquarters, CDP officials said. Times have changed, they insisted.

Moreover, they’ve been assisted by the Democratic National Committee’s Organizing for America, which has given the state party the micro-targeting tools that the Obama campaign used to historic effect in 2008. That’s not to mention the Latino-focused ground operation being managed by labor in Southern California and the Central Valley.

Whether GOTV efforts from either side, however, will make much of a dent is hard to predict. In a normal year, most consultants think GOTV can be worth 2-4 percentage points. Whether Whitman’s lavish program can overpower the Democrats’ effort is unclear. But in a close race, every little bit matters.

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.

Jerry Brown Meets Sgt. York & Flavor Flav

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

brown 74Forget Jayson Blair’s flagrant plagiarism and Judy Miller’s tireless flacking for the Iraq war in the news pages. The New York Times has now committed its most hideously glaring factual error in recent memory, if not the history of the world: it misstated the model of Jerry Brown’s famous ride from his first term as governor.

As every California school child knows, Brown in his first days in office in 1975 sent powerful signals about his frugality, first by choosing to live in a rented apartment instead of the governor’s mansion and, most famously, by rejecting an executive limo in favor of a 1974 blue Plymouth.

Yet the so-called newspaper of record, on Sunday’s A1 no less,  got the whole thing bollixed up in describing Brown within a piece about former governors in four states who are seeking to return to the office they once held. Here’s Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauer on the subject:

A third, Jerry Brown of California, has traded in his groovy blue Valiant that he drove as governor for a Toyota Camry hybrid, which thieves recently removed the wheels from.

“Groovy?” “Blue Valiant”? Really? Apparently The Times no longer publishes stories that copy editors remove the errors from.

For the record, Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s state auto was a powder blue 1974 Plymouth Satellite, a 150 hp, 318 cu. in. V8 (list price $3,342). The  Valiant was Chrysler’s Plymouth division play in thejerry-brown-plymouth-car_425-x-283 compact class and manufactured from 1960 to 1976; the Satellite, unveiled as the  top model in the mid-size Belvedere line in 1965, was produced until 1975.

No wonder newspapers are going out of business.

Yo, wussup washpost? Making its bid to capture the prize for the second most moronic mistake of the year, the Washington Post ran this correction on Dec. 3:

A Nov. 26 article in the District edition of Local Living incorrectly said a Public Enemy song declared 9/11 a joke. The song refers to 911, the emergency phone number.

jpg_flavor-flav-newswire-400a111606The article in question was headlined “A note of hope from voices of experience – Public Enemy reaches out to homeless youth in D.C.” In it, local reporter Akeya Dickson reported about Flavor Flav, Chuck D and  posse touring a homeless shelter to raise awareness of the problem, then playing a concert to benefit the district’s  Sasha Bruce House:

Public Enemy has earned notoriety with more than 20 years of politically charged music about fighting the power, challenging racism and declaring that 9/11 was a joke.

Well, actually not. As Jason Linkins reported in his “Eat the Press” column:

The important distinction between “911″ and “9/11″ could have been made a number of different ways — by either listening to the song, or reading the title of the song or simply noting that the song “911 Is A Joke” was on an album released on May 26, 1990.chuckd

To his credit, Linkins did not put the last words of that sentence IN CAPITAL LETTERS. For the record (again!) the lyric in question is:

So get up, get, get get down
911 is a joke in yo town
Get up, get, get, get down
Late 911 wears the late crown

Ow, ow 911 is a joke

In more ways than one.

Is that a puppet in your sock or are you just glad to see me? Inside Baseball Alert: For Calbuzz, the big kerfuffle over Steve Poizner campaign cash finding its way into the wallet of a conservative blogger who spent his days writing posts that gushed praise for Steve Poizner raises one very fundamental question:

You mean people get paid for blogging?

york_moviestillA quick refresher for those who got drunk and slept through the day: Chip Hanlon, CEO of the right-wing blog Red County, put up a post Wednesday informing his readers that he has banned from the site the blogger formerly known as Sgt. York (who in real life is Placer County GOP activist Aaron Park). Hanlon, it seems, belatedly discovered that the Sarge was receiving payments from a consultant called Steve Frank who was himself receiving payments from Team Poizner; Sarge, it seems, neglected to mention this sort of significant, um, fiduciary relationship to Hanlon.

Complications ensued.

For more on the facts of the case, see posts by Joe Garofoli and Martin Wisckol. Here’s our take:

1-We just love this whole Orange County Republican rat-fucking political culture and the steady stream of sleazy soap operas it produces.

2- HT to Hanlon for canning Sgt. York and disclosing the matter to his readers. At a time when ethical blogging is too often an oxymoron, it’s nice to see somebody step up to defend his credibility.

3-Team Poizner’s response which amounts to  “everybody does it and 1smellfishbesides, we didn’t know anything about it” doesn’t pass the smell test.

4-Hanlon’s secondary claim that Poizner’s camp froze him out and ignored his requests for e-mailed campaign info is over the top, as this would mark the first time in the history of American politics such a thing happened.

5-There are not enough facts in evidence for us to adjudicate the bitter exchange between Hanlon and Poizner flack Jarrod Agen about whether the site is in the tank for eMeg because she buys a lot of advertising. Did we mention we’re not getting paid?

6-The whole dispute returns us to some broader issues we raised a while back about using partisan web sites as third party validators in campaign material:

In other words, does the singular fact that something is published on a web site, any web site, qualify that information to be employed by a serious contender leveling a serious charge in a big statewide race?

If it is, what is to prevent candidates from using campaign cut-outs, perhaps clad in pajamas and tin foil hats, from posting all manner of web-based vitriol beneath all manner of screamer headlines, and then featuring those posts in TV attack ads as evidence that neutral parties think ill thoughts about their rival?

Roseanne_RoseannadannaWhere, exactly, is the line to be drawn? Or is the very notion of a line self-incriminating evidence of discredited MSM-style thinking?

As Roseanne Roseannadanna famously said, “You sure do ask a lot of stupid questions.”

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: The Silicon Valley Insider reveals hidden secrets of AOL bloggers.

Swap Meet: Milk Carton Alert for Obama

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

barack-obama-is-on-fire“The Battle for America 2008,” the new memoir of last year’s presidential campaign by Washposters Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson, is a terrific read that, among other things, serves as a reminder of how consistent, clear and disciplined Team Obama was in delivering his message throughout the race.

Which leads Calbuzz to the obvious question: What ever happened to that guy?

The president-elect met with Balz and Johnson at his transition headquarters in Chicago six weeks after the election and offered this post-game assessment of his own campaign:

“What was remarkable in my mind about our campaign was we never really changed our theory,” the president-elect told them. “You could read the speech we gave the day I announced and then read my speech on election night and it was pretty consistent.”

True enough, but then how in the world can a guy who runs one of the most masterful message campaigns in history manage to do such a dog-ass job of explaining the two most important and defining initiatives  shaping his presidency: 1) How the economic stimulus is supposed to work and 2) What he’s trying to accomplish with health care reform.

Sure, the Republican attack machine is doing its best to create confusion and misapprehension. But it’s the White House Office of Communications’ job to explain things in simple language, lay out the general and specific issues at hand and rally support for these ideas. And this time, Team Obama is getting outflanked at every turn by naysayers, wingnuts and imbeciles, not to put too fine a point on it.

The message really ought to be fairly straightforward: The people versus a) rich investment bankers and b) the insurance companies.

Anything else makes the issues clear as mud. We’re just sayin’.

chuck devore

Welcome to the NFL, Carly: If Carly Fiorina is watching gal pal Meg Whitman’s head-stuck-up, uh, in-the-clouds campaign for governor and thinking –- Hey, this whole politics thing looks easy! — Chuck DeVore just delivered a smack upside her skull that might bring her back down to earth.

Devore, the red meat Republican Assemblyman from Irvine, is a long shot contender for Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat who’s been limbering up for the race by taking some not-half-bad cheap shots at Babs, but set aside a couple minutes this week to take a few whacks at Fiorina, who’s been sending signals from her Peninsula manse about seeking the GOP nomination.

Chowing down in D.C. with some true believers from the staff of The American Spectator, DeVore dissed his future party rival as a squish and a “self-funded dilettante” who got canned as CEO of Hewlett-Packard and booted off the McCain-for-President campaign for being a bonehead. As the conservative rag’s Brian O’Connell reported:

“‘Never in California’s history has a self-funded dilettante ever won any top office, Governor or Senate,’ the candidate said this morning at a breakfast sponsored by TAS and Americans for Tax Reform, when asked about a potential primary challenge from Fiorina. DeVore pointedly told attendees that Fiorina was fired from Hewlett Packard and from the McCain campaign for making several gaffes. He criticized her for supporting the financial bailout and said her views on most  policy issues were unknown. Moreover, he questioned whether Fiorina’s wealth, which he estimated at around $40 million, would even allow her to self-fund in a state such as California, with a population of 37 million and many expensive media markets. He also took issue with Sen. John Cornyn, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for ‘already making up his mind’ to support Fiorina, even though she hasn’t declared her candidacy.”

There were no injuries.

samiam

Holy Pocket, Sam! We LOVE this item from Anna Handzlik at Politico, who got a tip that a Good Samaritan found Congressman Sam Farr’s wallet in a Santa Cruz men’s room and returned it to him. But only after noticing that the Democrat from Carmel had in his wallet “a card marked ‘confidential’ that describes rendezvous points for congressmen in case of national emergencies.”

The finder, who described himself as a “supporter of single-payer health care,” reported that when he asked Farr’s aide if he’d noticed his wallet was missing, the aide nodded and said, “It’s been a real crazy morning.”

dr-hackenflackYe Old Mailbag: Dr. P.J. Hackenflack, who 40 years ago this weekend found his bliss while writhing in the Woodstock mud, tore himself away from his synthetic mescaline flashbacks long enough to pick the Top 5 comments of the past seven days from Calbuzz readers, the crème de la crème of California’s cognoscenti class.

1-sqrjn-sqrin said, of Tuesday’s rant assailing Obama’s reported pact-with-the-devil deal with the pharmaceutical industry:

“The Obama letdown continues. At least their secret deals aren’t with Oil execs right? Big Pharma’s better than Big Oil, right?

I don’t know which is worse. A.) the white house is making closed door deals with industry people and then lying about it B.) they didn’t make a deal, but this is a symptom that they are totally frazzled and disorganized, progressing quickly to screwing the pooch on a major reform.”

2-Divebomber responded to Berkeley professor Geoffrey Nunberg’s “Fresh Air” essay on political linguistics thusly:

“I disagree with Prof. Nunberg that the GOP successes to this point in the debate about state-run health care are the result of an implied negative view of the term ‘government’…

“In reality, boiling the issue down to simple semantics speaks to the real issue with the democrats and their proxy’s such as Prof. Nunberg – arrogance. They refuse to believe (and in many cases, simply are unable to conceive) that those with logical opposing positions to theirs have any real intelligence or critical analysis ability, and thus are easily swayed by simple word games.”

3-Prospero offered this take on Monday’s analysis of the new Field Poll report on changing patterns of partisanship in California:

“Don’t misunderestimate the effect of the meltdown of the state GOP in nailing down the color chart. In large part, we elect Dems to statewide offices because the GOP has become content with their second-string in the legislature, and aren’t even interested in fielding moderates who might some day grow up to be contenders. That’s why so many of their recent gubernatorial candidates have to come from outside the legislature – or even elected office.

“Independents swing blue here because the the GOP likes being isolated with the right wing who will continually whisper sweet red nothings in their ear. On fiscal issues in particular, California’s voters might very well take a serious GOP candidate seriously. It’s no accident that they repeatedly reject blue-ish proposals from the Gov that didn’t seem very fiscally prudent.

The collapse of our state GOP leaves the field blue by default. But the Dems shouldn’t be flattered by that into thinking the DTSs are equally blue.”

4-cavala provided an historic coda to Calbuzz’s Big Think piece on Jerry Brown’s eyebrows:

“And i can remember when Jerry was accused of dying his sideburns gray to add gravitas to his run for Sec. of State.”

5-And, finally, pdperry questioned the accuracy and authenticity of Calbuzz reportage about ’60s fashion sense:

“head band”?! I’m sure you meant head bang…

Which drew a rare response from Dr. H. himself:

“Actually, in the olden days, long before there were head bangers, some young men actually wore head bands.

To which pd riposted: “oh, dude… i get it now.”

Oh dude, only 298 days until the primary.  Enjoy your weekend.

Weekend Flea Market: Lie Down with Dogs, Come Up with Items

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

blankface1Whither Tony V?: L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s abrupt cancellation of his appearance at the Democratic state convention, coupled with the consistent snarliness of his political handlers, has fueled speculation that Tony V. may not run for governor. But L.A. political insiders scoff at such gossip: “It looks like it’s going to be a Democratic year. If he doesn’t go now, in eight years he’ll be 66, and facing a whole new generation of young ‘uns,” said one savvy southland seer. “This is his shot.”

Still, local politicos are closely eyeballing the increasingly bitter brawl for city attorney between lawyer Carmen Trutanich and city councilman Jack Weiss as a measure of Villaraigosa’s strength. If Weiss, the mayor’s dog in this fight, loses on May 19, it will be one more bit of evidence, along with Tony’s unimpressive re-election numbers, that Antonio Alcalde’s standing with his political base ain’t all that.

Whitman Sampler: On the Republican side, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner stepped up his attacks on GOP front-runner Meg Whitman this week, issuing no less than three statements ripping eMeg variously for ducking debates, stiffing the press and sugarcoating her tenure at eBay.

Weirdest move by the Poizneristas was a press release reprinting in full an article written for Capitol Weekly by Democratic consultant Garry South, Gavin Newsom’s strategist. The piece was South’s take on the problems faced by rich business executives who jump into politics, an issue we posted about on Monday. In recounting how he tackled the wealthy businessman Al Checchi while handling Gray Davis for governor, South saw similarities with Whitman:

“Whitman shares yet another commonality with Checchi – a spotty voting record,” he wrote. “Whitman didn’t bother to vote in four statewide elections since just 2003 – including the ‘03 recall election that put Gov. Schwarzenegger in office. À la Checchi, she hasn’t been able to verify whether she voted in the 1994 gubernatorial election, when the controversial anti-immigrant Prop. 187 was on the ballot. She has apologized for these lapses, saying she was busy running a company and had two kids. (Average voters with kids use that as an excuse for skipping the polling place?)”

Whitman has remained sanguine in the face of near-constant sniping from various corners, apparently believing that the Republican primary is more than a year away… Oh, it is?

Be that as it may, by remaining silent in the face of Poizner’s pounding, eMeg runs the risk that the narratives her rival is setting down – she’s afraid to debate, she’s afraid of the press, she’s doesn’t understand state issues – take hold, at least among the cognescenti and the media. If that happens, she may find down the road that her orchestrated efforts to “introduce” herself to voters will be hampered by a need for rehab, to undo the definition frame Poizner plunked on her early (now, about that Calbuzz interview request, Meg…)

Lust in his heart: Tom Campbell, the third Republican in the race, keeps plugging away in his terminally earnest energizer bunny manner, trying to make the race about…issues, fercryinoutloud.

Campbell this week delivered a big guest lecture on economics at UCLA, in which he raised the specter of unintended consequences arising from Obama’s John Maynard Keynes imitation:

“The growth in federal borrowing over the last six months has been greater than at any comparable time in American history, by a large amount,” Campbell said. “When the economy recovers, inflation is inevitable. A modest estimate, given the amount of money the federal government has printed, is in excess of 12% inflation.

“That has a direct cost to California because of the huge amounts our state borrows,” he added. “No one will buy a California bond at less than the expected rate of inflation. So, as systemic double-digit inflation, dead since Jimmy Carter, returns to our national economy, the effect will be particularly devastating on California’s ability to balance its budget.”

Oy.

Puff, puff, bail, bail: Greg Lucas, Calbuzz Capitol Correspondent, blogs his take on the dust-up over legalizing marijuana, over at California’s Capitol. His bottom line — not bloody likely anytime soon:

“Expansion of sin taxes hasn’t fared well in the Capitol… Although possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is an infraction, lawmakers are reluctant to back legislation that could make them appear soft-on-crime, fearing campaign attack pieces. That would make legalization of marijuana that much more difficult.”

The long goodbye: Latest twist in the sad saga of newspapers twisting slowly in the wind was a Senate subcommittee hearing on “The Future of Journalism” this week; chairman John Kerry and other members of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body defended ink-stained wretches against the likes of print-killers Arianna Huffington and Marisa Mayer of Google.

Washington Post class clown Dana Milbank had the most succinct report here while the strongest testimony was delivered by David Simon, former cop shop reporter for the Baltimore Sun who took on the decline of newspapers in season five of his superb HBO series, “The Wire.”

Freudian parts dept: One of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s many signature moments in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” comes when he wields a giant tear gas launcher against a bunch of cops while escaping from Cyberdyne Systems: “It’s definitely you,” adolescent hero John Connor tells Cyborg Arnold.

Now, one day after the governor promised fire-weary Santa Barbara residents he would do whatever it takes to conquer the raging Jesusita blaze, local smoke eaters got the firefighters’ equivalent of Arnold’s Big Gun: a DC-10 air tanker, which made repeated sorties over the fire Friday, dumping 12,000 gallons of retardant in a single drop.

“Chill out, dickwad.”