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Posts Tagged ‘Willie Brown’



Richie Ross Talks to Dead People; Garry’s Oops

Friday, December 24th, 2010

As an engaging and entertaining literary form, political memoirs typically run the gamut from A to B. Witness recently published, self-serving snoozers from alleged authors such as George Bush, Sarah Palin and Meg Whitman.

In contrast to these banal and bromidic tomes, California political consultant Richie Ross has just penned “My Letters to Dead People,” a lively little volume which is one-part personal history and one-part professional perspective about some of the biggest personalities and events of the last four decades in state politics.

As befits an operative who not only once ran a guy for governor by chronicling his weight loss online, but who also organized a campaign for county supervisor by having the candidate rebuild an old lady’s house, Ross’s book is an original.

Quirky and eclectic, it’s a kind of kaledioscopic, quick-cut narrative framed as a series of wish-I’d-had-a-chance-to-tell-you messages to three-dozen members of the deceased community.

His  recollections and reflections are addressed to the politically famous and  influential (Cesar Chavez, Phil Burton and Jess Unruh); the infamous and the victimized (Michael Prokes, the tormented onetime spokesman for the Rev. Jim Jones and Chandra Levy, the  murdered intern of former Rep. Gary Condit, a longtime client); the unpretentious and unnoted (his own parents and the unborn baby of a farm worker whose miscarriage motivated him to push for agriculture laws banning toxins in the fields).

It’s written in a crisp style, packed with anecdotes and private remembrances recounted by a veteran backroom player. The letters are chatty conversational essays which on one level trace Ross’s personal evolution from idealistic Catholic seminarian (“I never remembered wanting to be anything but a priest”) to hard-ass sardonic insider (“Ross, your job is to spend all the fucking money you can get your hands on to keep me as speaker,” he recalls Willie Brown telling him, in the note addressed to Unruh).

Beyond this, however, it also provides a full-tilt, historic tour of California’s ever-changing political landscape: “The other day I had dinner with Jerry Brown – he’s running for governor again,” Ross informs the ghost of his ex-boss Leo McCarthy, another former Speaker. “I gotta tell you his crazy ideas are better than the no-ideas government we’ve had.”

Ross enjoys a well-earned reputation as a brash, cynical and ruthless political warrior, and it’s on full display, as in his farewell message to the erstwhile Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo, whose cops routinely arrested and beat on him and his union colleagues sent to that city in the early 1970s to work on UFW boycotts and protests.

Dear asshole,
You’re dead. I’m not. You were such a fucking creep when you were police chief I can’t believe that decent people would elect you mayor…you fucking fuck.

But he also employs a surprisingly poignant and emotional voice that shows the flip side of the ferocity with which he plays hardball. In his letter to the slain Harvey Milk, for example, Ross expresses regret for the take-no-prisoners approach he took in managing Art Agnos’s winning bid for the Assembly in the famous “Harvey Milk vs. The Machine” campaign in 1976.

At the time it was all about survival for me, a roof over my wife and kids’ head. But for you, it was about something much bigger. Looking back, I know that now…

I feel bad today about running around the city at night, tearing down your campaign signs. At the time it was fun. Me and another guy would spot one of your signs on a telephone pole, pull over, he’d squat down, I’d climb on his shoulders, he’d stand up, and tear down your sign. What the fuck, Harvey.  Didn’t your guys ever figure out that they needed to put them up another two or three feet and you’d have won the sign war?

But it was like were being the bullies. And I hate bullies.

The basic premise of the book, Ross told us, “is an attempt at capturing our era and also exposing folks to the power of writing letters (to dead people) themselves.” As part of the roll-out, those who write such letters can post them on the website for the book.

Full disclosure: Richie is a longtime friend of, and occasional contributor to, Calbuzz. All that aside, for political junkies, his book is a truly interesting and funny good read.

It’s available at Amazon, and he’ll also be signing copies at Sacramento’s Chicory Coffee Shop at 3 p.m. on Monday, January 3 (inauguration day) with proceeds going to the United Farm Workers. Calbuzz says check it out.

Garry Owns His Error (Not Really): When we saw the headline on his commentary at Capitol Weekly – “OK, I was wrong about the elections” – we thought our friend, Democratic consultant Garry South, was going to explain how wrong he’d been throughout the election season to constantly suggest (without ever saying so exactly in public) that Meg Whitman was going to kick Jerry Brown’s ass because Krusty was running an underfunded, understaffed, lackadaisical, meandering, arrogant and amateurish campaign.

But in his tongue-and-cheek article, Garry merely argues that California has become too Democratic for a Republican to win statewide and he “apologizes” to the GOP for suggesting they field a diversity ticket (which they did to no avail). It’s the same argument Whitman Field Marshals Mike Murphy and Rob Stutzman have been peddling, as if to say nothing they could have done would have made any difference because California is too blue.

We don’t buy it. Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger demonstrated that if they appeal to the middle-of-the-road California voters Republicans can indeed get elected statewide at the top of the ticket. eMeg and Sister Carly the Fiorina didn’t do that on a host of strategically crucial issues, especially immigration and the environment, which matter mightily to Latinos and independents.

Meanwhile Brown — by intelligence or necessity, take your pick — ran the right campaign, with the right messages on the money he had (with more than a little help from labor over the summer) and with the timely appearance of Nicky Diaz, eMeg’s housekeeper.

By arguing that the election was only a matter of political geography, South, Murphy and Stutzman let the Armies of eMeg and Hurricane Carly (and themselves) off the hook too easily.

BTW: When lots of others were predicting that Barbara Boxer would lose to Fiorina, Garry wrote a piece for Politico more than two months before the election, telling why he believed Babs would win. And she did.

More Thunder from eMeg’s Right; Carla Held Hostage

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Little noticed among all the Ken und John Sturm und Drang came  another right-wing whack at Meg Whitman’s campaign prevarications, from a less  cacophonous, but arguably more consequential, conservative quarter.

Peter Foy, a Ventura County supervisor and a favorite of Tea Party and other hardline precincts, took eMeg to task in a SignOnSan Diego piece (h/t Jon Fleischman) for her flip-flopping flexibility on immigration and climate change, a post showing that conservative dismay with Our Meg is not limited to the yakkers and shouters on the AM band.

Foy played a high-profile role in sinking Governor Schwarzmuscle’s budget plan in last year’s special election, characterizing both Whitman and Steve Poizner as “squishy” on that and other fiscal matters in an interview with Calbuzz at a time when he was taking a semi-serious look at running for the big job himself.

In his new piece, Foy declared himself “a Whitman supporter,” but was unstinting and surgical in slicing her in the very spots where she was pounded last week on talk radio.

It’s troubling that Meg Whitman – the billionaire first-time candidate seeking to become California’s next governor – is running the most conventional of too-clever-by-half campaigns. If she stubbornly continues this aloof tactical venture she will almost surely lose and won’t deserve to win…

While Whitman and her advisers understand the need to reach out to diverse constituencies, ham-handed efforts to woo Latinos (and other favored groups) are likely to both fail to launch and even blow up in their face…

They are likely to see this for the kaleidoscopic approach it is – inviting people to see what they want to see – and could punish Whitman even more severely than they would a different politician.

Here’s why. Whitman obviously has special appeal and the independent, outsider profile many voters say they are looking for. But if she’s simply going to advance the most expensive version of a bargain-basement campaign, Whitman is literally inviting voters to view her as calculating and even manipulative. While this is dangerous for a veteran politician, it’s lethal for a newcomer.

Over at Fox and Hounds, the estimable Joe Mathews argues that Meg’s appearance on John and Ken was a “Sister Souljah” moment that will help her image among independent voters by showing she’s not afraid to stand up to the most raucous elements of her party. We say: Not so much.

Unlike the talk show boys, Foy is a well-starched, perfectly respectable, establishment arch-conservative. As a political matter, it’s significant that he not only sounds the same  themes as John and Ken but also echoes the argument, made by independent voices like ours, plus progressive sites like Calitics, that Meg’s tell-everyone-what-they-want-to-hear pattern of behavior is most troubling, not as a policy issue, but as a character flaw.

…Their hearts and minds will follow: Maybe eMeg should stop with all the too clever by half moves and be more like Linda McMahon in taking a more ballsy approach.

Just askin’: Has there ever been a goofier idea by a news organization than the Chronicle’s effort to goose print circulation by delaying for 48 hours the posting of some of its best stories on SFGate?

A half-baked hybrid version of Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to force readers to pay for content one way or another (which itself is not exactly off to a roaring start) the Hearst Chron’s strategy of holding its own Sunday edition journalism hostage seems to be having three main effects:

1) it keeps some of the best work of its reporters out of the real-time conversation that drives the 24/7 news cycle;

2) it gives more eyeballs to the competition, as folks in search of new news head to the L.A. Times or SacBee to find it;

3) it drives traffic to aggregation sites which find and post the Chron’s stories despite the paper’s delusional notion that it can exercise singular control over the flow of online information.

For example, this Sunday the Chron kept Willie Brown’s column off the web, so readers in search of his latest take on the governor’s race (“Nerdy Jerry Brown a Formidable Opponent,” read the good hed, which was all a reader could read) was directed to this note:

This story is exclusive to the Chronicle’s Sunday print edition and will not appear on SFGate.com until 4:00 AM on Tuesday, August 10. To buy an electronic version of the Sunday paper now, go to…Print subscribers can go to…to sign up for free e-editions.

Hold your horses, Maude! Let’s forget that picnic and hike in the Berkeley hills – I really need to spend half the day navigating the Chron’s web site to read “Willie’s World.”

Readers encountered a similar M.C. Escher-like maze if they clicked on Carla Marinucci’s Sunday blog post (hopefully through the link on the Calbuzz Blogroll of Honor) where she offered a sketchy version of Jerry Brown’s just-released jobs plan, then appended this sad little lose-friends-and-don’t influence people note:

UPDATE: Check today’s San Francisco Chronicle for a “print-only” exclusive analysis of the jobs proposals being offered by both gubernatorial candidates, Brown and Whitman, as well as the candidates for U.S. Senate — Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer and GOP challenger Carly Fiorina. The “print only” exclusive will be released to the web on Tuesday morning…

Rather than wait until Tuesday morning, however, political junkies who cared found the very good, “exclusive analysis” of the jobs issue, which Marinucci co-wrote with boy wonder Drew Joseph, over at Jack Kavanagh’s Rough & Tumble , where it was posted more than 24 hours before it appeared “exclusively” on SFGate.

While the pathway the story took to R&T is not entirely clear, at least one key thing is: keeping information barricaded behind walls is kind of like running the 100-yard dash with water cupped safely in your hands.

Update 7:41 a.m. Rough and Tumble’s Jack Kavanagh checks in with this on the Chron/48-hour delay imbroglio:

I never link to Chronicle stories that are being withheld from the Internet on Sunday.

I only link to items readily available on the Chronicle site or the Chronicle politics blog.

The story you referenced by Carla was either available on the site or on the blog.

By the time the stories that are withheld by the Chronicle on Sunday are released on the following Wednesday, I generally ignore them mainly because by that time they are generally pretty stale.

Emphasis in original. We rest our case.

Memo to Frank Vega: Great Cesar’s Ghost, man! Free Willie, Carla, Drew, Phil, Andy and all political prisoners!

Q&A with Mickey; Babs v Carly; Team Krusty Forming

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

The best thing about Mickey Kaus’s hopeless bid for the U.S. Senate is that he’s the only candidate we’ve ever met who talks down expectations about his own chances. A contrarian counterintuitive (reverse those words? -ed.) Mr. Crankypants Kaus is a pioneering practitioner of online political journalism who is breaking new ground — the first Californian ever to carry the ballot designation of “blogger.” Seeing a cheap opportunity to squeeze into the footnotes of media history books, Calbuzz asked him five questions about his primary challenge to Barbara Boxer

1. What’s the over-under on your final percentage of the vote in the Dem primary?

My friend Jill Stewart of L.A. Weekly bet a friend dinner that I wouldn’t top 5%. But I don’t want to set expectations that high. I’d say anything over 3% is a startling rebuke of Barbara Boxer’s lockstep Democratic orthodoxy. Every vote for me makes that point. I don’t have to win to win.

2. What’s your beef with public employees getting good benefits and pensions?

I have no beef with good benefits and pensions. But, as Willie Brown said, the deal was always that public employees traded a bit of pay for security. Now they have the security plus more pay than the private sector. Many can retire in their 50s at more than they made working.  We need to restore a balance and not just spend more and more tax money on the same employees while cutting service to the public. Democrats are the party of government–we’re the ones who need to make it work at a price we can afford.

3. As a Senator, what specific steps would you push for the government to “secure the border”? Finish the dang fence?

Yes, I’d build the actual, physical fence–not the failed “virtual” fence promoted by those who opposed a physical fence. Physical fences work. We also need a) wide adoption of a system for verifying the legal status of new hires; b) stiff sanctions against employers who skirt the law; c) a system for tracking visa overstays; d) greater avenues for legal immigration, including immigration from Mexico. And we need to stop talking about amnesty until we’re sure all these things work.

4. It is alleged you believe that the Democratic Party is in the thrall of labor unions. How do you respond?

Guilty as charged. Every reporter I’ve talked to thinks the unions basically own the state party. That’s why we don’t get Obama’s “race-to-the-top” education money — teachers’ unions block reform. It’s why pension costs are threatening to bankrupt us. It’s why we bailed out the UAW without asking much sacrifice, and why the party still pursues the doomed, unpopular, bad idea of letting unions organize a workplace without a secret ballot.

5. You bear a heavy responsibility as the first person in California history to carry the ballot label of “blogger.” Has running for office been everything you dreamed?

I’ll have a better perspective on June 9. The idea was to make a point, not have a great time. It’s been hard work with some big rewards. I’ve been treated fairly, so far, by all sorts of people I was worried would be underhanded. Every time I talk to actual voters, it’s been great — especially voters who argue back. Starting arguments is the idea. I learn every day, even from the annoying ”friends” who say “you’re doing this all wrong.” Mass rallies with thousands cheering … well, they haven’t really happened for anyone, have they? There’s a week left! I’m not peaking too soon.

These two teams just don’t like each other: With Tom Campbell’s campaign apparently collapsing near the finish line, GOP Senate front-runner Carly Fiorina decided to jump start the general election race Tuesday.

Hurricane Carly threw a quick right elbow with the e-blast release of a TV ad attacking Senator Barbara Boxer as soft on terrorism; just 57 minutes later, however, Team Babs hit back with a tough 2,082 word rapid response bashing Fiorina over a host of issues, including one of our personal favorites, Hewlett Packard’s controversial third-party sales to Iran during her tenure as CEO.

Cowardly Fiorina handlers refused to provide details of their purported ad buy, which they claimed was “significant and statewide.” The spot features Carly, full face to the camera, mocking a brief 2007 news clip of Boxer saying that climate change is “one of the very important national security issues we face.”

“Terrorism kills and Barbara Boxer’s worried about the weather?” sez Carly.

Not a bad line, but as Boxer World quickly noted, the CIA last fall set up a center to investigate the interlocking problems of global warming and political instability around the world, a concern sounded publicly by a pack of military, national security and spook types.

“Fiorina obviously isn’t aware that in October 2009, the CIA established a Center for the Study of Climate Change and National Security,” sniffed Boxer, in her tome-sized counter-punch.

Woo hoo! Only 153 days until the election!

Dudley still doomed: As for Campbell, the favored candidate of editorial boards everywhere, we forecast two weeks ago that the combination of Fiorina’s late-breaking move to the wallet, and the host of independent expenditure attacks he was enduring, would position Carly to crack it open down the stretch.

With the new L.A. Times poll showing she apparently has done just that, it looks like Campbell’s chronically anemic fund-raising has now gone on total life support, as he pulled all his final week TV ads and announced his determination to win the campaign with phone calls and email. Good luck with that.

UPDATE 6 AM Thursday: Politico says Campbell is going back on the air with an ad that makes his best argument: That only he among the GOP candidates for Senate, can actually beat Barbara Boxer. We’ll see how much money Dudley has scraped together to make the case on TV. He’d need a few million, at least, we suspect.

United Front for Brown Forming: California Working Families 2010 — the pro-Jerry Brown independent group that already includes the California Professional Firefighters, the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, SEIU California State Council, the Professional Engineers in California Government — today is expected to announce that they’re being joined by the Democratic Governors Association and its California Accountability Project.

That puts Emily DeRose of the DGA on the field for Brown, along with CAWF’s Roger Salazar. Level the Playing Field, with the likes of Ace Smith and Chris Lehane,  also has been active in the pro-Jerry-anti-Meg universe> But it’s beginning to look like CAWF is the Big Dog.

Of course, we don’t know yet what heaters like the California Teachers Association and California Correctional Peace Officers Association plan to do in the governor’s race. If anything.

eMeg Invades Libraries; Commish Escapes Bondage

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Let’s hear another chorus of  “No Motherland Without You” Not content to road block the state’s airwaves, Meg Whitman has now opened another communications channel to force feed her campaign talking points to all Californians. According to Team eMeg:

Meg Whitman has mailed two copies of her plan, “Building A New California”, to about 1,400 public libraries throughout the state. The 48-page policy magazine concentrates on her three priorities: creating jobs, cutting government spending and fixing education.

“In an effort to provide California voters with the information they need to make an informed decision about which candidate has the right experience and leadership skills to be the next Governor of our state, I’ve mailed my plan for ‘Building A New California’ to our state’s public libraries,” said Whitman. “I encourage the libraries to display my magazine in their periodicals section so voters can gain a clear understanding of how I will govern, if elected in November.”

Such a deal. What’s next – framed oil portraits of Her Megness in every K-12 classroom? “Thanks Dear Leader, for all you do for us” signs erected by Cal Trans on every freeway exit? eMeg loyalty oaths sworn and signed by every faculty member at UC?

First Amendment sluts that we are, Calbuzz is all for widespread dissemination of information. But the idea of using taxpayer-funded institutions as distribution points for political propaganda strikes us as kinda’ creepy, and just doesn’t pass the smell test.

Poizner’s Eyes Wide Shut: Steve Poizner’s flack, Jarrod Agen, couldn’t put enough distance between his boss and Erik Brown, owner of  Dynamic Marketing Inc., whom Poizner’s campaign paid more than $10,000 for literature and mailings last May.

That’s ’cause Brown is the galoot who was reimbursed by the Republican National Committee for almost $2,000 in charges at Voyeur West Hollywood, a risqué, bondage-themed nightclub in Hollywood.

All the news about this, btw, was broken unflinchingly  by The Daily Caller,  conservative TV yakker Tucker Carlson’s DC online political site.

Records show Brown charged Poizner for more than $10,000 in services in May 2009, but a Poizner spokesman immediately distanced the candidate from Brown, the DC reported. Spokesman Jarrod Agen said Brown is merely a “direct mail vendor” and is not a consultant to the Poizner campaign. He says Brown hasn’t worked for them since June. “You can’t call someone a ‘Poizner consultant’ who we haven’t dealt with in nearly a year,” Agen said in an e-mail to the DC.

Catch up with the story, including RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s role, here and  here.

More guilty pleasures: Check out The Daily Beast’s close comparative analysis of Democrat and Republican sex scandals, which includes a ranking of the top 58 of the last 20 years, featuring three Californians – Kevin Shelley (#29); Gary Condit (#43) and Gavin Newsom (#53) – as well as Andy Borowitz’s blindingly insightful look at what l’affaire de Voyeur means for the RNC’s stance on gay marriage.

How about naming rights for the Wednesday edition? Our Department of Newspaper Credibility and On-Time Driveway Delivery has long found problematic the Chronicle’s practice of running Willie Brown’s column in its news pages.

We have nothing against the Sunday Mr. Speaker feature – in fact we’re often entertained or informed by one of his self-serving items. Given Brown’s impenetrable tangle of political, financial and legal interests and conflicts in San Francisco and California, however, prudent editorial  judgment would seem to err on the side of running the column on the op-ed page, where readers would understand up front that what they were getting wasn’t “news” in any sense of the word.

Now comes the Bay Guardian to report that Chronicle columnist Brown has been representing PG&E’s political interests before the state Public Utilities Commission, with nary a word of disclosure to readers. When the Guardian’s Tim Redmond called up editor Ward Bushee to ask WTF, he offered this see-no-evil response:

Our readers like his column to a large degree because he’s the Willie Brown with a long and colorful political history and many connections…Willie is not an employee or a member of the Chronicle staff but his columns go through standard editing procedures. He understands conflict of interest as well as anyone. I’m confident that he would not use his column to promote or benefit outside interests or clients. But if you feel differently, why don’t you contact him and ask him these questions directly.

Huh? In other words, the ethical standards of the San Francisco Chronicle are now left to the journalistic judgment and best intentions of Willie L. Brown Jr. to determine. And you wonder why newspapers are in the dumper.

And don’t call me chief: “The Wrap” is one of our favorite Hollywood news sites, but not necessarily the first place we look for serious media criticism. But Dylan Stableford delivered a well-deserved smack on the snout to the 15 dead tree newspapers in the nation whose editors decided that passage of health care reform did not merit play on the front page.

Among the papers that put the story inside, and the yarns they featured on the front instead:

Palm Beach Daily News, Palm Beach, Florida
“Census Forms Arriving in the Mail.”

Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg, Florida
A story on Hollywood’s suddenly feeble leading men pegged to Ben Stiller’s “Greenberg” character.

Commercial-News, Danville, Illinois
Photos of a maple syrup open house.

Don’t stop the presses!

Calling all wingnuts: Frank Rich nailed it with Sunday’s column in which he loudly called out the racism and sexism of the Arayan Nation Tea Party legions, noting correctly that their complaints about health care are nothing more than a gauzy curtain for their bottom line concern: there’s a black guy in the White House:

That a tsunami of anger is gathering today is illogical, given that what the right calls “Obamacare” is less provocative than either the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or Medicare, an epic entitlement that actually did precipitate a government takeover of a sizable chunk of American health care. But the explanation is plain: the health care bill is not the main source of this anger and never has been. It’s merely a handy excuse. The real source of the over-the-top rage of 2010 is the same kind of national existential reordering that roiled America in 1964.

If Obama’s first legislative priority had been immigration or financial reform or climate change, we would have seen the same trajectory. The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play…When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from.

Patriots, indeed. 

Difi Detritus Meets Campbell Jihad Fall-Out

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Are you going to believe us or your lying eyes? Our aging tickers have almost, finally, chilled out from all the excitement of the big finish to Dianne Feinstein’s epic Dance of the Seven Veils (free at last, free at last!)

So it’s time to shoot the wounded among the insiders and other hacks who kept retailing the rumors that she was about to jump into the governor’s race – Psst! We hear it’s any minute now! – months after all right-thinking people agreed that this would never happen.

Few find themselves in a state of such embarrassing exposure  as Sherry Greenberg, who blogs occasionally over at California Majority Report.

As grizzled, veteran, long-time Capitol Hill Outsiders, Calbuzz was most impressed with Greenberg’s blog credentials as “a long-time Capitol Hill insider.” And her connections came in pretty handy when she wrote, on Feb. 15, that Indiana Senator Evan Bayh’s surprise retirement was a clear signal that DiFi was about to flee Capitol Hill for our parochial governor’s race.

So, what does (Bayh’s move) have to do with California?  Quite possibly a lot…I can’t help but think that faced with serving in the minority in the next Senate, Dianne Feinstein might decide that trying to cure California’s many ailments is more desirable than remaining in the Senate.  Certainly, the gridlock in California is no worse than that in the US Senate and the opportunity to cap her career by becoming California’s first female governor and the savior of the state might outweigh remaining in a likely hostile Senate.

While Feinstein just missed making history as the first female Vice Presdiential candidate in 1984, she has the opportunity to become a role model to young girls by showing that a woman can be a tougher and more effective governor than a film action star…

The record will show that:

a) Generally speaking,  “I can’t help but think” is not what you want to lean on for your Well-Informed, Reliable Source.

b) Difi “just missed making history as the first female Vice Presidential  candidate in 1984” by a considerably greater amount than former Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, who actually did make history as the first female Vice Presidential candidate in 1984.

c) To the surprise of no one, Feinstein officially announced she wasn’t running for governor. Less than 48 hours after Greenberg’s 7:10 p.m. post.

Considerably more effective at covering his tracks was Willie Brown, who had at least stopped flogging the Feinstein rumors a couple of weeks earlier.

Faced with the fact-based reality that she wasn’t running, despite his best and repeated efforts to sell it in the news pages of the Chronicle, Mr. Speaker at least had the grace to construct an entertaining narrative to explain away his energetic bid to keep the DiFi speculation alive for the past year.

The first indication I got that she was cooling to the idea was when Jerry Brown and his wife, Anne Gust, were seated front and center at her 30th wedding anniversary party at the Fairmont a few weeks back.

For some of us, politics is a bit like the Mafia: Kiss you one day, kill you the next. Not Dianne. She would never invite someone she was planning to run against.

As Mrs. Humphry Ward famously said: “The first law of story-telling – Every man is bound to leave a story better than he found it.”

He told me he taught The Political History of the Mideast: Tom Campbell was doing some serious whistling past the graveyard Friday, hyping a new poll from something called M4Strategies that was featured in a Fox & Hounds piece proclaiming he’s widened his lead in the GOP Senate primary.

Team Campbell was doubtless glad to have something to talk about other than his past ties to Professor and Islamic jihad figure Sami Al-Arian, a nasty little controversy that suddenly gave Dudley Do Right foes Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore a hammer with which to bash him over the question of how good a friend Campbell is to Israel.

Conservative blogs were smoking for several days with tough attacks on Campbell over the Al-Arian connection before LATer Seema Mehta put the legal and policy issues in context. As for the politics of the matter, check out Politico’s reprise of how a Senate candidate in Florida lost his race amid a similar controversy involving the good professor.

How about 10 cents on the dollar? DBI honors to Chronicler Wyatt Buchanan, whose piece on whether California can/will/should go bankrupt  was excellent. Buchanan also gets credit for capturing the quote of the week, from L.A. Assembly member and newly-minted congressional candidate Karen Bass, who’s pretty darned pleased with herself for her not-very-impressive term as Speaker:

“I am one of those that serves out of a calling and not out of a personal ambition,” she said. And I guess I’d add that my biggest weakness is really my incredible humility.

Please don’t call my wife: Don Ringe takes a hard look at the candidacy for governor of alleged Prince Frederic von Anhalt, ninth husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor.