Archive for 2011

Press Clips: Arnold-Manson-Henry VIII Edition

Friday, May 20th, 2011

In the warp-speed world of deadline-every-second news, we’re already into the third generation of Love Child Shocker react stories, just 72 hours after Mark Barabak’s global scoop.

First off the mark: the certified crazies of TMZ and Radar Online, baying  in rabid, if futile, pursuit of Arnold’s babymom and unfortunate child:

Maria asked Mildred Baena if her son was fathered by Arnold and the housekeeper broke down and confessed, RadarOnline.com and Star magazine uncovered in a joint investigation (joint indeed -ed.).

Next came the lame, mostly MSM efforts to get in on the feeding frenzy by tarting down a juicy sex scandal as a story about the media, as in the NYT’s solemn intonation, complete with tortured nut graf and questions being mysteriously raised by mysterious sources:

Though the circumstances of such cases are sharply different, they nevertheless raise questions and concerns about where attention should be focused.

Harrumph, harrumph.

And now, at press time, we’re up to our eyeballs in sticky goo produced by pop psychologists (“A split can be transformational…the most challenging times build inner muscles”), relationship experts (“The fact that Maria is taking control of the situation is important not only for her”) and other such parasites on humanity (“Lending feminist cover to a man who gropes and harasses women so he can have power over millions goes far beyond the call of marital duty”).


The paper of record: To its credit, the By God L.A. Times mostly avoided excessive excess, not an easy thing to do considering they’re the ones that got us all into this mess.

They can’t really be faulted for having Seemaeve take a run at Whither Arnold, enabling Steve Lopez to pile on or letting Skelton deliver a surgical coup de grace about what a lousy governor Mr. Dickhead was.

Then again did they really need to send some poor schmuck reporter on the fool’s errand of interviewing random people in Arnold’s Starbucks? Starbucks? Really?

In such a journalistic sitch, the few remaining throwback types who fret about things like credibility and ethics appear to be nothing so much as those really old Japanese soliders who hid in caves for decades, thinking WWII was still on.

Still, Poynter’s Julie Moos performed yeoperson work in sifting and sorting through the prickly issues (which, admittedly, a vast majority of those on the story probably don’t know are issues) as well as anyone could.

In that vein, LAT High Sheriff Russ Stanton earns kudos, both for thinking through what his paper’s policy would be in not naming the baby momma (boy, are we glad we missed that meeting) and for sticking to it, a far more impressive stance than the oh-well-it’s-out-there-anyway position taken by Bill Keller,  his counterpart at the NYT (you know, the guys who named the victim in the William Kennedy Smith rape case).

Bottom feeders: Enough with the encomiums – on with the Worst-of-the Schwarzmuscle Sex Scandal Awards!

1-“Arnold’s Love Child – Spitting Image” (TMZ)

Ordinarily we love these guys, but TMZ seems to have overdosed on stupid pills, after getting stomped by the LA Times on Hollywood scandal turf they’ve reliably owned in recent years:

TMZ has obtained lots of information — as well as photos — of the boy Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered out of wedlock — and he looks shockingly like Arnold himself…

Sources tell TMZ — in the late ’90s Patty began to “pursue Arnold.”  She told friends they would have unprotected sex during the day at the house.  Patty never slept overnight at the house and no one ever caught them in the act…

We are not revealing the identity of the boy, however his features are eerily like Arnold’s.  We have various pictures of him at various ages (he’s now in his early teens) and each picture shows striking similarities, especially the mouth and teeth.

Three words of advice, Harvey: Hose ‘em down.

2-“Why Maria Shriver Should Take Arnold Schwarzenegger Back” (FoxNews.com)

Fox’s Dickensian-named Dr. Keith Ablow writes:

Now, perhaps for the first time, with Mr. Schwarzenegger’s behavior a secret to no one, Ms. Shriver might have a real opportunity to connect–at a genuine emotional level–with a husband who could confess all of his weaknesses, his doubts and his pain and be (perhaps to his great surprise) loved despite them.

Next up on Fox: Henry VIII — A lovable lunk who just wants to be loved.

3-“Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Failings” (LAT Editorial)

With all the juice running through the Times newsroom, their Department of Thumbsucking and Lofty Thoughts  no doubt felt compelled to jump into the fray (“Well, we gotta say something”).

Rather than just doing their sacred duty of riding down from the hill and shooting the wounded – “He was a jerk then, he’s a jerk now and you all should have listened to us when you had the chance” has a nice ring to it – however, they instead erred hideously by trying to be measured, uneasily combining the editorialist’s hoary on-the-hand-on-the-other trick with the ole future- lies-ahead dodge:

As a former politician and a celebrity who wants to resume an acting career, this is a crossroads for Schwarzenegger. So far, his best behavior appears to have been in supporting the child he fathered and in making a straightforward public admission of the facts (although only after he was questioned on the subject by reporters). Whatever happens next, we hope he conducts himself with honesty and integrity, which appear to have been lacking in much of his behavior over the last few decades.

“Crossroads?” Seriously? How about this:

Without question, Mr. Manson’s personal behavior can only be termed reprehensible. Yet as a musician, he clearly is at a crossroads: We find in his engaging voice and warm guitar work clear strains of humanity that he may yet learn, through a reflective incarceration, to transition into his  relationships with others.

Sic temper tyrannis.

SEIU Shocker! Plus: LAT Payback on the Barbarian

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Calbuzz instant quiz: What political group’s membership constitutes the biggest bloc within the California Republican Party?

The Chamber of Commerce? The California Manufacturers Association? The bloggers of Flashreport, who consider anyone in favor of child labor laws or the 40-hour work week a dangerous socialist?

Not even close.

Dave Kieffer, the new executive director of the Service Employees International Union in California, did a bit of research and discovered that 87,000 of SEIU’s 700,000 members are registered Republicans – which he figures makes it the single largest political organization within the state GOP. And that, Kieffer says, gives the union a golden opportunity.

“SEIU needs to build a Republican program to play in Republican districts for our Republican members and for our broader self-interest,” Kieffer told Calbuzz, offering a glimpse of his strategy for an SEIU presence in GOP legislative districts in 2012.

This is a big deal for SEIU, long one of the most liberal forces in the Democratic Party, and it could become an equally big deal for any hardcore right-wing legislators who get reapportioned into new districts where moderate Republicans become competitive under the top-two primary system.

Beginning of end for knuckle-draggers? Although Kieffer isn’t sharing any budget numbers, SEIU spent $2.5 million in a half-dozen swing districts in 2010 and, he said, plans to get involved in 2012, not only in open seats but also in Republican seats that are in play.

The current SEIU seven-figure TV campaign, encouraging voters to call Republican lawmakers Bill Emmerson, Anthony Cannella, Tom Berryhill,  Katcho Achadjian and Cameron Smyth to move forward on the budget without massive cuts is a taste of what’s to come, he added.

“Every senate district has at least 3,000 SEIU members in it,” Kieffer said, adding that the union has done polling showing that, when confronted with the option of keeping tax rates the same as they are or cutting services, those members are among the majority that don’t want teachers, cops, firefighters and nurses laid off.

“The tensions between the public sector unions and the Republicans are at an all time high but there’s nothing that says we can’t work with them,” he said. SEIU might support Republicans who vote for or support a budget that includes taxes at current levels in order to avoid more cuts, either with outright help or by going negative with an independent expenditure against “unreasonable” GOP candidates in the district.

Berryhill vs. Olsen: For example, while Assemblyman Bill Berryhill hasn’t yet helped move the budget along, should he do so, and should he wind up in a contest with Kristin Olsen in the 25th AD (or whatever district it might be), SEIU might end up helping Berryhill or attacking Olsen.

Same thing if Paul Cook, who’d be more likely to get SEIU support, has to square off against Mike Morrell. Or any Republican with a brain who goes up against Minuteman Mike Donnelly. (Memo to wannabes’: Calbuzz is not covering any of these races).

While right-wing types might label as a union tool a candidate SEIU supports – directly or through an IE – there will still be a lot of cops, firefighters, teachers and nurses voting in the district; in addition, Kieffer said, it’s likely that business interests would be on the same side as the “responsible” Republican.

All of which reminds us of that old Mel Blanc radio commercial: “Farms in Berkeley? Mooooo.” Unions in Apple Valley? Oooooh. (Cheap whoop: Mouse over Mel’s Mooooo at http://www.berkeleyfarms.com/).

(Click on the cartoon for a larger image).

A bigger jerk than even we thought: It’s interesting, if fruitless, to speculate what might have been in California politics if the L.A. Times had kept pressing its investigation of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sexual perversions in the fall of 2003.

Not long before the gubernatorial recall election that year, of course, the Times churned out some terrific yarns detailing the Barbarian’s serial gropings of women.

Its reporting was important in shedding light on the character of the soon-to-be governor – how important no one really knew until now — but all the paper got for its trouble was the shit kicked out of it; Arnold and his legions of apologists and dimwit admirers responded with a white hot eruption of furious outrage and cancellations that quickly made the stories, instead of Schwarzenegger’s aberrant behavior, the story.

One key element in turning the tide was the public bearing of Maria Shriver, who stood by her man to validate his rectitude and integrity, not  knowing that her class-act husband had been hideously betraying her for several years, keeping secret his paternity of a child he’d fathered with their longtime housekeeper.

Coincidence or not, the Times reporting on the subject trailed away not long after, and Schwarzenegger’s pathological lies and behavior stayed  hidden through his governorship.

Better late than never: Now comes old school, mad dog political writer Mark Z. Barabak, who’s finally and fully redeemed his paper,  revealing for all the world to see the narcissistic derangement at the core of a morally corrupt charlatan who conned, not only the voters of California, but also his family and his wife of 25 years:

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, separated  after she learned he had fathered a child more than a decade ago — before his first run for office — with a longtime member of their household staff.

Shriver moved out of the family’s Brentwood mansion earlier this year, after Schwarzenegger acknowledged the paternity. The staff member worked for the family for 20 years, retiring in January.

Somewhere, no doubt, some J-school chin-stroker right now is tut-tutting deep thoughts about the Arnold love child story being, harrumph, race-to-the-bottom celebrity journalism…a personal matter, not of political importance…blah, blah, blah, harrumph, harrumph…

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Why it matters: For starters, Schwarzenegger still harbors pretensions of political leadership, as he jets around the world passing himself off as an expert on global warming, while making kissy-poo noises to the White House and dreaming of being offered a Cabinet spot.

More: with his lovable big lug public persona, he seems to fancy himself as some kind of cultural role model for kids, most recently evidenced by inking a deal for “The Governator,” a cartoon series based on the fabulous story of himself.

And always far more concerned with image than with substance, he now aspires to idealize his lousy performance as governor, trying to concoct and spin a fictive “legacy” from the true facts of his abject political failure.

(Also: lock up your daughters, wives and chambermaids when the big creep comes leching around).

No, this is one global public figure whose exposure as a total fraud, cheat and hypocrite is way overdue.

Barabak’s shoe leather reporting on the story may never garner huzzahs from the journalism bubblehead chrome dome community, but he’s sure the hands-down winner of the Calbuzz Gold Medal for Public Service in California Politics.

Tough Budget Spot for Governor (No Plan B) Brown

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Jerry Brown uncorked some trademark faux Zen gibberish just about a year ago, when asked to describe the strategy he’d use if elected governor to deal with California’s massive deficit.

At the time, a few weeks into his campaign against Republican oligarch Meg Whitman, Brown was pressed in an interview on CNBC to offer specifics of his plan to tackle the state’s tangled and terrible finances. As we described it at the time:

Brown responded to the line of questioning with nothing but tired bromides about getting all the legislators in a room and going through the budget line by line blah blah blah, ending with this exchange with CNBC’s Jane Wells:

“When will we get a specific plan?
Well the plan is to go over each item of the budget.
But when will we…

That is the plan. The plan is the process.”

Ah. Yes, it all makes sense now:

The plan is the process.
The process is the plan.
I am the walrus.
Goo goo g’joob.

Today, as Brown prepares to roll out his new and improved May Revise (that’s “ree-vize”) budget proposal, he’ll do so from a weaker and more defensive position than when he set forth the original version back in January — precisely because his political strategy for pushing through a budget never really advanced beyond  “the plan is the process.”

Overestimating his charm: The governor, to his credit, sent the Legislature a serious and substantive policy proposal soon after his inauguration which split the difference between cuts and taxes in easing a $25+ billion shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year.

As a political matter, however, he made a major miscalculation in overestimating his own ability to use intelligence and sweet reason to overcome the blind ideology of the Legislature’s right-wing Republicans.

Gandalf badly misread the political terrain, perhaps because he was lulled by memories of his first turn as governor, when he was able to bargain with long ago GOP leaders who actually cared about governance, like Ken Maddy, Paul Priolo and Wild Bill Campbell, or perhaps because he simply thought too much of his ability to conduct a successful charm offensive.

Having tried and failed to win the four Republican votes needed to put his budget fix before voters – while admitting to a private caucus of Democrats that “there is no Plan B” – Brown now has been pushed into reactive mode, as he tries to scratch and claw his way through a political and fiscal landscape more treacherous than the one he encountered in those halcyon days of January.

As he renews his bid to pass a budget today, the numbers within it may be re-calibrated, but the political calculus that already confounded him once has only grown more intractable because of four key factors:

Revenue: The good news for Brown is that state tax collections in April were $2.5 billion higher than projected; the bad news is that tax receipts were $2.5 billion higher than expected. Although a pittance in an $85+ billion budget, the windfall has had outsize political impact, handing  Sacramento’s anti-government zealots a fig leaf that gives them cover as they continue to bray the same old, same old no-taxes-ever-again cant.

Republicans: The GOP made a smart, if intellectually dishonest, move  by quickly seizing on the $2.5 billion in new revenue to cobble together an alternative spending plan rushed out to beat the May Revise.

In its reliance on rosy projections, sleight of hand school funding, phony savings and illegal fund transfers, it’s exactly the kind of non-serious gossamer budget plan that the discredited Arnold Schwarzmuscle signed year after year to paper over serious problems; in a business where perception is reality, however, the Coupal/Fox/Fleischman axis has quickly moved to sell it to the public by tarting up this pig with plenty of mascara, eyeliner and lip gloss.

Business: Corporate interests are now calling for a “financial workout plan,” promising to support Brown’s call for extending some temporary tax increases, in exchange for him agreeing to compromise far more on a hard state spending cap and on pension reform; at the same time, they’re pressuring him to soften his opposition to their pet programs, like redevelopment and enterprise zones.

As the GOP caucus plays bad cop, attacking Brown from far out in cuckoo land, the business types play good cop, portraying themselves as the soul of reasonable moderation, all the while pushing the center of the budget debate steadily rightward.

Democrats: Even as pressure builds from the right, Brown’s erstwhile allies on the left are signaling they’ve gone about as far as they intend to in agreeing to billions in budget cuts.

Last week’s CTA-sponsored Capitol protest extravaganza, coupled with the ongoing refusal by liberal Democratic lawmakers to approve more than $1 billion in additional social welfare cuts that Brown proposed earlier, puts him in a tighter squeeze, shrinking the wiggle room he has available for a compromise even further.

More in Brown’s favor is Senate leader Darrell Steinberg’s sponsorship of SB 653, legislation to make it easier for local governments to put all manner of new taxes and increases before voters for approval, a measure that portends unpleasantness for business; as the bill moves through the Senate, Steinberg’s move at least gives Brown one strong bargaining chip in trying to make a deal.

Bottom line: Brown has two basic moves: 1) Push back against the left and forge a transactional solution by negotiating a deal  with the GOP in which he accepts some form of much tougher pension and spending cap proposals, while business does more heavy lifting in finding the needed Republican votes to put his tax extension plan on the ballot; 2) Push back against the right to forge an ideological solution by joining with liberal and union forces to mount a statewide campaign for higher taxes on the wealthy, oil companies and corporations to head off bigger cuts.

The plan is the process, indeed.