Calbuzz Solves Mysteries of the (Political) Universe


So much of politics is scripted, focused-grouped and calculated that when a political professional says or does something out of the ordinary, absurd or just plain stupid, we often smack ourselves upside the head and say, “What were they thinking?”

While we could pick any number of examples, today we focus on three recent forehead slappers by Barack Obama, Fred Davis and Jerry Brown.

What was Obama thinking when he endorsed Democratic Congressman Pete Stark for re-election last week?

As we noted the other day, the 20-term East Bay congressman is an embarrassment to himself and his constituents and ought to withdraw and throw his support to Democratic Alameda county prosecutor Eric Swalwell who has the advantage of being 1) sane and 2) not a drooler and 3) verbalizer of the line that Stark’s behavior has “forced the congressman to issue more public apologies than Lindsay Lohan.”

In recent days – before Obama’s bonehead endorsement – Stark falsely and maliciously accused Deborah “The Red” Saunders, the SF Chronicle’s in-house token conservative columnist, of donating money to Swalwell’s campaign. He idiotically confused Solyndra, the belly-up solar energy company, with Tesla, the electric car company, both in his district.

And Stark issued a phony “apology” for having charged that Swalwell took hundreds of thousands of dollars in “bribes” in a statement that went on to charge that “Swalwell has been a consistent vote on the Dublin City Council and on the Planning Commission supporting projects by developers who have been raided by the FBI, have plead guilty to destroying natural habitats.”

Sorry, indeed.

What kind of political advice did Obama get on this one?  Did no one read the 2008 Esquire list of the 10 worst lawmakers in Congress in which they noted, “Stark gives bumbling, dyspeptic old fools who say stupid things a bad name.”

What was Fred Davis thinking when he wrote up a 54-page advertising plan for Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade, and his pro-Mitt Romney super PAC?

The plan was designed to correct the impression Obama gave to voters that he is, according to the Davis memo, a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.” It would do this by linking Obama to the incendiary Chicago pastor, Jeremiah Wright and his black liberation theology.

We have a soft spot in our Calbuzzard hearts for Davis because he was creator of the marvelously amusing “Demon Sheep” ad for Carly Fiorina’s successful campaign for the Republican nomination for Senate in 2010 – the spooky spot that suggested former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Davis also did the delightful “I am not a witch” ad for Republican Christine O’Donnell in Delaware.

But jeez, Fred. Obama has been president for nearly four years already. People know he’s not a raging, black power radical – even if you could make the unlikely case that his former preacher is one. A fact not lost of Romney himself who said:

“I repudiate the effort by that PAC to promote an ad strategy of the nature they’ve described.” (Of course, Romney couldn’t leave it at that, so he added: “I think what we’ve seen so far from the Obama campaign is a campaign of character assassination. I hope that isn’t the course of this campaign. So in regards to that PAC, I repudiate what they’re thinking about.” (Asked later what “character assassination” he was talking about, Romney pointed to Obama about Romney’s history at Bain Capital – where he was a job assassin).

Not only that, Fred, but you really pissed off former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, now mayor of Chicago, who immediately put the kibosh on a multimillion dollar plan to help the Ricketts family refurbish Wrigley Field, which they own. Oops.

What’s Jerry Brown thinking doing national news interviews, one after another, including the self-aggrandizing, pompous Charlie Rose? But not sitting down with Calbuzz?

If he’s going to throw around Latin phrases like nemo dat quod habet (no one gives what he doesn’t have) to explain why California has to either approve his tax hike plan or suffer even deeper budget cuts, he ought to be making those comments to a California news outlet, preferably us.

If he told us, “This is not Europe. We’re not the European society with it kind of sclerotic regimes and economy and social structure,” we’d at least have the wherewithal to ask him if he’s taking about Greece, Germany or Great Britain. And why he wants to insult potential California trading partners. And where does he think Jacques is, anyway?

Also, Rose let him off pretty easy when Brown said, “This is where they invented Facebook, not in Texas, not in Arizona, not in Manhattan and certainly not under the White House and the Congress. This is still the Wild West and we’re going to prove to the rest of the country and the world that we know how to do it.”

When Rose, laughing, noted that Facebook was invented in Cambridge, Mass., Brown froze for about three seconds staring at the camera before replying, “Well, wherever it was invented, this is where they are.”

True, that Gov. Gandalf. But what were you thinking? And by the way, if you’re going to announce a $14 billion water project (on top of your $60-$100 billion high-speed rail proposal), why are you giving that story of Charlie “Do You Think I’m Smart” Rose?

Rose didn’t even get a few of your best quotes. He did pick up on your explanation of how you’ll balance the budget if your tax measure doesn’t pass: “There’s more than one way to skin a cat. There’s many roads to Calcutta and we’re going to take whichever one will get us there.” But he apparently wasn’t sensitive to the fact that the Indan-American voters of California might not like your suggestion that taking the road to Calcutta is like skinning a cat.

Rose certainly missed the theological roots of your statement, “At this stage of my life, this is what I’ve been called upon to do and God willing I’m going to do it.”

And though it was in response to a lame question about how much you’re “betting” on the upcoming tax vote, Rose also missed: “I don’t have that much of a future. I’ve got more of a past that a future. I’m not betting anything.”

Except your word, or did you forget you promised you had the experience and the knowledge to fix California?

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There are 5 comments for this post

  1. avatar GeoHagop says:

    By “Indan-American”, I take it you mean the Cahulla of Coachellan Calcutta.

  2. avatar NorthofUS says:

    It seems very strange that the state of California would allow its employees to earn salaries that are 60% higher than comparable incomes in the private sector. Before anyone votes for a tax increase, perhaps Mr. Brown should consider renegotiating union contracts. With a 10%+ unemployment rate it seems that that unions are in a very bad bargaining position. If contracts can’t be renegotiated, layoffs offset with outsourcing to the private sector can get the job done for less too.

    • avatar GeoHagop says:

      NorthofUS: Shilling for the Dick Army boys are we? Ready to drown the unions in the bath tub with Grover NorthofUSquist?

    • avatar chrisfinnie says:

      I once bet somebody who put a similar post on Facebook that I could disprove this allegation in 5 minutes using Google search. I did. I won’t bother to repeat the exercise and give you all the links as I did with him. But I encourage you to try it. You’ll find:

      * At the higher levels, a cabinet secretary makes about 1/100th of what a CEO of a major corporation does–or less–for comparable work and responsibility.
      * Most mid-level government employees get paid about the same as comparable private-sector employees, but generally have a higher level of education.
      * Public-sector pensions for most positions are comparable to Social Security payments that public employees don’t get. For example, teacher friends of mine get about what I’ll get in a few years from Social Security.
      * In general, public benefits are better than private (which indicates to me that private employers are screwing their employees).

      Taken together, public employees get about 2% better pay and benefit packages on average. This does not factor in their generally higher level of education. If you do that, they come out equal or slightly lower than private workers.

      As for your assertion that private sector services are less expensive, that is also false. It has been fairly extensively tested and tracked across several states. The results show citizens are not more satisfied with the services private companies deliver. In fact, they are usually less happy with them. Charter school students, for example, score generally lower on standardized tests than public students. And public schools can’t select who they take as charter schools do. If they had to do that, their scores would be even lower as they’d have to take disabled students, kids with learning and behavior problems, and non-English speakers. These services are also not less expensive, but usually more. Think about it. Unlike public services, their goal is to make a profit. How could they possibly be cheaper? And don’t tell me it’s because they’re more efficient. Medicare has lower overhead costs than any private insurance company in the country.

      There are always exceptions. Some high-level officials in the UC system and in various police organizations, for example, have gotten outsize pay and pensions deals. But private defense contractors are responsible for most of the outrageous Pentagon program cost overruns.

      In summary, stop listening to Rush. He doesn’t bother to check anything he says. Absolutely nothing. He just opens his mouth and lies–and makes a lot of money doing so. When you do it, you just make yourself look like an idiot. You could solve that by spending a few minutes checking any of this out as I did. I urge you to do so.

  3. avatar NorthofUS says:

    An alternative to Proposition 13: raise property taxes on everyone, but give breaks for homeowner occupied residences, seniors 65 and over and the disabled. When there is such a great disparity between those grandfathered into the system when Prop. 13 first passed and those who have bought for the first time in California it is clear that more than a little resentment is created. How is possible that a state that would rank in the top ten if it were its own nation, has such a dysfunctional system of government and at tax rates that are among the highest in the United States? It seems there are an awful lot of people wanting something for nothing thanks to Prop. 13, but unwilling to pay for government services they also expect. It is time to rewrite the California State Constitution, get rid of the gridlock of the propositions that have stymied any possibility of running a government no matter who is in power, and start all over again. In addition, if I were governor I would set up a prison exchange for illegals to serve out their sentences in their own home country, rethink the criminality of drug use offences (its a health issue, not a criminal issue), and look for ways to lower the cost of education because in this economy everyone will be going back to school multiple times in order to adapt to the increasingly rapid changes in the economy. Let’s invest in what really matters–the people of the state of California.

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