Archive for 2012

Press Clips: Pippa, Kim K Star on Prince Gavin Show

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Within the tangled Politics-Media-Entertainment complex, it’s hard to find two people more self-absorbed, self-important and self-regarding than Kim Kardashian and Gavin Newsom.

That’s why our Department of Pilot Script Development and Low Rent Cable Fare was completely stoked this week upon hearing the news that Prince Gavin is getting his own TV show while celebutard Kim K has decided to run for mayor of Glendale.

Talk about cross-dressing crossover infotainment!

Noting the “treasure trove of talent here in California,” the lite gov promised he’ll invite onto his show guests with “big ideas” who “are not getting the exposure I think they deserve.” Well, when it comes to being exposed, there are few talents more worthy than the apollonian Armenian herself, who says she’s hoping to be elected chief executive of the Jewel City “in, like, five years.”

Much as Arnold Schwarzmuscle announced his candidacy for governor on Jay Leno, Her Kimness would be well-served to kick start her campaign on Gavin’s Amateur Hour, where the randy host doubtless would welcome her with open arms, among other things.

GN: So Kim, enough about me. What do you think of me?
KK: I heard you were like, a lieutenant? So I’m surprised you’re like, not wearing a uniform?
GN: You like a man in uniform? I can arrange that.
KK: I do – just ask Chris! Except the whoooole time we were married, he was always, like, taking his off. And then he’s all like, “uh, ya wanna bone?”  Whatever. Hey, didn’t you used to be somebody?
GN: When I was young. I used to be mayor of San Francisco.
KK: That’s awesome! I’m gonna be like mayor of Glendale.
GN: So I’ve heard – why did you decide to run?
KK: When my sisters and me were, like, little and stuff, our mom would always say, “Remember girls — booty calls.”
And then Kourtney texts me and she’s all like, OMG a-hole, mom was saying, “Duty calls!” So I’m like, LOL, that’s awesome and it just seemed, like, an amazing thing to do?
GN: And as mayor, will you promote green energy – solar, biomass, windmills?
KK:  My ex-husband, Chris? Used to fart, like all the time? Talk about wind energy! Ee-yew. That’s, like, the biggest reason I divorced him. But I love green, Gavin, like, that mini I wore with like, the cinched waist nude belt and the lace-up heels? Remember? The night before my bachelorette party? When Khloe got me the penis cake?
GN: Yeah, I heard that was recyclable.
KK: LMFAO! That’s, like, exactly what Ray J used to say about our sex tape.
GN: And we’ll be right back with Mayor-elect Kim Kardashian – whether you like it or not.

Science in imitation of art: Over at CalWatchdog, the occasionally insightful John Seiler worked himself into a state this week over our tightly reasoned takedown of Fox News, protesting that we’re a pack of petty, pig-headed prigs for calling out the Sons of Rupert’s practice of scrupulously providing equal time to climate science deniers. Or as the great man himself put it:

And get what CalBuzz is upset about: FoxNews insisted that its news readers provide two views on the global warming controversy. What’s wrong with having more opinions?

This just in: Calbuzz has obtained an advance look at CalWatchdog’s news budget and can exclusively report the conservative site plans to break some blockbuster stories in coming days:

NEWTON – New study by the Institute for the Advancement of Unknowable Knowledge tears gaping holes in theory of so-called Law of Gravity. Some law – just look at birds and planes flying! Seeking comment from other side. (Greenhut)

BASEBALL CalWatchdog data base analysis confirms Padres would have won more World Series championships than any other team but for burdensome regulations enforced by umpires calling the Infield Fly “Rule.” Checking to see if George Steinbrenner available to respond. (Seiler).

ELLIPSOID One-on-one with incoming president of Flat Earth Society who has fresh evidence Magellan was kicking back, sucking mai tais in the Canary Islands while allegedly “circumnavigating” the globe. Good art – maps. (Grimes).

Political time sink: Don’t miss the new campaign war game tool Timm Herdt has posted on his “95% accurate” blog. With a major assist from Camarillo computer genius David Maron, Timm Terrific offers readers hands-on experience in the kind of number crunching that shapes political strategy, allowing them to plot election scenarios by plugging in partisanship and turnout variables.

The worst story in the world: Not sure who was snoozing at the switch over at 5th and Mish, but the Hearst Chron’s splashy 20th anniversary “commemoration” of the execution of Robert Alton Harris was a disgrace.

Ostensibly a profile of anti-death penalty advocate Michael Kroll, the piece offered sob sister recollections of Harris on Death Row — playing dominoes, talking about art and chowing down on Christmas “apple pies and turkeys” in the years before he finally “writhed with his last breaths of poison gas.”

Boo hoo.

Whatever you think of the death penalty (and California voters will likely get to weigh in on a November ballot measure about the issue), there are generally what John Seiler might call “two sides” to any capital case. Ill-served by his editors, however, the paper’s  young writer (we name no names, to spare his family embarrassment) managed to churn out 1,000 words on the “commemoration” — without devoting a single one to recounting the crimes that earned Harris the gas chamber.

Here’s a refresher course: In 1978, the scumbag carjacked two 16-year olds who were eating burgers in a Jack in the Box parking lot in San Diego, then made them drive into the woods, where he shot and killed both at point blank range with a 9mm Luger. First he told one of the boys to “quit crying and die like a man,” adding that, “God can’t help you now, boy, you’re doing to die,” as the kid began to pray. Then he finished their burgers, bragged to his girlfriend about the murders and laughed about the idea of a cop having to tell the families their boys were murdered.

Poor old misunderstood Harris. Just asking: Doesn’t anybody read the clips any more?

Quote of the week: “I can speak for myself and my fellow chiefs: We’re embarrassed by what occurred in Colombia, though we’re not sure exactly what it is.” – Chairman of Joint Chiefs, speaking about the party-hearty prostitute scandal during President Obama’s trip to Colombia.

Headline of the week: “Smirking Gun,” The Sun’s boffo slammer on its excloo about the escapades of Her Royal Hotness, Pippa Middleton, in Paris.

Dumbass of the week: Bob Beckel’s greatest claim to fame is helming Walter Mondale’s 49-state, 1984 humiliation by Ronald Reagan, so we never understood why anyone would pay him to go on TV and talk about anything. Now he’s become the first person ever to make us feel sorry for Sean Hannity, which we didn’t think was possible.

Don’t miss quick read of the week: Joan Walsh’s post on the unspeakably self-entitled attitudes of Mittens and his hausfrau.

Hell freezes over: Calbuzzer Dave Hyams looked with astonishment this week at the bizarre spectacle of the Washington Nationals holding down first place in the tough National League East division. We turn now for analysis to our man in Washington, Marc Sandalow: The Nationals being in first place is about as likely as Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum being taken seriously as presidential candidates. We can only hope that the team’s moment atop the pack lasts longer than the candidates’. The Nationals may be the only Washington institution all of America can love.

How ‘bout that Stephen Strasburg!

Bag Money in the Bag: U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, one of two Dems running for Congress in the 30th CD, might want to take note of the cavalcade of Dem bigwigs who have signed on to sponsor a $1,000/pp Sactown funder on April 23 for the other guy, U.S. Rep. Howard Berman. Included in the invite: Jerry Brown, Darrell Steinberg, John Perez, Bill Lockyer, John Chiang, Betty Yee, Karen Bass, Alex Padilla, Antonio Villaraigosa, Herb Wesson, 22 members of the Legislature,Willie Brown, John Burton, Fabian Nunez, David Roberti, yada yada yada. Meanwhile, Brad’s reportedly raising money for his 2014 re-elect so that his cash on hand will look good. Sheesh.


How Tony V’s Gay Marriage Gambit Hurts Obama

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Calbuzz, a voice of Truth, Justice and the American Way, stands with those fighting for the defense of marriage — squarely against the morality mullahs who would limit the blessed institution to a union of one man and one woman.

As long and as happily married as your Calbuzzards are, we think everyone should be able to get married. Hell, like the good Wisconsin townspeople, we’d have tossed rice if Lars Lindstrom had wed Bianca, his sex doll. And besides, the LGBT community should have equal access to nasty, messy divorces, just like straight couples have.

But we’re not running for president. Nor is Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. But Barack Obama – who made Hizzoner chairman of the Democratic National Convention (doubtless purely on merit, not because of any ethnicity issues) – is. And, as everyone knows, a presidential election is not a plebiscite but a battle to win 270 electoral votes in state-by-state contests – including swing states with muscular evangelical operations.

Which is why it seems a self-serving, irresponsible, back-stabbing move by Tony V to call – almost as soon as he was named chairman – for the Democratic Party’s platform to include a plank supporting gay marriage. (A move, we understand, not cleared with the Obama campaign in advance.)

Most – but by no means, all – members of the Calbuzz Advisory Board of Leading Authorities on Practically Everything agree with our analysis.

As one Republican panelist put it:

Even though public acceptance of gay marriage is increasing, the Democrats putting support of gay marriage in their platform is lunacy. This idea needs to be scuttled quickly. With GOP tilting increasingly rightward, the Democrats have an opportunity to capture the middle by being rational and reasonable. There is no reason to hand the Culture Warriors a weapon to use in culturally conservative states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Said an equally emphatic Democrat:

Even though the party platform is an essentially meaningless document, Villaraigosa’s move unnecessarily put the president in a pickle. The Romney campaign will use this as an opportunity to build a bridge that had been burned with evangelicals. Meanwhile, it doesn’t win the president a single additional vote. With the exception of a few vocal dissenters, the gay community has given the president a pass on this issue because they know the political downside in swing states. That said, it’s a smart move for Villaraigosa if he’s seriously looking at the governor’s office or a U.S. Senate seat in the near future and needs to one up Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom on this issue.

Why we live in California, Chapter 36: In California – where a restrictive constitutional definition of marriage was thrown out by the courts — at least six in 10 voters are ready to accept gay marriage along with traditional heterosexual unions, according to various polls. But public opinion in California, where Obama will have no trouble winning, is ahead of the curve.

In Ohio, for example, an October 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found that 55% of voters said same-sex marriage should be illegal (although 62% supported legal recognition of same-sex couples – a position akin to Obama’s).

In Florida – where voters amended the state constitution in 2008 by a vote of 62-38% to define marriage as “the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife” – a  March 2011 survey by PPP found that only 28% of Florida voters supported the legalization of same-sex marriage.

In other key swing states – like Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin and Colorado, for example – the last thing Obama needs is a fired-up evangelical base over gay marriage, an issue on which he has chosen to walk a fine line.

None of which appears to concern Tony V.

Remind me why we picked this guy? Here are some of the not-so-flattering assessments of Villaraigosa, from Republicans and Democrats alike:

— It’s a selfish and self-serving move on the mayor’s part. It’s easy to beat his chest about gay marriage as he plots his political future in California. But Obama and swing state Democrats are not helped by this. Of course, Antonio couldn’t care less.

It’s slam-dunk smart politics for Governor Villaraigosa who is still chasing Gavin Newsom as a LGBT leader, but it does potentially complicate matters for the president.

— Of course Antonio would propose something that makes Antonio look good in California whether it hurts the President in swing states or not. Why would anybody expect any different behavior from this guy?

— The real question is why Villaraigosa is doing this, when he is reportedly angling for a high-level post in the Obama administration. Publicly pushing the president on a delicate issue isn’t the best path to an appointment in the second term.  Is this platform push a sign that his career is headed in a different direction?

— The mayor will find that living in California isn’t like living in the rest of the country.  He’ll just drive Obama further left, or leave him betraying yet another part of his base.  No invites to the White House for Antonio in the next few months.

What’s the big deal? Not every member of our Calbuzz panel condemns Villaraigosa or the idea of the Democratic Party adopting a gay marriage plank. Some Republicans and Democrats think it’s a good idea or not much of an issue.

— It’s a smart move. If Democrats approve it in their platform, support and contributions will ignite for LGBT community — and they will once again be on right side of history.   Anyone who would not vote for Obama because of this issue would never vote for Obama anyway.

— It’s not without risk, but I say do it. Gay marriage has subsided as an issue, even on the right, and polling suggests an inexorable march of public opinion toward acceptance. The LGBT community couldn’t be any more alienated from the GOP, so let’s further goose that community for Democrats in this critical election year.

— The only places this debate will have any effect are already Republican – their essential problem is that they seem to be more capable of getting the true believers to sing louder rather than growing the choir.

— I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m always surprised by how much attention party platforms get. They are always to the left or right of the candidate and never seem to be helpful. In this case, however, I think we’ve moved past a place where the gay marriage issue hurts or hinders a national presidential candidate. I guess that’s some progress. 

— It’s not a big issue. Obama won’t flip flop on it until after the election if he’s re-elected. This is an economic election.

— The president has been in a precarious position on this matter for long enough. Since it has been raised this way, his “evolving position” needs to actually “evolve.”  I think he thought with his DADT move he was done.  He’s obviously not.  So, he is pretty much forced into a position of saying he supports marriage equality.  I think it will solidify voters against him who would have been against him anyway and may make a few of the swing states seem more vulnerable to the press.  But, it will also give energy to his base that has little to get excited with him about lately.  In the end, it is the right move and he will be able to sustain it through the year.  His campaign really needs energy back in it — not just an electorate that doesn’t like the alternative. To be honest, the hardest thing for him to explain will be why he waited until now to take this position, if he goes ahead and does it.

Heart vs. head: This, we think, is mostly whistling past the graveyard. Analysis from panelists who consider the right-wing culture warriors a serious force in critical swing states is, we think, more persuasive. To wit:

— In huge swaths of the country, marriage equality is an 50/50 issue or has majority support. Unfortunately, a lot of key swing states aren’t in that swath. This issue is snowballing at the state level and the right path to full marriage equality is to keep moving forward one state at a time. While obviously correct from a moral standpoint, its bad strategy to press it as a national issue in this cycle. Eight years from now marriage equality will be the national norm, but the facts this year suggest the president should stay out.

— I can’t remember the last time s party platform had much impact or the last time a mayor prevailed over an incumbent president on platform contents. This is a clever publicity ploy of marginal value. Obama will still be for marriage being for a man and a woman — he needs to contest North Carolina and Virginia. And New Mexico and Iowa.

— Party activists spend hundreds of hours debating platform provisions that are ignored by candidates.  Candidates pay attention only when a fringe plank threatens to gain momentum and get adopted, or the language used is truly off message. And marriage equality doesn’t rise to that level. Whether marriage equality is in the platform will have zero impact on Obama’s position. The Obama campaign seems to have made a calculation that maintaining the status quo is the best way to navigate the dangerous water between his progressive donors pushing for equality and the moderate voters in swing states.

— The balancing act here is to continue to make case privately — as they have been doing aggressively — to the LGBT community that the Obama administration has already done more for gay rights with DADT and other actions than any president in history. And he will be able to do far more as a second-termer. Patience for seven more months in exchange for watershed civil rights achievements is a deal worth taking.

How damaging could it be? Finally, one Democrat on our panel in particular sees Villaraigosa’s gambit as particularly damaging – perhaps fatal – to Obama’s campaign.

– Bad idea. Ask John Kerry who he blames (Gavin Newsom) for losing Ohio in 2004. The president will have to distance himself from gay marriage again, which will result in suppressing part of the Democratic base vote, while the GOP will exploit the issue to motivate their base. As Mark Barabak wrote in the LA Times today, the election hinges on “a narrow slice of voters in a limited number of states.”  As much as the polls have shifted re: gay marriage, the numbers are not there for those folks who make up that narrow slice of voters in the limited number of swing states. So the mayor will have effectively suppressed the Democratic vote, motivated the GOP base vote, and alienated enough swing voters who decide the election to bring Democrats defeat in November.  So we will get to thank two California mayors, eight years apart, for causing Democrats to lose the presidential election on the gay marriage issue. Great.


Why Watching Fox News Will, In Fact, Rot Your Brain

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Here’s an actual fact – borne out by at least seven different scientific studies — that will make certain people squawk: those who watch Fox News are the most consistently misinformed media viewers.

There are two reasons for this: Fox News actively and intentionally transmits false and misleading information, as exemplified in the 2009 internal staff memo from Fox Washington managing editor Bill Sammon, exposed by MediaMatters, ordering correspondents to:

. . . refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.

But also because conservatives, and especially right-wing authoritarian personalities, are most likely to engage in “selective exposure” that University of Alabama psychologist William Hart explains “is the clearest way to look at how people create their own realities, based upon their views of the world.”

The driving force behind “selective exposure” is the desire to alleviate “cognitive dissonance” — the uncomfortable psychological state people experience when their core beliefs are in conflict with what they know to be true. Although liberals do it too, studies show that they are also more open to a variety of information sources.

This is your brain on Fox: Although the term “cognitive dissonance” would not be invented by Leon Festinger for another 34 years, this is exactly what Walter Lippmann was talking about in 1922 when he wrote, in “Public Opinion” referring to the world view of those who are certain in their beliefs, regardless of the actual facts:

Since my moral system rests on my accepted version of the facts, he who denies either my moral judgments or my version of the facts is to me perverse, alien, dangerous. How shall I account for him? The opponent has always to be explained, and the last explanation that we ever look for is that he sees a different set of facts. Such an explanation we avoid because it saps the very foundation of our own assurance that we have seen life steadily and seen it whole.

Although Calbuzz has written about the death of truth and the role of Fox News and the “Rovian Principle,” we are indebted to author Chris Mooney for advancing the idea in a chapter from his new book, “The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science and Reality.” The chapter, posted at AlterNet, is titled: The Science of Fox News: Why Its Viewers are the Most Misinformed and is accompanied by this handy subhead: Authoritarian people have a stronger emotional need for an outlet like Fox, where they can find affirmation and escape factual challenges to their beliefs.

Here’s one juicy nugget:

The psychologist Robert Altemeyer of the University of Manitoba has also documented an above average amount of selective exposure in right wing authoritarians. In one case, he gave students a fake self-esteem test, in which they randomly received either above average or below average scores. Then, everyone — the receivers of both low and high scores — was given the opportunity to say whether he or she would like to read a summary of why the test was valid.

The result was striking: Students who scored low on authoritarianism wanted to learn about the validity of the test regardless of how they did on it. There was virtually no difference between high and low scorers. But among the authoritarian students, there was a big gap: 73 percent of those who got high self-esteem scores wanted to read about the test’s validity, while only 47 percent of those who got low self-esteem scores did.

Authoritarians, Altemeyer concludes, “maintain their beliefs against challenges by limiting their experiences, and surrounding themselves with sources of information that will tell them they are right.”

Mooney walks the reader through studies that looked at misinformation about global warming, Iraq, health care and other subjects that found Fox viewers were the most misinformed and that viewing Fox News aggravates misinformation.

The Fox “effect” probably occurs both because the station churns out falsehoods that conservatives readily accept — falsehoods that may even seem convincing to some liberals on occasion — but also because conservatives are overwhelmingly inclined to choose to watch Fox to begin with.

The heartbreak of treacherous absolutism: Pew and others have found that while people are increasingly turning to the internet for political news, those who rely on television are sharply divided by partisanship, with Republicans overwhelmingly relying on Fox News and Democrats and independents divided among CNN, MSNBC, PBS and the broadcast networks, ABC, CBS and NBC.

Fox News viewers don’t trust any other TV source; those who view other sources distrust only one source – Fox News.

As Lippmann wrote 90 years ago:

It is only when we are in the habit of recognizing our opinions as a partial experience, seen through our stereotypes, that we become truly tolerant of an opponent. Without that habit, we believe in the absolutism of our own vision, and consequently in the treacherous character of all opposition.

This just in: Fox denies the whole thing.