Archive for 2012

Happy Memorial Day: Amid Rebel Yells, eMeg Returns

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

As Californians prepare to celebrate Memorial Day with a traditional blue-state feast, starting off with tofu burgers washed down with 13 or 14 beers and ending 12 hours later with a full face-plant into the guacamole, our Department of American History and Corporate Event Planning sends a memo reporting that a number of bright-red states started the party early.

Over the past few weeks, nine Southern states — representing 161 electoral votes, it should be noted — staged commemorations of what they officially recognize as Confederate Memorial Day, a somber time to remember and honor the sacred values of The Lost Cause, like, you know, slavery, segregation and white supremacy.

Wielding the stars and bars, singing “Dixie” and reciting the Confederate pledge (“I salute the Confederate Flag with affection, reverence and undying remembrance to the cause for which it stands”) a mere 147 years after the end of the Civil War, descendants of Southern traitors patriots solemnly reaffirmed their duty never to forget their glorious heritage, from Louisiana to, um, Lynchburg, Va.

 Jamey Wentsky, commander of Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1959, read the charge of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The charge, written by former Confederate lieutenant general Stephen Dill Lee after the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ founding in 1896, includes requests for succeeding generations to remember and pass on accurately the legacy of the Confederate soldier:

 “To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish.”

Good times.

Mittens cool to Krusty: On the very day PPIC reported that Mitt Romney enjoys the support of a whopping 39 percent of Californians, we were amused, if not amazed, to find Mittens taking a brief break from making the world safe for the 1% to generously explain to us dopes who live here exactly what’s wrong with the Golden State.

In an interview with National Review, the great man explained that Governor Gandalf “is taking them [that would be us] in the wrong direction.”

As the governor continues to raise taxes on the most successful, the most successful will leave. Others will decide to not open their doors because the risk will be too great that even if they’re successful, the government will end up taking what they earn.

And then the splendid kicker:

 I wish Californians had elected Meg Whitman. She would have been more successful and explained to Californians the need to cut back on spending and eliminate unnecessary programs.

Mitt’s right, of course. While our old friend eMeg could only fire a measly 27,000 people at Hewlett-Packard this week, just think what she might have accomplished in driving the unemployment rate  if she had the entire state government to work with.

“While I wouldn’t say we have turned the corner, we are making real progress,” Whitman told analysts during a conference call.

And thank you for that.

Secret memo to David Axelrod: Whatever ads you’re running in whatever rotations in whatever states right now, take them down immediately, and replace them with the You Tube songify mashup of “Mitt Likes Music, Including This” alternating with this terrifying clip of Mittens laughing.

Clothes make the men: We followed with great interest the recent profound national debate and discussion that ensued when Mark Zuckerberg showed up on Wall Street wearing his trademark hoodie. Drilling down on this crucial issue, the Paper of Record reported:

Mr. Zuckerberg, of course, often wears a hoodie. Perhaps he thinks it’s fetching. Perhaps, he wears it because it is his trademark, much like the Issey Miyake custom-made black turtlenecks that Steve Jobs, one of Mr. Zuckerberg’s executive idols, wore during his public appearances. (Mr. Jobs had hundreds of them made, and he told his biographer, Walter Isaacson, that he had enough of them to wear every day for the rest of his life.)

Hoodies, like black turtlenecks, appear casual, like you just threw on the first thing you could find dangling on a hook behind the door. In fact, it carries a lot of meaning. It signifies the opposite of a Hermès tie, the favored accoutrement of Wall Street. It signifies that you’re busy making things that are really, really important to the world, which is what Silicon Valley believes, and hey – you don’t really care what you look like.

So we instantly decided we really need a corporate clothing trademark, an iconic fashion statement that provides a compelling visual signifier of our no-bull brand.

Happy Confederate Memorial Day.


PPIC Survey Exposes CA Voters’ Self-Contradictions

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

California voters remain resolutely self-conflicted in the face of a $16-billion budget deficit and a pledge by the Legislature to institute automatic cutbacks if new revenues are not forthcoming: maaaybe they’ll approve Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax-hike measure, but if they should refuse they don’t want the spending cuts needed to balance the budget.

Brown’s November ballot proposal to temporarily raise income taxes on the wealthy and boost sales taxes for everybody is ahead by 56-38% among likely voters but 72% oppose the automatic spending cuts Brown and the Legislature have agreed to. All this according to the latest statewide survey by the Public Policy Institute of California.

While majorities of Democrats (53%) and independents (50%) say the state’s budget cap should be fixed with a mix of spending cuts and tax increases, about six in 10 Republicans (58%) want mostly spending cuts. Of course about six in 10 Republicans and independents (64%) and 82% of Democrats also oppose the automatic cuts to K-12 public schools needed to balance the budget.

This is the borderline personality disorder that defines California voters. (For more chilling detail, check out “I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me,” the popular book on borderlines by Jerold Kreisman and Hal Strauss.)

Whom Do You Trust? For pollster Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of PPIC, what underlies voters’ conflicted thinking is a staggering lack of trust in state government. “They feel it’s far away, unresponsive and asking for money that’s not going to be used for what they say it’s going to be used for,” Baldassare told Calbuzz.

According to PPIC, 62% of likely voters say state government wastes a lot of money, including 74% of Republicans, 62% of independents and even 51% of Democrats. More voters trust local government to spend money wisely, but even greater numbers distrust the federal government.

Gov. Brown has long been aware of the stinkeye that voters give state government. It’s why, in his campaign, he pledged to speak honestly about the financial condition of California. Even Brown, however, has projected budgets with rosy assumptions about revenues that have failed to materialize and which now casts Sacramento as a bunch of hostage takers: pay up or suffer the consequences.

According to PPIC, however, voters don’t believe it. (They have good reason: Democrats in the Legislature are already trying to figure ways to avert the automatic cuts they agreed to in passing this year’s budget.)

How else do you explain this: 93% of those who plan to vote against Gov. Brown’s tax proposal say the state budget situation is a big problem, compared to 77% of those who are planning to vote for Brown’s initiative?

Partly it’s explained by the fact that large majorities of Republicans are opposed to raising taxes of any sort: 58% oppose raising income taxes on the wealthiest Californians and 71% oppose raising the state sales tax.

Democrats and independents favor raising the income tax, 86% and 71% respectively. But they, too, oppose raising the sales tax: Democrats by 52-45% and independents by 65-33%.

It’s this sales tax component in Brown’s tax initiative that will give the governor his greatest challenge: overall, likely voters favor raising income taxes on rich folks by 65-33% but they oppose raising sales taxes by 58-40%.

Butts and Terms: PPIC had some interesting findings on two big tax measures (oops, sorry ’bout that)  on the June ballot as well. From their press release:

Two weeks before the June primary, just over half of likely voters say they will vote yes on a proposition to impose an additional $1 tax on cigarettes—a big decline in support from March. Most likely voters say they will vote for a measure to alter legislative term limits.

Support for the cigarette tax, Proposition 29, has dropped 14 points among likely voters since March. Today, 53 percent say they will vote yes, 42 percent say they will vote no, and 5 percent are undecided on the measure, which would tax other tobacco products as well, with revenues going to research on cancer and other tobacco-related diseases. In March—before the active campaign for and against the measure began—67 percent supported it, 30 percent opposed it, and 3 percent were undecided.

When likely voters are asked a more general question about their views on increasing taxes on cigarette purchases, 63 percent say they are in favor and 33 percent are opposed. Responses to this question were similar in March (63% favor, 34% oppose).

“The large drop in support for Proposition 29 speaks loudly about how a well-funded opposition is able to raise voters’ doubts and distrust in state government, even when a tax increase is viewed favorably,” says Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO.

Likely voters are more supportive of Proposition 28, which would reduce the number of years a lawmaker can serve in the state legislature from 14 to 12 but allow all years of service in one house. Sixty-two percent say they will vote yes, 29 percent say they will vote no, and 9 percent don’t know. Support for this measure has slipped slightly since March (68% yes, 24% no, 8% undecided).

Likely voters continue to have a positive view of the impact of term limits. Most (62%) say term limits are a good thing for California, 12 percent say they are a bad thing, and 21 percent say they make no difference.

Oh yeah, the presidential race: Meanwhile, as expected in Blue State California, President Barack Obama’s favorable is 52-45% positive while Mitt Romney’s is 52-40% unfavorable. Opinions break along party lines, with independents leaning positive for Obama 52-42% and negative about Romney 47-40%.

Obama’s announced support for same-sex marriage appears to have had little effect, at least as measured by polling. About half (49%) say it had no effect, while 25% say the  announcement makes them think more favorably of him and 25% say it makes them think less favorably of him. Whatever.

In the one-on-one, Obama leads Romney 50-39%, with Obama capturing the independents 45-33%. Which is why Obama and Romney come to California for fundraising and little else.

Now for something completely different: After getting caught sending out two different mailers — one for Jewish voters with his mother in the family tableau, the other for the goyim without Mom — U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (battling US. Rep Howard Berman in CA CD 30) told a local television reporter it was all a clever ploy to get coverage. Ha! Read about it here.

Calbuzz Solves Mysteries of the (Political) Universe

Monday, May 21st, 2012

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?