Archive for 2014

DiFi: Putin’s Manhood vs. Schweitzer’s Sick Fantasy

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

difibathingsuitGender bender: As a convent schoolgirl, Dianne Feinstein was a drama queen, invariably picked to play strong males leads in all-female casts because she was precociously statuesque.

From Prince Rupert in “A Waltz Dream” and Peter Standish in “Berkeley Square,” to Bassanio in “The Merchant of Venice” and King Creon in “Antigone,” the teenage DiFi trod the boards at Convent of the Sacred Heart in S.F.’s Pacific Heights, typecast as a manly man.

Stalking the state in the garb of King Creon, 17-year old Dianne Goldman pronounced a sentence of death upon the rebellious Antigone.

“This woman has learned her insolence before this, when she broke the established law,” the high school Creon declared, condemning Antigone for daring to defy his authority. “When I am alive, no woman shall rule.”

The long-ago thespian career of the Senior Senator from California came to mind as we pondered the media huzzahs she earned across the political spectrum for her recent throw down on Vladimir Putin’s masculinity:

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Russian President Vladimir Putin should “man up” and acknowledge his government’s complicity in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

“The nexus between Russia and the separatists has been established very clearly,” Feinstein said Sunday on CNN. “The issue is: where is Putin? I would say, ‘Putin, you have to man up.’ You should talk to the world. You should say this was a mistake, if it was a mistake.”


putinEveryone, from Fox News to the liberal Mike Lupica, instantly applauded her macho posing, much favoring it over the spineless, wimpy wussiness of Barack Obama and John Kerry.

Just as Dr. P.J. Hackenflack, Calbuzz Staff Psychiatrist, had recovered his breath, and had taken anew to pondering the deeply mysterious sources of Feinstein’s Freudian blurting, however, yet another DiFi androgny-themed bulletin came across his desk.

This just in, courtesy of former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer:

This was the week that Sen. Dianne Feinstein took to the Senate floor to accuse the CIA of spying on congressional staffers investigating the agency’s treatment of terrorism suspects under the Bush administration.

Schweitzer is incredulous that Feinstein—considered by her critics to be too close to the intelligence community—was now criticizing the agency.

schweitzer“She was the woman who was standing under the streetlight with her dress pulled all the way up over her knees, and now she says, ‘I’m a nun,’ when it comes to this spying!” he says. Then, he adds, quickly, “I mean, maybe that’s the wrong metaphor—but she was all in!”


BoomBoomSupervisorWhen real men were women: Schweitzer’s comment (one of several, btw, that collectively constituted an act of public political suicide within a splendid profile by Marin Cogan of the National Journal) aptly reminds how much Dianne represents a political Rorschach test, as befits a self-proclaimed “centrist” who alternatively has confounded or catered to conservatives and liberals alike for nearly 50 years.

Happily, it also offers a chance to remember bygone days when then S.F. Mayor Feinstein was herself confounded by the entertaining gender bending of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a political performance art troupe of transvestites habitually decked as nuns, whom Her Honor once angrily admitted “make me see red.”

Her greatest nemesis was Sister Boom Boom, aka the late Jack Fertig, who attacked her while running for supervisor in 1982 on the “Nun of the Above” ticket, papering the town with posters portraying her/himself flying over City Hall on a witches’ broom, trailing purple exhaust that read, “Surrender Dianne.”

Astonishingly, or perhaps not, Boom Boom won more than 20,000 votes.

Man up, sister.

Income Taxes Don’t Kill Jobs & Tyrion’s No AuH2O

Monday, July 28th, 2014

liarliar3You’ll recall that in the fall of 2012, as Jerry Brown campaigned for Prop. 30, his tax-hike plan to balance California’s budget and boost school funding, right-wingers argued vociferously that the measure would be a disaster.

“It allows the politicians to take money currently earmarked for education and spend it on other programs. We’ll never know where the money really goes . . .  it gives the Sacramento politicians a blank check without requiring budget, pension or education reform . . . it hurts small businesses and kills jobs,” cried Joel Fox of the so-called Small Business Action Committee (otherwise known as Joel’s Special Interest Laundry), John Kabateck of the alleged National Federation of Independent Business and Kenneth Payne of the Sacramento (We Don’t Like Being) Taxpayers Association.

And yet. After Prop. 30’s passage, California’s budget is balanced (with a surplus, thank you very much, Gov. Gandalf). And as our old friend David Cay Johnston found, in a terrific special report for the Sacramento Bee: “Last year California added 410,418 jobs, an increase of 2.8 percent over 2012, significantly better than the 1.8 percent national increase in jobs. California is home to 12 percent of Americans, but last year it accounted for 17.5 percent of new jobs, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows.”

So much for the contention that raising taxes on rich people kills jobs.

While raising payroll taxes might hurt job growth, raising income taxes does not reduce hiring, David Neumark, professor of economics and director of the Center for Economics & Public Policy at UC Irvine, told Johnston:

What firms care about when deciding how many workers to hire is the marginal product of workers and the marginal cost of those workers. So if you are an employer and your personal income tax rate is increased, that does not raise the marginal cost of your workers, but it may encourage you to work a little less hard.

David-Cay-JohnstonJohnston, a California native whose first reporting job was at the San Jose Mercury News when he was 19 years old, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for his coverage of tax policy. These days, he teaches the tax, property and regulatory law of the ancient world at Syracuse University College of Law and writes for several publications. He recently completed two years as president of the 5,000-member Investigative Reporters and Editors association.

We’re sorry to report that David’s fine piece has gotten almost no pickup from other mainstream media types around the state. Which is too bad because, as Johnston told Calbuzz:

“Comparing election claims to actual performance is one of the most crucial duties for journalists, even if they have to wait years for the results to become known.”

The only other writer to take note of the wrongheadness of the Cassandras on the right that we’re aware of is Paul Krugman of the New York Times, who weighed in after Johnston’s piece (without crediting it – c’mon man) last week with an op-ed titled in typical NYT derision toward California: “Left Coast Rising.”

george-willGeorge Will Gets Stupid In one of the most inane and unsupported columns he’s ever written, St. George Will meanwhile suggested the other day that Neel Kashkari, the Republican who’s running 20 points behind Gov. Jerry Brown in both the PPIC and Field Polls, is California’s Barry Goldwater.

Goldwater, Will argues, lost his 1964 bid for the White House to Lyndon Johnson because “Americans were not going to have a third president in 14 months” and his “don’t-fence-me-in libertarian conservatism was ahead of its time.” (Not to mention that his insistence that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” sounded just a little too trigger-happy to a country that felt it had just narrowly escaped nuclear holocaust during the embargo of Cuba.)

Goldwater’s agenda, Will said, “was to change his party’s national brand.” And that’s what Kashkari — who is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage — is trying to do in California. “Kashkari is not, as some careless commentary suggests, an anti-Goldwater, diluting the state party’s conservatism. He is Goldwater 2.0, defining conservatism a ­half-century on,” St. George argues. (Will does not tell us who the careless commentator is but apparently he was referring to an equally stupid article in the conservative American Spectator by Jeffrey Lord that argues Rand Paul is the embodiment of Goldwater.)

GoldwaterThis is, we report more in sadness than in anger, bullshit.

Maybe George had too many martinis wherever he was staying in Menlo Park when he wrote about Goldwater’s nomination at the “unfortunately named Cow Palace” “fifty Julys ago, up the road near San Francisco.” Or maybe he just had to come up with something to write off his trip out to the hustings. But he has no point, at least not one he shared with his readers.

Because: The widely known political imp Tyrion of Kashkari has not for one minute shown an interest in re-branding his party. He’s desperately trying to make a case against a governor who balanced the budget and calmed the hyperpartisan dysfunction in Sacramento (with the help of voters who passed his tax measure, gave the Legislature the power to pass a budget with a majority of votes and approved measures to boost centrism).

tryionkashkaricroppedGoldwater, a U.S. Senator, campaigned against Soviet communism, social programs and civil rights (winning only five Southern states in addition to Arizona). His spectacular loss allowed Johnson to pass his Great Society agenda. Sure, he pulled his party to the right, but the Republicans who came after him who did win the presidency — Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan — wouldn’t even be considered Republicans by Neanderthals who run the GOP today. Even Goldwater ended up fighting with the religious right at the end of his career.

Kashkari isn’t fighting for a cause or a movement or much of anything except to be governor. He’s a lot healthier face for the California GOP than Tim Donnelly would have been. And if his presence on the ticket signals a nudge toward reason among California Republicans, that’ll be a good thing for his party. But the suggestion that he’s the leader of some ideological shift is little more than the musings of a Washington Beltway scribe in search of a metaphor. And, no doubt, a fine dinner.

Another view, from far right field: For an amusing read by a deranged, confused and self-important right wing writer trying to make sense of conflicting attempts to appropriate Goldwater’s legacy, check out a piece by one Scott Mayer at the so-called American Thinker in which, among other oddities, the writer (perhaps suffering from PTSD) misremembers an encounter with one of your Calbuzzards some two decades ago when it appeared that Will was still a smart conservative, and we needed our electrics fixed.