Independence Day: Calbuzz Takes a Sabbatical


trumpcrazyOn Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day, the headline over our take was not only ominous and apocalyptic but, in all modesty, both spot on and damned prophetic, too:

“Jan. 20, 2017: The Madness Is About to Get Real.”

Whatever lies, jive and tripe ooze from the filthy mouth of Donald J. Trump at today’s Inauguration, the plain fact is this: the U.S. is about to embark upon a destructive, dangerous and chilling new era led by a mentally illignorant and authoritarian kleptocrat.

Truth be told, few of the countless zillions of words that have been published, posted, podcast, broadcast, tweeted and Instagrammed since about the 46% 45th president’s first 150 deranged days have, in reality, advanced the ball much.

Of course, the Washington Post and New York Times have each done extraordinary work in digging out in depth and detail some of the treacherous corruption, doltish recklessness and grotesque money-grubbing that now controls the White House (starting with the indispensable “Trump’s Lies” and the Post’s running database of mendacity), not to mention the Ayn Rand crazies in Congress.


And a few sharp analysts have been admirably and astonishingly indefatigable in laboring to apply restrained reason and rational perspective in framing, again and again and again, the poisonous behavior and words of the Bull Goose Loony, such as Ezra Klein, who’s just published a superb summary of how Trump has bathed the nation in reeking toxicity, which should be published on the front page of every U.S. newspaper on the Fourth of July.

We are diminished when our president has little respect for the institutions and norms that have protected our country. Trump has done his best to sow doubt about the legitimacy of America’s electoral system, of its civil servants, of its courts, and of its media. He has created an enemies list to explain away his failures and misdeeds — in his telling, he is beset by “so-called judges,” the deep state, illegal voters, and fake news.

Given Trump’s relentless domination of the political world and deadline-every-second news cycle, we’ve curtailed our own analysis and commentary about all this, however, because a) we’ve run out of adjectives for “repulsive” and “loathsome”; b) grandkids and golf; c) giving free rein to uninhibited outrage is physically dangerous to the well-being of a couple of geezers with two cancers, one spleen, an open-heart and a batch of other surgeries between us.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but over the past few years, we were far ahead of the curve on stuff like the Death of Truth, Trump’s crippling narcissistic personality disorder, the salience of a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, the Death of Compromise, California’s post-Trump political exceptionalism and other important concepts, and so find ourselves exasperated when these ideas suddenly occur to Beltway bloviators as if they were original thoughts.

In his essay, Klein notes that, “to consistently engage with Trump is to be diminished by him.”

Exactly correct. So we’ve decided to put Calbuzz on cruise control for a time uncertain.

We’ll still post a few pieces from elsewhere that we find compelling; and odds are we won’t be able to keep ourselves from leaping back into the mix even before the 2018 campaigns get cranked up. We’ve already done our civic duty in publishing extended interviews with all the major candidates for governor, save one coward who’s too much of a weenie to handle us (see below).

In the meantime, we’ll drop by with our usual blinding insights, as time, medical appointments and the appearance of inspiration allow.

A few parting thots:

gavinlookrightCandy-ass Gavin: We’re astonished, if not surprised, that Prince Gavin Newsom, the front-runner in governor’s-race polling, is too much of a scaredy-cat wimp and cowardly wuss to answer a few basic questions about the state and what he would do as governor, as every other serious contender has – shout-out to Antonio, Delaine, John and Tom (not to mention Jerry Brown when he was preparing to run back in 2009).

His overpaid coat carriers at Ace Smith’s SCN Strategies (who double as consultants to Sen. Kamala Harris) have hilariously tried to explain why they won’t let their clients talk to us.

On October 10, 2016, after Harris’s debate with former U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, SCN’s Sean Clegg wrote:

I noticed no byline on your debate story. I just have to say you guys do a poor job concealing your misogyny. What shallow crap. Good thing your blog hasn’t been relevant since 2010.  Will be advising all my clients thusly! [Note: Calbuzz has never used bylines except for our guest contributors.]

And on May 8, 2017, when we were trying to get Newsom on the phone for an interview before the California Democratic Party convention, SCN’s Dan Newman wrote:

I say this not on behalf of any of my colleagues or clients, but personally I would be reluctant to facilitate any interview because I find your blog’s occasionally savvy insight and wit tarnished by mean-spirited cynicism. This isn’t partisan or personal — you needlessly demean my friends and foes, clients and competitors, with schoolyard taunting and petty name-calling. I’m certainly guilty of doing the same thing on occasion over the last two decades, but as I get older while wandering through the Trumpocalypse, I find this approach increasingly distasteful and unproductive.

chicken-011Poor babies.

Gavin’s refusal to sit down with Calbuzz — as enforced by his vaunted brain trusters — demonstrates something worse than cowardice: it’s a signal of his weakness of character and his willingness to hide from critics and questioners that ought to serve as a warning to serious political reporters, donors and activists that Newsom does not have the stones to govern California.

difistareWhither Dianne. For two years, we’ve never softened our confidence that (all rise) the Senior Senator from California would seek re-election in 2018, which now has become conventional wisdom. Sure, she’s lost a few feet off the fastball, but she remains the toughest, most experienced and valuable asset that Democrats in California, not to mention the nation, have amid the horror show in Washington.

Run, Dianne, run.

kamalaharrisKamala for President. Really?

Weeks before the imperious Queen Kamala took office – relying as she does on bad advice from the craven whisperers around her — we warned that this shallow narcissist would start looking in the mirror and seeing a future president.

Old-school political reporters used to say there are two kinds of pols: work horses and show horses. Take a wild guess which of California’s two U.S. Senators is which.

While it’s true that her recent smart, aggressive and gone-viral questioning of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was rudely interrupted because, well, she’s a black woman, the bottom line on Harris is this: (with apologies to Gertrude Stein and the fine people of Oakland) There’s not much there there. Nor does it help her cause that her long-ago lover, former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, has openly suggested she wouldn’t be where she is today if it weren’t for him. (“We had been very close” — wink-wink, nudge-nudge — Brown wrote in a kissy-kissy Chronicle column two weeks ago.)

Once she’s represented California for a couple of terms and can show some policy and political chops, Harris may well be someone to take seriously. But for now she’s just the flavor of the week among the big brains in the Beltway.

calbuzzartSpraining elbows patting ourselves on the back: 
We started Calbuzz back in 2009, 1,273 posts ago, specifically because we wanted to contribute to the conversation about the 2010 campaign for governor; in our 70-odd (sometimes very odd) collective years of covering politics at every level, nothing has ever been as much fun as covering a California governor’s race.

And frankly, given the meat-ax cuts that had been inflicted on serious political reporting at every major state media organization, we also saw a market opportunity, which paid off quickly in the form of an influential readership and enough ad dollars to finance our jones for rampaging through state party conventions and other political grip-and-grope opportunities.

The political media environment, we’re pleased to say, has changed, on a number of fronts: the return of Cathy Decker, the steadiness of Mark Barabak and George Skelton and the emergence of stars like Seema Mehta, John Myers and Phil Willon, plus future MVP Javier Panzar at the By God L.A. Times; the hatching of the high-energy collaboration of Carla Marinucci and David Siders at Politico’s California report; the birth of CalMatters under the enlightened leadership of Dave Lesher, not to mention the arrival of the SacBee’s Chris Cadelago and some excellent new political reporters who came and went, like the indefatigable Shane Goldmacher, Chase Davis and Torey Van Oot, who were snatched up by media back East. We’d also be remiss not to note that the plucky efforts of Joe Garafoli and John Wildermuth to overcome Chron management’s foolish hostility towards political reporting also helps beef up California’s press corps, and made covering and following state campaigns fun again.

We like to flatter ourselves by thinking that we helped play a role in the rejuvenation of California political reporting by coming off the bench after our “retirements” and investing several hundred thousand words in kvetching, critiquing and press clipping on the subject.

Don’t forget to write.

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There are 11 comments for this post

  1. avatar Hank Plante says:

    As your Palm Springs Bureau Chief, I want to wish Calbuzz a happy sabbatical (I’ve been on my own for eight years now and it’s working out fine). Let me just say how much I’ve enjoyed being one of your contributors. I would rather work with you than with the finest journalists in California.

  2. avatar I.F.Stone says:

    Is that a compliment of the sinistral sort, Hank? It sounds vaguely like when I tell my beloved, “You know when I met you, dear, I lost all interest in women.”

    Best of health, Phil and Jerry. I’ve certainly enjoyed reading you…especially the irreverence.

  3. avatar Bob Mulholland says:

    Glad to see we’re still hearing from Hank Plante, the Palm Springs Bureau Chief.

  4. avatar Buddyg says:

    Sorry to see you even take a pause. We need as many bs detectors as we can find, on all political levels. Enjoy your time away, and hurry back!

  5. avatar Jaz says:

    I don’t care who the woman is but using her sexual history as a way to delegitimise her is incredibly off putting
    This type of sexist commentary will only make young women and woke men root for her more. It doesn’t belong in the 21st century,

  6. avatar sqrjn says:

    I’m sure you guys already know but you got ditto’d/linked? (What’s the right term for them writing about part of you guys because that was the part they liked) congrats. Are you honored or what?


    I’ve really enjoyed your blog. Thanks a lot for you work. And fuck Sean Clegg he sounds like a total asshat.

  7. avatar kpminott says:

    Dan Newman has confused sharp wit as mean-spirited cynicism. Sad.

    • avatar pjhackenflack says:

      Thanks, kp — We are skeptical about most political professionals but we are not cynical. While we’d argue that most people in the business just want to do well, we still believe there are some who want to do good.

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