September 27, 2003

The author of Money Ball, Michael Lewis, has a must-read piece on the recall circus, which he concludes stems from the personal dislike many people have for Gray Davis (some of its biggest supporters are literally his next-door neighbors). The highlight: his encounter with the mysterious (and all-too-human) "S. Issa".
Former Crimson Tide football coach Bill Curry pays a touching tribute to his friend (and one-time co-author) George Plimpton.
LA Times business columnist Michael Hiltzik has a fascinating piece on one of the most oft-repeated cliches in California politics, that this state has the "world's fifth largest economy":
"The main implication is that California's economy is under the state government's control, in the same sense that the U.S. economy is under Washington's control. This is patently false.

State governments can't wield the economic tools available to federal policymakers to manage economic trends. They can't raise or lower tariffs to protect domestic industries such as farming. They can't manage interest rates. They can't spur demand by generating red ink.

'If California were a country we wouldn't have these problems,' notes UCLA's [Senior Economist Tom] Leiser. 'We'd just run a deficit.'"

September 26, 2003

This goes back a few months, but it shows that California is not the only state where there are concerns that attacks on "Indian Gaming" are racist.

Matt Welch has some interesting comments about a new poll, focusing specifically on the racial/ethnic breakdown of support for the recall and the various replacement candidates. One thing to note: Bustamante is underachieving right now with the African-American vote, even though he is marginally ahead in the polls. If he starts picking up, the race could be over, regardless of whether McClintock drops out or not.

September 25, 2003

When I mentioned what I thought was the rather unsubtle racist aspect of the "Indian gaming" issue in this campaign, I believed I was going to be alone on this issue. After all, if the fact that Ahnolt was an unlicensed contractor scamming white subarbanites in the early 70's wasn't considered a big deal, why would his attacks on a relatively small ethnic group (in terms of registered voters) be noticed.

That was, until I read this posting tonight, from the "BeeBlogger" himself, Daniel Weintraub. He, after all, is a conservative, pro-A.S. columnist, who has not been afraid to attack Bustamante on everything from his qualifications to his relationship with the Latino Caucus. If even he is uncomfortable with these attacks, then maybe I'm not crazy after all. It would be almost like a vicious, wedge-issue attack on a non-WASP ethnic group offending Mickey Kaus !! Pete Wilson must be losing his magic.
Billy Beane for President?!? Not so fast....

September 24, 2003

I wonder which Pete Wilson aide had the brilliant idea to have Ahnolt use the "Terminator 4" line on Arianna Huffington tonight. Their candidate has a serious gender gap problem. He has chosen to participate in only one debate. Yet he allows himself to get baited by an also-ran into making a reference to a movie where he recently admitted he wanted to shove the face of a villainess into a toilet that had something "floating" in it. That should rally the soccer moms around their candidate !! I mean, it's not as if the misogynist voting bloc is up for grabs in this election.

In what was an entertaining evening, the clear winners of the debate on both substance and style points were Bustamante and McClintock. Cruz has been the target of a rather unsubtle attack concerning his intelligence, and just by acting mature and adult, he seemed to counter that. Other than a few throwaway lines by Arianna, the "Indian gaming" issue never came up.

And McClintock, as Aaron Brown noted on CNN, was quite impressive. Had he been the G.O.P. nominee in 2002, he might have beaten Gray Davis. He has an earnestness about him that is quite appealing; whereas A.S. can pretty much take any position on issues ranging from Prop. 13 reform to gun control to stem cell research, and not have that hurt him in any way with the Republican establishment, McClintock actually has principles. If he were to come out in favor of the Brady Bill, or in opposition to the ban on late-term abortions, it would seriously impact his public image. It's no wonder he was the only G.O.P. nominee to come close to winning last November; after all, for many liberals, Barry Goldwater has been their favorite conservative, and he didn't equivocate either.

UPDATE: If anyone has a different take on what Ahnolt meant by his Terminator reference, please feel free to respond. Is there another reference that I'm missing that would also be humorous?
Doesn't the whole issue of "Indian gaming lobby" seem, well, a bit racist? If A.S. were to begin making attacks on the "Jewish entertainment lobby" or the "Korean liquor store lobby", he would be rightly attacked. So why is there a double standard?
It sucks to be right: My office mate and crony John Byrne and I have a line that we use every time the Dodgers are in a slump. If someone isn't hitting his weight, or if a player is coasting through the season, one of us will say, "...but at least he's great in the clubhouse". It's a line that has become imbedded in the subconscious of every Dodger fan since the local media hacks chased Gary Sheffield out of town; in spite of his numbers and his absolutely-hate-to-lose attitude, he was described by local sportswriters as a "cancer" on the team, and was traded to Atlanta in 2001 for Bryan Jordan and Odalis Perez. The Braves are about to win yet another division championship, while the Dodgers have a magic number of 3 before they get eliminated from the wild card race.

One of those hacks, Bill Plaschke, is having second thoughts about his instrumental role two years ago in running Gary Sheffield out of town. Since the trade is history, I prefer that he have second thoughts about his bullying Odalis Perez into starting on Monday, which turned into a predictable disaster when Perez couldn't grip the ball properly. Rather than harping on something that can't be undone, the media needs to look at its own role in this mess, and hopefully learn from it. An athlete, an actor, a politician, can be a loathsome creature, disagreeable to the core, and yet still possess some hard-to-define talent, an ability to make the world a better place, in spite of their personality. And nice guys sometimes finish last for a reason.

September 23, 2003

"PLAY BALL !!" sayeth the Ninth Circuit. The election will go on as originally scheduled, for October 7, or for those in the know, the day after I turn 40.
It seems Ms. Stewart isn't the only truth-impaired Coulter-wannabee out there: Tapped elegantly tears a new one into former Dartmouth Review bundist Laura Ingraham, while also explaining how Regnery Publishing performs its magic.
Baseball may have once been our national pastime, and football is our national sport, but basketball truly is the American game: David Stern, commissioner extraordinaire, comes to the defense of Kobe while simultaneously ripping the Patriot Act.

September 21, 2003

The San Jose Mercury News puts more meat on the story about Ahnolt's bricklaying venture in the early-70's. Not only does the story confirm what was originally reported here about European Brick Works not ever having possessed a contractor's license, but it further explores the legal ramifications, both in terms of A.S.' immigration status at the time, and the legal requirement in California for a bricklaying company to possess a license to charge over $100 for any job. [link via Calif. Insider]
HORSE RACE UPDATE: The Washington Post reports that a poll by the non-partisan Public Policy Institute shows Bustamante continuing to lead Ahnolt, 28-26, with McClintock trailing at 14%. Since most of the stories about Cruz have been negative, the fact that he maintains a small lead over one of the most famous people on earth indicates that A.S. is dead in the water, and he may need a K.O. in the debate this week to resuscitate his campaign. Support for the recall continues to collapse, with only 53% now in favor, and 42% against, a margin that will tighten further if the Big 3 do nothing but attack each other Wednesday.