October 07, 2003

Mickey Kaus, on A.S.' character problems:
The difficult problems with Schwarzenegger have to do with his character--not even his credentials or abilities. He's certainly smart enough--if you interview enough politicians, you realize that a) they're not so brilliant (Willie Brown is an exception) and b) you can be a good leader even if you're not brilliant. He's also, by all accounts, geniunely funny, with an instinct for honesty. (Can you imagine Bill Clinton saying "where there's smoke, there's fire"?) But Schwarzenegger has two really troubling characterological defects:
a) He's a crude serotonin victim who enjoys bullying men and women alike. Everyone knew there were stories like the LAT presented last week. I've heard even more. He's not a groper the way Clinton was a groper--Schwarzenegger seems to actually have a cruel streak in which he enjoys humiliating others. With women, there's a sexual component--but there are plenty of stories of him humiliating men. (And at least one of the groping incidents seems designed to humiliate the woman's husband more than the woman.)

b) He may not even be a social egalitiarian. This is one way to reconcile the accounts from famous actresses of "Arnold the Gentlemen" and the repulsive stories told by "below the line" film personnel. Of course Schwarzenegger's charming to the people he needs to be charming too--such as fellow movie stars. But he lords it over people he can lord it over when he can get away with it. Let's just say this hierarchical behavior is not un-Germanic. But it is un-American. You'd think it would be especially troubling to someone, like me, who proclaims social equality the distinguishing goal of liberal politics.
And he voted for him, too !!
Florida 9, Chicago 8: Unfortunately, I saw most of this game from an empty bar that had the volume down, so the electric moments in this game were lost from where I was sitting. I'm not sure the Cubbies are going to be very competitive in this series when Wood and Prior aren't starting; perhaps the Lizard should come back with Prior in Game 5 on 3 days rest.
Phoe-Nix Update: Prime Suspect 6 will air in the U.K. in November.

Well, I voted. I did the right thing, and voted against the recall. I did not vote for any of the major replacement candidates, and since I intend to support an immediate recall of the almost-certain winner, I won't lose any sleep over that vote. In the meantime, here's an excellent piece on the pathetic attempt to spread a rumor through the media that Gov. Davis has battered women.

UPDATE: Drudge is reporting that the early exit polls show that both the recall and Ahnolt are going to win easily. Tomorrow, we begin the process of Recalling the Pig !!

October 06, 2003

What to do, on your fortieth birthday, when your family is out-of-town, and your friends are recuperating from a long weekend? Why, if you're me, you order two tacos (one beef, one chicken) and a beef burrito, w/out cheese, from Casa Vega for pick-up. And, as always, you pick the cheese out of the tacos, and chow down as much of the bean burrito as you can, because they always screw up the order, and I can pretend I'm a kid again, when going to the Roscoes-of-the-Valley with my parents and siblings on a Friday night was the highlight of the week.
I am going to vote against the recall. I have absolutely no idea who I'm going to vote for to replace Gray Davis. With little in the way of drama as to the result, I have a choice between the party candidate (Cruz), my ideological soulmate (Carnejo) and the best man with the worst politics (McClintock). And Larry Flynt, too. Ahnolt has this race in the bag, with the near certainty that a new recall effort will start Wednesday morning to oust the Austrian version of Roman Polanski in the March primary, when the new voters, the young white males who will make the difference tomorrow, will be less likely (and less motivated) to vote.

This piece by Joan Walsh really hits the nail on the head about the repugnant behaviour by our next governor. One of the truest tests of character about anyone is how well you treat people you don't have to be nice to. It could be the janitor in your building, or the girl behind the counter at McDonalds, or the brother of your worst enemy: if you can maintain at least a minimal level of politeness and decency, without any expectation that you will receive some material benefit from doing so, you're o.k., in my book.

The thing about each of the next governor's victims has been that they could do nothing to enhance his career, put money in his pocket, or improve his social status. They weren't his employees, nor his equals on the set. They were waitresses, bit actresses trying to earn a SAG card, assistant producers, gofers. He didn't just treat them like the help; he lorded his sense of superiority over them, just because he could.

UPDATE: I forgot all about this candidate. A group of Ahnolt's brownshirts beat her up yesterday at one of their torchlight rallies, but she seems to have taken the incident in good cheer. Georgy's got my vote !!! [link via Hit and Run]
An account of my indirect dealings with the governor of this state:

Years ago, my dad was a Democratic Party activist in California, closely associated with Jesse Unruh, the legendary Speaker of the Assembly during the Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan governorships. He ran campaigns back before there was big money to be had in that field, and in non-election years, he would support his family by doing odd jobs for the legislature (in particular, he helped draw the lines during the "one man/one vote" redistricting in 1964). During that time, he became very close to future lieutenant governor Mervyn Dymally, who appointed him to a government commission in the mid-70's and generally made sure that any patronage that was his to offer went my father's way.

Another benefactor was Ken Cory, who for years had the distinction of being the only elected Democrat from Orange County, and who served several terms as State Controller. Among the plums at his disposal was a position called "Inheritance Tax Referee". I still have no idea what that position did, but after the first Steve Smith passed the bar in 1977 (when he was the age I turned today, 40), his friend Ken Cory appointed him to a twelve-month term. For a struggling lawyer with a wife and four mouths to feed, it was a lucrative plum. My dad, being a paragon of virtue, actually took the position seriously, and spent a great deal of time administering the estates he was assigned; it later led to his appointment as a Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee.

Anyways, Unruh wins reelection to a fourth term as State Treasurer in 1986, but by this time, years of wine, women and song are beginning to catch up with him. Gray Davis is elected State Controller that same year. Davis and Unruh had never been exactly close, since the future governor had made his bones in a futile run against him for State Treasurer, but he clearly knew that Unruh remained a powerful figure in the state, and that he needed to kiss up to him. My father, who had been one of Dymally's men in state government, loathed Davis, reflecting the general disdain Unruh's people had for Jerry Brown and his people.

Well, the story goes that on his deathbed, Unruh got Davis' agreement to continue reappointing my father to the aforementioned Referee position. Actually, the state controller had two options: he could simply rollover the term for another twelve months, or he could make a six-month appointment, which was a subtle way of telling the appointee that he should not depend on this source of income in the future.

Unruh dies in 1987. Sometime in 1993, I'm working for my dad when he receives his notification of reappointment. For a six month term. In fact, the "six" was typed over a white-out mark on the certificate, with the number "twelve" having clearly been expunged, right above Gray Davis' freshly-inked signature. No doubt, Davis, after having discovered that with Unruh dead, he no longer had to be nice to my old man, had not only decided to terminate my father's position, but had done so in a way that it would be noticed by him (he probably had flung an ashtray at his assistant when he realized what he had been doing the previous six years). My father always thought it was funny that someone could be such an a-hole, and he always had a good laugh about it. I, on the other hand, have never forgotten the incident.

October 05, 2003

Four more women have come forward...eventually, stories about Ahnolt molesting women are going to become so mundane, it will be hard for the LA Times to justify putting them on the front page. The important thing to note about these incidents is that half of them have nothing to do with movies or movie sets, which is perhaps the biggest reason they're being reported (and certainly the principal reason that the victims are speaking on-the-record). Schwarzenegger has never had to deal with real journalists before, and he can't handle it.

And of course, Gray Davis has to show why he is so beloved by the people of California by raising the specter of a criminal investigation. One of these days (like tomorrow!), I'm going to have to tell you my own little Gray Davis anecdote....

October 04, 2003

Off to my 40th....

Kausfiles has an easy solution to the controversy over Ahnolt's "Hitler tapes": play them for one of his media shills (ie., William Bradley). After all, A.S. now has the ownership rights to the Pumping Iron outtakes.
Wonderful evisceration by Bob Somerby, on hatchet-job hypocrite Susan Estrich. I'm beginning to think that Michael Dukakis "lost" the '88 election for the same reason that the White Sox "lost" the 1919 World Series.

October 03, 2003

Another day, three more women with stories to tell about the next governor:
(Carla) Baron, then 28, said she was a stand-in for lead actress Kelly Preston. She said the stories reported this week about Schwarzenegger reminded her of the feelings of powerless and humiliation she experienced.

Baron said she was standing next to a food service table with Schwarzenegger and his longtime stand-in shortly after Shriver left the set. The men suggested making a "Carla sandwich," Baron said. The stand-in moved behind her while Schwarzenegger stood in front. "I said something along the line of, 'Boys, the sandbox is out back,' " Baron said.

"Arnold said, 'No, I think we should make a Carla sandwich,' " she said. With Schwarzenegger facing her and the stand-in behind, they squeezed her between them, Baron said. After they separated, Schwarzenegger, who had just been smoking a cigar, bent her over and pushed his tongue in her mouth, she said.

"There was this tongue just lunging down my throat," Baron said. "I am in shock at this point. I wanted to throw up from the taste. It was worse than licking an ashtray. It was like an ashtray of human flesh." (emphasis added)
Of interest is the fact that Kelly Preston, who co-starred with Schwarzenegger in the movie Twins, was one of the women who came to the support of Ahnolt after the infamous Premiere article two years ago, claiming that he was a gentleman on the set. I have a feeling A.S. probably doesn't make it a habit of groping A-list (or B-list) actresses; the power dynamics are much different.
William Greider gives his two cents on the recall:
Like many others, I hope Davis survives, but it won't be the end of history if he doesn't. It might even provide a new beginning if rebuked politicians absorb the message. Arnold may prove to be a clown or perhaps shrewder than people suppose. Either way, the Golden State will survive, still struggling with all of its deep problems. Given my understanding of where we are in corrupted representative democracy, we need more earthquakes -- lots of them. Who knows, maybe we will get another next year in Washington.
Two interesting, but opposing takes on the Limbaugh / McNabb controversy, by journalists David Neiwert and Allan Barra. As odious as I find Limbaugh, his politics, and his willingness to debase political commentary, I do not feel any sense of schadenfreude at his fall. Drug addiction is a disease, and I certainly hope for his recovery; I sense that neither he nor his dittoheads would feel much sympathy if the patient was Bill Clinton or Jesse Jackson.

He is not a new phenomenum, in any event. In the 30's, perhaps the most popular media figure of the day wasn't Clark Gable or F.D.R.; it was a radio priest named Father Charles Coughlin. One of the popular political writers was a gentleman named Westbrook Pegler. Like Limbaugh, each of those men had views that today would euphemistically be called "radical centrist"; that is to say, they were virulent bigots, who found easy scapegoats for the problems of society and used ad hominem attacks as a favored debating ploy. In the end, society turned their back on them, just as it has now begun to do with Rush Limbaugh.
Another woman has come forward:
Joy Browne, a psychologist whose advice program is syndicated to nearly 200 stations nationwide, described on the radio an encounter with Schwarzenegger that took place during an interview about the documentary, which was released in 1977.

Schwarzenegger fondled her legs under the table during the interview, she said. Then, she said, he left his Gold American Express card in the studio and insisted that Browne personally return it to his hotel room.

According to Browne, who was in her late 20s at the time, she took her young daughter along to return the credit card. Schwarzenegger, she said, answered the door in tight pants, wearing no shirt. He had champagne. He asked her if her daughter could "take a walk for a while?" She declined.

Rob Stutzman, a Schwarzenegger spokesman, said Thursday that the candidate had no recollection of the alleged incident.
Also, a woman who had been anonymous in yesterday's article is now on-the-record, further dispelling the myth that the Times story was based largely on anonymous sources. No word yet whether the Times will also report that Gray Davis has used the F-word on occasion.

An interesting follow-up to the piece last month on boxing: the LA Times interviews several judges about what it is they use to determine who wins a round. For anyone who follows the sport, the subjectivity involved is frightening. BTW, we may be getting the fight at my b-day bash tomorrow; all the more reason for my followers to attend.
From today's New York Times:
In a part of the interview not used in the film, Mr. Schwarzenegger was asked to name his heroes — "who do you admire most."

"It depends for what," Mr. Schwarzenegger said, according to the transcript in the book proposal. "I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education up to power. And I admire him for being such a good public speaker."

In addition to the transcript, Mr. Butler wrote in his book proposal that in the 1970's, he considered Mr. Schwarzenegger a "flagrant, outspoken admirer of Hitler." In the proposal, Mr. Butler also said he had seen Mr. Schwarzenegger playing "Nazi marching songs from long-playing records in his collection at home" and said that the actor "frequently clicked his heels and pretended to be an S.S. officer."

Mr. Schwarzenegger, in a telephone interview on Thursday, said he did not recall making any of the comments attributed to him or engaging in any of the behavior described by Mr. Butler.
I have just one question: Is it possible that his memory is so bad he can't recall whether he used to goosestep to the beat of his favorite "Nazi marching song"?

October 02, 2003

Garry Trudeau is right. The next recall movement starts October 8. California is either going to elect a bully who is unable to keep his hands off women, or it will retain a governor that everybody hates. Lousy choice.

The latest Field Poll shows Ahnold comfortably ahead of non-candidate Bustamante, and the recall prevailing by a wide margin. Obviously, with the events of today, particularly the revelation that A.S. one time admitted to admiring Hitler, that poll is already out-of-date. Bustamante has quit even running a semblance of a campaign; one can certainly sympathize with a mediocrity who probably never intended to be governor, and found himself completely outmatched by the responsibility. More discouraging is the fact that McClintock has lost ground: even though I disagree with almost every position he's taken, his campaign has been one of the few honorable notes in this election. Even if Ahnolt takes a hit with his newfound backers among women and moderates, I doubt McClintock will be able to capture enough of their votes to prevail.

Although I have enjoyed watching the G.O.P. ditch all semblance of principle in backing a man whose licentiousness is more like the American Spectator fantasy version of Bill Clinton, and whose politics are to the left of Zell Miller, much less every other significant Republican in the country, the end result will probably be that my home state will be governed by this leech for the next few months. Let's just get this over with, get our petitions ready, and do it right next time.

Whether it be DiFi or Riordan, ALL IS FORGIVEN !!!
Mickey Kaus has been directing people to this bit of anti-Gray Davis invective from 1998, by "journalist" Jill Stewart. Unlike the L.A. Times piece, she relied entirely on unnamed "sources" to paint a picture of a violent and ill-tempered future governor, one who used the f-word and the like in front of subordinates. Loud and abusive bosses are a pain to work for, but it's not quite as bad as having to worry about your boss groping you in public (or your boss saying that he "admired Hitler"). Ms. Stewart should go back to stalking Kevin Murray.
Another woman has come forward to claim A.S. once demanded that she and a friend get in his car, or that he would rape her. No word yet as to whether this was one of the "playful" antics referred to earlier this morning.

At this point, what's really driving this story isn't the fact that the Times published this at the last second, but that Ahnold waited until election eve to confirm that these allegations were largely true.

UPDATE: The New York Times quotes a campaign spokesman for the actor, Todd Harris, as saying that some of the allegations in the LA Times article were true, and some were not true. He did not say which. It also mentioned that the woman, above, was heckled by supporters of A.S. with shouts of "lesbian" and "liar" after she made her accusation.
Men Behaving Badly: Ahnold denied the LA Times article, but "apologized" for being on some "pretty rowdy sets". LAME !! He has now given the press license to investigate what other incidents he might be referring to beyond what the Times reported, while validating the underlying inquiry.

The Times article names names and lists witnesses, and four of the six incidents weren't even on movie sets: one was at the gym; one, in an office; one, in a restaurant; and one incident, in a hotel room during an interview. He can hardly say that this is "trash politics", as his shills suggest, if he admits that he has something to apologize for, if not those incidents. In any event, since he doesn't refer to specific events or persons, it is hard to take his "apology" seriously. My bet is that while Republicans won't care at this stage, his gains amongst moderates and women over the past two weeks will disintegrate.

October 01, 2003

The LA Times reports that our next governor is a bit of a creep !! Anyone who has lived in this town could have told you that, and named five other actors who are even worse. [link via CalPundit]

With the baseball playoffs starting, ArchPundit has a timely scoop.

RECALL UPDATE: It's over !!! Davis is toast. Bustamante is an ambulatory stiff. Pete Wilson Ahnold is our next governor.