October 11, 2003

Two interesting bits of miscellany before I go watch Oklahoma-Texas...Kobe's attorneys actually have the goods showing that the oft-mentioned vaginal tearing in the alleged victim may have come during a prior sexual encounter earlier that night[link via TalkLeft]...and my former schoolmate Stephen Bing is putting part of his vast fortune into the Recall Arnold movement[link via Politics in the Zeros].

October 10, 2003

Even the "liberal" New Republic...sells out to the Saudis. [link via Alterman]

If you're looking for jokes about Rush Limbaugh today, you've come to the wrong place. Empathy is the soul of liberal politics, and it ain't selective; the fact that Rush wouldn't feel compassion for someone else with the same problem is irrelevant. And, as it turns out, William Greider agrees.

Professional Courtesy: Iranian judge and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi has won the Nobel Peace Prize, the first Muslim woman to do so. It's always good to see another member of the bar so honored.
Fans of the All-Blacks, the Wallabies, and the Eagles: I have no guarantees on this other than the owner's word, but Culver City's swingingest Irish pub, Joxer Daly's, will be picking up every game from the Rugby World Cup, which starts this morning and continues through the end of November.

October 09, 2003

For those of you visiting from Hit and Run: the anecdote you seek was written October 6, so scroll down. For some reason, none of my past posts are linkable.
Ahnold Ziffel Update: The honeymoon has begun. Already, the conventional wisdom is that the election Tuesday was a glorious triumph for "democracy", with pundits (here, here, and here) celebrating the high turnout, the greater number of votes for the winner, and all the things you might expect when you are trying to gloss over the fact that the largest state in the union has just elected a sexual pervert to its highest office. One blogger went so far as to compare this past Tuesday to the fall of the Iron Curtain !!

Today, Ahnold Ziffel appointed a "bipartisan" team of advisers to assist him in the transition, and with few exceptions it runs the gamut of the political spectrum from A to B. Any question that the next governor would end business-as-usual in Sacramento was quelled when he named an assortment of GOP party hacks and Wilson-era retreads to his team; his pet "liberals" include Susan Estrich, who only last week was shilling for him against those dastardly women who finked to the LA Times, and Tammy Bruce, the only person who has ever made OJ Simpson seem sympathetic. And, of course, "good government" Democrats are no doubt excited that the lame duck mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown, will be joining Team Ahnold.
Either Mr. Bryant's defense team has some devastating piece of evidence it is about to spring in the next day or so, or we have just witnessed several hours of legal malpractice the likes of which has not been seen since F.Lee Bailey defended Patty Hearst. There is simply no other way to justify the decision to go ahead with the preliminary hearing.

UPDATE: Never mind.

October 08, 2003

New vs. Old Media: Local billboard legend "Angelyne" edged blogger fave-babe Georgy Russell in the Recall ballot.
The estimable Kevin Drum advises California liberals to ignore tonight's result and focus on the bigger picture, which is to unseat George Bush next November. It's hard to argue with that; for all the talk about the significance of this result, it should be pointed out that a) there are not really significant political differences between Ahnolt and Gray, and b) that Ahnolt is a faux outsider, ie., although this was his first election, he comes from the class of people that usually dominate our government: lawyers, businessmen, celebrities, and heirs. If George B. Schwartzman had won tonight (and considering that the only thing he had going for him was that he was next to Ahnolt on the ballot, his ninth place finish is impressive), or if Georgy Russell had won (and yes, I admit it, I voted for her !!), that would be a sign that something historic had taken place. People like Schwartzman or Russell usually do not get elected to high office in this country, to our discredit.

But at some point, liberals have to fight back, or we risk being like the lowly gofers and A.D.'s that the next governor used to grope on his rowdy sets. We can either continue to be victims, or we can start to play hardball ourselves; it seems to me that's the only way to run a competitive race against George Bush. Being an Uncle Tom Democrat, willing to look the other way when we get bitchslapped, isn't a solution.

And we do have two things going for us. First, the charges that have come out in the past week aren't going away; even though the election is over, other women will continue to come forward, and it will put him further on the defensive. Although he won, the charges did take their toll on Tuesday [link via Calif. Insider]. As with the Clarence Thomas confirmation, the Republicans will find that they have won the initial battle, only to lose the war. And second, the transition will last several weeks. Democrats can graciously congratulate A.S. for his victory tonight, without having to worry about how they look when they change the tone next month.

So let's tip our caps to the winner, and give him the same honeymoon the Republican Party gave Gray Davis.

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....