End game

Oct 27, 2010

Nothing like being a woman who gets jeered at a women's conference, but that was the uncomfortable position Meg Whitman found herself in after she refused a challenge to pull her negative TV ads. From KQED's John Myers.


"Ms. Whitman?"


"I will take down any ads that could even remotely be construed as a personal attack," said Whitman. "But I don't think we can take down the ads that talk about where Governor Brown stands on the issues. I just think it's not the right thing to do."


"The crowd booed. A lot."


"Schwarzenegger now seemed to be having a ball, leaning over to Whitman and saying: "Mike Murphy is in the back. He's shvitzing!" (Murphy, a top aide to Whitman, served in the same capacity for Schwarzenegger in 2003 and 2005.)"


Beyond the campaign imagery, just who is Meg Whitman?  The LA Times's Maria Ganga takes a look.


"The former EBay chief is running on resume, not biography, to an extent rarely seen in modern politics. At a time when candidates' extended families gambol on stage, and cameras are invited to watch them ski, fish and barbecue, Whitman's is still largely unknown..."


"As a result Californians have learned more about Whitman from campaign crises and court cases than they have from the candidate's own telling: For most of her adult life, she did not vote. She has a temper that can flare under pressure. Her primary residence and household staff are modest by billionaires' standards: 3,700 square feet in tony Atherton for the first, a part-time housekeeper, landscape and pool service for the second."


Could the bombast, hyperbole and pervasive advertising of a gubernatorial campaign become the trend for judicial races as well? It just might, says the Ventura County Star's Timm Herdt.


"Californians might be asking: Could it get any worse? Oh, yes, it could get worse."


"Just imagine: What if, in addition to all this shrill propaganda devoted to filling positions in the executive and legislative branches, we were bombarded with the same to influence our decisions about the judicial branch? It can happen. It is happening all across America, but it is a trend that thus far has been blocked at the Sierra."


Speaking of campaigning, one little-known group has funneled millions of dollars to back Democratic candidates up and down the ticket. Capitol Weekly's John Howard has the story.


"The Internet-based operation has shifted more than $5.5 million in donations to an array of Democratic contenders, including Senate, Assembly and statewide candidates, plus assorted political committees and action groups. The contributions are culled from donors who use Act Blue California as a sort of clearinghouse for their cash, and Act Blue “earmarks” their donations to the candidates of their choice. The group does not take a cut."


"Even in a state accustomed to high-dollar donations and massive fund raising, Act Blue California’s performance is significant and casts a wide net, in part because of the relative ease of contributing funds over the Internet.  The result is that individual donations are often smaller than one sees in conventional fund raising, but there are more of them."


The LAT's Rich Connell finds problems at the High Speed Rail project which, it turns out, has difficulty keeping track of its money.


"The admission followed an investigative report by The Times about failures to document the sources and cost of trips in accordance with state ethics regulations. The foreign travel, in some cases worth thousands of dollars, was provided by government agencies in Spain, Germany and France that are trying to help their homeland firms win California contracts."


"Also Tuesday, the agency posted on its website details of an Asia tour executives took last month. CEO Roelof van Ark and Deputy Executive Director Jeffrey Barker joined Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on the trip, partly intended to encourage high-speed rail companies to bid on the $43-billion bullet train linking San Francisco to the Los Angeles area"


Those forced furloughs are still bedeviling state employees, and Attorney General Jerry Brown still hasn't said whether he will comply with the order.


From the Bee's Jon Ortiz: "With a new order extending furloughs for tens of thousands of state workers, Attorney General Jerry Brown has yet to say whether he will tell the roughly 1,800 employees working for him to start taking unpaid days off beginning next week."


"Brown, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, and other statewide-elected officials are still mulling over a week-old memo from the Schwarzenegger administration that mandates furloughs for members of their staff who are in unions that have not negotiated a new labor contract."

Finally, we open our "Fail Safe" file to find the story of the disappearing nuclear weapons -- about a ninth of the U.S.' nuclear arsenal. Say it ain't so.
"President Barack Obama has been informed that the US AIr Force lost complete command and control of one-ninth of their ICBM arsenal last Saturday. Administration officials stressed that the problem was only temporary, but that doesn't mean it wasn't big."

"In fact, according to The Atlantic, a military officer briefed on the matter said that they have never experienced something so big: "[w]e can deal with maybe 5, 6, or 7 at a time, but we've never lost complete command and control and functionality of 50 ICBMs."


"The US Air Force has declared that there was no danger to the population, while administration officials said that "at no time did the President's ability [to use the nuclear weapons] decrease." Taking one-ninth of the ICBM arsenal off line certainly decreases the President's ability to fully control the US nuclear arsenal."


Somebody call in Slim Pickens...







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