The Blob

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Blows Against The Empire

Below is an article that appeared in yesterday's Los Angeles Times. It is a great piece of writing, one I'd like to have written myself.

A Deplorable October Surprise probably sums up the attitude of most Californians who are planning to vote for Arnold Schwarzenneger on Tuesday. If anything this may galvanize the voters even more solidly against Davis-Bustamecha.

Interestingly, it was by Democrat Susan Estrich, a writer with highly impressive credentials. That she parted from the party line only shows her independent thinking and credibility as a lawyer. If only the Los Angeles Times had any credibility. I've always felt that the best use for the Los Angeles Times is to line my parakeet cage, but the events of the past month show how transparent their left-leaning bias truly is. That Susan Estrich took them on in defense of Arnold Schwarzenneger shows how many lies are proffered by the large media outlets and how much truth is conveniently suppressed. Read on. The piece below is exceptional.


A Deplorable October Surprise
By Susan Estrich

Susan Estrich, a professor of law and political science at USC, is the author of "Sex and Power" (Riverside Press, 2001). She was national campaign manager for Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis.

October 3, 2003

So this is the October surprise? The Los Angeles Times headline that Arnold Schwarzenegger groped and humiliated women?

None of the six women interviewed by The Times filed legal charges. Four of the six were quoted anonymously. Of the two who were named, one, a British television hostess, had told her story to Premiere magazine years ago, and it has been widely known and largely ignored. The other recounts an alleged incident of fondling at Gold's Gym nearly 30 years ago.

The anonymous incidents occurred on movie sets and consist of touching a woman's breast in the elevator, whispering vulgarities and pulling a woman onto his lap. Though emphasizing that not everything in the stories was accurate, the candidate responded Thursday with an apology: "Yes, it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets and I have done things that were not right which I thought then was playful, but now I recognize that I offended people." And he pledged to treat women with respect if elected.

As a professor of sex discrimination law for two decades and an expert on sexual harassment, I certainly don't condone the unwanted touching of women that was apparently involved here. But these acts do not appear to constitute any crime, such as rape or sodomy or even assault or battery. As for civil law, sexual harassment requires more than a single case of unwelcome touching; there must be either a threat or promise of sex in exchange for a job benefit or demotion, or the hostile environment must be severe and pervasive.

But none of these women, as The Times emphasizes, ever came forward to complain. The newspaper went looking for them, and then waited until five days before the election to tell the fragments of the story.

What this story accomplishes is less an attack on Schwarzenegger than a smear on the press. It reaffirms everything that's wrong with the political process. Anonymous charges from years ago made in the closing days of a campaign undermine fair politics.

Facing these charges, a candidate has two choices. If he denies them, the story keeps building and overshadows everything else he does. Schwarzenegger's bold apology is a gamble to make the story go away. It may or may not work.

But here's my prediction, as a Californian: It's too late for the Los Angeles Times' charges to have much impact. People have made up their minds. This attack, coming as late as it does, from a newspaper that has been acting more like a cheerleader for Gray Davis than an objective source of information, will be dismissed by most people as more Davis-like dirty politics. Is this the worst they could come up with? Ho-hum. After what we've been through?

To his credit, Schwarzenegger apologized for "behaving badly." So should the Los Angeles Times.

Front line voices

Say what you will about Iraq, pro or con. The point of this little entry is not to choose, but instead to remember the men and women tasked with trying to maintain order in a lawless land. Theirs is an incredibly demanding task, one too many of us on both sides of the question take completely for granted. Take a moment to visit this site. It may seem trivial to you, but the messages of the soldiers in Iraq, without the pithy editorializing of the big corporate news organizations, is worth the visit.

Get Arnold

Below is a story that appears in this week's LA Weekly. Hardly the bastion of conservatism, the LA Weekly is still a biting and insightful publication. Unlike the transparent slant of the spineless Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly is beholden to none. At least they remember the journalistic value of neutrality. The story below provides insight to the sleaze and desperate, scorched-earth politics that the California Democrats are trying to salvage their grip on power in the state capital. It makes for interesting and disturbing reading.

OCTOBER 3 - 9, 2003

Connecting the Dots
The long tentacles of the get-Arnold campaign

by Bill Bradley, LA Weekly

There is no coincidence like great coincidence. Especially in politics. It was one of those days on the campaign trail with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The L.A. Times dumped its long-anticipated negative research story on the gubernatorial front-runner on Thursday morning. Three reporters, including a Pulitzer Prize winner, labored the better part of two months and came up with a less salacious sequel to a notorious Premiere magazine story of 2001. It was all about Arnold, as you don’t want to know him, talking crudely to women, unwantedly touching women. Six women, over a course of 30 years, four of them anonymous. It was less than anticipated given the buildup, but troubling.

And, by coincidence, of course, it was a bad start for Schwarzenegger at the very moment he launches his big statewide bus tour of California.

So Schwarzenegger, at the kickoff rally in San Diego at the early hour of 9 a.m., does the unexpected. He apologizes. Saying that much in the article is untrue, he admits that he has engaged in unacceptable behavior on "rowdy movie sets" with some behavior he "thought playful" but may also have offended people. "I have to prove I will be a champion for women as governor," he declares, to loud cheers from the crowd of 800.

The assembled traveling press corps of 200 is surprised. If he is not going to be defensive, it is hard to see where the story goes.

Where the story goes is on to a rally with several thousand roaring supporters at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. There, as Schwarzenegger is wrapping up, a small band of protesters, several of whom say they were organized by the hotel and restaurant workers union (HERE) in L.A., show up to demonstrate.

At the very same time, the Democratic Party holds a conference call with the press to fan the flickering flame of the Times story. And a woman, who says she is a member of HERE, starts talking to a growing crowd of reporters at the back of the rally.

She sketches a stunning story. In 1978, when she was 16, she said she was in a Santa Monica restaurant. She notices that Schwarzenegger is there, too, with friends. All of them leave except for one, who says Arnold wants to meet her and proceeds to "drag" her into a parking lot, where he roars up in "an SUV-type vehicle" (there were no SUVs 25 years ago), rolls down the window and says: "We are all going to rape you." Somehow, she gets away. No rape occurs, and that is the extent of her alleged encounter with Schwarzenegger.

It is hard to hear in all the post-rally music and tumult with journos pressing in and cameras rolling.

So here is where coincidence cascades on coincidence. With the Times story failing to destroy Schwarzenegger, the Democrats hold a press conference call to re-ignite things, protesters who say they are organized by HERE come down from L.A. to Costa Mesa, and a woman who says she is a HERE member surfaces to say she, too, was a victim 25 years ago of Schwarzenegger’s crude behavior.

HERE is run in L.A. by Maria Durazo, who is married to L.A. Labor Fed chief Miguel Contreras, who serves on the executive committee of Gray Davis’ anti-recall campaign.

Remarkable coincidences abound in politics. It is that time of the campaign.

How does the press respond, you ask? With some befuddlement. The charge is wild and hard to evaluate. And few know of the coincidental link to Davis. CNN won’t air it. Friday’s newspapers will be interesting, but the attack seems likely to fall short.

Look for more such coincidences on what may be the last Friday of Gray’s last campaign.

Whole lotta shakin' goin' on

If you think that Gray Davis is a gumby-esque, utterly boring boy scout, think again. Jill Stewart, one of most scathing and insightful journalists covering California politics learned years ago about the violent temper of the Governor of California. It's a story that the Davis loving Los Angeles Times has sat on for years, one they could choose to report, but won't. Instead, they chose to carefully time the release of a series of attack dog stories on gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenneger instead. Below is a story by Jill Stewart on Gray Davis published several years ago in an independent newspaper:

Originally published in New Times Los Angeles, Nov./Dec 1997

Closet Wacko Vs. Mega-Fibber

By Jill Stewart

I have this file, labeled Gray Davis, that for the last few years I've been stuffing with all the bizarre little tales that are quietly shared among journalists and political insiders about the man who, though probably viewed as a blandly pleasant talking head by most Californians, is in fact one of the strangest ducks ever elected to statewide office.

Long protected by editors at the Los Angeles Times--who have nixed every story Times reporters have ever tried to develop about Davis's storied history of physical violence, unhinged hysteria and gross profanity--the baby-faced, dual personality Davis has been allowed to hold high public office with impunity.

Perhaps you are among the millions never told of Lieutenant Governor Davis's widely known--but long unreported--penchant for physically attacking members of his own staff. His violent tantrums have occurred throughout his career, from his days as Chief of Staff for Jerry Brown to his long stint as State Controller to his current job.

Davis's hurling of phones and ashtrays at quaking government employees and his numerous incidents of personally shoving and shaking horrified workers--usually while screaming the f-word "with more venom than Nixon" as one former staffer recently reminded me--bespeak a man who cannot be trust with power. Since his attacks on subservients are not exactly "domestic violence," they suggest to me the need for new lexicon that is sufficiently Dilbertesque. I would therefore like to suggest "office batterer" for consideration as you observe Davis in his race for governor.

Observing this oddball, the notion struck me: Why on earth is the California Democratic Party allowing such sour milk to rise to the top, when California so desperately needs great men and women in charge?

"I guess Gray's biggest lie," says his former staffer who notes he often flies into a rage, "is pretending that he operates within the bounds of normalcy, which is not true. This is not a normal person. I will never forget the day he physically attacked me, because even though I knew he had done it before to many others, you always want to assume that Gray would never do it to you or that he has finally gotten help."

On the day in question, in the mid-1990s, the staffer was explaining to Davis that his perpetual quest for an ever-larger campaign chest (an obsession she says led Davis to routinely break fundraising laws by using his government office resources and non-political employees to arrange fundraisers and identify new sources of money) had run into a snafu. A major funding source had dried up. Recalls the former staffer: "He just went into one of his rants of, 'Fuck the fucking fuck, fuck, fuck!'" I can still hear his screams ringing in my ears. When I stood up to insist that he not talk to me that way, he grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me until my teeth rattled. I was so stunned I said, 'Good God, Gray! Stop and look at what you are doing! Think what you are doing to me!' And he just could not stop."

Perhaps the worst incident--long known to Davis-adoring editors of the Los Angeles Times but never published by them--was Davis's attack four years ago on a loyal aide in Los Angeles who for years acted as chief apologist for his "incidents."

The woman refuses to discuss the assault on her with the media, but has relayed much of the story to me through a close friend. On the day in question, State Controller Davis was raging over an employee's rearranging of framed artwork on his Los Angeles office walls. He stormed, red-faced, out of his office and violently shoved the woman, who we shall call K., out of his way. According to employees who were present, K. ran out clutching her purse, suffered an emotional breakdown, was briefly hospitalized at Cedars Sinai for a severe nervous dermatological reaction, and never returned to work again.

According to one close friend, K. refused to sue Davis, despite the advice of several friends, after a prominent Los Angeles attorney told her that Davis would ruin her. According to one state official. K. was allowed to continue her work under Davis from her home "because she refused to work in Davis's presence."

(I have heard a copy of the tape recording Davis left on K.'s home telephone, in which he offers no apology to K. but simply requests that she return to work, saying, "You know how I am.")

Well, we do now Gray.

Elena Stern, an official with Checchi's campaign, explained that "...Gray Davis has actually lost a race discrimination lawsuit" filed against him by a former female employee. Look it up.

So my question is simple: how did we get stuck in the position of hoping that the job of governor of California, one of the most august positions of power in the Western world, is not won by a mega-fibber or a closet wacko. The Democratic Party likes to wheeze on about how it has all the answers. I'd love to hear them explain this one.

Note: Since this story, I have interviewed K. and published subsequent columns about these incidents. She did go back to work but with elaborate rules in which she never had to work in the same room with Davis. She finally sought a transfer because she couldn't bear being around him and facing another possible attack.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Is this the best you can do?

To: Mr. Gray Davis, Mr. Cruz Bustamante and Mr. Terry McAuliffe
From: Brian Teeter
RE: Is this the best you can do?

Like just about everyone in California, I read the news of allegations by that bastion of quality journalism, The Los Angeles Times, that Gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger supposedly groped women without their consent, and in today's latest drivel, supposedly voiced praise for Adolf Hitler.

How convenient.

Just days before the election, these allegations surface. What a coincidence! Any ambitious political group trying to preserve the status quo realize that timing is everything. And there's no better way to eliminate competition than to present allegations of sexual misconduct and love of a villified dictator, which are, of course the type of allegations that are the guilty-until-proven-innocent variety. It's fascinating too, that a number of "spontaneous" protests, commercials and other political noise against Arnold just so happened to have boiled up at this very moment.

Um, you might not happen to know anything about this, would you?

Let me cut to the chase: if you're going to win this election, which you won't, you've got to do better than this. Instead to painting someone with unproven, scandalous allegations, you might want to consider offering an agenda to get California out of the abysmal mess you created. But face it: you have nothing to offer. So you turn to the next best thing: FUD. When in doubt, distract 'em.

But it won't work. People aren't stupid, much as you believe that we are. You tried some slimeball stunts with your friends at the ACLU to derail the recall election and take away my right to vote. You took an enormous surplus and in less than two years, your incompetence drove the state almost to bankruptcy. You sold out to labor unions and gambling casinos. And despite all the fear, uncertainty and doubt that you sow, I don't hear anything positive that you offer, unless your idea of positive is Tough Love. The only tough love I want to see is not in the form of obscene taxes, but getting tough on the whores that dominate the California state legislature. But you'd never do that.

Instead of thinking that the California state budget is an ATM machine, and instead of thinking that the taxes paid by the people of California amount to a trust fund for you to go wild, consider being responsible. But that's beneath you.

It's interesting that the man who presented allegations about Mr. Schwarzenegger's supposed love of Hitler quickly recanted. But the damage has been done. One thing that won't change however is my vote. I'm going to vote for Arnold, along with millions of Californians who are sick of your lies and incompetence. The best you can do is be negative. We're going to vote for someone, however imperfect, has a vision to make California a good place again. That's something you cannot and will not do.

On Tuesday, you'll get yours. And not a moment too soon.