Remember that big political battle awhile back, all that screaming and shoving and shaking of fists, and the cries of "brownshirt tactics"? No, not Florida--Long Beach. The Reform Party convention last August.
Actually it was conventions, plural: Two were held, and two presidential candidates were nominated.
And now, three members of the Reform Party have gone to court in L.A. to sue one of the nominees, phrase-making firebrand Pat Buchanan, along with his campaign-manager sister Bay, Reform Party chairman Gerald Moan and others at the "alleged" convention for forcing out "registered" Reform Party members.
The acrimonious proceedings shut out many long-standing Ross Perot forces and gave the party's presidential nomination--along with its $12.6 million in federal matching funds--to Buchanan. The other nominee, John Hegelin, got zip and ended up running as the Natural Law Party candidate, which also got him pretty much zip, vote-wise, in November.
For such "illegal and immoral activities," the suit asks the court to stop the defendants from acting as if they led the Reform Party, to declare that the plaintiffs' convention was the legitimate one, to get real and punitive damages for the money they spent out of their own pockets to go to the convention, and for harassment and stress.
Frankly, anyone who watched that fracas felt stress--how about cutting them in?
GOP Haggling Over the Price of Pork
It's like the old joke: Nobody had a problem with the fellow who sold out, only that his price was too low. In a letter to the Fresno Bee, another Republican cast Fresno Assemblyman Mike Briggs as the fellow.
Briggs was among four GOP Assembly members who refused to vote for the budget until the Dems larded up their districts with pork of every cut: bacon, hocks, bellies and pig's feet.
GOP state Sen. Rico Oller, from San Andreas, damned Briggs in print, saying that he had reached the "true bottom" of the "barrel of political hypocrisy."
Briggs did not get to the bottom, Oller wrote, by selling out his constituents for a $50-million tax cut for agriculture in exchange for his budget vote. He sold them out by voting for million-dollar tax increases in exchange for "$340,000 in one-time rebates and $1.2 million in district pork."
Oller writes, "Even if one accepts the premise that pork barrel spending is OK (which I do not), Mike Briggs is a miserable excuse for a sellout. He hardly even haggled over the price!"
(Bear meat, not pork, got Oller into trouble once. He and a friend were hunting bear four years ago and left behind much of the bear they killed; they said weather and terrain made the effort too dangerous. State law bans wasting game meat, to discourage trophy hunters. Oller was never cited, but his friend was.)
You'll find a succinct take on this in the Yiddish phrase book that Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg distributed to his colleagues, somewhere under "chutzpah."
Must be the water in Sacramento. Rep. Doug Ose, a Sacramento Republican, is proposing a constitutional amendment requiring Congress and the president to forgo their paychecks until every spending bill for the next fiscal year is OKd.
Easy for him to say. Before Ose was elected in 1998, he made millions in the storage-unit business.
Lights, Camera, Testimony!
One of the Baldwin boys blew into D.C. the other day--Billy, a member of one family whose values conservatives don't value.
Senators at a hearing on entertainment ratings asked Baldwin, head of the Creative Coalition advocacy group, whether performers ever object to material in roles they play.
"I've turned down material--I'd like to say on a daily basis but I don't get that many offers--but on a weekly basis, then," he said.
There, too, was Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, who, as an aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson, was widely and resonantly quoted as saying, in versions that vary only slightly, "I sleep better at night knowing Lyndon Johnson is in the White House."
To the leaders of a nation that may or may not sleep better knowing Valenti invented a movie ratings system a generation ago, he invoked the one-eyed Cyclops of Greek myth to assess the impossibility of a universal ratings system for movies, TV and more. Moreover, he added, any judging of content will never have "the purity of Euclid's geometric equations."
Purity-minded Connecticut Democrat Joseph Lieberman was sorry to hear that. "I was hoping you would be the one to find the answer and you would do it with Cyclopean eye and Euclidean finality," said Lieberman.
At one point Lieberman mused about the movies of his youth that managed to be innocent without a ratings system. Someone piped up, "What about the League of Decency?"--the powerful Catholic group that passed judgment on films. Said Lieberman, "Right. Where are they when you need them?"