Squaring the Burkle.

A mostly political Weblog.
April 17 2006 4:54 AM

kf Tries to Square the Burkle!

Why I'm flummoxed by the Page Six scandal.

(Continued from Page 4)

Just a Reminder: Ron Burkle, the L.A. billionaire who has   come off looking very good in the Page Six scandal, might well be someone you'd want to read good, accurate,  gossip about. Michael Hiltzik of the L.A. Times noted recently:

Burkle rose from bag boy at Stater Bros. to the owner of Ralphs, Food4Less and other chains. ...[snip]. He's also a leading donor to UCLA and major contributor to Democrats.

Whatever his laudable personal qualities, they aren't much in evidence in the divorce papers. I hesitate to go into the noisome particulars, but if he and his ex-wife, Janet, left any of the deadly sins out of their descriptions of each other in court, then I can't count to seven.  [Emphasis added]

In early 2004, according to Hiltzik, after Burkle failed to convince a judge to seal parts of the divorce record, the state legislature within months mysteriously

enacted — hastily, unanimously and without a single hearing — a law requiring judges in divorce court to seal in their entirety (upon a party's motion) any documents that mention the party's assets or other financial details even in passing.

Burkle then applied to seal weeks of trial transcripts, 22 exhibits and 28 other documents.

The law was signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger in June. According to an LAT story later that year, Burkle

gave contributions totaling $147,800 to Schwarzenegger and the state Democratic Party in February and March.

Was the California government cheaper than .... hey, better not finish that thought! Anyway, as the Times added, "Burkle denies any role in the bill." **  And there was this charming touch:

An attorney representing Burkle, Martin D. Singer, said in a letter to The Times that any allegation of Burkle's involvement in the passage of the law is "outrageous in the extreme."

"You proceed at your peril," Singer, identifying himself as Burkle's "litigation counsel," said in the letter.

Burkle also once denied to me, through an aide, that when Bill Clinton had stayed the night in Burkle's house, Clinton was up until 2 or 3 in the morning reading in Burkle's library. I don't know why I was checking out this salacious rumor, but something about the Burkle camp's insistence that Clinton had been in bed early--well before midnight, if I remember--reminded me again why calling for comment and dealing with lawyers isn't necessarily always a truth-uncovering exercise. When has Clinton ever gone to bed early? Maybe this once. ...

[Note to Burkle attorney: Make sure you send all intimidating letters to Hiltzik too! ]

[P.S.: And save one of those letters for the New York Times. The NYT reported on Sunday that Burkle "has pushed in the courts and in the California Legislature to keep his divorce records confidential." [Emph. added] Maybe the paper is referring to a more recent bill introduced after the 2004 bill was held unconstitutional. But Burkle denies a connection to the recent bill too. The NYT report sounds "outrageous in the extreme" to me!]

**--It's not as if Burkle and Schwarzenegger have the same lawyer. ... Oh, wait. ... 12:49 A.M. link

Monday, April 10, 2006

L.A. Immigrant Demo Report: Marcha Sin Gente! "Huge Crowds Expected in L.A.," was the headline on the L.A. Times web site. But today's Los Angeles pro-immigrant demonstration--scheduled for 5:00 in the evening--was shockingly small. It filled an interesection and a little park in the Olvera St. section. That's about it. Anybody who says there were more than 12,000 people there is full of it! I'd say 5,000-8,000. ... The organizers certainly cut down on the backlash potential. ... P.S.: I went looking for the fabled Korean contingent--I was told they had good drummers--and couldn't find it, or hear it. Once again the protest seemed 98% Latino. Mood: Friendly, as with the Gran Marcha two weeks ago. ... Update: [The LAT estimates the crowd at 4,000--ed   Seems right. I was trying not to lowball it. Wouldn't want another "Brokeback" situation.] ...  7:11 P.M. link

I realize that neither of the previous two items discussed immigration reform. My apologies to those concerned about this blog's growing lack of focus. Here, for you, is Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions instant analysis  of why the fabled, collapsed Hagel-Martinez immigration compromise was a loophole-ridden deception! Sessions' spiel impressed when he gave it on the floor last Thursday, and it's still impressive in print. [It's a long document. Search for "waltz" and start there. ...] As with welfare reform, it turns out smart liberal lawyers can hide a lot of mischief in the fine print of immigration reform (including, in both cases, a vaporous definition of "work"). ... P.S.: Welfare reform succeeded, in part, because one unusually powerful and trusted House staff member--Ron Haskins, who worked for Rep. Clay Shaw--kept an eye out and helped block the mischief. I wonder, reading Sessions' critique, if Senator Frist needs a Haskins of his own. ... 3:07 P.M.

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Arrow Points to Defective Part: Harry Shearer, who's been following with admirable, apolitical, homeowners' tenacity the finger-pointing about the New Orleans levees, notes that the guilty party has finally fessed up--and the press didn't notice2:54 A.M.

Some emailers argue that bloggingheads.tv has made a hideous strategic misstep by featuring commentary by someone who actually knows what they are talking about.  I'll lobby to make sure it doesn't happen again.... In the meantime, you can watch Jacqueline Shire's lucid explanation of what Iran is doing to get the bomb, and the missed "magic moment" right after we toppled Saddam in 2003,  and the problem with a military strike. ... Meanwhile Bob Wright  floats his "wild" (her word) proposal  for dealing with the crisis. ... 2:37 A.M.

Worthwhile Canadian Commentary: Highly-effective Mark Steyn column, sabotaged by a Chicago Sun-Times headline writer. ("No easy answers on immigration conundrum." If a less enticing headline has ever been written, I missed it. Makes "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative" seem like a salacious come-on! ... P.S.: Maybe it's ironic mockery. But nobody will get it.) [via Lucianne] 12:16 P.M.

Once you get past the Neutral Story Line** crap about the "web of suspicion" between "two parties bruised by years of partisan conflict," blah, blah, blah,  the LAT's Ron Brownstein seems to rebut  the spin of pro-legalization Republicans, which is that Senate Democrats don't want an immigration bill because they're eager to have Republicans tarred by their association with that unpopular, draconian Sensenbrenneresque House bill, etc.  Instead, it seems the Senate Democrats are scared they might be asked to actually vote on a Sensenbrenneresque enforcement-only bill--and they're scared because the bill would be popular.

If the legislation is moved to the right on that and other issues in a House-Senate conference committee, Senate Democrats could be left with a difficult choice just weeks before November's election: either vote against a bill that includes tough border security, a potential liability at the polls, or accept legislation they consider too punitive for immigrants.

Among Democrats, the fear is so great that a GOP-controlled conference committee would produce a bill they consider unacceptable that some have questioned the wisdom of passing any measure through the Senate. [Emph. added]

P.S.: There's always partisan suspicion when a bipartisan group of Senators decides to support a position (in this case, legalization) that the voters don't actually want! The only way to pull that off, after all, is if everybody holds hands and jumps together. But one side usually worries that the other will pull a fast one before an election and actually do what the electorate prefers. ...

**--Neutral Story Line: "[A] smart yet seemingly even-handed take on the campaign that doesn't favor one side or the other and thus expose the reporter to charges of bias. The ideal Neutral Story Line is durable in that it can withstand assault by any number of actual events. Classic NSLs are 'Is This Any Way to Elect A President?' and 'Oh, What a Dirty Campaign'"--kf, 9/6/04...3:35 P.M.

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