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Author Defends Notion of a USC Schwarzenegger Institute

In this day and age when everyone is a 140-character comedian, the announcement of a USC think tank endowed and led by Arnold Schwarzenegger is almost too obvious a target. Sure enough, the peanut gallery is cracking wise.

But Zócalo Square editor Joe Mathews begs to differ. He knows Schwarzenegger better than most and blogs at NBC Southern California that the news should not be cause for snickering:

As governor, he was terrific at doing what a think tank does – bringing together the best thinkers from across the spectrum together, and synthesizing new policy. His proposals in various policy areas were praised as bipartisan and thoughtful.

What the governor wasn’t as good at was turning those proposals into action, particularly on fiscal matters, sometimes because of his own political weaknesses, sometimes because the state’s broken governing system got in the way. But those failures will be useful to this new enterprise, as Schwarzenegger can apply what he learned from defeats (and maybe teach people how not to repeat them).

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Yahoo News Postulates a Villaraigosa 2016 Presidential Run

Yahoo News writer David Chalian must not live in Los Angeles. Because if he did, the thought of a 2016 Villraigosa presidential run would seem comically far-fetched. But that doesn’t stop Chalian from penning at least a thousand words on the prospect.

It’s easy to dismiss Villaraigosa’s likelihood of capturing the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, much less the presidency, due to his rocky (and public) personal life, lack of a developed national fundraising base, and occasional conflicts with portions of his political base.

But recall that Bill Clinton made it to the Oval Office with the personal baggage of infidelity and Barack Obama became the first non-white candidate to achieve the highest office in the land–you can begin to see how Villaraigosa’s interest in a 2016 run may yet still develop.

We personally don’t see it developing. But who knows? Maybe the Mayor can turn his 30/10 initiative to build a subway to the sea in 10 years, instead of 30, into a 30/2 initiative. That would be something to hang his hat on for a primary battle.

U-T San Diego Ranks President Obama ‘Worst Bust of All’

Over the weekend, the right-leaning U-T San Diego cast a resounding vote against President Obama.  According to the paper’s editorial board, the 44th Commander-in-Chief is the biggest presidential bust to ever occupy the White House:

Editor’s note: It’s a presidential election year, so we thought we’d weigh in with our list of the five worst presidents. We start with, yes, the current incumbent.

What’s remarkable about the piece is that without a word of introduction other than the above preface, there is paragraph after paragraph of Obama-promised-this-but-then-delivered-that. Just under a dozen such paragraphs in all. The article ends with a ridicule of Obama’s positive self-assessment during a recent CBS News interview.

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Jim Henson Company Cuts Ties with Chick-Fil-A

Some good news from the Jim Henson Company, which announced late last week that they are severing their business partnership with the notoriously anti-gay, fast food company Chick-Fil-A.

Chick-Fil-A had been offering Jim Henson “Creature Shop” toys in its “Kids Meals.” Nice to know the Muppets will no longer be pushing an anti-gay agenda…or cheap, terrible food that makes kids obese.

Google Launches ‘Legalise Love’ Campaign for Gay Rights, but Not Marriage Equality Apparently

Internet giant Google launched the world’s most confusing campaign for LGBT rights over the weekend. Their campaign is called “Legalise Love,” which sure sounds like a reference to marriage rights…only it isn’t.

From Google:

Though our business and employees are located in offices around the world, our policies on non-discrimination are universal throughout Google. We are proud to be recognised as a leader in LGBT inclusion efforts, but there is still a long way to go to achieve full equality. Legalise Love is our call to decriminalise homosexuality and eliminate homophobia around the world.

At Google, we encourage people to bring their whole selves to work. In all of our 60 offices around the world, we are committed to cultivating a work environment where Googlers can be themselves and thrive. We also want our employees to have the same inclusive experience outside of the office, as they do at work, and for LGBT communities to be safe and to be accepted wherever they are.

Kudos to Google for its effort. At a time when gays and lesbians still face death in certain countries for being who they are, having one of the world’s most powerful and recognized companies stand behind them is laudable. That said, dear folks at Google, you kind of borrowed a meme typically reserved for the marriage equality movement. It’s already on t-shirts and everything. Next time you might want to…you know…Google the name first before you roll with it.

Baldwin, Cooper and Republican Strategist Blaze July Media Trail

In the space of just a few hours today, all media hell has broken loose. On what was supposed to be a lazy holiday-week Monday.

Via Daily Beast email-share exclusive, Andrew Sullivan has officially confirmed CNN newsman Anderson Cooper’s sexual orientation. In a tease for their August issue interview cover story by Todd S. Purdum, Vanity Fair dangles a hellacious quote from Alec Baldwin about TMZ’s Harvey Levin. And on the front page of the LA Times, Republican TV ad guru Fred Davis reveals to reporter Mark Barabak that Obama regrets, he’s had a few.

Add in the Cruise-Holmes mess and this is about the wackiest July media kickoff in recent memory. Without even counting New York-based Susan Candiotti’s weekend CNN bomshell about some apparent Penn State, e-mail cover-up orchestration.

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To Chagrin of Handlers, Mayor Villaraigosa Answers Personal Question

Earlier this year, we wrote about LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s surprising and shocking admission during an interview with CBS LA reporter Stephanie Abrams. In connection with a city initiative addressing domestic violence, he recalled some deeply personal memories of growing up with an abusive father.

Though not quite as earth shattering, Villaraigosa on Wednesday made another candid revelation during a Q&A at Loyola Marymount. Per a report by KPCC senior online reporter Alice Walton, he admitted that his biggest regret is the way he handled the break-up of his marriage after his affair with a Telemundo reporter became public knowledge:

In an interview with KPCC after the event, the mayor said he believes it is possible to succeed politically while maintaining a strong marriage and family life.

“I think there are a lot of people who have done that a lot better than me. My staff would like me not to answer those questions, but I do it anyway because I think it’s important to be real, and I do think that was the one thing that I looked at and I just didn’t do it right,” Villaraigosa said.

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LA Native Has a Hand in Oven Mitt Romney

Here’s a novelty product that gets our full endorsement.

Available at Santa Monica boutique The Quilted Monkey as well as online, the $12.99 Oven Mitt Romney is a kooky novelty product dreamed up by the New York trio of Norma Lana, Ron Dreyer and Frank Cefalo. With a big design-assist from a fourth pal, Andrew Weissman, who was born and raised in Encino.

“I came up with this silly idea over the winter,” Lana tells FishbowlLA via telephone, “but we waited until Rick Santorum dropped out of the race. We wanted to basically make sure Romney was going to be the Republican nominee.”

“We’re all friends,” she adds. “Ron and I did improv and voiceover work together. I put this oven mitt on one night and started joking around. There are a few other ones out there, but they’re terrible quality. We wanted to do something that was really well-made.”

Weissman’s mom, an avid Republican, just happened to have a booth at the party’s recent North Carolina state convention. So that’s when and where Oven Mitt Romney was officially launched at the beginning of June.

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Columnist Wades Through Some Steaming ‘Twitter Sewage’

Dick Polman (pictured), a columnist with the Philadelphia Inquirer, blogger for WHYY-FM and writing professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has shared a juicy excoriation of Twitter’s callous, partisan underbelly.

He notes that after the LA Times published a preliminary article overnight Sunday about some hit-and-run incidents in the San Gabriel Valley involving U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson, the Twittersphere quickly reared its ugly head. With some right-leaning typists surmising the events were related to drunk driving:

Within minutes, the Twitter sewage began to flow. Twitching fingers cannot remain idle, lest someone else be first with the snark. So a theme quickly developed: Bryson’s driving was a stain on President Obama (of course!)…

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The Atlantic Profiles LA Superior Court’s Resident Punk Rocker

Check out this fantastic third paragraph from a feature article in The Atlantic by Vickie Chang, senior editor at BUZZMEDIA:

[Joe] Escalante, 49 of Signal Hill, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles, is a member of the area’s gracefully aging rocker sect answering what happens when punk grows up. Some of Escalante’s peers went on to start record labels and families. Some cultivated new music careers in their 40s and 50s. Others got their Ph.D.s, fell into drugs, or became Subway sandwich artists. Escalante, though, ended up with seemingly the least punk-rock resume of all: a law degree, a legal expert job, a career in entertainment law, and conservative Catholic bona fides. But he’s managed, perhaps inadvertently, to keep the spirit alive by running for a judgeship with the express disapproval of the local legal establishment, facing down a lawsuit from a Hollywood publication, and generally saying the kinds of things in public that conservative J.D.s with political aspirations don’t say.

After donating his time over the past few decades to the LA Superior Court system as a volunteer temporary judge, Escalante is on next week’s June 5 ballot. He’s aiming to fill an open judicial seat, although he failed to secure a desired ballot designation next to his name and confesses that he has no real idea whether he has a chance of winning.

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