There Goes Jerry Again

There Goes Jerry Again

As California goes, so goes the nation.

Even readers who are not particularly concerned about who wins the California governor’s race, the issue is important for one overriding reason.

If Jerry Brown wins, there is (in my opinion) a 50-50 chance that he will run for president. And I see no reason that he will wait past 2012 to do so.


Saturday’s (October 8, 2010) New York Times spins the Brown campaign’s ‘Whitman is a “whore” gaffe’ in the context of an almost hagiographic paragraph, reprising Brown’s earlier post-Reagan governorship.

“A serious student and literal son of California government — his father, Edmund G. Brown Sr., was governor from 1959 to 1967 — Jerry Brown, now 72, has worked to throw off a past image as the bad boy who dated Linda Ronstadt and earned the sobriquet ‘Governor Moonbeam’ (for his unorthodox political outlook) during his own two terms as governor, from 1975 to 1983.”

The phrase “unorthodox political outlook” is a masterpiece of post-historical hagio-gobble. The nickname was well earned when Governor Jerry proposed spending a windfall 1 billion dollar California surplus on a state space program, rather than saving it or returning it to taxpayers.

Another excerpt, just for the flavor…”

[Brown is] “…a politician prone to both dreamy idealism and cold pragmatism, capable of being both poetic and profane in the same sentence and often surrounded with starry-eyed do-gooders and the occasional fringe character.”

During Jerry Brown’s Oakland mayor period, the “occasional fringe character” was the mayor’s closest confidant and advisor, reputedly an ex pat from the French Foreign Legion, Jacques Barzaghi. I was close to the scene in those days and the stories I heard about Mr. Barzaghi’s odd omnipresence – chanting from the lotus position even at meetings Mayor Brown attended involving the Port Authority. Yes, Jerry’s mysterious companion, Jacques Barzaghi defined “fringe”, but the word “occasional” is like calling the thirty year accumulation or barnacles on an old boat a sometime thing.

From the San Francisco Chronicle of the day:

“Jacques Barzaghi, the controversial longtime aide to Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, has left the mayor’s staff as of Monday, six days after police were summoned to his Oakland home in connection with a domestic disturbance between him and his wife.

“For nearly 30 years — from Brown’s days as governor to his three presidential campaigns and his trips to Japan to study Zen Buddhism — Brown and the French-born Barzaghi had been inseparable.

“The aide was known for dressing in black, sporting a shaved head, uttering enigmatic statements in a thick French accent — and attracting controversy. His duties have reportedly included vetting potential appointees, picking out drapes for Brown’s offices, approving his campaign commercials and selecting the mayoral clothes.

“One of his quips from Brown’s third run for president in 1992 became a favorite quote of the campaign: “We are not disorganized. Our campaign transcends understanding.”

“Barzaghi, a former French soldier, actor and director, met Brown at a party in Los Angeles in 1971 after he had mistaken Brown for someone else.

“His prickly personality made him no shortage of foes at Oakland City Hall.

“In 2001, the city of Oakland agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim against Barzaghi, whose alleged comments to a female employee led to a three-week suspension.

“During an investigation into the complaint, several female employees reportedly complained about Barzaghi, who was ordered to undergo counseling.”

Archived, from the San Francisco Chronicle 7-20-2004

As the New York Times “whore spin” piece continued –

[In the whore gaffe incident]….”the recorded conversation also showed another side of Mr. Brown: a political player with an often brusque approach to political adversity. It was apparently taped in early September when Mr. Brown called a Los Angeles-based police union to ask for its support and left a voice-mail message. After the call is completed, Mr. Brown tries to hang up, but the recording continues. Mr. Brown’s voice rises as he worries aloud that he might lose the group’s endorsement to Ms. Whitman, amid the union’s concerns about his position on public employee pensions.

“’Do we want to put an ad out?’ Mr. Brown is heard to say. ‘I’ve been warned if I crack down on pensions, I will be — that they’ll go to Whitman, and that’s where they’ll go because they know Whitman will give ’em, will cut them a deal, but I won’t.’

Then an unidentified person speaks, saying: ‘What about saying she’s a whore?’

There is a jumble of sound, before Mr. Brown is heard again. ‘Well, I’m going to use that’, he says. ‘It proves you’ve cut a secret deal to protect the pensions.’”

Jerry not only tolerated Mr. Barzaghi for thirty years, he reveled in his company. Let no one doubt that the “whore” remark about Ms. Whitman is just the tip of the cultural iceberg within the Brown campaign and the cadre of staffers that would follow him to Sacramento and beyond.

For my own profile of Jerry Brown, follow the link to my article at — .

Mr. Brown has already served two full terms as California Governor. Why has no one raised Mr. Brown’s term limits issue – not as a legal disqualification, but as a simple, spirit of the times concern?

I’m just asking….


Jay B Gaskill is a California lawyer who served as the Alameda County Public defender before her left his “life of crime” to devote full time to writing. His profile is posted at .

Mr. Gaskill’s latest novel and a short story collection are sold as e-books by Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ireadiwrite Publishing and 10 other on-line book retailers. To locate a vendor, Google “Jay B Gaskill” books.

Watch for Gaskill’s political thriller, THE GAIA COUP, to be released in 2011.

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