I am Governor Jerry Brown, my aura smiles and never frowns

I sure am envious of you folks out in California this election season.  I think the race between Meg Whitman (R) and Jerry Brown (D) will be one of the few worth watching, if only because I’d be waiting and hoping for a reporter to ask Brown about this classic from 30 years ago:

“You will jog for the MAS-ter race, and always wear the happy face. . . The hippies won’t come back, you say?  Mellow out or you will pay!”  Ah, if only Jerry Brown were elected President in 1980. . . (For those of you born either before 1960 or after 1980, that’s the Dead Kennedys, fronted by Jello Biafra, performing “California Über Alles.”  I’m assuming that the rest of you Gen X-ers will just play through.) 

I don’t know who in their right minds would want to be governor of any state in the union right now.  This may be why our Governor’s race is so lackluster here:  both Scott McInnis (R) and John Hickenlooper (D) are coming to realize that no matter what, it’s going to be all cut cut cut and delivering bad news and pi$$ing off constituents, at least for one whole term.  That’s a job that suits McInnis better, since he’s kind of the Snidely Whiplash of Colorado politics.  Hick is not a guy who likes to pi$$ people off or deliver bad news–but that’s what it’s going to be.  Whoever wins, he’ll need to borrow a whole truckload of that mellow, California-style smiley-face aura, because he is going to need it.

0 thoughts on “I am Governor Jerry Brown, my aura smiles and never frowns


    Try living in Texas where I recently enjoyed the surreal experience of rooting for Kay Bailey Hutchinson in the Republican Primary against the truly dumb and dangerous Governor Rick Perry. As election season slithers forth, I watch with sadness as my former mayor, the Democratic candidate Bill White, increasingly plays the Pinata whenever the governor panders to neo-confederates, tea partiers, and other assorted nutbags. It will be fun to have another term with Perry who has such interesting ideas about higher education: testing, tying pay to teaching evaluations, and the like. Asshole.

    Anyhow, thanks for the Dead Kennedy’s blast from the past, it eerily captures the mood here in Houston. I may have dig up my Descendents and Black Flagg records too.


  2. One of my favorite all-time bands!! I sing California Uber Alles regularly around the house — without any irony — but I had completely forgotten about Jerry Brown. Somehow in my twisted memories of the 80s I associated Ronald Reagan’s governorship with that song.

    Meg Whitman is very slippery — and her latest is reaching out to Latino voters after doing anti-immigrant stuff during the primary. She’s running a lot of ads in Spanish. I’m not sure where Jerry Brown is hiding. He kept a low profile without a primary challenge and hasn’t yet realized there’s an election.

    But I can’t wait to vote for Jerry Brown. He was governor when I was in 7th grade, and man — it’s so old school. BTW, I never saw DKs live and didn’t realize that Jello Biafra is so sexy and oily.


  3. Rad–Jello was pretty cute, in his day. (Not sure when he stopped performing topless, if he has, or if he’s even performing now.) The last I heard from him was in the early 1990s, when I spent part of the summer in Burlington, VT. There was an independent radio station there that broadcast his political rants like all morning long, in the fashion of rural hippie-style radio back in the day. (Unfortunately, no music.) I think around that time I heard about a bad breakup with the other DKs, who I think then went on to tour without him as the DKs.

    As for Brown: I saw a clip on Hardball recently with him. He’s husbanding his resources, and is happy to let her spend her money on the primary and even now. His plan is to start the campaign when people are paying attention again–I think it’s smart, since my guess is that Californians got pretty sick of the Gov and Senate primaries, among other primaries. Besides, most people don’t start clueing into elections until the fall, anyway.

    Will Californians go for the rather un-smiling, somber Brown with his realism and experience, or will they go for another celebrity neophyte “manager/CEO” style candidate like Schwartzenegger? We’ll see. But whoever wins, you in Higher Ed will lose. Maybe you’ll lose less under Brown, but you’ll still lose (As will we here in Colorado, and as Todd will in Texas.)


  4. I’m in California, but I don’t watch TV so I’m about as out of it as Brown. I heard some before-primary Whitman ads in the grocery store and just stopped in my tracks. With only a bit of hyperbole, her solution to The Immigrant Problem was to dump Them all in the ocean.

    Now she’s on Spanish-language stations being lovey-dovey? Wow. I’d think all Brown has to do is translate her pre-primary ads into Spanish and buy some air time.

    The world is nuts.


  5. Jerry Brown always appeals to frugal, really not GOP pretend, side of us. I lived in California when he was governor driving his own jalopy and refusing to live in the big house.

    I saw him in March at an annual dinner of the labor federation in San Diego. He knows labor well and labor loves him. He appeared followed by the openly gay speaker of the California assembly. It doesn’t get any better than that for us real lefties.

    He’ll be a real pain in the rear for the whole country when governor. He already challenged the media to a push up contest which he, of course, won at 71.

    Too bad I don’t vote in California anymore.


  6. Thanks madaha–great speech. She’s right on. I esp. liked the part about how LibArts has more majors and generates more tuition dollars while receiving less than any other college, so that LibArts students are effectively subsidizing the rest of the uni. That’s how it is at Baa Ram U., too. We’re the kitty everyone else is raiding, while our faculty lines aren’t being filled, and our travel budgets have been slashed.

    koshem Bos: I was a child in the 1970s, but that’s my memory of Brown. He’s the real deal. I think his stint in Oakland demonstrates that he’s not in it for the glory. It’s also why I voted for him in the 1992 primary, although he was supporting at that time a flat tax (!) Dumb.


  7. Sitting here in California, I find the election discouraging. Whitman just talks to people who agree with her (the George W Bush approach to campaigning, even before she’s elected) and offers simplistic pablum (cut taxes, cut waste, invest in education) with no understanding of hte budget. Brown is quiet, but there’s no sense that he’ll take on the really difficult choices. The most hopeful thing in the whole election is the initiative that would allow the budget to pass with a simple majority of the legislature. I generally think initiatives are a bad idea because they often present badly written legislation, but this one would make a huge difference.


  8. Susan–your comment makes an important point, which is the paralysis of the state legislature by ballot initiative. (This is a point Brown made in the interview on Hardball.) Another ballot initiative might be the only way to fight back!

    My state, too, has defanged its state legislature by ballot initiative, especially via a number of both restrictions on spending and requirements for spending in some areas. You can imagine how over time this distorts the state budget–actually, you could have predicted this easily. But, they passed anyway! As I like to say around here, Awesome!

    At least you all have the Dead Kennedys’ catalog to console you. (Did you know that Jello was born and raised in Colorado Springs?)


  9. I got the link from PZ, but don’t read the comments there, not worth it. Many seem sexist, like attacking her “tone”, or saying that humanities have no value anyway. It amazes me that even educated people can be so anti-intellectual. Sexism, however, never, ever surprises me.

    Well, I’m shortly leaving CA, because I lost my community college job to the draconian budget cuts (have to temporarily throw myself on the mercy of relatives), but I really have a bad feeling about this one. Whitman’s LITERALLY all over the dial, but Brown is silent. Totally silent. I really don’t see that paying off, especially with voters younger than us Gen Xers. Also, there are many many libertarian types out here – the Bay Area’s reputation for being socialist isn’t that true anymore.

    I’m afraid she’ll win, privatize everything and sell it off for parts on ebay.


  10. I heard Brown speak at a rally on my campus. Would have been more encouraged by the whole thing if he’d shown any signs of a willingness to push for hard, unpopular choices that would increase state revenue–like tax increases. OTOH, the point he did keep making, however obliquely, was that he has a lot of experience within the system and knows that the way things are set up, he has to be able to work with the legislature. I hope he finds his game (and some rhetorical flourish) before the election, because I think he’ll need it.


  11. This almost-lifelong Californian likes Jerry Brown a lot (I once found myself sitting next to him on BART!) but can’t figure out what he’s actually promising to do politically. Of course I’ll vote for him, but not with the expectation that his intelligent, sometimes inspiring talk will actually set the state on a better course.


  12. My sense is that serious gubernatorial candidates need to be vague to get elected, because they’re going to have to inflict pain once they’re installed. Like I said, it just sounds like it’s going to be no fun to be governor of any state.

    “I’ll vote for him, but not with the expectation that his intelligent, sometimes inspiring talk will actually set the state on a better course.” Ahh–once fooled by one politician, twice shy??? (But at least Brown has 40-years of experience and some real political skills, unlike 2008’s brand of intelligence and inspirational talk.)


  13. Touché, Historiann. But those 40 years of experience can also be read as 40 years of failure to deliver. “All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”


  14. Actually no, and I’m certainly in no danger of voting for her. But I’d love to be able to argue that Brown will be better for the state, either on the basis of past performance or declared intentions. As governor, I believe he had some environmental successes, but he’s better known for cultural-gestural acts — like choosing Don Bachardy to paint his official portrait, which I like but don’t weigh heavily against e.g. our broken budgeting rules. I don’t see a platform on his campaign website.


  15. Sheesh, if Whitman is shouting “Brown was always a failure” all he’s got to do is say, “Shows you how much she knows. About what you’d expect from somebody who couldn’t bother to vote.”

    The world is nuts. I think that’s going to be my sig.


  16. Pingback: Here’s why plagiarism is a bad thing, kids : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

  17. Evidently all of you so happy that Jerry Brown is running for Ca Gov again did not live through his last Gov in CA. He was a terrible Gov, ignorned what the people voted on, actually said he didn’t care what we the people wanted; just kept doing his own thing. Just kept raising every price he could. I pray he is not re-elected!!


  18. I’m way late to the party here, but I want to put in a plug for the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy’s updated (now nearly 20-year-old) version of CUA:


  19. Pingback: Who ever would have predicted? : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

  20. Seriously? Californians can’t be THIS stupid. Jerry Brown RUINED California…in every possible way. EVERY political office he holds is a joke. He’s a complete and utter idiot. I’m not happy about Whitman…but I REFUSE to vote for this jerk. I have lived here all my life (and I love DK) and seriously, CA…wake up. This is NOT a good idea nor candidate. He’s not even running ads on what his platform is or his plans….typically Jerry.


  21. Couldn’t believe it when I heard Jerry Brown was running again. “zen fascists will control you”, good grief that is the coolest song ever written.

    C-a-l-i-f-o-r-n-i-a Uber Alles, California uber alles,

    Jerry brown again WTF? You all in california do deserve all the zen fascists you get though.


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