Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why Not Newt?

Let’s start by comparing the former Speaker to President Clinton. Both rank among the most brilliant, intuitive politicians of our age, but President Clinton worked well with others. The Speaker is great on conceptualizing big ideas and strategy, but poor in prioritizing and evaluating his ideas. He needs a trusted confidant, who can tell him which ideas are achievable. The Speaker is too impressed with his own abilities (we call it arrogance) to listen to others, with the possible exception of his wife.

Both President Clinton and Congressman Gingrich are very smart, but can engage in stupid conduct.

Both of them had trouble keeping their zippers up.

Congressman Gingrich started his career in the House as a flamethrower, engaging in political stunts to enervate the GOP, which had been spending 4 decades in the political wilderness. He brought the Democratic Speaker Jim Wright of Texas down with ethical charges. His instinct is still to ruthlessly attack. He was unable to assume a conciliatory approach once he achieved power.

Even his campaign staff quit earlier in this campaign.

A major problem is that he can be both facile and flippant. The odds are that he will implode and say something, often devastatingly stupid, before this campaign is over. His comment last May about Congressman Paul Ryan’s proposal to reform Medicare is illustrative: “I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering.”

He complained at one point during the negotiations with the Clinton Administration to avoid a government shut down that he was snubbed by the President on a flight back from Israel and was told to leave the plane by the rear door. You don’t hear similar statements from the current Republican Speaker John Boehner, who is believed to not be a fan of Newt’s.

Newt Gingrich has demonstrated through his life that he is a loose cannon.

Newt Gingrich, as Speaker of the House, was a Washington insider. He still suffers from Potomac Fever, living in D.C.

As a consummate politician, he is willing to compromise conservative principles in his campaign for the Presidency.

One of the main objectives of the Republican House and the Tea Party is to eliminate earmarks. Congressman Gingrich is promising programs to every state he campaigns in. He’s “pandering” as Governor Clinton did in 1992.

His attacks on Governor Romney for Bain Capital and capitalism are repugnant to conservatives. President Obama’s campaign can wage class warfare, but not a conservative Republican leader. He’s also not as good a demagogue as the President. It also doesn’t stick when coming from a politician who made $1.6 million from Freddie Mac in 4 years.

The candidate is a whiner. If he wishes to attack the media in debates because of inane and partisan questions they might be asking, that goes over well with voters. Whining on the stump though sounds like a loser. He’s done a lot of whining this cycle. It belittles him.

Negative ads, attack ads work, but they need an aura of credibility to succeed.

Governor Romney is a New England moderate Republican. Republicans, conservative on social issues, do not get elected statewide in Massachusetts. Calling the Governor a liberal though does not stick.

The Speaker also ignores one of the basic maxims in life: Those living in glass houses should not throw stones. He’s quick to attack, but often is guilty of the same sins, faults, and mistakes he accuses opponents of. He’s misused the word “Lie” often this season. The hypocrisy is transparent.

Running a promotion with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on global warming does not win friends in the Republican Party.

He has managed to unite most Republican leaders, many of whom had worked with him in Congress,in opposition to his candidacy.

And the list could go on.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Governor Romney Really Wants to Win

Governor Romney has decided he wants to be President.

After getting hammered in South Carolina, Governor Romney decided he wants to be President of the United States.

The Governor had the fire in his belly, but was running a soft campaign, based on inevitability and electability. He and his supporters would run effective, negative ads, especially against Speaker Newt Gingrich, but he tried to stay above the fray. He had never released his tax returns in past campaigns, and was stalling on them this year, almost as if he had something to hide.

He was a soft campaigner, appearing all too programmed and robotic. FDR was also a patrician, but he could connect with the people. Romney’s defenses of Bain Capital and capitalism were weak. He would have been destroyed in November as President Obama can demagogue even better than Speaker Gingrich.

Governor Romney had appeared on a roll, winning Iowa and New Hampshire. South Carolina would form a trifecta.

The Fates turned on Romney. He lost Iowa and South Carolina. To paraphrase George H. W. Bush, Governor Romney lacked the Big Mo. He lost South Carolina because he appeared wooden, evasive and unprepared in the debates. He stuck to the script.

The Republicans want a fighter in November. They need a strong nominee who can withstand the negative ads coming from the President’s campaign and the media bias, and then strike back. Newt was the man, not Romney. Momentum swung to Gingrich. The Congressman may have a lot of baggage, but he could fight.

The Governor was facing a failed campaign. He could no longer win the nomination by relying upon his finances and organization to outlast the other candidates.

He had to change if he wanted to become President. An epiphany was at hand.

He quickly released his tax returns. He’s rich, but we already knew that.

South Carolina steeled him as a campaigner. He was prepared for the debates, putting Gingrich on the defensive. He hoisted the Speaker on his petard when it came to Freddie and Fannie, making Newt look like a hypocrite. The Speaker’s campaign had peaked, and the Governor survived.

He still has to get better in defending Bain, capitalism, and RomneyCare, but voters saw the potential.

Most significantly the Governor was aggressive. He was strong, authoritative, and showed no mercy. Senator Santorum may have technically won both Florida debates on points, but the Governor won Florida.

He's now a better campaigner.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Joseph Vincent Paterno, R.I.P. You Deserved Better

Joe Paterno R.I.P. – You Deserved Better

Joe Paterno was laid to rest earlier today. Rest is what Jo Pa deserved after his vilification in the Jerry Sandusky scandal and disgraceful ouster by his beloved Penn State.

Joe Paterno passed away at age 85 from complications from metastatic small cell carcinoma of the lung. While he was suffering from treatable lung cancer, and a broken pelvis, the real cause of death was a broken heart.

Joe Pa is the football equivalent of John Wooden. No one will probably ever beat his records of 409 victories and 5 undefeated seasons with a major college team, not to mention 61 years with one school, 46 as head coach. Too many coaches today are vagabonds lacking loyalty to any program, including their alma maters.

He was devoted to Pennsylvania State University. He may be the only football coach whose name is on the university library. Joe Pa and his family gave over $4 million to Penn State through the years. His salary of slightly over $1 million, was low. The legendary coach was the public face of Penn State.

Public universities are not as highly regarded in the Mid Atlantic and Northeast states as they are in the West and South. The region is a bastion of elite private education, but Penn State rode Joe Pa to academic as well as athletic prominence. He drove the once sleepy Penn State into the mighty Big Ten.

He was a source of pride to his family, his team, Penn State University, and the Penn State family. His was one of the few athletic programs not to receive a visit from the NCAA.

He coached past his prime, but he kept winning. President Graham Spanier wanted him out in 2004 after several unsuccessful seasons, but Joe Pa’s team went 11-1 the next year, beating Bobby Bowden’s Florida State in the Orange Bowl. He was a winner every season since.

His life fell apart on Saturday, November 5, 2011, when it was announced that former Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested for sexually abusing young boys. Also indicted for perjury were Athletic director Tim Curley and Vice President – CFO Gary Schultz, to whom the Penn State campus police reported. The Penn State Board of Trustees was blindsided by the indictments. I’ve read the leaked Grand Jury Report; the sordid report is damning.

Coach Paterno, as well as Assistant Coach Mike McQueary, received blame for not stopping Sandusky’s predations. A tsunami of national blame overtook the Coach, eventhough both he and McQueary reported the incident to superiors. Coach McQueary also met with both Curley and Schultz to discuss what he witnessed. They fulfilled their legal responsibilities.

Penn State’s Board of Trustees panicked on November 9. They felt President Spanler had sandbagged them on the seriousness of the developing Sandusky scandal. Thus, they fired him. No Board likes unpleasant surprises. But they also voted to terminate Coach Paterno, the most loyal employee Penn State ever had. The Board’s Vice Chair phoned the coach at 10:00PM, telling him the University “no longer needed his services.” – a totally classless act.

The two pillars of Joe Paternos life were his family and Penn State. The Trustees stripped him of Penn State.

As the students and alumni erupted over the treatment of the beloved coach, board member Joel Myers said the Coach was fired because while he fulfilled his legal responsibilities, he did not meet his moral responsibilities. Board member Mark Dambly echoed these remarks, as once again they tried to justify their shameful act by degrading the coach.

The students and alumni were not condoning pedophiles, but instinctively felt Coach Paterno should not be the fall guy for the Board’s failures. Both the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Board have since resigned their positions on the Board, but remain as trustees of Penn State. They should have resigned from the Board.

The Board lost control of the scandal as it rushed to judgment. It also forgot the American presumption of innocence until proven guilty. (I do believe based on the Grand Jury report that Sandusky is guilty, but the state still has to prove it). No one has yet been found guilty, except in the court of public opinion, or pled guilty. The indicted parties have proclaimed their innocence. No one has yet had their day in court while the prosecution’s case has been laid out in the leaked Grand Jury report.

Joseph Vincent Paterno deserved better.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Newt Disses the Media

The best defense is a good offense.

Speaker Gingrich showed last night why he’s won many of the debates this year.
CNN and John King, the moderator, thought they had Gingrich by starting out the debate with a question about his wife’s appearance later in the evening on ABC claiming Newt wanted an open marriage. No waffling, no groveling, no equivocation, no cowering. No appeasement of the media.

Nope, Newt Gingrich was prepared. He probably couldn’t believe, in his wildest dreams, that John King would start the debate with the question. What luck! The Speaker could set the tone for the debate and win the sound bite battle.

He was ready. He hit the question back at ABC, CNN, and the media for their bias, for their scurrilous (my word) attacks on conservatives while protecting President Obama. The Speaker threw red meat to the Republicans in the red state of South Carolina and nationally. The response was electric - two standing ovations and most likely victory tomorrow in the South Carolina primary.

The public knows the media is biased, but no major candidate yet this year had directly attacked the media. One study shows only 22% of NBC’s coverage of the Republican candidates is favorable. 78% is negative. CBS, which learnt its lesson with Dan Rather, and Fox are the most balanced in their coverage.

Republicans know the media tried to avoid Governor Clinton’s “Bimbo Eruptions” in the 1992 campaign, explaining a lot was “old news.” The Speaker’s divorce is “old news.” Even the story about “an open marriage” was in Esquire magazine last year.
Republicans understand that the media will not normally run a story without two independent sources. Yet ABC was featuring two days before the primary election a story by Marianne Gingrich about their divorce without any validation. The normal rules of journalistic integrity do not apply to Republicans.

Republicans know the media, led by AP, “parachuted” into Wasilla, Alaska in 2008 to flyspeck every inch of Governor Palin’s public and personal life, giving publicity to some of the most outrageous accusations. Yet, they gave Senator Obama a pass.

Republicans know that any misstatement by Governor Palin or Representative Bachman would be blown up as if the two female politicians were blithering idiots. But Vice President Biden also gets a free pass from the media. He said the other day in San Francisco that he was rooting for the Giants to win the playoff game this weekend. The Vice President doesn’t understand the San Francisco Giants play baseball and the New York Giants football. The media also gives him a pass on his past ethical issues. Imagine the media frenzy if a Republican candidate made that mistake.

Republicans witnessed the media destroying Herman Cain a few months ago. So much for wanting a campaign based on issues and ideas.

The public wants to see strength in their candidates.

Governor Reagan lost the 1996 Iowa caucuses to George H. W. Bush. Due to legal issues, the Governor paid for the debate in New Hampshire. An issue arose over whether the debate would be between just Reagan and Bush, or open to other candidates. The moderator ordered Reagan’s microphone cut off.

Ronald Reagan yelled out “I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green.” New Hampshire voters loved his statement of force. He won the election that night in Nashua.

Perhaps so too with Speaker Gingrich.

However, the consensus is he won the Monday’s debate and Senator Santorum last night’s. The clear loser in both debates is Governor Romney, who cannot, for whatever reason, articulate why he won’t release his tax returns (What is he hiding?), Bain Capital, or RomneyCare. He’s smart. He had to know these issues were coming, but he seems unprepared to handle them.

Strength – the public wants strength in their President.

Speaker Gingrich showed it last night.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Keystone Pipeline

The American economy has been built on cheap energy, beginning with the mill dams in colonial days: cheap hydro. Hydro is still the cheapest source of power, but the challenge is to maintain the existing sites with new ones out of the question.

Inexpensive coal powered the factories of the Midwest, the heartland of America.

Cheap oil, less than $.19/gallon transformed America on wheels. The steam engine and the internal combustion engine made America.

Natural gas is clean and plentiful, but it's still a fossil fuel.

High priced aviation fuel is devastating to air transportation. Costly diesel fuel is a killer for the trucking industry.

President Obama believes expensive green energy is the future, often in the form of crony capitalism.

Billions of subsidies to promote green energy in the U.S., with production of the solar panels in China.

That is his vision. That is his dream – a green America.

How ironic therefore that if the Keystone Pipeline is not built in the U.S. from Canada, then Canada will export the oil to China as we remain dependent on Mideast Oil.

Does this Presidency, this Administration have any understanding of basic economics?

We don’t know because his vision is not driven by economics, but by the liberation politics of the Reverend Wright, the radicalism of Bill Ayers, and others. Remember, he was ranked the most liberal Senator during his short Senate stay, based on his votes, when he wasn’t abstaining. His Dream Team of economists has bailed on him.

President Obama is a true believer in the green economy of tomorrow.

In an interview with the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle prior to his election, he made clear his desire to shut down the coal economy. Any company that deigned to build a new coal plant would pay dearly for its foolishness.

His EPA is doing the best it can to destroy coal.

The EPA also issued a misleading report last month about the environmental effects of fracking, which is on the path of restoring energy independence to the United States, America’s dream for the past 40 years.

The Administration said it could not complete the necessary on Keystone in 60 days, so it would have to deny the permit. However, it jammed Solyndra through in 60 days. But that was a green project - not one of fossil fuels.

When gas shot up to $5/gallon 4 years ago, his response was not that it was unfortunate, but that it rose too quickly. He needs high energy prices to sustain his green economy, regardless of what it does to the American economy and the American consumer.

Thus, his decision to block the Keystone Pipeline and increase our reliance on imported oil from the Mideast. Inexpensive oil, even accompanied by thousands of American jobs, including union jobs, is too high a price for him; it threatens his green vision.

The Keystone Pipeline would be 1700 miles long, connecting Alberta to Texas. 833,000 barrels a day would flow through the pipeline.

The smart approach would be to encourage all forms of energy development, and then let the market and technology pick the winners.

That’s not the President’s approach. Flexibility is not his mantra; he’s rigidly wed to the green agenda.

The Keystone Pipeline will be built in spite of President Obama. The bipartisan support is too strong in the Midwest. Even the Washington Post found the decision to be absurd. Robert Samuelson, its columnist, declared the decision to be an act of insanity.

President Obama handed a major issue to the Republicans in the November election. It will cost him votes in the Blue States

Reflections on the Iron Lady

We saw The Iron Lady Sunday before the Golden Globes. Meryl Streep’s performance was truly a tour d’force, as one has come to expect from the great actress. Harvey Weinstein for the second year in a row has a success based on Great Britain. Last year’s was The King’s Speech.

One review had it totally right though. It’s sad to see a movie on the great Prime Minister looking at her from the perspective of her current dementia. It would be just as wrong to review President Reagan’s life from the perspective of his dementia. Their greatness should not be eclipsed by their unfortunate age related illness. But it is; and that wasn’t an accident.

So much for the movie; let’s talk about Lady Thatcher herself.

The once despised PM is now rated by the British as their best Prime Minister in the past 30 years. She should join Winston Churchill as the two greatest British prime ministers of the 20th century. The country has a history of great leaders, in which they justly hold their own.

Churchill saved Great Britain’s independence and Thatcher England’s economy.

Both became Prime Minister in times of great peril. Hitler was poised to conquer England, and the unions were destroying the Thatcher's Great Britain. History tells us today that a number of England's leaders were willing to seek peace with Hitler.

Churchill and Thatcher rallied the English people through their strength of will.

Thatcher’s problem was partially the mess created by Labour when it assumed power after World War II and nationalized industry, especially heavy industry. Her solution was to close down unprofitable mines, privatize the public businesses, and bust the unions - all at a time of rising inflation and unemployment. She had the “silent majority” of the British people behind her. They had enough of the union thuggery.

The economic medicine was severe. Unemployment rose to 3 million, but the economy turned around. The unions fought every inch of the way, throwing strike after strike at public services. The Iron Lady, so named by the Russians, did not give an inch.

She won, England won; the unions lost. She broke them. They never regained their
power, not even under a subsequent Labour government. She had the cajones many of the male politicians lacked.

The middle class daughter of a grocer fought for everything she achieved. The first, and still only, woman PM of England did not achieve success by birth or inheritance.

She fought for it. Neither the unions, an Argentine Junta, Saddam Hussein ("Don’t go wobbly, George") or European socialists would cower her. Appeasement neither suited her nor Churchill.

Here’s the question. Who is today's America’s Iron Lady or Ronald Reagan?

The public employee unions, as represented by their actions in Wisconsin, and control over the California political system, are bankrupting states and local government.

Who will take them on?

It’s certainly not President Obama or Governor Jerry Brown of California.

Governor Romney seems eager to veer his views with the winds. We saw that earlier with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Governors Christie, Kasich, Palin, and Walker aren’t running.

Who will be America’s Margaret Thatcher?

It has to be either Speaker Gingrich or Senator Santorum.

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's Too Early to Annoint Governor Romney

Don’t Anoint Governor Romney Yet

Governor Romney received 25% of the caucus in Iowa, and either won Iowa by 8 votes or lost by 20. He won a convincing 40% of the New Hampshire primary.

These two victories gave him 25 delegates, out of the 1,144 needed for the Republican nomination. He’s only 1119 delegates short of clinching the nomination.

He won’t capture them in South Carolina or Florida. The process will go on through Super Tuesday, perhaps all the way to the Convention.

The Republicans changed the rules this year. The state results are not winner take all, but proportionate. Theoretically, the contest could go into the Convention if a conservative opponent to the Governor catches fire with the voters, and both fall short of a majority.

The Governor is obviously in the best position to win, with the strongest organization and financial resources. He has the fire in the belly, and will engage in negative campaigning to win. He has the endorsements. Karl Rove is singing his praises, but the conservative base of the party doesn’t want him. RomneyCare nullifies the strong Republican campaign against ObamaCare.

Gingrich, Huntsman, Perry, Santorum cannot all survive South Carolina and Florida.
As the non - Paul candidates drop out one by one, the surviving conservative, perhaps Senator Santorum, will narrow the race to essentially a one on one, discounting the 15% Ron Paul vote.

The Governor proved last week that even the brightest, most disciplined candidate will utter a gaffe during a long campaign. His quote “I like to fire people” will be taken out of context, especially coupled with the Bain ads. It occurred too short before the New Hampshire primary, and hence was a non-factor. It’s not going away.
Of course he meant that when people and companies provide poor service, we fire them.

Governor Romney has yet to craft an effective response to the Bain ads or the questions about RomneyCare. He's vulnerable.

The advent of the SuperPacs means candidates are not as dependent as in past years on direct political contributions. If the funding dried up, the candidate was out.

Not now. These “independent” campaigns can keep a candidate in the race. Governor
Howard Dean paved the way for low cost internet contributions.

Finally, the media simply cannot stand the possibility of neither a heated Democratic or Republican primary season. They will keep the race going.

Governor Romney’s success partially depends upon Congressman Paul remaining in the race. The Congressman makes the Governor appear much more moderate and reasonable to the general electorate. In addition, his presence precludes a unified “Block Romney” candidate, making Governor Romney’s plurality wins seem larger than they are.

Speaker Gingrich will probably shoot himself in the mouth again. Governor Huntsman has little traction, and is even more moderate than Governor Romney. Governor Perry is still trying to make a second first impression.

That leaves Senator Santorum, who delivers warmth in his speeches.

If not Romney, then Santorum or a brokered convention.

Just don’t anoint the Governor, at least not yet.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

But First, and Foremost It's Michigan

From Appalachian State to Virginia Tech, the five year fog at Michigan lifted.

Think of the ride the 15 fifth year seniors have been on, starting their careers with the tragic 34-32 loss to Appalachian State with the Mountaineers blocking 2 Michigan field goal attempts at the end of the game.

Michigan is Michigan again. Brady Hoke willed the players into believing in themselves. How else can you explain an abysmal field goal kicker of last year 1/5, going 13 of 17 this year, including three in the Sugar Bowl with the final one being the game winner in overtime. No clutching this year. Brady Hoke even said a few days ago that he had confidence in the kicker. Field goals won this year.

Brady Hoke was clear in assuming the helm of the Michigan Wolverines football team.

When questioned about the past few years, he replied “I mean, we’re Michigan.” At another event, he said “But first, and foremost it’s Michigan.”

He made it clear: Michigan is Michigan. You play for Michigan, for the team, for toughness, for integrity. The seniors lead the team. He drilled MICHIGAN, the game’s winningest program, into the players, disabusing them of any memories of the past three years.

Call his attitude “arrogance” if you want, but arrogance can instill confidence.

Confidence built over the season with game after game. The critical game was Notre Dame, when the Fighting Irish snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Toughness won, with the help of Denard Robinson. As you win, as you begin to believe in yourself You go into games knowing you will win. The Oakland raiders in the days of John Madden always found a way to win. “Just win baby” Al Davis said, and win they did.

Michigan in recent years entered the Ohio State game hoping to win. Ohio State knew it would win – 7 straight years. Not this year.

Brady Hoke also knew that defense wins games.

The Michigan defense last year ranked 110 in the nation out of 120 teams – 16th this year. Last year’s coach whose name shall not be mentioned said “Vince Lombardi could come in and not fix the problems on defense.” Greg Mattison fixed them.

Michigan’s defense bent, but did not break against Virginia Tech. twice in the red zone, the Hokies had to settled for field goals. On a third occasion, they turned the ball over by failing to gain a first down on 4th and 1. That is defense- Michigan defense.

Michigan played a horrific offensive game Tuesday night. Robinson ran 13 times for 13 yards, Fitzgerald for only 30 yards. The Hokies of Virginia Tech outgained Michigan 377 yards to 184. They controlled the clock for 37 minutes compared to 23 for Michigan. They gained 22 first downs to the Wolverines 12.

The only statistic that matters is the final score, 23-20 Michigan.

The football gods smiled on Michigan. Several times this year the breaks went for Michigan, unlike recent years. Jump balls on sloppy passes went for touchdowns. Robinson’s passes that should have been intercepted were not. The season hanged on miraculous catches by Junior Hemingway, Jeremy Gallon, and Roy Roundtree.

You make your breaks. Play hard, play tough, play disciplined, believe in yourself, and good things can happen.

Indeed, Virginia State was betrayed by Beamerball. Frank Beamer’s Virginia Tech teams have thrived on special teams for a quarter century. The Hokies’ special teams failed 4 times, costing them the game: failed fake punt, fumbled kickoff return, roughing Michigan’s punted when the Wolverines had been stopped, and finally missing the field goal in overtime.

The football gods are not always fair to great coaches. Bo never won the national title, and Frank Beamer is but 1-4 in BCS games. The Big ten ended up 4-6 in bowl games this year, but the ACC is only 2-13 in BCS games.

Michigan finished the season 11-2 with a bowl victory. The most optimistic prediction was 8-4. Victories over Notre Dame, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Virginia Tech were not predicted.

Brady Hoke coached San Diego State last year in the Poinsettia Bowl. This year he won the Sugar Bowl with Michigan.

The slide began with 2 blocked field goals by special teams. The miasma lifted with three field goals by the special teams.

The circle is complete. Michigan is back.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Go See Cal. Go See Cal. Go See Cal get Divorced

Go See Cal. Go See Cal. Go See Cal Get Divorced

Here’s to Cal Worthington, a potential divorcee at 91?

Cal epitomizes the American Dream.

One of 9 children growing up dirt poor in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl, he dropped out of school in the Ninth Grade. He joined the Civilian Conservation Corp during the Great Depression, and then became an Army Air Corps pilot of B-17 Flying Fortress during World War II.

He co-piloted the first American bomber over Berlin. He flew 29 missions, and was personally awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by the fabled Jimmy Doolittle.

Like many veterans, he found his way to Los Angeles after the war. He bought an auto dealership and then took off.

Southern California boomed, and he saw the potential first in radio and then the nascent TV. Cal is eternal; he is TV’s longest pitchman. He’s been selling cars for over 6 decades, over 1 million new and used vehicles by his estimate. He owned 29 franchises at one time.

There's been disgruntled customers and state false advertising and bait and switch claims, but that's not a bad record over time.

Cal Worthington is the last of the old time iron movers. Earl “Mad Man” Muntz (My wife thinks I’m Mad”) and Ralph Williams (“Ralph Williams here; Do I have deal for you”) went out of business, but Cal prospered.

He had a three hour show, Cal’s Corral, featuring such country western stars as Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Buck Owens, Roy Acuff, and Flatt and Scruggs. The Stetson wearing Cal was the originator for Dodge’s Good Guys in White Hats.

His biggest success came with his ads. A competitor started advertising with “my dog Storm.” Cal responded with his dog “Spot.” Cal and Spot appeared together, but Spot was never a dog. Spot could be a Bengal tiger, lion, bear, gorilla, camel, chicken, rhino, hippo, skunk, boas, and even Baby Shamu.

And he had a ditty : “Go see Cal. Go see Cal. Go see Cal” accompanied by a lyric, such as “Give a new car to your wife, she will love you for all her life.”

He created his own advertising agency, Spot Advertising, which only had one account, Cal Worthington, a clever economic move.

He owns ranches in California, Idaho, and Nevada, and three shopping centers.

His personal life has been just as interesting. He’s been married 4 times, the first
marriage for 37 years, and the second and third for seven years. He has two children from his first and second marriages and one from the third. His children range in age from 10 to 64.

The youngest child makes Cal the fabled figure of estate planning, The Fertile Octogenarian.

And now comes the marriage to wife number 4 in April. She was only 50 years younger than him at 41, hardly robbing the cradle.

Anna Mjoll Olafsdottir, an Icelandic singer living in Los Angeles, filed for divorce seeking spousal support, citing irreconcilable differences. He probably snores at night. He may not have given her a car, not even a Focus. Perhaps he offered spot to Anna.

Cal’s been around the block a few times, so we assume he had a prenuptial, rather than being blinded by love as Sir Paul McCartney was with Heather Mills. In any event, Anna took his name, and now she wants to take his money to be supported in the life style she quickly became accustomed to.

Apparently she could not hold out until Cal croaked. She is no Anna Nicole Smith.

His auto empire in the dismal economy shrunk to a Ford dealership in Long Beach, a Mitsubishi shop in Carlsbad, and both a Ford-Lincoln and Mercedes dealership in Anchorage, but his vital signs remain strong. He's a survivor.

As marriages go, the Worthington-Olafsdottir 8 month marriage falls between Sinead O’Conner’s 4th marriage of 18 days, Kim Kardashian’s 72 day romance, and Katy Perry-Russell Brand of 14 months.

Go see Cal’s divorce.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Senator Rich Santorum - The Tortoise versus The Hare

Can Senator Santorum pull Iowa out?

He’s followed the Jimmy Carter protocol – essentially live in Iowa for a year, introduce yourself to everyone in the state, and campaign in all 98 counties.

Governor Romney’s strategy is based on being the last man standing at the end of the primary season. He has the finances and organization. The Governor is intelligent, articulate, poised, and disciplined. He succeeded in business, is very religious, and is fiscally conservative. He’s a winner – on paper.

He may succeed, knowing the Republicans and independents might have to hold their nose in November, but they will vote for him. He’s not the wrong candidate, but he just doesn’t feel like the right candidate.

He may succeed, but in the meantime the conservatives are desperately seeking salvation in the form of a true conservative. They have carefully scrutinized the candidates, and with the exceptions of Senator Santorum and Governor Huntsman, who is focusing on New Hampshire, they have been found wanting.

Congresswoman Michelle Bachman of Minnesota, a native Iowan, was quick out of the gate. She won the Iowa Straw Poll, but didn’t seem ready for prime time. The media pounced on every gaffe. Her campaign is broke.

Governor Perry of Texas was everyone’s choice until he bombed in the debates (He was recovering from an illness at the time). He has the money to last, but has to overcome the bad first impression.

Herman Cain with his 9-9-9 and folksy approach connected with the Republicans as no one has since Sarah Palin. He was on a roll until overwhelmed by Bimbo eruptions.

Congressman Newt Gingrich would have won three weeks ago. He is widely believed to have won the debates as he clearly focused on President Obama and the issues. He peaked too soon. He may have survived his marital issues, but getting into bed with Fannie and Freddy was too much.

Congressman Ron Paul is from Mars.

So why not Senator Rick Santorum? He hasn’t had his 15 minutes of infamy before the GOP circular firing squad. The former Senator is sufficiently conservative and religious for the Republicans voters. He is pro-life and anti-gay marriage. He is a fiscal conservative. He appeals to both evangelicals and fiscal conservatives. He has spent more time in Iowa than the other contenders.

He only has two major problems in the primaries. First, he lost reelection to the Senate 5 years ago by 18 percent to Bob Casey, Jr., a truly uninspiring candidate.

Second, he heavily endorsed and campaigned for Senator Arlen Specter 7 years ago in the Republican primary when Arlen was challenged by Pat Toomey, a true conservative

Governor Romney is hoping that the Senator and Congressman Ron Paul will be his opponents coming out of Iowa and New Hampshire. Congressman Paul will fall by the wayside, but Senator Santorum could well defeat him.

If the Senator becomes the primary opponent to the Governor, the money will be pouring out of the woodwork for him. There could well be a bandwagon for Senator Santorum.

The Senator’s campaign has been one of the tortoise. He’s proceeded in a slow, steady gait, plugging ahead while the others enjoyed their time in the sun. Nobody noticed him as he campaigned under the radar. He more than held his own in the debates, but wasn’t considered to have a chance. He’s positive with a warm smile.

He will pass the gravitas test.

The Iowa caucuses have sprung many a surprise, introducing candidates to America. Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama rode Iowa to the White House.

Senator Santorum is the last Republican standing against Governor Romney – the tortoise versus the hare.

What Will Iowa and New Hampshire Foretell?

The Iowa Caucus is two days away. What will 120,000 or less “Republicans” (120,000 would be a record turnout. tell us about the Republican nominee? Who will be The Man or the Woman?

Iowa will not decide the nominee. Neither will New Hampshire. Iowa's winner gets a boost in New Hampshire, but only a boost.

The potential for political mischief is great since both are in essence “open” venues. A Democrat can walk into an Iowa caucus, register as a Republican, vote in the caucus and then become a Democrat again the next day. 5,000 faux Republicans can have a tremendous impact, indeed anointing an unelectable caucus winner.

Iowa and New Hampshire do not usually decide either the nomination or general election. Senator Obama was an exception to this political reality four years ago. Governor Huckabee won the Republican caucus four years ago. It did not propel him to the nomination. George H. W. Bush won the Iowa caucus in 1980, not Governor Reagan.

The trek through Iowa and New Hampshire is often criticized because these two small, Frost belt states are unrepresentative of American’s demographics. Even if that statement were true, it's irrelevant.

The strength of Iowa and New Hampshire is that they winnow the field. Those that fare poorly often fold their campaigns as financing and media attention dries up. Candidates who cannot convince the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire, after a year of up close and personal, probably cannot appeal to the broader American populace.

They are a test of whether a candidate is ready for prime time. They show us how the potential president responds to crisis and bad news (Cain). Do they have the fire in their belly? (Thompson and Perry). Iowa and New Hampshire size up a candidate for America.

Iowa often produces a surprise because of the small turnout in the dead of winter to spend hours discussing each candidate before voting.

Thus, success usually depends upon an organization turning out a dedicated core of supporters, or in the case of Senator Obama, a community organizer “organizing” often with non-residents doing the organizing in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Contenders who cannot organize Iowa will be unable to manage a general election campaign.

A twist this year is the millions of Super PAC money invested in the advertising campaign. These ads are not endorsed by Mitt, Newt, Rick, or Michelle. Indeed, by law they must be independent of the candidate’s campaign. By way of example, the “Willie Horton” ad, that Democrats claim defeated Governor Michael Dukakis in 1988, was not by the official Bush campaign, but by an independent group. Similarly, Senator Kerry was “Swiftboated” by Swift Boat Veterans for truth and not the Bush Campaign.

Labor organizations operate the same way in elections funding their own campaigns as does George Soros in funding progressive candidates and causes.

Restore Our Future, a Super Pac on Governor Romney’s belief, has spent millions in attack ads against Romney’s primary opponents. Former Romney aides run the Super Pac. Governor Romney’s reply to Speaker Gingrich’s request to stop the ads is that he legally cannot, which is true. Thus, a candidate like the Governor can have it both ways. He runs a principled campaign while others do the hatchet job. That’s certainly not unusual in elections.

The First Amendment protects a vigorous debate on the issues and candidates. Free speech is great.

Don’t run for President if you can’t take the heat.

Whiners and criers usually lose, as did Senator Muskie in New Hampshire.

Gingrich saw the nomination in his sights. It was there, but now it’s slip sliding away. He also lacks a strong organization or dedicated core support.

Iowans justly resent candidates who are caught on video years earlier trashing the Iowa Caucus (Remember Howard Dean - the presumed 2004 winner in Iowa?)

Citizens of Iowa have little regard for those who bypass the beautiful state (Check out Mayor Giuliani and Governor Huntsman).

What will Iowa and New Hampshire foretell?

Will this year’s Iowa surprise be Bachman, Perry, or Santorum?

Does it reaffirm that money is the mother’s milk of politics?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Iowa, the Media, and the Debasement of the Political Debate

The economy has been in the tank for three years. The country is at a junction point between capitalism and entrepreneurism or statism and dependency. These are the issues that will be decided next November.

But that’s not the campaign this year in Iowa.

If we are to believe the media, the result of the Republican caucuses next Tuesday will be either a candidate, Governor Mitt Romney, the Republicans can’t abide, or a lightweight the American people will not elect. As the saying goes: “You can’t beat someone with no one.”

Bachman, Gingrich, Paul, Perry, Santorum are all portrayed as deeply flawed, unethical, two-faced, flip-floppers, or stupid. Statements from decades ago are flyspecked with an electron microscope to find “gotcha’ moments.” The Washington Post does a “Pinocchio count” by its fact checker for misstatements by the candidates. The New York Times ran color photos of the candidates’ homes, as if that’s relevant.

Gaffes are seized upon as evidence of stupidity, ignorance and incompetence, rather than as a manifestation of tiredness from non-stop campaigning.

There’s nothing new here. The media always says these canards about Republicans. Tricky Dickie was unethical. Gerry Ford was a bumbling dolt. Ronald Reagan was a naïve, stupid cowboy. George H. W. Bush was out of touch with the American people. His son, George W. Bush, was an idiot who stole the election.

Etc., etc., etc.

The difference this time is that the Republican candidates are playing along with the media in painting the picture of the Republican slate. The attack ads are relentless, belittling both the target and the attacker. The candidates, with the exception of Newt Gingrich, have lost touch with Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment “Thou shall not speak ill if a fellow Republican.”

Have we forgotten we are electing a President, not the Pope or a saint?

Imagine if it came out that one of the Republicans used cocaine and other drugs?
Imagine the uproar!

Of course, that’s President Obama in his younger years.

We are told Ron Paul is a naïve isolationist, to the left of the Democrats!

Was it Congressman Paul who said that the Taliban are not per se our enemy?

No, it was Vice President Biden last week, who is a living, walking, breathing gaffe machine.

Did Herman Cain hit upon women? Probably, but did Gloria Allred and the media raise an outcry about Governor Bill Clinton’s record of “Bimbo eruptions?” Did the media pursue the statements of Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, or Juanita Broaddrick? What about Jennifer Flowers and Elizabeth Ward Gracen? What about Senators Chris Dodd and Ted Kennedy?

Did Newt Gingrich receive money from Freddie and Fanny while out of office? Senator Barack Obama was the largest recipient of campaign contributions from Freddie and Fannie.

As for gaffes, let us not forget Senator Kerry campaigning in Taylor, Michigan on August 1, 2004 saying “I just go for Buckeye football.”

Also don’t forget Senator Obama in Beaverton, Oregon in May 2008 “I’ve now been in 57 states, and have one left to go.”

You probably never heard these in the media, but you would have if uttered by one of the Republicans. Since both President Obama and Senator Kerry are presumed brilliant, the media assumes these misstatements are the result of being tired. No similar mercy is shown Republicans for gaffes though.

Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan was gaining traction, but then he was Borked out of the campaign. Governor Pawlenty was a non-factor in the Iowa Straw Vote, so he dropped out early. Governor Huntsman is ignored as if he is an afterthought.

Any of the Republican candidates, with the exception of Congressman Ron Paul and his pacifist foreign policy, is more qualified to be President than the incumbent, and will do a better job for America.

The Iowa voter, the American voter deserve more. We need an airing of the issues, not the slinging of trivia and mud.