Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Leadership involves finding a parade...

...and getting in front of it." - John Naisbitt

Welcome to our parade...the parade that is California.

This state has long been the brunt of jokes from our American brothers and sisters - many tinged with jealousy: we have better weather; the schools were better (honest, kids, at one time they were the tops!); or mostly, because all of the beautiful people live here.

Because we all look like these folks...

During the last three or four decades, the state chiseled out a nifty little spot for itself as a leader in technology, agriculture, trade and manufacturing. On the way to being parodied by the envious, it became an economic powerhouse - the eighth-largest economy...in the world. Now the state's moved from being joked about to being a punchline. Its credit rating is at historic lows, unemployment has reached 70-year highs, and businesses (and residents) are leaving in record numbers.

In one generation, we've gone from being the Golden State to being something more on the order of brass. So where do we lay the blame? They say an organization is judged by its leaders…here are some examples of what we’re working with these days:

Su-pah-fahn-tas-teek! (translation, Governator to English - ''super-fantastic!'')?: Apparently Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-ino) has given up the ghost - Milton Friedman's - and is now being haunted by his late uncle-in-law Teddy Kennedy's specter. "“As Governor, I have made significant efforts to advance health reform in California," he said in a statement touting his latest movie, er, policy decision. "“Our principal goals, slowing the growth in costs, enhancing the quality of care delivered, improving the lives of individuals, and helping to ensure a strong economic recovery, are the same goals that the president is trying to achieve. I appreciate his partnership with the states and encourage our colleagues on both sides of the political aisle at the national level to move forward and accomplish these vital goals for the American people." Did you ever think you'd long for the days of Gray Davis as governor?

"Someday, I vahnt to be like you, Uncle Tedvard!"

And as one governor prepares to leave, others are looking to fill his small (not including the lifts in them) shoes. Currently, on the GOP side, there’s Meg Whitman, Steve Poizner and Tom Campbell. Whitman, who only recently became a Republican, has a spotty voting record and previously supported U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D'oh!), is the frontrunner. This is primarily due to the fact that she’s a billionaire and of the more than $25 million she’s raised, more than $19 million has come from her purse.

Running behind Whitman (the former CEO of eBay, by the way), is state Insurance Commissioner/Silicon Valley mogul Steve Poizner (who’s also kicked in millions of his own money). Running close with Poizner, despite having little money in the coffers, is former business professor, dean and legislator Tom Campbell. So far, Campbell is the only candidate in either party who has laid out any kind of plan for the state. (He also has the least amount of money in the bank.)

In the Democrats' gubernatorial race, former Gov. Jerry Brown – yes, “Gov. Moonbeam” – looks to square-off against San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Brown, who during the inbetween years was mayor of Oakland and is the current state attorney general, kept himself in the fundraising game. He's the big moneygetter so far and insiders are betting he’ll easily squeeze out the jejune Newsom during the next few months. Did you ever think you'd long for the days of Gray Davis as governor?

Add Brown/Newsom: As linked above, “Former President Bill Clinton delivered a boost Monday to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's campaign for governor, formally endorsing him in next year's race and calling Newsom a national leader in green technology and energy.
"San Francisco may be the greatest city in the entire country" on issues of environment and energy conservation, "and it may be because of (Newsom's) leadership," Clinton told a crowd of students at Los Angeles City College. The endorsement by Clinton, a popular figure among deep-pocketed Democratic donors, comes as Newsom desperately seeks to gain traction on state Attorney General Jerry Brown, who leads handily in early polls and fundraising.
Most insiders, however, see Newsom “rolling out the big guns before most candidates have even declared [striking] of desperation, rather than strength.

As Debra Saunders wrote, Newsom is an empty suit. “) It's been a long, strange trip since Gavin Newsom became San Francisco's mayor. When he first ran for City Hall's top job, Newsom led with a campaign to do something about the city's homeless population. Well, the homeless are still here, but Newsom has moved on to a new target - he is running to be the next governor of California by picking on the personal habits of people who for the most part work hard and pay taxes.”

The guy on the left wants to be governor.

Last add Brown/Newsom: So if Newsom is destined to lose, why is Bill Clinton – never one to go down in flames on purpose – backing da mayor? If you’ll search your memory banks, you might recall a presidential debate between candidates Clinton and Brown back in the day. Brown not only attacked Bill but also Hillary – a no-no in the Clinton household. (“Only Bill humiliates Hillary…”) Here’s a clip from that earth-shaking moment.

The other big race: Come next election, the two big races will be for governor (likely Whitman vs. Brown, if polls and money hold the course) and for Boxer’s senate seat. In addition to the incumbent, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore are hoping to win the seat. DeVore, who does have support among red meat GOPers, doesn’t have a chance – despite Fiorina’s less-than-stellar voting record. She’s got money and name recognition and that will be enough to catapult her into a battle with Babs Boxer.

The revelations about her lack of voting, along with a lot of debate about what she did at HP – exactly – that makes her Senate-worthy don’t help her. She is buoyed by the fact that Boxer has rarely enjoyed a job approval rating of more than 50 percent throughout her senate career. Her biggest “helps” have been that she’s a woman (which Fiorina also is) and that she’s pro-abortion (which Fiorina isn’t). Fiorina and her fellow vote-avoider, Whitman, might win over some women but the fact remains that Democrats outnumber Republicans in this state by more than 2 million. That’s a huge hill to climb.

Not a good start, Carly: This from the San Francisco Chronicle politics blog – “Have you seen the new Carly Fiorina mini flier? As CA GOP vice chair -- and host of the FlashReport conservative blog -- Jon Fleischman quipped to us: "It looks like a Macy's ad." Hey, we've heard of retail politics, Carly, but this is taking it to a new level.

Clearance sale?

And we wonder why we're in the mess we're in...

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