Saturday, February 28, 2009

A break from the rain, until tomorrow.

I love the fact we may actually come close to what would be 'normal' rainfall this year. However, to have enough for irrigation water this year, we need almost flood conditions. I would love to have irrigation water for my pastures, but I sure don't want to be sandbagging people's houses to get it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Not much news out of North Korea lately....

Could this be the reason?

Online dating at its finest. "I am five year spelling champion of North Korea, you know that?"

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Final thoughts - CAGOP convention 2009

I would like to thank the California Republican Party for the opportunity to cover this year's convention. I met many great people, made a few new friends and generally had a ball reporting from behind the scenes. My tongue-in-cheek posts notwithstanding, I was able to catch a glimpse of what a full time journalist's life can be like. The professionalism and the writing talent they bring to their job are impressive. Watching journalists like Carla Marinucci, John Wildermuth describe the mood and bring out the texture of an event, like the convention, was a treat for an absolute rookie.

One of my favorite journalists, Dan Walters from the Sacramento Bee, asked Gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman how she would close the state's $42 billion funding gap without raising taxes, something she had boasted about earlier. Ms. Whitman spoke about cutting the state's payroll, without disrupting state services. When Walters pointed out that half of the state's money goes to education, and the majority of these people are not state employees, Whitman quickly asked for a new question. Walters question was both fair and responsible.

The Whitman campaign may not like the question, but it needed to be asked, and answered. For those of us on the right, we can become upset when the media does not ask these same, tough questions of democratic politicians with the same regularity and tenacity. As Republicans, we have to be able to answer them; our voters demand accountability. Complaining that the press is playing favorites will not bring many people over to our side. Better ideas, better answers, and standing by our principles will.

Trying to set aside your personal politics, especially when covering a purely political event, can be difficult. You are who you are, and that is something one cannot unplug or disconnect while covering a story. You view the subject through the prism of your own personal experiences.

If I was covering the California Democratic convention, I would bring my experiences with me, and try as I may, being completely neutral would be almost impossible. I do believe, however, I would do a great job covering a Democratic event because of my political DNA. I would be less likely to gloss over real mistakes and groupthink than can be all too common at political conventions.

Maybe the CDP will issue a press credential to me for this April's convention.

Don't laugh, it could happen.

My thanks to Mark Pruner, Yolo GOP Chair, and the CRP for rolling the dice and giving me enough rope to hang myself.

Yolo Cowboy; undercover journalist

My assignment; infiltrate the network of subversives and dissidents better known as 'the press'. Who are these people? What do they want? What motivates them? Why are they dressed like homeless people going to a job interview?

I set out to answer these questions at the California Republican Party Convention. My tools: a Netbook, a digital camera, a digital voice recorder, a spiral notepad, and my keen intellect. I am not sure how keen my intellect is, but it is the only one I have.

I checked in with the Press Office on the second floor of the Hyatt Hotel. The hotel is an ideal location for a political convention, across the street from the State Capitol. As I picked up my press credential, I wondered if the powers that be realized the folly in giving an all-access pass to a cowboy.

Being a news junkie, I recognized many reporters by name. The print journalist from the Bay Area, and other smaller, regional papers all had the same rumpled look to them. I know newspapers are cutting staff and expenses as they try to remain solvent, but do the reporters have to sleep in their cars? The Sacramento journalists have the home court advantage of sleeping and showering on a regular basis, and it shows. My first instinct was to go down to the Union Gospel Mission to find someone who would swap clothes with me, being a fat guy, I wasn't sure if I would be able to find someone my size. Therefore, I loosened my tie, changed my sports coat for a fleece vest, and tried not to stand out from the crowd.

As I listened to the chatter of the reports, they were all telling tales of buyouts, layoffs and reductions in circulation. It seems the glory days of newsrooms full of beat reporters is going the way of bell-bottom jeans. Each remaining reporter receives more territory and more responsibilities at the same or reduced pay. I could almost feel sorry for them, if I was not confident in the knowledge that they are all closet communist sympathizers. I swear I could still see the sun-faded spots on their elbow-patched sports coats where the Obama 08' buttons were. Nice try, but you are not fooling me hippie.

As I attended the various press conferences, I soon found myself surrounded by people who were asking the candidates tough questions. When the politicians did not answer a question in a direct manner, the reporters would ask follow up questions, trying to trick the candidates into answering the first question. This confirmed my suspicions. The reporters had their own agenda; they would not be satisfied just reporting the talking points of the candidates. What nerve.

As the press conferences ended, the reporters would talk amongst themselves, grading the candidate's performance. The journalist could not hide their devious nature as they talked about how the candidate evaded this question, or stretched the truth on that answer. I thought to myself, who do these people think they are? Who elected them? How would they like being up in front of the lights answering question that did not fit into their agenda? Huh, how would you like that Mister fancy pants reporter?

I pulled myself together and spent a few hours walking through the convention, talking to fellow Republicans about the GOP legislators who were lured to the Dark Side. Six voted for the Democrat's budget deal. I started to calculate the amount of chickens we would need to pluck and the quantity of tar to boil if we could ever find Able Maldonado and his pals.

The list of speakers at the convention was impressive. Former Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, former secretary of education Bill Bennett, former CEO of eBay, Meg Whitman and former ambassador to the UN, John Bolton. Not be confused with Michael Bolton, John is the one with mustache, not the mullet.

Chicken dinners were the main fare served to the folks plunking down the cash for a chance to hear these Republican icons. They do not serve food to the press there, something I will have to bring up to Jim Smith, editor of the Daily Democrat, who is always chowing on the grub when he covers our local Republican events. I had to pack a few Atkins diet bars in my bag to keep up with the frantic pace of statewide politics.

I was blogging every few hours and posting Twitter comments, tweets, throughout the day. Mobile technology is something the GOP is trying to get its hands around right now. The past election cycle proved that a populist candidate, interconnected with young, high tech followers can produce a great amount of buzz. In today's four-hour news cycle, being able to provide timely, updated content and news is essential. Connecting with new, media savvy voters will be even more critical in 2010.

As Saturday evening wound to a close, I was busy posting almost live video of the conference and trying to maintain my cover as a real journalist. The MSM is a small world and I would catch the reporters trying to read my press credential. Who is this person, they wondered, and why can't he type without looking at the keyboard? I had to flee before they caught on and took me out back for some type of journalistic water boarding.

As I closed my Netbook computer for the last time, I was checking my stats to see who was reading my blog. I was shocked to discover that one my posts, written in about three minute’s time, was picked up by the New York Times. I had been discovered. Time to flee back to Yolo County and fight the establishment press another day.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pretty cool, I was picked up by the New York Times website

I don't know if this is good news or I should run for cover.

Steve Poizner calls out the legislature

Live from the CA GOP Convention.

Video of Mitt Romney at Meg Whitman's meet-n-greet

Oh to have a President Romney right now.......

Just minutes ago at the convention

Crash course in politics

I had one, continual complaint about candidate Obama; all prose, no details. Now I am beginning to see the wisdom in that strategy.

Meg Whitman, who delivered her California GOP coming out speech twenty minutes earlier, ran into the buzz saw of a very professional journalist. Dan Walters from the Sacramento Bee asked Ms. Whitman how she would have closed the $42 billion budget gap without raising taxes. Her answer was a generic, cut 10%of the staff at the state level. While this idea does have merit, the savings to the budget would fall far short of the 42 billion required. When Walters pointed this out, Meg quickly pointed to new reporter for a new question. Immediately the announcement of "last question" was given by someone from her staff, and away she went.

I like Meg Whitman, but having heard both Steve Poizner and Ms. Whitman handle reporters, Poizner clearly wins this early round. This isn't a Howard Dean scream, or anything close to a major campaign blunder, however, Whitman needs to avoid the mistakes of the McCain/Palin campaign. The handling of a new, inexperienced candidate is tricky; you can sequester your candidate and keep her away from the press until she comes up to speed, or get her out into smaller media markets to learn on the job.

I don't know the correct answer to this dilemma, but it's early, and there is plenty of time to improve her media skills. She will need to have a black-belt in political knowledge to win the election.

Speaking of Sarah Palin, I tried to get an interview with her, but her schedule was too rigid.

I did get this photo, I hope my wife isn't jealous.....

Looking like a two horse race for GOP Gov.

At the convention there seems to be two rival camps, Meg Whitman and insurance commissioner Steve Poizner. Old school California GOP machine versus a fresh face with high name recognition but no political record to prove or disprove her leadership abilities.

As former CEO of eBay, Whitman touts her financial background as a person who has steered a billion dollar company through the rough and tumble world of the high-tech private sector. Poizner is running on his conservative credentials. He has the party machinery behind him, but Whitman can tap into the deep pockets of her friends and supporters in the business world. This should be interesting.

I will try to ask a question or two to each of them, but I am the smallest of small potatoes in the press core. Almost a tater-tot if you will.

I ran into Meg Whitman this morning, she was off to a meeting but she did take a second to pose with me. Some of my friends at home would probably think I am sitting at The Junction making all this up if I didn't have proof.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Behind the scenes at CRP Convention

Friday night dinner; I love the fact that so many young people are here. Many volunteers are in attendance, some from the Davis College Republicans, others from across the state, but all are here to help make the convention run smoothly. When I say run, I mean run. As with any large function, the seemly endless details that go into the setup and culminate with the doors opening, are sometimes elevated to crisis status. When someones' credentials cannot b e found, when the master guest list is lost, or when someone needs to be found, it is usually a college Republican who does the running. They are young, running is in their job description.

Tonight's speakers are South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford, Congressman Darrell Isssa, radio host Larry Elder, and former Gubernatorial nominee, Bill Simon.

Of all the speakers at the dinner, two spoke to me in a meaningful way. Larry Elder and Mark Sanford. Elder spoke about the history of the party and reminded the room of the first principles at the core of the Republican party. This dovetailed into that challenge set down by Governor Sanford. Are we prepared to loose while standing on our principles? Are we ready to stand firm, educate the electorate and be willing to loose? If we are not willing to loose while standing on our principles, then we will start bending, loosening our standards, trading core ideas for votes. This is a crucial question that needs to be asked and answered.

I can't wait for today's speakers.

Stay tuned.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Golden State politicos start looking at 2010

There will be a run on horse grooming supplies at the capital in the coming months as Democrats and Republicans start brushing and combing the white horses they will be be riding in 2010. Each gubernatorial hopeful will come charging onto the scene, touting themselves as the only person who really knows how to save California from its current financial mess.

With millions in their campaign war chests, policy advisers, media handlers, spokespeople, and every type of campaign staffer, right down to the 16 year old sons and daughters of big dollar donors, these candidates will be coming to a town hall meeting near you. If you are anywhere near a medium sized city, you will have a chance to shake hands, snap a photo or at least sit down to an overcooked chicken dinner with your favorite candidate, for a contribution of $100 to $5,000, depending on the zip code.

So who are the morning-line favorites some 21 months out? Not that it does much good, looking at the 2008 early Presidential front runners, you would have predicted a Hillary Clinton/Rudy Giuliani election. However, here in the Golden State, there are a few standouts that look to lead the field.

On the GOP side, 2010 might be the year of woman. Meg Whitman, a new face on the national political scene, was co-chair for the McCain/Palin ticket and brings a serious and impressive business resume to the race as the former CEO of eBay. She will be contending with Insurance Commissioner, Steve Poizner and former Congressman, Tom Campbell. Another interesting figure just off the main stage is former HP CEO, Carly Fiorina. A Governor Whitman - Lt. Governor Fiorina ticket could be the ultimate cross over ticket. In my humble opinion, Republicans will have to reach outside the current stable of politicians if they are to have any chance in 2010.

On the Democratic side, there are a few front runners, and whole herd of folks who want to be Governor more than life itself. California's Attorney General, Jerry Brown has a reported 3 million in cash for his 2010 run and he is a solid campaigner. Gavin Newsom, the playboy mayor of San Francisco was once thought to be in the mix as a top tier Democratic challenger, but his messy personal life seems to have put this brass ring out of reach, at least for this go around. There is always Lt. Governor John Garamendi, this guy will run for anything, anywhere and probably win. He is slick, slippery and he oozes politics from every poor on his magnificently coiffed head.

A guy who seems to be making a name for himself as the personal antagonist to the current Governor is State Controller, John Chiang. With Chiang hauling Governor Schwarzenegger to court every week to keep the state issuing checks it can't cash, Chiang will be the darling of the powerful public employee unions. That is a pretty good group to have behind you. Buckets, and I mean buckets, of cash from union dues that can instantly propel a person to front runner status. This could get very interesting.

So who will be the eventual nominees for Governor in 2010? We are a few hundred chicken dinners away from finding the answer.

The McNuggetini - Matt?

I will pay folding money to see Matt Rexroad drink one of these. Matt, you can give the cash to your favorite local charity. How much money do I need to raise?

The McNuggetini
- A McDonald’s chocolate milkshake with vanilla vodka, rimmed with BBQ sauce and garnished with a chicken McNugget.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentines' Day, help for romantically challenged...

Okay, so you screwed up Valentine's day. Again.
A cheesy card from the 99 cent rack, flowers from the guy on the side of the road and a small heart shaped box of chocolates, the orange creams. Same as last year, disappointing.

What is a guy to do?
Here is a tip from your friendly neighborhood cowboy. The internet is your friend.

Make your own valentine next year, at atom smasher.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Can we have a do-over election?

Remember the promises of fiscal restraint, pay as you go and putting an end to pork barrel spending from candidate Obama?

So how did the Porkulus package pass?

Let's have a do-over, please.

Look I know the Democrats won, an I will deal with it. Could we just swap out our new President for one that would satisfy both sides of the Democratic party?

The best of both worlds, an African American and a Clinton.

George Clinton.

And instead of a cabinet full of tax cheats, how about the Parliament Funkadelic?

They could hardy do worse.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Capay Junction, my favorite den of iniquity

I'll get this out of the way at the beginning, lest anyone chide me for my hypocrisy. As a Christian, although I consider myself a very poor excuse for one, I don't spend much time at the bar. At least not very often. Occasionally, I will head down to The Junction on a Friday after work for 'happy hour' to see the gang and catch up on the happening in the valley. I usually buy a few diet 7-ups out of the refrigerated case, throw a few dollars in the jukebox and talk with my friends.

The Junction, as the locals call it, could best be described as 'quaint'. Peanut shells on the floor, an oil painting of a rather voluptuous brunette behind the bar, and if you look close, you may see a picture of me and my friends from a hunting trip a few years back. Along with these items you will find moose antlers, old saddles, bits, spurs, and just about every other piece of valley decor hanging from the rafters, and of course a 'colorful' group of patrons.

Some are regulars, and some are more regular, if you catch my meaning. When you have your name on a coffee mug behind the bar, you qualify as a regular. I remember the first time I went passed The Junction at 6:00 AM and saw half a dozen pickups out front, I thought, don't these people ever stop drinking? Nope, this was the morning crew coming in for a cup of coffee before work. Like I said, it's a fixture in the valley.

I used to spend a lot more time there, but since I have pretty much stopped drinking a few years ago, I only stop by when someone calls and tells me to get my butt down there. I usually end up giving someone a ride home. I do feel a little sheepish when I talk about The Junction at my small group Bible study. I always tell them, if Jesus came to the Capay Valley, he would head straight for The Junction. As far as salvation goes, it's a target rich environment.

If you consider The Junction a den of iniquity, it's a den of iniquity with a heart of gold. Many thousands of dollars have been raised at that bar for Multiple Sclerosis along with many local causes. This weekend they are having a Biscuits and Gravy benefit for 'Save Rural Yolo County' a local group fighting to keep the State and County from building a prison in the tiny town of Madison.

You can check out The Junction on their new website.

Monday, February 09, 2009

10 score years ago

February 12th, 1809 in Hogdenville, Kentucky, on the south fork of Nolin Creek, Abraham Lincoln was born in a small log cabin. Some of you may know him as the guy on the five dollar bill or remember a few lines from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Some may know him as the man who freed the slaves, or that he was the first President to be assassinated. There is so much more to learn about this remarkable man.

If there is a more fascinating figure in American history, I am not aware of one. Lincoln's life has been documented, dissected and examined to such an extent, one could scarce think of a subject not covered. Yet every year a few more books are written about our sixteenth President, trying to reveal a little more about the man behind the monuments. At last count, more than 14,500 books have been written to do just that. If you walk through Borders Books today, you will find dozens on display.

I have a few Lincoln books on my bookshelves, and I must admit, I recently bought another. I have just finished Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is a wonderful book, based on the men in Lincoln's cabinet. To a man, they all privately thought they could do a much better job as Commander in chief. Such is the nature of politics.

Lincoln's writings and speeches are voluminous, however there are a few that stand out as truly remarkable works to this day. The power and prose of the Gettysburg address are legendary, and the speech's 268 words are worth reading and rereading. However, for me his second inaugural address is my favorite. The setting is the East Portico of the Capitol, four years into the blood and suffering of the civil war. The Union is in command of much of the South and would soon defeat the Confederacy, the crowds gathered are looking forward to the end of the war, but they are anxious about the nation's future. Lincoln's words are moving, sorrowful and yet they challenge the audience to finish the work and heal the nation. Here are the last few lines.

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Standing in the crowd that day was an actor and southern sympathizer named John Wilkes Booth. In a little over a month, President Lincoln would be assassinated.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Men, doing man things

One of the coolest things I found when I first joined Bayside Church in Gratine Bay a few years ago was the Adventure Sports ministry. Dirt bikes, camping, fishing, hiking, all the things I like to do. They have such a large and diverse crowd at Bayside, it's easy to find a ministry that speaks to you.

Out here in the hinterlands, we are trying to do something similar, on a much smaller scale. This weekend a couple of guys from Bayside Woodland and I are having a clay target shooting / fun day out here in Esparto this Saturday.

Shotguns and church? It may seem a bit strange, but then again our unofficial motto at Bayside is, Church for people who don't like church.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Pork and Beans

President Obama wants a new stimulus package, the House passed its version and the Senate will take up a stimulus bill this week. Everyone in Washington seems to have come down with stimulus fever, and the only prescription is more spending. A lot more spending.

For what its worth, I would like to offer my economic stimulus plan. Here it is;

Make the Democrats pay their taxes. Pretty simple, right?

Secretary-designate Tom Daschle, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and now Chief performance officer designate Nancy Killefer have all mysteriously 'overlooked' paying taxes on their income. According to Vice President Joe Biden, they must not be very patriotic. If this continues, the President will name others to key positions in his cabinet, they will find more back taxes owed, they will be forced to withdraw, and the cycle will repeat. This could be a boon to the Treasury. Now if we could get just get someone to convince Representative Charlie Rangel to come clean on his taxes, we could start talking about real money.

On a slightly more serious note, spending a trillion dollars, that's trillion with a T, on big government programs isn't what the economy needs. The main problem is still the housing sector. Until the market finds its bottom and the huge amount of 'toxic loans' are somehow digested or bought up, no amount of government spending will right the economy.

The Democrat's stimulus bill was first sold as an "Infrastructure and roads bill' that would help rebuild America's highways, bridges and alike. I am all for rebuilding our infrastructure, but isn't that where our federal highway and gasoline taxes are supposed to go right now?

So, how much of this trillion dollar stimulus package is going for roads and bridges? About 3.3% No wonder the Senate is trying to add another 25 Billion in road and infrastructure spending to their version of the bill. Nice try, but if you really want to rebuild the roads and bridges, rework this pork-laden bill and cut some of those billions from your pet projects and political paybacks move it into infrastructure. There are many folks who work in commercial construction, engineering firms, building materials and aggregates who would love to see a real infrastructure bill passed.

Calling this bill a 'economic stimulus package' is similar to a can of Pork and Beans. That one tiny piece of bacon fat makes up the 'Pork' and the rest is beans. This bill works the other way around, a whole lot of Pork and not much else.

Start over, if you are going to sell it as an infrastructure bill, spend the money on roads, bridges, ports, canals and other high priority projects. The bill should come to around 40 billion, let’s start there.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Lead, follow or get the Hell out of my way.

I really like Michael Steele as the pick for the RNC Chairman. He knows why the GOP was smacked down in the last two elections; they spent tax dollars like Democrats.

He is a natural leader and brings with him a new emphasis on two things; Message and Candidates.

The best ground game, the best Get Out The Vote machine, the best media strategy are no substitute for a heart felt, conservative message of lower taxes and a smaller, smarter government.

No more mavericks, no more RINOs, go out and find smart, committed candidates who believe that the best America is still ahead. We need to work hard, play by the rules, and stand with our families and neighbors to build it.

Best of luck Mr. Steele, go get em.