Thursday, May 5, 2011

Palin Knows How To Win In California

One potential Republican presidential candidate has figured out the only way that the GOP has a snowball's chance of winning in California in 2012. That person is Sarah Palin. The election will be won or lost in the Central/San Joaquin Valley, where a federal government-imposed artificial drought is killing California agriculture and putting thousands of out work while putting California's economy even deeper into the debt hole.

I've been writing about the destruction of the American cornucopia since long before I left San Francisco for that selfsame Central Valley. People who don't know California tend to think of its industrial and entertainment powerhouses without knowing that California is was America's agricultural heartland (peace to my friends in the Midwest). California produced more corn, rice, wheat, cotton and a myriad of other agricultural products than any other region within our national borders. It was an integral and substantial part of the economy that was at one time the fifth largest in the world.

I first saw the sign in the picture accompanying this article as my son and I were driving the moving van from San Francisco to my new digs in Caliente (Kern County, Central Valley). It appears in duplicate form all along the inland route from Northern to Southern California. I drove that route many times over the years from my homes in Downey and Simi Valley to the Bay Area and my residences in Berkeley and San Francisco. I remembered miles and miles upon miles and miles of fertile green fields, farms, citrus groves, vineyards and domesticated animal herds. It was a genuine shock to see cracked earth and brown, untended fields devoid of life-giving water.

All of this green wealth was brought to the Central Valley by the California Water Project begun in the 1920's and continuing through the late 1990's. What was once a desert with fertile but dry soil became the wonder of the agricultural world. Most of the water came from the Delta region of Northern California through a massive system of dams, canals, pumps and pipes. There was (and is) enough water to provide the life-giving liquid to the entire state. That is until the federal Environmental Protection Agency discovered that the pumps endangered an already dying and worthless fish species--the Delta smelt. For the whole background on this fiasco, see The Fish That Conquered California.

Politicians and candidates of both parties come to San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose/Silicon Valley and Sacramento to demagogue and raise funds. None of those cities are directly impacted by the avoidable drought in the Central Valley. In fact, if not properly dammed and diverted, parts of California would be drowning in water after this year's heaviest snow pack and rainfall in fifty years (global warming?). San Francisco Bay is being flushed out by millions of gallons of water from those wet conditions while the Central Valley remains cracked and dry.

Of all the candidates and potential candidates for the presidency, only one has done the right thing and visited the towns of the Central Valley. And she has done it twice. From Fresno to Bakersfield, the unemployment rate is two to four times that of the rest of the state, and bankruptcies and public assistance are nearly three times that of the other regions of California. Just ten years ago, the unemployment rate was half that of the rest of the state. The EPA killed oil production in the Central Valley decades ago (along with farming, it was the largest employer in the region). Now it has brought death and destruction to the agricultural industry.

God love Sarah Palin. Speaking this past Sunday at West Hills College in the small town of Lemoore (about ninety miles from my home in Caliente), Palin said: "A faceless government is taking away your lifeline, water, all because of a three-inch fish. Where I come from, a three-inch fish, we call that bait. There is no need to destroy people's lives over bait." Not exactly "fourscore and seven years ago," but it is more than adequate to sum up the situation.

This was a fund-raising event for the inauguration of the school's new Golden Eagle Arena. It raised about $115,000 net for the cause. But the implications of a nationally-known political personality speaking to a crowd comprised largely of California farmers and farm-workers cannot be overestimated. Independents and Democrats in the area who voted for Obama in 2008 are seriously reconsidering their votes. Republicans voted for McCain, but weren't at all enthusiastic about it. But still the Republicans won the majority of votes in the Central Valley districts. Palin is now energizing the Republicans while wooing the Independents and Democrats who are all suffering equally from the predations of the EPA.

Whether Palin will run or if her attention to the Central Valley will help her potential candidacy remains to be seen. But I will tell you from decades of involvement in California politics that one trip to the besieged Central Valley to talk about the crime against California's agricultural industry is worth more than a hundred visits to the big cities. You may raise more money in San Francisco and Los Angeles, but you'll raise far more votes by visiting Lemoore, Weed Patch, Tehachapi, Modesto, Merced, Fresno, and my nearby "metropolis," Bakersfield.

Any Republican candidate who is serious about winning in California (or at least adding substantially to his or her popular vote) had better learn from Sarah Palin and follow her lead. Even I might find it in my heart to leave my comfortable retirement, roll up my sleeves, and get back into the fight. The destruction of the lifeblood of the Central Valley by federal bureaucrats and green-weenie Democrats is the issue that trumps all others here. That issue affects millions of California voters.

Democrats constantly talk about "the forgotten man" by which they mean the welfare community, illegal immigrants, and workers now on the unemployment line largely because of Democratic profligacy. The true forgotten man lives right here in the Central Valley and is just waiting for a presidential candidate who remembers him.


Tennessee Jed said...

It really is too bad about Palin. She is a great speaker and has a real sense for campaigning. Unfortunately, Democrats sensed this and made destroying her their goal in life to the point I don't think she can win at the national level. However suppporting issues and candidates may turn out to be her true calling.

I hope this issue makes a difference. I had much hope for California in 2010 only to see Jerry Brown return as Governor. To me, he is a sould brother to Senator Stuart Little from Minnesota. Nice post Hawk. (I meanEthan, of course ;-)

Kosh said...

Thomas Sewell wrote the book Applied Economics: Thinking beyond Step One. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. California is a great example of politicians and people doing something without thinking through the ramifications both now and into the future. It is sad to see such a beautiful state and economic powerhouse slow destroy itself. It truely is the Lindsy Lohan of the states (to steal a article title from the WSJ). I suspect even Jerry Brown is now realizing that it isn't a problem that can just be tweaked. The problem is when they come to the rest of us looking for a bailout, the answer must be "no". I wouldn't be surprised if Obama tries to win California with a bailout promise.

So, California you pooped in your bed now sleep in it. (sorry LawHawk)

Kosh said...

Can I say "poop" here?

AndrewPrice said...

Kosh, You can always say poop, just not in front of the pope.

Lawhawk, The problem with California is that they keep hitting bottom, like Lindsey Lohan, but rather than finally waking up to what they need to do, they just decide to try more of the same. The last election really highlighted this problem. That was an election where the whole country suddenly realized that they couldn't spend and regulate themselves to economic prosperity. . . except California, which voted to keep on trying. If anything, they moved even further left with Jerry Brown and the initiatives that will make it easier to increase the number of Democrats. It's like a state that's entered an economic suicide pact.

I honestly think we need to start building a wall around the place and just letting them go full on Goofunist and see what comes of that.

Unknown said...

Tennesee: I have come to believe that Palin is not a viable national candidate, but her assistance to conservatives and Republicans cannot be denied. If she can convince others to join the cause in the Central Valley, we might just take the state back. The 2010 election in California almost entirely ignored the vote-heavy Central Valley, though Meg Whitman did make one trip to discuss the "train to nowhere." I applaud Palin's attention to perhaps the most significant human and financial crisis in California today.

Unknown said...

Kosh: I have read the book, and am a true fan of Thomas Sowell. In defense of California, I should point out that Sowell writes most of his current epistles from the Hoover Institution located at Stanford (blech) University.

Like you, I wouldn't be surprised to see Obama try to bribe Californians with another bailout, but he may find it increasingly difficult to find the money for the bribe. Absent a Moonbeam Brown miracle, which I certainly don't foresee, California is about to wake up from its drug-induced coma. Restoring the water to the agricultural powerhouse would go a long way toward solving California's economic woes, and for that reason, I commended Sarah Palin with utmost sincerity.

Unknown said...

Andrew: I'm living proof that an alcoholic can get low enough to realize that the next step is death. Californians have had it too good, too long to remember how bad it can get. But they're getting close. Brown will only make it worse, as the unions and the urban Democrats push him farther to the left. It will get worse before it gets better, but politicians who recognize the potential of the Central Valley on state and federal can go a long way toward restoring sanity to the nation's most populous insane asylum.

California is not "too big to fail," but it is too strong not to recover. We just need to keep waking the electorate up. As a radical Democrat I didn't give up on California when Reagan was elected governor, so I'm not going to give up as a conservative because of Jerry Brown and the socialist gang in Sacramento. Seeing real people here in the Central Valley after years of living with phonies in San Francisco did amazing things for my morale.

I only have a small piece of God's green earth here in Caliente, but I already empathize far more with California farmers and farm workers than I ever did with San Francisco liberals and the legal establishment.

Every journey starts with a single step, and I had to give Palin credit for making the first two steps. Let's hope it's contagious.

Kosh said...

I hope you are right about California, LawHawk, but I am pessimistic. I think California's success and God-given gifts are the problem. Many of the idiots don't understand how hard many people work for years to get the state to where it is. Too many who think having a good job is more important than a good tan are leaving. What is increasingly left behind has no motivation to fix it. As for Obama promises, remember two things. First, democrats think you can just print more money to fix problems and second, you don't actually have to carry through on your promise to get re-elected. I am not sure Californians at this time are smart enough to know that.

StanH said...

She’s great isn’t she. I still haven’t given up on her as a national candidate, I think she would be the anti-Obama, and would win…we’ll see. If she gets in, and runs hard, she can overcome the negatives, which by the way are 90% hooey contrived by the MSM, and their minions. Let’s not forget the great Reagan was despised by the press, RINOs, democrats, and won by two landslides.

As far as that stupid bait fish, somebody should make it their business to kill them all, I’ve never seen anything so damned stupid, ‘60s environmentalism/radicalism on display for all to see, a great object study for real, thinking America, if used by the right candidate.

rlaWTX said...

I think that CA hits bottom and then digs a hole to see what's underneath! Then of course they repeat... #Winning!

I like Palin, but don't think she could win nationally. But as a firestarter, she is dynamite...

Unknown said...

Kosh: I am more [cautiously] optimistic. I had nearly given up hope simply because I never saw both the drought and the reactions to it until about ten months ago, when I ended up in the middle of it. And now there's another drought, dear to the hearts of Californians and not just in the Central Valley. Gas prices have actually hit just short of $5.00 a gallon in San Francisco. That won't dissuade the locals who are either limousine liberals or residents who take public transportation.

But out there in the suburbs, it has become a very hot issue. California lives or dies on the internal combustion engine, including the farming areas. Any candidate who can truly explain how Obama/Democrat/Green Weenie energy initiatives have contributed to that pain will pick up votes galore. It won't be a Democrat providing that explanation. "Just buy an energy-efficient hybrid instead of your 8 miles to the gallon car" may play in Poughkeepsie, but it won't work in California much longer. When it becomes more expensive to buy a tank of gas than to pay your mortgage and put food on the table, Californians will be looking for someone to blame. They have only themselves to blame, but they can, and I suspect will realize that and change it.

Unknown said...

Stan: I do have serious doubts about her viability as a candidate, but am also highly grateful for her continuing efforts on behalf of Republicans, conservatives, and as O'Reilly puts it, "the folks." That said, I would vote for her without hesitation in a head-to-head confrontation with The One.

We might as well run a black ops scenario for killing the damned smelt. It isn't even good for grinding into fertilizer. It's probably the best example in American history of how a small, ideological gang can defeat the welfare of an entire state. No regard for the human toll. Just save the damned fish.

rlaWTX said...

there's a lizard that is threatening to upset the oil drilling applecart in WTX...
one of the signs at the meeting: Leave the lizard in the Geico commercials!

Unknown said...

rlaWTX: Cut it out--you guys are damaging my optimism. LOL As I mentioned earlier, I do think Californians will keep digging until they hit bedrock. We're not there yet because there are still some safety nets which allow for them to keep California dreaming. I don't think the Democrats have more than about another year's worth of trading off past "successes" before the shovels start hitting granite.

patti said...

on the right, i don't get the objection to palin. she's forceful, tends to know her stuff, and isn't afraid to hit between the eyes when it's called for. she's got more of "the stuff" than 90% of our field right now. plus, who doesn't love how she irritates the left?

kosh: "Can I say "poop" here?"

i hope so. i've said worse.

Joel Farnham said...


I can see that Palin has more guts and brains than all the rest of presidential contenders.

I believe Palin will define the next election. She may not win California, but she will define Cali's next election.

The Media has lost it's control over people. It lost it before the Tea Parties when they summarily dissed them. After OBL was killed, Obama should have had at least a ten point bump that lasted until the end of the year. He didn't get it.

Also everything the Media says about anyone is suspect by, I think, the majority of the people. Anyone who is backed or even praised by the Media is damned by the majority of the people. The worst thing the Media can do now to Palin is change their minds and praise her. They won't.

Liberals are losing their edge and everything they have wanted. They are getting desperate and redundant.

Tennessee Jed,

Here's a question you should ask yourself. Have the 2012 elections been held yet? If not, then the future isn't set and Palin isn't out of it.


LL said...

At the risk of brevity: Good article!

Unknown said...

Patti: It isn't enough to have a strong conservative base. Her negatives among Democrats and Independents are very high. As it stands now (and it could change radically by election day), she would be another Goldwater. In elections, that's a disaster. In movements, it's an important start. It may be that it's just too early for her, or maybe her destiny is to be an important gadfly. I've been on both sides of campaigns in which the candidates were the zenith of ideological purity, and watched as they went down to massive defeat. I just don't want this to be another instance of that. I'm not sure we could survive another four years of Obama. The price is just too high.

In other words, the objections on the right are not to Palin so much as to Palin's candidacy. And of course, I am one of those who delights in every one of her jabs at the left. As a candidate, she would have to soften her rhetoric, and I'm not so sure that accomplishes her goals or enhances her ability to weaken the liberals. Goldwater was a master of the verbal stiletto, but he still lost by a landslide. He was far more effective from his perch in the Senate.

Unknown said...

Joel: We don't endorse candidates until after the primaries have been decided, and we don't count any national figures out until they have actually lost. That said, I gave Palin a boost here because she did the right thing in a very important electoral state, and set what I consider to be an important campaign precedent. Whether that can overcome her high negatives, I can't predict. But regardless of what the MSM and the internet do, as it stands now, in every poll that has asked the question, her negatives have been so high as to damage her viability at the present time. However scurrilous the attacks on her have been so far, they have been effective. It may not be fair, but it is reality. And yes, that could change radically by primary time.

Unknown said...

LL: Thank you, kind sir. Whether I favor Palin or not, what she has done in my home state of California is gutsy and should be a beacon to other Republican hopefuls. She has identified a problem and supported those who are suffering while the others have simply followed the traditional path to Republican defeat in California.

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, every time I read about the Central Valley, smoke comes out of my ears. I hear there's plenty of water back home in Missouri; maybe we could lend y'all some.

Good on Palin for making an issue out of this. That place is the enviro-left's dirty little secret, and the more it gets publicized, the more their ideology gets shown up for the empty slogans it is.

T-Rav said...

Oh, and speaking of election-y stuff, Fox News is airing the first GOP debate, with Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, and Ron Paul. So...yeah. Should be momentous. I'll let y'all know how it's going, if I don't fall asleep first. But eight minutes in, Paul is already making an @#$ out of himself.

Unknown said...

T_Rav: The EPA would never allow Missouri to ship it to us. Too much damage to the endangered highway snipe and flying smelt. Besides, we have plenty of water, they just won't let us turn on the tap.

Palin has recognized something that is important to beleaguered Californians, but has a meaning for all Americans. If you want mindless, faceless arrogant bureaucrats to decide whether you thrive or die, vote Democrat. If you want your elected representatives to make that decision after consulting you, vote Republican. That theme could be carried out on multiple fronts.

Unknown said...

T_Rav: I walked past the TV when Paul was railing against American militarism. Gee, that's what I was railing about when I was a 60s radical. But I was young and naive. What's his excuse? If he had criticized wasteful spending, including the military, I would have agreed. But my historical reading says we are not Prussia, nor would we ever want to be. Criticize our current vogue of "nation-building" and propping up fledgling "democracies" if you will, but don't call it militarism. That's a whole different animal. Just ask Kim Jong Il.

T-Rav said...

Ok, so now that THAT's over:

The debate wasn't that bad, I guess, which isn't really saying anything when the expectations were so low. Here's my quick summary of the candidates, in order of how I perceive their success:

1. Pawlenty--did everything he needed to do, which mainly was show he's a serious candidate with spirit and a grasp of the issues. He had a lot of good answers and handled his Achilles' heel (Cap and Trade) pretty well. I feel better about him now.

2. Cain--Okay, I really don't think he had great answers; he did okay but not super. But he seems to have gotten a lot of good feedback from the Tea Party core. My own opinion of him hasn't changed, but that of a lot of people seems to have.

3. Rick Santorum--Did better than I thought he would, given his reputation as a one-note candidate. He had some good answers too, but he annoyed a lot of people with his personal anecdotes and other idiosyncracies.

4. Ron Paul--Probably here because I don't like him. Typical Paul-ness, really: some of his economic stuff was spot-on, but the rest was weird warbling, especially when Israel came up. It only sounded good because there were so many raving Paul-bots in the audience.

5. Gary Johnson--Confirmed his relevancy to the race when he started shouting, "Hey, you're giving all the good questions to the other people! I'm right over here!" No, really, he said that. Bye.

Joel Farnham said...


That list of contenders seems to me from the third tier.

I could be wrong.

T-Rav said...

Joel, it kinda is. Honestly, I'm pretty sure the real winners of the debate were "Everyone not watching the debate." And yet, aside from Romney (and I guess Bachmann?), this is what we have to work with so far. And only one or two of the people are going to be viable even for a short time. This should be fun.

Unknown said...

T_Rav: I think Pawlenty came out the "winner" of this debate. He can answer questions, and isn't afraid to admit when he made a mistake instead of blaming it on someone else. I like Cain, but all his answers were vaguely unresponsive to the questions being asked. He may simply have overprepared. Santorum had a little too much of Obama-style "me-ism." I almost started counting the number of times he said "I." I admire his social conservatism, but that's not going to be the issue in the 2012 election. Paul is an example of what movement libertarianism can do to clear thought. And if unconnected to the realities of life, it's downright dangerous. I had never seen Gary Johnson before, and I'm not particularly sure if I care if I see him again.

Unknown said...

Joel: I don't consider Pawlenty third-tier, but I'm not yet ready to make him first-tier either. The others made me think of stand-ins rather than real candidates. Except for Paul, who is certifiable. He could end up the Ralph Nader of the Republican Party.

Unknown said...

T_Rav: Although I'm not predicting it, I would not be surprised to see a dark horse emerge before this is all over. Either somebody who doesn't have a high political profile, or has said for now that he or she is not interested in running. But except for Pawlenty, I don't give anybody in that debate a chance of winning the nomination.

Let's see what happens when Pawlenty has to come up against the others who didn't appear for this debate. I do think that any politician who is already an "apparent" candidate would be wise not to avoid debates in the smaller and more rural states in the future. Much of the conservative base is there, and this is no time to be downplaying their importance.

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, I had to laugh at Gary Johnson. It was obvious that the moderators were just playing with him. Take the last questions given to the candidates:

Cain: You once supported Romney's Presidential bid. Why did that change?

Santorum: Given your track record, why should voters pick you as the most viable candidate?

Johnson: Donald Trump has his own television show. If you could have a television show, what would it be?

I liked how Pawlenty handled the Cap and Trade question. He basically said, "Yeah, I made a mistake, and I'll admit it." That was probably the best thing he could have said. Those stupid focus groups afterwards went big for Cain, but I don't really see it. Like you, I thought he had far less of substance than Pawlenty or even Santorum. As for the numerous absences, I'm willing to give those a pass for now because there's still so much time before the election really starts, but they do need to show their affinity with the base more.

rlaWTX said...

Lawhawk- love that lizard image!!!

Bill589 said...

I agree that the leftist media has damaged Palin. But remember a couple of years ago many conservatives were saying that we can never again let the left and their media pick the Republican candidate?

Now, many conservatives say Palin can’t be elected because the left and their media has damaged her too much.

Did we forget what we said?

Unknown said...

T_Rav: I had to laugh at that question. I'm not sure whether I thought the question was just plain silly or unintentionally silly. Barbara Walters would have been proud.

Unknown said...

rlaWTX: It just sorta came to me. My dog spends a lot of his time chasing lizards here. He would have had to settle for cockroaches in San Francisco.

Unknown said...

Bill589: I think there's a great deal more going on than just taking the left's advice about picking our candidate or our own resolve not to do so. Palin's drop in popularity (very surprising in the Tea Party ranks) may be attributed to the left's portrayal of her, but there has to be more to it than that. For me personally, the left's scurrilous attacks on her have had no effect whatsoever on my opinion of her viability as a candidate. For many others, the stronger the attacks from the left, the more they liked her.

Welcome to the site, and I hope we will continue to get your input.

Bill589 said...

Thank you. I’m new to politics, but I’ve started to voice my opinion here and there. I figure, if that msnbc guy Mr Ed can have his own tv show, I can at least comment on a blog occasionally.

With SP, I’m often left hanging for an ‘and’. As in ‘SP isn’t good because of damage from the left.’ And?

I figure, with the fact that the left spent all that time and energy damaging her, she must have something that concerns them.

Joel Farnham said...


I looked for a new poll that specifically is about Palin and the Tea Partiers. I can't find it.

I have found a lot of articles from the usual suspects about how she is slipping...etc. etc. yet they were dated a good two to three months ago. Do you have any new ones?

Unknown said...

Bill589: As you've already figured out, this is a conservative opinion blog. One thing that distinguishes conservatives from liberals is that we have the ability to tolerate multiple differing viewpoints under the rubric of "conservatism." We have movement conservatives, libertarians, social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and Tea Party conservatives posting here, and we've all remained friends, even when we disagree. No lockstep here.

I agree that Palin is doing something right by virtue of the vitriol she receives from the left (specifically the pseudo-intellectual elite in the Obama administration and the MSM). Still, I am not prone to judging my candidates (favorably or unfavorably) by what the MSM says about them. I'm not a big fan of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Too facile, and too dangerous.

Unknown said...

Joel: My sole comment about Palin losing ground with the Tea Party was from a Fox poll from about a week ago. I didn't review the poll, just mentioned what Fox commentators themselves said. As I've mentioned to you and Bill589, I simply don't personally judge potential candidates on a single poll or a temporary trend.

But when I see poll after poll from the left, center and right that indicate a candidate has large negative numbers, I can't simply ignore that. If Palin's negatives are created by the left, but can be countered by her supporters and the right, excellent. But until then, they remain negatives which harm her overall viability as a candidate. It may not be fair, and it may not be right. But it is a fact.

Until she actually declares her candidacy, or at least an exploratory committee, this is all really quite academic. Meanwhile, she did something in California that I felt was well worth reporting and commenting on. That's about as close to "puffing" any potential candidate as I'm willing to go this early on.

viator said...

It is interesting to note how even Palin's "friends" write her off. One of the first characteristics you notice of both RINO's and dhimmis they inevitably accept their antagonists premises and thus snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Missing from this whole discussion is Sarah Palin herself, as if she was a passive figure who is acted upon by events and fate. And to some extent she is, as are we all. But it seems to me that her defining characteristic, after all of the battles and malicious efforts to destroy her, is a very rare quality. Like a number of historical figures you could name she is able to take events as they unfold or are going to unfold and bend them to her will. She is the furthest thing you can find from passive. Plucked, almost unknown with four days notice, immediately targeted for destruction by a good swath of the US establishment she non-the-less became the engine of the McCain campaign. Since then the attacks have continued unrelentingly yet somehow she looms ever larger on the national stage equipped with both experience and increasing resources.

Will she run in the coming election? I would bet yes. But she will be the one to chooose the moment.

The venerable, powerful and well connected Hoover Institution may turn out to be one of her chief allies. Already her officially announced new foreign policy adviser is a Hoover Institution Research Fellow and rumor connects other Hoover figures with her. Some of our most important public intellectuals are connected to the Hoover Institution including California's Victor Davis Hanson, Thomas Sowell and many others.

If you get a chance watch Andrew Breitbart's recent video interview. One thing he talks about is how popular cultural will loom large in the next election. When asked if any of the candidates from the right understood this and knew how to use this powerful tool he answered - one did - Sarah Palin.

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