Posts Tagged ‘Eric Hogue’

How General Jerry Brown Won the Sun Tzu Primary

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

“I assume most of you have read ‘The Art of War,’” Attorney General Jerry Brown said to the California Young Democrats last weekend. “The good general,” he said, paraphrasing Sun Tzu, “wins the war by not fighting. You defeat your adversary’s strategy. I’m going to do that.”

Which sent us running to the bookshelf to grab our own Thomas Cleary translation of the 2,000 year old text of the great warrior philosopher, whose writings were mandatory reading among insiders in the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign.

We’re not sure when Jerry took up Sun Tzu. We thought he was one of  Tom Paine’s  Winter Soldiers, or an acolyte of C.K. Chesterton or something. Whatever, there’s much in “The Art of War” that helps illuminate Brown’s dealings — more of which we’ll see today when he formally announces his candidacy.

If, as Mao Zedong — another student of Sun Tzu – concluded, “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun,” then we need to ratchet back a notch or two to substitute political arts for military arts, and read Sun Tzu as a guide to the modern-day partisan battlefield:

A military operation involves deception. Even though you are competent, appear to be incompetent. Though effective, appear to be ineffective . . . Deception is for the purpose of seeking victory over an enemy; to command a group requires truthfulness.

Brown has followed this advice in spades, which led the California Republican Party to spend countless hours drawing attention to Brown by constantly sending out emails wondering when he’ll enter the fray.

Whether Brown was formally a candidate or not makes a difference only in the most superficial sense, however. And while a few Democratic insiders have fretted over Brown’s late engagement in the campaign, why in the world the GOP thought  it could affect the race by wondering “Where’s Jerry?” is beyond comprehension. Brown has followed Sun Tzu’s advice that:

…those who win every battle are not really skillful – those who render others’ armies helpless without fighting are the best of all.


When you induce others to construct a formation while you yourself are formless, then you are concentrated while the opponent is divided.

And, after all, what could be more formless than Brown’s non-campaign to date, in which he has husbanded resources and waited for the right moment to leap because, as Sun Tzu always liked to say:

If you know the place and time of battle, you can join the fight from a thousand miles away. If you do not know the place and time of battle, then your left flank cannot save your right, your right cannot save your left, your vanguard cannot save your rearguard and your rearguard cannot save your vanguard.

Whether Meg Whitman or Steve Poizner – with their many millions of dollars – is Brown’s opponent, he will be outspent in the general election. Even if labor, environmental, ethnic, gay and other liberal Democratic constituencies pool their money independently from the Brown campaign, it’s unlikely as much will be spent on Brown’s behalf as either of the potential GOP rivals can spend individually.

Which means Brown must fight a guerrilla war, feeding off the masses, merging with the people, striking swiftly and withdrawing, refusing to stand his puny, small-arms militia against the clanking, armored divisions of eMeg and the Commish.

So we won’t be surprised if Crusty the General Brown soon starts quoting from another military expert and tome: Lin Biao’s “Long Live the Victory of  People’s War!”

Even lamer than we thought: More details have emerged on our report on how the big-bucks corporations of the Bay Area Council bailed on financing its own signature reform initiative for a constitutional convention.

Our sources say that council corporate members had pledged, both at the group’s annual dinner and at two board meetings, to ante up $2 million to seed the campaign. But BAC CEO Jim Wunderman, and John Grubb, a senior vice president who resigned in order to manage the campaign on behalf of an arms-length group called Repair California, were blindsided when actual contributions from council members amounted to less than $300K.

Worse yet, two-thirds of that money came from one guy – Lenny Mendonca, managing director of the S.F. consulting firm McKensie & Co., while AT&T, BofA, PG&E, et. al, sat on their hands. Pathetic.

This far and no farther: After we noted in our deconstruction of Ken McLaughlin’s good interview with eMeg that she’s all over the lot on social issues, a sharp-eyed Calbuzzer alerted us to another contradiction in her stance on immigration:

On illegal immigration, Whitman said she disagreed with her campaign chairman, former Gov. Pete Wilson, over Proposition 187, the 1994 initiative that was ruled unconstitutional.

She said it was wrong to write an initiative aimed “mostly at children” by denying them health services and an education. “The children did not come here on their own,” she said.

But she said the state has to draw the line when it comes to many other services. For example, she doesn’t believe illegal immigrants should — as is currently the law — be entitled to in-state tuition at California’s public colleges and universities.

In other words, the government should pay the K-12 school costs to educate children of undocumented immigrants – but then draw the line at affording them in-state tuition rates for attending UC and CSUs.

The policy implications for this are curious to say the least: once California has borne the full cost of primary schooling for these students, what is the self-interest for the state suddenly to impose a ceiling on the extent of their educational achievement? We’d hate to think eMeg figures that limiting the children of immigrants to a high school diploma will help drive down the costs of good help in Atherton and Woodside.

Hi, this is Osama and I’m a first time caller: Seeking to stop the bleeding from a self-inflicted wound, wannabe GOP Senator Tom Campbell challenged rivals Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore to a radio debate on foreign policy and, miracle of miracles, the whole thing came together swiftly and is actually going to happen.

Campbell has found himself in the free fire zone for his past links to jihadist professor Sami Al-Arian, which raised the broader question of the depth of his commitment to Israel’s security. With his debate play, Dudley Do Right clearly is trying to ju-jitsu the issue in hopes of stomping Hurricane Carly and Red Meat Chuck with his superior knowledge of national security issues.

Kudos to Calbuzz blogroller and Sacto radio yakker Eric Hogue for putting the whole thing together in record time. The debate is set to air Friday, March 5 from 12 to 1 pm on the Eric Hogue Show on KTKZ 1380 and scheduled to be real time webcast.

How eMeg Spends Money & Why Poizner Doesn’t

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

megauctionMeg Whitman’s people wrote another big check for another, retooled statewide radio ad this week, while Steve Poizner’s e-blasted a memo assuring supporters that his pathetic, single digit standing in the polls was no reason to tap his own big pile of filthy lucre just yet.

Poizner’s letter is posted over at Flashreport, while conservative yakker Eric Hogue has a a right-wing critique of it up at Hoguenews. In stream of skillful spin only slightly longer than the L.A. phone book, Poizner manager Jim Bognet tackles the key question bestirring some of his backers and puzzling the Calbuzz cognoscenti:

Why the hell hasn’t The Commish yet tapped his personal fortune to get his name out there, at a time when eMeg has already begun to build a sense of inevitability in the Republican primary race for governor?poizner

Proper timing is a central tenet of our plan. We understand that the general public is not paying attention to the 2010 governor’s race – and won’t be until a few months into next year. Californians are focused on raising their families and making ends meet in a difficult economy. While there are a few thousand insiders intently paying attention, the Poizner campaign is quietly progressing while keeping its focus, rather than expending excessive time, energy, and money on inside baseball . . .

Early and excessive spending by the Whitman campaign has had an impact on the polls. While this is to be expected, it is largely meaningless. With the primary still more than seven months away, multiple surveys confirm that the electorate hasn’t engaged and the overwhelming majority of voters are undecided. Whitman’s poll numbers ultimately reflect an increase in name identification, not lasting support. At this point in the race, Name ID means little. Just ask Jon Corzine.

Fair enough, but their whole the-race-starts-when-we-say-it-starts message strikes a lot of insiders,  Republicans and Democrats alike, as a short-sighted rationalization for giving eMeg a free shot at building the perception she’s the presumptive nominee while Single Digits Steve remains a virtual unknown.

radio_wavesPrime example: Whitman’s multi-million dollar investment in an ongoing, low-profile if costly, radio campaign — designed to boost her name ID and three-point platform of creating jobs, cutting spending and fixing education -– has been a shrewd bit of communications strategy.

Says Democratic consultant Bill Carrick of LA, one of the best in the business: “It operates to some degree under the radar. But in a state where people are in their cars one to three hours a day, if you stay with it long enough and spend enough, it has the potential to be very effective -– a sort of slow burn impact that can move voters. Every day, drip by drip, she’s communicating with voters.”

And while Team Poizner has expended energy on ginning up a debate about debates to capitalize on Chicken Meg’s fearful avoidance of nose-to-nose confrontations, her sustained radio campaign has kept her in the public ear, if not eye:

“It has allowed her to be visible while she’s still somewhat a candidate in training,” said Carrick.

On the other hand -– as we former editorial writers are wont to say -– eMeg’s spending is indeed as a thing of wonder. Its obscene magnitude, coupled with her let-them-eat-cake financial platform, may yet backfire in an economic atmosphere which isn’t going to find many presents under the tree this Christmas.

Check out the Secretary of State’s official reports for Margaret C. Whitman who has spent – your best Carl Sagan voice here – millions and millions. Already.

The spending report we looked at totals the first six months of 2009. Keeping in mind there’s millions of bucks worth of updating to do, consider that in the month of June alone, eMeg’s nut was $1,672,637.70.

Here’s some other six-month random numbers to ponder:

— $2,111,774.29 – Amount spent on consultants.
— $943,067.71 – Total for internet and online services.
— $462,642.44 – Dished out for campaign employee salaries.
— $430,723.32 – Thrown at polling and other research services.
— $102,076.71 – Amount spent on private aviation services.

(Trying to figure out exactly who’s getting paid what is a bit challenging, but it looks like among the consultants, Scott Howell has been getting $75,000 a month [maybe that includes commissions and/or fees?], Henry Gomez Gonzales was paid at $36,000 a month, SJZ consultants at $36,000, Jeff Randle at $27,500,  the Davis Group, Heuter and Associates, Strategy Co. and Mitch Zak, all at $20,000 a month.)

Of course, this was before eMeg hired media man Mike Murphy, who, you gotta guess, is gonna make some serious change off the campaign.

Among staffers –- and we sincerely hope we’re not stirring up a hornets’ nest here –- top pay was going to Tucker Bounds and Todd Cranney who appeared to be pulling down $15,000 a month, followed by Michael Saragosa at $12,500, Sara Myers at $12,000 and John Endert at $10,500. (The volcanic Sarah Pompei hadn’t signed on yet, along with several others.)

We gotta say we were a bit stung on behalf for our old colleague Mary Anne Ostromtolstoy from the San Jose Mercury News, sitting in the nosebleed seats at $7,166 a month.

For comparative purposes, consider this: Tom Campbell’s “Recipient Committee Campaign Statement” (tracking all income and expenditures) from 1-1-09 to 6-30-09 is 103 pages; Poizner’s is 256 pages and Whitman’s is a staggering 668 pages –- on track to match Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” by the end of the year.

Whether eMeg’s Queen Midas strategy proves far-sighted or folly will not be known, of course, until the results of the June primary are in. At this point, Team Poizner’s attack on her spending sounds suspiciously like whistling past the graveyard.