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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Meekness, Humility and the AD-5 Race

Romans 12:3
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” –Paul the Apostle

Luke 14: 10-11
But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room;  that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee,  Friend,  go up higher:  then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” –Jesus Christ

Meekness
Theologian John MacArthur has a lesson about meekness posted on the Internet. It can be found here:  http://www.biblebb.com/files/mac/sg1923.htm. Below are three quotations that will give my readers a flavor of his argument.
A common dictionary definition of meekness is “a deficiency of spirit.” However Galatians 5:22 refers to meekness as a fruit of the Spirit. When true meekness is produced by the Spirit of God, it is a valuable virtue. Yet the world tends to misperceive it as cowardice, timidity, or a lack of strength. That’s not how the Bible defines meekness.”
Meekness is a by-product of humility. If we’re to walk worthy as exalted children of God, heirs of the kingdom, and inheritors of all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies, we must be meek.”
Since anger is not absent from a meek person, we could say that meekness is power under control.”

I normally don’t begin a blog quoting Scripture but in this case it is exactly the starting point for discussing my feelings in the campaign for California’s 5th Assembly District. Why because it is through the prism of Scripture that a Christian is to look at the world around them. We aren’t just supposed to have a little corner of our life that we reserve for God. A Christian is to be transformed by the renewing of their minds to be a reflection of God’s glory. Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Based on the quotations cited above, I think I am on safe ground to assert that a follower of Jesus Christ should exhibit both characteristics. Christians are to be humble and meek.

Ok. So what does this have to do with the AD-5 race? Actually quite a bit. The two main candidates in AD-5 Craig Deluz and Andy Pugno both proclaim their faith in Christ in their own very different ways. While I make no pretense of judging the fate of their souls, I do plan to compare the fruits borne in their lives as it relates to the campaign. (Susanne Jones, the third Republican candidate in this race, will be glad to know that she is not written about in the balance of this article.) In the interest of full disclosure, I have known both men for many years first by reputation and then personally.

The style of both men is very different. That in a way is what prompted me to write this piece. The other day I was minding my own business, just checking my Facebook page when I saw a link to a video that was posted by Craig. I took a look at the first half and then shut it off. I was angry. This article is me venting as a result.

What I saw was a tape of a candidate forum hosted by Republicans of River City in early March. It was Andy Pugno’s first ever appearance as a candidate. For Deluz on the other hand, this was just another speaking opportunity in yet another campaign. The day before the video was posted; Deluz had just had his clock cleaned by Pugno on a candidate forum on KTKZ radio; ironically on a program for which Deluz used to be a frequent guest host. The Facebook video appeared to me to be petty retribution to take Pugno down a few notches in the eyes of Deluz’s supporters.

In the early stages of a campaign, candidates often appear at events sponsored by friendly groups to get practice in public speaking. For Pugno, this was exactly what the River City event was for him. Deluz knows this and his twisting of this for propaganda purposes was below the belt.

The premise of this whole video is to prove that Deluz is a better speaker than Pugno. Deluz is certainly full of more BS than most folks but a multitude of flowery words rings hollow after a while. Isn’t that really our chief gripe with politicians? They tell us what they think we want to hear and then do whatever they damn well feel like after they are elected.

Deluz bases his qualifications for candidacy on three things: One, he works at the State Capitol so he knows the system; Two that he has run for more offices than his opponents; Three, that his relationship with God makes him the right person for the job. Below I wish to match up both candidates against Deluz’s criteria for electability.

Government Experience
Craig Deluz studied business at Chico State. His self published biography is silent on whether he actually graduated for the school. Presumable he has a Bachelor’s degree. He has worked for years under the dome in Sacramento. Currently, he is a deputy Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries.

Andy Pugno graduated from UC Davis with a double major in Political Science and Spanish. He then went on to study at McGeorge School of Law. He was Chief of Staff for Senator Pete Knight—author of Proposition 22—California’s first ballot measure to protect marriage. Later he went into the private sector as an Assistant City Attorney representing several Sacramento area cities. This where I first met and worked with Andy. I had known of him since his days as President of the Davis College Republicans. Andy left the law firm and started his own practice. His highlight in private practice is his work as Chief Counsel for Proposition 8. He did all the legal work that Judge Kenneth Star used to argue and win the case when Prop 8 went before the California Supreme Court.

Running for Office
Craig Deluz has run for school board, city council, county supervisor, county central committee and now State Assembly. For Craig, being in the battle is the measure of his service. Of these offices, Deluz has only been elected to school. Currently he is filling an appointed position as an ex officio alternate on the Sacramento County Republican Central Committee because he lost his last time out. Several years ago, he was elected president of the Sacramento Republican Assembly.

Deluz is a member of the Robla School District. This district consists of five elementary schools and a pre-school. The total budget is 15 million dollars. (The roofing company that I used to work for as bookkeeper had a larger annual budget.) This is his crown jewel of electoral victory in more than ten years of running for office.

So how has this campaigning dynamo done in the fundraising department? After all money is the mother’s milk of politics.

With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, Deluz has not reported enough money to even have his campaign statements posted on the website of the Secretary of State. The reporting threshold is $50,000.

Andy Pugno—the rookie candidate in his first race—was able to loan himself enough seed money to pass the same reporting threshold needed to be posted on the Secretary of State website last fall. In fact he has raised over half a million dollars for his campaign.

Show Me Your Faith
Since declaring his candidacy for State Assembly over a year and an half ago, Craig Deluz has been trotted out by supporters at several events to open meetings in prayer or ask God’s blessing on meals. Craig delights in these opportunities to show people his faith by his words. One supporter told me a year ago that Craig was the most godly politician she has ever known.

The one issue that Craig seems unable to reconcile is the relationship between Christianity and politics. The thought that your faith should affect how you treat others, especially those whom you disagree with politically seems to need improvement. Craig and those he has surrounded himself with tend to go in the direction that those that aren’t for me are against me. Often what results is a “scorched earth” treatment of those of different opinions. The Deluz faction takes disagreement very personally and does not understand that differences in policy are natural amongst people, even those that might totally agree in other areas.

This is the opposite of what is needed in politics. Ronald Reagan built coalitions based on issues and ideology. He did not compromise his values to get his agenda passed. He did it by finding agreement amongst people that may have had nothing in common but the one thing Reagan wanted to pass. He respected his opponents. He was meek.

Lastly, it is ironic the Craig Deluz—the paragon of evangelical Christianity—does not mention his faith, his denomination or even that he goes to church in the biography on his campaign website. 

Andy Pugno is a meek guy that is not used to trumpeting his accomplishments to the world. So by what standard should Andy’s faith be viewed? Ironically, I am going to review this Roman Catholic by the standard set by Martin Luther.

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point?

So where is Andy’s faith? Not in his words but in his deeds.
• Abortion is an important issue to conservatives so where is Andy? He is on the Board of the Sacramento Life Center. Andy’s first child was adopted.
• The Boy Scouts of America have been under attack for years and where is Andy? Andy is an Eagle Scout and scout leader.
• Marriage is under attack and where is Andy? Andy is the Chief Legal Counsel to defend the notion that marriage is between one man and one woman.
• Andy is an active member in St. Mel Catholic Church and in the Knights of Columbus.

Craig Deluz gives lip service to these issues and values but what has he done? We don’t know. He is not shy about speaking-out but I have never heard the answer.

Epilogue
Please don’t think that I hate Craig. I have repeatedly told him in person that I would be happy to support him in some other cause but not this Assembly race. I have spoken with others about Craig and the consensus is summarized in the two points outlined below.

First by running, Craig is in danger of becoming the perpetual candidate that has run and failed so many times that no one will take him seriously any more. I hope Craig does not become the Pat Paulsen of Sacramento politics.

Second, Craig is better suited to become the community leader that he thinks he already is than to be a candidate. I think after this race Craig should take time for some soul searching and find where God would have him serve. I think Craig could be a lobbyist for some core value group that needs representation. He needs to learn how to get stuff done for the cause not just give a good speech about an issue. Once he finds his niche then he can work to get others elected. In short, quit trying to lead and learn how to serve others.

 

Posted by william on 05/30 at 03:21 AM
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Veterans of Foreign War

The following is an essay that won the Fallen Soldiers Scholarship at Elk Grove High School in 2010.
It is proudly written by Kendall Connolly.

Veterans of Foreign War

        Most people understand that, on the surface, one is a veteran after one has served in the Armed Forces. Most people believe that once a soldier becomes a veteran, he hangs up his uniform, gun, and camelback and goes on with his life. Most people believe that a solder’s life stops after he leaves the army, and the soldier becomes a normal, everyday citizen. They assume that veterans are just as common and just as ordinary as anyone else in this country. That assumption is false. Veterans are not ordinary people – they’re extraordinary people.

        Veterans are different from others not in the fact that they wore a uniform at one point, but in the fact that though their uniform is hanging in the closet, they still perform as if they still wore that uniform. In other words, a veteran never stops being a soldier. A veteran carries the values he learned in the armed forces – pride, honor, dignity, hard work, unity, and courage – and lives by them every day of his life. A veteran knows that these qualities are what makes any team successful. A veteran knows that through his hard work, he can help the greater good of the country. A veteran knows that by living with these qualities, he can do anything he sets out to do.

        While normal people struggle with everyday problems and complain about the smallest aspects of their lives, veterans take these things in stride. How? It’s simple: they’ve been through things normal people can’t even imagine, and they’ve learned to fight through whatever comes their way. To veterans, everyday problems seem like a walk in the park. When life hands them big problems, though, they’re just as stoic, just as poised, just as steadfast as they are when they fight through the small problems.

        That’s how veterans serve their community, their state, and their country. Veterans don’t live a “normal” life. To a veteran, life means so much more than getting by. To a veteran, life should be spent becoming everything one can be. To a veteran, life should be spent exemplifying what it is to be a soldier, what it is to be a citizen, and what it is to be an American.

Posted by william on 05/20 at 01:02 PM
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Axis of Disfunction

Yesterday was the day I realized that I can no longer associate myself with the so called “conservative majority” of Sacramento County Republicans. Three different threads have proved to me the futility of trying to work with these folks.

Sacramento County Sheriff
There are three candidates for this seat. Two are Republicans—Brett Daniels and Scott Jones—while the third is a Democrat. As a member of the California Republican Assembly here locally, I and some of my friends have been pushing for an endorsement for Scott Jones. The local CRA clubs are the only Republican body that has a practice of making pre-primary endorsements that has not taken a position in the race. The statewide CRA vice-president in charge of this area manipulated the process when a local endorsing convention was held to deny a vote for this race. Per statewide bylaws, the largest local chapter can call an endorsing convention within 50 days of an election if one has not been held. The SRA (Sacramento Republican Assembly) has refused to call an endorsing convention for this race. Whether my guy gets the necessary 2/3 vote needs for an endorsement, the fact that a vote is not even going to take place is an outrage.

What is SRA willing to do in this race? They are unwilling to do their job but have instead voted to go after any elected Republicans that endorsed the Democrat in the race. So instead of endorsing someone and then challenging local Republicans to back their guy, they are jumping to attack people that tend to support them on other issues. I previously covered this in my article about Chess and Checkers so I won’t rehash the particulars of the individuals that they targeted or what I think their motivations might be for endorsing as they did.

Support the Platform PAC (STP)
Support the Platform ran a slate last election cycle to elect people to the Sacramento County Republican Central Committee. This was an effort to elect conservatives to greater representation on the Central Committee. STP got much of their slate elected, whether thru their efforts or just because they ran so many candidates is a matter of some conjecture. STP’s governing board is composed of current and former SRA officers. At various points in time STP has been directed by votes of the board or membership of SRA. In addition, SRA has given money to STP. In some cases it was a loan to be repaid and in others it was not. At other points, STP has asserted that it is an independent Political Action Committee (PAC) and not subject to direction or control of SRA.

The incestuous nature of the relationship is such that the FPPC (Fair Political Practices Commission) could have a field day with this group if it ever amounted to anything. In addition to the money issues, they have jointly planned strategy and even coordinated with candidates running for office. If they maintain their independence as PAC they are in clear violation of many campaign laws. Below is a record of financial transactions between STP and SRA as of April 2009.

image
Exhibit 1 SRA Transactions related to Support The Platform

In the last election cycle, I was involved with STP. In the process of getting the Cosumnes Republican Assembly formed in the southern part of Sacramento County, I incurred the wrath of many in SRA including the STP board and was not invited to be on their slate this year. That was expected and OK with me because I don’t have any money to contribute this year and I’m disappointed in their leadership at SCRP but I’ll get to that at another time.

Anyway, I heard the new STP radio spot on KTKZ yesterday. I was not surprise to be called a RINO just because I was not with them. This is politics and us versus them is often used in such advertising; however, there are two claims that I believe are total crap that are in their advertisement.

Because of Support the Platform conservative leaders; the Sacramento County Republicans are adding one thousand new Republican registrations every week. Because of Support the Platform’s efforts, Placer County is a leading Republican County.

Thus STP claims credit for the voter bounty program that is running in Sacramento County. So how much did STP PAC and its members contribute to the bounty program? Zero. That’s right, not a single dollar. All money from the bounty program is coming from three sources: national and State party committees due to defending targeted races for State Assembly and Dan Lungren’s congressional seat and two local Assembly members that are contributing 50 cents each per registration. Why? Because State law prohibits the money from going directly to the effort. In effect it must be passed thru a third party (the county committee) in order to be spent. The fact that the current county chair is associated with STP is irrelevant to anything. Anybody between Tom Campbell and David Duke could be county chair and the money would still be there.

The second claim is just as much a pile of steaming hot excrement. “Because of STP, Placer County is a leading Republican County.” OK, so how long has STP been in Placer County? How much have they spent from their PAC? How many people has STP elected to the Republican Central Committee in Placer County?

In prior years, STP has never had a slate in Placer County. They have never spent a dime electing Republicans to the Central Committee. Until this year they had no presence in Placer County at all. The only reason they are in Placer at all this year is because Jeff Allan, the current head of STP, moved from Sacramento to Placer County. In Fact, the way I hear it, STP is running a slate not against the evil RINOs but against the Tea Party Patriots!

Sacramento County Republican Central Committee
I tried to bring up the STP ad at the Sacramento County Republican Central Committee last night and as expected the chair—who is also on the governing board of STP—shot it down as a non-issue. I mentioned that she had a conflict of interest in this situation and she dismissed it as something that she knew nothing about. She offered to bring it up at the next meeting if I could get a transcript of the ad by then.

All I asked was that STP drops the claim from the radio spot. I didn’t even bring up the Placer County claim. I simply asked that the Central Committee should not allow an outside group to take credit for the work of the Committee. A majority if not all STP board members were at the meeting. As with most things at such meetings, half the folks don’t know what is going on and the other half don’t want to deal with it.

Conclusion
Stay tuned for more on the continuing saga of how Republicans are determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


05-20-2010 Update
Local CRA chapters finally got together and voted on endorsing in the Sacramento County Sheriff race. Scott Jones was unanimously endorsed. Too bad we couldn’t do it when it mattered instead of being the last group to take a stand; afterall, voting only began ten days ago.

 

Posted by william on 05/14 at 04:17 PM
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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Checkers v Chess

One thing I’ve noticed in politics is that there are two types of participants: those that play checkers and those that play chess. What’s funny and often tragic is the way that people are unable to read which their opponents are playing. Below are two examples.

Local talk show host—Eric Hogue—tries to “read the tea leaves” of political events. Sometimes Eric nails it and other times he’s so far off the mark that listening to him is as enjoyable as fingernails on the chalkboard.

Recently Hogue commented about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger withdrawing his support of limited off-shore drilling in California. Arnold used the pretext of the environmental devastation caused by the oil well explosion and subsequent spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Hogue was perplexed with Arnold’s reasoning when none of the oil spill had even made landfall. Hogue was playing checkers.

As Paul Harvey used to say, “And now the rest of the story.” The history of this concession to drill offshore was a bone that Arnold threw critics of AB32 about two years ago. AB32 is California’s version of a carbon tax and trade scheme. Once implemented, the law is expected to cost over one million jobs in the State of California. Last week, critics of AB32 turned in enough signatures to place a measure on the November 2010 ballot to suspend AB32. Within 24 hours of turning in their signatures, Arnold had revoked his support of offshore oil drilling. That Mr. Hogue is chess.

Another example is currently playing-out at the Sacramento Republican Assembly (SRA). SRA has scheduled discussion and a vote on a resolution to go after fellow Republicans that are supporting Jim Cooper for Sacramento County Sheriff. They are targeting two Republican members of the Elk Grove City Council—Mayor Sophia Scherman and Steve Detrick. Cooper is also a member of the Elk Grove City Council and the only registered Democrat in the sheriff’s race. One thing SRA will never bother to do on its own is speak with these folks prior to taking a vote on the resolution. SRA is playing checkers.

I know both Scherman and Detrick. Scherman was at my wedding and has been a friend of my wife’s family for decades. My daughter is Detrick’s representative on the Elk Grove Youth Commission. If someone from SRA were to speak with either on them off the record they would learn that all three Republicans on the Council would rather see Scott Jones win the sheriff’s race. However, if Cooper looses, they will still have to work with him on the Elk Grove City Council for two more years (the balance of Cooper’s term). Scherman and Detrick decided that endorsing Cooper was a way to garner some good will with Cooper. If it helps Cooper win as sheriff then they don’t have to work with him any more on the Council and they like that prospect. If Cooper looses then they have tried to build some good will with him. Either way it strengthens their ability to get things done on the Council. Agree or not, they are playing chess.

The likely outcome of SRA’s motion demanding the immediate withdrawal of Cooper’s endorsement is that it will help Cooper to get elected. If Cooper’s campaign manager is any good, he can flip the condemnation of SRA into a positive for his candidate. Cooper can use SRA’s resolution to bolster the argument the he is the only candidate with strong bi-partisan support in his quest to be the next sheriff. SRA will be caught dumbfounded and flatfooted. Chess v Checkers.

If SRA wanted to do this right they would do what any good leadership manual tells you to do; namely, praise in public and discipline in private. Since Elk Grove is not even in the geographical area chartered to SRA, they should grant Cosumnes Republican Assembly at least the courtesy of a consultation before going after members of that Republican group.

Posted by william on 05/06 at 03:23 AM
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