Tag Archive: Jess Unruh


Not exactly, Cogito, ergo sum.

In 1988, your Almost DailyBrett author had the privilege of spending a lovely Sunday Valentine’s Day lunch with Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters.

There was nothing romantic about our encounter. Dan was very interested in what was in my folder: a copy of the Democrat majority’s plan to conduct a Kangaroo Court hearing the following day to justify voting against former Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Long Beach) as state treasurer.

Each Democratic senator, one-after-another on the committee, was to serve as a “prosecutor” on an assigned issue (e.g., Lungren voting against reparation payments for families of Japanese WWII internees). Nobody who had successfully negotiated the riggers of second grade expected a fair-and-objective state Senate confirmation hearing. The memo made it clear the proceeding was indeed a “prosecution” in a stacked court case, meant to provide political cover for Democrats voting against Lungren.

And why was the majority so aligned against a mere member of Congress?

Five-term congressman Lungren was telegenic, articulate and represented an electoral threat to the Democrat majority in Sacramento. He was appointed to the state Treasurer position in 1987 by my boss, Governor George Deukmejian, after the passing of legendary former Speaker Jess “Big Daddy” Unruh.

Dan Walters naturally already had another column teed-up for Monday, February 15. Nonetheless, he instantly could appreciate how the publication of the infamous “Forsyth Letter” could result in collective knickers being in a twist at stormy state Senate confirmation hearing the following morning.

Almost DailyBrett compared the Forsyth letter – named after Senate Pro Tempore David Roberti’s press secretary and author, Robert T. Forsyth – to the Oklahoma Sooners game plan being published in the Lincoln Journal Star the morning of the big contest against Nebraska.

Walters’ piece was entitled, “A Game Plan for Democrats.”

Dan Lungren was outraged at the hearing, waving a copy of the Walters’ column at the Senate Democratic majority members on the panel. Lungren and by extension my boss, Governor Deukmejian, won the PR battle that day.

Alas, we were not ultimately successful. The Assembly confirmed Lungren. The Senate voted against Lungren. We did not prevail before the California Supreme Court on whether one house was sufficient for confirmation. Finis.

True to his battling form, Lungren recovered from the non-confirmation going forward to serve two terms as California’s attorney general, running for governor, and returning to Congress for another eight years. He is now lobbying on The Hill at 70-years young.

Number of People Knowing + Time = Leak

“If you don’t want to read about it in the Sacramento Bee, don’t put it down in writing.” – Often heard admonition in the State Capitol building

The Forsyth memo was prepared. Xerox machines started to hum. Copies were made. At least one of these game plans found its way to your author. Gasp, I leaked it to Dan Walters. The only stipulation: there would be no direct reference to me or my position in the Office of the Governor in his copy.

The column greeted Democrats the following day.

As the press secretary for Governor Deukmejian, my job in many cases was to deflect leaks targeting my boss and our administration. In this particular case, I was the leaker.

Every leak has a purpose. The practice is not new. And as long as the written word exists, particularly in digital form (e.g., leaked 2016 John Podesta campaign emails), leaking will remain intact until Armageddon.

As the New York Times defines the practice: “Generally, a leak is an intentional disclosure of secret information, often by an anonymous source whose goal is to make the information public.” Yep.

For example, the British provided a copy to President Woodrow Wilson of the secret 1917 (German foreign Minister Arthur) Zimmermann Telegram. The telegram was meant to entice Mexico to enter World War I on the side of Germany in exchange for U.S. territory. The subsequent publication of the telegram in March 1917, helped fuel the flames for the U.S. to declare war on Germany one month later.

Donald Trump has been known to fire off intemperate tweets condemning the widespread leaking in his administration, including one ironically posted on  Valentine’s Day 2017: “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?”

His predecessor Barack Obama conducted a “war on leaks” and yet these unauthorized disclosures continue.

Let’s face it, Washington D.C has always leaked like a sieve and always will. Ditto for state Capitals (e.g., Sacramento) and highly covered publicly traded companies. Putting this genie back in the lantern is simply not going to happen, particularly in our Big Data world.

As an admitted leaker, the author of Almost DailyBrett has also been on the receiving end of unflattering leaks on more than one occasion. My advice to any political or business entity: Practice discipline. Remember: Good government/good business is indeed good politics/good business.

And to the leakers/aspiring leakers, there is a responsibility to always ask yourself whether you are hurting the country, you purport to love with your leaking?

If the answer is “yes,” the end does not justify the means. There are legitimate reasons for confidentiality particularly in our increasingly dangerous world.

Almost DailyBrett notes: Belated congratulations to Dan Walters for his 8,000 columns for the Sacramento Bee during the past 33 years, and 57 years in service as a journalist … Still miss Bobby Forsyth, one of the nicest and funniest guys I ever met. He passed away in 1999. May Bob continue to rest in peace.

http://articles.latimes.com/1987-11-26/news/mn-24766_1_state-treasurer

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/dan-walters/

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Lungren

https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/?year=1988&country=1

http://articles.latimes.com/1988-06-24/news/mn-5908_1_senate-democrats-position

http://articles.latimes.com/1988-06-24/news/mn-5912_1_state-supreme-court

http://newlearningonline.com/new-learning/chapter-7/descartes-i-think-therefore-i-am

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/17/business/media/are-leaks-illegal-explaining-history.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/10/obama-leaks-aggressive-nixon-report-prosecution

https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/zimmermann

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/dan-walters/article154087854.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As a former gubernatorial press secretary, the author of Almost DailyBrett was always concerned when reporters, editors, correspondents and pundits had too much time on their hands, and were bored.

That’s when the media pack starts to form. That’s when the “theories” are born. That’s when vacuums are filled. That is not always a good thing.

And that is precisely what is happening right now in the dog days of the 2015-2016 presidential cycle.

Welcome to the Silly Season.

LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 28:  Chairman and President of the Trump Organization Donald Trump yells 'you're fired' after speaking to several GOP women's group at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino April 28, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Trump has been testing the waters with stops across the nation in recent weeks and has created media waves by questioning whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States.  (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV – APRIL 28: Chairman and President of the Trump Organization Donald Trump yells ‘you’re fired’ after speaking to several GOP women’s group at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino April 28, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Trump has been testing the waters with stops across the nation in recent weeks and has created media waves by questioning whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

The real action at this point of time, 16 months before the November 8, 2016 general election pertains to fundraising and organization.

This week, we learned that Jeb and related PACs raised $114 million in the first six months of this year. Hillary’s fundraising machine brought in $69 million. Marco Rubio secured $32 million.

As former California speaker of the House Jesse Unruh once said: “Money is the Mother’s Milk of Politics.”

Alas, the easily distracted ADD political media does not want to suckle on that nipple for too long. Fundraising and organizing are akin to watching paint dry and grass grow.

Instead, the Punditocracy and even mainline reporters are hyperventilating on Donald “The Comb Over” Trump on the right and Senator Bernie Sanders on the left, even though their individual chances of winning their respective party nominations are less than zip.berniesanders

There are 97.8 million Google searches related to demagogic Trump and his daily insults against undocumented aliens from Mexico, and another 46.3 million on Sanders, who swoons to the tune of a 90 percent highest federal income tax rate and even a death tax surcharge.

Can either capture the popular vote and the more than 270 electoral votes needed to be the 45th president of the United States? Well, no. However, they both provide ample fodder for political science fiction.

Political Science Fiction?

For as long as the Almost DailyBrett author can remember there were at least two major political fantasies that crop up every four years: 1. The prospect of a brokered convention and 2.The general election being thrown into the (Republican controlled) House of Representatives.

The last real examples of brokered conventions go back to the 1924 Democratic National Convention at Madison Square Garden, which lasted from June 24 to July 9, and took 103 ballots to nominate John W. Davis. There was also the curious decision by Adlai Stevenson to leave the vice presidential nomination to the 1956 Democratic National Convention with no advance warning.

Davis went down to defeat to Calvin Coolidge, and Stevenson lost for the second time in succession to Dwight D. Eisenhower.

For sure, the Republican convention in 1976 (Ford vs. Reagan) and the Democratic convention in 1980 (Carter vs. Kennedy) were donnybrooks, and in both cases the presidential incumbents lost reelection. Nonetheless, they were not “brokered” conventions even though there was plenty of smoke in the backrooms.carterkennedy

Does anyone in the Punditocracy really believe that the presence of The Donald and/or Bernie will result in a “brokered” convention on either side of the aisle? Conventions have become über-scripted, mostly dull coronations with very little suspense … and the parties like it that way.

The next question concerns whether Trump and his reported $4 billion in personal assets will refuse to accept defeat next winter/spring and mount a third-party challenge, thus hurting the GOP nominee?

Or how about “independent” Bernie Sanders also rejecting the inevitable and mounting a socialist campaign on the far left and denying Hillary the 270 electoral votes she needs to be the first woman president of the United States?

Or … (as long as we are engaged in political science fiction) what if both run simultaneous third-party campaigns with Bernie capturing a state or two (e.g., Vermont), and Donald taking a state or two (e.g., Idaho) and not enough electoral votes remaining for either the Democratic or Republican standard-bearer?

And while we are at it, let’s factor into the equation the “Big One” earthquake/tsunami as portrayed in San Andreas with California, Oregon and Washington slipping into the Pacific, taking 74 blue electoral votes into the abyss.sanandreas

It seems far too many reporters/commentators are getting their collective bowels in an uproar about the latest of years of incendiary remarks from Trump, and growing crowds for Sanders (George McGovern and Walter Mondale drew large crowds in 1972 and 1984 respectively and won a grand total of two states between them).

They all should know better. In the end, it comes down to electability, fundraising, organizations and campaigns. Yes, campaigns matter.

The Donald and Bernie will not be accepting either party nomination in the summer of 2016. There will be no “brokered” conventions. The election will not be thrown into the House of Representatives.

Get over it.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/jeb-bushs-campaign-raised-11-4-million-in-two-weeks-1436466491?mg=id-wsj

http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/09/politics/bush-fundraising-second-quarter/

http://rove.com/articles/594

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/10/us/politics/donald-trump-republican-party-debate.html?_r=0

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/12/upshot/class-or-ideology-my-conversation-with-bernie-sanders.html?abt=0002&abg=1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1924_Democratic_National_Convention

http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/adlai-stevenson%E2%80%99s-second-run

http://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trumps-appealand-its-limits-1436479851

 

 

 

 

The conventional wisdom is the media seizes on bad news, much like sharks thrashing to the scent of blood in the water, and virtually ignores good news.

But what if GOOD news happens to individuals and affiliations NOT in accord with the prevailing philosophy of the media? Think of it this way: If a tree falls in a forest, does it make any sound?

And if BAD news happens to individuals and affiliations IN accord with the prevailing philosophy of the media? Hmmm…does the tree metaphor still apply?

What am I babbling about?

What if Standard & Poors Corp., Moody’s Investor Service or Fitch Investors Service, Inc., (or any combination thereof) choose to withstand the intense behind-the-scenes lobbying from the White House and/or Treasury and actually downgrades federal debt from its hallowed Triple A bond rating?

Will the media cover the story? Sure.

Will the media bludgeon the president and Treasury? Not so sure.

That means the bad news/good news tendencies of the media don’t always apply.

If the downgrade does occur, you can be certain that Mitt Romney, Rick Perry (assuming the Texas Governor chooses to run) and presumably other Republican contenders will use this subject in political “comparison” ads. The question remains how will the media view these ads? Will they rally around President Obama?

Alas, this subject is not new to me. I was still-green-behind-the-ears as an assistant press secretary when California first lost its vaunted Triple A credit rating in 1983. The resulting media coverage was in a word: explosive.

And when California regained its best-possible credit rating three years later, the coverage from the exalted members of the Fourth Estate was almost non-existent.

Will that be the case this time around if the US loses its Triple A credit rating a little more than 12 months before President Barack Obama goes before the voters?

Not necessarily.

Naturally, there is a difference between Washington D.C., the Citadel of Infinite Wisdom, and California, a mere state.

There is also a difference between a Republican governor, a Democratic president and the treatment of the two by the political media, especially the elites.

As a rookie press assistant back in 1983, I found out all about Moody’s, Standard & Poors and Fitch’s ratings on the credit worthiness of California debt. It’s analogous to credit ratings for individuals.

California had a new governor, my boss George Deukmejian. He inherited a $1.5 billion deficit (almost sounds quaint by today’s standards), a post-recessionary economy and Democrats dominating Sacramento.

And then came the thud of the credit downgrade. Screaming headlines and editorials demanded a tax increase making the government bigger, to restore California’s Triple A bond rating. The governor refused, used his veto pen, and insisted on a $1 billion reserve for emergencies.

The Triple A bond rating was restored three years later, but it was a non-event for California’s political media, the very same crowd that was attempting to dance on the governor’s political grave upon the downgrade just 36 months or so earlier.

One Democrat in particular noted the glaring discrepancy in the coverage, California state Treasurer at the time, Jess “Big Daddy” Unruh. It was also no secret of the animosity between Unruh and the Democratic nominee for Governor, LA Mayor Tom Bradley. Unruh sent the signal that he was open to a bipartisan media gathering celebrating California’s return to a Triple A bond rating.

And on July 30, 1986 there was an extraordinary news conference in the state Capitol with Republican Governor Deukmejian standing beside Democratic Treasurer (and former Speaker of the Assembly) Unruh extolling the return of California’s Triple A bond rating. They also reminded the media of the discrepancy in attention between when California lost the highest bond rating in 1983 and the dearth of coverage three years later.

After Unruh praised California’s “fine” governor, he was asked who he was supporting for California’s top job. He replied: “Who’s running?”

Certainly, no one should be rooting for the country to lose its Triple A bond rating for paper issued by the government. The result would be an international loss of prestige as well as taxpayers paying more for the government to float bonds to pay for its operations. And today, Fitch indicated that a downgrade may not be in the cards. However, Fitch made no long-term guarantees. And what about the other bond rating houses?

A downgrade between now and November 2012 could be politically devastating to the re-election prospects of Barack Obama . . . or maybe not. A lot depends on the media. After all, they set the agenda for how we think and act in America. Right? Err . . . Correct?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bond_credit_rating

http://finance.toolbox.com/blogs/credit-eyes-thoughts/californias-credit-rating-four-decades-of-momentum-based-credit-analysis-43704

http://articles.latimes.com/1986-07-31/news/mn-20318_1_fiscal-health

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Fitch-US-Debt-deal-alone-wont-apf-48023357.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=6&asset=&ccode=

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2011/08/fitch-reaffirms-us-triple-a-rating-after-debt-deal-approval.html

http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/801-economy/174943-geithner-congressional-spectacle-has-damaged-nations-reputation

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