Election "Perspectives" and more

Katy Grimes: On Friday in Sacramento, the 16th “Perspectives” event was held, and the speaker list was really interesting.

Speakers included former Vermont Governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, former Alaska Governor, and Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin, celebrity chef, Jeff Henderson and former Gallup consultant, Marcus Buckingham all spoke to a very large crowd that filled the Sacramento Convention Center.

Insisting that Democrats will keep Congress and the Senate int he November election, Dean said on election day, voters will choose to keep incumbents. He was predictably moderate in his speech to the largely business crowd of mostly Chamber of Commerce members and local business owners, managers and employees, as I’ve never heard him before. He softened the Obama health care bill, addressed the severe national deficit, and even addressed Socialism, saying that Medicare is already Socialism.

Dean talked about the need for civility in politics, and said that most everything said in political ads is false. “20 percent is fact and 80 percent is fiction.”

Dean said that while the government was overspending, “so were we,” blaming the American people as much as the government for economic downturn. Dean also blamed greedy bankers and big companies for outsourcing jobs overseas.

Dean acknowledged that America cannot sustain the deficit spending, and that it should be our number one focus in this election. However, he said, “Everybody has to put something on the table.”

Palin refuted most of Dean’s points, while never mentioning Dean or his speech. And while Palin had the enthusiasm of a cheerleader, she clearly rallied the business crowd with talk of cutting taxes and reducing national spending.

Palin addressed the 100-day late California budget, as well as the Boxer/Fiornia U.S. Senate race, and Brown/Whitman gubernatorial race. Palin gave a particularly rousing endorsement of Carly Fiornia, while heavily critiquing Sen. Barbara Boxer’s three decades in Washington, D.C. Palin addressed Boxer’s cap and tax bill as a job killer, and even spoke about Boxer being the chairwoman of “the committee that has created the government imposed drought affecting California’s central valley farmers.”

Critical of the Obama administration’s stimulus, Palin said, “We all know that some of the money went to dead people and prisoners. But also $71,000,000 went to Los Angeles to create 55 jobs – a cost of more than $2 million per job. $2 million went to the California Academy of Sciences to capture and study ants in East Africa.”

“We can’t get the President to listen to us, but he’ll listen to East African ants!” said Palin.

Palin cited Ronald Reagan several times, and Reagan’s blueprint for prosperity through a “limited government.”

The political talk was expected. Less than three weeks before the midterm election, hearing from party leaders was a treat, but nothing necessarily new was imparted.

The real highlight in the program was “Chef Jeff,” Jeff Henderson, now a celebrity chef and author of “Cooked: From the Streets to the Stove, from Cocaine to Fois Gras.”

Henderson told his amazing story about how he went from a ghetto kid in East Los Angeles, to building a $35,000-per-month drug empire, to a millionaire by the age of 19. Henderson was arrested by the DEA, and send to federal prison. While in prison, Henderson told how he questioned everything in his life up to that point, eventually reforming through the help and guidence of older, white collar prisoners who recognized his intellect and drive to become successful.

Henderson learned how to cook in prison, and when he was released, he worled as a dishwasher in a Los Angeles Restaurant, eventually working his way up to head chef at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Henderson said he attained the American Dream through hard work and great personal discipline, gathering as much information as he could, and applying what he learned to being the best chef everywhere he worked.

Henderson told the story about Chef Robert Gatsby advising him to “clean up his appearance, and start looking like a chef,” shortly after he was released from prison. Henderson said he hated the chef clogs at first, but eventually gave in, and wore them. He eventually embraced Gatsby’s advice,”I purchased a chef’s jacket made of the finest Egyptian cotton, and stopped walking like I was shot in the knee. I got me a new grille,” smiling, and showing off the dental work he had done.

“I even started talking corporate,” Henderson added, when he welcomed restaurant patrons.

“I stand before you today to say America is the greatest country in the world. Only in America can a guy like me get a second chance to live the dream.”

OCT. 16, 2010

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