Rod Jetton

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Recovering Politician

THEN: Speaker of the House, Speaker Pro Tem, Bollinger County Commissioner (MO) NOW: Marketing and Sales Director, Schultz and Summers Engineering Full Biography: link

Our Contributors Predict the Iowa Caucuses…

After two years of campaign, hundreds of pundit prognostications, and thousands of cable news sound bites, at long last, what you’ve been waiting for…

Our fearless contributors — Contributing RPs, Friends of RP and RP Staff — offer their predictions for tonight’s Iowa caucuses.

And you can too — please give us your predictions in the Comments section below.

Without further ado…(Click on their name to find out their background)…

The RPPaul 30%; Romney 25%; Santorum 21%; Gingrich 7%; Perry 6%; Bachmann 4%, Huntsman 1%.  I don’t think Rick “Man On Dog” Santorum’s organization is strong enough to take advantage of his surge.  I also think Paul’s support is underestimated in the polls because his grassroots support is so fervant, and the tin foil hat crowd among his followers are fearful of pollsters.  Remember Pat Robertson?

Michael Steele: Click here for his exclusive-to-The-RP report from Iowa.

Jeff Smith: Santorum 27; Romney 23; Paul 23; Perry 11; Gingrich 9; Bachmann 6. I think some Bachmann/Gingrich/Perry folks walk in to their caucus, see how outnumbered they are by Sant-mentum, and get on the bandwagon.

Jason GrillRomney, Paul, and Santorum will finish first, second, and third. The order though is more “up in the air” than George Clooney was in his recent Oscar nominated movie. Organization and friends twisting other friends arms at the caucuses will decide the order of the top three. If Romney finishes third that WILL be news and change the race somewhat moving forward. He will be seen as an even weaker front runner if this happens. Also, it will be interesting to see where Perry and Gingrich finish tonight. Keep a lookout for their percentages at the end of the night. A fourth place finish for Perry over Gingrich will signal a potential showdown with Romney in South Carolina. Lastly, I am anxious to see how Huntsman finishes in next week’s New Hampshire primary after skipping Iowa.

Mark Nickolas: Paul (25%); Romney (23%); Santorum (22%); Gingrich (11%); Perry (10%); Bachmann (6%).  Iowa requires a level of commitment from supporters unlike anywhere else. Those with the best state organization and strongest levels of commitment do especially well (Paul and Paul). Also, since Independents and Dems can participate if they want to cross over — as Indies did for Obama in ’08 — that’s likely to help Paul the most. Nefarious (aka loyal) Dems are going to support anyone but Romney to ensure a protracted GOP race, with Paul and Santorum benefitting most. 

Rod Jetton:  I think Ron Paul will just nip Romney and Rick Santorum will get third. Newt probably finishes in 4th. The Ron Paul forces are dedicated and with his numbers going up they and their friends have started believing he can win. They will turn out and surprise all the experts. 

Greg Harris: Santorum – 26%; Romney – 25%; Paul – 21%; Gingrich – 12%; Bachman – 8%; Perry – 7%; Huntsman – 1%.  Santorum’s diligent grassroots work throughout the State this past year will pay off, resulting in more ardent caucus warriors advocating his case, and moving some on-the-fence Bachman and Perry supporters.  Ron Paul’s fanatical base will still assure him over an over 20% showing.  The minority moderate voters will hold their noses and back Romney.

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Our Contributors Predict the Iowa Caucuses…

The Best of The RP 2011

Happy New Year!

I hope 2012 brings you joy, laughter, love, happiness, and many pints of tasty hummus.  Here at The Recovering Politician, we plan some exciting new features that we will share with you in the weeks ahead.

For now, as you rest and recover from your New Year’s Eve celebration — and recharge your batteries for a busy January — I wanted to share with you some good reading material.

The first nine months at The Recovering Politician have seen more than 1200 posts from over three dozen contributors.  I share my favorites below; please let me know what I missed in the comments section:

We’ll start with Me because, well…uh…I paid for that microphone. I started the site by explaining Why March Madness Matters and ended the year arguing that Adam Sandler Saved the Jews. In between, I made The Liberal Case for Israel, I outlined Debt Ceilings and Credit Downgrade for Dummies, and shared my Top Five lists for about everything. (My favorite – Jew-ish Gentiles in Pop Culture).  All and all, I can’t thank you enough for indulging my part-time, unpaid writing career.

Our most popular writer, hands down, has been contributing RP and former Missouri State Senator Jeff Smith.  Jeff’s first piece — the story of his rise into national celebrity, his dramatic fall that resulted in a prison term, and his hopes for redemption — put the RP on the national map, earning recognition from New York magazine’s “Approval Matrix.” Jeff’s followup — about love and sex behind bars — drew in nearly 100,000 readers, literally crashing the Web site.  Jeff’s become a national sensation — expect much more from him in 2012.

Contributing RP Michael Steele was already a national sensation before he joined the site — you know him as the former Lt. Governor of Maryland, as well as the Chairman of the Republican National Committee. Now a regular contributor to MSNBC, Michael shared with RP readers his vision of the new American Dream, and assessed both President Barack Obama and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Over the next few days, Michael will report from the Iowa caucuses; and in the year ahead, he will share his lively take on politics — and other subjects as well.

Another familiar face at the site in 2011 was another former Lt. Governor of Maryland, contributing RP Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.  Kathleen elucidated  her well-versed take on faith and politics, while slamming a then-ascendant Rick Perry for misusing faith, defended Sarah Palin(!), and shared her unique perspective as a member of the nation’s most iconic political family. Her most popular piece was on, of all things, home births. Expect the same kind of wide variety from Kathleen at The RP in the coming months.

One of the RP’s most prolific contributing RPs was former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis.  Artur wrote a fascinating, insightful piece about political authenticity, plunged into the centuries-old debate on race and politics, and explored the Democratic Party’s faith gap. Some of his most popular pieces were book reviews, taking on new works about Harry Truman and Bobby Kennedy. Artur’s not been shy about controversy, angering conservatives by attacking his home state’s “ugly” immigration law, and riling liberals by supporting its new Voter ID law.  Don’t expect Artur to pull any punches in 2012.

Contributing RP and former Missouri state House Speaker Rod Jetton is also one who is not a stranger to controversy. At the peak of his power, Rod was charged with ethics and criminal violations, and while he was cleared of everything, he stepped down to begin his second act.  Rod’s 3-part series about his “Success, Scandal and Change” was one of the site’s most widely read, and he concluded the year with a touching 4-part series on his best friend, a fallen Marine. In the middle, he showed off a wry sense of humor in a video interview with his unlikely pal, contributing RP Jeff Smith (you have to see Rod’s imitation of Jeff).

Jason Atkinson, an Oregon State Senator and contributing RP, underwent a different kind of political recovery — he had to withdraw from a promising gubernatorial campaign after he accidentally shot himself while hunting. He writes about the experience — with graphic charts — in “A Real Political Recovery,” but also created an Internet sensation with short films he directed on more successful outdoor adventures fishing for trout in “Big Mo” and “Half Pounder.” He also showed off his own wicked sense of humor, imitating Abe Lincoln and citing the wisdom of Homer…Simpson that is.

Our newest contributing RP, former Virginia Congressional Democratic nominee Krystal Ball, has already generated considerable reader interest with her first piece about Why We Need More Women in Politics.  Krystal should know; her first campaign for office was interrupted by a ridiculous media inquiry into pictures taken of her in college; PG-13 pictures that caused a mini-national-sensation only because of Krystal’s gender. As a regular contributor to MSNBC and here at The RP, Krystal will help us view politics in a much different way.

Finally, I feel very fortunate — and so is the RP Nation — to have convinced my good friend, contributing RP, and former Kentucky Secretary of State, John Y. Brown, III to share his incisive social and political commentary, along with his uproarious sense of humor, at The RP.  John Y. helped set the theme and tone of the site with his early piece, “What Do We Do Now?,” in which he offered a 20-question quiz to help readers determine if they were in need of political recovery. More recently, we’ve launched a regular feature, John Y.’s Musings from the Middle, in which he shares his wit and wisdom on topics varying from fruitcake to the death penalty to Lindsay Lohan.  We guarantee a lot of laughs, as well as thoughtful advice, in the year ahead.

Thanks for joining us in 2011.  Stay tuned for a wild and wonderful 2012.




Rod Jetton: Remembering a Hero, Part 4: A Final Farewell to a Real Hero

(Click Here to read Part 1 of Rod Jetton’s 4 part series: “Losing a Good Friend”; Click Here to read Part 2: “Trane McCloud: Putting Duty First”; and Click Here to Read Part 3: “Living, Dying and Remembering”)

Pray for Maggie and pray for her family as well as all the families who have lost loved ones to this war.  Only the Lord can provide them with the comfort, peace and strength to keep going each day.  Watching Maggie at the funeral and seeing her strength through a very hard time makes me feel the Lord is already at work comforting her.

Arlington is a moving place.  Every American should visit that cemetery.  If you ever go to Washingtonand only have time to visit a few things, make sure Arlington is on your list.  Yes, the White House and Capitol are important and interesting, but they are not the reason America is strong and free. 

There are thousands of little white stones with some of the most important names from all over the country written on them.  Those people and their actions are why America is such a great country.  Many of those people died so we could be free.  I very seldom go to Washingtonwithout stopping at Arlington to look over the graves and see the Marine Corps monument.  I always stop at the Vietnam Memorial too, but Arlington is a special place across the river up on a quiet, peaceful hill that seems miles away from the Capitol and politics.

Trane’s memorial service was held at his home church in Alexandria, VA, which is just south of Arlington.  The Marine Corps makes you plan out your will and service before you leave for any deployment.  After looking at the program, I could tell Trane had it all planned. 

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Rod Jetton: Remembering a Hero, Part 4: A Final Farewell to a Real Hero

Rod Jetton: Remembering a Hero, Part 3 – Living, Dying, Remembering

(Click Here to read Part 1 of Rod Jetton’s 4 part series: “Losing a Good Friend”; and Click Here to read Part 2: “Trane McCloud: Putting Duty First”)

So far, I have told you a little bit about Trane’s military career and tried to give you an idea of the kind of person he was. 

I know we all say nice things about those who have passed on, but with Trane it’s all been true.  The worst I can say about him is he was headstrong, but he was always headstrong at the right time for the right reasons.

This is a guy who prayed before every meal, never lost his cool, always had good advice, and never had to be the center of attention.  He is the kind of person who makes the very best kind of friend.  As I talked to others at his funeral that had served with him, they all felt just like me, that he was their best friend.

As good of a Marine as Trane was, he was an even better husband and father.  He loved kids.  Cassie and I used to take our kids over and let Trane and Maggie watch them when we were at Camp Lejune.  The both loved kids and we were always happy to have someone take them for a few hours and give us a break back then.

He and Maggie had three children; Hayden, Grace, and Meghan.  Every minute he was not doing something for the Corps, Trane was with his family.  He applied the same work ethic to his family as he did to the Marines.  I only wish I had the wisdom to find the balance between career and family like Trane did.

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Rod Jetton: Remembering a Hero, Part 3 – Living, Dying, Remembering

Rod Jetton: Remembering a Hero, Part 2 – Trane McCloud, Putting Duty First

(Click Here to read Part 1 of Rod Jetton’s 4 part series: “Losing a Good Friend”)

I remember an old Colonel giving a speech to all the young officer recruits back in boot camp.  He told us about the Marine Corps and what being a Marine was all about.  This talk always stuck in my mind because he said, “There is an easy way and a hard way.  Marines always take the hard way.  Marines don’t take shortcuts; we work harder, fight harder and think smarter.”

This was new to me and seemed wrong.  High school and college was about finding a better and easier way to do everything.  Our teachers and society pushed taking the path of least resistance.  I didn’t know exactly what he meant at first.  The colonel gave examples using past wars where U.S. Marines made tough decisions, and won battles that changed American history.  He pointed out that many times their decisions made it harder on those Marines.  Sometimes, they even lost more lives when faced with a tough choice, but they always accomplished the mission and followed their orders.

I can’t remember the name of the Colonel who gave us that talk, but it might as well have been Trane.  He never took shortcuts.  He always knew what the Marine Corps rules and regulations were, and he always kept us on track.  He was calm and cool in all situations and nothing ever seemed to ruffle his feathers. 

In time, I came to understand better what the Colonel was saying, but I have always been a rebel.  The Marine Corps is hard on rebels.  They want team players that will work hard, follow orders, be smart and do their duty.  That’s why the Corps was so good for me.  I learned to depend on other people.  I learned that, no matter how good I was, if I worked with others I could accomplish much bigger things.  By myself, I was helpless on the battlefield.

By the time I met Trane he already knew these things, and he is a big reason I learned some of these lessons.   Now, I don’t want to paint a picture of Trane as some robot that just said, “Yes, sir.”  He was far from that.  His last name is McCloud, which is Scots-Irish, and he was VERY stubborn.  If you were doing things right he never said much, but if he thought you were not doing it the best way he would calmly give you his thoughts. 

The thing we loved about Trane was he didn’t care if you were a fellow lieutenant or the commanding general, he wasn’t afraid to speak up and correct you.

We had this captain who wasn’t a very good commander.  This drove me crazy, because, back then, I always had a better idea of how to do things and I liked being in charge.  This guy made following orders very difficult for all of us.

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Rod Jetton: Remembering a Hero, Part 2 – Trane McCloud, Putting Duty First

Rod Jetton: Remembering A Hero, Part 1 — Losing a Good Friend

Watching our military personnel return from Iraq was very heartwarming.  I appreciate so much all they did to end a military dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and free the people of Iraq, but having them home and out of harm’s way is a relief. 

Five years ago this month I lost my best friend from my Marine Corps days.  We were in the same company as young lieutenants and we traveled the world together.  He helped me raise my kids, and I watched him find a wife and start his own family. 

Sadly, five years ago I was in Arlington Cemetery in one of the saddest days of my life.  I was there as a good man who gave his life for our country was laid to rest.  I did my best to comfort his wife and children but there is really no way to explain the loss we all felt that day.

As the war has dragged on most of us Americans have enjoyed our lives and faced very few hardships.  We clap when they announce appreciation for our servicemen and women on a plane or at a sporting event, and we are sad when we hear about a bomb killing some of our troops.  But really there are many days when my trivial problems crowd out any time to think about the troops who are taking risks and enduring hardships, while I enjoy my friends and family safe at home.

I have a small cameo bracelet I made out of 5-50 cord that I have worn since December 2006.  Each time I see it I think of Trane and his family.  This year when I went to Hawaii I toured the U.S.S. Missouri and looked at the 5-inch gun turret that Trane served in.  I thought of him and Maggie that day, but there is not a day goes by that I don’t think of Trane and wonder why someone as good as him had to leave us so soon.   I don’t understand his loss or the loss of so many other heroes, but I do appreciate their sacrifice and pray for their families. 

This Christmas I thought you might enjoy learning about a man you unfortunately will never get to meet.  As you read about his life and sacrifice, please take a moment to remember all the families who have lost a loved one in these wars and say a special prayer of safety for those still in Afghanistan fighting to keep the terrorists at bay.   

This is a copy of a four part story I wrote after Trane’s death in December 2006.   

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Rod Jetton: Remembering A Hero, Part 1 — Losing a Good Friend

Rod Jetton: Missouri Redistricting Maps Help Democrats

These new maps are unbelievable. I could not believe what I was seeing.
I helped draw the lines in 2000 and the judges also had to finish the process that year as well. But in 2000 the judges seemed to draw districts that kept the Republican and Democrat voting percentages close to where they had been before unless it was an open seat.
They also did not put incumbents together. I have only made a quick review of these new maps but from what I can see some of the districts have much different numbers and there was no benefit given to incumbents unless it’s a Democrat incumbent.
There also appear to be several places where incumbents are put into the same district. So far it looks like more Republicans than Democrats.
I will need to take a close look at the suburban seats to make a complete analysis, but at first glance there will be several Republican legislators not very happy with this map.
It is surprising to see judges go this political with the process and I wonder what the Republican leaders were doing to make their case. Did the judges just blow them off and only listen to Democrats? If they didn’t scream loud enough behind closed door they better start screaming now.

Rod Jetton: New Year’s Resolutions for Some Famous Politicos

Here are my ideas on what I think a few of our leaders New Year’s resolutions might be.

President Obama– I’m going to start being non-partisan, stop the name calling and work with everyone in Washington just like I promised in 2008.

Vice-President Biden– I promise to stop saying stupid stuff so folks won’t say I’m stupid.

Secretary Hillary Clinton– I’m going to force the President to stand strong for Israel, and I’m going to stop listening to Bill tell me how I need to take Obama on!

Speaker Boehner– I’m going to keep my temper under control and resist the urge to momma slap the President in the Oval Office.  And I’m going to try not to momma slap those pesky fiscal Republican members as well.

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Rod Jetton: New Year’s Resolutions for Some Famous Politicos

Rod Jetton: Hypocrisy Abounds, But Jobs Can’t Be Found

Being out of politics is such a peaceful life.  Reading the press reports about the debt ceiling debate, special election campaigns and overall fight between the President and Republicans in Congress makes me chuckle. 

Watching the Republicans and the Democrats tear each other apart would be a lot more funny if their decisions did not have such serious consequences on us poor average citizens.  What is so infuriatingly funny is the hypocrisy. 

Let’s start by looking at the debt ceiling debate. 

Normally, raising the debt limit or borrowing money is a no-brainer for elected officials. Politicians are heroes when they spend money.  They are given awards, trips and plaques, for just spending your money.  Sometimes they even get buildings and bridges named after them, even before they die all because they spent someone else’s money.  I still have a few of my old plaques hanging on the wall. 

It doesn’t take long for even a stupid politician to learn that spending money, not cutting budgets, is the path to admiration, love and that most important priority of all, winning re-election. 

There are two ways to get the money everyone wants them to spend.  They can raise taxes (not a very popular option), or borrow the money.  As you can imagine, borrowing the money is very popular because most citizens don’t care or understand borrowing or deficits, and the majority of elected officials are more worried about the next election than the future re-payment plan. 

Usually, raising the debt limit happens quietly with little fanfare or press attention.  With the exception of a few “hardcore fiscal conservatives,” the President’s party always supports raising the limit, and the other party opposes it.  Apart from a few campaign mailers sent out in freshmen legislators re-election campaigns, it is never even used as a campaign attack. (It’s hard to attack an opponent for voting the same way you have voted)   

But this year was different.  With deficit spending exploding faster than anyone thought possible, along with Republicans throwing out the Democrats in November, the stage was set for a showdown.  Normally, the President could have cut a deal to increase military spending or throw a few key projects in big highway bill, and they would have increased the debt limit; but because these pesky tea party “crazies” have the general population stoked up over deficit spending, the Republicans were forced to play hardball. 

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Rod Jetton: Hypocrisy Abounds, But Jobs Can’t Be Found

Rod Jetton: Top 5 List of What People Are Into

  1. Superhero movies
  2. Getting in shape
  3. Looking for good investments
  4. Hating political parties
  5. The A-Team