Forest Baker’s 15 minutes of fame?

I received the following missive today from Forest Baker, the Republican nominee to challenge Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, in the 13th Congressional District. Is he feeling bitter? Sanguine? Gloomy? Jocular? I’m not entirely sure:

Forest BakerWe were told several months ago by one of the senior political journalists here in the Bay Area that “Forest Baker might be the best politician in America since Ronald Reagan… but he won’t get elected as a Republican in Congressional District 13, so it really doesn’t matter.”

In the artist, writer and fashion designer communities there is always an urge to discover the next emerging star. It is part of the American myth that anyone might aspire to such greatness. Andy Warhol made great fun of such possibilities by declaring that eventually everyone would become world famous for exactly 15 minutes. Other deep thinkers are somewhat more cynical.

During the 1960’s it became popular to imagine that anyone who could stretch a canvas and hold a paint-brush could declare himself to be an artist and he would indeed be creating art…no matter how untrained he was. His work was classified as naïve and if he was astoundingly charming then he might get a show in New York. Sometimes he was a one-trick pony with one thing that was pretty interesting. More often he was nice to look at and enjoyable to talk to. The art press would fawn over him for one season and then he would disappear. This went on for a number of years but we don’t do that so much with painters today.

Similarly, professional writers who make their living (with a day job) as journalists have been hard put upon when their newspapers and magazines have suffered from competition with the new social media and the bloggers. Happily, blogging is in decline as readers have grown exhausted with the total rubbish these angry fringe dwellers insinuate into the national conversation. And we yearn for the intelligent prose of the professional writers once more.

Emerging fashion designers are in the worst spot of all. They occupy a position in the industrial foodchain where they create margin (profit) opportunities for the factories managers who manufacture their goods and for the boutique owners who take their stuff on consignment. However, there is no place for them to actually make any money themselves. Therefore, they literally always fail in two years and are replaced by the next crop of aspiring young design school graduates bankrolled by Daddy.

The fashion magazine editors understand how this business works, yet they are tasked with validating their glowing reviews of those established brands that purchase $75,000 full page ads… by talking excitedly about fresh designers every month. But it does not matter one little bit: who. So they “discover” someone attractive and charming, usually fresh out of one of the important design schools and sometimes the American myth engages so that a total amateur with no formal training but who is making handbags out of duct-tape and safety-pins will be featured on the pages of Lucky Magazine just as if she had some idea of what she was doing. Because it just doesn’t matter. A young designer could be the next Coco Chanel. But if she is living in a loft in Williamsburg and she is not working for Gucci then her stuff is never going to get into Barneys and it just doesn’t matter. She might just as well be working in duct-tape instead of leather as far as the people at Conde Nast are concerned.

So here we are in Bay Area politics… dominated by the Democrats and with Republican politicians operating out in the radical fringe. Your business at the newspaper is to entertain readers. Charming candidates, validating the myth that anyone here in America can do anything at all, if he wants it bad enough and in spite of the fact that he only just recently thought about politics and otherwise never prepared himself to do any of the actual work. In the year of the Tea Party that story has traction and entertainment value. People want to believe that populist politicians… however painfully naïve… are competitive. It’s not true, of course, but it doesn’t really matter if Yves Saint Laurent is going to win on November 2nd anyway.

The 13th Congressional District – which includes Alameda, Fremont, Hayward, Newark, San Leandro and Union City as well as the unincorporated San Lorenzo area, much of Sunol and part of Cherryland – is registered about 54.07 percent Democrat, 16.83 percent Republican and 24.58 percent decline-to-state. Stark’s closest electoral race was his first, in 1972, when he won 52.9 percent of the vote; he has received more than 70 percent of the general election vote in each of his last six re-elections.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Now I know where Baker stands. On top of a tall mountain in a theoretical world. Why is this guy even running??

  • Virginia Westfall

    A vote for Mr. Baker is a true vote for the unknown. His Website does not tell where he stands on the various issues. His book tells of having communal communities.. not freedom in the true since, in my opinion.
    If elected will he step into Mr. Starks shoes and carry on as he (stark)did/does, Not live in the district, not listen or speak with the constituents, only pander the special interests? Where does Mr. Baker really stand?
    The only rally in the District, to my knowledge, his support was from out of district.

  • Sandi Jacobs

    I will not vote for Forest Baker the Republican and this is why.
    Baker’s book titled “Eukariotsu Capitalism in the Post-Sovereign Economy” states on page 86 “My answer to this is the Commonwealth Trust State.” “A Cote is an association of 500-1000 families where working members are employees of the entity. The Cote owns and operates income-producing businesses, it own schools and clinics. It develops and manages residential and commercial real estate occupied by its denizens. Each partnership organizes, owns and administers a small bank. Cote assets are held I a perpetual trust for the benefit of all partners. Each head of household should be gainfully employed by one of the entity’s business units or pursue a professional career with Cote members as clients, students or patients.”
    “Commonwealth partners will be carefully recruited in order to fully populate each campus with a statistically normal mix of direct labor workers, middle managers, technical professionals and executives. Compensation rates will be equivalent with salaries and wages in the surrounding economy. Furthermore, partners will be provided with well-built residence owned by the Cote inside a closed corporate campus.”
    I translate this as creating a DICTATOR who will run and decide for a certain community. You wouldn’t even own your own home, etc. There is no way in which I can support a candidate that has this mindset. I see him no better than Pete Stark!!! Forest Baker is running a silent campaign and isn’t scheduling any meet & greets to be questioned by the citizens of CD-13. He also is not accepting any donations or help with his campaign. Mmmmm…..Why???
    I sincerely hope that citizens of Congressional District 13 wake up and Write-In Independent Chris Pareja’s name (www.chrispareja.com) on the ballot in November. It is NOW that we must stand for principals, values and not another socialist-marxist. I could not in sound mind even vote for Baker for if he were to win and support the kind of stuff he wrote in his book I couldn’t live with knowing I voted for him.

  • Mike

    That letter is a lot more readable than most of Baker’s writings. Usually he tries to impress the reader with his vocabulary, while using that vocabulary to hide his ideas. I guess he’s trying the 60s tactic of making the ideas so intellectual and confusing that no one will want to admit they don’t make any sense.

    As for his ideas: I own my own home. I really like the idea of individual ownership. I want to choose my paint color, my carpet, my furniture, etc. without people telling me what it should be; regardless of whether those people are the government or a Board of Directors for a Corporate Commune. His “Eukariotsu economics” is just another way for people to seek personal power to arbitrarily bludgeon every-day individuals.

  • I don’t know of any group of folks who seem to have read through the same copy of my book (that I gave to Chris some months ago) only in order to find fault with my ideas.

    You all don’t seem to understand corporations, parternships, sovereignty or the underlying process of financial capitalism that has been feeding us for the past 100 years. You all seem to think we were meant to be human resources, consumers and taxpayers forever…and that is precisely what the Democrats want you to accept when they tell you that you are free…but they already have your health, education, welfare and police services in their portfolio of stuff we should be able to better do for ourselves. They are socialists and you want them to do that better. I want them to stop trying so hard already and to mostly leave us alone. I’m a conservative libertarian capitalist with 40 years of work in the global business arena.

    It takes quite a long time to internalize all the various elements that make up financial capitalism. It can seem daunting. I know that. Has Mike ever read an Economics text? Money and Banking? Finance? My stuff might be a little deep for most of you but at least you’re digging through it and finding enough in there to disagree with me about. Thanks for playing.

    I never once use the word commune anywhere in my book to describe the Cote. It is not a hippie commune. It is not a kibbutz in the desert. Someone made that foolishness up as a crisp political lie (imagine that?)and you guys are buying into it without checking your facts.

    A Cote is simply a corporate campus that does business (IBM at Cottle Road is a good example), that we can live on if we like (Stanford has one of those) and that we also own. Nothing complicated. A partnership. And no one said you need to join one if you enjoy working for strangers and living next door to other strangers in a house that is your largest investment so you might someday retire with dignity. How’s that going for you, by the way?

  • Paulette

    Interesting how Forest Baker has listed his place of employment for the last 13 years as ‘Sumeo Corporation’, yet a google search on that term ONLY brings up his own linkedin account and his own reference to such an entity even existing. Who the hell is this guy?? Sounds like an elite who knows far more than we know-nothing plebs, so surely we should vote for him. Yeah, I think we’ll just stick with Stark. At least he’s mostly absent and is likely to kick off soon. No telling what a RINO like you has in mind, since you’re too good to even campaign and meet your supposed constituents. Yeah, I like my neighbors and employers to be strangers — if only the damn government would mind their own business as well, that would be PERFECT. Sounds like you have other plans for us. Thanks, but no thanks.