Monday, June 06, 2016

Miss USA Pageant Puts Politics Into Finalist's Question

Sunday night, the 2016 Miss USA Pageant was held in Las Vegas with the usual array of beautiful young women and a musical performance by The Backstreet Boys.  The contenders were a diverse group and for the first time, the last three finalists- Miss Hawaii, Miss Georgia and Miss District of Columbia-included two black women. The winner was Miss District of Columbia - the first winner serving in the U.S. military (Army Reserves). 

So, it was a pageant of firsts - including inserting politics into the questioning of the finalists. When it came time for the big question posed to Miss Hawaii, the eventual second place winner, she was asked for whom she would cast her vote - Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

"Chelsea Hardin acknowledged that there was no way to correctly answer the question during the beauty pageant. The question was framed with Clinton's likely status of being the first woman nominated by a major political party for the White House. Hardin responded that gender doesn't matter when deciding the next commander-in-chief. The 24-year-old college student from Honolulu simply said the new president should push for what's right for the country."

Unlike the writer of this account,  I do not think she "punted" her answer.  I think she handled it as gracefully as possible.  And, good for her for not taking the bait.  In this country, we have a private ballot and this pageant's winner is tasked with representing people throughout the country.

Clearly, this was a shot at Donald Trump, the former owner of the pageant and a kiss to Hillary Clinton, the first woman to be nominated by one of the two major political parties.  No doubt the pageant owners and producers fall in line with the demand of liberal women - women have a duty to vote for Hillary.  Fortunately, as we have seen in the voting statistics, young women feel no such obligation.

The reaction on social media was swift and angry when the question was asked.  The audience loudly booed, too.  The pageant had to tweet out an explanation that the question was written by the pageant organization, not the judge stuck with asking the question. Some of the bottom feeders in online journalism immediately took the question to be a slam to Trump. 

I applaud any young woman not willing to allow liberal Hollywood to write the narrative.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

What if This is The GOP's Big Tent Moment?

Donald J. Trump will be the Republican Party's presidential nominee at the completion of its national convention this summer. With the suspension of the Cruz campaign Tuesday night, a whole lot of drama is playing out on social media.  Politics ain't bean bag.

I get it, I really do.  I was depressed for days when Marco Rubio suspended his campaign on March 1.  He was the complete package.  He also had the highest favorability numbers in all the polls.  He was the most electable.  He had years of experience - from local to state to national government.  He has a penchant for foreign policy.  He is an extraordinary communicator.  I could go on, but in the meantime...

Let's just take a breath.

I feel you, my tribe. The anger and disappointment is everywhere.  With this election cycle, we have reached the tipping point.  Voters are no longer interested in political experience, policy points, electability, or frankly, a candidate you'd like to have a beer with.  Donald Trump checks none of those boxes. He has higher unfavorable numbers than Hillary Clinton. He is loud, crude, egotistic, vulgar. He holds none of the Republican principles I hold dear.  And the people can't get enough of him.

A massive re-alignment has been brewing for both parties for years. The two political parties? The voters are over them. A majority of voters now call themselves Independents.  It is increasingly difficult to recruit activists as candidates.  The absence of women in elected office in the Republican Party is particularly distressing to me. Lots of things have to change.

In a normal year, a more traditional Republican would be the nominee and the various factions would be going back and forth on whether that candidate would meet everyone's expectations.  No candidate ever does, of course, because people aren't all the same.  After decades as an active Republican, both publicly and privately, my idea of the best candidate may not be the same as yours. That is the beauty of a political party, though, and it is essential to embrace all those who would call themselves Republican voters in order to sustain and grow a party.  This lesson still hasn't been learned by enough people, it appears.

Ted Cruz thought he would be the outsider, though he has been in politics since the contentious 2000 election and the George W. Bush administration. Cruz thought his path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was on the backs of Evangelical voters.  That didn't work either.  Donald Trump drew in voters who have never voted, voters who are union members, voters who are solid working class people - those who get up every day and actually do the work that keeps America going.  Trump even found some long lost Reagan Democrats.  Are you getting the picture?  This is what it takes for the Republican Party to win in November.  A very broad coalition of voters must get out and vote or Republicans don't win.  We start out behind the Eight Ball in the Electoral College map and in order for Republicans to win the presidency, states have to be won that are not traditionally in the R column.  And swing states are crucial.

Now, about those Independent voters - they don't care about parties. They vote for the candidate.  In this year's cycle, not only do we have a man who has never held elected office as the party's nominee, he is running against a Democrat woman who holds as high unfavorable numbers as him.  Plus, in her case, she may be facing federal indictment before the election rolls around.

It's too early yet to expect a big kumbiya moment with Republican and conservative leaning voters to hug it out and vow to work together for November victories.  Most Republicans will understand that getting out to vote and supporting down ballot candidates is so very important.  Think of the judicial candidates and party chairman races that depend on voter participation at the local level.  All politics is local.

The big tent has been erected.  We just didn't realize it would be by a Democrat who now calls himself a Republican.  If Trump had held an R next to his name for years, though, he would be embraced by the same people now declaring they cannot possibly vote for him in November.  They would find a way to hold their noses and vote for him, just as some in the party always have to do with our nominees.  I've done it. There is no perfect candidate who pleases everybody.  Some conservative leaning voters aren't able to look at the bigger picture or even look down the road a bit.  I understand that.  Most voters aren't political nerds - policy papers, campaign strategy, candidate recruitment and C-SPAN don't interest them. There is no passion.  Some just show up on election day and vote.  That's the most important part.

Do not succumb to the ugliness of mocking and name calling now seen on social media towards Trump voters.  Americans are free to support any candidate.  It is the job of each candidate to win over voters. I know you have reasoned with people in your life who declared there was no way they could vote for this person or that one. It's happened to all of us - maybe it's been us. In today's culture, which Republicans have failed miserably to embrace or even try to understand, this Trump guy gets all the media attention and everyone knows him.  Chances are, you, too have a family member or friend who is a Trump voter in their state primary or caucus.  They aren't less intelligent or uneducated.  They are doing what we have asked them to do all along - get out and vote, preferably for a Republican candidate. They just don't want another politician as the candidate. 

Trump is a master marketer. It is his super power.  The challenge is this - does the Republican Party embrace his enthusiastic voters and those newly interested in politics as it relates to them or do we brush them aside and continue to fade into the sunset? Those of you who sat out the last two presidential elections because you were unable to bring yourself to vote for a John McCain or a Mitt Romney, as they didn't pass your political purity test - well, that is how we ended up with Barack Obama. How's that worked out for you? When I have moments of weakness, two words come into my mind - Supreme Court.  That's all I need.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Breaking: #CruzSexScandal Lights Up Social Media - Now a New Twist

If you are a political junkie, you have no doubt checked out some of the kerfuffle developing over the past 48 hours concerning the National Enquirer's piece on a sex scandal and GOP Presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX).  Falling on Easter weekend, it is a particularly unsavory bit of tabloid fodder for the candidate in the race claiming to be the evangelical Christian conservative.

The story goes that Cruz enjoyed dalliances with five women all connected to life in politics, particularly Washington, D.C. politics. There's the first bit of irony, right? The guy who planned on running as the outsider in the race, (though that was always a silly pretense) only to be foiled by Donald Trump, is entwined with these women of Washington - allegedly. Where the guy found time for all that escapes me but that's the story.  As with all stories these days, social media was leading with the gossipy story.  It was all over Twitter, as you would expect, and that is where the firestorm ignited. 

Following on the heels of a back and forth between Cruz and Trump over their wives, this story took off.  Immediately Donald Trump was accused of driving the story because he is known to be close friends with the CEO of the National Enquirer.  What wasn't reasonable, though, was the immediate blame put on former candidate,  Senator Marco Rubio.  There is a very real Rubio derangement in social media by Cruz supporters - and to a lesser extent Trump supporters - and that derangement was in full bloom.  Finger pointing and anonymous sources of rumors was the order of the day on Good Friday.  Instead of tamping down the muck, Cruz chose to find a television camera ( as is his habit) and said the story was smut and that Trump was behind it, along with his "henchmen".  The loudest, nastiest Cruz supporters claimed all roads led to Marco Rubio.

Yeah, it was crazy.

Then an interesting tidbit developed Friday night.  Here in the Houston area, a local show on the Fox affiliate is shown live each Friday night.  The show host is Isiah Carey and the show is an interesting mix of local stories and politics, too.  Fellow conservative blogger, Kathleen McKinley, is a regular guest who speaks about conservative political opinion next to a local liberal woman.  Last night, Kathleen said that she spoke with a D.C. friend earlier and that person laid the blame of the #CruzSexScandal story at the feet of David Brock.  That makes a lot more sense than, frankly either Trump or Rubio promoting the story.  If you are older, like me, you remember that name from the days of the Republican Revolution in 1994 and the Clinton presidency.  Brock was a one time Republican loyalist to Newt Gingrich and the first Republican takeover of Congress in some 40 years.  Later, he decided he was a Democrat and left for greener pastures with the Clintonians in D.C.  He is a known dirty tricks operative.

Thanks, Kathleen, for bringing some sane perspective into the mix.  Let's hope some of the louder, uglier accusations on Twitter and Facebook take a pause and do a bit of reflection.  Whether there is any truth in any of these accusations against Cruz, the truth  will come to the surface eventually and everyone's life will go on.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Carly Fiorina, Opportunist Extraordinaire

Opportunity knocked for former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina and she answered the door. Wednesday Carly made a splash by appearing on stage with candidate Ted Cruz and formally endorsing him for President. Not only did she endorse him, she went into full snarl to do so.

Up until Wednesday, I was a supporter of Carly Fiorina. I understood her personal story as well as her professional story.  She was the full package for a Republican woman looking for more conservative women to run for political office.  She is truly in her element when railing against Hillary Clinton, which is where she shines.

Thursday morning, Fiorina appeared on Fox News and did an interview with anchor Bill Hemmer about her endorsement.  When asked by Hemmer why she chose Cruz over endorsing Sen Marco Rubio or Gov John Kasich, she said it was because Rubio and Kasich are "not conservatives."  This is inexcusable and just plain phony. How sad for Carly Fiorina to succumb to his kind of low brow politics.  No wonder she failed so badly in her bid for president, and in her senate race in California before that.
On June 18, 2015, Keep the Promise 1 - a Ted Cruz Super PAC - donated $500,000 to Carly Fiorina's presidential campaign. That donation is under FEC investigation. This is the Super PAC run by Robert Mercer, a Wall Street hedge fund manager.
Maybe it's all just a coincidence. Maybe Fiorina is telling the truth that now she happens to think that Ted Cruz is the best candidate running for president. Maybe she really went into that voting booth and ignored her own name on the ballot and, instead, voted for Cruz. I don't believe that but maybe you are less cynical.
In January, 2016 Fiorina appeared on Fox News with Greta van Susteren.  During that interview, Fiorina said that Ted Cruz was too divisive to beat Hillary Clinton.  She said that "he says one thing in the drawing rooms of Manhattan and another thing in the living rooms of Iowa."  Does she now think he is an honest broker?  How does a grown man get the character of truth telling in the span of a month and a half, especially in politics? 
Maybe the fix was in a long time ago.  The donation in 2015 may have brought with it some strings for the future of the campaign. Maybe she is just looking for a way to stay relevant in the fray.  She is getting face time on television again. 
Whatever the reason, it looks smarmy and desperate.  A sad ending for a once promising woman in politics.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Carly Fiorina Defined Feminism and It Is Perfect

Republican presidential primary candidate Carly Fiorina suspended her campaign Wednesday.  As she did so, she left what is perhaps the best definition of feminism from a conservative point of view that I have ever seen on Facebook.  Here is what she said:

"To young girls and women across the country, I say: do not let others define you. Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you’re a woman. That is not feminism. Feminism doesn’t shut down conversations or threaten women. It is not about ideology. It is not a weapon to wield against your political opponent. A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses and uses all her God-given gifts. And always remember that a leader is not born, but made. Choose leadership."

It doesn't get much better than that.

Fiorina provided a much needed female voice to the debates.  She provided the strongest voice in opposition to the Hillary Clinton candidacy. She was fierce. And the Democrats hate her.  She is everything that Hillary Clinton is not.

All conservatives should thank Carly Fiorina for her contribution to the primary.  Republican women are natural leaders and a greatly underused resource.  Let's hope that changes soon.  One candidate at a time.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Marco Rubio Gains Endorsement of Cruz Blogger

"This is a new Republican Party". The statement, uttered by an insider Democrat now working in network television, acknowledged the diversity of the party's field of presidential candidates. It's a big field - someone for everyone.

I met Ted Cruz in 2009, in Galveston.  I was a delegate from Memorial West Republican Women to the TFRW convention.  Cruz was there, along with this lovely wife, Heidi, introducing himself to the ladies.  Everyone knows it is Republican Women in Texas who do the work of getting a candidate elected into office.  Cruz, at that time, was running for Attorney General. I wrote at the time, "Sunday's closing session was filled with speakers Senator John Cornyn, U.S. Representatives Michael McCaul and Pete Olson, Texas Rep Larry Taylor, and Ted Cruz, former Solicitor General of Tx and current candidate for Attorney General of Texas. Cruz made a commitment to support the re-election of current Attorney General Greg Abbott should Senator Hutchison not resign from the Senate."  Cruz was a fresh voice and effective speaker.  I was impressed by his personal story and communication skills.

As it happened, Senator Hutchison didn't resign from the Senate and Attorney General Abbott was re-elected.  Ted Cruz then chose to run for U.S. Senate for the upcoming vacancy as Senator Hutchison carried out her plan to leave Washington.  I was on board for a Cruz candidacy, even when the sitting Lt Gov decided to run for the same seat.  I had - and have - huge respect for David Dewhurst.  I chose Cruz to support in that race, though.  I used my ability to blog for Cruz in his Senate run.

I was all in.  I made new friends in the Cruz inner circle and like those people to this day.  It's not personal with me, it's politics.  While I'm choosing to endorse a different candidate in the GOP presidential primary, I will still consider the Cruz crew as friends. Cruz made himself available to bloggers regularly and, through conference calls, assured us that he "knew what to say" to win an election in Texas.  That struck me as an unusually cynical statement at the time, but I brushed it off.

Remember that Cruz embraced the Tea Party when it formed.  He boasted of his ties to George W Bush and elected officials in Texas before he used the Tea Party as a vehicle in his senate race.

Against all odds, Cruz won the senate seat.  He is a master communicator and that is a welcome relief to those of us who often criticize the messaging abilities of the Republican Party.  Most importantly, Ted Cruz can raise money.  Keep that in mind as this GOP primary progresses.

Once Cruz went to the senate, his inner agitator came out and he morphed into a bomb thrower on the level of some of the most strident in politics.  This is the last thing Washington, D.C. needed.  Already bitterly divided, Republicans and Democrats were more often than not in stand-off mode in all efforts to work for the American people.  Cruz never rose to the occasion and learned how to build a coalition of like-minded senators to push reforms.  He promised lots of things and always boasted of his fighting spirit.  However, when he actually had to perform, his inability to persuade others to come to his side in arguments resulted in defeats, not victories.  Along the way, he was  exposed as just another politician seeking out the bright lights of television cameras. After only mere months in elected office - his first elected office - Senator Cruz decided to run for President of the United States.

What was once a call to be strong in conservative convictions became a taunt in his best imitation of a preacher's cadence - suddenly he saw himself as the only true conservative in Washington, D.C., the "courageous conservative." How arrogant. How Washington.

His childish stunts, while amusing, usually led to disaster.  In the case of the government shutdown, he misjudged President Obama and by refusing to negotiate, his action brought about the sequester. This was devastating to the Pentagon.  And to Republican favorability in the polls, which had been steadily rising during the reign of Barack Obama. Fortunately, Republicans won big time in the mid-term races despite the shutdown, not because of it.

This excerpt from a piece in The Wall Street Journal by Bret Stephens points to the error of perpetual outrage, choosing to make enemies, not friends among colleagues and also voters:

There also used to be a theory of politics that, in two-party systems, it was in both parties’ interests to pitch the broadest possible tent; to have, as the great Si Kenen once put it, “no enemies, only friends and potential friends.”
But that’s not Mr. Cruz’s theory. He believes in the utility of enemies—the media; Washington; his fellow Republican senators; other squishes—because they’re such easy foils and because he’s convinced that polarization works and persecution complexes sell. Who cares about Republican voters in New York (or California, or Massachusetts, or Illinois) when not one of their votes will count in the Electoral College? Why waste time and energy courting the center-right when doing so will earn you the permanent enmity of the permanently angry?
The answer to that one lies in Cuyahoga and Pinellas and Loudoun counties—those purple lands in Ohio, Florida and Virginia where swing voters still decide elections in this country. Mr. Cruz needs to answer how he plans to win 50.1% in those states, not 70% of the Bible Belt. Such an answer is available to a Republican nominee, but only one who doesn’t demean other people’s values even when he doesn’t share them. Mr. Cruz needs to study old Ronald Reagan clips to understand the difference between having strong beliefs and being an insufferable jerk about them.

It is cringeworthy that the senator from Texas called the Republican Senate Majority Leader a liar on the floor of the Senate - tossing decorum and respect aside.  It is inexcusable that Cruz uses words like "cartel" against other Republicans.  It is hypocritical that Cruz tosses around the description of "Establishment" to criticize his opponents - he is a product of the GOP establishment and now holds an elected office at the federal level as he runs for President of the United States. He is the establishment.

We are in desperate need of a statesman in this country.  Ted Cruz is not that guy.  We need happy warriors to deliver the message of Republican principles and beliefs and grow the party.  We cannot lead and implement our policies if we do not win the election.  Most importantly, we need a candidate who can work with all factions of the Republican Party - someone who understands that bringing together people for solutions is not abandoning principles - and lead.

After a recent debate, when Ted Cruz appeared to have teamed up with Rand Paul to attack Marco Rubio on the stage - though Cruz continues to say he doesn't attack others - I decided to speak up.  I was willing to try and remain neutral on social media about my preference for Marco Rubio but after that debate, I made the decision to go all in for Senator Rubio.

Marco Rubio is a happy warrior.  Marco Rubio is well liked and able to bring together other senators to work for change and reform.  Most importantly, the Democrats are scared to death of him running against Hillary Clinton.  He is just as smart as Cruz, just as conservative, a Tea Party guy, a Constitutional scholar, and did I mention is a happy warrior?  He is a fiscal conservative, a social conservative and a man committed to the safety of this nation.  Unlike Cruz, who has well-documented flip flops during this campaign, he will not embarrass his supporters.  He is trustworthy.

The best example of this sharp contrast in candidates was on display after the results of the Iowa caucus came in and speeches were delivered.  Marco Rubio delivered such a Reaganesque speech that Reagan's son, Michael, tweeted that very opinion out on Twitter after he heard it.

Here is Rubio's graceful speech:

Notice that he congratulated Cruz and thanked Mike Huckabee, who dropped out of the race after a very poor showing, for his service.
"I want to thank an all powerful and mighty God for the chance that He has given us to be a part of this endeavor here in Iowa. It has been a phenomenal experience. I want to thank my wife, and my family. I want to congratulate my friend, Senator Ted Cruz. He worked really hard here in Iowa and he earned his victory tonight. I want to thank another good friend of mine, Governor Mike Huckabee for his service to our country, to the state of Arkansas. He has announced tonight he is suspending his campaign. We have tremendous admiration for Governor Huckabee, and we thank him for all he's done." 

I challenge you to then listen to the speech delivered by Cruz.  It was long-winded, self congratulatory, and downright icky in places.  I particularly don't like the feeling of exploitation I get about his mom and how he uses her in his race.

Another indicator of Rubio's general election strength - the immediate reaction by Team Obama and Hillary people on Twitter about Rubio.  They like to compare him to Obama and his rise to the presidency.  They know Republican voters object to that.

I was a blogger for Ted Cruz's senate race.  I supported his election to the U.S. Senate.  I didn't sign on for him to run for President.  He'll make a great choice for SCOTUS by President Rubio.

I fully endorse Marco Rubio for President.  I encourage you to support Marco Rubio for President.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

United Republicans of Harris County Release Endorsement Slate

The endorsements in contested Republican primary races are out from United Republicans of Harris County.  Here they are:

President of the United States: Due to the large number of candidates, we leave it up to the voters to decide.
U.S. Representative, District 7: John Culberson
U.S. Representative, District 8: Kevin Brady...
U.S. Representative, District 18: Sharon Joy Fisher
U.S. Representative, District 29: Julio Garza
Tx Supreme Court Justice Pl 3: Debra Lehrmann
Tx Supreme Court Justice Pl 5: Paul Green
Tx Supreme Court Justice Pl 9: Eva Guzman
State Rep House Dist 127: Dan Huberty
State Rep House Dist 128: Wayne Smith
State Rep House Dist 130: Tom Oliverson
State Rep House Dist 134: Sarah Davis
Railroad Commissioner: John Greytok & Lance Christian
14th Court of Appeals Dist Pl 2: Kevin Jewell
Court of Criminal Appeals Pl 2: Mary Lou Keel
Court of Criminal Appeals Pl 5: Sid Harle
Court of Criminal Appeals Pl 6: Michael E. Keasler
125th Judicial District Court: L.A. Olson
151st Judicial District Court: Jeff Hastings
178th Judicial District Court: Phil Gommels & Nile Bailey Copeland
339th Judicial District Court: Mary McFaden
County Civil Court at Law 1 Clyde Leuchtag
County Attorney: Chris Carmona
Harris County Sheriff: Ron Hickman & Carl Pittman
Harris Co Tax Assessor Collector: Mike Sullivan
Harris Co School Trustee Pos 1 Prec 2: George Moore
Harris Co School Trustee Pos 2 Prec 4: Danell Fields
Harris Co Commissioner Prec 3: Steve Radack
Harris Co Justice of the Peace Prec 4 Pl 1: Lincoln Goodwin
Harris County Constable Prec 4: Mark Herman
Harris County Constable Prec 5: Ted Heap
Harris County Constable Prec 6: Robert Lozano
Harris Co Republican Party Chair: Paul Simpson

United Republicans of Harris County (URHC) does not take payment in exchange for endorsements from candidates.  URHC Board of Directors spend many hours voluntarily researching and interviewing all contested GOP primary races.  Interviews are conducted with all Republican candidates wishing to secure the endorsement of URHC - both by questionnaire and in person.

Early voting is February 16, 2016 to February 26, 2016.  The primary election is March 1, 2016.