Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ringing In 2009


Let us, fellow Republicans and Conservatives, resolve to make the upcoming year a productive and positive one as we ring in 2009.

Let us resolve to become active and vocal as we move forward as a party.

Let us resolve to embrace the opportunities before us. After much reading and pondering and listening to smart people with common sense I have some suggestions to make.

Let us resolve to support and lend our voices to some emerging groups with the mission to rebuild our party. It is in the best interests of everyone to become active, on whatever scale manageable.

Here are some that I have chosen to support and lend energies: Rebuild the Party has a 10 point plan for the future of the party. All but one of the candidates running for Chair of the
Republican Party has signed on to it.

Top Conservatives on Twitter is bringing social networking and media to all. With 2008 now known as the year that journalism died in our country due to its blatant campaigning for the Democrat candidate, social media is more important than ever. Republicans have been slow off the mark but that is all changing now.

Smart Girl Politics is "A Conservative Women's Movement". This network consists of conservative thinking women across the country. Blogging posts, special interest groups, regional groups and a sense of political involvement flourish.

Several Web sites have emerged to move the party along. The Next Right is one.

Let us resolve to educate ourselves about the business of winning campaigns while maintaining our ideology. Our party succeeds when we demand our elected officials remain fiscally responsible, open minded in problem solving and humble by listening to us, the voter. We hire them, we fire them. No more spending sprees to maintain power.

Let us resolve to acknowledge our country is still a center-right country. In the exit polls after the 2008 Presidential election, 38% self-identified as conservative, 24% as liberal, and about 40% as moderate/independent. Though the new administration would have you believe the election results are a mandate for liberal governing, that is not fact.

Let us resolve, in light of our country remaining a center-right country, to expand outreach to moderate/independents of all stripes. Remember, Republican candidates win with conservative and moderate Democrat support. If only the base of either party is accommodated, no one wins. Most of all, the country. We must grow our party with inclusion, otherwise it will continue to shrink.

Let us resolve to rise to the challenge of rebuilding the party. Blue Dog Democrats and Moderate Republicans are welcome. Common sense is our guide. Our candidates must stay on message and refrain from the non-issue rhetoric viewed as unimportant to voters. The vast majority of voters only think about politics as they go to the polls. In order to get the vote, the candidate must engage and inform the electorate of his/her solutions to everyday concerns.

We live in exciting times. The time is now to rise to the challenge.

Yes, we can.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Obama Does Honolulu

A couple of recent stories coming out of Honolulu on the Obama Christmas visit were interesting. Well, other than the mention that he missed his gym workout on Christmas Day. Why is it that he goes to the gym daily, if possible, and he's cool. And buff. But, when President Bush is mentioned as a fit guy, he's 'obsessed' with workouts.

Seems the reception Barack Obama - from the office of President-elect - received from the Marines at Christmas dinner time was less than warm and enthusiastic. Imagine that. According to articles on blogs like the one by Jake Tapper at ABC News and Red State, Obama didn't even eat with them. As is traditional and respectful, a visiting big shot eats with the troops or at least pitches in and serves in the chow line. But, no. In typical Barack fashion, he just pops in to say hi and slaps some backs and poses for some photos. Remember when Hillary went on her first trip to Afghanistan and the military from New York wouldn't volunteer to eat at her table? They had to be instructed to do it. Yeah. The fine defenders of our freedom know who is and isn't sincere.

In an article appearing on American Thinker's web site, there is mention of the church the Obama family used for his grandmother's memorial service. It was held at Honolulu First Unitarian Church. The article points out the religious history of Barack Obama's family - his Kenyan father who was a Muslim but then an atheist; his American mother who was raised by parents who were non-practicing Baptists and Methodists and then Unitarians; his Muslim stepfather who adopted him and the family lived in Indonesia reading the Koran and attending Muslim schools; and then Barack Obama's conversion to Christianity in Chicago with attendance at Rev. Wright's church, the church in which his wife Michelle was raised.

None of this is news to people who actually took the time to look at Obama's personal history. The interesting part was the bashing the piece, written by Andrew Walden, did to the Unitarian church.

Full disclosure - my husband and I were married in a Unitarian-Universalist church in Bloomington, Indiana in 1983. We were both raised in the Presbyterian church and decided to join the Unitarian church because we enjoyed the sermons delivered by the minister at that particular church. We are both lifelong Republicans.

The article points to the anti-war sentiment within the Honolulu church and that Obama 'hid' his connection to the Unitarian church during is campaign. Again, his claims of being a practicing Christian and his history of religious faith were examined during the campaign - which wasn't any deeper than his association with Rev. Wright - the history was there of his mother's parents and their support of the Unitarians in Washington state was clear. The problem was, Obama was painted as strongly rooted in Kansas by his mother and her white family. However, Barack Obama himself never lived in Kansas at all. And, his mother's family moved from Kansas while she was a school girl so that she would attend Unitarian schools in Washington State. "The Chicago Tribune mentions a description of the Dunham's chosen church as 'The Little Red Church on the Hill.' " Obama was raised mostly in Hawaii and his grandparents were members of the Unitarian church there.

Yes, the Unitarian Church is socially liberal in philosophy. Most religious leaders, like the Pope, preach non-violence. The author also does a little slap at the fact that "Honolulu First Unitarian was the first woman-led Unitarian congregation". I don't know what that has to do with anything. Our Unitarian minister was also a woman and in many churches of lots of denominations there are women ministers.

Barack Obama's choice of church was criticized as it relates to the leadership of the church. In the case of his church in Chicago, the Rev. Wright was the subject of criticism. This was understandable because Obama was running for President of the United States while he was a member of a church led by a minister ranting hateful messages about America. Plus, the church preaches Black Liberation and Obama was claiming to be a unifier to all Americans. He claimed to be the 'post racial' candidate. Obama's association with the Unitarian church - a socially liberal church - would fit with his political philosophy.

There will be many legitimate reasons to criticize soon to be President Obama. Conservatives/Republicans should resist the temptation to criticize unduly on matters of religion.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Perception is Everything

I made a promise to myself concerning the incoming Democrat administration. I will treat them much better than they ever even thought about treating the current administration. I will remember that we are all living in the same country and my loyalty remains to country first. It was not just a nifty campaign slogan. Country first.

I will not, however, sit by and allow obvious acts unbecoming to the president to go unnoticed. For instance, I will make mention whenever bad behavior reigns supreme. I prefer a president with some degree of class. Class isn't learned behavior. Class is something you have or you don't. Unfortunately, the incoming president often lacks the basics. Just as Bill Clinton lacked any degree of class, Obama has his moments. I just hope he doesn't start biting his lip.

A shirt with the swim trunks on the beach would be a good thing. He knew the cameras would roll. He's got the job. Now he can keep his clothes on.

It is not classy to announce your nominees for your incoming cabinet appointments while bashing the outgoing cabinet. It is simply not necessary. Just make your points about why you chose whomever it is and get on with it. For example, when Obama announced the choice of Rep. Solis for Labor Secretary, he said for the last eight years the department had not been doing its job. That's a lie. The department was handled by a Republican administration, which handles labor differently than Democrats. Republicans are not solely out for unions. It is record that the administration brought about a long stretch of historically low unemployment. And it is petty and nasty to say that is not doing the job. He has to learn to rise above petty partisanship, especially as someone who ran on the sole theme of 'change'. Well, besides 'hope'. And, how the country will all work together. If George Bush couldn't bring everyone together with his previous track record of working with both parties and with his actions from the beginning of his first term, then a complete partisan like Obama will not pull it off either. Obama has never bucked his party leadership.

Where's the change in a Democrat rewarding the unions after an election?

So, I'm hoping for some change from the incoming president. So far he hasn't shown it. Change was a silly theme, unless a person didn't understand that if an incumbent office holder isn't running for re-election, then of course there would be change. But, hey, the kids ate it up.

And, I don't think the change everyone is looking for includes Obama being the first person interviewed by a prosecutor before he even makes it to the first day in the Oval Office. Hey, remember when I was being told that I was way off base about my knowledge of Illinois politics?
So, if a candidate is running on a promise to bring both parties together, his sincerity is rightly questioned if he is not even in office yet and continues with petty remarks, campaign style. Obama starts off with a noted habit of breaking his word when he makes agreements in the political world. Maybe he should work a bit harder to tone it all down.

As he vacations at the beach in Hawaii in the multimillion dollar house on loan he'll have a little time to reflect on a bit of better behavior. Perception is everything.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

From Our Home to Yours

Legend has it that the tradition of hanging Christmas stockings by the fireplace began with two poor sisters. Both wanted to marry but their father was too poor to pay their wedding dowries. One Christmas Eve, the sisters hung their stockings by the fire to dry. Saint Nicholas intervened, tossing gold coins down the chimney and into the stockings. On Christmas Day, the sisters were delighted to discover the money—enough for both dowries. Victorian children sometimes hung Christmas stockings on their bedposts. Parents then had a recipe for stocking gift giving that still works today:

“Something to eat,
Something to read,
Something to play with,
and Something they need.”

And that is the legend of the Christmas stocking. This can be found at

Santa still delivers a Christmas stocking loaded with all kinds of goodies to our son. He's a 19 year old college guy now yet not too old to go along. Christmas Eve is a time of gift opening at our home, now that our only child is grown. But, come Christmas morning, he goes right to his stocking on the hearth.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas in Baghdad

"All Iraqis are Christian today!" says Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul Karim Khalaf to CNN's Jill Dougherty. In an article online, Dougherty writes of Baghdad's first public Christmas celebration.

Saturday the Iraqi Interior Ministry sponsored the celebration. Muslims attended the event, too. "Suad Mahmoud, holding her 16-month-old daughter, Sara, tells me she is indeed Muslim, but she's very happy to be here. "My mother's birthday also is this month, so we celebrate all occasions," she says, "especially in this lovely month of Christmas and New Year."

Longtime readers of my blog know that my husband traveled to Iraq in 2002, a few months before the war began in 2003. It was a business trip and befriended Iraqis that he remains in touch with through e-mail. Some have come to Houston and taken some classes he's conducted as well as been hosted by him in return for their hospitality in Iraq.

My husband has traveled the world yet this is one place he still speaks about. Before his trip, as the rumblings of an approaching war were heard, we were both rather anti-war and hoping the decision would not be made to invade. After his trip, however, my husband said it was the right thing to do, if the decision was made. He said, "we need to help these people." When you meet people and have a face to put with the situation, a different perspective can be formed.

Christians were in a small minority in Iraq. Under Saddam, they were mostly able to live peaceably as long as they lived quietly. As a rule, according to those my husband spoke with there, Saddam turned a blind eye. You may remember that Iraq was not a theocracy under Saddam. He was secular and ran his country as such. Saddam wasn't a fanatical Islamist, he was just crazy and brutal to his own people.

The genocide happening in Iraq was just as horrific as the flavor of the month genocides that the Hollywood celebrities awaken to around the world and demand the U.S. put an end to. No genocide should be tolerated. Where possible, others have to help their fellow man.

My husband was taken to Tikrit and Basra from his base in Baghdad. He was in the presence of "handlers" and one in particular was known as Abu Danny. "Abu" means 'father of' in the Muslim world and Danny was the name of this man's son. They were a Christian family - Armenian Christians - and he took my husband under his protective wing. He was welcomed into Abu Danny's home and even included as a special guest at a family birthday party.

This was particularly comforting to my husband as he was the only American staying at his hotel in Baghdad. He knew how closely he was watched and it was not an atmosphere of freedom. He overheard hotel staff speaking about "the American" and it was assumed by them that he must be CIA. Conversations about the impending American coalition action were in the air.

My husband is a Vietnam veteran. Veterans, as well as active military, are the ones who hope for peace the strongest. It is good the U.S. has been allowed a victory this time.

Merry Christmas, Baghdad.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Democrats are Sore Winners

Joe Biden has added a healthy dose of bitter to his usual predictable gaffes. He continues with the talking points that VP Dick Cheney has gone beyond his constitutional rights as the office holder. The problem comes in with the truth. Cheney hasn't, of course. Biden looks petty and should be above such ignorant banter on television interviews when the media person bates him into saying such things.

Biden has been on the the Senate Judicial Committee for 36 years, as was pointed out by Dick Cheney in an interview Sunday. Biden teaches Constitutional Law courses. Yet, he continues to misspeak on Article 1 and the powers of the Executive office versus the Legislative branch of the government. And, if memory serves, it was Joe Biden who was one of the first to berate Sarah Palin and her definition of the duties of the Vice President.

Biden is a study in bitter old men. It is clear that Barack Obama will not be using Biden for much in the scope of importance. Biden was chosen to negate the claims of Obama's lack of experience in foreign policy. Yet, Biden is shuffled off to work on 'working family' issues. Standard Democrat overreach. Remember when Al Gore was going to 'reinvent' government? Yeah. But, it's VP Cheney who is out of bounds.

Caroline Kennedy's cheerleader in interviews is her first cousin, Kerry Kennedy. Of all those Kennedy cousins, couldn't a better one be found? Kerry Kennedy is the ex-wife of Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General of the state of New York and former member of the Clinton administration. Son of Mario, he is also in pursuit of the Senate seat being vacated by Hillary. So, Kerry is in the bitter arena as well as Biden these days. Kerry is out there talking the Bush derangement points while puffing up Caroline. Kerry says Caroline has written books on the Constitution but she may want to ratchet that point back at bit. Even The New York Times was less than favorable about her book and its text. Oh yeah, Kerry mentioned that Caroline had worked on issues with the Senate since she was 16 years old. Really? In what capacity? As an intern?

Most importantly, Kerry says Caroline should be appointed to the Senate because she's a woman. Great. Back to the old meme. Also a point of contention by the far left during the last election - Sarah Palin was put on the ticket only because she is a woman in politics.

The Democrats have proven to be sore winners. Spare us the leftover hostilities and walk the walk the candidate of president they supported proclaimed - a fresh start in a bi-partisan way. Didn't they get the memo?

Maybe if it was made into a three word chant.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Life Celebrated Today

This afternoon a reception will be held to honor the 110th birthday of Mrs. Amanda Roberts Jones of Cedar Creek, Texas. The reception will go on without the birthday girl, who died just two days after her birthday, on Thursday. She was pleased that day with the arrival of a new dress for her to wear for the reception in her honor.

Who is Mrs. Jones? She was the daughter of a slave. Her father told stories of his work in cotton fields and picking vegetables on different plantations. She relished the victory of Barack Obama in November, because he was successful in winning the White House as a black man. "She thought it was wonderful that she had lived to see an African-American become president. She was thankful she got to see that," said granddaughter Brenda Baker. That quote from an article in the Houston Chronicle.

She is remembered as a faithful voter for 70 years. She was a young woman in 1920 when women were given the vote. After voting for Obama she was interviewed by NPR and by Good Morning America.

She was the mother of 10 children, with 32 grandchildren, 65 great-grandchildren and 20 great-great-grandchildren. She and her late husband were the first black business owners in the community of Cedar Creek. They owned a country store.

She had a strong faith in God and credited Him with her long life.

It is too bad that the state of Texas doesn't have records on how many Texans are 100 years old or older. All deserve recognition. Every life has a story to tell.

For those celebrating: Sunset tonight begins Chanukah. Happy Chanukah. Shalom.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Five Deadly Treats for Pets

Love your pets this holiday season. In today's Houston Chronicle there is a list of five big no-no's that you may think are treats but are not. They could result in death.

1. Raisins. Can cause kidney failure.
2. Macadamia nuts. Bad news for the doggies.
3. Chocolate. I think most people know this, but worth repeating. The darker the chocolate, the worse it is for your pet.
4. Yeast dough. Raw dough can rupture a pet's digestive system.
5. Artificial sweetener. Triggers an insulin release, leads to low sugar levels and liver failure.

Your four-legged family members depend on you. Let's be careful out there.

Caroline for U.S. Senate

What does Caroline Kennedy want for Christmas? A U.S. Senate seat would be nice, Santa. She's told Santa (Gov. Paterson) that she is throwing herself into the mix for those pursuing Hillary Clinton's vacant slot.

Caroline Kennedy seems to be a fine person. She lives a mostly quiet life and has only in recent years emerged with a stronger public persona. She serves on the board of the NY Ballet and she works for public school reform in NYC. Her children, however, attend private schools. And, on her latest tax forms, she signs off that she works only about 2 hours a week on this project.

Public records show Kennedy is not a consistent voter, either. She has a less than 50% voting record, especially in primaries when the candidate is actually chosen.

Kennedy sites her experience as a mother, a law school graduate, an author of a book about the Constitution and personal rights, and her Kennedy bloodline. Let's not kid ourselves here. It's the Kennedy bloodline that is her real qualification.

The problem with Caroline Kennedy's entry into this fray is not her qualifications, it is her bloodline. She campaigned for the candidate of 'change' and doing away with business as usual in Washington - Barack Obama - yet she wants to pursue a seat in the U.S. Senate on the basis of her last name. Maybe she has heard once too many times that Democrats consider the Kennedy clan to be American royalty.

Americans squawked about the 'dynasty' building of family names like Bush and Clinton in recent years. How about what is going on now? What about Joe Biden reserving his Senate seat for his son Beau, now deployed in military service from the Reserves, by supporting a candidate who agrees to not run for the seat when the term expires? How about Ted Kennedy making known his choice of successor to his seat, his wife Victoria?

And, what was the experience cited for Hillary's run for the Senate seat? Her marriage to Bill Clinton, which made her First Lady. He humiliated her publicly so she was due the seat as payback for remaining loyal.

And, they said Sarah Palin wasn't qualified for VP.

Yesterday Caroline Kennedy bowed to the altar of Rev. Al Sharpton. After their lunch together - at Sylvia's, the famed soul food restaurant - Rev. Al said she'd make a fine senator. He didn't, however, mention that they share a PR firm as clients. And, he didn't react to her faux pas that she calls herself a "Clinton" Democrat.

Caroline Kennedy wants Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. She shucked the previous history the Kennedy clan had with the Clintons and publicly campaigned for Barack Obama, with the weight of Teddy (the swimmer) along for the ride. She encouraged the facade of a new age of the return of Camelot. She seems to think Camelot really existed, too.

Caroline Kennedy said she looked into supporting Barack Obama after her children told her she should support him. Charming story, right? Most adults, however, would tell you that the parent is the wiser one of the family.

The Obama administration continues to provide ironic circumstances. First, Bill Richardson, after betraying the Clintons who launched his national political career, begged to be Sec of State and the job goes to Hillary Clinton. Priceless. Then Obama keeps on the Secretary of Defense who is the decision maker on a war Obama was so proud to oppose when he wasn't a voting voice in it. Obama has to look rational and centrist. Then Caroline Kennedy wants Hillary's senate seat because she's a Kennedy and it's her entitlement. It's all too good.

The job is hers if she continues in the pursuit. The governor of New York will not dare deny her. The real losers in this vanity appointment are the politicians who have done their jobs and been public servants the old fashioned way all these years. They earned the votes of the people they represent.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ten Silver Stars

After a six-hour battle, on April 6, 2008, a Special Forces Group from the 3rd Battalion had three seriously wounded members and all had been a bullet away from death. Facing machine guns and ricocheting shots off rocks, Capt. Kyle Walton led his team to victory. They were sent to a rugged valley not before penetrated by U.S. troops in northeast Afghanistan.

The mission was to kill or capture terrorists. The heroics of these men earned them, including two Texans, 10 Silver Stars. This is the most Silver Stars ever awarded in a single battle in Afghanistan. A Silver Star is the third highest award in the Army for combat valor.

"This is the story about Americans fighting side-by-side with their Afghan counterparts refusing to quit,' said Walton. "What awards come in the aftermath are not important to me."

The coordinating task force was the 201st Afghan Commando Battalion in the Shok Valley. The men were all taken by Chinook helicopters to the area and they made their way to a nearby village, the spot of hiding terrorists. A 23 year old Afghan interpreter came along, too.

During the battle, Walton verified an order for air support. F-15 fighters and Apache helicopters assisted in the attack.

All the Americans survived. The Afghan interpreter died.

From an article about this fight in the Houston Chronicle: "The raid, the soldiers say, proved there will be no safe haven in Afghanistan for terrorists. As for the medals, the soldiers see them as emblems of teamwork and brotherhood. Not valor."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Arne Duncan as Education Secretary

Since October, over 16 teachers and administration members in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) have been arrested for possession of illegal substances. Local reporting has run story after story about the superintendent's decision to have surprise searches conducted in the teacher's parking lots on different campuses, and of bringing in sniffer dogs to aid in searches. Yet, in a display of some kind of aggressive defiance, or just utter stupidity, the arrests continue of employees with drugs on campus.

Yes, teachers are human. So are administrators. And, no, these do not represent the majority of employees of HISD. The majority of drugs found have been small amounts of marijuana and prescription drugs without proper documentation. The first arrest evolved from an anonymous tip. The rest have snowballed especially after the sniffer dogs were brought in for dramatic effect.

HISD employs over 28,000 people. It is one of the nation's largest school districts and the largest in Texas. Full disclosure - my son is a HISD high school grad, Class of 2008.

The worse part of all this, seems to me, is just how lacking in judgement these adults are. It's just stupid to be an adult responsible for teaching children in school while exhibiting blatant disregard for the law. Maybe they feel bulletproof as members of the all powerful teacher's union. The president of the Houston Federation of Teachers is writing a memo to be distributed to members "reminding them that possession of illegal drugs will end their careers," according to the Houston Chronicle. Yeah. Duh.

Today Barack Obama put forth the name of Arne Duncan as his choice for Education Secretary. This seems at first blush to be an interesting choice. Mr. Duncan is heralded as one who works with the teachers union in Chicago while implementing reforms pleasing to all parents. He's held the job of Chicago's top school official for seven years so there is a track record to check. He is a graduate of Harvard, as is Obama, and is known to play basketball with Obama. So, there's that.

Those supporting Duncan claim he's "improved student achievement, graduation rates and college-going rates in the nation's third-largest school system", according to The Wall Street Journal. The spokeswoman for the American Federation of Teachers is said to have a high opinion of him. and, Joe Williams, executive director of Democrats for Education Reform, says Duncan is a proponent of charter schools.

Duncan's advocacy for charter schools alone, is reason enough for me to give the guy a chance. President Bush's choice of Rod Paige from HISD also was a proponent of charter schools and it was under his supervision that Houston took the first steps of opening them. A shining example of success in the world of charter schools is KIPP Academy. Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) has 66 schools now nationwide and 9 are in Houston. Initially elementary and middle schools, the program is now expanding into high school, too. Houston has one KIPP high school, opened in 2006. The program is using techniques such as a 12 month school calendar, Saturday classes, strict discipline, contracts with parents and students, and lots of positive encouragement.

Duncan does have critics, including current parents with children in Chicago public schools. Some say there hasn't been the improvements touted. Others point to his relationship with the teachers union which is looked upon as the biggest obstacle to reforms.

And, there is the connection of Duncan with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge program. Obama was the board chair from 1995-1999 and his relationship with William Ayers provided him with that opportunity. Ayers's curriculum in Chicago public schools were funded with authorization from Obama.

Time will tell.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Five Years After the Capture of Saddam

Five years ago Saddam Hussein was pulled from a hole in the ground, hiding from American troops on the hunt for him. Iraqis told soldiers where to find him. While it is popular for the re-writers of history to now say that we are not wanted in Iraq, the truth is that when Saddam was captured, the Iraqis danced in the street. They celebrated. Troops were welcomed with flowers and candy and much gratitude. Someday the real history will be written.

In the meantime, we celebrate and thank the brave troops who have served us all. We remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and we honor those performing brave acts. Thursday a local man was honored. Retired Staff Sgt. Rene Fernandez was presented with the keys to a new house by former President George H.W. Bush as local business people and his family looked on. The sergeant received brain injuries as his body absorbed a roadside bomb blast when his Humvee detonated it.

Sgt. Fernandez had a top notch military record. He led more than 300 combat missions, trained more than 33,000 troops as he received honor upon honor. His bright future with the military came to an end with that bomb. Today he suffers with little short-term memory, intense pain, weakness and occasional numbness on his right side. He and his wife have four children, ages 15 to 3.

An organization called Helping a Hero has to date awarded nine veterans, all seriously injured, with newly built homes which will suit the needs of the injured. This is a Houston based organization. A van pulled up and delivered furniture to fill the house from a local furniture store owner, himself a noted philanthropist. This furniture store owner has agreed to work with the U.S.O. to furnish rest centers throughout the airports around the world for troops on layovers as they travel. Houston is an incredibly generous city.

One wall of the new house, in the family room, is decorated with framed honors of the soldier's service. Included in the display are the two Purple Hearts he's been awarded.

"He has given distinguished service to his country, just remarkable service," Bush said. Bush apologized that Barbara Bush was unable to attend the ceremony as she was recovering from her recent hospital stay.

Fernandez is enrolled in college now and is pursuing a degree in education. He wants to teach geography and coach soccer, football and baseball. "I try to not think about what I can't do, but what I can do," he said.

A worthy man indeed.

There are seven more recipients slated for new homes. The next one will be presented next week, also an Iraq war veteran. According to the article in the Houston Chronicle, "home recipients sign agreements that they will not sell the home for 10 years; after that time, they are fully vested in the property."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Blair House Request Denied

For once, the Bush family has uttered the word 'no' in response to a request from the other team. The president-elect and his family requested permission to move into Blair House, the guest house across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, two weeks before January 15, the traditional day it is made available for the incoming presidents and their families.

The Obamas wanted to move in for the beginning of the new school semester for their daughters. School starts for them on January 15 at Sidwell Friends School. Malia is in fifth grade and Sasha is in second grade and they will be attending the pricey private school, just as Chelsea Clinton did when her father was sworn into the office.

Tonight on CNN, Anderson Cooper mocked the response from the Bushes. When the reporter noted that the Obama aide making the request for the family was told Blair House was unavailable due to previously scheduled events, Cooper said, "what events?" It was as though the current president and his family should just get the hell out of the way.

And, how many pillows would the family like, hmm?

I say, what made the Obamas think they were entitled to early occupation of the premises? Just the normal sense of entitlement from the privileged? I'm sure they will all be made comfortable elsewhere in the city. And their families, too.

The request was out of line and they knew it was. They just thought they'd ask and then it would be that mean Bush family in the press. What nonsense. Do you think the Obamas will make Blair House available two weeks before Jan. 15, 2012? You know, for the incoming Republican president and his or her family? Do you think the press will think it so awful?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The 10 Big Lies About America

Michael Medved, radio talk show host, movie critic and author, was in Houston last night speaking before a sold out crowd as part of his book tour. His newest book, The 10 Big Lies About America, is in its 5th printing now after its release two weeks ago.

We attended a private reception before his talk and were pleased to meet Mr. Medved. He autographed books and we enjoyed refreshments in a comfortable setting. His talk to the audience in the auditorium of a local university was entertaining and informative. He is a good public speaker - both relaxed and engaged with the audience. He received a standing ovation as he entered the stage upon introduction and also at the end of his talk. He took questions from the audience at the end of his talk.

Medved is a historian. He graduated from Yale University with departmental honors in American history and from Yale Law School. The 10 lies covered in his new book are distortions of our country's history used as propaganda.

Two of the lies discussed in his talk were the Founders intended a secular, not Christian nation and the claims that America is in an irreversible moral decline. He debunked both with historical timeline and research data.

An interesting distortion commonly recited yet completely untrue is the claim that divorce occurs in over half of marriages. The height of divorce activity? 1981. According to research done by the Annenburg Foundation in Pennsylvania, over 80% of marriages which are first marriages and the couple are college educated succeed.

He spoke about the myth that continues on today - that the New Deal 'fixed' the Great Depression. Actually the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression. The 'great' description of the depression had to do with the length of time it spanned. The New Deal programs did not provide recovery. Certainly not effective recovery. Normal economic crisises last between one and three years. The Great Depression lasted a decade. Even the Brookings Institution, a left leaning think tank, in 1935 produced a 900 page report analysing the New Deal's programs. This report concluded that "on the whole it retarded recovery."

Maybe all those so excited about the New Deal style of programs, particularly the public works programs, being brought into the Obama administration's recession recovery plan should do a bit of reading. Government work programs will not be the answer now, either.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Politics, Chicago Style

"The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave." That said by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald during the press conference explaining the arrest of Gov. Blagojevich.

So, how does all of the goings on in Chicago with the Governor of Illinois and the appointment of a replacement of Barack Obama's Senate seat affect the president-elect? Though U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald said Obama is not directly involved and not a part of the indictment, a prominent Chicago Democrat "close to many of those named in the indictment suggested the risk for Obama is "Whitewater-type exposure." From Politico, in an article written by Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin, the Democrat spoke with anonymity "for fear of antagonizing the president-elect." "What will splatter on to Obama is he is to some degree a product of this culture and he has never entirely stood against it." Yes, the candidate of hope and change is a politician from the Chicago machine. With only one year into his term in the Senate, he began to run for President. He never bucked his own party on any legislation. When he worked on ethics legislation with Sen. Tom Coburn, it was boilerplate stuff that neither side would oppose.

The interesting part is that the U.S. Attorney will soon be expected to resign his office as a matter of formality during the incoming president's transition. Usually, the new president sweeps out most of the current U.S. Attorneys and appoints his own people. The current president kept on many of the Clinton people and it lead to all kinds of problems. Will Obama keep Fitzgerald in his post? Will he allow him to finish this job?

The piece in Politico continues, "Anyone who has ever been near a public corruption case - and many of Obama's top advisers have, thanks to their experience in the Clinton years - knows the hassles that can torment even innocent people. Even peripheral figures wind up hiring expensive lawyers. At trial, testimony by minor witnesses becomes a major new event if it is someone close to the president taking the stand."

David Axelrod, with his long history of managing gubernatorial campaigns in Illinois, has had to deliberately contradict himself on the previous contact between the Governor and Obama after the election. Axelrod is on tape from an appearance on a Chicago Fox affiliate show saying yes, they talked and Obama had a 'fondness' for many on the list. Then, Axelrod had to back away form the taped evidence last night as the scandal progressed. See, they still think you are stupid. Who are you going to believe? Him or your lying eyes and ears?

Michelle Obama's childhood best friend and still remains so today is Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s sister. Jackson was pursuing the promotion into the Senate. He has been outed as Candidate #5 in the indictment handed down yesterday.

As John Kass wrote in the Chicago Tribune, "Blagojevich was elected here on a platform of reform." Yeah. Funny how that works. The press was hard pressed to mention the party of the Governor. We can only imagine if he had been a Republican. To them it is only Republicans who have a corruption problem. Never mind the most recent of Democrats to be in trouble - Wm. Jefferson of Louisiana, the sex scandals of the Mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Gov of New York, and so on. Currently, Charlie Rangel from N.Y. and a powerful chairman of the Ways and Means committee is under investigation for multiple infractions.

Politics, Chicago style.


Conservatives and Republicans are ramping up efforts to draw in more elected officials and party grassroots activists into the world of Twitter and social networking. The efforts are taking off in huge numbers. For all those who snootily mocked conservatives for not embracing the new technology for the benefit of a political campaign, well, that's not graceful. It's small and nasty.

As Patrick Ruffini writes, "the Internet is not just blogs and Twitter. New media is a big world - from websites, to e-mail lists, to fundraising, to online advertising, to search engine optimization, to GOTV applications, to internal databases, to APIs, to YouTube, to mobile, to emerging platforms like iPhone/Android, and yes, to social media." "The hard part is integrating new media in everything the organization does, using it to transform volunteer recruitment, or open a new eight and nine figure revenue stream. Those are the big challenges the next RNC Chairman needs to be worrying about."

Often the press in our country likes to make the facts of an event into whatever suits its own agenda - the fight against conservatives and Republicans. A good example has emerged with the selection of General Eric Shineki, Army Retired, as nominee for Veterans Affairs Secretary in the incoming Obama administration. This selection has been heralded as a poke in the eye to former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld and to President Bush. Why? Well, Shinseki is often referred to an abused soul, not listened to by Rumsfeld on the amount of troops needed in the early fighting in Iraq. So, he retired from service. Rumsfeld had visions of implementing a new kind of warfare he had been developing for many years. Less boots on the ground, more air power.

The true story emerged yesterday on CNN with reporter Jamie McIntyre on Wolf Blitzer's Situation Room. From NewsBusters comes some sunlight. McIntyre clarified that oft referred to 29 words spoken six years ago to a Senate committee, "I would say that what's been mobilized, to this point, something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required." McIntyre called it an "off-the-cuff guesstimate" in hindsight. At the time, CBS Evening News' Dean Reynolds "blamed the high number of U.S. troops injuries in Iraq on the Bush administration refusing to take Shinseki's advice to send more troops to occupy Iraq." In truth, Shinseki admits he gave no such advice.

McIntyre: "But Shinseki has his critics, too, who say, in fact, he never stood up to Rumsfeld, never pressed for more troops for Iraq, and, when asked in a private meeting of the Joint Chiefs if he had concerns about the war plans, never said a word, according to two people who were in the room. Asked by Newsweek two years ago to respond to the criticism he didn't press his concerns, Shinseki e-mailed back: 'Probably that's fair. Not my style.'

Apparently his style is to remain silent as those seeking to set a negative tone against the war effort and the current administration go about their work. Maybe Shinseki took his clues from Colin Powell and Richard Armitage who showed less than admirable honor as they remained silent and watched Scooter Libbey go to jail over trumped up charges. Armitage outed Valerie Plame and Colin Powell remained silent for his former chief of staff. Not much honorable about any of these three men's decision making processes during this president's administration.

No grace and dignity from these three men. Then, Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama over John McCain. A last minute endorsement after he gave money to the McCain campaign many months before. Only when it looked as though Obama would win the election did he make his splash. Then, he denied the racial implications. Not honorable. Or graceful.

Who has shown grace and dignity lately? John McCain's concession speech is a fine example of grace under difficult circumstances. Nicolle Wallace, former senior advisor to the McCain presidential campaign, wrote a thoughtful piece for The Daily Beast about grace of character. Wallace also points to the grace President and Mrs. Bush have exhibited toward Barack and Michelle Obama. The Bushes welcomed the Obamas to the White House much further in advance than is usually done. Laura Bush gave a complete tour of the White House and living quarters to Michelle Obama. And Laura Bush has shown nothing but compassion for the Obama family upheaval into the new fish bowl of a life with two young daughters.

Contrast that to the treatment given to the Bushes by the outgoing Clinton administration and the press in this country.

To those so deranged with Bush hatred, point out this event that took place recently to them: Wallace writes about a day recently spent with senior Obama campaign officials and some from the McCain campaign. "Having attended the same session four years ago, where we were sneered and snapped at by Bob Shrum, I was prepared for the worst. I found team Obama to be confident and extremely satisfied with their victory, but also smart, curious, interesting, and, for the most part, gracious. As a veteran of the Bush 2004 campaign, I was especially heartened to hear David Plouffe credit the Bush 2004 model as an inspiration."

Yeah, imagine that. Success is the name of the game.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Financial Transparency Online in Texas

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs began to post the state's Comptroller's office expenditures online in January, 2007. Where the Money Goes Web site is an award-winning searchable database. The site includes detailed payment and spending information for all state agencies, according to a news report published on December 5, 2008.

This reform minded Republican is a breath of fresh air in Austin. "Combs' agency says it has saved $4.8 million and identified an additional $3.8 million in expected cost savings." "Now we are moving forward to apply some of those same transparency and 'buying smart' strategies that have been successful at our office to take an unprecedented look at Texas government spending. Our Smart Buy initiative e has already begun digging through what state agencies spend annually for goods and services."

Combs expects to save at least $28 million in Phase One of the Texas Smart Buy plan. Everything from overnight/express mail, outgoing mail machines, asphalt bidding for state roads, and fleet vehicles are being revamped for efficiency.

"Transparency leads to efficiency." Open Book Texas is a welcome addition to transparency in Texas government. This online service will also provide a transparency check-up section and a section called a Single Set of Books to provide a planning site for state agencies to standardize reporting financial information.

Sunlight Foundation published an article detailing the progress.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Letter From Pearl Harbor

"About ten minutes to eight Sunday morning we were awakened by a noise of planes, and what sounded like bombing and firing - we, of course, like many others, thought it was just a practice alert. I put on my coat over my pajamas, went out to get the paper, and when I failed to discover it, stayed for a while to watch the planes which were flying very low. The Rodby boys, also pajama clad, suddenly appeared, explaining breathlessly, "Oh, Miss Gowen, this is a raid - see the rising sun on those planes, and look at the smoke over there." Just then, one dived even lower, and I could see what appeared to be a rising sun but thought it was just my imagination. Mil' looked out the window to say she was almost shaken out of her bed and she wished they wouldn't have such noisy alerts on Sunday. We decided, since we were awake, to go to nine-fifteen Mass."

That is the second paragraph taken from the letter written by Helene Gowen by typewriter near Pearl Harbor, on "that date which will live in infamy." Sixty-seven years ago, our country was attacked by Japanese war planes and we were drawn into World War II.

The letter is published in full in today's Houston Chronicle. Two nieces of the U.S. Army's librarian live in the city. This letter, written to relatives at home to provide the day's events and reassurance that she was ok, has been passed down through the generations to keep the family history alive.

The nieces remember Gowen, who died in 2002 at age 98, as a "proper lady, committed professional and dutiful aunt who was unfailingly reliable with birthday and Christmas checks when they were young". The family has a long history of military members. She was buried in Arlington National Cemetery along with her immediate family.

She typed the letter to her family so she could get more words on two pages - the amount to which she was limited.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Perception is Reality

The twilight of the Bush administration is causing a bit of a problem for the congressional Democrats. Calls for the president-elect to 'step up' on issues like the economic policies forming now due to the bailout mentality that Washington has embraced sound a bit odd, don't they? While most Americans are watching the new administration form more than we are paying attention to the current one, what would the Democrat deranged have Mr. Obama do? He has no authority to do anything until January 20. If he did anything other than answer the occasional question from a reporter, if he issued continual policy ideas via press releases from his office in Chicago, he would be way out of line. He knows that. He rightly reminds that there is but one president at a time in this country.

Maybe the congressional Democrats really believe there is an 'office of the president-elect' like the fake seal says on Mr. Obama's podium. Perception. According to an advertising expert on television recently, the Obama people know the value of perception and theatrics.

It gets to be a bit much. Can you imagine the howls that would be heard if the shoe was on the other foot? What if the Congress was ruled by Republicans and an incoming Republican president-elect was waiting in the wings? I think the likes of Barney Franks and Chris Dodds, both of whom have recently demanded Mr. Obama to 'step up', would probably see the folly in such demands.

Times are difficult. True. Sometimes perception is reality. Sometimes situations are made worse if we allow ourselves to fall prey to the naysayers. For the past eight years, the Democrats have told us, for example, how bad the economy is out in middle America. That wasn't the truth, in most cases. After the devastation of the 9/11 attacks on our economy - the result hoped for by the terrorists - President Bush and his administration presided over an unprecedented economic recovery. The stock market rebounded and most Americans, when polled, answered that they were doing ok. The tech bubble that burst at the end of the Clinton administration, conveniently never mentioned that the incoming Bush administration inherited that, was dealt with by tax cuts. The tax cuts proved once again to stimulate the economy. Democrats used to know that was true in economics. Tax cuts encourage growth. Even JFK knew that and was a tax cutter.

Today, as the CEOs of the big three auto makers were appearing before the House committee chaired by Rep. Barney Franks (D-MA), Franks felt free to do some historic rewriting of his own. For the deranged, there can be no satisfaction unless everything is the worst ever right now. Franks said that unemployment is at levels not seen in 70 years. Well, that is nice for drama but the truth is that the unemployment rate is up, yes, but to a level seen 17 years ago. Perhaps it was a slur in his speech but it sure sounded like 70 to this listener.

It is easier each day to think that on January 21, a whole lot of the doom and gloom will stop in grandstanding speeches. It will be much easier for consumer confidence to rebound if a more positive attitude is shown in Washington by policy makers. The election is over. The old policies implemented by Democrats as they reigned unchecked for all those years in Washington came home to roost while a Republican was in office. The Republican in office was no fiscal conservative. And, the very ones most vocal now trying to encourage Mr. Obama into unseemly behavior are the ones who most benefited from the real estate market engine segment of the economy. The incoming president benefited handsomely, too.

Sometimes the old adage of "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" is good to remember.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

You've Been a Bad Boy, Opie Taylor

There was a special screening Monday night of "Frost/Nixon" at the National Geographic Society headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C. At the end, the film's producer, Ron Howard (Opie Taylor), along with playwright/screenwriter Peter Morgan and also the known Nixon-hating James Reston, Jr. (son of NYT columnist) took questions onstage. The moderator was historian and retired Boston University professor (liberal Ivy Leaguer) Robert Dallek. Good times for the audience chock full of D.C. progressives and liberals.

According to Jim Pinkerton, Howard was "Hollywood-ish" as he spoke of the making of the film and screen-testing various endings. He described Morgan as "arty and somewhat abstract" as he was more hostile to Frost and checkbook journalism. He then wrote of Reston's hatred of Nixon and the tie into the "metaphor for George W. Bush." That's right. The deranged even find a way to link President Bush with Richard Nixon. Bravo. Morons unite.

Freely enjoying the pleasures of rewriting history to fit their own political agenda, Howard and Dallek were completely comfortable with the tie made between the two men. And, it was cool with most of the audience. Dallek, the "historian" and "professor" was taken aback when their opinions masquerading for historical facts were questioned.

Fox New Sunday anchor, Chris Wallace, son of uber liberal 60 Minutes reporter Mike Wallace, rose and said, "To compare George W. Bush to Richard Nixon is to trivialize Nixon's crimes and is a disservice to Bush." He reminded all present that there have been no further attacks on our soil since 9/11 and "Richard Nixon's crimes were committed solely for his own political gain, whereas George W. Bush was trying to protect the American people."

Thank you, Chris Wallace.

While the fab four presiding over the event were relishing accusing President Bush of an "imperial presidency" and assorted abuses of power, a bit of reality was much needed. "You make suppositions on no facts whatsoever," Wallace concluded. "Do you read The New York Times?" Dallek countered." That from the professor and historian. And, by the way, perhaps the professor should look up the definition of "imperialism". Incredible. No wonder students graduate with no understanding of our country or its history. Much less the workings of the real world out there.

Poor Opie. After convincing Pa to do an Obama commercial for the cool kids on YouTube with him, now it appears Miss Crump would be mighty disappointed at his lack of knowledge from history class. Sounds like Opie needed an after school tutor. I bet Aunt Bea would have been available.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Dealing with Intelligence

Now that Barack Obama is facing governing the nation, the reality on the ground sets in for him. And, believe it, it's still all about him. It's going to be four years of all about Barack, as his supporters call him. He is understanding that there is no way he will be able to come through with the promises made on the campaign stump and the far left that brought him to the dance in the beginning are organizing to hold his feet to the fire. He's going to need all the Republican love he can find.

So, it's a love fest in Chicago and events like the Governors Conference in Philadelphia. Obama extended his hand "in friendship" to even the Republican governors. How generous. How grown up of him. Why just last month as the day of his election drew near, the Republicans were the sworn enemy of Senator Obama. Having never crossed the aisle, in friendship with Republicans for the good of the country, his record of voting in the U.S. Senate is one of never voting for anything but the Democrat legislation du jour. There was that one bill about ethics that he co-sponsored with Senator Coburn that was boilerplate stuff but it did allow him to talk about working with one of the most conservative members of the Senate. He knew no one would actually look at that.

Seeking cover for his inability to fulfill his promise to immediately withdraw troops from Iraq, he has asked Secretary Gates to stay on as Secretary of Defense. The troop withdrawal has already begun, but never mind. There is victory in Iraq and it is good to know that Republicans will continue at the helm of defense policy. Secretary Gates was asked at his press conference if he was a registered Democrat or Republican. A real patriot, Gates spoke of his duty to serve his country and would stay on at the request of the incoming President. He said as Director of the CIA he made the decision to be apolitical. He is registered as neither. He then said, however, he considers himself a Republican.

Secretary Gates is a good man. He is a thoughtful man and a no nonsense leader. He left a dream job as President of Texas A&M to serve President Bush. He is a much needed expert on Russia and on intelligence matters. He will serve the new administration well. Though not receiving credit, President Bush extended the hand of a working friendship with Russia. He was laughed at when he did so yet he forged on. Now we here how Russia needs our outreach to avoid future problems. I say, where have these people been?

Intelligence gathering is crucial in our world today. While the critics love to cry over imaginary loss of civil rights, it was our country that warned India in October of the threat of an attack by radical Islamists. The new administration will benefit from current policies - the very ones included in the 'failed policies' mantra - and to think Obama will revert back to pursuing the war on terror as a legal matter as the Clinton administration did is to accept true failed policies. Secretary Gates has common sense. Besides, now Obama can use the top level briefings he receives now as an excuse to do the right thing, not the nonsense he campaigned on to appease the defeatists.

India's counter terrorism chief was killed in the attacks in Mumbai. Members of his family live in my city. On the front page in today's newspaper was a story of a 69 year old woman who survived the attack in the Oberoi Hotel to return safely to her 71 year old husband yesterday afternoon. These attacks were felt around the world.

I hope the Obama administration will tackle further reforms in intelligence, in still present loop holes in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Recently, according to a piece in The Wall Street Journal, NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly complained that the Bush administration wasn't doing all it could to protect New York City. His concern is with restrictions in surveillance. As FISA stands, the Justice Department requires "higher than appropriate standards of probable cause" before it will send a request to the FISA judges.

The article points to the fact that it is common place to offer up personal information every day on the computer as we buy items online, do banking online, participate in political campaigns, etc. The attacks in Mumbai were conducted with the help of BlackBerrys. Our current updated intelligence gathering capabilities, reformed after the attacks of 9/11/01 were a good start. They have prevented many attacks in the years since and President Bush is to be thanked for a job well done keeping our country safe. It was not a coincidence.

The terror threats of radical Islamists are worldwide. They target Jews, Americans, Brits, and anyone seen as an Infidel. The terrorists are patient and skilled. They are highly trained and educated. Unlike Western thought of only looking into the immediate future, the radical Islamists look into eternity. They will only be defeated when leaders of free countries rise up and have the courage to deal with what is faced by the world.

Will the new president be able to reign in his far left supporters and tell them to step back, take a breath and see the world as it truly is today? Time will tell. We should all hope he will put country first and be the adult in charge. It is surely much easier to be a denier. It is certainly a more direct path to popularity to do the most liberal thing. Liberalism is a cinch. Liberalism, however, leads to disaster in foreign policy.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Team Players, Obama Style

The dirty little secret from the last campaign is that two big themes of the Obama marketing scenario were debunked. The Obama campaign were quick to say that the youth vote would overwhelm the electorate and put Obama in office and that the Obama campaign was funded by legions of small donors. Both failed to materialize, certainly in record-breaking numbers, according to the final numbers.

According to Campaign Finance Institute (CFI), 26% of donors to Obama gave $200 or less. In comparison, President Bush in 2004 received 25% of this level of donations for his campaign. The truth is, the Obama campaign was funded by the much maligned fat cats. Obama set an all time high of money spent to attain the office of the President by first going back on his agreement to accept public financing and then to line his coffers by donations from the rich folks.

So, while Obama did receive small donations, he didn't set any records in that department. CFI concludes that 47% of the total of the funds raised by Obama came from large donors. By contrast, McCain received 60%, George Bush received 60% in 2004, and John Kerry received 56% in 2004 from large donors. Obama got 80% more money from large donors than those who gave less than $200. A large donation is defined at $1,000 and up.

On the youth vote - a Fox News/Opinion Data exit poll shows that voters under 30 years of age comprised 11% of the total turnout. That is the same level as in 2004. Edison Media Research/Mitofsky International shows a higher percentage of young voters (young is defined as 18-29 years old) at 18% as compared to 17% in 2004. Neither study found any real increase.

This explains much about the choices we see being announced for the new Obama administration. Remember that more than 46% of the voting public did not vote for Mr. Obama. You can believe he does not forget that fact. This is why the 'change' promised by Mr. Obama now looks like a team of entrenched insiders from Washington and Clinton people. Even Hillary Clinton, touted as the big name rival on the team, is in sync with the Obama vision of the world while maintaining some hawkish tendencies.

We are far from Abraham Lincoln territory. And, you may remember, Lincoln was a Republican.

Barack Obama has no intention of upsetting anyone with controversial nominations. This is a finely groomed politician from the south side of Chicago. The far left must be quite perplexed by the decisions made public thus far. Obama was proud to tout his anti-war agenda concerning the war in Iraq. After the election, he nominates a pro-war Secretary of State. He maintains the current Secretary of Defense and brings in a Marine who supported John McCain as his national security adviser. None of these decisions alarm Republicans.

In order to be re-elected in 2012, Obama has to be able to say he trusted Republican advisers on foreign policy and then go with the liberal agenda on social issues. You'll remember it was the label of socialist that applied to Obama's cultural and social agenda judgements. His economic team announced last week sheds light on that fact. Larry Sommers, for instance, still touts tax hikes in a recession despite acknowledging that historically that is the sure track to worse economic times. What?

Barack Obama is not a stupid man. He is a survivor. By placing Hillary Clinton in a high profile position he eliminates her potential nuisance factor in the U.S. Senate. She'll also be eliminated from a run against him in 2012. She won't be trying to grandstand a new Obama administration with legislation written to show any contrast in policy ideas between herself and him. And, Bill Clinton will do all he can to help Hillary keep her job as Secretary of State.

Barack Obama, in fact, is a politician. Just another politician. Take away the glossy marketing campaign, the silly campaign propaganda of fake presidential seals and haloed photos to imply a human of superior being, the nonsensical chanting by herd mentality induced crowds of voters so unaware that even the name of the Speaker of the House is illusive, and what is left? Barack Obama. From the south side of Chicago.

I hate to say I told you so, but I did.

I think Hillary Clinton is laughing all the way to her own special jet. She looked a bit tired and resigned yesterday at the announcement press conference - complete with the phony "office of the president-elect" seal on the podium, Obama style - but she'll be back to being a big time player instead of shuffling back to the Senate and being the junior Senator from New York having to fight for the microphone with Chuck Schumer. It's a plum gig.

And an added bonus to the American public is that in order for Hillary to serve, Bill Clinton has to disclose all the donors to his presidential library, since its inception in 1997. This means that while I type this, the Obama team is going through all the records and will now be fully aware of who gave what and any deals that were made for a donation. If the candidate of change is to fulfill his campaign pledge of full transparency in his administration, he will be obliged to make public these records. And, if this pledge is carried out, his nominee's husband will be outed for any compromising conflicts. So much for the line in the Obama stump speech that it is time to move away from the Clinton era.

Hillary Clinton calls all that job security.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

President-elect Ego

It's the same old change we are about to get in the new Obama administration. As usual, the marketing of Barack Obama the candidate masked the empty suit those not voting for him knew he was all along.

From, a transcript appears with a bit of the Barbara Walters interview with President-Elect and Mrs. Obama. You may remember Walters enjoyed telling Obama how very sexy he is on her regular daytime henfest. And, continuing on with that hard-hitting journalistic style, she didn't bat a false eyelash as Obama once again showed that he will be ego-in-chief come January.

Walters asked: "Do you have a Thanksgiving message that you would like to give to the people?" As NewsBusters' contributor, Mark Finkelstein, pointed out, using the words 'the people' was odd. How about Americans?

In typical Messiah fashion, Obama makes it all about him and brings his wife into the mix, too. And, he used poor grammar while doing it. For a Harvard guy, he sure must have struggled with English class. "I want to remind people that, as tough as times are right now, and they're a lot tougher for millions of people around the country than they are for Michelle and I that, we have been through tough times before, and the extraordinary blessings of being an American, of having a nation that has a tradition of communities pulling together. A country where somebody like myself, or somebody like Michelle, has a shot, no matter what the circumstances."

So, never fear, Barack Obama is your inspiration and message of Thanksgiving. And, the little woman, too.

How about telling us his family will be together for the holiday and counting their blessings as Americans - living in freedom and grace? How about just skipping the all-about-me life story for just one interview? How about thanking the troops overseas protecting our freedom? How about being thankful he is living in a country that sees one administration out and the next one in all in a peaceful transition? How about thanking the current President and his administration for their unusually open and supportive briefings and support in the transition? Or even acknowledging that President Bush continues to show Barack Obama far more respect than Obama has ever shown President Bush. No, an egoist mind doesn't work like that.

Friday, when asked by reporters how his administration is shaping up in light of his promise of the "change" theme as he continues to announce one after another nominees pulled from the Clinton days - including Hillary Clinton - Barack Obama said that change is coming from him, not his administration. The change is his 'vision', his ideas.

Why, he must be the first incoming President with that whole new vision idea.

And, soon enough, Obama and his administration will have to begin to admit that while the economy is stumbling, all is not lost. Holiday shopping on Black Friday was up 3% from last year. That bodes well for retail sales receipts this season.

I'm guessing after continued Bush bashing for the first months of the Obama administration, how all those failed Bush policies brought us the worst economy since the Great Depression, suddenly Obama will want Americans to think the economy is recovering nicely under his guidance. Those who do serious analysis of the economy, though, point to the fact that the Great Depression brought about changes that are in place to avoid such a slide of our economy now. And, that the disaster that was the Jimmy Carter administration brought about a worse economy than we have now. Talking up economic doom and gloom was useful for Obama the candidate. He was elected on economic tension. So, if he doesn't pull the economy back into less stressful times, he'll not be a two term President.

Real estate foreclosures came about thanks to the Democrats in control of policy for decades. The tipping point came about from folks in homes that they couldn't afford. Most people, despite what the incoming administration wants you to continue to believe, are still in their homes and paying the mortgage. And, we don't have interest rates upwards of 20% as we did under a President Carter.

And now, the likes of Barney Frank, Christopher Dodd and Barack Obama will be setting and legislating policy - the very people who most benefited from the old ways.

President Bush had nothing to do with that.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Be Thankful
(author unknown)
Be thankful that you don't already have
everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don't know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
because it will guild your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you're tired and weary,
because it means you've made a difference.
It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Senator Cornyn Commited to Federal Spending Cuts

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is a member of the Senate Budget Committee and released the following statement yesterday:

"I welcome the President-elect's commitment to reform the federal budget process and rein in wasteful spending. For my part, I look forward to working with President-elect Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress on quickly identifying and eliminating inefficient, ineffective and outdated federal programs."

"Families across Texas, and across the country, are forced to make tough decisions with their own budgets every day, particularly in the current economic climate. It should be no different for the federal government."

"Yet, year after year, too many government programs are funded because there are small - but vocal - special interest groups backing them with little Congressional oversight to determine when ideas have run their course. Already, in an initial analysis of 1,000 federal programs the Office of Management and Budget recently concluded that nearly 25 percent of them were either inefficient, or their efficiency could not be determined."

"That is why I have been a strong advocate for the creation of a Federal Sunset Commission to review federal spending programs. Modeled after Texas' own Sunset Commission, this bipartisan group would be tasked with reviewing federal programs, determining their efficiency, and making recommendations on whether they need reform or should be eliminated all together."

"While I have repeatedly pushed my colleagues in the Senate for this commission, it has never garnered the support it needs from the Democratic leadership. As the new session of Congress begins and President-elect Obama takes office, I will once again introduce my bill for a Federal Sunset Commission."

If President-elect Obama is sincere in his pledge to work in a bipartisan manner and reform Washington spending habits, he will find a willing partner. I look forward to working with the President-elect, his economic team, and my colleagues in Congress to start tackling wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars."

First introduced by Senator Cornyn, the United States Authorization and Sunset Commission Act dates back to June, 2007. There are four parts to the legislation:

* Create an eight member bipartisan Commission, made up of four Senators and four Representatives, that will look at the effectiveness and efficiency of federal programs and agencies.

* Establish 10 criteria for the Commission to use in developing its schedule and review proposal and its recommendations to Congress on whether agencies and programs should be abolished, streamlined, consolidated or reauthorized with recommendations for improvements.

* Require the Commission to submit a legislative proposal to Congress at least once every 10 years that includes a review schedule of at least 25 percent of ineffective federal programs or where effectiveness cannot be shown by the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Performance Assessment Rating Tool (PART).

* Call on the Commission to review each of the federal programs and agencies identified in the Schedule and Review proposal. The Commission will provide its findings and submit a legislative proposal necessary to implement their recommendations to Congress and the President every other year. Congress will have two years to consider and pass the Commission's recommendations or to reauthorize the program or agency before it is abolished."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Governor Sarah Palin Appreciation Day

The Texas Federation of Republican Women

Offered by the Resolutions Committee
Approved by the Board of Directors the 14th day of November, 2008

A Resolution declaring November 24, 2008, Governor Sarah Palin Day and making her an honorary member of TFRW

WHEREAS, Governor Sarah Palin has made history as the first female Republican Vice Presidential candidate; and

WHEREAS, she is a rising star in the Republican Party; and

WHEREAS, with her direct approach and dynamic personality she was a powerful force on the campaign trail; and

WHEREAS, she is an energetic, intelligent, courageous and strong leader; and

WHEREAS, while she has endured many attacks from the media and the public, she has handled her attackers with dignity and grace; and

WHEREAS, she and her family have sacrificed dearly in service of their country; now therefore be it

RESOLVED, that Governor Sarah Palin is hereby made an honorary member of the Texas Federation of Republican Women and that November 24, 2008, be observed as Governor Sarah Palin Appreciation Day.

RESOLVED, that all members of the Texas Federation of Republican Women are encouraged to send Governor Palin a letter thanking her for her leadership and dedication to our principles at: Governor Sarah Palin, P.O. Box 110001, Juneau, AK 99811.

I'm a member and thought I'd share this resolution.

Now He Tells Us

Recently, in an article written on, Mark Halperin of Time Magazine admitted that the media bias was at an unprecedented level in favor of Barack Obama. This conclusion is not exactly breaking news but it is interesting that Halperin is admitting the bias.

Time Magazine was one of the most flagrant in the fawning coverage of their chosen candidate. Obama received halo styled photos on the magazine's front cover more than the current president or any other presidential candidates. Only the most out of touch would have not noticed.

Halperin manages "The Page", Time's political Web site. He points to The New York Times portrayal of the two potential First Ladies in profile stories. "The story about Cindy McCain was vicious. It looked for every negative thing they could find about her and it cast her in an extraordinarily negative light. It didn't talk about her work, for instance, as a mother for her children, and they cherry-picked every negative thing that's ever been written about her."

"The story about Michelle Obama, by contrast, was "like a front-page endorsement of what a great person Michelle Obama is, " according to Halperin."

Interesting. Though there is nothing in her biography that makes Michelle Obama a "great person" by any stretch of the imagination, she is called a great person. Cindy McCain, in contrast, has spent her life doing good works and living what she preaches while overcoming her own personal demons and she is not worthy. Michelle Obama is raised in the church of black liberation, brings Barack Obama into this form of Christianity - who was raised by two Muslim men previously before converting to Christianity - wrote a college thesis on black versus white in society and then had the thesis untouchable from interested press, has only worked for big business or the city of Chicago in her professional capacity while demanding others pursue careers in low paying public service and non-profits, and raises her children with benefits of private schools, dance lessons, piano lessons, summer camps and a million dollar home in Hyde Park thanks to sweet publishing deals of her husband while claiming how hard it is to make ends meet.


And, don't forget she is only just now "really" proud of her country.

John Heilemann of New York Magazine, co-writing a book with Halperin about the 2008 race, said, "The biggest bias in the press is towards effectiveness." "We love things that are smart." "We'll scold you for being negative but if it seems to be working, the tone of your coverage becomes more positive." Oh. If you campaign negatively, and are successful in that approach, then the press approves. You are smart. Effective.

Unless you are a Republican candidate. Then your tactics aren't just negative. It is politics of personal destruction. These tactics were fine-tuned under the guidance of Hillary Clinton during Bill Clinton's runs, but never mind. Throw it on the Republicans.

Halperin concluded with this: "I think it is incumbent upon people in our business to make sure that we're being fair," he said. "The daily output was the most disparate of any campaign I've ever covered, by far."

Too little, too late. The media lived in an atmosphere that made the decision not to pursue anything of substance about Barack Obama. The slick marketing campaign produced by David Axelrod was very successful for them. Obama will save America. The seas will part and the skies will clear. And the followers lapped it all up.

Zogby International verified just how ignorant the Obama voter was this past election day. 83% failed to be aware that Obama won his first election by getting his opponents removed from the ballot. 88% didn't know Obama said his energy policies would bankrupt the coal industry. 56% didn't know Obama started his political career at the home of two co-founders of the Weather Underground.

72% did not know Joe Biden dropped out of a previous run for President due to plagiarism of a speech. 47% didn't know Biden stated Obama will be tested by an international crisis manufactured specifically to test him in his first six months in office.

57% didn't know Democrats control both the House and the Senate.

What did the voters know in the Zogby poll? They knew it was John McCain who owned mulitiple homes - though it is his wife who owns them - and that it was Sarah Palin who was said to have a new expensive wardrobe.

If asked, do you think any of these voters would know it is Robert Rubin, former Treasury Secretary for the Clinton administration and top financial adviser for Barack Obama, who has been making the handsome sum of $17 million a year for advise, though he is credited with writing rules that have led to the collapse of our financial institutions? His loosening of regulations in place since the Depression is directly responsible.

Yeah. Probably not.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Congress Will Have The First Unwed Mother

First Lady, Laura Bush, made a stop in Panama Thursday on her two day visit in the region to promote breast cancer research. She helped launch a program to aid and encourage local doctors to share information with the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in 2007. Did you read about that? No. I'm here for you.

M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is a world renowned medical facility for cutting edge cancer research and treatment. Houston is very honored to host such a facility.

Laura Bush is going down in history as an activist First Lady in the fields of women's health care and education. She should receive recognition for this yet we'll not hold our breath.

Laura Bush is a wonderful example for young women.

Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, D-CA? Not so much. Rep. Sanchez, divorced woman and childless, is now announcing that she is pregnant with her first child. OK. Normally, not a big deal. However, in her case, Sanchez is the first woman congressperson to be an unwed parent. This is not a good role model for young women.

Before you claim I am a narrow minded person, please know that I have friends who are single mothers, by choice. One of my bridesmaids, back 25 years ago, was a single mom by her own choice. I don't judge.

However, in public service, as far as moral decisions go, I think judgement is justified. Sanchez, dating a man who is referred to as her 'unofficial' fiance, apparently felt the ticking of her biological clock and decided to go for it. Peachy. However, as a person in the public spotlight, she is a role model for young women, whether she likes that or not.

Remember the firestorm in the media about Sarah Palin's pregnant unwed daughter? Does the fact that Congresswoman Sanchez is 39 years old make a difference? She is a divorced woman without children. Does that warrant turning a blind eye to morality? Is morality dead? I ponder.

Sanchez allowed a public announcement. That is more than the Palin young woman was allowed. As a proud Latina woman, is this the best example to set for young women? She claims this is a "teachable moment". What is she teaching, exactly?

Her "unofficial fiance" told the press, "We have the rest of our lives to get engaged and married -- we don't have the rest of our lives' for Sanchez to become pregnant." Wow. Selfishness on display?

I am a pro-choice Republican woman. I don't have a problem with ordinary women having children without the benefit of marriage, if that is their choice. However, once the woman is in the public arena, and holds herself up as a role model for young women coming up, then judgement is warranted. This is just wrong - Representative Sanchez will become the first unmarried woman to give birth while in federal office. I do not think that is a good thing.

Some ceilings are not meant to be broken.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wake Up - ACT for America

Last night we attended a private screening of a film released within the last week or so. This film is a compelling statement of the dangers of the continued threat of domestic terrorism. The name of the film is "The Third Jihad" and the sponsor of the screening was a local chapter of ACT for America.

No. Do not roll your eyes and say well, there she goes off the cliff. This was not some anti-Muslim, burn them at the stake kind of event. The film is in documentary form and consists of many interviews with various experts in the knowledge of terrorism from radical Islamists.

The film was made by, and narrated by, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser - a devout Muslim. Remember all the cries from Americans after the attacks of 9/11/01 for voices from moderate Muslims to condemn the radical Islamists? Dr. Jasser was one of those angry that none came forward. So, he became active through an organization he formed - American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) in his city in the Phoenix valley. He is a practicing physician and after forming his group of Muslim professionals in the area, AIFD formally launched in March, 2003. The mission of the group is to "articulate the fact that in commentary and scholarship that many Muslims believe that they are able to practice their faith more freely and more Islamically (in practice and secular fashion which is most suited to preserve one's faith) in America than in any other place in the world." That from the Web site.

Continuing, "AIFD seeks to make a small contribution to the body of thought which articulates an understanding of Islam which separates religion and state and is in complete harmony with the U.S. Constitution and our citizenship pledge."

Remember the film banned by PBS, Islam v Islamists? Dr. Jasser was one of the moderate, anti-Islamist Muslims spotlighted. Some PBS affiliates did eventually pick it up for limited distribution.

Dr. Jasser founded the Children of Abraham with a leading local Rabbi in 2000 to promote Muslim-Jewish dialogue.

The Third Jihad can be found here. It is billed as "radical Islam's vision for America." It is an eye-opener, that cannot be disputed. Ray Kelly, NYC Police Commissioner; Ayaan Hirsi Ali; Tom Ridge; Senator Joe Lieberman; former CIA director Jim Woolsey; Rudy Giuliani; Mark Steyn; Bernard Lewis are some of the voices in the film.

Bernard Lewis is a widely respected scholar and academic. At the end of the film he is asked for a couple of words of advice for the American people. "Wake up", he said.

The film uses Arab television footage. The film speaks to all aspects of the threat growing from within.

The sponsor of the film screening, ACT for America, was founded by Brigitte Gabriel. Ms. Gabriel is a frequent guest on radical Islam for television interviews. She is the author of "Because They Hate", a New York Times bestseller and her new book is "They Must Be Stopped". She doesn't pull any politically correct punches. That is understandable, given her own personal story.

Ms. Gabriel came to live in America in 1989. She is a Lebanese immigrant. She witnessed the country's fall to Muslim fundamentalism during the Lebanese Civil War. She is "a former news anchor for "World News", an Arabic evening news broadcast for Middle East Television seen throughout Israel, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon". That from the Web site. When she immigrated to America in 1989, she "founded a television production, marketing and advertising agency. Her clients include Good Morning America, 20/20, The Today Show, Oprah, Dr. Phil, CNN and Fox News, just to name a few."

Brigitte Gabriel founded ACT for America, a non-profit dealing with the issues advocating education of millions about the threat of radical Islam to world peace and national security. She has been named one of the top 50 most prominent speakers in America.

The film is distributed online for now. This screening was private - by invitation only - due to security concerns. There were armed security guards wearing bullet proof vests at the room's entrance. Id's were checked and matched against the guest list. My inner Nancy Drew was intrigued as to what all the hubbub was about. I did, however, feel completely safe there.

This all did, though, tie in with an article I read yesterday morning. On The Times Online, Michael Theodoulou wrote about an Iranian blogger, Hossein Derakhshan, arrested on charges of spying for Israel. He was nicknamed the "Blogfather" among Iran's blogging revolution. He was arrested in Tehran. He moved back to Iran just a few weeks ago from his last base of London. Before London, he lived in Canada for several years. He had a personal mission fulfilled by going to Israel in 2006, on a Canadian passport, "to show his 20,000 daily Iranian readers what Israel really looks like and how people live there." The trip was 'highly publicised' and he wanted to 'humanise' Iranians for Israelis', according to the piece.

He is 33 years old. "Until his recent move home, Mr. Derakhshan had returned only once to Iran since emigrating. Visiting to cover presidential elections in 2005, he was prevented from leaving the country for a week and interrogated by police. They told him that his blog was addressing too many taboo subjects and chided him for helping Iranians to skirt Internet censorship. He was allowed to leave after being forced to sign an apology."

It was an interesting evening. The film is good. Allow yourself the opportunity to watch it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Names Surface for the Next Administration

Is the Obama administration shaping up to be the third term of Clinton? Just as candidate Barack Obama claimed a McCain administration would be the third term of George W. Bush, president-elect Obama seems to be following suit.

Granted, Bill Clinton is the only Democrat in recent years to have the title of former President, but if bringing in experienced Republicans would have been redundant for John McCain, isn't the same true for Barack Obama in bringing on board so many former Clintonites? Seems to Democrats, experience means expertise. The charge against Republicans, however, is that experience would be more of the same.

A few more names are trickling out as upcoming cabinet appointees. The most recognizable name is Tom Daschle, former Senator from South Dakota and also former Majority Leader as well as Minority Leader. He is thought to be top dog in the running for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Since his re-election defeat in 2004, Daschle has served as a board member of the Mayo Clinic and is "a highly paid adviser to health care clients at the law and lobbying firm Alston & Bird", according to The New York Times. According to the article, a sticking point is with Obama's pledge "that no political appointees in an Obama administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years."

This means Daschle would have to recuse himself should matters concerning the Mayo Clinic or former clients arise as he carries out his duties as Secretary of Health and Human Services. No one would begrudge Daschle pursuing his ability to earn as much money as his abilities allow since leaving public service. But, to go back into public service with the new administration as head of an agency with far-reaching responsibilities, could prove awkward.

Daschle's wife, Linda, is a successful lobbyist for aerospace and military entities.

Valerie Jarrett, an old friend of both Obamas, will be senior White House adviser. She is credited with introducing her long time friend, Michelle, to Barack Obama. Michelle Obama was hired by Jarrett to work for former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. Jarrett was city planning commissioner. She worked for Habitat Company, a real estate development and apartment-management company. What the press release didn't say was that her dealings as President and CEO of Habitat lead to unanswered questions in Chicago as her friend, Obama, ran for President.

Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Al Gore, oversaw the Gore effort during the legal battles of the election of 2000. He will be chief of staff for Joe Biden. He has a history of involvement in Supreme Court nominations for the past 20 years. He was charged with vetting David Souter and Clarence Thomas for the Senate Judicial Committee under Democrat leadership. He brought forward the nominations of Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Phil Schiliro is a California Democrat with long service to Rep. Henry Waxman as a congressional investigator. He will be head of the White House legislative affairs office. As a hyper partisan by reputation, Schiliro will lay to rest claims of bi-partisan reaching across the aisle by the incoming administration. Waxman is known for using investigations as chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and Schiliro was a key member of Waxman's witch hunts. Waxman's sneering investigations have produced very little in the two years of the Bush administration that he has been re-installed as chair of the committee.

Schiliro will be useful in protecting Democrats from any investigative inquiries by Republicans as the next four years progress.

Didn't Barack Obama, as candidate Obama, promise to name a Treasury Secretary and get working on our financial difficulties as his first order of business? Where is that nominee? Wall Street hasn't shown any confidence so far in the names out there now for these other positions.