Friday, December 31, 2010

Some Book Suggestions for New Year's Reading

Some end of the year book recommendations are presented. These are books I read in recent weeks so they are fresh on my mind.

I don't read much fiction but there is one recommendation I will make with enthusiasm:
"Eighteen Acres" by Nicolle Wallace

This book is fun to read, a quick read because you won't want to put it down until the end, and it is full of snark. Good snarky tidbits that are obviously taken from Wallace's time in the Bush administration run rampant throughout the book. Some characters are easy to decipher as to whom they were patterned.

My favorite genre is memoirs:

"Spoken from the Heart" by Laura Bush

A true class act, Laura Bush speaks directly and firmly gentle in describing her incredibly unique life story. She includes wonderfully descriptive recollections of growing up in west Texas, of pursuing her educational and personal life as a young adult, and of her married life to George W. Bush. Her White House years are featured prominantly and include details of her work as First Lady. She brings a whammy or two to a journalist or two who stood out in not a good way while covering her time in Washington. She speaks to misperceptions taken as gospel truth to the Washington crowd.

"A Memoir Of My Exraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me" by Condoleezza Rice

This is Rice's story from birth to the year 2000, when she joined the incoming Bush administration. Her follow up book to this first one will be her years in the Bush administration.

From the business world:

"The Devil's Casino" by Vicky Ward

The story of the players in the Lehman Brothers saga. The author, a contributor to Vanity Fair magazine, writes with an insider's point of view about life in the investment company.

Ushering Out 2010

A look back into the events of 2010.

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Holding Obama Accountable on Energy Policy

When will Americans and especially those in the profession of journalism begin to ask some serious questions about our country's energy policies? When do we receive explanations of policies put into place wily-nily without rhyme or reason? When will American consumers insist on consistent common sense solutions to far-reaching decisions?

Oil and natural gas drilling policy making is more than just pie in the sky waxing on by activists concerned about the environment. It is small minded and short sighted to assume that those in the energy business do not think of anything but the actual acquisition of crude oil or natural gas.

It is hypocritical of the liberal environmental crowd to turn a blind eye to rising energy costs when in the past, President Bush and VP Cheney were under constant scrutiny of any rise at all at the gas pump.

As summarized by The Heritage Foundation:

President Obama knows energy prices are skyrocketing. The liberal mantra has long been to disincentive Americans from purchasing cheap fossil fuels, by driving costs up. Because the only way consumers will choose the vastly-more-expensive wind and solar alternatives is if all prices are high, rather than wait for the market to bring alternative prices down. This is a reckless and devastating way to make a point about global warming at the expense of American families.

Nearly no questions have been asked of President Obama by the media regarding: 1) his bungled response to the oil spill; 2) his unilateral policies that are creating higher home energy prices; 3) rising gas and oil prices; or 4) the de facto moratorium on domestic oil exploration. It’s time to start asking the White House some tough questions. A two year moratorium on accountability is long enough.

Why the slowdown on issuing permits? This administration's agenda is to push alternatives to fossil fuel energy at the expense of oil and natural gas drilling. Alternatives to oil and gas drilling are decades away from practical implementation. A constant energy policy is needed to maintain the supply of oil and gas as other methods are brought into use. So far this administration is simply immaturely denying an efficient process for permits.

No one wants sound safety practices more than those on the oil drilling rigs and their families. No company wants to be responsible for unsafe practices. To think otherwise is succumbing to blind ideology. Unfortunately, President Obama is a far left ideologue unable to move past that to common sense appraisal of the business.

Safety concerns for delaying permit issuance is difficult for industry leaders to understand with no major incident in shallow-water drilling since 1949 and only 15 barrels of oil spilled in blowouts during the last 15 years.

BOEMRE, the agency that issues offshore drilling permits, is enforcing new requirements for obtaining permits, but those requirements — such as the Interim Drilling Safety Rule — lack clarity for the industry as no one knows if those regulations will change. Also these new requirements lack an accompanying increase in BOEMRE staff to administer them, increasing the time needed to complete the permit review process.

Recently an open letter to President Obama was published in the Houston Chronicle. Written by ATP Oil and Gas Corporation Chairman and CEO T. Paul Bulmahn, it was a plea for President Obama to issue a permit pending since originally filed in July, 2009. According to the history of this permit request, the supplements, revisions and amendments have all been submitted as requested by the federal regulators. A revised Oil Spill Response Plan, now required, has also been submitted. The well is drilled and cased. This well location was approved in June, 2008.

The open letter to President Obama references the fact that ATP has been a member of the drilling community that has safely drilled 58,35 wells over 60 years in the Gulf of Mexico prior to the tragedy of the Macondo explosion and oil spill.

An interview with Bulmahn about the letter to Obama and the decisions he has been forced to make in light of the non-issuance of permits by Secretary Salazar's Department of the Interior can be found here.

A Poem by Bob Schieffer On Year's End

Enjoy a much needed end of the year smile, courtesy of CBS's Bob Schieffer. Thanks, Bob.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

CPAC Without Social Conservative Hypocrites

This type of bigotry does not speak for me or my conservative friends. This is stomach turning, hateful, myopic and unChristian behavior.

Two of the nation's premier moral issues organizations, the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America, are refusing to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference in February because a homosexual activist group, GOProud, has been invited

FRC and CWA join the American Principles Project, American Values, Capital Research Center, the Center for Military Readiness, Liberty Counsel, and the National Organization for Marriage in withdrawing from CPAC. In November, APP organized a boycott of CPAC over the participation of GOProud.

I find myself in some kind of bizarro world with my political party. Normally speaking, the CPAC crowd is a bit on the too conservative side of my philosophy, but I understand the wing of the party that is socially conservative first and foremost. I am a Baby Boomer with a range of life experiences that allow me a broader perspective in thought. Too bad the social conservatives do not show the same respect to others.

So, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC) supported Senator David Vitter in his re-election bid after Vitter was caught sleeping with prostitutes but can't support conservative homosexuals? The hypocrisy of the social conservatives is what causes the trouble within our party. Often it is those who are bellowing loudest about 'family values' that are leading lives of their own differently. Who are any of them to judge another?

None of us are without homosexual people in our lives, whether we know it or not. It is sad that some would place prejudice over common sense. If it is on religious basis, what church do they believe supports exclusion rather than inclusion? Is this their idea of Christian love? What would Jesus do? I grew up in the Presbyterian church - in a Deep South state - and do not believe this is what the Scriptures teach. Christians come from a place of love and encouragement not bitter exclusion.

It does not diminish a person to support others of different lifestyles. The traditional family is still strong in America. GOProud is to be welcomed within the Republican party as they support conservative political philosophy. With our nation in such dire straits, we need every conservative voice to fight the Obama agenda.

I will proudly support the CPAC gathering this year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Obama Re-Election Headquarters Move to Chicago

Team Obama is in the midst of planning and putting into operation a shift back to Chicago. The plan is to run the re-election campaign from that toddlin' town, Chicago. No formal announcement has been made, as an aide stated that Obama hasn't announced his intention to run for re-election yet. As though there is any doubt in that announcement coming in the near future.

Conjuring up shades of Al Gore and his noted campaign headquarters shift to Nashville, Team Obama is convinced that getting outside of the Washington, D.C. bubble will be a good thing. It will breath fresh air and ideas into the people tasked with messaging the President's ideas and there is the bonus of hanging with the common folk.

Democratic consultant Karen Finney said that's exactly the message Obama will be sending.

“Chicago is where the president is from. That’s his home, and I think it’s important to stay grounded in that," she said. "It’s a good way to remind people that’s where he comes from and that his roots are from the middle of the country.”

Interesting. This is the week that the Obama family is in Hawaii for the Christmas holiday. We are told every year as they make the trek that this is his home, this is where he was raised. Now, we are to believe Barack Obama is just another guy from the midwest. His 'roots' are "from the middle of the country". OK. Then.

Paging Rev. Wright. And Jesse Jackson, Sr and Jr. And Richard Daley. Let the fun begin.

There is no doubt, of course, that Obama plans to run for re-election. There is little doubt, if we were all honest about it, that Obama will be re-elected for a second term. It is hard to imagine at this time any potential Republican challenger running a strong enough and smart enough campaign to beat Obama in 2012. Obama is expected to raise one billion dollars as he runs again. Who is going to top that on the GOP side?

Even Bill Clinton won re-election after he lost the Democratic control of Congress, big time, in 1994. He won in 1996 and even remained in office after the House of Representatives impeached him. An incumbent President is a powerful person and not often beat.

Trying to run as an outsider will be Obama's challenge. With the rising numbers of populist voters, the task will be to make him appear as a moderate and regular guy. He is neither, by any stretch of the imagination, and that is his re-election team's challenge. With headquarters in Chicago, Obama will have an excuse to travel around the country as he is fond of doing. He really has never stopped campaigning anyway. Now he can do it up right.

So, no matter what the groundhog prediction is in February, we will be in perpetual groundhog day with a campaigning Obama for the next two years.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Obamacare's Death Panels Are Back

The White House is not pleased with the Sunday article on the re-emergence of the perhaps mislabeled 'death panels' hidden in Obamacare. The White House is pushing back. Opponents of Obamacare were concerned that this very thing would happen. Just as this provision was taken out of the bill in order to secure enough votes for passage, it is now quietly back in the final version of his health care reform bill.

When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.

Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

The final version of the health care legislation, signed into law by President Obama in March, authorized Medicare coverage of yearly physical examinations, or wellness visits. The new rule says Medicare will cover “voluntary advance care planning,” to discuss end-of-life treatment, as part of the annual visit.

The general public wasn't aware of this maneuver because most of the goodies in this monster bill are yet to be uncovered. It's intentional. Even the Democrats admit it. Shhh. Don't celebrate to loudly on the clever takeover of 1/6 of the national economy by a huge government entitlement program - that was the advice offered by Rep Earl Blumenauer from the State of Oregon.

After learning of the administration’s decision, Mr. Blumenauer’s office celebrated “a quiet victory,” but urged supporters not to crow about it.

“While we are very happy with the result, we won’t be shouting it from the rooftops because we aren’t out of the woods yet,” Mr. Blumenauer’s office said in an e-mail in early November to people working with him on the issue. “This regulation could be modified or reversed, especially if Republican leaders try to use this small provision to perpetuate the ‘death panel’ myth.”

Blumenauer must be having quite the chuckle, what with being filled with joy at having pulled this on off, despite the opposition - mostly from Republicans. If it was all a 'myth', then why was it pulled out for the vote, only to be quietly placed right back in during final signing? Why the hush-hush, Rep Blumenauer?

Moreover, the e-mail said: “We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists, even if they are ‘supporters’ — e-mails can too easily be forwarded.”

The e-mail continued: “Thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it, but we will be keeping a close watch and may be calling on you if we need a rapid, targeted response. The longer this goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it.”


More deceit from this administration. Less transparency. Forget about honesty, how about some basic human decency from this administration and their willing cohorts in Congress? What else is being hidden from us? Remember the famous Pelosi line that the bill had to be passed so we could see what is in it?

Not so amusing, is it?

Is the White House's "rapid, targeted response" of denouncing the Times article as 'wrong' the beginning of what is to come?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

George W. Bush's Memoir Sets Record Sales

President George W. Bush's memoir is setting records, creating heartburn among those who continue to wish him ill, no doubt.

Former U.S. President George W Bush's memoir has sold an astonishing two million copies since it was released in early November - and it's not even in paperback yet.
'Decision Points', published both in hardcover and e-book form, is flying off the shelves, the Crown Publishing Group says.
By contrast, former president Bill Clinton's memoir, 'My Life', has logged sales of 2.2million copies since it was first published in 2004.
A spokesman for Crown called the performance remarkable.
He claimed he could not think of any other hardcover nonfiction books in 2010 that had sold even one million copies, much less two.

The sales numbers must be of some comfort to the man. After eight years of constant vilification from Democrats and then fellow Republicans, in hindsight, the public opinion tide is turning. Certainly Barack Obama and his presidency draws a stark contrast of a humble and steady leadership versus the current narcissist in office, who seems only concerned with his own legacy and now re-election for a second term in the White House.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

NORAD Tracks Santa

NORAD performed as we have come to expect from them, magnificantly, and took quite seriously the task of tracking Santa's trek around the world, delivering presents to all the children of the world.

"We guard what you value most, your family. And your toys."

Here's a bit of history of NORAD:

NORAD is the bi-national U.S.-Canadian military organization responsible for the aerospace and maritime defense of the United States and Canada. NORAD, created by a 1958 agreement between Canada and the United States, provides advanced warning of impending missile and air attacks against its member nations, safeguards the air sovereignty of North America, and maintains airborne forces for defense against attack.

NORAD’s mission has evolved over the years. The most recent "evolution" in our mission came as a result of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. NORAD now coordinates closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and NAV CANADA, Canada’s equivalent to America’s FAA, to monitor the airspace within Canada and the United States. In addition, the command also conducts maritime monitoring.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Obama Hails Legislative Victories in Lame Duck Session

As I have previously written, those of us who watch the President Obama's personality driven presidency would bet that he took a victory lap before winging off to Hawaii for the holiday.

He did.

During a press conference on Wednesday, the President was all too eager to speak of the 'historic' lame duck session concluding on Capitol Hill. According to Obama and his team, everything is 'historic' about this administration's victories. It's pathetic tunnel vision and a show of a sad lack of historic awareness of our country's history, but this is the administration we have now. Not a single legislative victory would have been accomplished without the cooperation of the GOP. At any time, Senate Majority Leader McConnell could have brought it to a screeching halt. Instead, the GOP demanded a place at the bargaining table as the bills were hammered out. Common sense was brought into the insanely out of control spending demanded by Democrats and common ground was found.

The message was definitely not one of a desire for both parties to work together, Mr. President.

The Democrats are in deep denial as a coping mechanism over the November election results. The Democrats lost big - that was the true 'historic' lead into the lame duck session. The 'historic' gains were not legislative victories for Democrats but of the loss of Democratic seats in Congress. The talking points are that the American voter wants everyone to work together - which is a way of Team Obama claiming that Americans want the GOP to roll over for the Obama agenda. Not true by any measure.

"Nov. 2 wasn't about working with the president," Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, new chairman of the influential and deeply conservative Republican Study Committee, told POLITICO Wednesday. "It's about stopping him."

It's the singular, not-on-my-watch determination of Jordan's wing of the GOP — bolstered by the coming influx of tea party Republicans in both chambers — that has many lawmakers convinced the deal-making lame-duck session will give way to a blood-feuding 112th Congress. Liberals are gearing up, too, ready to defend Obama when he takes up their causes and to treat him as a traitor when he embraces Republicans.

The slobbering press is working overtime to convince readers that the Obama lame duck session is the greatest ever in legislative victories. They do not, however, report that the Democrats are still in large majorities in both chambers of Congress and the lame duck session is the last opportunity to pass the far left's agenda. After the November 2'shellacking' it became apparent that the country is fed up and compromise is the new name of the game. Not the traditional compromise of GOP caving into Democrat demands, quite the contrary. It's a new day in Washington, D.C. for Team Obama.

Obama was eager to get to business long delayed for less important, less urgent matters. He chose to invest his energy in health care reform - not a crisis - over other issues. This has backfired.

Here is a definition:

The "lame duck" amendment is the popular name for the 20th amendment to the Constitution, ratified on February 6, 1933. It is designed to limit the time that elected officials can serve after the general election in November.

Some of the support Obama received in the lame duck session came from Republican lawmakers ousted from office. Is this any way to pass legislation - especially a nuclear treaty with Russia? If voters thought the performances of these lawmakers was good, they would not have lost their re-election bids.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

9/11 Health Bill Passes in Senate

Here is what working together looks like: the 9/11 Health Bill passed in the Senate as the lame duck session concluded. $4.2 billion in aid for the 9/11 health bill recipients was approved for those heroic men and women who served as first responders and then the search and rescue crews and last, as the clean up workers who are now sick and dying for the effects of the toxins present at the scene.

The package provides $1.5 billion to monitor the health of rescue and cleanup workers and to treat illnesses related to ground zero. It also reopens a victims' compensation fund with $2.7 billion.

Hyper-partisan Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) acknowledged that Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) was a true and honest partner in the effort. Coburn insisted that the billions of dollars be accounted for and paid for in a realistic way. Instead of the normal vilification of an opponent, as is his history, Schumer remained calm and forged on in a continuing dialogue with Coburn and Senator Enzi on the GOP side of the aisle.

The junior Senator from New York is the big winner here. Senator Kristin Gillibrand has come into her own during this lame duck session. First with her impassioned pleas for passing the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and then the 9/11 Health Bill.

Once derided as an accidental senator, lampooned for her verbosity and threatened with many challengers who openly doubted her abilities, a succinct, passionate and effective Senator Gillibrand has made her presence felt in the final days of this Congress.

Her efforts have won grudging admiration from critics, adulation from national liberals and gay rights groups, and accolades from New York politicians across the political spectrum, including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who once shopped for potential candidates to oust her.

Even her relentlessness, which once drew mockery, is now earning the highest compliment of all: professional jealousy from her more senior colleagues.

Gillibrand has proven herself a serious member of the Senate and a hard worker, to boot. She was right to be passionate in her quest to assure those suffering from illnesses related to the aftermath of the attacks of 9/11/01 are taken care of by a set aside fund. And, Senator Coburn was correct in his pursuit of the truth of where the money was to come from and how it would be spent.

This is what it looks like for the grown-ups to be front and center in a political debate and solution. Take away the name calling and the stubborn insistence of the tunnel visioned ideologues from both sides of the aisle and work together to do the business of the American people. Some issues are bigger than pure politics.

Clapper Not Briefed on London Terror Arrests

The cat leaped out of the bag as a journalist interviewed James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence. His staff has failed him big time.

US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was asked about the attacks, with ABC News interviewer Diane Sawyer posing the questions: "First of all, London. How serious is it? Any implication that it was coming here?"
After a long pause, Clapper replied, "London?" . . .
The 12 men were arrested Monday in a sweep in the Welsh capital Cardiff, the central English town of Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham and in London.
Sawyer brought up Clapper's apparent ignorance of the developments later in the interview.
"I was a little surprised you didn't know about London," she said.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't," Clapper replied.

Why wouldn't his staff brief the man on this arrest? It was kinda a big f****** deal within the international intelligence community. Not only did they embarrass the boss in a national interview but they do the country a disservice by failing to keep the man current on world events. It all does eventually work back to us here in the United States, as events have unfolded previously.

Clapper is the guy charged with the President's daily briefing. President Obama is on record as having spoken to Prime Minister Cameron about the arrests.

First the administration blamed the interviewer's question. Then the truth came out:

After initially suggesting that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s inability to answer a question from ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer about the arrests of 12 suspected terrorists in London was because her question was too “ambiguous,” the Obama administration acknowledged Wednesday morning that retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Clapper had not been briefed about the arrests at the time of the interview.

“Director Clapper had not yet been briefed on the arrests in the United Kingdom at the time of this interview taping,” said ODNI spokeswoman Jamie Smith in a statement.

This was an interview with the three top people - Brennan, Napolitano, and Clapper. Brennan is a preening narcissist. He blamed the interviewer for referencing "London" without adding the word "arrest" with it. This is the team who gave us Napolitano saying how system worked during Christmas bomber attempt one year ago. This team who was put together to sift through the intelligence gathered and get a handle on everything terror related has failed again in ignorance.

What if it had been Bush's intelligence team? This would have been glaring headlines everywhere here and internationally. Great Britain is our greatest allie in this battle. How is the average American expected to remain alert and current on information while the top of the heap isn't properly briefed?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Oil Drilling Review Period Remains at 30 Days

The White House lost in its attempt at implementation of an extension of the oil drilling review period. The period will remain at 30 days, not the favored 90 days of this administration.

Landrieu and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) had led the opposition to extending the federal review period to 90 days, calling it an unnecessary delay to future projects delayed since this summer's Gulf of Mexico spill.

All of the country is indebted to these two women for their unrelenting effort. This administration continues in its attempts at killing offshore drilling. Not only is this a job killing act, it is no way to run an energy policy.

The continuing resolution passed by the Senate to keep the government chugging along into 2011 was the salvation of the drilling industry. The defeated pork-laden omnibus bill included the permit review period extension.

The fight over the 90-day language was essentially a continuation of one that has been going on for months between oil-state lawmakers and administration officials over the sluggish pace of permits that are being processed since the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig and subsequent unprecedented gulf oil spill.

The administration placed a six-month ban on deepwater drilling permits in the wake of the gulf spill in order to start developing new offshore oversight and safety regulations, which Interior continues to roll out. Drilling backers say that a de facto permitting ban remains on both deepwater and shallow water drilling permits.

The Senate spending plan does include an additional $23 million to the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement for oil rig inspections in the gulf.

The ideology of the far left is not to be tolerated in matters of energy policy. All methods of energy acquisition must be pursued and implemented.

2010 Census Report Data Released

The 2010 Census report data has been released.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that the 2010 Census showed the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2010, was 308,745,538. That number reflects a noteworthy drop in normal population increase. The population increase was 9.7%. That is the slowest population growth since the decade of the Great Depression. One reason may be the deep recession during the last of the past decade. Illegal immigrants returned home and those considering immigration remained in their home country.

The trend is population movement going south and west. For the first time, the West is more populous than the Midwest, according to 2010 census figures.

The most populous state was California (37,253,956); the least populous, Wyoming (563,626). The state that gained the most numerically since the 2000 Census was Texas (up 4,293,741 to 25,145,561) and the state that gained the most as a percentage of its 2000 Census count was Nevada (up 35.1% to 2,700,551).

Regionally, the South and the West picked up the bulk of the population increase, 14,318,924 and 8,747,621, respectively. But the Northeast and the Midwest also grew: 1,722,862 and 2,534,225.

The census is a constitutionally required exercise.

“As you know the constitutional purpose of the census is the redistribution of the membership of the House of Representatives across states proportional to the population,” continued Groves. “Since 1940 the law has specified that the Census Bureau use the method of equal proportions to assign seats to the states.”

The State of Texas gains four congressional seats. Texas has the biggest gain. Eighth states gained seats, ten states lost seats.

By law, illegal immigrants are counted. This has an effect on the outcome, including producing districts with more than half of the voting age residents ineligible to actually vote.

Several states with large immigration populations, both legal and illegal, will gain at least one seat out of the latest census numbers. They include Florida, Texas, Arizona and Nevada. South Carolina, Georgia and Washington state, which all saw unusually high rates of growth in their immigrant populations over the past decade, will also gain a congressional seat each. South Carolina, for instance, registered a 150 percent increase in its immigrant population, according to a CIS analysis.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Haley Barbour's Southern History

One of the rumored potential 2012 GOP candidates for President is Hailey Barbour, Governor of Mississippi. With an interview now published in the current issue of the Weekly Standard, Governor Barbour has hit a major pothole along the path to Iowa and New Hampshire. Liberal bloggers are in full outrage and conservatives are sharply inhaling and groaning. Why? Governor Barbour mentioned the White Citizens Council from his youth growing up in Yazoo City, Mississippi.

Those of us who grew up in the Deep South as white kids in the 1960's and 1970's suffer from a bit of selective amnesia when it comes to race relations. My experience is different than, for example, Condi Rice. We are but a year apart in age. She was born in Alabama, me in Biloxi, Mississippi. She was raised there and then in Colorado. I was raised in Louisiana. She was best friends with a little girl killed in a church bombing. I have nothing to compare with that experience.

What is this White Citizens Council? I had not heard of it before today. Another part of the southern experience not my own, I am coming at growing up Southern as a first generation southerner. My parents moved to Mississippi in the early 1950's from Indiana. My father, fresh out of college classes at Indiana University in Bloomington, inherited a small business from an Uncle and began life as a newlywed in Ocean Springs with my mother. I was born in Biloxi because there was no hospital in Ocean Springs.

According to this, the White Citizens Council is described as:
Southern opponents of racial integration organized white citizens councils to obstruct the implementation of the 1954 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to end school desegregation, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Originating in Mississippi, the councils advocated white supremacy and resorted to various forms of economic pressure against local advocates of desegregation. They attempted to win support for their views by describing the horrors that integrated education would supposedly bring. By the 1960s, as the pace of desegregation in southern schools accelerated, the councils grew steadily weaker. By the 1970s they were only of marginal importance.

Yeah, "opponents of racial integration" would not be a good thing. He was asked why he thought racial integration in the local school system went smoothly. Why wasn't there the racial turmoil presented in news accounts?

“Because the business community wouldn’t stand for it,” he said. “You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you’d lose it. If you had a store, they’d see nobody shopped there. We didn’t have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City.”In interviews Barbour doesn’t have much to say about growing up in the midst of the civil rights revolution. “I just don’t remember it as being that bad,” he said. “I remember Martin Luther King came to town, in ’62. He spoke out at the old fairground and it was full of people, black and white.”

Did you go? I asked.

“Sure, I was there with some of my friends.”

In Barbour's memory, the business council enforced peaceful integration. He looked upon them as a group of business men looking out for the community.

Barbour was from a long line of Democrats, also standard for the time. The year 1965 was also a signal year in Barbour’s political development. His older brother Jeppie came home from the Army and shocked the family by declaring himself a Goldwater Republican. As a politically well-connected family in Mississippi, Barbours had been bred to be Democrats since the Pleistocene Era. But there were subtleties and gradations. “We were Eastland Democrats,” Haley told me, referring to James O. Eastland, the long-serving U.S. senator, steadfast conservative, committed segregationist, and the bane of the national party’s left wing. As it happened, Barbour said, “our grandfather was Eastland’s daddy’s lawyer.” The two families had long been close. (“Mississippi is more like a club than a state—everybody knows each other,” Chuck Jordan said.) Coming out as a Republican, Haley said, “took a lot of guts on my brother’s part.”

When my parents moved to Mississippi in the early 1950's, they were not allowed to register as Republicans. Not allowed. There was only the possibility of registering as a Democrat. Condi Rice has a story in her memoir that her parents registered to vote as Republicans in Alabama because as blacks, they were experiencing problems with that act. Her parents registered as Republican in the end, as there was a white woman there trying to grow the party and welcomed everyone.

So, in telling his story, Barbour speaks from his own perspective. In his own reality, there was no big disruption over civil rights. Black people have a different perspective. It was, indeed, a very difficult time in the south. No one thinks Barbour is a racist - he has a sterling reputation as a good man among even the harshest liberal ideologues. But, this will be seized upon and taken out of context by those wishing to bloody him in the political arena.

Running for the highest office in the land as a Southern man with a thick accent is difficult enough. There are those in our country who still hold on to old stereotypes - Southern people are dumb because they speak slowly, are racists, are not well-educated, and lazy because life is a bit slower. I will defend a fellow Southerner any day over false charges.

Anyone want to open the discussion to how cities like Boston handled school integration? Until people can have an honest conversation about race in our country, the stereotypes continue.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Obama 2.0 Emerges As Storyline

Obama 2.0 has begun in earnest. The game plan now is for the White House, Team Obama and the slobbering participants within the world of the media to give President Obama a much needed political makeover. The message is that he is a compromiser, a fiscally responsible leader, a tough man open to all ideas.

Yeah, right.

He’s confined on the right by the incoming Republican House majority and the reality of deep budget deficits. He’s confined on the left by his own sullen Democrats, including many liberals who will be quick to protest if they feel Obama is selling them out or lurching cynically to the center.

Obama’s cramped circumstances, according to numerous veterans of previous White Houses and other experts, highlight his urgent need to reinvent his presidency—discarding the Congress-focused strategy of the first two years and coming up with new and more creative ways to exercise power and set the national agenda.

In other words, the Obama 2012 re-election campaign is in full blossom. Problem is, for us mere mortals, is that Obama is now being advised to use Executive Orders to circumvent the legislative process for his agenda. No doubt the slobbering press will have a dose of convenient amnesia over this - Obama was quick to criticize former President Bush as he used the Executive Order option during his time in office.

Obama has relied solely on Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid for his agenda to be shoved through against the wishes of the majority of the country. As a result, Democrats lost the House and Obama lost Pelosi's skills as a ramrod. So, now, with the advice of hyper-partisans like John Podesta, a hyper-partisan President is being told to push ahead. And, those tasked with getting the word out are only too happy to accept their assignments. PolitiFact, a liberal site that monitors statements of politicians and states the level of truth in them, is on board. According to the site, the lie of the year is the statement that Obamacare is a government takeover of health care. PolitiFact is an arm of the St. Petersburg newspaper, easily one of the most liberal newspapers in the country. Democrats are in full congratulatory mode over the lie of the year choice.

Obama's poll numbers are low. No, not the lowest of past presidents at a similar time in their presidencies, as Team Obama is quick to point out when poll numbers are discussed, but the fact is that his are not good and show no signs yet of any recovery as he seeks re-election. The number of those who disapprove of Obama's job performance is greater than that of those who approve.

The current idea being floated among Obama's insiders is a mid-week press conference just before he hops on board Air Force One to join his family and dog in Hawaii for Christmas and New Year's break. Team Obama is split on this one, according to the report. I hope he does. Seems every time Mr. Smooth does one, he ends up making headlines not so complimentary to his message. He has not quite learned the perils of going off message and ad libbing with his own perceived wisdom. Seems Barack Obama is not particularly wise and suffers from tunnel vision. Not to mention, his education seems to have been lacking in American History. You may remember even PolitiFact had to give him a big thumbs down for his description of the origins of Social Security. He called it a program implemented for "widows and children".

He is a narcissistic guy. He loves a microphone and tv camera. I'd put money on the press conference.

DREAM Act Goes Down In Defeat in Senate

The defeat of the DREAM Act in the Senate during a rare Saturday crammed with important votes during a lame duck session was a good thing. If the Democrats and President Obama were truly serious about immigration reform and helping those caught in the crossfire, this vote would have never been called. This was pure politics, nothing else.

Three Republicans - Lugar, Murkowski, and Bennett - voted for cloture for the DREAM act while 5 Dems voted against. Harry Reid either deliberately mislead supporters that he had the votes necessary to move it forward or else he deliberately tried to impugn Republicans. Either way, it was not a show of decency or leadership by the Senate Majority Leader.

The DREAM Act never received a Congressional hearing. Never. It never was brought for discussion on the floor of the House or Senate for serious discussion - and it never had a mark up session in Congress to blend in any needed adjustments or amendments. This tells the tale.

The DREAM Act ( Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act )would provide certain illegal and deportable alien students who graduate from US high schools, who are of good moral character, arrived in the U.S. illegally as minors, and have been in the country continuously and illegally for at least five years prior to the bill's enactment, the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency if they complete two years in the military or two years at a four year institution of higher learning. The students would obtain temporary residency for a six year period. Within the six year period, a qualified student must have "acquired a degree from an institution of higher education in the United States or [have] completed at least 2 years, in good standing, in a program for a bachelor's degree or higher degree in the United States," or have "served in the uniformed services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, [have] received an honorable discharge."[2] Military enlistment contracts require an eight year commitment, with active duty commitments typically between four and six years, but as low as two years.

If amnesty is to be granted to the children of illegal immigrants - the children being illegal in the country, too - then a process must be in place for implementation. This may appear to be an earned amnesty but it is still amnesty.

I watched a program following the naturalization process for legal immigrants recently. I cannot imagine that amnesty for illegal immigrants is anything other than a slap in the face to those who play by the rules and go the legal route. And, as long as the borders of our country remain unsecured, why would it make sense to put this action before the security issue? First, stop the constant stream of illegal immigrants coming across the border and then work of the rest of the problems. That is the Republican position. Secure the borders then deal with those already here. Democrats hope to put into play the same path they took with black Americans - buy votes with legislation. Perhaps it would be wise for Hispanics to look at how black Americans are now treated by ruling Democrats - they are taken for granted and old habits die hard.

Those coming here legally want to assimilate and be thought of as American. Many here illegally come across as feeling entitled to be here and deserve access to all that entails. America is a generous and welcoming country. We feel angry as we watch big rallies with other flags being waved as those waving them demand equal treatment. Assimilation is what nurtures the melting pot. We are a great nation due to assimilation. Immigrants must learn English, our national language which binds us in communication. They must learn our national history and commit to protecting our country, if necessary.

There should be no short cuts to citizenship. Life in America is the dream of people all around the world. It is not a right for those who break across the border and hide from law enforcement, if it is present at all.

This administration has not stepped up and made the decision to secure the borders. There are not enough border patrol agents and the violent drug infused criminal activity on the southern border is getting those there killed. Until measures are taken - more agents, more resources to get the job done - why should any other action be granted?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy Comes To An End

Put into place in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, the policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell - a ban on openly gay men and women to serve in the military - was ended on a rare Saturday vote in the U.S. Senate. On Saturday, December 18, the vote tally was 65-31, with eight Republicans voting in favor of the repeal.

Eight Republican Senators voted in favor of repeal of DADT:

Scott Brown, R-MA,Richard Burr, R-NC, Susan Collins, R-ME, John Ensign, R-NV, Mark Kirk, R-IL, Lisa Murkowski, R-AK, Olympia Snowe, R-ME, and George Voinovich, R-OH.

The policy repeal will take months to put into place, so nothing changes immediately. This transition was preferable to the court system ruling an immediate policy implementation. That was the main reason Secretary Gates was in support of the repeal - to keep the court's timeline out of the business of the Defense Department's military decisions. It will only be implemented once certification is signed by Secretary Gates and the Joint Chief of Staff, and President Obama that it will not be disruptive.

Senator Susan Collins brought the bill to a vote as a stand alone vote, as opposed to being a part of a larger defense funding bill as it was orginally. This made it easier and a much cleaner vote for senators.

Since the inception of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, some 12,500 service members have been removed from the armed forces. Effective immediately, no one will be dismissed from service ever again due to sexual orientation.

An interesting difference in this vote and that of the DREAM Act vote that occurred on the same Saturday. DADT has been the subject of Congressional hearings and much deliberation with Pentagon officials and others, both in and out of the military at present time. The DREAM Act was not the subject of any hearing, ever, and was not the subject of serious, thoughtful debate in Congress. While it is questionalbe as to the legitimacy of the DADT repeal to occur in a lame duck session, it was definitely an easy decision to not allow the DREAM Act to move further towards enacted law until a respectful process was underway for its consideration.

Those currently under investigation for policy violation will remain so for now. It is not acceptable to come out as gay or lesbian in the armed forces for now. Until it is all signed off on, everything remains the same.

One step at a time.

Senator Cornyn Delivers GOP Weekly Address

Attention conservative critics of the tax extension bill! Senator Cornyn explains the agreement. And, he thanks those who called the offices of members of Congress to voice opinions, thus strengthening some spines.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Republicans Embrace The Inner No

It was a very big f****** deal, as Vice President Biden would say. The massive omnibus bill failed to be brought to a vote in the U.S. Senate and died. Now a continuing resolution will keep the government running into the new year. The message from the last election has been heard. Politicians were told, in no uncertain terms, to stop doing business as usual. They were told to get some common sense about them and stop with the over the top spending.

This is a big win for the GOP.

The omnibus bill was laden with earmark spending to buy votes from politicians and then from their constituents. Democrats were cheering, Republicans were opposing. The one barrier in the way? Republican committee chairmen appropriating earmarks in the bill to entice Republicans to go along. That strategy failed and the few Republicans who originally indicated they might vote with the Democrats in favor of the omnibus felt the heat and heard the message. Republicans stood united and a few Democrats came along, too. Senate Majority Leader Reid did not have the votes to pass it and did not bring it to the floor.

The Democrats were unable to end the session as it began.

The 111th Congress began with an $814 billion stimulus that blew out the federal balance sheet, so we suppose it's only fitting that the Members want to exit by passing a 1,924-page, $1.2 trillion omnibus spending bill. The worst Congress in modern history is true to its essence to the bitter end.

Democrats have had 11 months to write a budget for fiscal 2011, which began on October 1.

This is a big win for the country.

In January, as the new Congress gets down to business, a budget will finally be drawn up with Republicans in the majority of the House of Representatives, the purse strings of the federal government.

I heard an opinion piece on NPR recently. The speaker was declaring the word of the year as "no". Seems this guy didn't appreciate that the minority party in Congress, the Republicans, were using that word to stop what they considered bad legislation, thus blocking the agenda of the President. The speaker was an avowed Obama fanboy and didn't quite understand the action. He didn't understand that it is the job of the opposition party to block bad legislation. He didn't understand that there are, in fact, clear differences between the political philosophies of the two parties.

Maybe the NPR guy didn't understand that there are clear differences between the parties because somewhere along the line, over the course of the last decade or so, Republicans did too much of going along to get along. Republicans didn't always stand united against bad Democratic policies. Now, thanks to a very vocal and unhappy population in the country, Republicans have come back to reality. Democrats will exploit weakness within the GOP and strong unity is the path to victory.

The NPR guy no doubt was happy for the Democrats to be the naysayers when they took over control of Congress in 2007 and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were more than happy to deny legislative victories of former President Bush at every opportunity. Maybe NPR guy has a short memory.

To Republicans I say, embrace the "party of no" label during this administration. It's a big f****** deal.

Obama Fails to Persuade

The inexperience of the community organizer turned President of the United States is showing. Again. This time the outcome blew any chance of getting his much desired omnibus bill passed before the Christmas break and before the government ran out of money. The only hope turned out to be the solution struck, a solution favored by the Republicans in the Senate - a continuing resolution to keep everything chugging along until after the first of the New Year. Then the grown-ups will come into help straighten everything out as the newbies are sworn in and the dead weight is out of there. Barack Obama has got to learn to put the ego away and deal with those for whom he courts support in a more conciliatory manner.

The tone was set when the president appeared before the White House press corps and offered a statement on the deal he struck with Senate Republicans on the tax code extension bill. He was angry and used words not used by Presidents towards the minority party, much less against his own. It was not a dignified or adult way of delivering his message.

The tax extension bill and the omnibus spending bill - another huge 'stimulus' - were stalled on Capitol Hill as Congress prepares to adjourn for the Christmas break. Then, in the middle of the night, after Democrats threatened to vote against it in order to get more taxes squeezed out of taxpayers at the upper end of the roster, the bill was passed. Much over-wrought rhetoric was heard on the floor of the House of Representatives from Democrats refusing to acknowledge the unfairness of taxing at higher levels those most successful, those who pay the most in taxes, those who employ wage earners. It was classic class warfare being waged by Democrats.

And, after the votes were clearly not there to pass the omnibus bill in the Senate, Senator Reid pulled it from the line-up of votes to be taken.

The president has yet to learn how to persuade fellow politicians to pass his agenda.

It is the president's favorite rhetorical pose: the hectorer in chief. He is alternately defiant, defensive, exasperated, resentful, harsh, scolding, prickly. He is both the smartest kid in class and the schoolyard bully.

There are many problems with this mode of presidential communication, but mainly its supreme self-regard. The tax deal, in Obama's presentation, was not about the economy or the country. It was about him. It was about the absurd concessions he was forced to make, the absurd opposition he was forced to endure, the universally insufficient deference to his wisdom.

The administration further complicated its communications task by presenting Obama as ideologically superior to his own agreement. The upper-income tax rates and the estate tax provisions, in David Axelrod's description, are "odious." As a rule, staffers should not use such a word to describe policies a president has agreed to accept. It makes a president look compromised and weak. Instead of a leader brokering a popular agreement, Obama appears to be a politician forced under threat to violate his deepest convictions.

After two years on the job, President Obama has failed to learn how to effectively deal with Congress - on either side of the aisle.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Senator Cornyn and Earmarks

Senator John Cornyn(R-TX) is catching some heat from the far right base of the Republican party. Why? It would seem he is the target of criticism for hearing and understanding the message of the November 2 elections - the public is tired of wasteful government spending in the name of earmarks.

Cornyn signed the earmark moratorium, for a two year period, written by the GOP after the election, for the signal to be sent that the lawmakers heard the message sent by voters. Then the bloated omnibus, laden with billions of dollars in pork spending, was dumped on the Senate to pass in short order. Cornyn objected and went on the record as a 'no' vote when it is brought to the Senate floor.

Wait a minute, say some demanding purity of all politicians, as though any human being is perfect. They as how Cornyn can complain about earmarks when he requested them in the omnibus bill? Cornyn answers critics by stating that the requests were made months ago and his concern military support spending. He says his requests are easily justified but in the current environment, having signed the moratorium pledge, he is honoring it and voting no. Reasonable, if you ask me.

Criticism of Cornyn's decision is bi-partisan, though. Mother Jones includes this bit: Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) sent out a blistering email fundraiser for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which he heads. In the note, Cornyn decried the 6,600 earmarks totaling $8 billion contained in the bill:

Will you help send a message to Senate Democrats? Go here and tell them that you will not stand for business as usual in Washington. They should not pass this bill and to stop spending money our country doesn't have.

My question to the purists is this: What about the darling of the Tea Party, Senator Jim DeMint? Hasn't he received forgiveness and now showered with kudos for his vigilance on fiscal restraint? How do they measure that next to his own claims of being a recovering earmarker? Or is it just ok for those on the list of good guys and not for those with whom they often disagree?

Cornyn ran into some problems with the Tea Party set as he successfully guided the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the 2010 election cycle. See, he has this funny idea of being practical and using common sense to win elections. He believes it is better to support a less than perfect GOP candidate almost certain to win the general election than the sure to lose candidate who spouts all the right things for primary voters. In a few instances, this certainly cost GOP seats and it was not the fault of Cornyn.

Most reasonable people think it would have been better to have a less than perfect GOP winner than an Obama supporting Democrat. Now that the smoke has cleared even some of the Tea Party loyal are shaking their heads at the statements since the election by their favored candidates - such as Christine O'Donnell and Sharron Angle. Live and learn.

Senator Cornyn deserves support of conservatives and Republicans as he goes about putting into place honoring pledges he has made since the election.

And, if case you need some reminding of his success in the 2010 election cycle:
“After winning seven Democrat Senate seats, successfully defending every Republican Senate seat, and dramatically narrowing the fundraising gap with Senate Democrats, the NRSC stands ready to wage a strong 2012 election cycle,” NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) said in a statement.

No complaints here.

Senators - Stop Complaining About Working During Christmas Time

How in the world can U.S. Senators complain that they are working during the Christmas season? How can this in any way be considered an insult to Christian holy days?

Senators Kyl and DeMint have voiced displeasure that Senate Majority Reid claims he will keep the Senate in session after the Christmas holiday time off and work is left unfinished. Senator Kyl started it off: DeMint’s comments echo those of Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) who said Tuesday that Reid’s voting schedule is impossible to accomplish “without disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians.”

DeMint took it furthest, as is his grandstanding habit, by calling it "sacrilegious".

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) called Democrats' push to force through an arms control treaty and an omnibus spending bill right before Christmas "sacrilegious," and warned he'd draw the process out to wage his objections.

“We shouldn’t be jamming a major arms control treaty up against Christmas; it’s sacrilegious and disrespectful," he told POLITICO. "What's going on here is just wrong. This is the most sacred holiday for Christians. They did the same thing last year - they kept everybody here until [Christmas Eve] to force something down everybody's throat. I think Americans are sick of this."

This brought about a quick and angry response from Senate Majority Reid.
“As a Christian, no one has to remind me of the importance of Christmas for all of the Christian faith, all their families across America,” he said. “I don’t need to hear the sanctimonious lectures of Sens. Kyl and DeMint to remind me of what Christmas means.”

I do not appreciate being place in the position of agreeing with the despicable Harry Reid by my fellow Republicans. It was just foolhardy and unnecessary.

I do not think it is wise to ram through the START Treaty during the lame duck session. This is not something historically done and I don't think it is advisable to start with this treaty either. Though it was signed months ago and ready to go, it was only brought up now because of the political calculation done by the White House and the Democrats. Republican calls for allowing it to wait for debate and a thoughtful process in the Senate until the new session is not unreasonable. Even the Russians say there is no rush for an immediate ratification.

I would like for Senator Kyl and Senator DeMint to re-think dragging religious holidays into their political arguments. I would like Senator Kyl and Senator DeMint to consider all those who do work through the Christmas season, and yes, even on Christmas Day. My own husband has been away from home and working on Christmas Day many years of our married life. Neither he nor I nor our son like it when it happens but the truth is, if it's your job, you do it. Period.

What about the service men and women stationed around the world? What about emergency response people and public safety workers? Nurses? Doctors? Retail and service industry workers? They all work on religious holidays, too.

The criticism from Kyl and DeMint may have been warranted about the business being conducted in a lame duck session but not the reason they presented. U.S. Senators are quite pampered and well taken care of on the taxpayer's dime.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Harris Co Office of Homeland Security & Emerg Mgmt in Social Media

Attention fellow Houstonians and Harris County residents!

Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HCOHSEM) is doing a Social Media Launch.

The Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management joins Facebook. Follow their page for preparedness tips and timely emergency management updates.

And, on Twitter:

Check it out. Stay informed.

Congress Approval At All Time Low In Gallup Poll

An all time low in favorable ratings has fallen on Congress according to Gallup.

Americans' assessment of Congress has hit a new low, with 13% saying they approve of the way Congress is handling its job. The 83% disapproval rating is also the worst Gallup has measured in more than 30 years of tracking congressional job performance.

One factor is the push to pass game-changing legislation in fast order before the lame duck session ends and the large Democratic majority in the Senate shrinks. Majority Leader Reid made the decision to try and ram through social issue legislation and legislation benefiting the Democratic party in the future, or so he thinks.

The lame duck Congress was supposed to limp out of town this Friday, but yesterday Mr. Reid announced that in the dwindling days before Christmas he plans to pass the bipartisan tax deal, the New Start arms treaty with Russia, the immigration Dream Act, a "lands bill," and a bill to let gays serve openly in the military. Oh, and yesterday he also dropped on his colleagues a 1,924-page, $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill for fiscal 2011 that no one but a few Appropriators have read, if even they have.

Another factor is the general feeling of anger towards those now serving. Many have been voted out of office and their constituents are ready for them to go. Voters are ready for fresh faces and new blood in Washington, D.C.

And, last I think is the anger Democrats feel towards other Democrats. The support of Democrats for fellow Democrats in Congress fell rather dramatically according to the Gallup poll. Approval of Democrats in Congress was at 38% in October 2010 and is now at 16%. And, there is anger from some Democrats that those in office lost their re-election bids by not listening to the voter over the last two years.

History indicates reason for a bit of hope for the next session of Congress.

Despite the historic lows, the prospects for a recovery in Congress' approval ratings in the short term appear good, based on what Gallup has measured in the past when control of Congress changed hands. Gallup documented a 10-point increase in Congress' approval rating from December 1994 to January 1995 after the Republicans officially took control of the House and Senate after the 1994 midterm elections. There was a larger 14-point increase in congressional approval ratings after the Democrats' taking control of Congress in January 2007.

Both increases were fueled by spikes in congressional approval among supporters of the new majority party.

Clock Is Ticking For Passage of Omnibus

The clock is ticking. If the omnibus bill is not passed by the Saturday night deadline, the government will be out of operating money.

This Congress never bothered to pass a fiscal budget. For the first time since the 1970's, this government has been run by continuing resolutions instead of an actual budget. It has been at the hands of Democrats. This gives committee chairmen control of appropriations from year to year and that is not a good thing.

The President has weighed in by asking Congress to get the thing passed and never mind all that unnecessary and extravagant spending tucked into it. Just move along, nothing to see here.

With $8 billion in earmarks included in the omnibus bill, it appears President Obama didn't really get the message he claims he understands from the mid-term elections.

The Obama administration today told Congress to pass an omnibus spending bill containing $8 billion in earmark projects, even though just a few days ago the president said one of the lessons he learned from the 2010 midterm elections was to take more seriously the public’s disapproval of – and his pledge to oppose -- earmarks.

Do not listen so closely to what President Obama says, but watch what he does. Usually they are two separate things.

Now, just as happened last Christmas eve with the last minute wheeling and dealing as the health care reform was rammed through the Senate then signed into law, now we have all the "unexpected" earmarks in this omnibus bill. I find it interesting that the Senators who asked for all these earmarks now feign surprise at the sheer numbers of them in the bill.

Just when he thought he had a deal, grudgingly compromising with Senator McConnell as the negotiator for the Senate Republicans, it is in danger of slipping away. It certainly is getting a lot of unexpected attention. Not only are the tax code extensions up for vote but also estate tax rates. Democrats think that when a person dies and has a bit to leave to family members then that estate must be taxed. It is double, sometimes triple, taxed income but Democrats think it is the government's money in the first place, not a successful business owner's legacy to pass along to his or her survivors. Often the estate holds value in land, like a farm, but not in cash on hand so that farm would have to be sold for the family to pay estate taxes. It is a shameful practice.

President Obama coyly suggests since both Democrats and Republicans are not completely satisfied with the agreement struck, then it must be a good compromise. What he doesn't say is that the administration dropped the ball. Instead of insisting that Congress deal with the tax rate extension and the matters related to the tax code before the sunset occurred, Obama and his team chose to spend the first eighteen months of their administration dealing with health care reform. It was a made-up and bogus crisis to be dealt with and it was deliberate, as Obama rightly assumed it would be his only window to ram it through.

No wonder Congress and Obama have favorable ratings in free fall.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Omnibus? Omnibust!

At the last possible moment, a piece of legislation has been dumped on the desks of Senators to keep the government trudging along through the end of 2011. A one trillion dollar stack of papers is to be read and digested before the vote scheduled for Monday. It is a 1924-page omnibus spending bill with $8 billion in earmarks.

Yes, billions in earmarks as though the message of the voters in November was never received on Capitol Hill. Both parties have oodles of goodies in this travesty. Here is a list:

Cochran (R-MS) 230
Wicker (R-MS) 199
Murray (D-WA) 172
Harkin (D-IA) 152
Reid (D-NV) 129
Menendez (D-NJ) 123
Feinstein (D-CA) 121
Lautenberg (D-NJ) 120
Lincoln (D-AR) 114
Inouye (D-HI) 113
Schumer (D-NY) 106
Johnson (D-SD) 105
Landrieu (D-LA) 104
Specter (D-PA) 103
Pryor (D-AR) 96
Levin (D-MI) 93
Stabenow (D-MI) 91
Boxer (D-CA) 90
Brown (D-OH) 87
Grassley (R-IA) 86
Bingaman (D-NM) 86
Durbin (D-IL) 86
Akaka (D-HI) 83
Wyden (D-OR) 83
Cardin (D-MD) 79
Merkley (D-OR) 79
Gillibrand (D-NY) 79
Bond (R-MO) 78
Bennett (R-UT) 76
Casey (D-PA) 76
Udall (D-NM) 73
Reed (D-RI) 70
Kerry (D-MA) 69
Cantwell (D-WA) 69
Hagan (D-NC) 69
Voinovich (R-OH) 68
Klobuchar (D-MN) 68
Rockefeller (D-WV) 67
Dodd (D-CT) 66
Mikulski (D-MD) 65
Tester (D-MT) 65
Lieberman (ID-CT) 64
Hutchison (R-TX) 63
Burr (R-NC) 63
Baucus (D-MT) 62
Dorgan (D-ND) 60
Warner (D-VA) 60
Webb (D-VA) 58
Franken (D-MN) 58
Collins (R-ME) 57
Leahy (D-VT) 56
Murkowski (R-AK) 55
Whitehouse (D-RI) 55
Kohl (D-WI) 54
Conrad (D-ND) 52
Vitter (R-LA) 48
Cornyn (R-TX) 45
Snowe (R-ME) 44
Nelson (D-FL) 43
Chambliss (R-GA) 42
Crapo (R-ID) 41
Risch (R-ID) 41
Bennet (D-CO) 40
Brownback (R-KS) 39
Carper (D-DE) 39
Begich (D-AK) 37
McConnell (R-KY) 35
Roberts (R-KS) 35
Sanders (I-VT) 33
Shelby (R-AL) 32
Inhofe (R-OK) 32
Shaheen (D-NH) 32
Alexander (R-TN) 30
Udall (D-CO) 30
Lugar (R-IN) 29
Graham (R-SC) 27
Thune (R-SD) 26
Isakson (R-GA) 24
Nelson (D-NE) 23
Sessions (R-AL) 21
Bunning (R-KY) 21
Ensign (R-NV) 20
Gregg (R-NH) 13
Barrasso (R-WY) 4
Enzi (R-WY) 3
Hatch (R-UT) 1
Bayh (D-IN) 1
Corker (R-TN) 1
Brown (R-MA) 1
McCain (R-AZ) 0
Feingold (D-WI) 0
Kyl (R-AZ) 0
DeMint (R-SC) 0
Coburn (R-OK) 0
McCaskill (D-MO) 0
Johanns (R-NE) 0
LeMieux (R-FL) 0
Manchin (D-WV) 0
Coons (D-DE) 0
Kirk (R-IL) 0

When you take a long look at those earmark numbers, you can see that more Democrats are up on the high end in terms of earmarks, with a lot more Republicans down here on the low end of the scale.

Sen. John McCain and Rep. Jeff Flake and, two Arizona Republicans who long have crusaded against earmarks, blasted the nearly 2,000-page omnibus bill, saying it ignores the will of voters who made clear last month Congress needs to rein in government spending and debt.

The American people “are tired of wasteful spending. They are tired of big government. They are tired of sweetheart deals for special interests. They are tired of business as usual in Washington,” McCain said on the Senate floor.

“And they are tired of massive bills – just like this one - put together behind closed doors, and rammed through the Congress at the last moment so that no one has the opportunity to read them and no one really knows what kind of waste is in them.”

Added Flake: “This omnibus was written as if the election in November never happened. Voters explicitly rejected runaway spending. Congress clearly didn’t get the message. If President Obama did, he will veto this bill.”

The thought of Obama using the veto pen on a massive and wasteful spending bill is amusing, though. He is the King of wasteful spending and bloated government red ink.

Our federal deficit is unsustainable and the warning bells have been ringing for some time now. While President Obama is fond of complaining that the GOP offers no alternatives to his continued out of control spending solutions to our struggling economy, one Congressman has been consistently doing just that. Rep Paul Ryan has been presenting solutions on his own website and on others. He even suggested some ideas to Obama in person during the well publicized photo op of a summit for both party's leaders some months ago. Obama batted them away but not before the point was made that Rep Ryan is a force to be reckoned with in economics. Obama is no match.

This unbelievably bad pending omnibus is a clear example of the question at hand: do we want to be a nation encouraging dependence on big government and its programs at the expense of personal freedom and responsibility? Do we want an economic environment that encourages business growth - that of small business creation and large business productiveness - or the extinguishing of ambition? Do we continue to grow as the economic steam engine of the world or do we accept a lesser status?

Rep Paul Ryan produced an op-ed outlining his approach to the deficit and our way forward as a country recently.

The deficit debate is not merely an exercise in arithmetic; it is also a conversation about the role and purpose of government. Do we wish to accept a cradle-to-grave welfare state, in which more Americans depend on the government than on themselves, or do we want to promote an opportunity society that promotes human flourishing, connecting effort with reward?

The former is where we're headed if we remain on our unsustainable course. The latter will require a restoration of the foundations for growth: low tax rates, spending restraint, reasonable regulations and sound money. Will we be mature enough to start laying those foundations now, before it's too late? Recent events leave me hopeful - but it will require committed leadership to seize this opportunity and meet our most pressing challenges.

The plan put forward by Ryan was published before Tuesday, when the omnibus was dumped by Senate Democrats laden with wasteful spending which no doubt dashes his optimism about the immediate future.

Michelle Obama - Lunch Room Monitor

As reported, Michelle Obama thinks America's parents need her help in providing better nutrition to America's school children.

Speaking at Monday's signing ceremony for the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act”-- a law that will subsidize and regulate what children eat before school, at lunch, after school, and during summer vacations in federally funded school-based feeding programs -- First Lady Michelle Obama said of deciding what American children should eat: “We can’t just leave it up to the parents."

And this tidbit pops up: The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act expands federal subsidies to school meal programs by 6 cents per meal and gives the government more authority to regulate the types of food available to students in lunch lines as well as vending machines. The law also covers fundraisers and could limit bake sales and pizza parties that occur during school hours.

Bake sales, pizza parties and fundraisers? Really? We need government controls in all that? Looking at a photo taken at the event, I see Speaker Pelosi there. I guess Grandma MiMi wants a San Francisco kind of totalitarian rule in school nutrition, too.

Sounds like the control freak residing within the First Lady has run amok. The price tag for the new nutrition program will cost $4.5 billion over the next ten years. Besides a pilot program for organic foods, the schools will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner to qualifying students. Sounds as though Michelle is taking parents out of the equation all together.

And then Barack threw Michelle under the bus. See, it really wasn't him that wanted to earmark all that money and new laws from the Agriculture Department, it was Michelle. She made him do it.

Obama said that if the bill had not reached his desk for his signature, “I would be sleeping on the couch.”

The law has been championed by the first lady as part of her campaign to end childhood obesity. Michelle Obama said that while it may seem ironic to be addressing childhood hunger and obesity at the same time, “it’s really just two sides of the same coin.”

Wow. That Michelle runs a tight ship, doesn't she? First she has Barack scurrying from a joint press conference with former President Clinton by saying he can't keep her waiting any longer for a Christmas party. Now she has coerced him into signing legislation. She's got the leader of the free world on a short leash. Poor Barack. He doesn't even realize how inane these remarks sound. If he wants to abandon responsibilities, stop blaming the wife. Man up and take responsibility.

First Mama, Big Mama. Don't mess with Michelle.

The federal nanny state now extends to the U.S. Department of Agriculture making inspections at public schools nationwide to monitor the food served in school lunch programs and in vending machines, too.

For good measure, Michelle Obama frames her signature legislation as a national security concern. Pass her demands, or the terrorists win, I suppose is the theory. Michelle even wore her fancy looking suede boots for the occasion.

You know who I think are a security risk? Real terrorists. And GITMO detainees. And jihadists. Not the school lunch programs. Maybe the problem is a country used to every meal super-sized. Maybe the problem is that poor folks can't afford fresh produce on a food stamp budget. Maybe the problem is fast food hamburgers are cheaper than real food from the grocery store. And, maybe in some cases it is just plain old laziness. I know, that's not politically correct. But the solution to overweight children is not a governmental takeover of the lunch room or vending machines. It is basic education and an informed decision making process.

What's next? Monitoring baby bottles for soda instead of organic fruit juice and spring water?

And, what about the waste that will occur from school cafeteria workers tossing out uneaten food?

There is indeed no such thing as a free lunch. Congratulations, taxpayer. You are paying for this intrusion sponsored by the First Lady.

Watch here as Michelle Obama indoctrinates America:

Texas House of Representatives Gains GOP Super Majority

Two Democrats serving in the State of Texas House of Representatives announced a party switch. The announcement was made by the Republican Party of Texas chairman Steve Munisteri. Standing with Munisteri during the announcement were Governor Perry, Speaker Straus and Attorney General Greg Abbott, as well as the two Democrats.

I am excited today to welcome Representative Allan Ritter of House District 21, and Representative Aaron Pena of House District 40, to the ranks of the Republican Party. Both of them have told me that they no longer were comfortable with the direction of the Democratic Party, both here in Texas, and nationally, as it has dramatically shifted to the left under President Obama. I have had an opportunity to visit with local party leadership in both of their districts, who inform me that former Democrats such as Allan Ritter and Aaron Pena will be welcomed into the Republican Party in their locale. Obviously, this is an important milestone for the Republican Party of Texas as it ensures that we will have a super-majority in the House of Representatives. We look forward to adding to these numbers in the days to come.

The super majority status is important. This makes it possible for the House to suspend rules and for business to be conducted even in the event that the Democrats walk out of a session en masse as has happened in the past. Like children having a temper tantrum, Democrats fled to the State of Oklahoma instead of remaining and conducting the peoples' business. It was a cowardly and dishonorable act.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

GOP Chairman Steele Announces Bid For Re-Election

Michael Steele made headlines again Monday.

Michael Steele, the controversial chairman of the Republican party, says he'll seek a second term.

Steele made the announcement in a conference call Monday to members of the Republican National Committee.

Michael Steele sees the writing on the wall. Dwindling support among his most faithful of supporters has taken a toll as the number of potential challengers rises.

During his tenure, Steele cultivated an inner circle of about 30 advisers, out of the RNC's 168 voting members, who served as unofficial liaisons to the rest of the committee. But that circle has shrunk in recent weeks as formerly close allies began informing Steele they would no longer back his candidacy.

And, yet, the man forges on. He announced he will run for re-election as GOP Chairman.

Many insiders see the defection of Wisconsin GOP chairman Reince Priebus as the beginning of the dominoes chain of events which firmed up the rising challenges for Steele. Priebus is Steele's legal counsel and former campaign manager. He has thrown his hat into the ring and has been accumulating early support from some heavyweights.

Steele is amused at the competition for his job.

Ending weeks of rumors that he would not seek a second term, Steele plans to throw his hat into the ring during a conference call with RNC members at 7:30 p.m. ET, the sources said. Steele is said to be amused by false reports of his retirement and intentionally kept his plans secret for the last month in order to flush out competitors for the post, Fox has learned.

During Steele’s tenure, Republicans picked up 63 House seats in last month’s elections, the biggest gain in more than seven decades. But Steele has been dogged by criticism from some Republicans who see him as prone to missteps.

It is easy to criticize some of the well publicized blunders Steele has made. He doesn't always filter his thoughts and isn't always the best at monetary decisions. However, I would argue that the man responded early to the Tea Party movement and welcomed them into the Republican voting block. He reached out and brought some of the early leaders to Washington to meet with him. He traveled around the country speaking to groups as outreach, too. That is good. And, the Tea Party voters joined with Republicans to usher in the history making GOP victories on November 2. He should get some credit for that, amongst all of the criticism against him.

There is an impressive roster of challengers lining up. One in particular has never stopped campaigning for the job and uses a strong social media presence to promote himself. It may be noted that he was unsuccessful in his bid last time around when Steele originally secured the job.

Steele is a fighter. Though conventional wisdom would indicate that he will lose in his bid for re-election, it's too early to count the man out.

No Labels Launches Plea for Civility in Politics

A group of political insiders has come together to launch a movement that will focus on calling out those in the public eye who do nothing to advance a civil tone in politics. No Labels launched in New York City as a movement, not a third political party.

Here's the list of those forming the coalition according to the website:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Congressman Bob Inglis
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Congressman Tom Davis
David Brooks
Joe Scarborough
Mika Brzezinski
Senator Joe Lieberman
Senator Evan Bayh
Senator Joe Manchin
David Gergen
Governor Charlie Crist
Lt Governor Abel Maldonado
Congressman Michael Castle
Ellen Freidin

You may notice most are Democrats, most are liberal in leaning. Some are truly confused and sway with whatever political wind will bring a win in their own election - Charlie Crist, Michael Bloomburg jump out in particular. Mika Brzezinski? She receives and parrots talking points directly from the White House.

It is interesting that they call themselves a coalition, a movement, and specifically state that it is not the formation of a third political. These are the same folks who belittle the Tea Party movement and name call those participants in the rallying crowds. The Tea Party has never claimed to form as a political party either.

And, for example, Joe Scarborough is known for his willingness to bash Republicans though he is a former GOP congressman from Florida. I understand his call for common sense in the actions of public officials - that is a recurring theme of my writing, too. It is sorely lacking today. But, he is no example of civil behavior if he continues to criticize others (Sarah Palin) as people even after they leave political office but remain in the spotlight.

This group leans liberal yet the worst behavior seen in the Bush years and up until the present comes from Democratic side of the aisle. So, you'll excuse me if I'm highly skeptical.

Some recent examples of off the charts bad rhetoric from the Democrats:

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill said it was time for citizens to "take up pitchforks" in her bid to add fuel to the fire of class warfare in the tax code extension debate.

New Jersey Senator Bob Mendenez said negotiating with Republicans was the equivalent to negotiating with terrorists.

President Obama compared the GOP to hostage takers. Hostage was the word of choice in the Democrat's talking points as the bill was cobbled together in the Senate. Those Republicans, holding the middle class hostage because they wanted all income levels to avoid a tax increase in this time of a sputtering economy.

Perhaps the new coalition should begin with challenging this hyper-partisan President to moderate on his rhetoric towards Republicans. Lead by example.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Boehner Interviewed on 60 Minutes

Quite telling, really, that 60 Minutes persona Lesley Stahl reacted to incoming Speaker of the House Boehner's pledge to cut all of the GOP House budgets resulting in a $25 million savings as "fairly small". That is the mindset of the big government liberal - the group in which Stahl identifies - the response that if the action is other than huge and overwrought, it is not enough. Well, reducing federal spending has to start somewhere and Boehner was trying to explain that this action would be the beginning. A jumping off point.

Boehner rightfully told Stahl that incoming revenue - in the form of raising taxes - is not the problem resulting in an out of control federal deficit. It is the out of control spending that has created the mess.

"Excuse me, Mr President, I thought the election was over", Boehner responded when asked how he felt when the President referred to the GOP as hostage takers. That is a slap that Obama himself used in response to John McCain as the GOP and Democratic leadership negotiated in the photo op summit about health care reform. You may remember Obama telling McCain the election was over and it was time to move on to problem solving from campaign rhetoric.

Stahl is concerned that Boehner may not be the deal-making Republican leader he is known to be, that he may be more unyielding now that the Tea Party and other Independents ushered in the biggest sweep of electoral victories since 1938. And, Stahl is puzzled by Boehner's frequent displays of emotion, rather it is replying a strong "hell, no" while bucking up the GOP to stay united, or in addresses as he chokes up and tears spring to his eyes. Funny, I don't remember Bill Clinton questioned about his lip biting and phony tears during his presidency.

Oh, right. Republicans aren't regular human beings.

Stahl referred to his emotional displays as "water works". Nice, Lesley. Limosine liberals from the upper East or West side of Manhattan are so classy.

Stahl was surprised that Boehner and Ted Kennedy were good friends. While Obama referred to him as a "bomb thrower" and would have new challenges when he becomes Speaker of the House and not Minority Leader lobbing criticism at the administration, Obama has met his match.

While Stahl all but giggling and plays pattycake with Democratic leadership interviews, she made the extra effort in sounding stern as she questioned Boehner. She asked Boehner why he had never played golf with Obama, as they are both enthusiastic golfers. Boehner said usually it is the President who does the inviting. He was polite enough to not mention that this president doesn't get together with those in the opposite party socially as other presidents have in the past. This president shuts out the GOP instead of being that "post partisan" guy he promised to be.

Stahl badgered Boehner about compromise. She, as liberals do, think the art of compromise is when Republicans do it in favor of Democratic agendas. It is not a two-way street, this process of compromise in politics.

And, yes, Boehner teared up a couple of times in the interview. During the segment with Debbie Boehner, Stahl showed some surprise that Mrs. Boehner never moved to Washington, D.C., choosing instead to stay in Ohio and raise their two daughters there. It was another regular American in flyover country versus Manhattan elite moment. Debbie Boehner was asked by Stahl if her husband "cries all the time". Debbie Boehner said, no, but this is a unique time for her husband as he ascends to a position very few have held. She said he is coping with all that it entails.

Boehner did well in the stereotype busting department. Liberal journalists hate that.