Monday, January 31, 2011

A Preview of Campaign Stories to Come

This is the headline of an article written by a Washington Post staff writer:

2012 Republican presidential candidates all have flaws

Any problem with that?

He went on to list potential GOP candidates and his opinion of the potential flaws primary voters may find with each. Nice, huh? He quoted a political adviser that is a co-founder of the no labels campaign and has worked for both Republicans and Democrats. So, no agenda there, right?

This is a preview of what is to come during the 2012 presidential campaign. The campaign has already started - I would argue it never ended from 2008 - and Obama will have plenty of support in what is suppose to be the professional reporters out there. Instead we will have a barrage of this nonsense. We'll have many more articles spouting a reporter's personal opinion as fact and a big old wet kiss to Barack Obama - those Republicans, they would never be smart enough to pick someone who would actually unite the party and win an election against Barack Obama.

Maybe he will be proven to be right. If so, it's even more disturbing.

Happy Chaos and Bloody Confrontation in Egypt

To appear as though he is listening to his people and attempting to put reforms into place, Egyptian President Mubarak fired his parliament and named a vice-president for the first time. American administrations have been encouraging this for years.

With protests raging, President Hosni Mubarak named his intelligence chief as his first-ever vice president on Saturday — setting the stage for a successor as demands for the longtime leader’s ouster showed no sign of abating.

Like Mubarak, Suleiman has a military background. The powerful military has provided Egypt with its four presidents since the monarchy was toppled nearly 60 years ago. He has been in charge of some of Egypt‘s most sensitive foreign policy issues, including the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Suleiman, additionally, is widely seen as a central regime figure, a position that protesters were likely to view negatively.

Mubarak also named his new prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, the outgoing civil aviation minister and fellow former air force officer.

The military is seen as friendly towards the protesters. The police force, however, is seen as the brutal enforcers of the Mubarak regime. The shootings reported of protesters are reported to be at the hands of police, which include plain clothed police.

Military service is required of the people and as one protester told a reporter, "every family has a member of the Egyptian military. The military is the people."

An Egyptian journalist stated firmly that the protesters do not want American intervention but American support. "It is an internal Egyptian issue." There are reports of chants against America and against Israel - Egyptian people are firmly against Israel though Mubarak has been a helpful partner in protecting Israel during his time in office. The turmoil in Egypt is bad news for Israel and its national security.

The median age in Egypt is 24 years. The country's population is strikingly young. One young protester voiced a common sentiment, "it is happy chaos and bloody confrontations." The joy of the freedom of expression is tempered with the reality of violence and anger against Mubarak as the protests go forward.

We wait and watch.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Freedom Agenda of George W. Bush Bears Fruit

As I have written in previous posts, the Obama administration is in a tough spot on how strongly Egyptian President Mubarak should be supported. The U.S. has sent billions of dollars to aid Egypt - read Mubarak - for years and he has been a somewhat reliable ally in the Middle East. The Bush doctrine of promoting freedom among those oppressed around the world is providing much fruit, as of late. Yeman, Tunsia, Iran have all faced uprises.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration has not provided leadership on the world stage for human rights and promoting democracy. Time and time again the response from this administration has been detached, late and weak.

Several men have been promoted as the next leader in Egypt. Egyptian dissident Mohamed ElBaradei returned to Egypt in hopes of seizing the reins of power in his native country. The next day it was reported he was place under house arrest. It is not clear if these reports of house arrest are correct. He was seen walking with protesters in Cairo.

As for the U.S., ElBaradei said the leadership had fallen short of Egyptians' expectations.

"What is ... very disappointing to the Egyptian people is the message coming from the U.S., which is saying that we are going to work with the Egyptian people and with the government," he said. "Well, you have to make a choice. This is an authoritarian government and on the other hand the people have been deprived of their freedom for 58 years."

In general, ElBaradei predicted the situation would worsen before it got any better. "Things do not look good here," he said. "People are very frustrated and I think the situation will escalate in my view."

It is not helpful that Vice President Biden said during a television interview last Thursday that he would not characterize Mubarak as a dictator. Another public gaffe by the man who was touted as this administration's foreign policy expert. This statement could not have been taken well by the people of Egypt.

Hillary Clinton appeared on all the Sunday morning talk shows trying her best to articulate strong support for democratic reforms in Egypt without openly advocating for Mubarak's removal from office.

In November 2003, then President George W. Bush asked this: "Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom and never even to have a choice in the matter?"

A deputy national security adviser in the Bush administration now says the freedom agenda is bearing fruit. "Angry Friday" brought tens of thousands of Egyptians into the streets all over the country, and they have remained there all weekend, demanding the end of the Mubarak regime. The huge and once-feared police forces were soon overwhelmed and the Army called in. Even if these demonstrations are crushed, Egypt has a president who will be 83 at the time of this fall's presidential election. Every day Hosni Mubarak survives in power now, he does so as dictator propped up by brute force alone. Election of his son Gamal as his successor is already a sour joke, and it is increasingly unlikely that Egypt's ruling elites, civilian and military, will wish to tie their future to Hosni Mubarak rather than seeking new faces.

His freedom agenda demanded better for the oppressed of the world. Bush was mocked by the Democrats as naive and using the freedom agenda to justify the removal of Saddam Hussein. Bush said: "Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe - because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty," Bush said. "As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment and violence ready for export."

We must now hope that the Obama administration is up to the challenge. They have appeared slow and flat in previous foreign crisis. This upheaval is particularly important to us as Egypt has been a moderately strong ally for us in the region and it borders the Suez Canal. That is the path to oil exportation.

After appearing on the Sunday morning shows, Hillary Clinton flew to Haiti. And, Saturday night brought reports of Barack Obama at a farewell party for David Axelrod with the press in attendance.

Is this the public show of support to the Egyptians that will make them feel secure in our backing?

A Glimpse Into Media Coverage of Egyptian Chaos

The media coverage of the chaos in Egypt is a real eye-opener. I have witnessed a full spectrum from good reporting to random remarks from hacks.

I am pleasantly surprised to witness the performance by a CNN anchor that now has my respect as a reporter. I admit, I gave up on CNN a long time ago but in times of international crisis, the cable network does lead on real time and on the ground reporting. So, I tuned in yesterday and continued on from there. Today I give big props to Jonathan Mann. Stellar performance behind the anchor desk. If you don't see the contrast between his interviews and questioning and that of others with pronounced agendas, then you aren't paying attention. That's all there is to say.

I heard Mann say that it appears to be coming true, that belief of former President George W. Bush, that all people long for freedom. He noted that the Bush initiatives in Iraq and the Middle East certainly appear as though they are coming forward, long after he is now out of office. It is a bitter pill to be swallowed by the hateful left in this country to cede any credit to George W. Bush. History will not look kindly upon those who fought Bush at every turn and intensified the downward cycle of political discourse as they did so.

Contrast that with this entertainer masquerading as a pundit with his own show:

From the man who worked for President Jimmy Carter and now works for MSNBC:

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Leading off tonight: Unrest in Egypt. Proving the Iraq war wasn`t needed, these protests in Egypt, as well as in Yemen and Tunisia, are all aimed at dictators supported by the U.S. The demonstrations have not yet turned anti-American, but they could. These are the events the Bush administration hoped to encourage by lying about weapons of mass destruction and invading Iraq. A live report from Richard Engel at the scene coming up. And we`ll stay on this story throughout the hour as events warrant"

This is why his show is so low in the ratings. He is such a hyper-partisan hack that he can't report honestly on anything having a political bent, which are the only stories he brings to his show. He is still re-hashing the "lie" of the weapons of mass destruction though it is abundantly clear that every politician and world leader believed the same intelligence reports. He would like to keep it all on the shoulders of George W. Bush. Matthews is not worthy of any audience at all.

It can, in fact, be argued that it was Secretary of State Condi Rice's speech in Cairo in 2005 that planted seeds of change in Egypt. At the time she was taken to task for speaking truth to power - that it was not always such a wise decision to back dictators in the Middle East for the sake of continuity, for the sake of staying with whom you know. Administrations - both Republican and Democratic - have done so for decades. Supporting the known versus supporting the emergence of the unknown in leadership is bound to backfire eventually. You may remember the much hyped speech delivered in Cairo by Barack Obama was slobbered over by his adoring press but criticized by the citizens of Cairo at the time. While Rice brought intellectual heft in her foreign policy speeches, Obama brought the attitude and words of an American apologist.

The role of social media is spotlighted for importance again, as it has in previous uprisings on the international scene. Currently, I am following the Twitter updates from an Egyptian blogger:!/Sandmonkey

Facebook pages are springing up to deliver information and grown support for demonstrations here in America and around the world. Internet service has been shut down in Egypt but reports now are that cell phone service is available.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mubarak Fires Parliament And Stays In Power

Day Four of the protests in Egypt. History is being made as we watch live streaming online and television.

President Hosni Mubarak has not succumbed to the demands of the protesters - that he leave. Instead, he announced that his Parliament would resign. As violence escalated, the military was out in force. Deaths have been reported and it is apparent the protesters are not backing down. Mubarak justified calling in the military.

"Violence will not solve the problems we face or realize the objectives we aspire to," he said. "I will not shy away from taking any decision that maintains the security of every Egyptian," he vowed.

It should be noted that the protesters were pleased to see the military, of whom they respect. It is the police that has been shooting protesters.

Egypt has been the largest opposition to an Iranian controlled Middle East. If the Muslim Brotherhood comprised of Sunni Arabs, takes advantage of any amount of a leadership vacuum, Egypt will be under Islamic jihadists. A Sunni power base would usher in a regime change sympathetic to Iran. It is a fine line that is to be walked. Support the dictator we have a 30 year relationship with yet stand with the protesters for a more democratic Egypt.

There is no history of democracy in the Arab world. There is no foundation on which to built democratic reform in Egypt. A dictator may fall, leadership may change, but to whom does the power go?

There is a rapid deployment force in place to rescue/evacuate embassy employees - in place after the need was demonstrated during the Iranian hostage days as the Shah of Iran was overthrown. Americans in Egypt are being told to stay indoors. The State Department - between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's statements - is reviewing options and plans should evacuation become necessary.

Hillary Clinton is expressing contradictory statements - first support for Mubarak, then with the protesters - and she has to figure out a consistent message. With the escalation of violence and the police in the mix, the U.S. administration is reported to have been considering cutting support to Egypt. We currently send $1.5 billion in annual aid to Egypt.

Mubarak also defended the security forces' crackdown on protesters, saying he had given them instructions that the protesters be allowed to express their views. But, he said, acts of violence and vandalism left the security forces with no choice but to react top restore order.

He spoke minutes after the end of a day of protesters running rampant on the streets of Cairo, battling police with stones and firebombs, burning down the ruling party headquarters, and defying a night curfew enforced by a military deployment.

Is President Obama up to the challenge of walking a fine line here? Can he support Mubarak in his stated reform acceptance while standing with the people in the street?

Obama, describing a candid 30-minute telephone conversation he had with the Egyptian leader shortly after Mubarak's televised address, said protesters' "grievances have built up over time" because Mubarak has failed to address Egyptians' desire for more open government and improved economic opportunities.

Obama again called on the Egyptian government to show restraint in keeping order, and he also emphasized that demonstrators have a responsibility to protest peacefully.

Obama has a dismal record on the world stage. Hillary Clinton has made her share of blunders. We can only wait and watch.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Link for Live Streaming Coverage of Egyptian Protests

To watch the protests in Egypt in real time, here is a link to the live stream coverage:

Pay attention.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Michael Williams Enters U.S. Senate Race

And then there were four. Four candidates for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison are officially in the race.

Michael Williams entered the U.S. Senate race today to fill the slot left vacant by Texas senior Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's announcement that she will not seek re-election in 2012.

Williams was first appointed to the three-member Railroad Commission of Texas in January 1999 and won election to finish the term in November 2000. He won election to full six-year terms in 2002 and 2008. He was the first African-American elected to the commission, according to his official biography. Earlier this week he announced he would step down from the commission in April to pursue the Senate race full time.

Williams, a lawyer, has held a number of government positions, his biography explains. President George H.W. Bush appointed him to positions at the Department of Education and Department of the Treasury, and George W. Bush was the one who originally appointed Williams to the Railroad Commission

Upon announcing his resignation from the Railroad Commission, Williams said,“...I have accomplished what I came to do, so it is time to move on to new challenges, new opportunities for us to do big things, and to continue to make Texas a beacon state.”

The Roll Call article linked here is wrong, by the way, in reporting that Ted Cruz is considering a bid for the seat. He announced last week.

The other two announced candidates are Elizabeth Ames Jones ,Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission and Roger Williams , former Tx Secretary of State. Roger Williams has been endorsed by former President George H.W. Bush. Elizabeth Ames Jones has kicked off a statewide tour to introduce herself to voters.

Crony Capitalism - Obama Picks Winners & Losers

After criticism for not responding with a public statement quickly enough and after denying the residents of the Louisiana Gulf Coast a face to face visit for two weeks - he was too busy flying around the country in campaign mode for his legislative agenda - Obama did finally visit the Louisiana Gulf Coast and made a promise to the local officials and residents that he would not forget them. He pledged to stand with them. A funny thing happened on the way to recovery...

There was absolutely no mention of the Gulf oil spill in the State of the Union address delivered by President Obama Tuesday night. No mention of the eleven lives lost in the initial explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, either.

“You’re not alone. You will not be abandoned. You will not be left behind,” the president declared in Grande Isle, La. on May 28. “The cameras at some point may leave; the media may get tired of the story; but we will not. We are on your side and we will see this through. We’re going to keep at this every day until the leak has stopped, until this coastline is clean, and your communities are made whole again. That’s my promise to you.”

As Rep Joe Wilson yelled last year, "You lie!" , President Obama. Even after local Congress people reminded him of his pledge and encouraged him to talk about the disaster in his speech, there was not one word uttered.

In advance of Obama’s speech, lawmakers of both parties representing the Gulf states had urged the president to talk about the need for new offshore oil drilling, which has been effectively halted since the deadly Deepwater Horizon rig exploded last April, unleashing an undersea gusher that spurted unchecked for months. In October, the Obama administration officially lifted a moratorium on new drilling, but no new permits have been issued, sidelining thousands of oil workers.

You see, instead of making it right, this human and environmental disaster, President Obama chose to make it his goal to shut down offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Shortly before the tragic events of April 20, 2010, President Obama lifted bans on offshore drilling in other spots, grudgingly, and faked an acceptance of the necessity of all forms of energy production. The Deepwater Horizon explosion and the loss of eleven souls was an excellent opportunity for Obama to renege on his lifting of drilling bans and to double down on existing offshore drilling.

Obama decided to do as politicians do when they run out of ideas - he formed a commission to investigate and report back to him on new policy recommendations. He placed on this commission lots of folks with absolutely no experience in the oil drilling industry. He appointed the former governor of Florida - a strident anti-drilling ideologue - as the chairman of the commission. The illegal drilling moratoriums were argued in court and the administration lost every argument to keep them in place. Thousands lost jobs and companies went out of business. The Gulf coast is still recovering. Plus, still cleaning up spots that were oil soaked.

The usual results occurred. Oil drilling is bad. Oil companies are evil. Stockholders and executives are not entitled to dividends created out of greed. And, oh yeah, BP threw billions of dollars at Team Obama to make it all go away.

So, fast forward to the State of the Union address. What does Obama do? In order to justify billions of dollars in "investment" in "green" energy, he decides to praise all forms of energy acquisition - natural gas, coal, nuclear, solar, wind. No mention of oil drilling except to mention he'd really like to put an end to the incentives and tax breaks that oil companies receive to explore, drill and then produce crude oil and also natural gas. Take that, Louisiana.

Speaking about investing - spending - money in new technology and research for energy development he said: "We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. (Applause.) I don’t know if -- I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. (Laughter.) So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s."

Maybe my sense of humor has been dulled. I don't think it is funny that companies would make money and work for success. So, instead of continuing with proven technology and an energy source that is here now, let's throw more money at technology and 'green' energy that won't come online for decades. Does he not realize that fossil fuel will be needed until everything else is in place? Of course he does, he just chooses to put politics over the American way of life. He wants to choose the winners and losers. He refuses to acknowledge it can be a win-win if all methods of energy production were allowed to flourish.

We need it all.

The oil drilling industry is the most heavily taxed and regulated business in our country. Oil drilling doesn't receive any more 'breaks' than any other energy business. All of them receive incentives and tax breaks. If one aspect of the energy sector loses the 'breaks' then all of them must.

Think about this - the oil industry has been moving forward with investments in alternative energy sources. For example, BP partnered with others and the federal government to go green. Remember the commercials? BP went from British Petroleum to Beyond Petroleum. Their reward was to be kicked to the curb, as will the other big oil companies who have followed the pattern of developing green technology. Next it will be the natural gas companies, rest assured of that. Natural gas comes from oil drilling - you knew that, right? Yeah, so does Team Obama. T. Boone Pickens better watch his back. He's a darling of the environmentalists now but that will change soon enough.

President Obama promotes crony capitalism - his political ideology dictates which businesses will succeed and which will be stopped through government intervention. In the end, the American consumer pays for it all. Rising gas prices are here again. Uncertainty has already produced a dwindling fleet of drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico with the rigs and those jobs going overseas. President Obama sent millions to Brazil for offshore drilling there. We will pay for this at the gas pump. And, we remain dependent on those in other nations who wish to kill us as they sell us crude oil.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

State of the Union Address Criticized - From the Left

Responses to the president's State of the Union address are everywhere. It is notable that as his term in office progresses, some real critiques are available for mass consumption - from the left. In the beginning, Obama was obviously treated with kid gloves by an adoring national media. Now, with promises and accomplishments exposed over time, a more realistic appraisal of his performance emerges.

The little that Obama presented in the way of cooperation in cutting federal spending, for example, doesn't really add up. It was a lot of small measures at a time crying out for bold steps to treat the ailing economy.

OBAMA: Vowed to veto any bills sent to him that include "earmarks," pet spending provisions pushed by individual lawmakers. "Both parties in Congress should know this: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it."

THE FACTS: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has promised that no bill with earmarks will be sent to Obama in the first place. Republicans have taken the lead in battling earmarks while Obama signed plenty of earmark-laden spending bills when Democrats controlled both houses. As recently as last month, Obama was prepared to sign a catchall spending measure stuffed with earmarks, before it collapsed in the Senate after an outcry from conservatives over the bill's $8 billion-plus in home-state pet projects.

It's a turnabout for the president; in early 2009, Obama sounded like an apologist for the practice: "Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts, and that's why I've opposed their outright elimination," he said then.

So, Obama presents an example of ending earmarks in legislation, though he has strongly defended them in the past and the new GOP leadership has already acted upon ending the practice. Smoke and mirrors. It is easy to act as though you will be firm when the system is already in place.

In the foreign policy department, the speech was woefully lacking in any substance at all. Where was the support for budding democracies around the globe? When will he truly step up to help Africa? Where was the support of human rights activists around the globe - especially those imprisoned by dictators and thug leaders? Where was the concern about our border security and the failing country of Mexico?

Former Carter administration national security adviser Zbigniew Brzeziski
called the speech 'Pollyannaish' and lacking in heft. He was disappointed that foreign policy came towards the end of the speech and glossed over. He said Americans have an "unbelievable ignorance of the rest of the world." As for our leadership on the world stage, Brzeziski said, "We could end up with the entire Muslim world against us. Where was the guidance?"

And from another liberal critic - Journalist/author Bob Woodward dismissed the State of the Union address as "a feel good speech".

The real problem with the address is that Obama - a very savvy political man - tried too hard to appear as a moderate and appeal to Independents. His history is not as a moderate and the results of the mid-term elections was a strong signal sent from America that no one buys that line of thought. Obama is in re-election mode and he suffered a huge humiliation last November that cannot be ignored. This speech, however, ended up a pile of mush. He played on emotions with the acknowledgement of the Arizona shootings and concentrated on human interest stories to add weight to his proposals for new spending as he spoke of reducing the deficit. The contradiction was stark. And, most of all, it brought the light of insincerity to his words.

The flowery words have been spoken. Now he hits the campaign trail to convince the voters that he is in charge and capable of what is before him. The media is his best support, still. We continue to hear the talking points prepared by the White House parroted in press reports - Obama's approval numbers are up in polling, he is moving to the center and he is up to the challenge.

Congressional Budget Office states that a $1.5 trillion deficit - 9.5% of GDP - will be in place without true fiscal reform. The federal deficit is at an all time high.

Is President Obama up to the task?

Paul Ryan's State of the Union Address Response

Rep Paul Ryan of Wisconsin delivered the GOP response to the State of the Union address. He began, as President Obama did, with words of recognition and support for Congresswoman Giffords.

On the budget, remember that the Pelosi led Congress didn't even present a budget as required last session. That was the first time the budget requirement was ignored in decades.
“Americans are skeptical of both political parties, and that skepticism is justified – especially when it comes to spending. So hold all of us accountable. In this very room, the House will produce, debate, and advance a budget. Last year – in an unprecedented failure – Congress chose not to pass, or even propose a budget. The spending spree continued unchecked. We owe you a better choice and a different vision. Our forthcoming budget is our obligation to you – to show you how we intend to do things differently, how we will cut spending to get the debt down, help create jobs and prosperity, and reform government programs.”

“The facts are clear: Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law spending increases of nearly 25% for domestic government agencies – an 84% increase when you include the failed stimulus. All of this new government spending was sold as ‘investment.’ Yet after two years, the unemployment rate remains above 9% and government has added over $3 trillion to our debt.”

The President spoke of 'investments' in various initiatives - infrastructure, technology, research and development - which all may be admirable projects but the bottom line is that 'investment' means spending, stimulus-style. The promise that unemployment would not exceed 8% if the original spending spree of Team Obama was passed through Congress failed to materialize. Instead, the spending programs have mostly failed and unemployment rates rose.

“We believe government’s role is both vital and limited – to defend the nation from attack and provide for the common defense; to secure our borders; to protect innocent life; to uphold our laws and Constitutional rights; to ensure domestic tranquility and equal opportunity; and to help provide a safety net for those who cannot provide for themselves. We believe that the government has an important role to create the conditions that promote entrepreneurship, upward mobility, and individual responsibility. We believe, as our founders did, that ‘the pursuit of happiness’ depends upon individual liberty; and individual liberty requires limited government. Limited government also means effective government. When government takes on too many tasks, it usually doesn’t do any of them very well. It’s no coincidence that trust in government is at an all-time low now that the size of government is at an all-time high.”

President Obama spoke of government as the solution, as is his belief. This is simply fundamentally opposite to Republican thinking. Obama has expanded the role of the federal government in everyday life and has created more jobs in the federal structure than in the private sector. Republicans do not view this as success or a realistic way forward to economic recovery. Government is not to create jobs but to provide an atmosphere and policies that allow and encourage job creation.

“We need to reclaim our American system of limited government, low taxes, reasonable regulations, and sound money, which has blessed us with unprecedented prosperity. And it has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed. That’s the real secret to job creation – not borrowing and spending more money in Washington. Limited government and free enterprise have helped make America the greatest nation on earth.

Amen. Well said.

Obama's 2011 State of the Union Address

The prom was held. The nonsensical gesture of the two parties sitting amongst each other was carried out. Republicans sat with Democrats. Democrats sat with Republicans. Dogs and cats communed in harmony. Magical. All just for show, a touchy feely gesture. It was a gesture created to make the Democrat minority now in Congress look less drastic. Then the President delivered his State of the Union address to Congress and the American people.

With President Obama, one must watch what he does, not listen to the words he says as he gives flowery speeches. It is normal for these to be two separate realities from this White House.

Let's face it - the State of the Union address is a grown-up pep rally. It made much more sense to show unity by all wearing the black and white lapel ribbons. Each side pops up and down to show support for whatever the President says in his speech. It's theatre. It also shows party unity. And, that last part is important. As usual, social engineering by Democrats overplays the sentiment.

"We will move forward together or not at all." Interesting sentence. This is the hyper-partisan politician who rammed through major entitlement legislation without any support from the minority party - the first time in history - and now that the GOP controls the House of Representatives, he would like to seem willing to work with them. Time will tell.

The reason the President calls for working together - whether he truly believes it or not - is because for the first two years of his term, he proved who he is politically. He proved he is a liberal ideologue. He proved he has no desire to work with the other party or to be open to their ideas. Publicly he berates the Republicans as the party of no, of an opposition with no plans of their own, which does not entice a desire to work together from either side. This is where his utter lack of leadership is most obvious. He does not lead. He bullies and taunts and talks smack to those with different ideas.

Obama spoke about the legislative success he experienced in December - the lame duck session - after the November mid-term elections and realized cooperation is necessary now. That was the key. He could no longer shut the GOP out of negotiations and had to reacquaint himself with the work 'compromise' to pass his agenda. The American voter said loud and clear that the Obama agenda was not popular.

"Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation." It was strange to hear the words 'free enterprise system' uttered in a positive way. That is encouraging. Perhaps Obama will be more open to measures that encourage growth in small business. He must embrace tax relief and lowering corporate rates is a good beginning to that. President Obama gets credit where credit is due. Politics is the art of persuasion.

"Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they're selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all - and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen."

Our country still has no true energy policy in place. We continue on a rollercoaster ride of flucuating energy prices due to a dependency to foreign sources for our supply and to a blind ideology that refuses to understand that the oil drilling industry is a necessity for the foreseeable future. The green energy talk is pie in the sky for decades to come. It is admirable but not anywhere near such ridiculous talk as a goal for 2035. Where does that particular year come from? It is simply pulled from the air. Americans deserve energy from all sources of production. He wants to end the money paid to oil drilling companies as incentives and tax breaks because he thinks they are unneccesary, that oil companies make enough money.

This is Obama crony capitalism. He picks the winners and losers in commerce. It is wrong and it is corrupt. He appoints Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, as his top business adviser as GE gets a multi-billion dollar deal for 'clean energy' development overseas. Coincidence?

Obama chooses 'clean energy' over fossil fuel. The truth is we need it all. It is wrong headed to believe that one method works without the other. Does he realize that natural gas is a bi-product of oil drilling? Does he realize oil is necessary to make solar panels and wind machines? Yes. But he is not honest enough to tell the truth about energy production. He is a part of the far left ideology on environmental matters that put common sense on a shelf when talking about energy solutions. The oil drilling industry is the most regulated and taxed industry in this country.

"Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning. These standards were developed, not by Washington, but by Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country. And Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that is more flexible and focused on what's best for our kids."

President Obama is beholding to the teachers' unions who support him in his campaigns and contribute to his coffers. He stopped the successful program in the District of Columbia which provided a path for poor inner city children to attend good, private or charter schools. He stopped the scholarship program that produced results. I recommend the movie "Waiting for Superman" to anyone interested in public school education reform. Trillions of dollars have been thrown at the country's public education system over the decades and we have yet to get it right. It is a national disgrace.

"Before I took office, I made it clear that we would enforce our trade agreements, and that I would only sign deals that keep faith with American workers, and promote American jobs. That's what we did with Korea, and that's what I intend to do as we pursue agreements with Panama and Colombia, and continue our Asia Pacific and global trade talks."

To allow Colombia, in particular, to twist in the wind for so long is a failure hung solely on the Democrats. That country has jumped through all of our hoops towards the trade agreement and yet the Democrats - particularly Pelosi- refused to move it forward. President Bush had it in place and tried for passage of the agreement in the end of his second term.

"Now, I've heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law. So let me be the first to say that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you. We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses."

Had the president allowed Republicans at the table during the writing of the monster bill that no one read before voting on it, he would have heard ideas for improvement, of making it better. Idiotic requirements such as the $600 threshold on reporting expenditures would never have been tucked into the legislation. Republicans and Democrats have common ground - all people must have access to insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions, children deserve coverage into young adulthood, no caps on availability of payments throughout treatments. There are common sense reforms to be made. Medical malpractice reform is a good step forward, of which Obama uttered support.

On spending and the deficit, there was a lack of policy initiative, just flowery rhetoric. He mentions a freeze on spending and cuts to defense spending but no real ideas on Medicare and Medicaid, which will be essential, too. As a U.S. Senator, Obama lacked the political courage or imagination to work with former President Bush when he tried to reform Medicare and also Social Security. Everything has to be on the table. Simply going to the typical Democrat default motion of cutting defense spending is not enough. All of the sacred cows have to be reformed and made more efficient.

"Let me take this one step further. We shouldn't just give our people a government that's more affordable. We should give them a government that's more competent and efficient. We cannot win the future with a government of the past."

Remember this president has created more federal government jobs than private sector jobs. He has greatly expanded the federal payroll. To talk about a more competent and efficient government now is not to be taken seriously as a reform this man is willing to make.

"Tonight, let us speak with one voice in reaffirming that our nation is united in support of our troops and their families. Let us serve them as well as they have served us - by giving them the equipment they need; by providing them with the care and benefits they have earned; and by enlisting our veterans in the great task of building our own nation."

He left this to the end of the speech. He has not had much success overseas on foreign policy and he is still caught up in thinking it is a matter of just trying to get along with everyone else. Obama still speaks and acts as though America is the bad guy on the international scene. The rest of the world has noticed. The respect from foreign leaders he thought he would command simply by being 'not George Bush' has eluded him.

This speech was long on human interest stories and feel good rhetoric, short on policy and methods of attainment. Remember, with Barack Obama it is necessary to watch what he does, not just listen to what he says.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Justice Scalia Speaks to Tea Party Caucus

The usual double standard was in play as Supreme Court Justice Scalia met with the Tea Party Caucus Monday. It is routine for a Supreme Court Justice to meet with incoming Freshmen Congress people and other invited politicians at the beginning of a Congressional session. Scalia is known as a constitutional scholar and a much sought after speaker.

The critics pounced as soon as the invitation was extended to Scalia. The New York Times, of course, did the bidding of the far left.
“By meeting behind closed doors, as is planned, and by presiding over a seminar, implying give and take, the justice would give the impression that he was joining the throng — confirming his new moniker as the ‘Justice from the Tea Party,’ “ the editorial board wrote

"University of Maryland law professor Sherrilyn Ifill called the event “grossly inappropriate.”

“Federal judges should refrain from conduct that undermines the appearance of impartiality,” she wrote in POLITICO Arena on Monday. “But as Scalia revealed in his belligerent defense of his duck-hunting trip with then-Vice President Dick Cheney, he is unconcerned with the public’s perception of the judiciary. He has become the “in your face” justice, wearing his political conservatism on his sleeve.”

I think college professors should refrain from bleating about the perfectly acceptable behavior of a Supreme Court Justice, simply because he is speaking to a group with whom she does not agree. Where was she when others spoke before conservative and liberal groups alike? Where was she as Justice Ginsberg opening criticized conservatives?

It is reported that three Democrats were in attendance of Scalia's speech. All are known to be strident partisans, no doubt sent there to be sure Scalia didn't overextend his boundaries. All three have made dreadfully biased remarks against the Tea Party movement. Needless to say, Scalia - known for a stellar personal reputation of the highest ethics and professional judgement - did not speak on any matters currently in litigation, notably the health care reform legislation.

And this:
Former White House counsel Ed Gillespie compared Scalia’s appearance to Thurgood Marshall talking to the Congressional Black Caucus in the 1990s.

Any comment, Professor Ifill?

Ryan Emerges as GOP Economic Policy Leader

Rep Paul Ryan is a Republican that Democrats love to hate. Maybe not out front with the vitriol used against some more boisterous and camera grabbing - Michelle Bachmann comes to mind - but behind the scenes it is difficult to imagine Democrats snarling and plotting against him. With his quiet determination and mastery of economics, this guy is winning the battle over the continued escalation of the federal deficit. The insanity hasn't been curbed yet but it is in play, even with President Obama still in the White House.

Paul Ryan is “the man with the plan” to save America, in part by making deficit reduction “sexy for the iPod generation.”

He’s the man who’s tangled with President Obama in public a year ago – and won.

He’s a Republican who can rattle off a list of his favorite Democrats to work with.

That's the real strength held within Rep Ryan - he can work with Democrats while keeping true to his personal political principles. He remains open to discussion with the opposition. This is something the more strident in both parties have to learn - working with the opposition is a necessity and each must find the way to do so. Working with the opposition doesn't mean a politician has sold out his/her principles; it means he/she understands political science and can persuade others to come along in his/her agenda. Harder in practice than in theory, it is a roadblock in today's politics that must be tackled.

Ryan has been chosen to deliver the GOP response to the State of the Union address this year. This is good news. This shows the GOP leadership recognizes the potential of Ryan in the role of economic reform. It is not his nature to be a bomb-thrower. He doesn't produce headlines with over the top remarks or unusual behavior. He is the voice of calm, steady reason so sorely lacking in political discourse today.

Ryan has his work cut out for him. He produced his "Roadmap for America's Future" many months ago which provides an alternative to the Obama/Democrats wild spending spree in the name of economic recovery. Political junkies who watched the spectacle that was President Obama's bi-partisan gathering of Republicans and Democrats discussing our country's economic woes will remember President Obama's inability to squash Ryan's points from his Roadmap as reasonable conservative alternatives to his progressive agenda. Frankly, Barack Obama is no match for Paul Ryan on the subject of economics.

Republicans must prove a serious devotion to deficit reduction by tackling the hard stuff. Not just by whittling away at the usual areas - the real problem areas have to be trimmed and the time is now. Small issues like de-funding NPR are understandable but hardly worth much energy and not the clarion call of fiscal conservatism. The waste in the military budget must be up for debate and action. There is no stronger defense hawk than John McCain and he has battled for years over the waste and corruption in the system. Also, entitlement spending in Social Security must be reigned in. We are in dire need of politicians brave enough to do the heavy lifting on this.

Trust the American people. The 2010 elections proved that voters are rallying for economic responsibility brought forward by those willing to tackle the decisions that must be made for national fiscal recovery. If the GOP can embrace this opportunity to lead as our nation struggles still to recover, the election victories will take care of themselves. It is their time to prove seriousness and a willingness to make some tough decisions on policy.

Let's give Ryan's Roadmap serious consideration.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Marco Rubio Says Tea Party Caucus Unneccesary

This is how a rising star sounds:

“Why do we need something in addition to the steering committee?…My concern is that politicians all of a sudden start co-opting the mantle of “Tea Party”. If all of a sudden being in the Tea Party is not something that is happening in Main Street, but rather something that’s happening in Washington D.C., the “Tea Party” all of a sudden becomes some sort of movement run by politicians…it’s gonna lose its effectiveness and I’m concerned about that. I think that the real power of the Tea Party comes from its ability to drive the debate and the issues from the grassroots up, as opposed to from the politicians down.”- Senator Marco Rubio

The Tea Party Caucus will meet Thursday. Rubio will not be there. Good for him. He plans to join the conservative steering committee led by Senator DeMint and is not convinced of the need for a separate Tea Party Caucus. He is right to understand that by Washington politicians declaring themselves Tea Party politicians, the intentions in the origins of the Tea Party are lost. The Tea Party is not for politicians it is for those on the ground, in the grassroots of political action.

Political opportunists like Rep Michelle Bachmann who began the Tea Party Caucus and then declared herself the leader of that caucus must understand that the strength of the Tea Party movement is in its inclusive and leaderless nature. The Tea Party has continued success due to its concentration at the local levels of communities. Attempts at nationalizing the party have failed. That is a good thing. As Rubio says, the Tea Party must remain a movement that comes from the ground up, not from Washington, D.C. If it comes from Washington, then the purpose of the movement has been defeated.

While Rubio was the darling of the Tea Party movement in the early days of his Senate campaign, he clearly states he is a Republican. He ran as a Republican, as did all of those with Tea Party support. The Tea Party movement is not a political party and shouldn't be treated as such. The success of the movement has sprung from its independence.

Stand Up, GOP, But Not With Democrats

You may have heard - President Obama will deliver the State of the Union address Tuesday night. It's all the buzz.

The best part? The irony it all presents. First, as the new Congress was gaveled in, we learned of the push in the Senate to change the filibuster rules, now that the Democrats are in a lesser majority. A push made by the Democrats. Then we learned of the unbelievably silly idea of the intermingling of the parties in the audience for the address. Really? Are we in junior high school now with forced make-nice gestures? And then the President's team released excerpts of the upcoming speech to Obama supporters under the shield of Organizing for America via the Internet. A tidbit to supporters, you see, doled out by a hyper-partisan organization, really the campaign organization of the president, to call for unity.

Irony, much?

I confess - I like my politics partisan. Especially when the other party is calling the shots. I want elected officials to go to Washington to stand up for my party's principles. I don't want the sham of kumbuya - that we all can just hug it out and get along. Get along on your own time, is what I say. While in committee meetings, while presenting legislation, while giving press conferences, while releasing videos and policy papers, I want to see complete and utter partisanship. I want my party's elected politicians to speak for me.

Got that?

Political rhetoric has been rough from the beginning. To blame a horrific attack on political rhetoric is a convenient way for the liberal left to try to stifle the speech of the opposition. Now the First Lady will sit with the intern from Rep Giffords' staff who is credited with saving her life. What about the other heroes of that day? Or is the elected politician most newsworthy? According to press coverage, yes. There is something that is not right about all this. Yes, a bit more civility with each other would be good but after eight years of non-stop nasty against George W. Bush and even a movie filmed using real footage of him during an assassination scene. There were lots of signs showing target marks on Bush's head and Hitler references during the anti-war demonstrations. The liberal left was cool with all that disgusting action.

Now, the Republicans hold a big majority in the House and a larger number of Senate seats. During the State of the Union address it is traditional for the President's party to jump up and applaud to support his agenda. This is a challenge for Democrats this year. In order to camouflage the smaller numbers of Democrats that will be present, the bright idea was hatched for the mingling of everyone in the seating arrangements. How convenient. Democrats presented it as a show of unity after the Arizona attacks. This is disgusting and opportunistic at a very basic level.

I hope the Republicans will not fall for this political stunt. Stick with tradition. Let America see what the GOP stands for - it is not the Obama agenda.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Immelt Takes Volcker's Spot On Economic Council

President Obama appointed Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, to take the spot open by the departure of Paul Volcker. Immelt will be a top economic adviser. An Executive Order will make it official.

Remember when Barack Obama, along with all the other Democratic opponents, would criticize former President George W. Bush for using Executive Orders? Obama thinks differently now.
Remember when it was en vogue to bash corporate America on the Democratic side; to criticize success in the private sector? Remember all the cries that the Bush administration was bought off by the oil and gas industry or Halliburton or whomever the villain of the month was?

The GE logo is all but the official seal of this administration and yet not a peep from the press about conflicts of interest or red flags.

The Council on Jobs and Competitiveness will replace the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman under President Jimmy Carter, was tapped in February 2009 to serve a two-year term on the board tasked with providing Obama with outside guidance on job growth and spurring economic recovery.

Volcker is a well-respected economist who has been credited with helping to end high inflation in the 1970s and 1980s. He began advising Obama during his presidential campaign in 2008. Obama praised his “skill” and his friendship in a statement announcing his departure.

Volcker grew to realize the board was just a public relations stunt created by Team Obama to give the impression the administration was business-friendly. The irony is, if that were the truth, the board would not have been necessary in the first place. This administration is one that has been completely without members of the business community. There are think tank thinker and academics and career politicians and career public servants galore.

Interesting this - the same day as the big 'we love Jeff' day, a big announcement came from the Interior Department about a mega loan to Arizona for - wait for it - a solar plant! Any coincidence there?

The U.S. Department of Energy is offering another nearly $1 billion loan guarantee for an Arizona solar power plant after providing a $1.45 billion guarantee to a plant planned near Gila Bend.

The new offer is for NRG Solar, which is planning a big power plant in Yuma County called Agua Caliente. The plant would supply Pacific Gas and Electric Co., and be made with panels from Tempe-based First Solar Inc.

Let's not forget that Immelt's skills as a CEO have come under criticism as the stock value of GE has been halved under his guidance.

And, remember this little quote from Immelt as his guy Obama was elected President:

“We are all democrats now.”Jeffrey Immelt GE Chief Executive Officer

GOP Weekly Address - Repeal of Obamacare

A doctor in the Senate talks about the recent vote in the House of Representatives to repeal Obamacare:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

DeMint Boycotts CPAC

This is why Senator Jim DeMint is not worthy of a strong leadership position in the GOP:

“With leading conservatives organizations not participating this year, Senator DeMint will not be attending. He hopes to attend a unified CPAC next year,” DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton said in an email.

Really, Senator DeMint? This is your version of leadership?

A true leader would not be afraid to meet with and speak with those who may have a different lifestyle, with a different idea of human relationships as it relates to their own lives. A true leader would welcome anyone with a desire to join the GOP and engage with them in working to get other Republicans elected. That is his job. That is what his salary from the taxpayers is for - does he think only heterosexuals pay taxes?

This is petty and feeds the trolls of the party who would separate us and not unite us. This is certainly not "Christian" behavior, if that was the intention - to hold himself out as some kind of super duper Christian, far superior to mere mortal human beings.

Senator DeMint is too old to be blinded with youthful zeal and strident ideology. He is too young to be such a rut-dweller that he cannot see a fellow Republican or conservative as another human being, flaws and all. None of us are perfect.

Hearts and minds are not won with fear and loathing. The elections in 2012 will be difficult enough - battling a well-oiled Obama machine and their mega dollars - the last obstacle we need is now coming from our own.

Shame on him. Shame on the nattering nabobs who will take to the Internet now and praise his myopic behavior. And, shame on anyone looking at this snub as anything other than his own politically motivated morality. This is a man with a desire to lead the party by dictating who will run for office and set the agenda. A political party is far greater than one person.

Bachmann To Give Tea Party Response to SOTU

This little piece of insanity passed around on the Internet Friday afternoon:

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) will be delivering a speech in response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

Bachmann touts herself as the voice of the Tea Party. Last I looked, there is a R behind her name. We have a person to respond to the president's address. That is enough. The Tea Party is not a third party. This is just another opportunity presenting itself to the Democrats to belittle GOP efforts at seriousness in opposition to the Obama agenda.

This smacks of political opportunism. We have had enough of that lately. This is being sponsored by Tea Party Express, which, last I read, is funded by Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, both corporate lobbying organizations. Is the Tea Party spokesperson willing to be co-opted by lobbying firms? Isn't that counterproductive to the Tea Party?

This also smacks of a means of revenge to Rep Paul Ryan, who will give the official GOP response to the State of the Union address. Bachmann lost out to Ryan for a leadership position in the new Congress. While Bachmann has strong fiscal credentials, even with a law degree specializing in tax law, the fact is Ryan stepped up early on in the Obama administration and produced a plan for fiscal recovery. He filled the void, Bachmann did not. Instead, she has chosen to ride the coattails of the Tea Party movement.

Unity is the key for Republican victory in 2012. This is not the way to do it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hu's Your Favorite Dictator?

President and Mrs. Obama put on a fabulous shindig for the Chinese dictator.

In his toast Wednesday evening, President Barack Obama suggested that the assembled look beyond “differences of culture and perspective” between the two countries. “Let us never forget the values that our people share,” he said. At the end of a jazz concert, Mr. Obama told the audience that he could see Mr. Hu tapping his feet to the music.

But at several dinner tables, American and Chinese guests engaged in polite but intense conversation about nettlesome issues such as human rights and foreign relations that divide the two nations and that underpinned the entire day.

The elephant - or panda bear - in the room is the issue of human rights in China. Barack Obama is a Nobel Peace Prize receipent and is aware that another recepient sits in a Chinese jail for working for human rights in that country.

Hu's state visit to the United States has prompted saturation media coverage in China, with largely upbeat reports heralding, in the words of one newspaper headline, "a new chapter in relations." There has been in-depth reporting on the trappings of the visit, including the red carpet welcome, star-studded guest list for the state dinner and the $45 billion in deals signed for U.S. exports.

But largely missing from official Chinese news media reports of the trip - and from the foreign television spots that are subject to government censorship - has been the back-and-forth between President Obama and Hu over human rights.

With tripling the federal debt as Team Obama has managed to do in just two years in office, it is impossible to push too hard for true and measurable human rights progress in China. They own us at this point and Hu is not ignorant of that fact. Hu was wined and dined as though he was our new best friend, which technically is not much of a stretch. He was given the welcoming ceremony - all pomp and circumstance - that he was denied by former President George W. Bush.

After a night of fun and photos with the celebs and politicans at the State Dinner, Hu trekked up Capitol Hill.

Mr. Hu was “relatively vague” in his response to the question about Mr. Liu, said Rep. Charles Boustany (R., La.). “He spoke very briefly about it,” Mr. Boustany said. “He was more or less evasive.”

In a statement afterwards, Mr. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, mentioned the issue of “coercive abortions” as the result of the country’s longstanding policy of one child per couple.

The speaker focused the bulk of his questions on economic friction related to trade and intellectual property. The speaker told Mr. Hu that the Chinese government needs to do a better job cracking down the piracy of American-made goods.

The Chinese president told the group his country has put measures in place to begin cracking down on piracy. He also challenged the lawmakers to take a new look at barriers on Chinese exports to the U.S., telling the group that it would bolster trade between the two countries.

“If they want us to relax export controls, or what they perceive to be export controls, then they need to take vigorous steps on the protection of intellectual property,” Mr. Boustany said.

The bipartisan group of 11 lawmakers did not have time to discuss longstanding complaints that the Chinese government keeps its currency low to dominate its trading relationship with the U.S.

Which exactly are the values President Obama claims we share with China?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

House Votes to Repeal Obamacare

The new members of the House of Representatives and Republicans voted Wednesday to repeal Obamacare. This was a big campaign pledge and the first real test of spinal fortitude of the newly GOP controlled House. Three Democrats voted with them.

Mission accomplished.

Much drama was heard on the House floor during the debate. As though auditioning for a plum part in a Broadway play, members raised voices and swore that the world was coming to an end if the vote proceeded.

Rep Sheila Jackson-Lee performed as per usual. She embarrassed every thinking individual in your nation's fourth largest city (Houston) by telling a television show host that an elderly woman in the city would have been denied medical care without passage of Obamacare. The woman was covered by Medicare, but never mind the facts. Sheila had a story to tell and was determined to carry it through, despite the show host dismembering the story quite easily. Wait, in this new era of civility in political rhetoric, is the word 'dismember' allowed?

Sheila Jackson-Lee declared that GOP politicians causing all this brouhaha simply are ignorant. They are ignorant because they haven't read the bill that was passed, she said. Fortunately the television host correctly pointed out that Democrats had not read the bill, either. Sheila tried to recover her dignity after that whopper of a slander by saying she wants to work in a bi-partisan way to reform health care.

Touching, really. Bless her heart.

We all remember the nonsensical claims about this hideous legislation. We are now well aware that it was all smoke and mirrors.

Moreover, the fight against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, of which this week's vote is but the opening round, once again focuses public attention on the law's flaws. Virtually every claim the Obama administration has made on its behalf is turning out to be untrue. (Recall "If you like your current [health-care] plan, you will be able to keep it.") Or it wasn't credible to start with, such as the claim by the Office of Management and Budget that the bill will cut the deficit. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll this week showed that 62% see it as increasing the deficit, 54% think it'll hurt the economy, and 46% think the law will cost jobs. When Republicans have winning arguments, they should keep pressing them.

A popular talking point among those who oppose the repeal of Obamacare is that it is all political theatre; it is just playing to the conservative base. True, many newly elected conservative politicians supported by the Tea Party activists ran on this issue. But, the fact is, this vote on repeal was pledged by most running on Republican tickets and this is a pledge fulfilled. It's fairly simple to understand. It is also about standing up for core principles.

The House of Representatives acted wisely last night. Now the debate opens again. It’s a national debate we need to have, and we need to have it now. Don’t listen to those who want to stifle this debate, or close this controversy. There’s nothing uncivil about standing up for your freedoms. This is no time for summer soldiers and sunshine patriots.

Though Democrats are fond of declaring a debate over, that no new arguments can be made, when they are ready to move forward with legislation, this new House of Representatives is beginning anew on the health care reform debate. That is a good thing. There are many points of reform on which both sides can agree. What conservatives cannot agree to is a massive takeover of 1/6 of our national economy loaded down with layers of unnecessary regulation and red tape that no one wants or needs. The medical community is not happy. Insurance companies are not happy. Patients are not happy. Employers are not happy. The only person happy was Barack Obama for the passage of his legacy building legislation. His narcissistic arrogance is not in our country's best interests.

More than half of the country's states have joined in a lawsuit to opt out of the state mandates of Obamacare.

Republicans across the country campaigned on repeal last year, and yesterday's vote showed refreshing respect for the often invoked, rarely consulted American people. Meanwhile, six additional states have asked to join the momentous constitutional challenge to ObamaCare in Florida, bringing the total to 26, plus Virginia's separate suit. A majority of states resisting this mandate is another "symbolic" threshold

Symbols are important. Team Obama and the Democrats know this as well as anyone. Remember the use of the faux presidential seal as the "president-elect" seal after the Nov 2008 election as Obama began to make speeches before the inauguration?


Giffords Moving to Houston for Rehab and Recovery

Rep Gabrielle Giffords, will be moved to Houston in the next few days. She will be admitted to TIRR Memorial Hermann, a nationally recognized facility for superior research and rehab abilities.

Mark Kelly, the congresswoman’s husband, said he and Giffords’ parents weighed many factors, including the Houston facility’s proximity to Tucson and its “outstanding reputation.”
For the past 21 years, TIRR Memorial Hermann has been recognized as one of the top-rated rehabilitation hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Giffords’ office said.
“I am extremely hopeful at the signs of recovery that my wife has made since the shooting,” said Kelly.

From the hospital's website:

TIRR treats people with a range of disabilities from complex conditions like brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple trauma and amputation, to rehabilitation for conditions including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, post-polio syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is expected to begin the next phase of her recovery on Friday, January 21, at Memorial Hermann’s level one trauma center in Houston where she will be evaluated prior to being transferred to nearby TIRR Memorial Hermann. The exact date may change depending on her health.

Memorial Hermann’s level one trauma center is affiliated with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). TIRR Memorial Hermann has been ranked one of the top-five rehabilitation hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report for 21 years.

“One of the nation’s busiest trauma centers, Memorial Hermann frequently treats victims of penetrating and blunt trauma to the brain,” said President and CEO Dan Wolterman. “Our rehabilitation hospital, TIRR Memorial Hermann, has a well-deserved reputation for excellence in the treatment of traumatic brain injury as well as diseases and disorders of the brain and spinal cord.

The progress of the congresswoman's recovery is very encouraging. Her husband, Mark Kelly, is an astronaut based in Houston. This played an important factor in his decision, especially with his family here to help. Less than two weeks ago Giffords was falsely reported to have died from the shooting and now she is recovering well enough to move to rehab.

Her story is inspiring.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ted Cruz Enters U.S. Senate Race

This morning, former Texas Solicitor General and current Senior Fellow, Center for Tenth Amendment Studies, Texas Public Policy Foundation, Ted Cruz announced he is running for the U.S. Senate seat opened with the statement that Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison will not seek re-election in 2012.

The conference call with invited political bloggers gave us an opportunity to ask questions as Cruz presented his rationale for running for the office before his national press release was issued. After six months of visiting with voters and asking for guidance, he is convinced the time if right for this run for national office.

Ted Cruz sees a great awakening across America of people involved in politics who have never been involved before. He sees a hunger for strong leadership willing to fight for liberty and free market enterprise principles. He sees a need for leadership in the Senate to defend the Constitution. Cruz said Texas needs a strong conservative Senator from Texas to stand up to the Obama agenda of big government solutions to our country's problems.

When asked how he would set himself apart from other conservative candidates in the GOP primary, he said a question should be asked of all candidates - what have you done? The metric, he said, is in what the record is. It should be evident from a candidate's life work, not just from flowery campaign speeches. He said none of the other candidates have a comparable record to his of consistently winning contests on a national level. This would be a reference to his days as Solicitor General.

He touts his strong record and a true commitment to walk the walk on standing on principle, not just talking the talk. His greatest assets listed were a strong record, a strong message and strong statewide support from the grassroots level up.

On the issue of fundraising Cruz is confident of his ability to compete with those who may be self-funders. During his previous Attorney General campaign - abandoned after Kay Bailey Hutchison remained in the Senate due to losing her bid for the governorship - Cruz received strong statewide financial support. He raised more than $1.3 million from 1,000 donors.

Though he didn't win an elected office as he ran for Attorney General, this was due to political circumstances beyond his control. KBH remained in her Senate seat and Attorney General Abbott sought re-election because of that action. Cruz bowed out of the race as he pledged he would and didn't run against Abbott. He also kept his pledge to not speak negatively about his fellow conservative candidates.

His website - - doesn't include the traditional "issues" page. Instead, his includes a "Proven Record" page. He said it is easy to give the correct answer to questions but more important to prove accomplishments. Walk the walk.

As the election cycle moves forward, Cruz suggests that a candidate should answer this question: What are five of the most significant things you have accomplished for conservative principles?

When asked why he chose to run for the U.S. Senate and not wait to run for a high level state office in 2014, he said he wants to fight the threat coming from D.C. and that fight is to be fought in the U.S. Senate. Looking at the national scene, he came to the conclusion it is short on leadership and lacks articulation of benefits of the free market enterprise system.

"The fight is now. The fight is right now." Cruz noted that Barack Obama was four years ahead of him at Harvard Law School. He will be tough to defeat in 2012. Obama believes passionately in the role of big government in individual life and Cruz pledges to fight that agenda.

Ron Reagan, Jr. - He's No Doctor

Ron Reagan, Jr. has a book about his father he is peddling. He has created quite a buzz with some truly bizarre remarks about the onset of his father's Alzheimer's disease. He certainly implied President Reagan was displaying early signs of the disease while in the office of President of the United States.

He had to walk back his despicable remarks on an early morning talk show. Suddenly displaying an attitude of humility, he now admits he is no doctor. And, that he got a few 'facts' wrong.

The guy is a piece of work. Making a living on the dog show circuit as a commentator for the televised competitions and playing political pundit for ultra liberal outlets, he now tries to make a few bucks off his father as he goes for the spotlight. This is the same guy who openly bragged about not voting for his father for President. He was proud of the chasm between himself and his parents, back in the day. He wanted everyone to know he was way too cool to be a Republican himself.

Atta boy, Ron, Jr.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

TPPF Policy Orientation - Day Two, Part Two

Border Violence and the Texas Economy

The Panel: Aaron Pena, Texas House of Representatives
Martin Cuellar, Webb County Sheriff
Steven McCraw, Director, Tx Dept of Public Safety
Raul Salinas, Mayor of Laredo

Mexico is failing and the spillover into Texas of drug violence in undeniable.

Steven McCraw - Drugs and humans go north; cash and weapons go south. Houston is now ground zero for Mexican gangs. Texas Department of Safety has tracking of human and drug activities coming up from Mexico into Texas in databases broken out into every possible category.

Rep Aaron Pena - Claims border safety is not as public perceives. His district goes to the river and he lives about 10 miles from the border. He said the danger comes once you cross the border. For example, El Paso has been named a safe city while sister city Juarez is most dangerous. Drug trafficking has moved from Columbia into Mexico and drug cartels control those who would cross or swim the river to enter the U.S. Mexico is feeling the effects of brain and money drain. Wealthy and successful Mexicans are moving into Texas cities like Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. This is creating cities of women because men leave and don't come back. Pena says it is imperative that the U.S. help Mexico re-establish the rule of law. We must demand the federal government step up and secure the border - it is the job of the federal government.

Raul Salinas - The Mayor of Laredo is no fan of Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs. He uses the two of them as examples of those who stir up harsh rhetoric on the airwaves yet have not visited the border themselves, or at least not his piece of the rock. He stressed the need for both sides of the border to work together. Also, with $173 billion in trade generated at the border, he calls that proof that the border is not broken. He has experienced success in reducing violent crime by 20% - now the lowest since 2006. With the money generated and jobs created by the strong trade agreements along the border, the U.S. can't afford to allow Mexico to go down.

Martin Cuellar - Sheriff Cuellar is the brother of U.S. Rep Cuellar. Webb County borders Falcon Lake and Neuvo Laredo. He has created strong bonds with law enforcement in neighboring counties, along the Mexican border and with the Mexican military. He utilizes these connections to pursue his job of public safety in his county. He said Mexico needs a lot of help and he frequently receives requests for help. He mentioned a sit-down meeting with Director of HHS as a member of a delegation travelling to Washington, D.C.

All three of the Hispanic members of the panel - a mayor, a county sheriff, and a state representative - all stressed the need for cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico as a common sense strategy. Trade agreements create jobs and produce revenue for families along the border, who then use that money in their communities. All spoke of personal and family ties dating back generations. All spoke about the intermingling between Texas and Mexican residents along the border. All want the federal government to do its job and secure our border.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Young, Black and Conservative

Originally filmed in early 2009, this is quite relevant today as the numbers increase:

Rep Katie Hall Responsible for MLK Jr Federal Holiday

Born in 1938 in Mississippi, Katie Hall - then Katie Green - was brought into a world that did not allow her to cast a vote because of the color of her skin. She did, however, go to college and receive her degree from Mississippi Valley State University in 1960 and then a MS degree from Indiana University. She became a teacher, teaching social studies in Gary, Indiana.

She became active in Indiana state politics. She was elected to office in the state legislature. From that, she ran for the seat in the House of Representatives when the opportunity presented itself.

Hall was not supportive of the Reagan agenda. She did not set herself above standard voting along party lines.
Representative Hall voted with the Democratic majority against much of the Ronald W. Reagan administration’s legislative agenda, focusing on education, labor, and women’s issues. In addition, Congresswoman Hall became involved in the fight to alleviate famine in Africa when, during a congressional trip to northern Ethiopia, she was moved by the widespread suffering she witnessed. Hall also supported a variety of measures designed to reduce her urban and industrial district’s high rate of unemployment and to mitigate the attendant social problems: crime, family debt and bankruptcy, and alcohol and drug abuse. As a member of the House Steel Caucus, Hall endorsed the Fair Trade in Steel Act, which was intended to revitalize Gary’s ailing steel industry.

Fiscal conservatives were not in favor of such a bill due to the expense of a federal holiday. Recognition of King's birthday as a federal holiday had been attempted since 1968, the year of his assassination. Hall had a reputation as a good negotiator and was put in charge of moving the bill through her committee, the House Subcommittee on Census and Population. She succeeded using a bit of practical common sense.

The primary argument against the bill led by fiscal conservatives was the large cost of the holiday to the federal government, estimated at $18 million in holiday overtime pay and lost work time.10 Hall courted detractors by moving the holiday from a fixed date—King’s January 15 birthday—to the third Monday of January to prevent government offices from opening twice in one week, therefore saving money.

She only served the one term in Congress. Her career after politics did not end as well as it began.

After Congress, Hall continued to be active in Indiana Democratic politics. In 1986 and in 1990, she tried but failed to recapture the Democratic nomination in her old House district. Hall returned to Gary and served as the vice chair of the city’s housing board commissioners. Hall became the Gary city clerk in 1985. She resigned in January 2003, after pleading guilty to charges of federal mail fraud.

Reagan Signed Bill to Make MLK Jr Birthday A National Holiday

It was President Ronald Reagan who signed the proclamation to make Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday a National Holiday.

On November 2, 1986, these were Reagan’s remarks on signing the bill making the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., a National Holiday:

“Mrs. King, members of the King family, distinguished Members of the Congress, ladies and gentlemen, honored guests, I’m very pleased to welcome you to the White House, the home that belongs to all of us, the American people.

When I was thinking of the contributions to our country of the man that we’re honoring today, a passage attributed to the American poet John Greenleaf Whittier comes to mind. “Each crisis brings its word and deed.” In America, in the fifties and sixties, one of the important crises we faced was racial discrimination. The man whose words and deeds in that crisis stirred our nation to the very depths of its soul was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King was born in 1929 in an America where, because of the color of their skin, nearly 1 in 10 lived lives that were separate and unequal. Most black Americans were taught in segregated schools. Across the country, too many could find only poor jobs, toiling for low wages. They were refused entry into hotels and restaurants, made to use separate facilities. In a nation that proclaimed liberty and justice for all, too many black Americans were living with neither.

In one city, a rule required all blacks to sit in the rear of public buses. But in 1955, when a brave woman named Rosa Parks was told to move to the back of the bus, she said, “No.” A young minister in a local Baptist church, Martin Luther King, then organized a boycott of the bus company—a boycott that stunned the country. Within 6 months the courts had ruled the segregation of public transportation unconstitutional.

Dr. King had awakened something strong and true, a sense that true justice must be colorblind, and that among white and black Americans, as he put it, “Their destiny is tied up with our destiny, and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom; we cannot walk alone.”

In the years after the bus boycott, Dr. King made equality of rights his life’s work. Across the country, he organized boycotts, rallies, and marches. Often he was beaten, imprisoned, but he never stopped teaching nonviolence. “Work with the faith”, he told his followers, “that unearned suffering is redemptive.” In 1964 Dr. King became the youngest man in history to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr. King’s work brought him to this city often. And in one sweltering August day in 1963, he addressed a quarter of a million people at the Lincoln Memorial. If American history grows from two centuries to twenty, his words that day will never be forgotten. “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

In 1968 Martin Luther King was gunned down by a brutal assassin, his life cut short at the age of 39. But those 39 short years had changed America forever. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 had guaranteed all Americans equal use of public accommodations, equal access to programs financed by Federal funds, and the right to compete for employment on the sole basis of individual merit. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 had made certain that from then on black Americans would get to vote. But most important, there was not just a change of law; there was a change of heart. The conscience of America had been touched. Across the land, people had begun to treat each other not as blacks and whites, but as fellow Americans.

And since Dr. King’s death, his father, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr., and his wife, Coretta King, have eloquently and forcefully carried on his work. Also his family have joined in that cause.

Now our nation has decided to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by setting aside a day each year to remember him and the just cause he stood for. We’ve made historic strides since Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus. As a democratic people, we can take pride in the knowledge that we Americans recognized a grave injustice and took action to correct it. And we should remember that in far too many countries, people like Dr. King never have the opportunity to speak out at all.

But traces of bigotry still mar America. So, each year on Martin Luther King Day, let us not only recall Dr. King, but rededicate ourselves to the Commandments he believed in and sought to live every day: Thou shall love thy God with all thy heart, and thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. And I just have to believe that all of us—if all of us, young and old, Republicans and Democrats, do all we can to live up to those Commandments, then we will see the day when Dr. King’s dream comes true, and in his words, “All of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, ‘… land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.’”

Thank you, God bless you, and I will sign it.”

Sunday, January 16, 2011

TPPF Policy Orientation - Day Two, Part One

Panel Session - Energy Policy at a Crossroads: Mandate or Markets?

Panel: Tom Craddick - Texas Senate
Steven Hayward, F.K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
Dale Klein, Commissioner, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Paul Sadler, Exec Director, The Wind Coalition

Steven Hayward - Little known fact, Texas is the leading state in coal consumption. Indiana is the second. It is a cheap form of energy. But, beware of the coalition forming between environmentalists and the natural gas industry. Just as happened with oil drilling industry (especially BP), the next move will be to minimize natural gas exploration - same as all other fossil fuels.

Dale Klein - Mentioned the rare occurrence anymore of any opposition to nuclear energy. No ongoing protests as in years past. In China, 21 new nuclear energy plants are being built. There will be 61 new nuclear energy plants worldwide by 2015. Concerning Yucca Mountain - the decision by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to store nuclear waste there was the jurisdiction of that commission. It is, by law, not the decision of the President or Congress to make. For any Senator or President to wade into the argument or act as though the decision is one of their's is illegal.

Paul Sadler - Former legislator and Democrat, he advocates for politicians and alternative energy proponents to work together. He is angry when talk centers around all the subsidies given to alternative energy development - especially wind energy. He pointed out that all energy production and exploration receives incentives and subsidies. Wind receives the least of them. He stated that 99% of subsidies went to fossil fuels. He is not opposed to ending all incentives and subsidies across the board.

Tom Craddick - This will be a tough year in the legislative session for the oil and gas industry. The industry must be aggressive and tell its story and not let others do it for them. Local issues are driving thoughts on oil and gas. Texas has a healthy Rainy Day Fund, which comes directly from revenues of the oil and gas industry.

TPPF Policy Orientation - Day One, Part Three

Health Insurance Exchanges - Good Deal or Raw Deal?

Panel: Rep Larry Taylor, Tx house of Representatives
John Goodman, Pres and CEO, National Ctr for Policy Analysis
Edmund Haislmaier, Sr Research Fellow, Health Policy Studies
Jared Wolfe, Exec Dir, Tx Assoc of Health Plans

John Goodman - Touted his blog. Health policy blog is right of center.

Jared Wolfe - Studied health insurance exchanges for three decades. Also managed competition and Fed Employee Health Benefits Plans.
Texas should establish its own exchange. 24 million around the country in exchanges by 2019. States know its own market. Government only able to do one size fits all approach.

Edmund Haislmaier - Spent the last five years researching patient controlled health care options.
An exchange is a box with a label on it. It is what's in the box that matters. States should offer employers option to purchase plan, not a mandatory excercise.
2014- States mandate control over Medicaid program - otherwise without exchanges, the federal government will control it.

Rep Larry Taylor - Vows to get Obamacare repealed but says it will take another election cycle.

Panel Session Three
Fiscal Transparency: Pulling Back the Curtain on Spending

Panel: Keith Elkins, Exec Dir, Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas
Talmadge Heflin, Director, Ctr for Fiscal Policy, TPPF
Trent Seibert, Founder & Editor, Texas Watchdog
Ross Ramsey, CEO & Editor, The Texas Tribune

Keith Elkins - As a political reporter he knows the problems of mass info drops during legislative sessions at the last minute.
Recommends website as excellent example of online transparency - - One of the best city financial websites in the country.
Have to create a model that is user-friendly to allow users to import data without re-inventing the wheel every time. Point and click.

Talmadge Heflin - TPPF is a strong advocate for transparency.
Taxpayers deserve to know where the money goes.
educating the public about activities is top priority.

Ross Ramsey - Spoke about all the political reporters having lunch with Lt Gov Dewhurst (regular event) when KBH made announcement not to seek re-election in 2012. All the cell phones went off at the same time.

Trent Seibert - Don't underestimate desire by the people for transparency and open records.

Opening Lunch Keynote was delivered by Senator John Cornyn. Senator Cornyn stressed the importance of working for a balanced budget amendment this year. He pledged to be a no vote on extending the debt ceiling without budget cuts tied to it.

Political People Exploiting the Arizona Shootings

There is something not right about the time on the airwaves given to those who are using the time to talk about Rep Gabby Giffords and the Arizona shootings. First it was the young man who was a Gifford staffer. He had a nursing course under his belt and utilized it to possibly save her life in the moments after she was shot in that Safeway parking lot.

Now it is Senator Gillibrand and Rep Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. These two women were part of the Presidential entourage that travelled to Tucson for the memorial service conducted at the University of Arizona. The two women, both Democrats, have hit the talk show circuit to tie it all into the wonders of the Obama administration.

Gillibrand said on a Sunday morning show that Giffords embodies all that President Obama was speaking to in his speech at the memorial. Her reasoning is that Giffords is a good person fighting mightily to survive.

Gillibrand is finding her political star rising after recognition for successfully moving the 9/11 responders bill to passage. It appears she is milking the rise in exposure, whether that is correct or not.

Wasserman-Schultz is known for her hyper-partisan rhetoric in her television appearances and interviews. She performs perfectly as she robotically stays on message uttering the White House talking points of the day. She is not a good representative to be calling upon everyone to pull together.

Those who are sitting on panels discussing 'bi-partisanship' are a motley crew. The likes of Al Sharpton and Paul Krugman on Meet the Press are too much to tolerate for a thoughtful viewer. Sharpton is a professional instigator and when the truth is not on his side he makes up a storyline. Remember Twana? Krugman was the first out of the chute to accuse the Republicans and the Tea Party crowd for the shooting, a mere three hours after the shootings in his New York Times opinion piece. That was false, too, but he rushed to judgement. Really poor judgement.

Rep Giffords, while a truly compelling story, is not the only victim of this tragedy. She and the little nine year old girl who died are the two most focused upon. It is understandable but it is not right. The others injured and the others killed have a story, too.

Senator Gillibrand pushing forward the notion that the two parties should sit amongst themselves during the State of the Union address. It is a token gesture and nonsensical. It's another feel good gesture to make those participating feel better. Those very ones who have raised the tone of discourse to the point it is today are the ones advocating the touchy-feely stuff.

It would be a little more palatable if those hogging the camera now to preach about civility and bi-partisanship actually had a bit of history of doing so themselves. From Obama on down the line, the Democrats have shown nothing but hyper-partisanship since the 2009 inauguration and have shown no desire to do the work of reaching out to the opposition's ideas or solutions. It is hard to believe that in a year that will be spent by the Democrats getting President Obama re-elected, the call for bi-partisanship is motivated by anything other than political posturing. Especially now with the Republican majority in the House of Representatives and a slim Democratic majority in the Senate.