Monday, February 28, 2011

Boehner Scores Win With No Government Shutdown

Speaker of the House Boehner has stepped up and proven a desire to lead. The Senate Democrats are not happy about his latest accomplishment. Boehner has crafted together a two week Continuing Resolution to keep the government chugging along - no shutdown - and kept his Republican House members on the same page.

The two-week peace is only temporary but gives House and Senate leaders through Mar 18 to try to resolve conservative demands for more than $60 billion in spending cuts, all concentrated in the second half of this fiscal year.

A first installment of $4 billion in savings would be part of the deal now and Republicans have said they will insist on $2 billion more in cuts for each additional week the talks continue past the new deadline. The novel approach is one devised by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), trying to keep pace with his large freshman class while avoiding the same sort of shutdown that so hurt Republicans in the 1990’s when they confronted then President Bill Clinton.

The Democrats have been denied their much hoped for government shutdown at the hands of Republicans. They were hoping for Republicans to shoot themselves in the foot with an overreach in the majority, as they did under the guidance of then Speaker Gingrich in 1995. Boehner, present in the Gingrich days, will not let history repeat itself.

From a press release from Speaker Boehner:

House Republicans Working to Cut Spending While Keeping the Government Running

READ THE BILL: On Friday, House Republicans introduced a short-term funding measure to keep the government running while eliminating earmark slush funds and terminating several programs targeted in President Obama’s FY12 budget and the House-passed H.R.1. The bill will be voted on early this week; you can read it online here.

Speaker Boehner: “Americans understand we need to stop the spending binge in Washington to create a better environment for job creation.”

A recent Gallup survey found that by a 2-to-1 margin, the American people want to avoid a government shutdown and cut spending – exactly what Republicans are working to do.

The vote is expected on Tuesday. Next it is time for Senate Majority Leader Reid to show some real leadership, too.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Teach for America Is Not An Earmark

In its zeal to eliminate earmarks, some programs have been falsely labeled as such by Congress. Teach for America is one such program.

George Will writes of this misguided cut.

Speaking of leadership, someone in Congress should invest some on TFA's behalf. Government funding - federal, state, local - is just 30 percent of TFA's budget. Last year's federal allocation, $21 million, would be a rounding error in the General Motors bailout. And Kopp says that every federal dollar leverages six non-federal dollars. All that money might, however, be lost because even when Washington does something right, it does it wrong.

It has obtusely defined "earmark" to include "any named program," so TFA has been declared an earmark and sentenced to death. If Congress cannot understand how nonsensical this is, it should be sent back to school for remedial instruction from some of TFA's exemplary young people.

Teach for America is not an earmark. The Texas state legislature is considering cutting its contribution to the Teach for America program - currently about $8 million. Much of Teach for America’s funding comes from private donors. In late January, the nonprofit announced that it had created a permanent endowment fund of $ 100 million that would generate about 2 percent of its annual operating budget nationwide. The Houston-based Laura and John Arnold Foundation was among the four donors.

The state funding that Teach for America receives represents more than 20 percent of the group’s budget in Houston and more than a third in the Rio Grande Valley, according to Leon.

For example, KIPP in Houston has seen consistent rating as an excellent charter school initiative. KIPP hires participants in the Teach for America program. KIPP ranked #16 in the top 100 college prep high schools from across America. This high school is the first in the nation from the KIPP system. The success from the elementary and middle school system is consistent in each school opened. KIPP is a very successful charter school initiative and the standards for applicants are high.

Houston Independent School District (HISD) is one of the few school districts in the nation that welcome those in the Teach for America program. Many school districts do not actively hire Teach for America participants because it would diminish openings for local applicants. The Houston Independent School District, which was included in the study, employs nearly 490 Teach for America recruits — more than any other district in the nation.

School districts pay the salaries of the Teach for America teachers, while the organization pays most of the recruiting and training costs.

Teach for America brings in quality teachers and is certainly worth the contribution from the taxpayers of the State of Texas. It is not an earmark.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

U.S. Looks to Human Rights Council for Libyan Sanctions

It is well past time for the Human Rights Council to be exposed for what it is - a truly ineffective group of talking heads from nations practicing anything but human rights protections.

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the UN system made up of 47 States responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. The Council was created by the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 with the main purpose of addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.

This from this article:
The U.S. delegation to the United Nations is looking to win tough language against Libya by the U.N. Human Rights Council, as the body prepares for what may be its most critical test since President Obama reversed U.S. policy in 2009 and joined the controversial panel.The Human Rights Council is notorious for showing an anti-Israel bias and being slow to condemn blatant human rights abuses by countries aligned with certain members of the 47-member council.

As it happens, Libya earned a seat on the Human Rights Council in 2010 -- a point that will likely come up for debate when the council meets for a special session Friday. U.S. diplomats plan to back an effort to kick Libya off the council and name a special investigator to look into atrocities committed on protesters rebelling against Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi.

That's right. This council was created in 2006 and the U.S., led by George W. Bush, did not join. Bush saw it for what it was - a complete exercise in hypocrisy and a vehicle to slam the U.S. and Israel. Barack Obama, however, in full kumbiya mode reversed that decision. Obama continues to believe it is better to stand up for our adversaries than for our allies. Now instead of calling on Gaddafi to leave his position of power, as he did to Mubarak, he punts. France and other western countries have issued statements demanding Gaddafi leave while the Obama administration goes to the U.N. Human Rights Council - of which Libya is a member.

Member countries of the Human Rights Council are currently mulling over a draft resolution circulated on Wednesday that calls for an immediate end to hostilities in Libya and the launch of an investigation that would determine who should be held accountable for the bloodshed in the North African nation.

The latest draft includes a provision recommending the General Assembly consider booting Libya off the Human Rights Council. The meeting Friday marks the first time the Human Rights Council has scrutinized one of its members in a special session. To suspend Libya, which was elected to a three-year term on the council in May 2010, it would take a two-thirds vote in the General Assembly.

The U.S. is pushing for Libya to be removed from the council. Too little, too late. The U.S. should have not signed on to the council in the first place but Obama had to prove he is not George W. Bush. Mission accomplished. He is certainly not George W. Bush. Obama continues to pursue foreign policy with hat in hand to prove he wants to talk to everyone. The problem is, the bad guys in the world view this as a sign of weakness. Obama has yet to learn that lesson.

The provision is not expected to be brought up before next week. In the mean time, Libya is in chaos. Gaddafi continues to kill his own people for protesting. The evacuation of Americans in Libya was woefully behind the curve and then they were stuck due to bad weather. Why wasn't there a carrier in the water there? Why wasn't an evacuation done by carrier before the weather turned and the situation on the ground was obviously going to be bad? The original mode of evacuation was to be a ferry to Malta. A ferry. Are you kidding me? The Brits used an aircraft carrier just Thursday to evacuate their people - thousands, as opposed to the 600 Americans on the ground in Libya. The Chinese evacuated their people - also in the thousands - before that.

The Americans wanting to evacuate have now - finally - arrived in Malta after waiting for days onboard the ferry as the weather and high seas calmed.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dreams for Nigeria

A documentary premieres.

The film highlights both the challenges and achievements of seven female members of Nigeria's House of Representatives, and the role they play in their country's political, social and economic development.

Recently, National Federation of Republican Women President Sue Lynch travelled to Nigeria to give grassroots training workshops.

NFRW President Sue Lynch travelled to Abuja, Nigeria with the Women's Democracy Network to help Nigerian women candidates facilitate the development of a manifesto.

The manifesto highlighted common ground on important issues in their country. The trip was part of an ongoing mission to work with Nigerian candidates to engage women in the civil and political life in their country.

Nigeria is preparing for an election. Let's hope women continue to make progress and more step forward to help Nigeria on its path to democratic government.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Obama Says Violence in Libya is Unacceptable

The administration is not concerned about the rise of crude oil prices and the possible harm to our still slowly recovering economy, you will be comforted to know. The price of a barrel of crude oil dipped just below $100 late Thursday afternoon. This week, oil prices have been at the highest levels since October 2008. Many energy advisers predict $4 a gallon gas by the peak summer driving season.

Texas native Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, said the White House is "obviously monitoring" the oil price hikes prompted by instability caused by citizen rebellions in North Africa and the Middle East. But he told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor that "short-run variation" in energy costs would not damage "long-run, sustained" growth.

Goolsbee cited three reasons for his optimism: That American businesses have been hiring in recent months; overall consumer inflation remains low; and energy costs are a smaller percentage of the U.S. economy than they were during the price spikes of the 1970s, which triggered a pair of recessions.

Goolsbee, you may remember, also thinks all the stimulus spending was just swell.

One concern is the turmoil in the Middle East and northern Africa. We are a nation that consumes far more energy than we produce. We are under the thumb of dictators in dangerous places and the continued foot dragging of Congress and the president to make sound energy policy does us no favor. To compound our uneasiness, the Obama administration is still hell-bent on shutting down the oil drilling business in this country. After going back on his word to open up drilling off the coast of Virginia and other spots previously stymied, he jerked that agreement off the table after the Deepwater Horizon explosion. He over-reacted and Secretary Salazar was only too happy to put into place his far left ideology. The devastation to the Gulf coast economy is not overstated.

President Obama has been slow to evacuate American citizens out of Libya. It is no secret that Qaddafi is a madman and American evacuations should have begun immediately. There is clearly little Obama can do to influence events in Libya. They are not so friendly as Egypt was to us. But, Obama can demand the cooperation of the government to expedite the evacuation of Americans and tell Qaddafi to resign. To continue to say such pablum as violence is unacceptable is naive.

And why is there no military carrier on the water there?

Higher crude oil prices are of interest to everyone. Not only will gas prices rise as families take summer vacations - in cars and on planes and trains - but the slow rise in grocery prices is already apparent in many parts of the country. Many none of this is of concern to Goolsbee or the Obama administration but it is to the voter on whom Obama will be counting for re-election.

Of course Goolsbee is concerned. It is his job to be concerned.

The normally reserved journalist Chris Wallace remarked on the president's lip service paid to the violence in Libya.

“Well, all hell is breaking loose and I just want to say one thing about President Obama and I understand that it’s awfully hard to calibrate this and when you’ve got what certainly seems to be a madman in charge of the country, you don’t want to do something to set him off and cause him to do something else crazy and barbaric,” Wallace said. “But one of the things, words that the president or speech writers ought to take out of this lexicon is ‘unacceptable.’ Yesterday, he said the events in Libya are unacceptable. He’s going to accept them. What does unacceptable mean? Unacceptable would mean I’m not going to accept it, but he’s not going to do anything about it. It’s like what he said about Korea or Iran, it’s unacceptable.”

It is time for President Obama to step up and at the very least join with other western nations in strong statements to the mad man of Libya.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Alternatives For Medicaid Reform in Texas

Medicaid is a federal-state partnership to provide health care to two distinct populations: low-income individuals who are predominantly women and children; and aged, blind, and disabled individuals who require long-term care. While the federal government provides a majority of the funding for Medicaid in Texas, federal program rules are co-opting a growing share of Texas’ general revenue funds and crowding out other state functions such as education and public safety. That basic definition of the dilemma facing the state as Texas struggles to met budgetary short falls may have a common sense solution. A recently released report from Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) offers such a solution.

This is the report.

Instead of opting for the last resort - the public option system for those in need of Medicaid benefits - the Foundation's TexHealth proposal brings forth the utilization of a premium subsidy. Using a sliding scale to calculate an individual contribution to health insurance based on income and assets, an estimated four million additional people could be served with better health care for less money than are currently served. The state would shift roles from benefit provider to subsidizing the premium in the private market, allowing the individual to purchase that insurance.

As TPPF Executive Director Arlene Wohlgemuth explains:

For long-term care benefits, all current recipients of long-term services and support would be grandfathered at the current eligibility level. However, the TexHealth model would apply a more stringent income and assets test to subsequent enrollees, as well as close a legal loophole that allows wealthier individuals to shift assets in order to be eligible for the low-income safety net.

“We want to make sure that our aged or disabled Texans know that the services they currently receive will continue uninterrupted.”

So, how does the Foundation propose to get there? There are three options offered:

* An interstate compact. The ideal method of financing available to Texas involves entering into an interstate compact stipulating receipt of the aggregated amount of funding that Texas received in 2010 from the federal government with allowance in the formula for inflation and population changes. Because the outlined plan would spend money more efficiently and provide better service to low-income people, Texas could go a step further and take only 95 percent of the aggregated amount of funding. The proposed plan will be budget-neutral but more likely budget-positive for both Texas and the federal government.

Placement of Texas’ Medicaid population into a health insurance exchange. If Texas no longer operates a Medicaid program, the federal government has obligated itself to fully fund insurance for those whose incomes are below the federal poverty limit. Texas would then use the general revenue funds it had previously used for Medicaid to provide wrap-around benefits for long-term care to the aged and disabled. While this is the most easily achieved option in the short term, the long term financing of health care through this model may provide cause for concern.

* Section 1115 waiver. This waiver – named after a provision of the Social Security Act – would allow Texas to test policy innovations for five years, so long as the proposed reforms demonstrate no additional cost to the federal government and are approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the Office of Management and Budget, and the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Texas used an 1115 waiver in the mid-1990s to implement welfare reform, which inspired the federal government to incorporate Texas’ successful principles on a national basis.

The report goes into specific details and charts the needs of Texans. Take the time and go to the link above. It's worth the read.

Mitch Daniels Right on Right to Work Law

Governor Daniels said of the walk out staged by Indiana state senators:

"The activities of today are a perfectly legitimate part of the process," Daniels told reporters. "Even the smallest minority, and that's what we've heard from in the last couple days, has every right to express the strength of its views and I salute those who did."

Daniels added that he would not send Indiana state troopers to find the fleeing Democrats. "I trust that the people's consciences will bring them back to work," Daniels said. "I choose to believe that they'll come back and do the job that they're paid to do."

Sounds reasonable. Allowing the minority to pull a publicity stunt is politics as usual. A minority party fleeing state lines to avoid doing the peoples business is unfortunate but to be expected after seeing their fellow Democrats do it in Wisconsin. Texas, by the way, experienced the same from state Democrats in 2003 so it is not so original of an action. Just cowardly.

Daniels is trying to remain calm and cordial, no doubt thinking this will expedite the process and the Democrats will notice his tone and come on home. He's wrong but it's worth a shot.

The thing is, if you give an ideologue an inch, he/she will take a mile. As it is, Daniels is a potential presidential candidate, though he claims he is not. He has risen to national prominence of late with some high profile speeches and interviews. He wants to appear self-confident and rational. He governs with common sense.

There is no doubt the man is a fiscal conservative - he has a record as a two term governor to prove it. He is a strong enough Republican to be preferable to a Democrat in that office.

Tuesday afternoon a bit of a firestorm swept social media as Daniels gave a wink and a nod to state Republicans to back off pending "right to work" legislation. The knee jerk reactors did as expected - hang him from the rafters, they cried. He caved. He must not be a true conservative.

One place to draw a line: "Right to Work" laws. Mitch Daniels is drawing plenty of conservative heat for opposing his legislature's Right to Work law. But Daniels, like Walker, may be taking the true conservative position.

Advocates describe Right to Work laws as preserving workers' freedom not to join a union, which is a noble goal -- but it's not what Right to Work laws do. In fact, these laws interfere with the right of contract and they bar certain consensual economic arrangements -- specifically, they bar employers from agreeing to hire only union workers.

Right to Work laws bar employers from imposing a different sort of condition: the requirement that all employees join a union. Thus they take away property rights and infringe on the right of contract.

There are plenty of stupid labor laws that restrict employer freedom, but none of these laws force employers to have a closed shop. Preventing employers from agreeing to a closed shop is no free-market solution.

The truly conservative approach to labor would be to allow the business owner to make his/her own choice as to what type of contract with his/her employees is agreed upon. Union shop, non-union shop - it is up to the owner. There is no restriction that says it must be either way. A restriction is a restriction, no matter which side you may ideologically be aligned.

Mitch Daniels is a fiscal conservative. He is a common sense politician. If telling fellow Republican elected officials that the Right to Work legislation is not a deal-breaker for him and it allows the budget mending process to move forward, so be it. Indiana is not Wisconsin.

Daniels wants the opportunity to pass his agenda. It's that simple. A Right to Work law has never been his stated focus.

Even Mr. Daniels, who has stood up to union opposition in the past, seems hesitant. He told the Indianapolis Star that right to work "may be worth a look," but he added it "is not on my agenda." He's worried that the issue so antagonizes unions that it could derail the rest of his legislative agenda.

In theory, Daniels is in favor of a Right to Work law but believes it is a big enough issue to be fully debated and allow the voters to have a say in it, not just passed within larger legislation. He doesn't want the issue used as a political football.

Gov. Mitch Daniels had warned his party late last year against pursuing so-called “right to work” legislation. While he agreed with it philosophically, he said it was a big issue that needed a state-wide debate and noted no Republican had run on this in the November election.

If no Republican ran on the issue, then why is it such a focus now? It is not right for either party to take advantage of a situation - a state with budget shortfalls - to slip in side issues. We don't like it when Democrats do it. We shouldn't do it either.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Obama Silent on Libya Protests

It's 3:00 AM in the Middle East and northern Africa yet President Obama is hitting the snooze button. He has, unfortunately, been quite consistent in his aloof responses to the continued protests of those who wish to be free of brutal dictators.

So far, all the world has heard from President Obama is that he doesn't support violence. Gee, talk about phoning in the minimum response. Every other leader of substance has weighed in on the latest eruption - that in Libya. Late Monday afternoon, the State Department tweeted Secretary Clinton's disapproval of the situation.

Even the corrupt United Nations, which placed Libya on the Security Council:


"The secretary-general expressed deep concern at the escalating scale of violence and emphasized that it must stop immediately. He reiterated his call for respect for basic freedoms and human rights, including peaceful assembly and information," the spokesman said after Ban spoke to Gaddafi.

" ... The secretary-general underlined the need to ensure the protection of the civilian population under any circumstances. He urged all parties to exercise restraint and called upon the authorities to engage in broad-based dialogue to address legitimate concerns of the population."

Another example, from the Brits:


"The UK is gravely concerned about the situation in Libya which is deplorable and unacceptable."

"We are today summoning the Libyan Ambassador to London to the Foreign Office, to convey in the strongest terms our absolute condemnation of the use of lethal force against demonstrators."

Obama was quick to go to Cairo just after he was elected and his team made quite a production out of it. His speech delivered there was praised by the slobbering press and the Obama loyal. He said essentially nothing but it was a path to declaring that he was the non-Bush President. It was the beginning of the never ending Obama apology tour overseas.

The Bush freedom agenda is bearing fruit. The countries in the Middle East and in north Africa have no foundation of democracy and it is messy business, this change being demanded by the people protesting in the town squares and streets. President Obama would be a believable champion of "the people" if he acted as one, not just mouthed the pretty speeches. He has yet to prove himself a leader domestically or abroad. Opportunities have been lost.

The Obama administration - led by President Obama - failed in Lebanon, Iran, Tunisia, Syria, Egypt, Bahrain (where the U.S. has a military interest), and now Libya. There are other protests on the horizon. Jordan has made reform efforts to get out in front of demonstration. Saudi Arabia had to micro-manage the Egyptian change of power.

President Obama is correct - he is no George W. Bush.

FLOTUS And Daughters Hit The Vail Slopes

It is good to be First Lady and First Daughters. With the long Presidents Day weekend, they packed up and went to Vail, Colorado for a little skiing.

No big deal, under regular circumstances. But, with a President in the Oval Office calling for 'shared sacrifice' and an economy still in the dumps and over 9% unemployment with no end in sight, you would think the First Family would be a little less tone deaf.

The Obama entourage arrived at the Eagle County Regional Airport on Friday night. A motorcade of about a dozen vehicles drove from Gypsum into Vail and the underground garage of the Sebastian hotel.

This is a follow up ski trip, I suppose, after the one last winter for the girls.

The first lady took daughters Sasha and Malia for a quick trip to Liberty Mountain Resort, in Carroll Valley, Pa., in February 2010. It was the first time on skis for the first daughters, according to Anne Weimer, marketing director at Ski Liberty.

Does anyone else think it's odd that these "family vacations" do not include the husband and father of the family?

Maybe President Obama thinks other families should be making belt tightening measures to get through the tough economy, but not so much for his family. He is a wealthy man now, you know. Those book sales really added up.

The trip came just days after the President tried to sell his cost-cutting budget to the American people by asking them to stay at home.
‘If you’re a family trying to cut back, you might skip going out to dinner, or you might put off a vacation,’ he said.
While Mr Obama is staying put at the White House, the rest of his family headed to Colorado – rather than visiting slopes closer to Washington in Virginia or Pennsylvania.
Their trip came despite previous criticisms over the family's extravagant vacations, including a trip last summer to Spain.
Mrs Obama also raised eyebrows when she left earlier than her husband for their annual Christmas holiday in Hawaii, incurring additional expenses estimated to be more than $97,000.

After discovering the Pennsylvania ski resort last year, Mrs. Obama said, "'You can go from 60- and 50-degree weather to being on a slope,' she said.
'Not too many places in this country you can do that and still be at the seat of power. It's kind of cool.'"

I guess Vail is cooler this year.

The Obamas are reported to be picking up personal expenses. The taxpayers will pick up the entourage security and all those gas guzzling, polluting SUVs transporting them.

Monday, February 21, 2011

States as Laboratories of Democracy

When asked by a Sunday talk show host about he absence of 14 Wisconsin Democrat state senators, Governor Scott Walker replied,"If you want to participate in democracy, you have to show up in the arena."

Wisconsin has the strongest civil service protections of any state. Collective bargaining began in Wisconsin for public employee unions since 1959.

I guess it's only fair that Speaker of the House Boehner weighed in on the situation, since President Obama did last week:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) issued a statement backing Walker's proposal, saying governors like Walker "are daring to speak the truth about the dire fiscal challenges Americans face at all levels of government, and daring to commit themselves to solutions that will liberate our economy and help put our citizens on a path to prosperity."

As former Supreme Court Justice Brandeis said, the states are the "laboratories of democracy".

This battle for Wisconsin's budget woes will continue on into states like Indiana and Ohio. Both have Republican governors looking to make some tough choices. Both are states Barack Obama needs to win re-election in 2012.

The union rent-a-mobs are being quite blunt about their marching orders from the bosses in Washington, D.C. : Jeff Rae, 30, who works for the Transport Workers Union in Washington, said he arrived in Madison to gather intelligence on the controversy. His union sees Wisconsin as the first in a series of battles nationwide, he said.

"This is Ground Zero," Rae said. "Ohio's next."
Like Wisconsin, Ohio is looking to cuts in spending to balance its budget. In Ohio, however, the odds are seen favoring organized labor more than in Wisconsin, Rae said.

We're watching. Will the people of Wisconsin allow unions and President Obama run the state or do they allow the state politicians led by the Governor do what they were elected to do?

Louisiana State Senate Joins House And Goes GOP

The State of Louisiana went completely red Saturday. I am especially pleased as the area includes a former city of residence for me and my little family.

This is huge. By a slim margin of less than 600 votes, Republicans in Louisiana now control the state House and Senate. Jonathan Perry's victory insures the reforms Gov Bobby Jindal wants to make can be accomplished.

Saturday's election was to fill a vacant Senate seat in the Acadiana area that includes all or parts of Vermilion, Acadia, Lafayette and St. Landry parishes. The race pitted Perry, a lawyer and state representative from Kaplan, against Granger of Erath, a member of the Vermilion Parish Police Jury and owner of an oil services company.

The Senate is currently split between 19 Republicans and 19 Democrats, so the special election has been closely watched because the winner of the vacant 26th District seat will determine the majority party. If Perry's win is certified, it will be the first time the GOP has controlled the chamber since Reconstruction.

A new day is coming for Louisiana.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Doctor Passes Out Phony Excuses for Protesting Teachers

This is a video of a doctor willing to write medical excuses for absent teachers from the class rooms of Wisconsin. Nice. That's a terrific lesson to teach the children they profess to be doing all this for. Teachers are illegally breaking their contracts to protest and a doctor arrives to provide phony written excuses for them, after they were told they would suffer consequences from their actions.


WI Gov Walker Speaks About Protests and Democrats

During a press conference,Wisconsin Governor Walker states the state senate Democrats have to show up to work to offer amendments or voice opposition to his bill on public employees benefits:

Instead of running to Illinois and phoning in demands to cable television shows like common hostage takers - in this case the business of the people of Wisconsin - at a resort or a Best Western, the legislators are expected to show up and do the work of the people who elected them. Walker said he would not be cowed by the protesters - organized by union bosses and the DNC out of Washington, D.C. - and that a vote would be taken on the necessary budget cuts. Instead of going on cable television and listing demands - as a hostage taker would of ransom demands - it was time to be a mature adult and get on with it.

The politicians are paid to do the work of legislating. It is cowardly to run and avoid a vote. An interesting point the governor made was speaking about legislation the Democrats in the legislature tried to ram through between the November election, when the new governor was elected, and the January swearing-in of Walker to the office. It appears the Wisconsin legislature tried to mimic the national Democrats in a lame duck session. This makes their claims of not being listened to or being shut out of the process ring with hypocrisy.

President Obama is heavily invested in the protests now. Working with the DNC and Organizing for America (the activist wing of the Obama campaign - the rent a mob wing), Obama knows he cannot win re-election without Wisconsin. There are reports that the plans are in place for the same scenario taking place in Indiana and Ohio as the Republican governors there bring forth legislation to balance their state budgets. These are also must-win states for Obama. This website referenced is in the know - the publisher is part of frequent conference calls with the White House advisers presenting the message of the day. He is quite obedient about doing the Team Obama bidding.

It is important for Governor Walker to stand firm and do what is necessary for Wisconsin's future. He cannot lose a battle to those who expect to live off their fellow community members without also making sacrifices. The president cannot be allowed to set this standard - that it is ok for him to micromanage management of a state and send in the goons to get the results he wants.

It's for the Obama 2012 re-election campaign and it is wrong.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Our Community Organizer President

During the 2008 Presidential election, Barack Obama proudly boasted of his days as a community organizer on the south side of Chicago. It was his introduction to the political circle of power in the windy city. Old habits die hard.

He can't seem to help himself. Time after time Barack Obama has stepped outside of the lines of the Oval Office and inserted himself into local and state issues. Whether it was the Cambridge incident and the subsequent beer summit or now the open campaigning for teacher unions and public employee unions in Wisconsin. He and the DNC have come together to send rented mobs to the Wisconsin state capital as participants in the demonstrations against Gov Walker's bill to balance the state budget. Obama claims it is a move to bust unions. Once again, Team Obama is all about union loyalty and pushing the idea that their benefits and contracts are sacred. Everyone else can just foot the bill for the unrealistically low amounts that the public employees contribute towards their retirement and health care benefits.

From his press release, this is the sacrifice Gov Walker is asking public employee
s to make: Both democrats and republicans know that state workers do great work. But unfortunately many private sector workers who are also hard working, good people either lost their job, took a pay cut, or saw their benefit package reduced as a result of the recent economic downturn. Governor Walker’s budget repair bill strikes a fair balance—asking public employees to make a modest 5.8% pension contribution, which is about the national average, and 12.6% health insurance contribution, which is about half the national average.

This is what the taxpaying voters of Wisconsin wanted as they elected Gov Walker last November. Legislation proposed by Gov. Walker would limit public employee collective bargaining to salary issues alone, but it does not prevent anyone from joining a union. In any case, these are terms that are subject to review and change, and given the state’s $3.6 billion budget hole, voters last November elected candidates who promised this kind of change.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka spoke to protesters in Madison Friday. He used the standard thuggish rhetoric to threaten the Governor.

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, has been shouting at a rally in Madison, Wisc., in “solidarity” with public employee workers who have been disrupting the state this week. The situation’s not funny, but Trumka’s hyperbole is hilarious. From the AFL-CIO’s Tweet coverage:

Gov. Walker, that’s too much to ask. You can’t have our freedom!” -Trumka #NotMyWI

And it is obvious that by "freedom" Trumka means taxpayer funded stellar benefits that no one else on the planet receives but unions. Somehow union members became an exalted segment of the population and their contributions put politicians into office. Barack Obama is a prime example of a politician being indebted to union support.
At every test, Barack Obama fails. This is why it is important to elect a politician with leadership experience, not one who scams the young and cynical voter with fluffy worded slogans to hide a lack of executive leadership.

The teachers on strike - against their contract agreements - claim that they are protesting "for the children". It's a lie, of course. A convenient lie based on the fact that they are more concerned about personal retirement benefits and health care benefits than actually going to work to teach these children they care so much about. Schools are closed in Wisconsin due to the teacher walk outs. Does that benefit the children? Children are being taken to the rallies and when asked why they are there, have no idea why they are there. Plus, the children are seeing some fine signage at the state capital - pictures of their governor portrayed as Hitler, with targets on his head, comparing the GOP to Nazis. Classy.

Lead by example. The President needs to learn that lesson and the protesters do,too.

The Photo From Obama's Techie Dinner

It was billed as the photo we are all waiting to see - that from the dinner in San Francisco for the tech poobahs and President Obama. The object of interest is Apple CEO, Steve Jobs. Jobs is battling serious illness and has been out of camera range for some time.

The photo can be viewed here.

What I noticed is that it is a monolithic looking group. All white folks except for Obama. White men and two white women. The women are seated at the head and end of the table, in the traditional seats of the host and hostess.

Just an observation. San Francisco is held as place of far left politics. It's the place where Obama got into a jam on the presidential campaign trail for speaking to a group of supporters at a private residence and went off into his riff that those not supporting him are gun-toting, religious fanatics clinging to their beliefs because they have nothing else.

What is done in private is usually the true essence of a person. This is where we are most relaxed and our guard is let down. This is no doubt why the dinner for the techies was held in a private residence - for a small, relaxed group setting so that people could speak freely.

Will the race baiters so eager to tell every company in the country to hire more people of color to top positions stay quiet here? Is the San Francisco area exempt from the expectations put upon others?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Obama Weighs In On Wisconsin Budget Bill Protests

Why is President Obama weighing in on the state budget debate in Wisconsin?
What do cowardly Democrats unable to find the resolve to vote for a tough bill to solve budget deficits in the Wisconsin state budget? They run. They were not present in the State Senate for the vote and with the rule being that one Democrat must be in attendance, the vote was postponed.

The rent-a-mob so famous for doing the bidding of unions and their bosses was in full display at the Wisconsin state capitol. The signs referred to Governor Walker as Hitler and as Mussolini. Some signs showed the governor's head with a target drawn on it. So much for the 'new tone' President Obama called for in Phoenix. The unions - the teachers unions in particular - don't want to lose collective bargaining.

Where does the rent-a-mob receive support? Why, from the national Democratic party and the community organizing arm of Team Obama, of course.
The Democratic National Committee's Organizing for America arm -- the remnant of the 2008 Obama campaign -- is playing an active role in organizing protests against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's attempt to strip most public employees of collective bargaining rights.

OfA Wisconsin's field efforts include filling buses and building turnout for the rallies this week in Madison, organizing 15 rapid response phone banks urging supporters to call their state legislators, and working on planning and producing rallies, a Democratic Party official in Washington said.

The teachers unions bussed in students for the protests. The students were out of school as school districts called off school due to lack of teachers on the job. Just as the Democrats ran from their responsibilities, the teachers called in sick and took the day to go to protest. It is against the teachers' contract to have a strike yet they did so with calling in sick.

So the police were called in to look for the wayward Democrats.

Debate in the State Senate over Wisconsin’s controversial bill to cut collective bargaining rights for public workers ended, at least temporarily, on Thursday morning before it began. As the session was due to begin, Democrats failed to appear in the chamber, leaving the body without a quorum and leading the Republicans to send capitol officials in search of the Democrats.

By noon, Ted Blazel, the sergeant-at-arms, began making his way through the Capitol building, packed with chanting protesters (elated at the development), in search of a Democrat — in offices, under desks, in corridors. “Nothing yet,” he said, his forehead drenched in sweat.

What is it with Democrats and running from their sworn duties? Not too long ago, in the Texas State legislature, the Democrats ran to Oklahoma instead of voting on re-districting. They were quite proud of their cowardice. They returned and the re-districting went ahead. It was a waste of time and money for the poor behavior of some.

Sen. Mark Miller, the Democratic minority leader, released this statement on behalf of Senate Democrats: "Democrats believe it is wrong to strip people of their right to have a say in the conditions of their employment and to use state law to bust unions.

"We urge Governor Walker and the Republicans to listen to the people of Wisconsin, talk to the workers and reach an agreement that helps balance the budget while respecting their rights."

In order to save 6,000 jobs, Governor Walker wants a so-called budget repair bill, which would close a state shortfall of about $3.6 billion in part by asking public employees to pay a greater share of their pension and health insurance costs

Obama - beholden to the unions - decided to weigh in on the battle brewing in Wisconsin. President Obama also weighed in during an interview Wednesday with a Wisconsin TV station, “I think it’s very important for us to understand that public employees, they’re our neighbors, they’re our friends. These are folks who are teachers and they’re firefighters and they’re social workers and they’re police officers.”

But Mr. Walker has insisted that he is not singling out any group, merely searching for solutions to close a deficit of $137 million in the current state budget and the prospect of a $3.6 billion hole in the coming two-year budget. “It’s not about the unions,” Mr. Walker said in an interview. “It’s about balancing the budget.”

Had Obama been an honest man, he would have said that the police officers and the firefighters are not included in the bill. They are exempted. The teachers union is not. Other public employees are in for cuts, too. There are no easy solutions to this financial mess we are in, either at a national or state level. Everyone will feel the pain.

Even unions.

President Obama should go about the problems he is avoiding - big entitlement reforms, for example - and let the people of Wisconsin work out their budget problems. He can find direction from Wisconsin's new governor, Scott Walker.


Need some inspiration today? I've got some:


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nir Rosen: Misogyny Alive in Liberal Journalism

CBS reporter Lara Logan was covering the Egyptian protests and she became a part of the story as she was attacked and sexually brutalized in the crowd. Her attack was so harsh that she had to be rescued by approximately 20 women and some security forces before the men would let her go. She was hospitalized.

Logan was on the receiving end of much public support by journalists and reporters as the story was released by her employer. It is important for Americans to remember the utter disregard for women many in the Middle East hold. More than standard discrimination moves that can happen here in America, women in the Middle East are held to unreal personal standards that, if broken, result in stonings and honor killings. It is barbaric.

We hope that American men rise above such cave man mentality. Most usually do. Then along comes one who is supposed to be educated and is a liberal politically - that means he's a superior person when it comes to worldly attitudes, in his circles. At least in the minds of other liberals. The truth is exposed and the results of his actions were interesting.

Liberal anti-war journalist Nir Rosen enters the story. Social media again plays a role in current events. It appears Rosen has a bone to pick with Logan and her coverage of wars.

Rosen clarified his initial reference to former American commander in Afghanistan Stanley McChrystal, writing that the assault should serve as a reminder of Logan’s “role glorifying war and condemning Rolling Stone’s Hastings while defending McChrystal.”

When the news of Logan's attack was released by CBS News, the initial information was sketchy at best. It, at first, appeared to be another story of a journalist being roughed up during the protests. Unfortunately, many of these stories have been reported. The difference here was that unlike other women who have been reporting rough treatment, Logan was sexually attacked. It was reported later as a brutal attack and that she was hospitalized.

From the initial report: "Logan was covering the jubilation . . . when she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration," CBS said in a statement. "It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into a frenzy.

"In the crush of the mob, [Logan] was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers.

"She reconnected with the CBS team, returned to her hotel and returned to the United States on the first flight the next morning," the network added. "She is currently in the hospital recovering."

Logan is the Chief Foreign correspondent for CBS News. There were reports that the crowd attacking Logan shouted, "Jew" as they surrounded her. Logan is not Jewish.

This is how Rosen's involvement began on Twitter:

The initial tweet by Rosen stated, “Lara Logan had to outdo Anderson. Where was her buddy McCrystal.” From this tweet he went further, writing that he would have been amused if Anderson Cooper had also been sexually assaulted.

“Yes yes its wrong what happened to her. Of course. I don’t support that. But, it would have been funny if it happened to Anderson too,” wrote Rosen.

The two comments gave way to more. Rosen called Logan a “war monger” and expressed doubt that she was actually assaulted.

“Jesus Christ, at a moment when she is going to become a martyr and glorified we should at least remember her role as a major war monger” wrote Rosen.

“Look, she was probably groped like thousands of other women, which is still wrong, but if it was worse than [sic] I’m sorry.”

If you watch the interview conducted by CNN's Anderson Cooper and Nir Rosen the obvious is apparent: those who proclaim themselves supporters of women are frequently not. Especially true among liberals. This is a vile example of that theory.

Watch here:

The irony, if you listen to the interview, is that Rosen says he is in the Middle East right now and is there to report on abuse of women by security forces trained by Americans. He says he is a strong supporter of women. His actions speak otherwise. Though no doubt the true motive was for him to do a story by bashing America, somehow, by doing a story of American trained forces in the Middle East, it now comes back on him and he is the story.

Rosen also expresses that he thinks it would be amusing for Anderson Cooper to experience the sexual assault, too.

So, to the Egyptians barbarians, Logan deserved her treatment because not only is she a woman but they thought she was a Jew. To Rosen, Logan deserved her treatment because she reports on war without do so with his own opinion of anti-war sentiments coming through.

Who is this man, Nir Rosen? He is a far left liberal working as a journalist and a fellow at NYU's Center on Law and Security. Even the standard left leaning news sources refer to him as a liberal journalist, so that is telling. He covered the war in Iraq and like many liberals in the press, criticized Logan for calling the Rolling Stone journalist who wrote the piece on Gen McChrystal "sensationist". For that she reaped the wrath of Rosen. To Rosen, Logan is a "warmonger".

Rosen has resigned from his NYU employment. His apology to Logan will be for her to accept. It is difficult to think any woman would believe anything coming from this guy.

Two U.S. ICE Agents Shot in Mexico

The U.S. embassy in Mexico announced that two U.S. ICE agents were shot in Mexico. One agent died.

The two agents were driving in the northern state of San Luis Potosi when they were stopped at what may have appeared to be a military checkpoint, said one Mexican official, who could not be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case. Mexican military officials said they have no checkpoints in the area.

After they stopped, someone opened fire on them, the official said.

San Luis Potosi police said gunmen attacked two people a blue Suburban on Highway 57 between Mexico City and Monterrey, near the town of Santa Maria Del Rio, at about 2:30 p.m.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee, today issued the following statement regarding the attack on two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Mexico yesterday:

“Yesterday's brazen attack on two U.S. ICE agents in Mexico is an alarming reminder that Americans are not immune to the escalating violence south of our border. As Secretary Napolitano has said, we count an attack on an ICE agent as an attack on all who serve this country and put their lives on the line for our security. I call on the Administration to respond accordingly and ensure justice is swiftly served.

“I send my sincere condolences to family of Mr. Zapata and offer prayers for a speedy recovery for his partner who was wounded in this attack.”

A statement was issued by Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano condemning the violence. Nothing yet from the President.

This act was described as "a rare attack" on an American official in Mexico. Maybe. But how is that reality? American citizens have been murdered in alarmingly increased numbers along the border, both in Mexican territory and U.S. territory. Whether Border Patrol or ICE agents or ordinary citizens, none of the murders are justified.

Mexico is fighting heavily armed and powerful drug cartels that supply the U.S. market. Since President Felipe Calderon launched a military crackdown against drug trafficking shortly after taking office in December 2006, almost 35,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence.

Napolitano said the U.S. is working with the Mexican government.

Because the attack occurred on Mexican soil, Mexican authorities have jurisdiction in the investigation. However, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the full resources of her department "are at the disposal of our Mexican partners in this investigation."

Clearly, more work is needed to combat the drug cartels behind the violence.

While a U.S. law enforcement authority hasn't been killed on Mexico soil since 1985, what was previously considered unthinkable by would-be attackers -- over fear of full retribution by the United States -- no longer seems to intimidate in a drug war that has killed more than 34,000 people, including dozens of Americans.

The surviving agent was admitted to a Houston hospital.

Sources told the Chronicle the wounded agent is Victor Avila. He was taken to Ben Taub Hospital, in Houston, said U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee and chairman of the panel on investigations. McCaul is a former federal prosecutor in Texas and former deputy attorney general of Texas. Avila has since been released.

Avila, who was recently deployed for duty out of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, was shot twice in the leg and is in stable condition, ICE said.

It has not been determined if the attack was deliberate or a case of the agents being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It is reported that President Obama called the dead agent's family to offer condolences. Let's hope there are stern calls to the Mexican leadership about this unacceptable action.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

2010 Medal of Freedom Honorees

The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest recognition given by the President, was awarded to 15 people Tuesday at the White House.

There are 15 honorees: President George H. W. Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Congressman John Lewis, John H. Adams, Maya Angelou??, Warren Buffett, Jasper Johns, Gerda Weissmann Klein, Dr. Tom Little (Posthumous), Yo-Yo Ma, Sylvia Mendez, Stan Musial, Bill Russell, Jean Kennedy Smith and John J. Sweeney.

In a statement, President Obama said of the recipients, ” These outstanding honorees come from a broad range of backgrounds and they’ve excelled in a broad range of fields, but all of them have lived extraordinary lives that have inspired us, enriched our culture, and made our country and our world a better place…I look forward to awarding them this honor next year.”

The White House website has a brief summary of the lives of the recipients. I admit, I don't fully understand why some of these choices were made.

Vitter Places Hold on Nominee Until Drilling Permits Issued

Louisiana's junior Senator Vitter weighs in on the continued Obama moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling, in both deep water and shallow water, too.

The Interior Department has destroyed jobs in Louisiana, contributing to the bankruptcy of at least one major employer, and is breaching contracts with other employers and putting taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars. On top of that, the department is now ignoring a federal court’s contempt order and has consistently refused to answer my straightforward questions about delays in the permitting process. The department’s actions are not only harming Louisianians, but are significantly increasing the federal deficit by cutting off a major source of revenues that would otherwise be generated from offshore energy exploration,” said Vitter.

In protest, Vitter has pledged to place a hold on an Obama nominee:

U.S. Sen. David Vitter today announced a hold on Dan Ashe, President Obama’s nominee to head the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Department of the Interior, until the department issues at least fifteen deepwater exploration well permits and complies with his other previous requests for answers on the permitting process.

As I wrote about recently, Sen Landrieu of Louisiana is making her voice heard, too. Wouldn't it be great if these two would team up - in the new tone of working together! - and hold weekly press conferences on the job killing, regulation heavy, permit denying Interior Secretary and President Obama, hell bent to destroy the oil and gas industry in our country? Actions speak louder than words.

Vitter's statement during the committee hearing for nominee Ashe can be seen here:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Obama's Budget Arrives With A Thud

Clearly, President Obama is deaf to the pleas from the American people. Clearly, President Obama is a far left ideologue who lacks an ability to step up and lead the country into better economic days. The budget submitted Monday was soundly criticized by both the left and the right sides of the political aisle. Normally, this might indicate a solid, moderate approach - pleasing neither side to the expense of the other - but in this case it simply means President Obama failed. Big time.

The numbers man in the House of Representatives, Rep Paul Ryan, summed it up:

“It would be better doing nothing than if we were to actually pass this budget—for the sake of our economy, for the sake of our future, and for the sake of jobs,” said a clearly fired-up Ryan.

This is essentially what Obama did - he punted. Instead of beginning to tackle the issues that must be tackled to steady the economy - reforming Social Security, Medicare, for example - and he completely ignored the recommendations from his own deficit commission.

And from the Senate: “This is not an I-got-the-message budget. It’s unserious, and it’s irresponsible. We need to look for ways to preserve what’s good that does not put us on a path to bankruptcy. That was the challenge of this budget. The administration failed the test,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) on Monday.

It is the same old, same old. It is the very type of smoke and mirrors that Obama claimed he would not be resorting to as he completed this disgraceful stack of papers.

Obama’s budget also includes a $1.6 trillion tax hike on families and small businesses, just two months after agreeing to keep taxes at current levels. The President would increase income taxes by $919 billion, hike the death tax by $118 billion, and raise the transportation tax by $435 billion.

How stupid would you feel if you were Erskine Bowles or Alan Simpson or any of the other members of the deficit commission? They were used as cover for a president with no clue what else to do - just call together a commission and let them shoulder the burden of finding a way forward for a while. And, it is obvious he had no intention of actually following the way they suggest.

This was written of Mr. Bowles' reaction to the proposed budget:

Erskine Bowles, the Democratic chairman of the fiscal commission, said the White House budget request goes ‘nowhere near where they will have to go to resolve our fiscal nightmare.’

Suspicions that Team Obama intends to tax and regulate their way to carrying out their ideology were proven correct - the oil and gas drilling industry will be held to billions in new taxes and fees plus a permitting process that will triple in length, further slowing drilling.

Now it is up to the Republican majority in the House of Representatives to do the real work of serious economic reform for recovery. Let's hope they have the stomach for it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Landrieu Reacts to Oil Drilling Crisis in Gulf of Mexico

Louisiana Senator Landrieu finally stood up and did a little speaking truth to power. It appears the fact that Team Obama is hell bent to destroy the offshore oil drilling industry in order to perfect their far left ideology on environmental and energy policies.

The American offshore oil drilling industry is slowly dwindling away and that is the Obama plan. Nothing could be more clear - the far left intends to shut down a vital American industry and President Obama encourages them to do so.

"Tonight, I received news that the American Seahawk Drilling Company will file bankruptcy and exit the Gulf of Mexico. I have said repeatedly that the administration's excruciatingly slow release of oil and gas permits will cause job losses and undue economic hardship. Sadly, the worst-case predictions are now true, and we are still living this economic nightmare," said Sen. Landrieu.

"It seems that the six rigs that have left the Gulf and taken off for other places—taking U.S. jobs and tax dollars along with them—were not enough to wake up this administration. How many more rigs have to leave and how many more businesses have to close before it realizes the havoc the de facto moratorium is wrecking on the Gulf Coast? When these businesses close, people lose good paying jobs, our communities erode and our unique culture disappears.

"The most infuriating thing about this announcement is that the shallow water industry was not placed under the president's moratorium. Despite this, BOEMRE's new rules and regulations make it very difficult to conduct business in the Gulf. It is time the administration ends this madness and gets the folks along the Gulf Coast back to work."

As this article explains, the drilling company is the second largest shallow water driller in the country. This administration is dangerously ill-informed about the oil drilling industry. The commission put into place after the Deepwater Horizon explosion was made up of men without any oil drilling experience or even engineering education. It was a sham. It was a disgrace.

Since the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, only 31 shallow water permits have been issued. Only one exploratory permit and no deep water permits have been issued.

To date, the shut down of the industry after the oil spill will amount to billions of dollars in loss of business and unemployment along the Gulf coast. Currently, our country buys crude oil from foreign countries to the tune of 60% of our consumption. There is no coherent energy policy. The middle east is in more turmoil than ever before in recent years. News flash - they don't wish us well. Shutting off our oil supply would be a great feat for them.

We need all energy producing techniques to supply our country's needs. Oil and natural gas drilling, nuclear, and wind. It can all work together. The oil drilling industry is the most regulated and highest taxed in America.

This administration intends to use more regulation to accomplish what they cannot at the ballot box. This has certainly proven true in oil drilling. They have stubbornly refused to obey an end of the federal moratorium on offshore drilling - even in shallow water. Permits and new leases have dried up from the shut down. Splitting the federal agency in two and adding more layers of red tape and bureaucracy have produced no good results. Quite the opposite - unless the intention is to completely shut down operations in the Gulf of Mexico and continue to deny drilling anywhere else.

I appeal to Senator Landrieu to hold a weekly news conference and update the public on the administration's actions. I demand better from this government.

You should, too.

"Republicans Quote Reagan, Democrats Study Him"

The politics of addition, not division. That is the legacy of Ronald Reagan. I watched a large part of an interview with the former president's son, Michael, as he promoted his book about Reagan. It seems this book is quite timely, given the squabbling among the GOP and the need for real leadership as we head into the 2012 presidential election.

Michael Reagan said, "Republicans quote Reagan, Democrats study him". That was his response to a question about why he thought Barack Obama was reading a book about his father.

Will Michael Reagan come under fire for acknowledging that sometimes social issues must be tempered and allow fiscal issues be at the forefront in an election year? This is not to say that anyone is trying to ignore social conservatives or discredit socially conservative issues, it is to state the obvious. Yet, those who have an economic interest will continue to stir the pot and try to separate out the social conservatives in the GOP. Does anyone question Michael Reagan's social conservative credentials?

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a potential presidential candidate in 2012, said during his speech before CPAC 2011 Saturday that it is important to elect a Republican president in 2012. Some took issue with that - that it is most important to elect a fiscally and socially conservative as president in 2012. Well, would a fiscally and socially conservative candidate be the nominee for the Democrats? Of course not. Sometimes it seems that those who prefer to identify as conservatives and not simply as Republicans do more harm than good. Maybe sometimes deliberately. Some multi-millionaires preaching social conservatism above all else come to mind from the world of talk radio and specific television shows, too.

It was encouraging to read that the enrollment numbers were up to a record high level for the CPAC 2011 conference in Washington, D.C. over the weekend. It is good that special interest groups didn't squash attendance of an annual conservative event
simply to have a temper tantrum for attention. The mature conservatives won the argument and the event maintained a big tent. No one leg of the traditional three legged stool of the Republican party should try to edge out the other two legs.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels gave perhaps the best speech televised during the CPAC 2011 event. He is the one who publicly advised that fiscal issues are at the forefront this time and he was soundly criticized by those who make lots of money off social issues. Regular common sense people knew what was meant by his remark. And, they agreed. Daniels proved himself a true leader with his speech. Common sense is sorely needed in politics today.

Republicans are quite skilled at eating our own. Ronald Reagan himself would not be an acceptable candidate today to many and that is a shame. Those who quote Reagan with blind loyalty seem sadly lacking in knowledge of the man himself. He would not be happy with those who divide the party. Remember the Eleventh Commandment? Remember the 80% rule of Reagan? That is what brought the world President Ronald Reagan.

See, the speeches at CPAC 2011 were full of socially conservative rhetoric. Every speaker was thoughtful and didn't leave much room to doubt his or her sincerity of belief. It didn't matter one bit if the sanctimonious far right boycotted or not, the conference went on and the speeches were full of red meat for everyone.

All that the boycotts accomplished was the obvious - a staged outrage for publicity and providing fodder for the opposition party, the Democrats. The social conservatives are being led down a dangerous path. No one can live up to that kind of smug behavior. It makes them look afraid of an evolving society. It makes then look weak - as though they cannot defend a traditional marriage. And for those who would utter the foolish meme that supporters of gay marriage or civil unions would destroy traditional marriage and traditional families? Look around. Heterosexuals have done a fine job of that already.

It is time for the Republicans and conservatives to unite for the sake of our country. It is time to actually be more Reagan-like, not just spout quotes when it is convenient to an argument. It is time to work together to defeat Barack Obama in 2012.

Walk the walk. We all will win.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Is The GOP Killing Big Bird?

As the party has in the past, the GOP is putting de-funding PBS/NPR on the table for discussion. Seems like an easy decision but appearances are deceiving, as the arguments for continued funding point to consistently.

When all else fails, put an argument on the backs of "the children". The folks who don't want to defund anything, much less something used by most every household in the country, are quick to point to children's programming on PBS as a reason the shows must go on as they do now. Who doesn't love Big Bird and Dora the Explorer?

Here's the rub. Both of those examples, in particular, are fully capable of being self-funded. The sales numbers of trademarked goods bearing those two franchises names are staggering. Billions of dollars are spent for all the merchandise available for the little ones.

It's the American way.

I would hate to go back and add up all the purchases I made for our son as he grew up and enjoyed all the characters on PBS. Quite clever marketing there. We enjoyed some wonderful shows together, my son and I. From Sesame Street to Reading Rainbow to Wishbone to Magic School Bus. All fun and presenting learning experiences for the viewer. Did we go out and buy that stuff for Christmas and birthday gifts? You betcha. It's marketed as 'educational' toys and we parents fall for it. No harm, no foul. I would make the same purchasing decisions if I had it to do over.

Our son is in college now and I am not up on all the current popular child-grabbing programming now, other than what I hear from younger children in our extended family. I know Dora is a star. I know there are continuing law suits to protect all the trademarked names, too. Why are they trademarked? To retain the money acquired from that popularity.

When the majority flipped back to the GOP in the House of Representatives in November and actions such as the firing of Juan Williams occurred at the hand of NPR, a new effort was made to defund NPR in the House. It failed, of course, as the Democrats were still in the majority in the lame duck session.

The proposal was this week’s winner of the GOP’s YouCut site, which lets the public select which cuts they would like to see receive an up-or-down vote on the House floor. To do so, Amanda Terkel explains, they try to make a procedural vote on an unrelated piece of legislation the vote on the YouCut item. Democrats easily overrode the attempt, voting 239-171 to close debate on the underlying measure and move on, without voting on the NPR proposal.

One bill is in the works that would only deal with the federal funding of NPR.

Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado, is crafting legislation that would defund NPR. However, it is not a task that is as easy is it sounds.

"Still, cutting off federal money just to NPR is a complicated task. There isn't any congressional appropriation that says 'Funds for NPR.' Instead, federal money goes to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which received $420 million from the government in 2010. About $90 million of that went to public radio. The corporation gave part of that $90 million to NPR, and part of it to local public radio stations, which turned around and used the money to buy NPR programming. NPR has also gotten money from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Departments of Education and Commerce."

NPR claims that only about $3 million of its total annual budget comes from the federal government. Lamborn believes it is much higher, in the "tens of millions of dollars" range.

Lamborn's bill would not cut off funding to local public radio stations but merely forbid them from buying NPR programming with federal funds. NPR has accused Lamborn of interfering with freedom of the press, which Lamborn termed "bizarre," since local public radio stations would still be free to buy NPR programming with private money.

In the case of NPR, when the defunding question arises, the response from them is usually that the federal funding is small and not so important. Fine. Then cut it. Unnecessary funding has to begin somewhere. Just as with family budgets, every action builds to larger results.

In the case of PBS, the argument can be made that it is no longer as necessary as it once was in the area of children's programming. In the early days, there was no cable television and there was a very limited selection available to television viewers. Now there are hundreds of channels available around the clock. Rural viewers own satellite dishes and have more exposure to news and entertainment than ever before. The fact is, there is certainty that both PBS and NPR can self fund.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

White House Statement on Iranian Protests

This is the statement released Saturday by President Obama on Iran:


Office of the Press Secretary


Statement by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon on Iran

By announcing that they will not allow opposition protests, the Iranian government has declared illegal for Iranians what it claimed was noble for Egyptians. We call on the government of Iran to allow the Iranian people the universal right to peacefully assemble, demonstrate and communicate that’s being exercised in Cairo.

This would have been admirable two years ago when the people were being shot in the streets as they protested. Too bad President Obama and his team haven't realized that those protests were squashed, the people shot, killed, or arrested and no better off.

Too little, too late.

Egypt Without Mubarak

The message came from the Vice President, not the President himself.

"In these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his position as president of the republic," a grim-looking Suleiman said. "He has mandated the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the state. God is our protector and succor."

With that, the protesters in Egypt claimed victory. Mubarak passed power to the military. The crowd in Tahrir Square erupted with cheers and tears of joy as Vice President Suleiman read the statement from Mubarak.

As history is made, Mubarak leaves his position after three decades of iron handed rule. The Armed Forces Supreme Council plans to lift the emergency orders, not pursue the people protesting but warned of anyone causing trouble, and assured the people that they could handle the situation on the ground.

President Obama spoke about Mubarak's resignation:

"Today belongs to the people of Egypt," Obama declared at the White House. In Cairo, Egyptians celebrated into the night.

Obama's only mention of Mubarak, a longtime strong U.S. ally, was at the beginning of his remarks: "By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people's hunger for change," he said.

Obama singled out the Egyptian military for praise, saying it acted helpfully as a "caretaker" in defusing the situation and securing the country.

"We saw a military who would not fire bullets at the people they were sworn to protect," he said. But, he cautioned, it "will now have to ensure a tradition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people."

He said that means lifting Egypt's hated 30-year-old "emergency" police powers laws, revising the constitution to permit greater political diversity, enacting other safeguards to "make the changes irreversible and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free."

The Egyptian military, it should be noted, was trained by the U.S. so they are a very professional force. The Egyptian people respect their military and most families have a military member retired or active duty.

The real struggle begins now. Who will step into lead the largest Arab population? Will the Muslim Brotherhood fill the vacuum? The people of Egypt have no foundation of freedom, no history of it. Will they chose to live under Sharia law? These are the tough questions and these decisions by the Egyptian people come next.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Clapper Says Muslim Brotherhood Is Secular Organization

What is wrong with the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper? Is he simply out of it or does he rely on really poorly written briefings?

The Director of National Intelligence claimed the Muslim Brotherhood is largely secular - an "umbrella group" as he answered a question before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Thursday. The organization is called the MUSLIM Brotherhood, not the secular brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood strives for Islamic rule with Sharia law in force.

There were repeated warnings of a ripple effect of the events in northern Africa by the intelligence community to the Obama administration. Some say the warnings fell on deaf ears in the administration. Clapper has been criticized as out of touch before, too. Remember back to the arrests of the group of twelve terrorists in London late last year? Clapper said he was unaware of the events during an interview with Diane Sawyer of ABC News. The White House had to later admit that Clapper had not been briefed on the arrests.

Why was he not briefed?

And, then, Leon Panetta joined in the confusion. CIA Director Leon Panetta helped touch off an avalanche of erroneous expectations Thursday when he testified that there was a "strong likelihood" that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would step down by the end of the day.

Within minutes, senior aides to Panetta sought to tamp down the impact, saying he was merely referring to media reports. But by then, the comments had ricocheted around the Internet, underscoring U.S. confusion about events unfolding in Egypt, as well as the perils of publicly weighing in on such developments while serving as director of CIA.

The CIA Director relies on press accounts? Why didn't these two high ranking officials realize that the world was listening at this very fragile time in Egypt? And, if they fully understood that, why did they make such statements with the air of conviction?

What exactly is going in within our intelligence community?

Clapper's office had to scramble to get out there and do some damage control for his latest gaffe:

Jamie Smith, director of the office of public affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence later said in a statement to ABC News: “To clarify Director Clapper’s point - in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood makes efforts to work through a political system that has been, under Mubarak’s rule, one that is largely secular in its orientation – he is well aware that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a secular organization.”

Does anyone know what is going on in the intelligence community? Do they really only have the same information as everyone else? Aren't billions of taxpayer dollars paid to run the intelligence community but we have the Director of CIA relying on press reports?

It is as though we are all down Alice in Wonderland's rabbit hole.

Mubarak Punks Obama

So, if you are President Obama how utterly and completely stupid do you feel? Finally after two weeks of Egyptian protests, when it appeared that a big announcement was coming from President Mubarak, Obama decides to find his spine about the situation. During a campaign style speech in Michigan - it's re-election campaign time - he brings the protests into the mix. He says we are witnessing history without being too specific. He thinks all is good, another bullet dodged in international politics.


Not too long after Obama weighed in, Mubarak gave his address to the people crammed into the public square in Cairo from a secure location. Not only did the man say he was not leaving yet and certainly not leaving Egypt, he said he would not leave due to pressure from foreign entities. That means the U.S.

The President gave most of his power to his appointed Vice President Suleiman. He thinks this would be enough until the elections scheduled for September. This left President Obama and CIA Director Panetta with egg on their faces.

So, the White House issued a statement demanding that Suleiman clarify what the heck is going on there. Here is the statement:

Statement of President Barack Obama on Egypt

The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient. Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy, and it is the responsibility of the government to speak clearly to the Egyptian people and the world. The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity.

As we have said from the beginning of this unrest, the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people. But the United States has also been clear that we stand for a set of core principles. We believe that the universal rights of the Egyptian people must be respected, and their aspirations must be met. We believe that this transition must immediately demonstrate irreversible political change, and a negotiated path to democracy. To that end, we believe that the emergency law should be lifted. We believe that meaningful negotiations with the broad opposition and Egyptian civil society should address the key questions confronting Egypt’s future: protecting the fundamental rights of all citizens; revising the Constitution and other laws to demonstrate irreversible change; and jointly developing a clear roadmap to elections that are free and fair.

We therefore urge the Egyptian government to move swiftly to explain the changes that have been made, and to spell out in clear and unambiguous language the step by step process that will lead to democracy and the representative government that the Egyptian people seek. Going forward, it will be essential that the universal rights of the Egyptian people be respected. There must be restraint by all parties. Violence must be forsaken. It is imperative that the government not respond to the aspirations of their people with repression or brutality. The voices of the Egyptian people must be heard.

The Egyptian people have made it clear that there is no going back to the way things were: Egypt has changed, and its future is in the hands of the people. Those who have exercised their right to peaceful assembly represent the greatness of the Egyptian people, and are broadly representative of Egyptian society. We have seen young and old, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian join together, and earn the respect of the world through their non-violent calls for change. In that effort, young people have been at the forefront, and a new generation has emerged. They have made it clear that Egypt must reflect their hopes, fulfill their highest aspirations, and tap their boundless potential. In these difficult times, I know that the Egyptian people will persevere, and they must know that they will continue to have a friend in the United States of America.

The problem is this - Obama and his administration have not been clear on anything from the beginning of the crisis in Egypt. Different departments have mixed messages all along.

Another 3:00 AM call for President Obama. He hit the snooze button again. Will he learn how to stand for freedom and the people demanding it of dictators? He has yet to rise to the occasion.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Fall of the Pharaohs Yet Mubarak Remains For Now

Former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman said it "is not just the potential fall of the pyramids, but the fall of the Pharaohs." The crisis in Egypt was thought to bring about the resignation of Mubarak today but that didn't happen.

Throughout the crisis, there was no rhyme nor reason to the response to the Egypt protests from American leadership. From the U.S., the people of Egypt heard one message after another, often not in sync at all.

In the beginning, Biden said he didn't consider Mubarak a dictator. Clinton said that Egypt was "stable". Biden was dispatched. A former State Dept employee was dispatched. Obama said there should not be a rush for Mubarak to leave. Then he said the people must be heard. Then he said Mubarak should prepare for an orderly transition. We were going to cut foreign aid. Then we weren't going to cut foreign aid.

As President Obama held a campaign style speech in Marquette, Michigan, touting Internet access to rural areas in an important 2012 re-election bid state, Egyptian President Mubarak made history. In an address aimed for the protesters, Mubarak said he was listening to "the youth" but not to the "foreign source". He declared he would not run for re-election, as he promised before, and that he would continue to carry out his responsibilities to the constitution. He spoke of the "free and transparent" elections upcoming in September.

Mubarak said the blood of the martyrs and the injured would not be for nothing. He pledged to bring the perpetrators to justice. "For 60 years, I have given this country service." He spoke of a national dialogue to move into the transition between now and September. He called for a panel of legal experts and "respected personalities" to work on a new constitution. He has asked for six articles of the constitution to be amended. These are needed, he said, to enter into the presidential election. They would guarantee the "freedom and transparency" of the election.

The priority is to regain confidence in the economy and in the international community, he said. He said the chaos cannot continue day after day. He said the youth who called for changes would suffer the most from the consequences of continued chaos.

"We must continue the national dialogue we started." "I work for the people of Egypt and the children of Egypt." "I'm aware of the danger of this intersection."
He passed on the power of the President to the new Vice-President. He said they will stay in office until the September election. He said the army will ensure the transition of power.

"This is the beginning of a lifetime".

Tahrir Square was awash in a sea of protesters demanding Mubarak leave office. This speech was very clearly not what they wanted to hear. The crowd went from the excited anticipation of a pending resignation to angry chants after the speech was delivered. "Down with Mubarak" was the chant after the speech from the crowd.

Staying tuned.

GOProud at CPAC 2011

The sanctimonious are all wee-weed up, to use a term from a Presidential appearance, over GOProud defending themselves against those who would marginalize them in the Republican party.

The sanctimonious - the ones receiving the attention from their public disapproval of GOProud's participating at CPAC 2011 this week in Washington, D.C. - are also the folks who are paid to advance the conservative agenda. They are the older, more established social conservatives who will not yield to any notion of inclusion of those more socially liberal and they are the younger conservatives hoping to cash in on a lucrative career opining for a living in a radio or television studio. There is nothing wrong with a career made off your personal convictions, but it is wrong to continue to stir the pot and remain aloof in times when a unified Republican party is essential to fight the Democrats among us.

The Tea Party movement was born of desire for a strong support of one of the three tenets of the Republican party - the conservatives in the political world - and that was fiscal conservatism. A Democrat is not a fiscal conservative and the Republican party is most in line with the Tea Party agenda. Tea Party members are quick to claim independence.

“CPAC is so Republican and we’re not about just being Republican,” said Martin. “We decided it was a better use of our time to be on the ground helping local groups.”

Republicans reached out to the Tea Party early on. Those who label themselves conservative but not Republican nonetheless usually vote Republican. There is something seedy about the public criticism of a political party trying to establish a big tent of inclusion - a very American approach - because one component is not exclusively dominant over the other two components.

Politics is not a church of worship. Politics is public policy. Politics is the art of persuasion. Politics is the arena of policy debate. If a segment of a political population decides to separate from the larger group, their battle is lost. More simply put, if you are not in the game you are not a part of the conversation.

The sanctimonious are now upset that GOProud members rose to the challenge over participation in the CPAC 2011 gathering this year and defended that participation against those wishing to cast dispersion on them. Never mind that the sanctimonious are usually only too happy to write and say less than kind remarks about their challengers, too.

Recent examples in the Texas Speaker of the House race brought the sanctimonious social conservatives out against the current Speaker and attacked his religious faith along the way - he is Jewish. The social conservatives were demanding a Christian leader. The author of the blog post first referenced in this post was in support of these Texans. He and they lost. Texans do the right thing. The current Speaker was re-elected. We really didn't need a Georgian to tell us who was best to lead our Texas House of Representatives, thank you very much. A Georgian trying to be the next big conservative talking head on radio, I might add.

A memo has been published now, written by a group of the sanctimonious calling GOProud "incompatible" with the conservative movement. The memo is meant to call for the exclusion of GOProud in the 2012 gathering, a full year out from now.

But the memo, written under the moniker Conservatives for Unity, argued that there can be no common ground between gay rights conservative activists and social-issues conservatives, and said it’s time to settle the issue.

“It is not necessary for each group within a political movement to embrace the full agenda of others. But it is necessary for each group within any coherent movement not to stand in diametrical opposition to one or more of its core principles. It is our conviction that the institution of marriage and the family qualify as such principles,” said the conservatives.

Perhaps this group of the sanctimonious don't fully understand that marriage and family are important to gays, too. Matter of fact, gays would like to be able to legally marry and then raise children, too. Why aren't these purist social conservatives more concerned with the intrusion of the government into the practice of regulating just who can and cannot marry?

I challenge the sanctimonious to read the GOProud mission and read the position on issues taken by the group. Perhaps they will strive to be a bit more like our Republican icon, Ronald Reagan, and embrace all conservatives in the GOP. We in the party need all of the support we can get to defeat the Obama agenda and the Democrats who are struggling to remain in control of our country.