Thursday, March 31, 2011

Claims of Job Loss From Tx CSHB 1 De-Bunked

Dr. Arthur Laffer is Chairman of Laffer Associates, a supply-side investment research firm, and a Senior Fellow of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Laffer was a member of President Ronald Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board for both of his terms. He has issued a statement on the opinion circulating among liberals and some news outlets that Texas would lose 272,000 jobs next year if the House approves CSHB 1, the proposed 2012-13 state budget.

“The passage of CSHB 1 will not cause less jobs in Texas relative to any other option at hand,” Dr. Laffer wrote. “In fact, I can think of no response to the current Great Recession that the Texas state government could do that would be better for state employment than CSHB 1.”

Last week, the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) issued a dynamic economic impact statement that included a table at the bottom indicating Texas would have 272,000 fewer jobs next year than in a baseline scenario where spending and available revenue remained at the levels contained in the 2010-11 budget. Available revenue for the 2012-13 biennium is currently projected to be $10 billion lower than in the current biennium.

“There has been an impression created in the press and embraced by many that the [Legislative Budget Board] report suggests that adoption of the bill CSHB1 by Texas would cost Texas 272,000 jobs in 2012 and 335,000 jobs in 2013,” Dr. Laffer wrote. “This answer, at least as interpreted by the press, is wrong and not based on sound economics.”

Dr. Laffer, a member of President Ronald Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board for both his terms, challenged the LBB model’s apparent assumption that there is a positive correlation between government spending and job creation.

“This approach is indicative of a mistaken belief that government spending creates jobs and represents a failure to understand that government doesn’t have a single entry accounting system,” Dr. Laffer wrote. “Government can’t bail someone out of trouble without putting someone else into trouble. For every transfer recipient there’s a transfer payer. It’s as simple as that. Neither borrowing nor taxing to overspend helps the economy.”

Dr. Laffer’s report cites time series data showing that states and countries with lower government spending as a percentage of their economies realize stronger economic growth than those states and countries where government spending is the highest.

“Texas has been on the right track and shouldn’t change now,” Dr. Laffer concluded. “Texas is the example others should follow, not the reverse.”

Dr. Laffer endorses the passage of CSHB 1, the proposed 2012-13 state budget it will debate tomorrow, and disputes the claim that Texas would lose hundreds of thousands of jobs if the bill becomes law.

This is a link to Dr. Laffer's report:

TX Rep Kolkhorst Moves HB5 Out of Public Health Committee

Texas State Rep Lois Kolkhorst is chairwoman of the Public Health Committee. As the Chair of the House Committee on Public Health, she helps manage the state's multi-billion dollar health care system and works to set priorities for the Health and Human Services Commission, which oversees thousands of state employees at five state agencies.

Rep Kolkhorst sponsored HB5 - Relating to the Interstate Health Care Compact and it has been voted out of committee on a vote of 5-0. By coming together with other states, Texas can manage the state's Medicaid mandates as the costs rise in the coming years.

According to Texas Public Policy Foundation, the coming budget obligations for Medicaid in Texas will be staggering.

As legislators are well aware, Article II has consumed an increasingly larger percentage of the state's budget, with Medicaid demanding the lion's share. It is also the least flexible due to the restraints placed on Medicaid by the federal government. Recent changes in federal law with the passage of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) removed most of the remaining options.

Texas general revenue Medicaid spending, after adjustments for inflation and population, will increase 866 percent between 2009 and 2040. Meaningful opportunities to stem the growth of health care spending are hard to come by because the Legislature has been hamstrung by certain provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and by the acceptance of ARRA funds that restrict lawmakers from making significant changes to Article II, particularly with regard to Medicaid.

Rep Kolkhorst believes that joining in with other states with the Interstate Compact option, it may be the only constitutional shield to be found to fight Obamacare. States can manage their needs better than the federal government. Currently there are 18 states coming together, with the potential for 12 more. After passing in the State Legislature, then the bill would be sent to Congress where it would be voted on. Every state has to work within the same perimeters. Block grants would be distributed.

With the current budget shortfalls facing every state, Interstate Compacts make sense.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chairman Hastings Holds Administration Accountable on Oil Drilling

The chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee announced three separate bills introduced Tuesday under the American Energy Initiative. Chairman Doc Hastings stressed that these three are but the beginning of bills that will be introduced for action in promoting energy initiatives.

The first is the Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act.

This bill will end the Obama Administration’s de facto moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico in a safe, responsible and transparent manner. It saves American jobs by preventing deliberate government inaction and bureaucratic stalling.

The bill reforms the law by requiring that a permit be issued before a well is drilled. It also requires the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a safety review to ensure that proposed drilling operations “meet all critical safety system requirements.”

The bill sets a 30-day timeline for the Secretary to act on drilling permits – either to approve the permits or not approve the permits.

The Secretary can have two 15-day extension periods. However, he must provide applicants with clear reasons for any delay or rejection. Employers need certainty and clarity, and workers need to get back on the job.

The second Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act.

This bill will expand American energy production and create jobs by requiring the Secretary to conduct three lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one in offshore Virginia.

The four specific sales in this bill were all scheduled. But when the Obama Administration effectively reinstated a ban on new offshore drilling, the sales were cancelled or delayed.

Due to the Obama Administration’s actions, 2011 will be the first year since 1958 that the federal government will not hold an offshore lease sale. The bill requires all four lease sales to take place either before June 1, 2012 or within one year of enactment of the bill.

And, the third is Reversing President Obama’s Moratorium Act

This bill requires the Administration to move forward in the 2012-2017 offshore drilling plan with leasing in areas containing the most oil and natural gas.

Even in the face of rising gasoline prices, it appears President Obama wants to drill nowhere new. This bill says let’s move forward with leasing and drilling in those areas where we know America has real, significant resources.

In contrast to the President’s drill nowhere new plan, this is a drill smart plan.

This bill also requires the Secretary to set specific production goals for five-year plans. For the 2012-2017 plan it sets a goal of 3 million barrels of oil per day, and 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day by 2027.

By comparison to today’s levels, this increase in oil equates to a tripling of current American offshore production, and would reduce foreign imports by nearly one-third.

Chairman Hastings is ready to hold the administration accountable on the issuing of permits and leases in the Gulf of Mexico:

On Thursday, the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the effect of rising gasoline prices on families and businesses as part of its effort to determine "what has or hasn't been done" since President Barack Obama took office two years ago.

Washington state Republican Rep. Doc Hastings, the panel's chairman and a ninth-term congressman, already has an answer. He says the president "has done nothing" by not moving fast enough to allow more oil drilling in the Gulf Coast and on public land. And he says his hearing "will put a spotlight on the issue."

Tuesday,in a blogger's briefing,Chairman Hastings said, "Actions speak louder than words. His (Obama) actions are 180 degrees from what his words are", when asked about the President's oil and gas drilling agenda. Hastings pointed to the escalating energy prices - "Actions of this administration are driving up costs."

Hastings is serious about issuing a 30 day deadline in issuing permits. He points to the false claims by President Obama that production is higher now than ever. It is not thanks to any policy of Barack Obama, it is lag time results from the George W. Bush administration. Obama had no control over those results.

Hastings finished with this wrap-up sentiment: "We gotta start sometime why don't we start now?"


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

FOIA Requests Go Unanswered by Obama Administration

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) issued the following press release on the subject of the Obama administration and its handling of FOIA requests:

Today, I issued the following statement in response to an AP report that political operatives in the Obama Administration are screening Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests:

Citizens have a fundamental right to know what their government is doing and political operatives should not be interfering with legitimate requests by citizens and journalists under the Freedom of Information Act. I am deeply disturbed that Obama Administration political operatives filtered FOIA requests based on the political or professional affiliation of those requesting the transparency guaranteed to our citizens under federal law. And I commend the House panel for doing its job of oversight of the executive branch, and I hope they get to the bottom of these allegations.

I recently re-introduced the bipartisan Faster FOIA Act with colleague Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). This legislation would establish an advisory panel to examine agency backlogs in processing FOIA requests. The panel, named the Commission on Freedom of Information Act Processing Delays, will be required to provide recommendations to Congress for legislative and administrative action to enhance agency responses to FOIA requests.

If a hyper-partisan politician like Leahy can come forward and note such a heinous way of handling FOIA requests by this administration, then that speaks volumes. Barack Obama ran as the post-partisan candidate and pledged to run the most transparent administration ever.

"Two years ago, the Associated Press filed an FOIA request seeking records related to the freedom of information process in the Homeland Security Department. After several months, the AP received 995 pages of heavily censored emails. The news service wrote several articles about how the emails indicated that requests for information often were subject to reviews by political appointees in the department.
Now uncensored emails newly obtained by the AP show that employees within the Homeland Security Department were warning that senior Obama administration appointees were delaying the release of government files. Department employees' emails described the appointees' behavior as "meddling" and even "crazy." One email from the deputy to the department's chief privacy officer said of the political appointees, "They don't like to abide by the law or be reminded that they are breaking it." That employee has since been replaced, a move that has raised questions of retaliation."

It appears particularly unseemly that a department as important as the Homeland Security Department is fighting transparency requests.

Obama Addresses the Nation on Libya

In 2007, then candidate Barack Obama declared in no uncertain terms that the U.S. President must go to Congress and the people of our nation to make the case for military action - before that action is taken. My, what a difference four years make.

For a candidate so intent on showing his self-confidence as the potential Commander-in-Chief with his strong criticism against the former Bush administration, he is rapidly setting new standards. Let it be noted that George W. Bush, as president, went to both Congress and the U.N. before going into Iraq and spoke directly to the American people (and the world) in an Oval Office address.

The hypocrisy is easily noted.

Typically, when a president declares war, polling show that the president's popularity rises. This is due to the rally around our country and our military in the initial days of a conflict. It's who we are as Americans. In this case, however, President Obama's polling numbers have not fared well. The latest Pew Research poll released Monday afternoon shows:

After several days of airstrikes on Libya by the United States and its allies, the public has mixed reactions to the military operation. Nearly half of Americans (47%) say the United States made the right decision in conducting air strikes in Libya while 36% say it was the wrong decision. Fully one-in-six (17%) express no opinion.

On balance, however, the public does not think that the U.S. and its allies have a clear goal in taking military action in Libya. Just 39% say the U.S. and its allies have a clear goal, while 50% say they do not.

Obama, frankly speaking, brought this lack of support on himself. He first was silent, then he dithered until he found his voice, then we were offering humanitarian support for people being massacred in the streets by a madman dictator, and now the position last stated is that Qaddafi must go. Obama went into the coalition with NATO and the African Union and approved the launching of almost two hundred Tomahawk missiles without so much as a phone call to the leaders of Congress. There was a vote taken in the U.N. and the Obama Doctrine seems to be that the U.S. is only to be under international control, not the leader of the free world.

Is that change we can believe in?

Addressing an audience of military experts at the National Defense University, President Obama was tasked with laying out his reasoning for his actions and the plan he has for the mission and then the endgame. Did he succeed? I don't think so. There were zings at George W. Bush with references about Iraq - as what not to do - and there was the standard flowery Obama campaign speak. He was determined to make us think he is deliberate and confident that his decisions are strong. And, regime change is not our objective.


This is how the man sums it all up:

Moreover, we have accomplished these objectives consistent with the pledge that I made to the American people at the outset of our military operations. I said that America’s role would be limited; that we would not put ground troops into Libya; that we would focus our unique capabilities on the front end of the operation, and that we would transfer responsibility to our allies and partners. Tonight, we are fulfilling that pledge.

Our most effective alliance, NATO, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and No Fly Zone. Last night, NATO decided to take on the additional responsibility of protecting Libyan civilians. This transfer from the United States to NATO will take place on Wednesday. Going forward, the lead in enforcing the No Fly Zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to our allies and partners, and I am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on Gaddafi’s remaining forces. In that effort, the United States will play a supporting role – including intelligence, logistical support, search and rescue assistance, and capabilities to jam regime communications. Because of this transition to a broader, NATO-based coalition, the risk and cost of this operation – to our military, and to American taxpayers – will be reduced significantly.

Here's a bit of irony from Obama as he was anti-war in Iraq but that was then and this is now:

To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and – more profoundly – our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.

Mass graves and images of slaughter ring a bell? Like Saddam and the Iraqis?

The task that I assigned our forces – to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a No Fly Zone – carries with it a UN mandate and international support. It is also what the Libyan opposition asked us to do. If we tried to overthrow Gaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs, and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.

To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq. Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq’s future. But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.

Obama really wants you to know he is not George W. Bush.

We now know very little more than what we knew before the speech. It was delivered in pre-prime time and no network had to interrupt night programming. Turns out no one really exerted much effort here. The time would have been wasted on the size of a prime time audience.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Obama to Energy Producers: Use It or Lose It

The arguments for and against renewal of our offshore oil and gas drilling have returned in Washington, D.C. Americans are not pleased with the increasing cost of energy and the Obama drilling moratorium is directly responsible for much of our woes. To counter increased pressure to accelerate the permit issuing process, the administration hopes to simply levy a new tax on leases not currently being used on public lands. It is the "use it or lose it" approach to energy production, which is not a solution at all, only an excuse for Democrats to raise taxes on an industry already the most taxed in the country.

Democrats in Congress are also hoping to put pressure on companies to tap unused oil and gas leases on public lands. The Democrats argue that companies should tap their unused leases before drilling in new territory. They’ve floated proposals that would impose a fee on non-producing leases and require companies to show they're planning to develop their tracts. President Obama has said he supports such a proposal. In fact, his fiscal year 2012 budget request calls for "establishing fees for new non-producing oil-and-gas leases (both onshore and offshore) to encourage more timely production." Obama, at a March 11 press conference on rising gas prices, called on the Interior Department to report back about the number of unused leases on public lands. The review is expected to be delivered to the White House in the coming days.

Speaker Boehner reacted to the implied threat of increased taxation: “We won’t reduce our dependence on foreign oil if politicians in Washington remain dependent on hollow talking points like ‘use it or lose it,'" House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement this week. “Americans are looking for real solutions and a sustained commitment to expanding American energy production that will lower gas prices and create more jobs, which is what our American Energy Initiative is all about.”

The key to making progress is in the issuing of new drilling/exploration permits and not simply issuing permits on wells already in place. New exploration is vital for future production - it is a lengthy process and is now already a year behind what could have been, had the moratorium not been issued just under a year ago. Chevron has been issued the very first permit in just shy of a year to explore a new reservoir.

Under a permit issued by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, Chevron will be allowed to drill a new well in a previously untapped reservoir in the Gulf of Mexico. Although it is the fifth deep-water drilling project to be permitted since the Obama administration lifted a ban on that work last October, Chevron’s well would be the first in an unknown reservoir where oil or gas has not been produced. The other permits — all issued in the past four weeks — have gone to projects where wells have already been drilled and discoveries have been made.

The Drill Here, Drill Now initiative has been re-launched. Watch HERE.

Will energy production and exploration be a campaign issue in 2012 for President Obama? You betcha.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Obama to Speak On Libya Monday Evening

President Obama and his administration are not interested in reaching the millions of FOX News viewers. The inability of the administration and the President to articulate the mission and endgame of the action in Libya concerns all Americans, not just the the viewers of three traditional, old media network sources.

The Obama administration sent out Secretary of State Clinton and Defense Secretary Gates to ABC, NBC and CBS Sunday morning shows but refused FOX News the same guests. FOX News Sunday, hosted by veteran journalist Chris Wallace, consistently has a far greater audience than two of the shows on the other networks. The millions of FOX viewers clearly still do not appear on the radar of Team Obama. One would have thought that as we are now into the third year of the Obama term that the silly boycott of FOX News would have shown what an ill-conceived idea it was to bypass such a huge audience.

This President and Secretary Clinton both have video clips available showing them sternly speaking out against military action without congressional approval, but that was then and this is now. In their days as senators and presidential candidates, it was expected that they would take to the floor of the Senate and rail against the arrogance of a president committing troops to war without congressional approval. But that was Bush and this is Obama. Bush, for the record, never committed troops without congressional approval.

Now the candidate who ran as an anti-war candidate has committed our participation in a No Fly Zone over Libya and ramped up the amount of troops in Afghanistan. It is re-election time so he has an only half-hearted acceptance of the position of Commander-in-Chief. A consequence of this timidity is it will put our service members in added danger. Obama has a habit of announcing our retreat as troops head in. He did it as he committed more troops in Afghanistan and he did it as he first remained mute on Libya then succumbed to increasing pressure from voices in Europe, the middle east and America.

Being multi-lateral doesn't mean you have to appear weak and defensive and not interested in victory, as one panelist said, and Obama is guilty of all of that.

The president is scheduled to speak to the nation about Libya on Monday night. It is scheduled earlier than traditional presidential addresses - the folks on the West Coast will still be at work - and he will speak from the National Defense University. Does he really not want an audience for this speech?

The National Defense University? He is late in going on camera and explaining the whole process of deciding to establish the No Fly Zone and what the strategy is, then the benchmark for success. No one seems to know what the plan is, certainly not those in his own administration. Today on the talk shows, Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton were not on the same page. For example, Secretary Gates stated that the No Fly Zone was not in our vital interest. Secretary Clinton jumped in to state that other nations came to form our coalition in Afghanistan though they were not directly attacked as we were by bin Laden. Now we are answering their call to action, she said.

From the website: The National Defense University is the premier center for Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) and is under the direction of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. The University’s main campus is on Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C. The Joint Forces Staff College is located in Norfolk, VA.

Why this venue for a speech to the country on a war action the president has no intends to only minimally pursue - only long enough so he can say he acted as he is answering questions on the campaign trail? How will he justify committing American blood and treasure for an action in which is unwilling to accept leadership as the Commander-in-Chief of the only superpower in the world?

Barack Obama is a man in love with a camera and spotlight. He has been in our faces as a candidate and as President for more than four years. His team looks for an opportunity for daily exposure on screen. It is beyond odd that he has been off camera for this explanation for so long.

Did Obama commit our military to an action without a plan?

Oprah Admits She Was Wrong About George W. Bush

Oprah admits on her behind the scenes show, filmed about her last year of doing her talk show, that she believed the message delivered by critics of former President George W. Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina. It is interesting that now she admits she was wrong to do so.

Imagine that. It's better to come to your own conclusion than to just accept popular spin from those who wish a political opponent to fail.

Bush was promoting his book, "Decision Points" and Oprah, after reading the section about Hurricane Katrina, came to realize the disaster was mostly hampered by incompetence at the state and local levels, not solely at the federal level. She admitted that once you "know the facts" you understand it wasn't simply Bush or racism at fault.

Knowing the facts. Yes, it is good to dig deeper than just listening to voices with an agenda, Oprah.

She spoke of Bush and his very human reaction of anger and hurt from the racist charge. For someone who is often complaining about untrue items being written about her, she sure is quick to believe untruths about others.

And, in typical Oprah fashion, at the end of the interview she was speaking about how kind Bush is and that she'd like to be invited to hang out with him in Texas.

Here's a bit of the behind the scenes of the show:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

True the Vote National Summit Trains Sold Out Crowd

The first True the Vote National Summit hosted by the King Street Patriots was held in Houston with a sold-out crowd. With a stellar roster of speakers, the crowd was treated to the inspiring story of Anita MonCrief as the first speaker Friday night and the final speaker Saturday afternoon was Andrew Breitbart.

And who was taking it all in as a member of the audience? Tea Party candidate Joe Miller, the challenger to senior Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski. Accompanied by his wife, he even brought a bit of a floor show to the room as he demanded a rebuttal to the opinion expressed by Saturday keynote speaker, John Fund. The author of "Stealing Elections", Fund was asked by an audience member about his thoughts on the 'stolen' Alaskan election. Fund said that though some questionable ballots were counted, the election was overwhelming won by Murkowski. He attributed the loss not to an election lacking in integrity but to mistakes made by the candidate - Joe Miller - and his campaign. Miller didn't take kindly to that assessment and stood to demand a rebuttal. He was granted time and spoke. Fund in no way implied that Miller wasn't up to serving and wasn't attacking him personally, but Miller is clearly still raw over the loss.

That impromptu mini-drama was an added bonus for the audience.

Friday night not only featured the opening speaker of Anita MonCrief who spoke of her ACORN whistle blowing story - which spotlights the efforts of far left groups who deliberately provide fraudulent voter registrations - but also the speeches from Hans von Spakovsky, a former Federal Elections Commissioner now with The Heritage Foundation as Senior Legal Fellow and Manager of Civil Justice Reform Initiative who spoke to the necessary of Voter ID legislation in the states. And the final speaker Friday night was former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman. Who better to tell the story of how important the integrity of the election process is? There were 19 precincts in Minneapolis - a liberal area - with more votes than voters registered. Al Franken was eventually declared the winner and provided President Obama with the 60th vote needed in the U.S. Senate to pass Obamacare.

Saturday, before and after John Fund spoke, mini training sessions were conducted by members of the King Street Patriots. These sessions included voter rolls, research and verification; education and training; preparing for election day; and building teams in communities nationwide.

Warner Todd Huston, a popular blogger and contributor to several websites. He is now midwest editor for He spoke of the importance of a presence in social media and with websites for every group. He described today's citizen journalist as "the pamphleteers of our day", a tradition hearkening back to the days of the Founding Fathers.

Christian Adams, now counsel for True the Vote, is a former DOJ attorney who resigned after Attorney General Eric Holder refused to prosecute the Black Panthers voter intimidation case. He heads the Election Law Center. He spoke of the importance of conservative action to hold states accountable for maintaining accurate voter lists. It has been the law since 1993 in Section 8 under the Motor Voter Law signed into effect by former President Clinton. Adams noted the complete lack of interest from Holder and his Justice Department to prosecute voter fraud cases and it should be made into a campaign issue in 2012.

The grand finale was delivered by Andrew Breitbart. With a gift of showmanship, Breitbart does not disappoint. He animatedly spoke of the Democrats' control of the traditional media which has caused ordinary citizens to do the job of journalist. And he spoke of the fact that it is women who are leading the Tea Party movement. He is a fan of both Herman Cain and Allen West - "Herman Cain and Allen West have more courage in their thumbs than the entire Republican party".

And, for fun, here is a new project from Breitbart: which he created as he flies coach ("steerage") himself and has noted he is not the only recognizable person to do so.

The crowd was left with a timeline suggested by Catherine Engelbrecht, President and Founder of King Street Patriots and True the Vote for activist organization in the run up to the 2012 election.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kinetic Military Action

Not only do Americans not know what exactly the mission is in Libya but we do not even know what to call it. We now know that the people in the Obama administration are calling it "kinetic military action". I kid you not.

As Rich Galen wrote this week:

That "3 AM" ad from the 2008 primary campaign finally came true. Obama started a non-war and headed off to South America. Hillary really did have to answer the phone.

And, Galen writes, let's not call this action in Libya a war. No. It's called "kinetic military action".

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes apparently let the cat out of the bag regarding how they refer to a war around Obama's White House. He told reporters aboard Air Force One that what the world was witnessing was not a war, but "kinetic military action."

The Obama Administration has apparently redefined the word "war" so that only kinetic military action using troops on the ground counts.

According to THIS Rhodes "danced around the question" of war in Libya:

“I think what we are doing is enforcing a resolution that has a very clear set of goals, which is protecting the Libyan people, averting a humanitarian crisis, and setting up a no-fly zone,” Rhodes said. “Obviously that involves kinetic military action, particularly on the front end. But again, the nature of our commitment is that we are not getting into an open-ended war, a land invasion in Libya.”

So while a United States-led coalition hammers Libya with Tomahawk missiles and precision bombs in support of a rebel challenge to strongman Muammar Qadhafi, a shadow war over the semantics of armed conflict has erupted in the domestic political debate.

For the swell, sophisticated crowd of the Ivy Leagues, it's all about international law definitions:
There’s no relevance to the word war,” says Michael Byers, a professor of international law at the University of British Columbia. “If you look at the U.N. charter, it’s framed in terms of the use of force.”

In international humanitarian law the term “armed conflict” is applied, Byers said. “It is precisely [because] of a public perception that a war is something that is on a larger scale, when in fact international law seeks to control behavior in any kind of situation of organized violence.”

Oh, ok. How silly of us to call use of force in an armed conflict "a war". Those progressives are so intellectual.

The President's spokespeople insist that he will not give an Oval Office address about this kinetic military action. Secretary of State Clinton has been the face of this conflict. Why? Because it is re-election time, that's why. This is a president who campaigned about the "bad war" in Iraq and the "good war" in Afghanistan. This is a president who has failed supporters and non-supporters alike. This is a president who we, the voters, were told would make the world love us and salvage relationships injured under the previous administration. This is a president who has gone out of his way to do a world tour apologizing for the greatness of America. He does not want to be a war president, certainly not again in a Muslim nation in the middle east.

Kinetic military action. That's what we'll call it. Sounds so much nicer than war.

Legislative Priorities in Public Education for Texas Classrooms

Public education in Texas is facing a perfect storm, according to State Senator Florence Shapiro. As Chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, she is on a mission during this state legislative session - to find cuts outside of those in the classroom in education spending in the budget.

Priorities must be established. The priority is to keep education of children in the classroom at the forefront. In this process, the classroom is the first priority. While some independent school boards are cutting teaching jobs as the first measure of balancing their budgets, that decision is the opposite of what must be done. It is a short-sighted fix that will prove disastrous in later years.

Did you know that there is a one to one ratio between teachers and administrative staff? The cost of these administrative obligations exceed $9 billion. By cutting non-teacher employees a savings of $2 billion on salaries alone. Keep the teaching staff in tact. Keep the classroom size lower. Do away with redundancy and bloated bureaucracy at the administrative level.

The Red Apple Project is a common sense approach to saving the classroom, and keeping teachers without increasing the burden on the taxpayer.

Here are two statistics from the research found by this initiative:

•State-wide, teachers earn an average of $9,000 a year less than “other professional staff,” $22,000 less than school administrators and $38,000 less than central administration staff.

•Superintendents on average take home six-figure salaries, with the highest-paid superintendent, Thomas Carroll of Beaumont ISD (19,000 students), earning $346,778 per year – nearly 2 ½ times more than the Texas governor!

Common sense changes can be found and made within the public school system that will benefit the integrity of the classroom and keep taxes from rising.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Texas House of Representatives Passes Voter ID Bill

Chalk one up in the win column for the integrity of the voting process in Texas. Despite the best efforts of Democrats to stall the will of the people with parliamentary procedure and an abundance of amendments - more than 60 - the Texas House of Representatives passed the voter id bill late Wednesday night. The vote passed with a huge margin. 101 - 48.

On January 26, 2011, the Texas Senate passed the legislation by a vote of 19-11. At the time, it was reported to be a partisan issue. Democrats want you to believe it is a partisan issue. It's not.

"I have Democrats, Republicans and independents in my district who think people ought to show ID before being allowed to vote," said Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton.

What is the bill all about? It is a common sense measure to insure that the person voting in an election is truly who he or she claims to be. This is accomplished by showing a piece of government-issued identification with that person's photo on it. Hardly a draconian measure and certainly not a new idea, yet the Democrats would have you believe it is the height of discrimination.

The identification requirement amounts to a piece of id most people use daily in normal routine.

Several kinds of government-issued photo identification would be accepted, including a driver's license, a U.S. military ID card and a U.S. passport. The cost of the bill was a point of contention, as the Department of Public Safety would be required to waive fees for issuing photo IDs to those who say they are getting them to vote.

Unreasonable? Hardly. Even the argument that this is a burden to the poor is tackled with the state providing for the fee waiver for those folks.

It is a second major loss for the Texas Democrats over common sense reform in the election process. You may remember this all came to the forefront thanks to a Houston group - King Street Patriots - and their nationally recognized initiative to True the Vote. Lawsuits were encouraged by local agitators against the group and its founder, Catherine Engelbrecht. The call to action came after allegations of corruption at polling places grew. There were even reports of voters accompanied into voting booths by an activist instructing the voter for whom to vote.

There are reasons that voters legitimately need assistance: physical limitations, language barriers, general questions about the operation of the equipment. Helping those voters is absolutely necessary and correct. Every citizen deserves the opportunity to participate in an election that is free and fair. However when assistance is not needed but rather foisted upon a voter, a line is crossed. Helping becomes election fraud. And we saw it happen time and again.

Passage of this legislation is timely for the True the Vote movement in Texas. This weekend brings the True the Vote National Summit in Houston. Registrants are from 25 states and the event is sold out. You can, however, attend the virtual summit online. Registration information is provided on their website.

Marking One Year of Obamacare Passage

March 23, 2011 marks the one year anniversary of President Obama signing the health care overhaul legislation. Many statements were made by those in favor of the monster of a bill at the time - most popular of the claims was that it would create thousands of new jobs and that it would reduce the federal deficit in the process.

How is it going so far? Well, if you are reading the facts versus the spin from Team Obama, you may be quite concerned for the nation's health care delivery and personal health insurance coverage.

Since ObamaCare Passed:

Democrats’ Cost Projections Proved Overly Rosy

Cash-Strapped States Were Stuck With Unfunded Mandates

Premiums Are Rising, Not Falling As We Were Told

The Individual Mandate Was Ruled Unconstitutional

Over 1,000 Organizations Have Received Coverage Waivers

34 States No Longer Offer Child-Only Policies

And Americans Still Strongly Dislike The Bill

More than 20 states have taken the state mandates of Obamacare to court. It is headed to the Supreme Court where it will be decided. The interesting part of the debate is that the objections to the sweeping legislation is a bi-partisan opinion. Even some left leaning institutions are voicing concerns. The left leaning Urban Institute points out that there will be no influx of new jobs created, contrary to the claims made last year as the law was signed into place by President Obama.

In this report, the authors examine how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will impact labor costs and the demand for labor. They conclude that the ACA will not have noticeable effect on net levels of employment for three reasons – (1) the net new expenditures are too small relative to the overall size of the economy; (2) the negative effects on jobs of Medicare premium cuts and new taxes will be offset by the expansion of coverage through Medicaid and income related subsidies that will likely increase employment; and (3) the new law will not affect the most firms either because they already provide private insurance that meets federal standards or they are exempt from the new requirements because they employ fewer than 50 workers

The promises and conclusions of the Democrats as it pertains to health care reform have not panned out for anyone. We clearly see the folly in Congress passing a bill that no one knew exactly what was in it, even now confusion is the name of the game.

We now know that lawmakers who promised that "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan" were wrong. As one of the Obama Administration's own top health care analysts recently put it, that particular oft-repeated pledge was "not true in all cases," since the new law creates strong incentives for businesses to drop employees from plans they get through their jobs. One recent study suggests as many as 35 million Americans could lose their employer-based health insurance this way. And the administration has already admitted that at least 7 million seniors will lose their Medicare Advantage plans as a result of the new law.

Democrats employed the use of fuzzy math as they sold their bill. Now the CBO predicts further deficit exploding consequences.

Fueling the ire is the Congressional Budget Office with its budget deficit projections. In February, Republicans seized on an estimate that it would reduce employment by 0.5 percent, or 800,000 jobs, because people wouldn't have to work to afford health insurance anymore. The CBO continued to be the catalyst for debate when it estimated that repealing the law would increase the deficit by $230 billion by 2021 earlier this year and then that the initial budget forecast might have been wrong and keeping the law would increase the deficit by $1.45 trillion in 10 years.

Texas Public Policy Foundation offers solutions for the upcoming disaster of mandates about to fall upon states - the Health Freedom Act and the Interstate Health Care Compact are two ways the Texas Legislature can mitigate the harmful effects that ObamaCare is inflicting on Americans’ health care.

The Health Freedom Act was introduced as a resolution in the Texas House of Representatives: Proposing a constitutional amendment relating to the rights of individuals to choose or decline to choose to purchase health insurance coverage.

The Interstate Health Care Compact is pending in committee as HB 5. Interstate compacts are the best long term solution for upcoming budget deficits in states. A state decides what works best for its residents and submit the plan to Congress. There is no bureaucracy of red tape in between the origin and the approval process in Congress to ratify the plan. Each state exercises freedom of choice and the needs of its residents are best met by their own state lawmakers.

Obamacare was a thinly disguised power grab by Democrats in Congress who hoped for the front loaded reforms everyone agrees with would pacify the voters and re-elect Barack Obama in 2012 before the more destructive parts of the bill go into effect in 2013 and 2014. It's backfired on them. The public is still not happy and the re-election campaign of Obama is in full swing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sarkozy Calls for Steering Committee to Manage No Fly Zone

French President Sarkozy has called for a steering committee for the coalition's No Fly Zone over Libya. A steering committee.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the new body will bring together foreign ministers of participating states _ such as Britain, France and the United States _ as well as the Arab League. It is expected to meet in the coming days, either in Brussels, London or Paris, Juppe said.

Juppe said not all members of the military coalition are members of NATO but the coalition would use the military alliance's planning and intervention capabilities.

"For us, the intervention is firstly an operation wanted by the United Nations. It is run by a coalition of member-states, all of whom are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization," Juppe said. "This is, therefore, not a NATO operation, even if it must be able to rely on military planning and intervention capacities of the Alliance."

Not all NATO members are in favor of the no-fly zone and airstrikes against Libya.

President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed the new body and Britain agreed to it, Juppe said.

Tuesday the Armed Forces Secretary in London said there is no exit strategy for Libya.

President Obama again articulated, as he has done daily, that the U.S. will hand over control of the No Fly Zone mission in a matter of days, not weeks. It is expected that France and/or Great Britain will lead the charge. It is mentioned that the headquarters will be in Italy.

Does it get any more confusing? No one is speaking together. Some days the mission is to get rid of Qaddafi. Some days the mission is to protect the people of Libya from the brutality of Qaddafi and a dreaded blood bath to come as he fights to remain in Tripoli.

The slobbering press have asked few questions of Obama about the Libyan No Fly Zone. The slobbering press allow the hateful left to continue the meme that George W. Bush didn't have U.N. approval for Iraq (there were 17 resolutions about Iraq from the U.N. security council) and fails to connect the dots that George W. Bush went to Congress before going into both Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama didn't go to Congress. He sent a letter informing Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Reid of his actions two days into the mission.

Now Obama says we have a humanitarian imperative to go into nations for the sake of its citizens under brutal dictators. Really? Where is the line drawn? Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Morocco, Jordan, Syria, and others have all had recent uprisings in protest of leaders.

Obama and the Democrats deny that George W. Bush had coalitions of the willing in both operations into Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama is relying on the Arab League and European countries to carry out Libyan protection. This is a complete abandonment of duty. If he is to commit American power, blood and treasure to a foreign declaration of war, then this is the first time America has not lead the mission. America leads. Period. Without our equipment and talent, there is no mission. It is as simple as that.

There are those on both sides of the political aisle that are against the action in Libya and for the action. The problem is only intensified by the complete inability of this President to articulate the mission and the end game. For a man touted as so articulate, it's all a bit odd. And inexcusable.

It isn't even clear who is commanding operation Odyssey Dawn. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, wasn't able to provide a clear answer as he worked the Sunday news circuit. Mr. Obama said on Saturday the U.S. will "contribute our unique capabilities at the front end of the mission"—presumably B-2 bombers and command and control—but he added that the no-fly zone "will be led by our international partners."

Will that be the French, who said yesterday they have a handful of planes flying over Libya? It won't be the Qatar air force, which is chipping in four fighters. It isn't even clear whether the NATO commander will be allowed to lead the mission, though the military alliance is equipped for precisely this kind of effort. The danger here is that if no one is in charge, then no one is accountable for success or failure.

President Obama didn't want this Libyan rescue. He had to be talked into it by Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice and Samantha Power. Now he looks like a half-assed Commander in Chief unable to lead. By straddling the fence and dithering for three weeks before the decision was made, he has satisfied no one. Including himself.

Former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld once said "weakness is provocative". Rings true now as it did then.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

TEXANS: Circle April 6, 2011 On Your Calendar

Attention fellow Texans: Lobby Day 2011 is fast approaching.

Circle the date of April 6, 2011 with a bright red marker! On that date, a big rally is planned at the State Capitol in Austin by every left leaning group who depends on your hard earned tax dollars for their very generous benefits and retirement pensions.

While conservatives labor away on that day, as is the normal course of events, there is no way to counter the number of rally participants expected to descend upon the Capitol. So, take a few minutes and make some calls that day. Burn up the phone lines! Call on state legislators to stand firm and continue to work on finding cuts to make to balance the budget.

It is named Save our State Rally.

It's a virtual field of all the usual suspects - union and public employee participants that are busing their people in to lobby the state legislature against making cuts to balance the budget. Here's some of the groups calling for their members to show up for the day: Texas State Employees Union, Center for Public Policy Priorities,Children's Defense Fund,Cover Texas Now,Save Our Schools,
Texas AFL-CIO,Texas AFT,Texas Forward,Texas Impact,Texas League of Young Voters,Texas Organizing Project,Texas State Employees Union,Texas State Teachers Association.

It will be a large crowd and the press will be all too happy to cover the day. Here's a list of cities and towns participating with bus service available to the rally:

Abilene, Alice, Amarillo, Beaumont, Big Spring, Brenham, Brownville, Brownwood, Bryan/College Station, Corpus Christi, Corsicana, Crocket, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Falfurrias, Ft. Stockton, Ft. Worth, Fredericksburg, Giddings, Gonzalez, Greenville, Harlingen, Houston, Kingsville, Laredo, Lockhart, Longview, Lubbock, Lufkin, McAllen, Mexia, Midland, Mt. Pleasant, Nacogdoches, Odessa, Prairie View, Raymondville, Richmond, San Angelo, San Antonio, Sweetwater, Temple, Terrell, Texarkana, Texas City, Tyler, Vernon, Victoria, Waco, Wichita Falls.

It is hyped as using the Wisconsin model. The same deceitful language is tossed around - the sick and handicapped, senior citizens, union members, children, the poor - will all suffer at the hands of budget cuts. The language is the same:

Building on the spirit and energy of rallies around the country calling on state governments to prioritize education, health care, public safety, the environment, and jobs, we will demand that Texas take a balanced approach to balancing the state budget by spending our state's savings in the Rainy Day Fund and finding new revenue. Be part of the movement to move Texas forward! Bring your family and friends and wear your rain gear! There's a torrential storm in Texas and together we have the power to turn the tides!

It was too cold in Wisconsin for rain gear, but you get the picture. They are demanding the draining of the Rainy Day Fund and raising taxes (finding new revenue). It's the liberal approach to balancing a budget.

As fiscal conservatives, we demand that Texas take a balanced approach to balancing the state budget, too. Our approach is built around common sense, though. Teachers don't have to be laid off if administration bloat is remedied. Union members can pay a smidge more for benefits and towards retirement pensions and still pay nowhere near what private sector employees pay towards their benefits and pensions, if a pension is even offered. That is how you save a state.

Public employees have the notion that they are a special class of worker - one who is entitled to your money for their perks. Those days are long gone in this economic climate.

Reality bites.

Obama Belatedly Notifies Congress About Action Over Libya

THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 21, 2011

March 21, 2011

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

At approximately 3:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, on March 19, 2011, at my direction, U.S. military forces commenced operations to assist an international effort authorized by the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council and undertaken with the support of European allies and Arab partners, to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and address the threat posed to international peace and security by the crisis in Libya. As part of the multilateral response authorized under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, U.S. military forces, under the command of Commander, U.S. Africa Command, began a series of strikes against air defense systems and military airfields for the purposes of preparing a no-fly zone. These strikes will be limited in their nature, duration, and scope. Their purpose is to support an international coalition as it takes all necessary measures to enforce the terms of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. These limited U.S. actions will set the stage for further action by other coalition partners.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 authorized Member States, under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in Libya, including the establishment and enforcement of a "no-fly zone" in the airspace of Libya. United States military efforts are discrete and focused on employing unique U.S. military capabilities to set the conditions for our European allies and Arab partners to carry out the measures authorized by the U.N. Security Council Resolution.

Muammar Qadhafi was provided a very clear message that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. The international community made clear that all attacks against civilians had to stop; Qadhafi had to stop his forces from advancing on Benghazi; pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misrata, and Zawiya; and establish water, electricity, and gas supplies to all areas. Finally, humanitarian assistance had to be allowed to reach the people of Libya.

Although Qadhafi's Foreign Minister announced an immediate cease-fire, Qadhafi and his forces made no attempt to implement such a cease-fire, and instead continued attacks on Misrata and advanced on Benghazi. Qadhafi's continued attacks and threats against civilians and civilian populated areas are of grave concern to neighboring Arab nations and, as expressly stated


in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, constitute a threat to the region and to international peace and security. His illegitimate use of force not only is causing the deaths of substantial numbers of civilians among his own people, but also is forcing many others to flee to neighboring countries, thereby destabilizing the peace and security of the region. Left unaddressed, the growing instability in Libya could ignite wider instability in the Middle East, with dangerous consequences to the national security interests of the United States. Qadhafi's defiance of the Arab League, as well as the broader international community moreover, represents a lawless challenge to the authority of the Security Council and its efforts to preserve stability in the region. Qadhafi has forfeited his responsibility to protect his own citizens and created a serious need for immediate humanitarian assistance and protection, with any delay only putting more civilians at risk.

The United States has not deployed ground forces into Libya. United States forces are conducting a limited and well-defined mission in support of international efforts to protect civilians and prevent a humanitarian disaster. Accordingly, U.S. forces have targeted the Qadhafi regime's air defense systems, command and control structures, and other capabilities of Qadhafi's armed forces used to attack civilians and civilian populated areas. We will seek a rapid, but responsible, transition

of operations to coalition, regional, or international organizations that are postured to continue activities as may be necessary to realize the objectives of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973.

For these purposes, I have directed these actions, which are in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.

I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution. I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.


Hmm. Shouldn't this have been delivered two days prior to the press release date? Shouldn't Congress have been notified and consulted? How about a clear message as to what the mission is in Libya, especially as far as the U.S. commitment is concerned?

Speaker of the House Boehner admonished Obama and said that the president must consult Congress for any further action. What about this first move here, Speaker Boehner? Doesn't that concern the Congressional leadership?

In admonishing President Obama that he’d better “define . . . what the mission is in Libya,” he adds that this “better job of communicat[ion]” must be done “before any further military commitments are made.” But what about the military commitments that have already been made? They include starting a shooting war against Libya — unprovoked by any attack or threatened attack on the United States. As the leader of the United States Congress, does it not bother the Speaker just a smidge that the president felt he had to get approval from the Arab League (which has now reneged) and the U.N. Security Council, but there was no need to get the assent of the peer department of the United States government that is constitutionally responsible for declaring war and for paying for the war that Obama has launched?

I argued over the weekend that our Constitution should be construed to require congressional approval if the president wants to take the nation to war under circumstances where we have not been attacked or threatened and when our vital interests are not at stake. More importantly, let’s say you think I am wrong on the constitutional law question (and as I concede in the column, this is more a political matter than a legal one). Does anyone doubt that it is terrible policy to launch a war without public support, and that the people’s representatives should be heard from — especially by an administration that takes pains to get the assent of foreign bodies

Obama said nothing for three weeks, other than violence against the protesters in Libya is unacceptable. Then after a change of strategy by Secretary of State Clinton and then U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, Obama was convinced to act. Now we are acting within a U.N. Resolution and Obama can't say enough that it is only a temporary involvement on the part of the U.S. But the message is mixed from the administration. First it was humanitarian assistance, then regime change - Qaddafi must go- and now it is back to only humanitarian assistance, except in Chile Monday Obama said Qaddafi must go.

This is no way to run a war. A No Fly Zone is an act of war. Obama was only too willing to criticize the Bush administration about the Iraq invasion. That was, by the way, under the former Clinton policy of regime change in Iraq and Bush went to the U.N.- which had 17 resolutions concerning Saddam - and Congress voted on the mission. Obama, conveniently, wasn't in his Senate seat yet. He was still in the Illinois State Senate. Easy to criticize when you really don't have to vote on it. We see how he is handling the real time decisions now.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Obama Announces Major Oil Purchases From Brazil

President Obama is in South America with his family for Spring Break. How nice for them. It's re-election campaign time so a pleasant family vacation is always good for the image. This one even includes the mother-in-law and a godmother. The President is getting in a little soccer playing and announcing his blessing on oil production in Brazil.

Wait, what?

The U.S. has lacked a coherent Latin American policy for the past decade, regional experts say, leaving a vacuum that China and other potential adversaries have filled by showering the area with attention, investment, arms and foreign aid.

President Obama hopes to begin to change that over the next five days with his first trip to South America, more than halfway through his first term, with visits to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador. But the challenge he faces is underscored by newly elected Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s selection of China — which in 2009 overtook the U.S. as Brazil’s largest trading partner — for her first foreign trip outside of South America

It is not as though the Brazilians haven't noticed the snub. And, you may not have heard that the people aren't exactly rolling out the welcome carpet - he was booed by crowds along the route from the airport to his first destination.

A huge riot of at least 300 rampaged through the downtown, shouting “OBAMA GO HOME!” The crowd grew increasingly violent and eventually set fire to police with a molotov cocktail. The agitators are opposed to any U.S. or U.N. involvement in Libya.

Prior to the trip, the slobbering press wanted you to believe that Brazil was completely jazzed to receive the visit from the great Hope and Change man. Remember, if this reception awaited former President Bush, it would have been the lead story on every news outlet regardless of other events of the day. But, that was then and this is now.

The folks in South America are feeling a bit left out.

“People are saying we’re losing influence in Latin America — we are abdicating influence in Latin America,” said Joel D. Hirst, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “There was so much hype around Obama’s election and Latin Americans feel abandoned.”

Indeed, two years after Mr. Obama used a speech in Trinidad and Tobago to call for a new, less- paternalistic U.S.-Latin American relationship, a series of diplomatic missteps and the lack of what analysts describe as a clear policy toward the region has left leaders feeling his words in 2009 ring hollow.

Obama did take a bit of time from his busy photo-op schedule to state that the U.S. will be a "major purchaser" of Brazilian oil. You may remember he committed millions of dollars to their drilling program as he shut down oil drilling in our own country.

Much of the money raised from deals to sell oil to the US and other countries could go towards infrastructure improvements as the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro approach. Mr Obama's visit to Brasilia also saw the US sign an agreement to help Brazil in its preparations for the sporting events, which could see America training security teams and helping with planning and infrastructure challenges.

So, as he lets the Gulf of Mexico hang in uncertainty for economic recovery after our nation's worst oil drilling tragedy and as he lets our oil production dry up, he is all in for purchasing more foreign oil and as a bonus, building up Brazilian infrastructure for World Cup and Olympics activities.

Thanks, Barack.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hillary Leads in No Fly Zone Decision

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the person responsible for the No Fly Zone over Libya, as far as the American participation is concerned. She is said to have had a change of heart last Monday and by the middle of the week she and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice convinced Barack Obama that the time had come to join in with France and Great Britain in the mission. So, we now know who is capable of making and executing top level decisions - and it's not Barack Obama.

Hillary Clinton flew to Paris and met with French President Sarkozy - who is taking the lead in this operation - and the rest of the top players. Then, Hillary made her statement explaining the U.S. involvement in the No Fly Zone over Libya.

This is from the blog at the State Department:

"Now, this has been a quick but productive trip, and I want to give you a brief update and then answer your questions. First, let's remember how we got here. As you know, Americans and people around the world watched with growing concern as Libyan civilians were gunned down by a government that has lost all legitimacy. The people of Libya appealed for help. The Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council called for action.

"The international community came together to speak with one voice and to deliver a clear and consistent message: Colonel Qaddafi's campaign of violence against his own people must stop. The strong votes in the United Nations Security Council underscored this unity. And now the Qaddafi forces face unambiguous terms: a ceasefire must be implemented immediately -- that means all attacks against civilians must stop; troops must stop advancing on Benghazi and pull back from Adjabiya, Misrata, and Zawiya; water, electricity, and gas supplies must be turned on to all areas; humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.

"Yesterday, President Obama said very clearly that if Qaddafi failed to comply with these terms, there would be consequences. Since the President spoke, there has been some talk from Tripoli of a ceasefire, but the reality on the ground tells a very different story. Colonel Qaddafi continues to defy the world. His attacks on civilians go on. Today, we have been monitoring the troubling reports of fighting around and within Benghazi itself. As President Obama also said, we have every reason to fear that, left unchecked, Qaddafi will commit unspeakable atrocities.

"It is against that backdrop that nations from across the region and the world met today here in Paris to discuss the ways we can, working together, implement Resolution 1973. We all recognize that further delay will only put more civilians at risk. So let me be very clear about the position of the United States: We will support an international coalition as it takes all necessary measures to enforce the terms of Resolution 1973.

As Barack Obama dithered on the sidelines - making declarations that he demanded "no violence", though Libyans were being murdered in the streets by Qaddafi thugs, and as he was being coaxed by Sarkosy and British Prime Minister Cameron to join with them to stop the brutality, it was Hillary Clinton who saw the situation for what it is. Late, but nonetheless, support for the Libyans rising up against the madman.

Had Barack Obama been a real leader capable of making a decision, he would have done so two weeks ago as the plan was developed and as international leaders spoke out. Who knew that France and Great Britain were the new world leaders?

While Obama dithers and works mightily to prove he is not George W. Bush, though he has continued with all of Bush's policies in foreign affairs and national security, he spoke of the coalition of those involved in this mission no less than 5 times as he announced the U.S. involvement. This demeans the participation of those allies who sacrificed blood and treasure with the U.S. in Iraq, in particular. It is shameful.

And now, Obama has again followed the lead of GWB - going into a conflict on the weight of a U.N. Resolution.

White House Works to Squelch Whistleblowers & Critics

Rep Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee warned Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano not to demote an employee who voiced concern over perceived interference from political appointees over information requested by journalists.

“Denying or interfering with employees’ rights to furnish information to Congress is against the law,” Mr. Issa wrote in a five-page letter to Miss Napolitano that was obtained by the Associated Press. “Federal officials who retaliate against or otherwise interfere with employees who exercise their right to furnish information to Congress are not entitled to have their salaries paid by taxpayer dollars.”

Mr. Issa accused the administration of improperly demoting Catherine Papoi, the former deputy unit chief in charge of the Freedom of Information Act. His charge raised the stakes in the broad congressional inquiry into President Obama’s promises to improve government transparency.

Another recent incident of this administration and its minions going after critics reared its ugly head. A Wall Street Journal editorial board writer was critical of Elizabeth Warren - long time pal of Barack Obama and currently head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The folks at a popular liberal website took it upon themselves to go after the writer and the damning evidence of her wrong-headed philosophy, according to their twisted view of the world, was her previous employment at Goldman Sachs. Yeah. You'd hate to rely on actual economic world experience for an opinion about the financial policies of this administration, wouldn't you?

Liberal conspiracy theories make life worth living, so we've been enjoying the latest Web sensation courtesy of the Huffington Post and Elizabeth Warren's gang at the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

These columns haven't joined the rest of the press in treating Ms. Warren's policy goals as gospel, and our criticism seems to have struck a nerve. Shortly after our latest editorial on the new bureau, Ms. Warren's minions collaborated with the Huffington Post on an ad hominem smear of our colleague and Journal editorial board member Mary Kissel. The scandalous news? Before she turned to a career in journalism, Ms. Kissel worked from 1999 to 2002 at . . . Goldman Sachs.

The Wall Street Journal article sums it up with this: Perhaps Ms. Warren—or some adult in the Obama Administration—should ask who on her staff thinks it's cute to smear journalists on the taxpayer's dime.

Wasn't this advertised as the most transparent administration ever? Wasn't this suppose to be the most open administration ever? Aren't these the folks who brag about their tenacity to speak truth to power? Or does that only go one way?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

NRCC Launches New Ads On Vulnerable Democrats

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) released two more ads in effort to keep pressure on more moderate Democrats in the budget fights continuing in Congress and struggling energy policy decisions.

This one is aimed at Rep Nick Rahall, D-WVA

This one is aimed at Rep Heath Schuler, D-NC

The DCCC, with nearly twice the NRCC’s debt, hasn’t yet purchased TV ads but targeted more than 50 Republicans with a phone, Web ad and e-mail campaign.

Obama Announces Perimeters of No Fly Zone Over Libya

This is not something Americans say every day: Be as bold as France. That was in a tweet from Senator Lindsay Graham Thursday as the U.N. voted on giving the A-OK for a No Fly Zone over Libya, as reported by Tweet Watch Report.

France has called for a No-Fly Zone in Libya. My advice to the Obama Administration - be as Bold as the French. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. @GrahamBlog

America supports the No Fly Zone over Libya, which is a declaration of war. Some on both sides of the political aisle are not happy that Obama went around Congress - only meeting with a group of leaders - before he made his public statement. He said that America will not put boots on the ground in Libya and that Great Britain and France will take the lead in flying missions over Libya. This is Barack Obama having it both ways. He can say he finally did something about the atrocities in Libya where Qaddafi is murdering his own people and that the "international community" is working together.

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) insists that President Obama has to receive Congressional approval to go to war with Libya. A quote from a speech delivered by then candidate Barack Obama can be used in support of Lugar's declaration:

“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation,” Obama said as a candidate and then-senator.

Barack Obama and his supporters are fond of declaring him as a constitutional scholar, an expert if you will, and he should live up to that description as President, right?

And, though Obama goes out of his way to distinguish himself from George W. Bush, he certainly sounds a lot like him.

BUSH OCT 2001: "To all the men and women in our military--every sailor, every soldier, every airman, every coastguardsman, every Marine--I say this: Your mission is defined; your objectives are clear; your goal is just."

OBAMA TODAY: "I've taken this decision with the confidence that action is necessary, and that we will not be acting alone. Our goal is focused. Our cause is just. And our coalition is strong."

BUSH 2001: "We did not ask for this mission, but we will fulfill it. The name of today's military operation is Enduring Freedom. We defend not only our precious freedoms, but also the freedom of people everywhere to live and raise their children free from fear."

Qaddafi is known for "wily survival instincts", as one reporter said. He thought he had a permanent get out of jail free card with his move of giving up his weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. went into Iraq. He received kudos from all corners and has ridden that goodwill ever since, though his behavior towards his own people never changed. He is a madman.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

National Debt Explained in Beer

Happy St.Patrick's Day.

Congress Reacts to Obama Drilling Moratorium

Interior Secretary Salazar held a press conference in Oklahoma City to counter one by Speaker of the House Boehner on the administration's permitting and leasing policy implementation of onshore and offshore oil and gas drilling. He stated that permit applications will rise by 50% for onshore production on public and Native American lands. Then he went on to make the same talking point claims that are refuted by facts on the ground. The fact that he held the press conference indicates he is feeling the pressure from those who insist our national energy policy - or lack of one - be driven by common sense solutions and not far left ideology.

The House Natural Resources Committee has a noteworthy comparison between President Obama's claims about crude oil and natural gas production during his administration and the actual facts of reality. One of Salazar's oft repeated claims has to do with offshore oil production.

Here is the comparison between Obama world and real world facts as it pertains to offshore energy production:

SPIN: “From 2008 to 2010, oil production from the Outer Continental Shelf increased more than a third – from 446 million barrels in 2008 to an [sic] more than 600 million barrels of estimated production in 2010.” (Heather Zichal, “Expanding Safe and Responsible Energy Production,” The White House Blog, 3/8/11)


•Once again, the Obama Administration is attempting to take credit for actions they had nothing to do with. The strong production in the Gulf was due to leases issued in 1996-2000 under the Deepwater Royalty Relief Act – long before President Obama took office.
•The Obama Administration’s actions, such as imposing a de facto moratorium, are causing energy production to decline in the Gulf of Mexico. EIA shows a 300,000 barrel per day decline in current Gulf production and a projected Gulf decline of over 150 million barrels of oil in 2012.

SPIN: “Since the Deepwater Horizon spill and the implementation of stronger safety standards, BOEMRE has approved 37 shallow water permits in the Gulf of Mexico.” (White House Fact Sheet, “Fact Sheet: Expanding Safe And Responsible Oil And Gas Production,”, Accessed 3/14/11)


•As of February 2011, shallow-water permit issuance continues to lag behind the historical average of 7.1 permits per month.
•37 permits issued since April 2010 represents an average of only 3.7per month.
•Only two deepwater permits have been issued - over four months after the moratorium was officially listed. The Administration is being held in contempt for slow-walking permits and is currently trying to appeal a Federal Judge’s ruling that ordered them to act on stalled deepwater permits.

Lawmakers are continuing in efforts to spur on the administration in the decision making process of issuing permits and leases for drilling. Rep Bill Flores recently wrote an op-ed on his efforts in partnership with Senators Hutchison and Landrieu.

That is why I introduced the Lease Extension and Secure Energy Act (LEASE), a bipartisan House companion bill to one filed by Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Republican, and Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat. The LEASE Act will extend offshore leases affected by the Department of Interior’s drilling moratorium for an additional 12 months, restoring lost time, protecting American jobs and increasing energy security. In addition, this week, I introduced the Expedited Offshore Permitting Act, a bill to streamline the offshore drilling permit process by codifying permit issuance timetables and reducing bureaucratic overreach. We desperately need the stability that comes from unlocking access to and tapping into our American resources so we can pursue an all-of-the-above energy plan.

Senator Vitter (R-LA) also sent a letter to Secretary Salazar this week: U.S. Sen. David Vitter today in a letter blasted Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) Director Michael Bromwich for misleading the public about the number of offshore drilling permits pending approval by Bromwich's agency. In a court filing last week, the Department of Justice stated that there are far more permits awaiting approval than Salazar or Bromwich have led Vitter and the public to believe.

"Over the last several weeks and months, you have indicated publicly, before Congress, and privately to members, including myself, that there are only a handful of permits awaiting agency action," Vitter wrote in the letter. "It is a mathematical impossibility for your representations to be accurate, as well as the filings of the Department of Justice to be accurate. It is not possible for there to be 'too few permits' awaiting review, and simultaneously 'too many' permits being reviewed to make issuing a particular handful problematic."

Vitter notes the difference in stated testimony before the Natural Resources committee and statistics that point to a different narrative. Vitter's letter noted that Salazar recently testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that Interior has received only 47 shallow water permit applications over the past nine months and that only seven deepwater permit applications are pending; similarly, Bromwich recently told Vitter that only six deepwater permits applications are pending and publicly stated that deepwater permit approvals will be limited because "only a handful of completed applications have been received."

However, in a motion filing last week seeking a stay of federal judge Martin Feldman's two recent orders directing BOEMRE to issue at least seven permits, the DOJ warned of harm from "re-prioritization [resulting] from the court's orders" because there are actually 270 shallow water permit applications pending and 52 deepwater permit applications pending.
"I'm afraid that this clear discrepancy between the DOJ filing and the department's public statements shows that Interior will pursue its political agenda at any cost," Vitter said

As long as the President and the Interior Department continue with the talking points on the production of crude oil and natural gas in our country, the pressure from elected officials and those of us monitoring the situation must continue. And, each time President Obama takes credit for the policies put into place by former President Bush for the purposes of his re-election campaign, he must be held responsible.

We will look toward the leadership of Chairman Hastings of the Natural Resources Committee as he keeps the pressure on the administration to do the right thing for our energy needs.

A top House Republican said he is preparing a bill that would force the Obama administration to open up more coastal waters for offshore drilling.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., the head of the House Natural Resources Committee, said he would “introduce legislation to put the Gulf of Mexico back to work.”

“I also intend to take legislative action to reverse President Obama’s imposition of an offshore drilling moratorium outside the Gulf of Mexico,” Hastings said, referring to the administration’s decision to rule out oil and gas exploration off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as part of its 2012-2017 blueprint for outer continental shelf leasing

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Governor Perry States Texas is Land of Opportunity

"People know there is a land of opportunity. It's called Texas." Governor Perry is the consummate cheerleader for the State of Texas. Speaking about the agreement reached by himself, Speaker Strauss and Appropriation Chairman Pitts, Perry said he is committed to keeping his pledge to not use any Rainy Day Funds for balancing the 2012-2013 state budget. He agreed to use $3.2 billion from the fund to attain a balanced budget, as is mandated, and then he drew the line on any anticipation of doing it again for the next budget. He further stated that he expects to find ways of balancing the next budget without raising taxes.

These thoughts on the Rainy Day Fund are important, according to Perry, because it sends a strong message to those wishing to open businesses in Texas. And, also to those considering a move to Texas. It is important that the message is sent that Texas is a pro-business state due to low taxes, legal system reform and a regulatory system that is fair and predictable.

During the conference call, Governor Perry said the message was sent loud and clear on November 2 that voters expect government to be streamlined and more efficient. He said it is the job of government to keep the economy strong, insure that schools prepare students for a life of success, secure the borders and then get out of the way.

On the current budget woes of school districts, Perry reminded listeners that he warned of the downfall of accepting federal funds - such as money for the Obama program of "Race to the Top" in education - to cover on-going and recurring expenses. He said Texas is not going to raise taxes to cover shortfalls now being experienced for those districts that did. He feels vindicated for turning down the stimulus funds he chose to turn down as they were offered from Washington. He will not use Rainy Day Funds to pad school district budgets, either.

Cuts can be made without teacher lay-offs. In Texas, it is common for school administrations to employ one non-teacher for every one teacher. This is unsustainable in this economic climate. One initiative working to help solve school budget woes is Red Apple Project. The project claims "We can cut spending without firing teachers, shortchange students, or asking hard-working Texans to dig deeper into their pockets."

Governor Perry spoke of on-going efforts to nullify federal overreach into state choices. He spoke of the lawsuit brought by Texas against the Obama administration and EPA which tried to take away the state's clean air permitting process. At the end of 2010, the EPA decided that the process that was implemented during the administration of former Governor Ann Richard in the 1990's and approved by the Clinton administration was no longer acceptable, despite the sound success of the process. Under the process, Texas cleaned up the state's air quality more than any other state during that time. For example, there was a 26% reduction in ozone depletion.

Another push back against overreaching is in joining with 25 other states in challenging Obamacare mandates on states.

Perry believes the best solution is to let states compete against each other. Let people choose where they want to live and what government they want. The future for state growth is tied into pushing back on federal government interference.

Governor Perry Agrees to Dip Into Rainy Day Fund

Fiscal conservatives in Texas were disappointed to read Tuesday afternoon that Gov. Perry, Speaker Straus, and Comptroller Combs have come to an agreement to tap up to $3.2 billion of the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund (the “rainy day fund”) to close the current year’s budget deficit.

In 1988, Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment creating the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF)— commonly referred to as the “Rainy Day” fund—to help the Legislature cope with revenue shortfalls by collecting excess money in boom times and saving it for leaner days. The Fund draws its money from excess oil and natural
gas tax revenues and half of any unencumbered balance left in the General Revenue Fund at the end of each biennium. The Texas Constitution defines “excess” as 75
percent of revenues that exceeded the amount collected the year before the passage of the ESF amendment in 1987. Though Texas’ ESF was originally established to deal
only with revenue shortages, the Fund’s cash balance remained low during its first decade because the Legislature chose to spend the money as soon as it became
available, rather than saving it for later. In fact, it was not until FY 2002 and 2003 that the ESF’s balance approached anything of significance, about $1 billion.

The fund is said to have about $9.3 billion at the present time. As a policy expert recently said, "It may be raining now but it is about to be a downpour." It is good to note that Governor Perry pledged to not use any funds from the Rainy Day Fund towards the 2012-2013 budget. Texas will experience serious budget challenges by 2013 as Medicaid mandates gobble away revenues. A policy paper on this particular budget challenge explains what Texas faces in the near future and as Talmadge Heflin, Director of TPPF’s Center for Fiscal Policy states, “Those who seek to empty the fund because it is raining today have not checked the long-range weather forecast. Our recent report, Final Notice: Medicaid Crisis, projected that Texas’ Medicaid program would require between $10 billion and $15.6 billion in additional state funds in the 2014-2015 budget cycle, the low estimate representing the cost if ObamaCare is repealed. Thus we can reasonably predict that economic pressures on the Texas state budget will be even more severe in the next legislative session."

It is a bit odd that this agreement was made so early into the legislative session. Only about half way though, it was hoped that more cuts would be targeted and that funds for programs to be de-funded be used for the budget deficit. Speaker Straus pledged to continue working to find such savings. Let's hope he keeps his word.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Save Our Schools Rally in Austin

Last Saturday afternoon a rally was held in Austin that was touted as a show of support for teachers and students facing painful state budget cuts. The numbers in attendance varied from organizer claims of 11,000 to citizen journalist claims of 2,000.

Those attending were the usual suspects as seems to be the pattern of rallies led by the left side of politics - the International Socialist Organization, the Social Workers Party and Organizing for America. All are far left organizations beholden to union support. Organizing for America is the Obama re-election wing of the Democratic National Committee.

My friend, Holly, has photos, too.

As has been reported by others, this was mostly just an anti-Governor Perry rally. As the re-election campaign of Barack Obama inches nearer and the unions watch as their grip on taxpayer funded benefits and salaries shrinks, the left leaning organizations will become more shrill and hateful towards the other side. Look at the death threats and intimidation tactics used against Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin as they dealt with state budget issues.

The rally was touted as a nonpartisan effort, but the feeling in the crowd was distinctly anti-Perry. Chants of “it's raining, it's pouring, but Rick Perry's snoring” and slogans like “Flunk Perry” were plentiful. The publicity surrounding the event provoked a press release from the conservative activist group Americans For Prosperity, who called it a “front for unions” and “raising taxes.”

“Save Texas Schools is a liberal group posing as a non-partisan, education advocacy organization,” said Texas state director Peggy Venable in a statement, adding, “We can cut education spending without cutting instruction or teachers. But educrats are calling in all of their forces to oppose any education cuts.”

Instead of logical cuts, such as in the bloated administrations of local school districts and out of touch perks offered to enhance salaries, the unions and their supporters want to make the argument all about teacher lay offs and larger classroom size. These measures won't need to be taken if excess can be eliminated from outside the classroom.

Here is a video produced with a retired teacher expressing the other side of the union's argument:

The initiative is called "Protect Our Classrooms". The focus is on students and education instead of teacher contracts and administrative inefficiency. School administrators are claiming the budget shortfall solution is to fire teachers and do away with school programs when the more honest solution is to look at the administrative spending decisions. No one wants the state budget balanced on the backs of teachers in the classroom. The demand is for more responsible stewardship of monies by the decision makers in the school districts - school boards and superintendents.

It is important for all cuts possible to be made before any decision is made to spend money from the Rainy Day Fund. It will be needed in the coming years, thanks to exploding Medicaid costs at the state level. The same is true for the continued rise in funding demands from school districts.

"Over the last 20 years, state spending on public education has grown two-and-a-half faster than population growth plus inflation. Between 1999 and 2009, Texas increased its per-pupil spending by 47 percent after adjusting for inflation. Texas taxpayers have generously supported public education during the good years, but now is a time when we need our schools to set careful priorities, operate more efficiently, and come up with new ideas and models to deliver quality instruction.

“Research shows that the most important factor in a student’s academic success is the quality of the teacher. But in too many cases, barely half of the money spent in public education makes it to the classroom. Texas schools employ as many non-teachers as teachers, and the non-teaching staff has grown by 76.6 percent since 1989.

Now, more than ever, we need strong wills and honest assessment of the needs of our state budget. Common sense solutions are out there - our lawmakers just need to listen to the voters demanding them.