Saturday, April 30, 2011

The WH Correspondents' Dinner 2011 - Nerd Prom

All the swell D.C. people and Hollywood were there. Affectionately known as nerd prom, the Washington Correspondents' Dinner brings them all together at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

The President was introduced and the song "I Am a Real American" played as photos of is long form birth certificate flashed on the screens in the room. "My fellow Americans", Obama began, "Mahalo". So, the tone was set.

"What a week", President Obama said. "Tonight I'm releasing my official birth video". Then a clip of Lion King was shown - the one where Mufasa proudly holds up baby Simba on the cliff top for all the village to see. Then he went in for the slam to Fox News - "I want to make clear to the Fox News table that was a joke. Call Disney if you don't believe me, they have the long form version."

He made jokes about being labeled as professorial and of being arrogant. He said his poll numbers are a cure for his arrogance.

He asked where the NPR table was in the room. "You guys are still here? That's good.I couldn't remember where we landed on that."

He noted that Rep Paul Ryan wasn't there. He said the Ryan budget had no room for laughs. He noted Michele Bachmann was there of her possible presidential run said "I hear she was born in Canada. Yes, Michele, that how it starts."

He joked about Tim Pawlenty's middle name - that is sounded strange and claimed Jon Huntsman "learned English to come here." He suggested that Donald Trump get to the bottom of if Mitt Romney passed Obamacare in Massachusetts. He made fun of Celebrity Apprentice and of Trump's decisions of which one to fire from the show, said "These are the kind of decisions that'd keep me up at night."

Trump wasn't laughing.

For the "Hollywood crowd" there was a sequel to The King's Speech previewed. "The President's Speech" showed clips of Obama speaking without his teleprompter and out takes of his mistakes while filming weekly addresses.

Obama ended by noting military courage and valor in our troops overseas. He spoke of the victims in Alabama and the South and the devastation there from tornadoes. He commended the journalists "threatened, attacked and beaten" for doing jobs covering war. "No one should be silenced". Last, he recognized those who have lost their lives covering wars.

The entertainment this year was Seth Meyers.

I don't find Saturday Night Live head writer and cast member Seth Meyers particularly funny, to be honest. I find his humor mean-spirited and too much in the stereotypical liberal mold. He thinks he's cool. By cool I mean he takes joy in calling the Tea Party racist, Fox News fake, and the GOP vice-president pick to come from a beauty pageant. Oh, the hilarity.

A Lizard Enters the War on Oil Drilling

Not all Democrats have fallen for the blind ideological hype coming from this White House on punishing oil companies for the sin of success. Some elected officials on the Democratic side are demanding more than smoke and mirrors in lieu of an honest energy policy that includes the production of fossil fuels.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Boren said Obama just needs to be quiet.
“Americans are tired of empty rhetoric on both sides and want a real plan,” Boren said. “If the president doesn’t want to stand up and be a leader, then his silence would be appreciated from people who are trying to find solutions.”
Boren described Obama as completely uninformed about the oil and gas industry.
“The industry is not made up of just major companies,” he said. “It is made up of small independent firms like those in Oklahoma that produce a vast majority of our domestic production.”

For every CEO of a major company, Boren said, there are thousands of blue-collar jobs that are affected by the Obama administration’s energy policy.
“It is a policy that is very inadequate and has left so many on the Gulf Coast unemployed.” Boren said.

If Team Obama wants to destroy an entire industry it should at least do it honestly. They want to take away tax break incentives to oil drilling and exploration. Fine. But, do it by making the case that the government is broke and not able to allow incentive programs to continue. Then do that across the board without making winners and losers. Do it honestly and not to demonize the people working within the industry as the bad guys for doing their jobs - which is providing energy for our nation's needs.

A new obstacle is emerging in Texas that would hinder land drilling for oil and gas. Now the endangered species act may be used to include a desert lizard that would stop drilling - even on private property. I can't make this stuff up.

$61 million is being set aside in the budget for legal expenses at EPA.

Administrator Lisa Jackson says that the agency is setting aside $61 million of next year’s budget for legal advice. “Well, we are sued quite often,” she says, “by many sides.” Officials describe an agency stuck in the middle. Environmentalists think the EPA is too soft on polluters, and industry leaders feel they’re being singled out. So how bad is it? The EPA’s Office of General Counsel is defending 650 cases, say officials.

No doubt some of that will be used in Texas, if the anticipated declaration of the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard as an endangered species becomes law.

Specifically, the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard. That's the latest more-important-than-people critter being used to lock-up resources in the name of planet Earth. The drilling moratorium didn't cause enough pain, so onto the Endangered Species Act - known at the Sierra Club as "Ol' Reliable" - to make certain Texas has lizard-filled poverty.

Lizard or livelihood? That's what's at stake. And the pro-poverty Earth Firsters stratifying government can't have both. If it determines that the lizard is indeed endangered, the Fish and Wildlife Service will shut down the most productive oil counties in Texas, ban roads, and slow farm activity, as it "studies the ecosystem" for up to five years.

This should please Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, who in 2008 said, "We must increase gas taxes to force people to turn to alternative energy. Somehow, we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to levels in Europe."

It would be hard to imagine increasing taxes on gas as they are high now. The gas you purchase at the pump is the highest taxed commodity you will purchase. The oil and gas profits amount to 1% of the total. The government takes 41% off the top. Choosing green energy solutions to energy demands is one thing. To allow that choice to destroy the oil and gas industry in the meantime is unacceptable. Green energy solutions in the amount of production needed are decades away. Punishing the consumer with high prices as a way of engineering behavior in purchasing the product is wrong. There is no viable alternative to accommodate the masses. Insisting people purchase an electric car or hybrid auto is unrealistic.

In the meantime, life goes on. People have to get to work and take care of families. Hybrid solutions are coming but an overnight transformation is not on the horizon. Punishing an entire industry for votes in an ideological battle is wrong.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Why No Declaration of Emergency for Texas?

Why hasn't Texas received an emergency declaration from President Obama?

"You see hundreds of thousands of acres of Texas burning and you know that there will soon be emergency declarations, and we did that now a couple of weeks ago, but still no response from this administration," Perry told 1200 WOAI's Michael Board after addressing the Texas Emergency Management Conference in San Antonio.

Emergency declarations have been issued for other states experiencing recent disasters, such as tornadoes and that is a good thing, but why favor some states over others? Is every single thing all about politics with this administration?

The Forest Service's Marq Webb says conditions are getting worse.

Webb says 'approaching two million acres' has burned in Texas since January first. He says it appears now to be the worst year ever for brush fires in Texas.
"I haven't totaled it up yet, but if we're not there, we're right at it," he said.

Is it a matter of taking revenge on Texas and Governor Perry - a very red state - as Perry has intimated in the recent past? Is Obama resentful of Texas state success and a Governor demanding action to secure our border with Mexico and protecting our residents?

Perry produced the request from the federal government on April 16. The wildfires in Texas continue to burn.

Hear, Hear For the Royal Wedding

There is a malaise that has become stronger as the days go on. Recent polling indicates that 70% think the country is going in the wrong direction. That poll was conducted by The New York Times/CBS, hardly beacons of the conservative opponents of President Obama. Gas prices are up, inflation is creeping into our lives bringing higher grocery prices and consumer goods in general - we've been warned by everyone from Walmart to McDonalds that pricing is going up on their products. Unemployment is still at historically high levels. We are involved in three wars now in the Middle East.

The fact is, for many of us the royal wedding was a very welcome distraction from all that is going on in the real world. It is good to celebrate marriage, love, a beautiful wedding of historical significance. This is the future King and Queen of England, our faithful ally in the world.

So, we enjoyed the frivolity and the rituals.

There were menus suggested for your Royal Wedding viewing:

Lavender Earl Grey Scones
Croques Monsieur
English Pancakes
Sausage Rolls
Eggs Drumkilbo
Bread and Butter Pudding
Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Champagne, Coffee, and Tea

Yummy. Now if only I had a butler and cook...

Mimosas all around!

And, the hats. Is there any better spectacle than a formal British affair and the wide array of hats it brings? Now, that's entertainment.

The bride and groom were well rehearsed and performed with dignity and maturity. What more could be asked of them? The bride was stunning in a beautiful dress of white and cream satin. She sported a vintage (1938) tiara on loan from Queen Elizabeth. William was handsome in his military uniform.

The Bishop of London said during his sermon: "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." I liked that a lot.

To the spoil sports I say, you have no power here! The wedding lived up to the hype and it was great fun to focus on good news, the magnificence of a traditional royal ceremony, and all the extravagance that goes along with it.

They will now be known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Well done, it was a fine ceremony. And, now back to reality.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tx Lege Grapples with Online Budget Transparency and Spending Limits

Texas spends more on government than we have the ability to fund. This is a hard truth that the state legislature is grappling with this week.

This week on Thursday the Texas House Appropriations Committee will work on issues of online budget transparency - HB 2804 will allow a line by line transparency online for the public to see how and where the state budget is spent.

The bill in the state Senate is SB 1653.

Also of importance is establishing spending limits. Not one bill on spending limits has been heard in the legislature since 2007 - there were none heard during the last session.

In 1978, the Texas Tax Relief Act was put to a vote by voters as a constitutional amendment. The growth in appropriations since then has consistently increased at a rate that has outpaced the population growth of the state plus inflation.

For example, from 1990 to 2011 the total of all funds appropriated in Texas has increased 300% but population growth plus inflation was 115%.

Analysis shows that if HJR 70, and its enabling legislation HB 756, had become law in 2003, the spending limit for this biennium would be approximately $75 billion, which very closely resembles the Comptroller's Biennial Revenue Estimate for 2012-2013 .

HJR 70 will limit the growth in appropriations from state tax revenue to the rate of population increase plus monetary inflation each biennium. This portion of the budget makes up about one-half of state spending.

It is important for fiscally conservative Texans to let their legislators hear from them. We want our elected officials to stand firm and make the cuts necessary. Some conservative think tanks and organizations have come together to speak to the legislators in Austin. Three commercial ads are being launched by Texas Public Policy Foundation this week.

The coalition producing the ads is called Texans for a Conservative Budget. Aside from TPPF, member organizations include Americans for Prosperity-Texas, Americans for Tax Reform, Empower Texans, Heartland Institute, Liberty Institute and the National Federation of Independent Business-Texas. In a press release, the group urges lawmakers to pass a budget that "cuts non-essential programs, does not raise taxes or fees, and does not tap the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Obama Re-Election Strategy Announced

Jim Messina, Barack Obama's re-election campaign manager, released a six minute strategy video explaining Team Obama's playbook. Vaguely, anyway.

Messina laid out five steps to winning in 2012, "Expand the electorate;" "Build something new;" "Grow the grassroots in the states;" "Measure our progress;" and "Work for every vote."

Messina is the campaign manager, so it's not surprising he focused on campaign management--that is, on the process as opposed to the substance of the campaign. He doesn't explain how 2012 will be different from 2008, except to complain that the free-speech rights of Obama's critics are better protected now, thanks to the Citizens United v. FEC ruling. But Obama's supporters enjoy the same First Amendment protection as his opponents.

So, in other words, if you think President Obama has a tendency to bully and mock his opposition in the GOP now, you ain't seen nothing yet. This will be one nasty re-election campaign. Obama never came out of campaign mode to govern the country - I think he has no leadership or governing skills on which to lean - and he will not change now. He is a politician in a perpetual campaign.

Poll results are not good for Barack Obama.

At 73.2, the Consumer Index is down six points from a week ago, down eight points from a month ago, and down sixteen points from three months ago.

Sixty-six percent (66%) of adult consumers believe the U.S. economy is still in a recession.

A majority of the American public appears to have lost confidence in Obama in his ability to govern. The numbers reported to declare that they will not vote for his re-election must be alarming to Team Obama, a group of people who truly buy into a certain specialness of Barack Obama. He is their golden boy, a man capable to win election to the highest office in the land on a slogan - hope and change. No executive experience, very little experience in national politics, it simply didn't matter. The 2008 campaign was built on the Obama brand concocted by an expert group of advertising and public relations from Chicago.

This time around we already know the man. We know he has not governed according to his own hype. He campaigned on change that has not materialized. Not only is he a hyper-partisan but he is experiencing difficulty keeping his Democratic base on board. This is where the nasty comes in. He will allow himself to be petty and mean in public events to sell what is left of his ideas on economic recovery,leaning heavily on the liberal mantra, that the GOP wants Mamaw to eat cat food as she cowers homeless and sick under a bridge without her medicine.

The arrogance of the Obama administration has not served him well. It is difficult to not reflect back on the governing of George W. Bush. Former President Bush was unable to push through some of his key agenda items such as Social Security reform and immigration reform but he didn't stoop to demonizing this opponents, either in the Democratic party or within his own party. He led with respect for the opinions of others.

The Tale of Oil Company Profits in Cupcake Math

Did you know that oil and gas companies currently pay 41% of revenues in taxes? Then all but 1% of the rest of the money made is doled out to shareholders. That's right -the companies come away with 1% when all is said and done. Is that unreasonable? Does Barack Obama want to punish oil and gas companies for turning a profit, normally considered success?

All of the "Big Oil" companies that Barack Obama speaks ill of as an excuse to take more money from them are publicly held companies. Shareholders will feel the same pinch that the companies themselves will feel. Is that fair? If you have a 401K you probably have an oil company in your portfolio, too. Are you ok with Barack Obama taking more of your retirement funds?

This video tells the tale by using cupcake math:

Cupcake math. If Barack Obama doesn't understand the oil and gas industry, maybe he understands cupcakes.

Obama wrote a letter to leaders in Congress requesting an end to tax breaks currently in place for the oil and gas industry.

Obama began his letter by saying that he wants the leaders to "take immediate action to eliminate unwarranted tax breaks for the oil and gas industry, and to use those dollars to invest in clean energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

Unwarranted? It is further proof that Team Obama has one goal in mind - thanks to a far left ideological ambition, they would like to cripple an entire industry that provides energy for our nation's needs.

Who will they come after next?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Firm Up Your Energy Policy, Tim Pawlenty

The Energy Information Agency - a government agency - produced a chart showing the escalation of gas prices since Barack Obama became President. It clearly shows - using the government's own numbers - the steady rise in prices from January 2009 to present day.

Like everyone else on the conservative side, I have a list of concerns I check off mentally as I listen to those contemplating a run for President. One candidate that may meet most of my preferences is former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. Or, he may have lost my support Monday night during an interview on FOX.

Pawlenty was asked about his thoughts on fixing the high price of gas and our energy production. Immediately out of his mouth came the thought that we could "consider" releasing crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a quick action. I was irritated, to say the least, and tweeted that he just lost my support as he contemplates entering the GOP primary.

Pawlenty is smarter than that and it is not acceptable for any more pandering to either side on energy policy in this country. We have a sitting president hell bent to destroy the oil and gas drilling industry for strictly ideological reasons - mostly to win the next election - and his supporters are the first to demand releasing crude stored in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a quick fix to escalating prices at the pump. For Pawlenty to even suggest that action as a possible part of a solution to the problem is unacceptable.

It doesn't work. It has never worked and won't work this time either. We do not have a supply problem at this point.

His people monitoring Twitter responded to me with a link to a write-up on an interview Pawlenty conducted earlier in the day.

“This is a president who has sat on his hands as it relates to drilling,” Pawlenty told Chicago’s "Don Wade & Roma" radio show. “You know, we've got a country that's got some enormous energy assets that are not being exploited or leveraged to the benefit of our country and to our people.”

Pawlenty said he supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and offshore in “ways and places that are appropriate.” And the former Minnesota governor lashed out at the Democratic Party as a whole, which he called “beholden” to “militant or unreasonable environmentalists.”

That's fine. By the way, I wonder what "ways and places that are appropriate" means. Pawlenty, or any other GOP candidate, cannot wobble and even hint at sounding like a Democrat. And by Democrat, I mean a clueless person on the subject of energy production.

There are solutions to the rise in energy costs. Offshore oil and gas drilling in our own country is at the top of the list for the foreseeable future. The message delivered must be clear and strong. No more pandering to Democrats and nonsensical quick fix fantasies.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Texans for a Conservative Budget Launch Ad Campaign

With the days dwindling for the session in the Texas state legislature, Texans for a Conservative Budget announced a new broadcast advertising campaign aimed at educating Texans about the importance of maintaining a fiscally conservative budget in Texas.

Seven policy, business, and grassroots organizations have banded together to form Texans for a Conservative Budget, a coalition that urges the Texas Legislature to approve a 2012-13 state budget that cuts non-essential programs, does not raise taxes or fees, and does not tap the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund. The coalition debuted at a Texas Capitol press conference on April 6th.

The founding members of Texans for a Conservative Budget include the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Americans for Prosperity-Texas, Americans for Tax Reform, Empower Texans, Heartland Institute, Liberty Institute, and the National Federation for Independent Business-Texas.

“It’s a critical time for the Texas economy, and in an effort to educate as many Texas citizens as possible about the importance of maintaining a fiscally responsible budget, we felt it was important to broaden our outreach with a broadcast campaign,” said TPPF President Brooke Rollins. “These advertisements bring to the forefront what our forefathers championed: personal freedom, personal responsibility and limited government.”

As a part of the founding coalition, Texas Public Policy Foundation rolled out the first broadcast advertisement Monday in Austin.

Texans, let your state legislators know you want a fiscally responsible budget. Speak up. The time to be heard is now.

The Fall-Out Over #TrigsCrew

It was an amazing turn of events. Once again those of us living on our computers witnessed a remarkable feat - conservatives expressed outrage over an intentionally malicious and vicious blog post attacking a mentally handicapped three year old son of a lightening rod politician. Sarah Palin's son, Trig, was virtually savaged and it was wrong. Knowing better than to expect any decency at all from the mainstream media, conservatives took to social media with a plan. The outrage turned to action. Demanding advertisers to stop sponsoring the website brought immediate results.

Then liberal sites began to begrudge the success of conservatives demanding that the children of politicians not be used as fodder for really poor political satire. And, the websites wrote of finding folks willing to speak to them about the fact that well, really, what else could they do but agree to stop sponsoring ads on that website? It had nothing to do with decency or supporting outraged parents who buy their products. It was purely because they couldn't risk appearing to support attacks on "retarded" child.

“The thing is we don't want to be involved in anything political,” the retailer says, explaining the company’s standard practice of steering clear of mudslinging. The campaign was over a politician’s child—with special needs, nonetheless—and that made it a fairly easy decision for the retailer. “You can't respond with anything but total support because, well, it’s literally a retarded baby. No brand wants to be labeled pro-making fun of retarded children,” the retailer said.

“I am sure the #TrigsCrew people would like to think it’s a big political or moral win for them,” they added. “But it’s not. I doubt it would have impacted our bottom line either way.

What nonsense. Of course it would have impacted their bottom line, why else nip tn in the bud so quickly? Those advertisers knew the bad publicity associated with their names would easily steer parents to other brands of products.

It's called a buycott.

And then there were the adjectives used in describing the people - ordinary people who became online activists - such as "mob" and fretting that free speech is in danger.

I feel as queasy about this flexing of Palinite muscle as I do about the original, disgusting, asinine story. In some ways, I see a legitimate come-uppance for a tacky site that published a simply inexcusable piece of mean-spirited dreck using a child who cannot defend himself, treating him as if he were subhuman, which he most definitely isn't. But I also recoil from mob action like this, for the impact it has on fearless free speech and the chilling effect it will have on an already cowed and defensive MSM when covering the truly tough stuff about Palin.


Here's the thing about social media, Twitter in particular. Why is Twitter proving to be such a powerful tool for online activism, especially for conservatives? It is powerful because once conservatives come together with a mission - like a buycott - there is no predicting the speed and effectiveness until it all plays out. As long as the dinosaur network media and the liberal cable networks continue to skew their agendas towards liberal politics then we aren't going anywhere. We are aware that if it doesn't fit their agenda, they ignore the story. Every time a story is ignored it is easy to turn it around and ask, what would have happened if a conservative did that? So, what would have happened if a conservative cruelly and viciously mocked a liberal's handicapped child? We all know.

There is no blurring of the lines. The liberals can relax about that. Conservatives do not condone personal attacks on the children of politicians. It is wrong from either side of the aisle and decent people everywhere know that.

We are all Mama Grizzlies now.

Gabby Giffords Gets OK To View Space Launch in Florida

Houston, Gabby Giffords is going to Florida for her astronaut husband's space launch.

Late last week, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was given the ok to travel to watch her husband's space launch in Florida. Astronaut Mark Kelly made the announcement that his wife would indeed be allowed to view his launch in person.

Gabrielle Giffords has been in Houston since Jan. 21 — that's 94 days of living and rehabilitating at the world-renowned TIRR Memorial-Hermann in relative mystery.

Giffords has trouble talking in long sentences, but her staff and Kelly say that she understands everything. The frustration comes in trying to string together the words to say what she means. One of the effects of the shooting is that Giffords, who was always right handed, now writes left handed — a not uncommon result after a bullet wound to the left side of the brain, which controls right-side function.

Dr. Gerard Francisco, chief medical officer at TIRR Memorial Hermann, tells the Arizona Republic that Giffords can now stand and walk on her own a little. Use of her right arm and leg are still limited though, another common result from a left-side brain injury.

Rep Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) is said to be in the top 5% of those who recover from her type of brain injury. Her survival of the horrendous attack by a mad man in January is truly a modern day miracle. Now, however, there are those on the seedy side of photojournalism who are chomping at the bit to claim a $200,000 bounty on the first photo of the congresswoman upon her first venture out of the Houston hospital where she has been rehabilitating.

Team Giffords is trying mightily to allow Giffords to make the decision of who will take the first photo of her for public viewing. She is still said to have noticeable scarring, which is completely understandable given the severity of her injuries.

There are those that aren't willing to wait for Giffords' schedule though. One of the most striking things in the story is Carusone talking about rumors of a $200,000 "reward" bounty for any paparazzi that is able to snap the first photo of Giffords. The paper notes that Giffords has been "invisible" since the Jan. 8 shooting and details the security precautions at TIRR.

Kelly announced in February that he would continue on with his scheduled space flight as the commander of Endeavour.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

No Mistakes Admitted By Obama at Facebook Town Hall

President Obama was asked if he could point to any mistakes he has made in his first four years in office at his Facebook town hall session last week. After correcting the questioner that he has been in office for two and a half years, as his professor mode kicked in, he once again proved how much he patterns his approach as former president Bush did: He couldn't think of a good answer. We all remember the abuse the press and Democrats enjoyed wielding towards George W. Bush as he stammered when asked that question himself.

But what mistakes has he already made? "There are all sorts of day-to-day issues where I say to myself, oh, I didn't say that right, or I didn't explain this clearly enough," Obama said, "or maybe if I had sequenced this plan first as opposed to that one, maybe it would have gotten done quicker."

But the president mentioned no actual mistakes. Next, he brought up the health care battle, not to admit error but to praise the work of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in pushing the national health care bill through Congress. The fight got pretty complicated, Obama said, "and I've asked myself sometimes is there a way that we could have gotten it done more quickly and in a way that the American people wouldn’t have been so frustrated by it?" Was that possibly a mistake? Obama quickly excused himself. "I’m not sure I could have because there’s a reason why it hadn’t gotten done in a hundred years," the president explained. "It's hard to fix a system as big as health care and as complicated as our health care system." After a good bit of talking, Obama still had not mentioned any mistake or anything he would do differently.

At that point, Obama decided to steer away from the subject of mistakes altogether. "I think the best way to answer the question is what do I feel I still have to get done," he said. He briefly mentioned the deficit and immigration reform.

See, it is never Obama's fault. Every action is blamed on someone else - usually Republicans - and if everyone would just cooperate with him, this country would be sitting pretty. What is most disturbing is that his man truly presents no leadership ability. A President who blames, bullies, and wages a perpetual class warfare to make his policy points is weak and non-effective. In many important areas, it is not that Republicans simply oppose his actions, it is that there is no policy.

Whether it is energy, national defense or major entitlement reform, President Obama hangs back and waits for an issue to be pressed before he weighs in. He may think this is keeping up with his theme of "no drama Obama" from the last campaign but it doesn't work once he is sitting in the Oval Office. Once behind that desk he is expected to present his policy decisions - or make them in the first place - and communicate them to the American people.

Shutting down oil and gas drilling is not responsible energy policy. Going into a third war in the middle east while denying it is war is not repsonsible national defense. Mocking and waging class warfare against the Republican plan to reform major entitlements is not mature leadership and does nothing to move the progress forward.

We deserve better.

This country is crying out for national leadership. Obama cannot win re-election in this atmosphere and by simply lashing out at Republicans when a policy is put out by them. Forming commissions, scheduling summits and bringing in additional czars is not governing in today's reality.

Hardin County Goes Bright Red

While the national Democratic party is pouring money and resources into the state of Texas in hopes of winning elections in 2012, the state continues to go further Republican. Funny how that happens, huh?

Hardin County in the southeast part of Texas, the Beaumont area, is a prime example of grassroots activism and the importance of regular folks taking part in community leadership.

Six more Hardin County elected officials formally announced Monday night that they will switch political parties.

The elected officials? - District Judge Earl Stover, Tax Collector-Assessor Shirley Stephens, County Treasurer Sharon Overstreet, County Clerk Glenda Alston and Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace T.J. Hall - announced the switch from Democrat to Republican at the Hardin County Republican Women's meeting at Mama Jack's Restaurant in Kountze.

The sixth elected official, Precinct 4 Constable Mark Ames, was unable to attend the meeting, but did announce his party change, Hardin County Republicans President Kent Batman said.

You may have noticed in that account from the local paper, the announcement from these elected officials came at a Republican Women's meeting. What wasn't mentioned int he article is that the Hardin County Republican Women's club is newly renewed - once allowed to flounder due to lack of membership and participants, it is now back as a member of the Texas Federation of Republican Women and growing by leaps and bounds.

Texas Republican women - we fight like girls. Don't mess with Texas.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

We Need Oil Drilling, Not a Commission, Mr. President

President Obama wants to blame the rising cost of gas at the pump for his low approval in the polling numbers. He announced that Eric Holder will form a commission to investigate any possibility of price gouging or price manipulation from Wall Street speculators or from the oil and gas industry. This is a smoke screen, my friends. Many times these commissions have been formed and nothing much at all is ever found. Obama simply wanted to say something to a campaign event audience that would bring a possible headline that he is actually doing something to circumvent further pain at the pump by those driving SUVs and trucks with big tanks.

Holder's commission is a distraction. And, distractions are a specialty with this administration. Rising gas prices don't help the president in polling numbers but they are just a piece of the puzzle. Obama's unfavorable numbers continue to rise because the longer he is in office, the evidence becomes more clear - the guy is in over his head.

Last week the House Natural Resources Committee traveled to Houma, Louisiana to hear testimony about the oil drilling moratorium that the administration says doesn't exist.

Testimony heard by the committee connected the dots of the moratorium - the "big oil" boogie man description of our nation's energy woes isn't taking the better part of the pain, it is ordinary working Americans who are supporting families and themselves from jobs in the industry.

As Lori LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Gulf Economic Survival Team, explained, “This moratorium was not on big oil, it was a moratorium on middle class Americans who had good paying American jobs working for small American businesses who support the American energy industry.”

It cannot be stressed enough. It is not just the "big oil" executives that see a shrinking profits report if drilling isn't allowed to happen off our own shores. Those truly hurting are the support industries - mostly small businesses along the Gulf coast. It is a domino effect. If drilling rigs aren't working then helicopter and boats taking personnel out to the rig sites in the Gulf are not running. Those hired to cook and do laundry on rigs aren't working. Parts companies are feeling the loss of business. Eating establishments and small hotels are feeling the pinch all along the Gulf coast. This isn't rocket science. This is economics 101.

Unemployed oil and gas drilling personnel aren't buying goods from merchants in their own communities. Just like the rest of the unemployed in our country, if they are struggling to pay a mortgage or rent or put food on the table, they are not buying movie tickets or enjoying a meal in a restaurant or buying anything considered a non-essential item.

This is common sense. By the president and his administration blatantly attempting to kill an entire industry sector in our country on the basis of a willfully strident ideology they are ruining life along the Gulf coast and other parts of the country, too. This is an administration that doles out big bucks from the American taxpayer and giving it to Brazil, for instance, and then telling Brazil that we will be their biggest customer. This is insanity.

Last week, the Natural Resources Committee passed three American Energy Initiative bills with bipartisan support that will help create much-needed jobs by boosting American energy production in the Gulf Coast and addressing skyrocketing gas prices nationwide. All three bills are expected to be debated on the House Floor in May.

It is some much needed action.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Gov Perry Proclaims Three Days of Prayer

Governor Perry has proclaimed three days of prayer in response to the wildfires burning up the state of Texas.


WHEREAS, the state of Texas is in the midst of an exceptional drought, with some parts of the state receiving no significant rainfall for almost three months, matching rainfall deficit records dating back to the 1930s; and

WHEREAS, a combination of higher than normal temperatures, low precipitation and low relative humidity has caused an extreme fire danger over most of the State, sparking more than 8,000 wildfires which have cost several lives, engulfed more than 1.8 million acres of land and destroyed almost 400 homes, causing me to issue an ongoing disaster declaration since December of last year; and

WHEREAS, these dire conditions have caused agricultural crops to fail, lake and reservoir levels to fall and cattle and livestock to struggle under intense stress, imposing a tremendous financial and emotional toll on our land and our people; and

WHEREAS, throughout our history, both as a state and as individuals, Texans have been strengthened, assured and lifted up through prayer; it seems right and fitting that the people of Texas should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this devastating drought and these dangerous wildfires;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICK PERRY, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas. I urge Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers on that day for the healing of our land, the rebuilding of our communities and the restoration of our normal way of life.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto signed my name and have officially caused the Seal of State to be affixed at my Office in the City of Austin, Texas, this the 21st day of April, 2011.

Governor of Texas

Normally the cries from the progressive end of the political spectrum call for cessation of a religious based rallying cry. HERE is a refreshing change from the left- a non-judgemental reporting of the proclamation from Governor Perry and note that this action has been taken by other governors in the past. While traditional fodder for organizations like the ACLU, the article points to the fact that both sides of the aisle participate in religious events such as the annual Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.

As a Houston meteorologist responded when asked by a news anchor his opinion of the governor's proclamation said, "well, it couldn't hurt".

We'll take what help we can get.

Public Opinion Declines in Presidential Ability to Lead

President Obama hit the campaign trail again and this time it was to sell his ideas on debt reduction. By ideas I mean ridicule and mock Republican ideas because he has not come forward with any of his own ideas. The only attempt he has done is present a budget which was roundly criticized for not dealing with any big problems.

The polls show all time low marks of confidence from the people.

Americans are more pessimistic about the nation’s economic outlook and overall direction than they have been at any time since President Obama’s first two months in office, when the country was still officially ensnared in the Great Recession, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

At a time of rising gas prices, stubborn unemployment and a cacophonous debate in Washington over the federal government’s ability to meet its future obligations, the poll presents stark evidence that the slow, if unsteady, gains in public confidence earlier this year that a recovery was under way are now all but gone.

Capturing what appears to be an abrupt change in attitude, the survey shows that the number of Americans who think the economy is getting worse has jumped 13 percentage points in just one month. Though there have been encouraging signs of renewed growth since last fall, many economists are having second thoughts, warning that the pace of expansion might not be fast enough to create significant numbers of new jobs.

And yet the President doubles down and increases the attacks on Republicans as he goes to campaign events and scripted town halls. It was announced the fundraisers will be off limits to the press. Also, the amount of money raised will not be available to the press. This article notes that President Bush's re-election campaign in 2004 disclosed the money amounts.

Pres. Obama's re-election campaign won't be disclosing how much money is taken in at the individual fundraising events attended by Pres. Obama. Neither will the Democratic National Committee.

An official says it's the same policy by which the Obama Campaign operated in the 2008 election cycle.

Fundraising numbers have to be filed with the Federal Election Commission, but often not until weeks later - and the FEC documents don't itemize amounts raised at specific fundraising events.

Along the campaign trail, the President has been caught spouting off some less than truthful "facts" and some downright exaggerations for the sake of making his misguided points.

He referred to the failure of a Minnesota bridge in 2007 as an example of what would happen to our infrastructure due to the cuts made in the Path to Prosperity budget plan of Rep Paul Ryan. The problem with that is the bridge was not only under repair at the time it collapsed, the NTSB report determined the problem was a design error.

President Obama likes to tout "green" energy in contrast to fossil fuels Yet, he continues to get the facts wrong. The alternatives are decades away from full and efficient utilization. Just Wednesday Obama was corrected Wednesday for his misinformation on coal energy production. He claimed coal was dirty and caused asthma in those living around mills.

This was quickly dismissed as incorrect by the medical community. Asthma symptoms may be increased by coal production nearby but it doesn't cause the illness in the first place.

During town hall style campaign events in California Obama addressed the price of gas at the pump for the average family. He said to one audience member's question that that person may want to trade in his "old beater" for a fuel efficient new car to lower energy costs. He said the "old beater" probably only got 8 miles per gallon. Then, Thursday, GM pointed out that the presidential limo only gets 8 miles per gallon, too. Not to mention the gas guzzlers that follow in the presidential entourage and security detail.

His tone and strategy is not one of a leader, of a statesman. He continues to fail to rise to the office. Exaggerating the truth or simply making up his own statistics and facts is not the path to success in acquiring the confidence of the people in these tough economic times.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tx Lege and Higher Education Reform

Tx Rep.Dan Branch,(Dist 108) Chairman of the House Higher Education Committee said Wednesday that the real priority of the Texas House is to find the net/net sweet spot between quality classroom instruction and quality research in the Tier One universities of Texas. He said the two were not mutually exclusive. He is a supporter for the research side of university systems as he believes in the economic development it brings to the state.

A recent controversy came into play as the University of Texas Regents hired an adviser who became the target of those supporting the status quo in Texas higher education. His offense? He requested data on how student tuition dollars and taxpayer money are being spent, according to his letter of explanation to Regent Hall. This information is, by law, public record. Rick O'Donnell described it as the duty of the Regents to monitor the data and yet, in his opinion, this is when an orchestrated campaign was launched against him from the highest levels of UT Austin and the UT System.

So, this sends up a red flag on transparency issues to those outside the immediate situation. O'Donnell states in his letter to Regent Hall that some as of yet unreleased data shows a "growing number of student tuition and taxpayer dollars are being paid to professors and administrators who seem to do very little teaching", as they prefer concentrating on research.

When I asked if he thought there is a problem with transparency at the upper levels of higher education, Chairman Branch didn't sound particularly concerned about the issue. He didn't think it would hinder Governor Perry's agenda of streamlining higher education by eliminating non-essential expenditures that don't result in quality classroom instruction.

Branch pointed to HB 1000 passed in the House that funds research within Tier One universities by using incentives for better use of dollars, not simply doling out the money. He also mentioned that HCR 288 - a resolution in the House - kept tuition hikes under 4%. Texas has one of the lowest average tuition increases of all the large states.

HB 33 addresses the high cost of college textbooks. All of us with college students of our own are painfully aware of this expense. Chairman Branch strongly advocates for cutting these costs to students and the parents who foot the bills.

Branch is working on making it a priority for students in higher education to raise the completion rate towards degrees, whether it is an associate degree or four year degree. Texas is still ranked below other states in completion rates. There are currently 1.5 million students enrolled in Texas. Especially with scholarships paid for by tax dollars, there is a need to encourage students to move through the system as quickly and efficiently as possible, therefore freeing up scholarship monies for the next class of applicants.

The Texas legislature has 40 days left in their 140 day session. The size of our state government will be substantially cut for the third time since World War II. In higher education the cuts will be about 7%, Chairman Branch said.

More will have to be produced with less.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Let Advertisers Know When Blogging Goes Wrong

I love being a citizen journalist, a blogger, a giver of opinions. I am all about the rights delivered to us by the First Amendment. There is, however, a line to be drawn when a malicious blog post is thrown out there for all to see. Especially when that post is deliberately hurtful to a special needs child. The special needs child is considered fair game by the opponents of his political mother and that is wrong.

I will not send you to the site - it deserves no traffic at all, ever again, but I will send you here for the core of it from the perspective of a reporter doing a story on the reaction to the blog post.

The best part of being an activist and using social media for said activism? Results. A firestorm ignited on Twitter and all sorts of folks read the vileness for this blog. Guess what? This blog is an ad-sponsored blog. That means those advertisers can hear of the disapproval from the public that their ad appeared on the website. They can be asked to stop advertising - sending money - on that blog. Folks online have been contacting the advertisers and the message has been received.

Want to help? Here's a list:
**Constant Contact

And, if I can make a suggestion - support Papa John's pizza and Huggies diapers if you have a little one at home. Both of these companies pulled their ad support upon learning of the blog post content.

Hey liberals: Don't like the politics of Sarah Palin? No problem. Leave her child out of it. He is not a 'prop' any more than any other child of politicians is on the campaign trail.

Remembering the Deepwater Horizon Explosion

Widely acknowledged as the top of the line of oil drilling rigs, the Deepwater Horizon exploded one year ago and the lives of eleven people were lost. These people were husbands, sons, fathers, brothers and friends. The most important aspect of the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico is, first and foremost, the loss of eleven lives.

We remember those men today: Jason Anderson,Aaron Dale Burkeen,Donald Clark,Stephen Curtis,Roy Wyatt Kemp,Karl Kleppinger,Gordon Jones (M-I SWACO),Blair Manuel (M-I SWACO),Dewey Revette,Shane Roshto,and Adam Weise.

Full Disclosure time: My husband is an engineer on offshore oil drilling rigs. He works in the Gulf of Mexico and world wide. He also commissioned the "sister" rig to the Deepwater Horizon as they were built together in South Korea in 2001. To this day, he considers The Nautilus his 'baby'.

Politics reared its ugly head immediately following the explosion. The anti-drilling far left in national politics leaped at the opportunity to demand a moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling. President Obama was happy to oblige and did so on May 27, by imposing a six month moratorium.

BP was to blame for the spill and the rightful target of wrath and punishment, state officials said, but the rest of the industry and Louisianans who work for it should not be made to suffer.

In the context of Louisiana politics, it was an unsurprising stance, with the greatest tension in the delegation being who could be the most caustic and creative in their attacks on the moratorium.

"They're probably reading their constituency pretty well," said LSU political scientist Kirby Goidel, director of the Louisiana Survey, which in late June found that "people saw it as a BP problem; they didn't see it as an oil and gas industry problem."

Yes. It was a BP problem. BP contracted the Deepwater Horizon. Transocean was the company hired to do the drilling. Due to a series of drilling decisions and a failure of the blow-out preventer - an equipment failure - the oil drilling rig caught on fire and exploded. The moratorium imposed was reactionary and unnecessary. The moratorium on oil and gas drilling was the equivalent of shutting down air travel after a plane crash or stopping train travel after a collision. It made no sense.

Some companies have a better reputation for safety than others in the oil and gas business. It is the same in any industry category. But, for the President and his administration to state as though it was fact that the explosion and the oil spill that followed was due to inherent industry corruption is nonsense. It is what they say to justify their overreaction.

The Gulf of Mexico has been the home of our domestic offshore oil drilling for decades. The U.S. has led the world in drilling innovation. No one wants safety measures enforced more than the crews on these oil rigs. If something goes really wrong, lives are lost. This was the Gulf of Mexico's sole example of such a tragedy with the resulting oil spill damaging the Gulf waters and offshore coastal areas. The moratorium added on to the loss of jobs, unemployment and business closings due to the damage the oil spill did to the coastline.

The Obama solution was to stop issuing new permits and leases until just last month - the six month moratorium easily turned into a far longer one. The Obama administration fought lifting the moratorium twice in federal court and lost both times. They continue on today with dragging their feet in issuing any permits at all. Oil and gas rigs have left the Gulf of Mexico and moved to foreign waters.

Offshore oil drilling doesn't begin with the government signing off on a permit. It is a slow process to move an oil rig to the site and begin the start up of drilling. It can take months if the exploration has already been completed.

Today, recent polling shows proof that the American public is supportive of deep water drilling to provide our own energy.

Two-out-of-three voters (67%) now support offshore oil drilling, the highest level of support since the spill last April. Seventy-six percent (76%) do not think the United States does enough to develop its own gas and oil resources which perhaps helps to explain why opposition to President Obama's continuing ban on oil drilling off the Eastern seaboard and in the eastern portion of the Gulf of Mexico is up from early December when the policy was first announced.

We get it, despite what the Obama administration would have you believe. We know that our nation requires large amounts of energy to remain productive. We need all sources of energy - fossil fuels, nuclear, wind, solar, everything. Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has proven safe and effective for decades.

Honor the lives lost in the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Support our Gulf coast. Demand of your political leaders that all sources of energy are used.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Health Care Compact Vote in TX Legislature

Fellow Texans, we have a rallying cry.

The time is now. In order to allow Texans to determine our own health care, it is time to speak up to your state legislators. On Wednesday, a vote is scheduled in the House of Representatives on HB5 - the Health Care Compact bill. Let them hear from you before that vote. Tell them that, yes, Texans want to decide on their own health care decisions. Since January, conservative groups and organizations have been working with the Health Care Compact Alliance to fight against Obamacare in our state.

You can go HERE to check it out for yourself. The mission is to: "Create accountability, innovation, and flexibility by putting citizens in control of their health care through an interstate compact".

Texas could be a leading state to pass the Health Care Compact if we show our Legislators how important it is for Texans to have control over their own health care. We all realize a one size fits all approach to something as personal as health care is no way to go. Plus, the more we learn about Obamacare, the less we agree with its approach.

Listen to Rep Van Taylor on the health care compact HERE

You can track the HB 5 HERE.

Call now. Don't mess with Texas.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tx State Senator Misses Opportunity to Pose with FLOTUS

First Lady Michelle Obama visited San Antonio last week and the state legislator who extended the invitation was not able to greet Mrs. Obama at the airport. She would like us to know she is not pleased with that turn of events.

On Wednesday, as lawmakers grew increasingly edgy over a growing list of contentious legislation, Sens. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, and Royce West, D-Dallas, asked for permission to leave for several hours to greet Obama as she made a stop in the Alamo City.

Van de Putte said she had invited Obama to "see what Texas is doing to support military families" in a city with several military installations and thousands of active-duty and veterans' families.

Senator Van de Putte asked to be "accommodated", which means she requested that a controversial bill would not be brought up in her absence. This particular bill up for vote would allow concealed weapons to be carried on state college campuses. Senator Jeff Wentworth, representing south Travis county, signaled he would bring up the bill for vote, needing 21 votes to do so. Senate Bill 354 failed to hit the 21 vote mark twice in earlier attempts.

Lt Gov Dewhurst, who presides over the state senate, signaled he would not extend the courtesy. Though it normally extended, this is a bill under much scrutiny and thought to be very close. Houston area senator John Whitmire was suggested to step in and vote no to keep the status quo, should Van de Putte be absent and known as a no vote. Whitmire refused to play. He actually supports the bill and wasn't going to send any conflicting messages.

So, there you have it. The Texas state legislature is making some tough choices and working on important bills to slog through the session. Is it too much to expect the state's elected representatives to be present and ready to vote? Vanity appearances with the First Lady are nice but shouldn't be the first priority.

Will Richardo Sanchez Run For U.S. Senate?

The buzz is that the Democratic Party of Texas is pushing an unusual choice to run for the U.S. Senate with the encouragement of the national party - that of Richardo Sanchez. Why Sanchez? Well, according to Senator Patty Murray, Sanchez is Hispanic. Isn't that all you need in a candidate? It is if you are a shallow and polarizing Democrat. Murray loves her some stereotypes.

During a briefing with reporters last week, Democratic Senate Campaign Committee chair Patty Murray of Washington teased that the party may have a top-tier recruit in the Lone Star State. She listed Texas among her "6 for 12," places where Democrats planned to target Republican-held seats.

"General Sanchez has spent his entire life serving our country, and there's no question he would be a strong candidate if he decides to continue to serve his country in the U.S. Senate," DSCC spokesman Matt Canter said in a statement Monday. "He's exactly the kind of independent leader who can win in Texas."

Asked why the party included the solidly-Republican state on its early target list, Murray offered: "Two word response: changing demographics." New Census data shows that the Hispanic population jumped 42% in Texas from 2000 to 2010. They now account for 38% of the state’s population.

Murray, like the rest of the Democrats, are going hot and heavy after the rising tide of Hispanic voters. Especially in Texas, the numbers of Hispanics is growing. Texas is, however, a strongly red state and there is little hope for Democrats. Yet. Plus, Hispanics are realizing that they are a naturally conservative people who just very well may lean Republican in their voting habits.

The irony in the Sanchez pick is that his own party pressured former President Bush to deny him his 4th star as he retired from his military service. You may recognize the name as one who was involved in the disgraceful Abu Gharib story during the early Iraq war days. Sanchez was the commanding officer, the top general in Iraq, during that episode and the Democrats pressed hard for Sanchez to be punished.

An Inspector General report largely cleared Sanchez of wrongdoing, but he wrote in his own 2008 book that he was denied a fourth star in part because "Senate Democrats were intentionally putting pressure" on the Bush administration "not to send my nomination forward."

Delicious, right?

Texas has a very strong roster of candidates running for the seat in the U.S. Senate. Upon Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's announced retirement the flood gates opened and the leading candidate, Ted Cruz, would likely to be Sanchez's opponent. That would prove to be a great race for Texas political observers.

Run, Richardo, run!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Raising the Debt Ceiling

Now that President Obama needs votes to raise the debt ceiling, he wants Republicans to believe he gets it - that he understands he must accept deep spending cuts to get our economic growth moving in the right direction. In 2006 he voted against raising the debt ceiling - as did his other fellow Democrats - because they wanted to score political points against then President Bush. Last week, President Obama's press secretary had to admit it was the wrong vote to make then and it would be wrong for politicians to vote along those lines now.

Funny the difference just a few years can make when it comes to political morality. That was then, this is now seems to be the theme. The debt has gone up 35% since he assumed the presidency and he has been dragged kicking and screaming into serious discussions on spending reductions now. Some are planning to align a vote on raising the debt ceiling with spending cuts.

Even President Obama admits that spending cuts must be a part of raising the debt ceiling vote. “I think it’s absolutely right that it’s not going to happen without some spending cuts,” the president told The Associated Press in an interview in his hometown, agreeing with House Speaker John Boehner’s assessment.

Obama, however, is still in denial as to the urgent need to put spending cuts into place. He is hoping to kick that can down the road until he is re-elected in 2012. Then he can do as he wants, as he did in the great spending sprees of 2009 and 2010. He warned of dire consequences if the debt ceiling is not raised before it hits its limit of $14.3 trillion in mid-May. But he said some questions about where the government trims its operations will have to be left until after the 2012 presidential election

There is really no doubt in the mind of anyone that the debt ceiling will be raised. The question now is how firm the Republican leadership will be in the negotiations leading up to the vote. This is the time to push hard for real reforms put forth and this is the time for demanding a balanced budget amendment.

The most strident of the fiscal conservatives, the Tea Party coalition, looks at the opportunity to push for a balanced budget amendment with stronger spending controls.

However, legislators favored by the conservative Tea Party movement said their support for raising the debt ceiling would require accompanying changes in how the government operates in order to hold down future spending. Rep. Allen West, R-Florida, proposed a balanced budget amendment, caps on government spending limits and a trigger mechanism that requires spending cuts if the budget deficit gets too big. "If you're going to ask this Congress to raise the debt ceiling, there's got to be something structural on the spending side," added Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Illinois, on ABC.

A balanced budget amendment was pressed upon former President Clinton when he had to work with a GOP controlled House and Senate. With that and the welfare reform, also demanded by Congress then, economic prosperity prevailed.

At the end of March, Sen Cornyn (R-TX), spoke to the desire of the Senate Republicans for the balanced budget amendment. “My hope is that we would force a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment as a condition to voting on the debt ceiling,” Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Tex.) told HUMAN EVENTS. “By next week, or shortly thereafter, we will have all 47 Republicans unified behind the effort, and then begin to reach out to our Democratic colleagues.”

A BBA would force the federal government to balance the federal spending to incoming revenue each year and cap spending at 18% of the gross domestic product (GDP). For the current Fiscal Year (FY 2011), the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that government spending will be $1.4 trillion more than revenue and account for almost 25% of the GDP.

Now is the time for strong negotiations led by GOP leadership in Congress.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

What Happened to New Tone, President Obama?

So, what happened to the 'new tone' we are suppose to be showing to each other - you know, the one exalted by President Obama in the aftermath of the tragic shootings in Tucson? It was all peace and love and hug it out, y'all. In just a few short months, that is out the window. What could have changed? President Obama is now officially running for re-election and has to raise lots of money, that's what's happened.

After the debt reducing speech delivered Wednesday in Virginia where he invited the GOP leadership only to publicly mock and arrogantly proclaim them as unAmerican for the plan released by Rep Paul Ryan, he went to Chicago and attended three fundraisers. Each brought a new level of nasty politician discourse.

Rush Limbaugh described the personal attacks on the Road to Prosperity plan from Rep Ryan as a "personal bitch slap" from Obama to Ryan.

Obama is most candid when he thinks he is speaking to small groups of like-minded liberals. He was heard on an open mic, supposedly without his knowledge, stating that Paul Ryan and John Boehner were not sincere in deficit reduction measures. He said the GOP was guilty of "sneaking" their agenda into the budget agreement.

In the candid remarks, Mr. Obama complains of Republican attempts to attach measures to the budget bill which would have effectively killed parts of his hard-won health care reform program.

"I said, 'You want to repeal health care? Go at it. We'll have that debate. You're not going to be able to do that by nickel-and-diming me in the budget. You think we're stupid?'" recalled the president of his closed-door negotiations on the bill to fund the federal government until September.

Speaking into a microphone which he may not have realized was still relaying his remarks to the White House press room -- where Knoller had been listening to earlier remarks that were open to the press -- Mr. Obama bemoaned GOP leaders' attempts to attach a measure to the budget bill which would have cut funding for Planned Parenthood.

"Put it in a separate bill," the president said he told Boehner and his staff. "We'll call it up. And if you think you can overturn my veto, try it. But don't try to sneak this through."

In the end, the deal that was struck did see the Planned Parenthood measure, and a separate effort to defund parts of the health care program, voted on as stand-alone bills Thursday prior to the budget vote. Both measures failed.

The specific attack on Ryan: He specifically called into question the sincerity of Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who crafted the House GOP's controversial 2012 budget which includes significant and controversial cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

"When Paul Ryan says his priority is to make sure, he's just being America's accountant ... This is the same guy that voted for two wars that were unpaid for, voted for the Bush tax cuts that were unpaid for, voted for the prescription drug bill that cost as much as my health care bill -- but wasn't paid for," Mr. Obama told his supporters. "So it's not on the level."

Ah, a tough guy in private conversations. Charming. It's much like the time he was at a private fundraiser in San Francisco during the 2008 campaign and he told the tony, sophicated crowd that it was those bitter folks who attend church and cling to their guns that weren't supporting his campaign.

The closer one looks at the speech delivered in Virginia, the more partisan and skewed it looks. Even liberals are speaking out about it.

One journalist, a reliable Obama supporter, was bold enough to say what most decent people thought: that proclaiming an opponent's tax plan as "unAmerican" crosses the line:

Remember when the anti-war left verbalized offense at critics who proclaimed them as acting "unAmerican" during war protests? President Bush, however, never did that. He said they had a right to voice their opinion.

Another liberal columnist said this of the President's debt speech: The speech was more notable for its militant--though ineffectual--hostility to Republican proposals than for any fresh thinking of its own. It was a waste of breath.

Indeed it was.

Friday, April 15, 2011

"The Economic Burden Caused by Tax Code Complexity"

Happy Tax Day! Don't panic. Taxes don't have to be postmarked until the deadline of Monday, April 18 this year. But, April 15th is the traditional date for your tax return to be due so this is an appropriate day to comment on a newly released policy paper on the high cost of our tax code.

A new study released Thursday by Dr. Arthur Laffer, Dr. Wayne H. Winegarden, and John Childs underscores the importance of simplifying the U.S. tax code as a way to reduce the compliance costs of the tax burden. This would boost growth in the economy.

Visit and read the 40 page study for yourself. "The Economic Burden Caused by Tax Code Complexity" suggests that a reduction in tax code complexity would help the U.S. reduce its national debt by $1.4 trillion over 10 years.

"U.S. taxpayers pay an estimated $431.1 billion annually, or 30% of total income taxes collected, just to comply with and administer the U.S. income tax system," said Dr. Laffer. "Individuals and businesses spent an estimated 6.1 billion hours complying with the filing requirements of the income tax code." You may recognize his name as a top economic expert during the Reagan Administration and also the 'Laffer Curve' tax revenue model.

Dr. Laffer is establishing The Laffer Center for Supply Sides Economics in partnership with Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin.

The study estimates that those 6.1 billion hours equal to $377.9 billion, compounded by direct outlays (paying professional tax preparers or purchasing tax software) estimated at $31.5 billion and IRS administrative costs running $12.4 billion. Comprehensive audits impose an additional taxpayer burden of at least $9.3 billion, bringing the total to $431.1 billion in order to comply with the complexity of the federal income tax system. These costs don't account for the lost economic opportunities caused by the uncertainty and confusion of the tax code, nor the pain and suffering for people dealing with the IRS.

Between the last major tax reform in 1986 and 2005, Congress passed 14,400 amendments to the tax code. This study shows evidence of what Americans know - the tax code is confusing for families, businesses, people working for the IRS, and even for professionals in the industry. In 2007, USA Today had five professional tax preparers determine tax liabilities for a hypothetical family. None of their answers were the same.

With a focus on promoting supply side economics, comprehensive tax reform would cause the compliance costs to plummet. A low rate flat tax on income and/or consumption may be the solution. This solution would reduce inefficiencies caused by tax code complexity, overall economic efficiency would increase, capital and labor would flow to more highly valued uses and the growth in income and wealth in the U.S. would increase substantially.

Dr. Laffer said, "In 2002, the IRS help centers provided wrong answers to taxpayers 29% of the time. In each of the last two fiscal years, the IRS received 110 million calls from taxpayers and they were unable to answer 25% of the questions."

The total cost of the tax system amounts to for every $4 in cost to the economy, $1 benefit goes to the economy. Laffer suggests that if the U.S. were to go to a fairer tax the same amount of revenues would be collected with less cost to the taxpayer for filing, thus the taxpayer has the least amount of incentive to avoid paying taxes and there would be less avenues to escape paying. Every time there has been a cut in the highest tax rate - from the top 1% of taxpayers - revenues have gone up dramatically.

All of the statistics used in this new policy paper were taken from the IRS.

Laffer encourages getting rid of all federal taxes - income tax, corporate tax, estate tax, capital gains, federal excise tax, and all tariff. He would keep so-called sin taxes in place. With no use of the Laffer Curve, it would match all federal revenue with a 12% (approximate) tax rate.

Obama Admits 2006 Vote on Debt Ceiling Was Political

During the President's deficit reduction speech Wednesday, he spent a majority of the speech criticizing the plan put forth by the House GOP and Rep Paul Ryan. It was partisan, mean spirited, and below the dignity of the office. Unfortunately, it was classic Obama.

If ever there was an example of the need for executive experience before one is elected to the highest office in the land.

In 2006, a newly elected U.S. senator from Illinois wanted to cast a vote to damage then President George W. Bush. A vote on the debt ceiling? Sure. That would do.

“Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally,” the senator said at the time. “Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”

President Obama now realizes that it is necessary to be of a more mature frame of mind as the occupant of the Oval Office than he was as a mere U.S. Senator. He now realizes we cannot afford to play politics with something as important as the debt limit.

To be fair, all of his fellow Democrats in the Senate cast the same vote. It was all about hardball politics against President Bush. Now that he is President himself, Barack Obama realizes this mistake.

Said Obama: "I think that it's important to understand the vantage point of a Senator versus the vantage point of a...President. When you're a Senator, traditionally what's happened is this is always a lousy vote. Nobody likes to be tagged as having increased the debt limit for the United States by a trillion dollars... As President, you start realizing, 'You know what? We-- we can't play around with this stuff. This is the full faith in credit of the United States.' And so that was just a example of a new Senator, you know, making what is a political vote as opposed to doing what was important for the country. And I'm the first one to acknowledge it."

That was then. This is now.

In then Senator Barack Obama's world, he was looking to 2008, not further down the road. The man went from community organizer from the south side of Chicago and then to the Illinois state legislature. After a mere year or so in the U.S. Senate, he decided it was time to run for the presidency. He was in his mid-forties, had written one book about himself and writing the second one - unless you believe the stories that he, in fact, didn't write his own books - and the world was his oyster.

He knew it was all politics. He didn't mind then, though.

Barack Obama is a politician. He is not a statesman. He is not a leader. We all deserve better.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

GOP Reaction to Obama's Deficit Reduction Speech

The tone of President Obama's deficit reduction speech was a bit dismal. He clearly was not in comfortable territory and he used the speech to make mean-spirited criticisms of the GOP plan to reduce the deficit offered several days ago by Rep Paul Ryan. It was not a speech that rose to the occasion. It was a campaign speech given as the newly announced re-election candidate for President.

Obama called Ryan's plan "deeply pessimistic."

Rep Paul Ryan was not impressed with the speech delivered by President Obama at George Washington University addressing deficit reduction. Ryan said, "I'm very disappointed in the President". He went on to say it was a political broadside from the campaigner-in-chief. "Rather than building bridges, he is poisoning wells." According to Ryan, Obama's speech was "dramatically inaccurate and hopelessly inadequate".

Rep Dave Camp said that Obama's rhetoric was "unnecessary, unhelpful." Camp is Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

In a statement from the Ways and Means Committee, the call for increased taxation is criticized:

During the President's speech today, he called for tax increases on the American people and small businesses in addition to those contained in his February budget proposal. It is important to keep in mind the negative impact that higher taxes have on job creation.

Mr. President, We Don’t Have a Revenue Problem, We Have a Spending Problem

During the 12 years since 1940 in which the federal budget was balanced or we experienced a budget surplus, spending never exceeded 19.4 percent of GDP. The President’s FY 2012 Budget Proposal calls for a massive increase in spending. According to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Federal Government spending as a percentage of GDP will climb to more than 24 percent in the next 10 years

Obama modeled some of his speech after recommendations being worked on in the Senate by a group of 6 - the Gang of Six - comprised of three Republicans and three Democrats. This group, however, is looking to cut $4 trillion in 10 years, not 12 as Obama announced. The additional two years would leave major provisions until the very end of the timeframe, which is a political decision.

The work of the Gang of Six is modeled on recommendations of the fiscal commission Obama appointed last year. On Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the commission had “created a framework that may help us reach a deal and a compromise.”

“The fiscal commission showed that you need to look at entitlements, you need to look at tax expenditures, you need to look at military spending, you need to look at all of these issues,” Carney said. “You can’t — you can’t simply slash entitlements, lower taxes and call that a fair deal.”

True enough. But Obama didn't address huge entitlement committments like Social Security. He kicks it down the road. The Gang of Six, however, has been unable to come together will recommendations. One member, Senator Coburn, said: “It’d be pretty hard for [Obama] to hitch himself to something that doesn’t exist yet,” Coburn said. “There’s nothing I’ve agreed to that could be announced this week.”

Obama's plan was laden with typical Democratic rhetoric of taxing "the rich" and knocking down straw man arguments. The problem is, "the rich" is sited with an amount beginning at $250,000. This hits small business owners who file as individuals instead of businesses. This will lead to a continued stifling of small business hiring and the economic recovery will continue at the current slow pace.

Ryan's plan - The Road to Prosperity - cuts $6 trillion in 10 years. This plan will be voted on in the House this week.

Obama's Non-Serious Deficit Reduction Speech

It was an opportunity lost. President Obama motorcaded to George Washington University and delivered his speech on deficit reduction. He has been forced to show his hand because Rep Paul Ryan released his Path to Prosperity several days ago. Obama ignored the recommendations from his original Deficit Reduction Commission and has ignored, to date, the Gang of Six now working together in the Senate. At the last minute, having not consulted them previously, Team Obama leaned on the Gang of Six for speech material. They were unprepared to help out the President since they are having difficulties reaching consensus themselves.

President Obama has been missing in action on the deficit and this was his chance to show a serious and thoughtful plan for reduction. Instead what the listener received was a campaign speech attacking the GOP plan and using the standard Obama straw men arguments. The Democratic talking points of the mean Republicans starving Granny and the poor while nursing homes would close and leave the elderly citizens homeless were all there. It was depressing to listen to the sham.

Instead of inspiring the nation to rise and accept the challenges we all face, he mocked the GOP plan and even Vice President Biden fell asleep in the audience. The Ryan plan is bold and innovative. The President's plan is neither.

The college audience seemed uninspired. The only applause he received during the speech was when he announced he would let the tax cuts expire and the "rich" would be expected to pay higher taxes. Obama's initial joke that he was happy to be at the university and give the students an excuse to skip classes fell flat. No big laugh there.

It seemed fitting that Obama opened with a joke. He is not serious about working on our national debt. The called for a commission and then ignored their recommendations. He has ignored the Gang of Six. He mocks the GOP plan and now he calls for yet another commission to be formed. This is ridiculous and a waste of valuable time.

It took 24 very long and tedious minutes for the President to begin to actually talk about policy. One Democratic consultant even called the speech a kick off speech for the Obama re-election campaign.

It is embarrassing to hear the President proclaim we must live within our means as he continues to spend like a drunken sailor. The man blamed the Bush tax cuts on our economic fall and yet he tripled our debt in eighteen short months. There were no real nuts and bolts in the speech and very few details. It seemed as though the speech was serving as a do over for the pathetic budget offered during the State of the Union address.

One economic expert said after the speech, "It is easy to be patriotic with other peoples' money" in response to President Obama calling his renewed taxation efforts "patriotic".

While Obama is fond of saying he doesn't need another tax cut, it is not true for the average taxpayer. While low income folks don't pay federal income tax, the middle class is the first to feel the pinch of additional taxation. With the added determination that the cutoff for "rich" is an annual income of $250,000 and higher, now small business owners will also feel the immediate pain.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Real Eminent Domain Reform in Texas

The Texas House of Representatives appears to be backtracking on property protection in its quest to reform eminent domain law. There is a bill in the Senate that will remedy some of the concerns expressed by conservatives.

SB 18—the primary eminent domain reform bill this session—will hit the House floor this Wednesday, April 13. The bill is an improvement over current law, but still could use significant improvement. However, proponents of the bill are afraid to amend it for fear opposition will mount by cities, etc. and stop the passage of the bill. This is highly unlikely, since the bill has already passed the Senate and now only needs a majority of each body for final passage.

A need has risen to provide a buy back provision by amendment. SB 18’s current buyback provision is designed to allow property owners to re-purchase their condemned property if it is not used for the public use for which it was taken. But it is rendered ineffective by loopholes. Our recommendation is to add a fourth trigger to the buyback provision giving property owners the right to repurchase their property if the initial use of the property is not the public use – or a substantially similar public use – for which the property was taken. Incorporating HB 188 (Rep. Ralph Sheffield) and HB 1062 (Rep. Jim Murphy) into SB 18 would also improve it.

It is noted that in the battle in the northeast of the Kelo case, the property taken under eminent domain was never developed, as it was planned thus bringing on the case in the first place, yet Mrs. Kelo was denied the right to buy back her property. SB 18 is not quite there yet in a strong buy back provision for Texans.

Texans, call your legislators and voice strong support for real reform of eminent domain law.

Senator Cornyn Touts Use of Social Media

Tx Senator John Cornyn gave an online interview with Facebook Washington DC Tuesday in the social media giant's new studio. He was the first politician to do so. The thirty minute interview was streamed online for those interested. The NRSC chairman spoke of the growing importance in campaigns of social media. In politics today, social media is essential and most politicians hire staff members to concentrate in that area of a campaign.

"I think they are missing out and they are hurting themselves", Cornyn said, of politicians who are not taking advantage of social media. When asked if he updated his Facebook page himself, Cornyn said "I do a lot of it myself. I enjoy it." Due to time constraints, he also relies on his staff to keep constituents updates on Facebook and Twitter. Candidly, Cornyn admitted his staff gets worried about unfiltered thoughts from him.

Cornyn was proud of the fact that the NRSC spoof video about President Obama's re-election campaign announcement drew triple the viewers that the actual video from the President did. "Fortunately, we have a lot of creative people. It hit a nerve."

People are looking for elected officials who respond to them, Cornyn said. The said the cuts being made in spending in Washington are a direct result of public demand. Of the upcoming vote to raise the debt ceiling, Cornyn said it has to be tied to spending cuts and he hopes to bring a vote on a balanced budget amendment. "You ain't seen nothing yet" on cuts. It will be trillions instead of billions.

Cornyn is known as a gadgets enthusiast. He relies on his iPad and his BlackBerry, expressing his desire to go paperless and "save as many trees as possible." His electronics are most useful as he travels.

Cornyn says social media is a positive development in the middle east, particularly in these times of political upheaval. Tyrants and dictators can't control individuals unless they block the Internet completely. Protesters discover they are not alone.

President Obama will do a live interview online for Facebook Washington DC on April 20. Of the timing, Senator Cornyn said, "I'm glad I beat President Obama".

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Houston, We Have No Shuttle

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, today issued the following statement regarding NASA’s rejection of the Johnson Space Center in Houston as one of the retirement locations for their orbiter fleet:

“Like many Texans, I am disappointed with NASA’s decision to slight the Johnson Space Center as a permanent home for one of the Space Shuttle Orbiters. Houston has played a critical role throughout the life of the space shuttle, but it is clear political favors trumped common sense and fairness in the selection of the final locations for the orbiter fleet.

“There is no question Houston should have been selected as a final home for one of the orbiters—even Administrator Bolden stated as much. Today’s announcement is an affront to the thousands of dedicated men and women at Johnson Space Center, the greater Houston community and the State of Texas, and I’m deeply disappointed with the Administration’s misguided decision.”

Does Tx Rep Pitts Have a Fear of Success?

Strange rumblings have been heard at the Texas State Capitol. Following the passage of the budget bill out of the state House of Representatives, the scuttlebutt is that Chairman of the Appropriations Committee Jim Pitts has voiced thoughts of members adding an additional $5 billion to the bill. This is before the bill even gets through the state Senate where there is no doubt that more will be added.

Does Chairman Pitts have a fear of success? Why would this be happening now? Typically a chairman would be the protector of his committee members who vote with him. He should be supporting the members, not deserting them.

This is unprecedented, according to long time political insiders. The chairman and his committee should be holding firm and honoring those who made tough choices and took hard votes to get a common sense budget on its way through the process.

Kudos to Rep Phil King who discovered $100 million in fees embedded in the appropriations bill. After King found this, an amendment was made stating that fees are not in effect unless they were adopted in separate legislation.

The challenge to the state Senate now is to find non-tax revenue. Savings that may sound small on their own would add up to a healthy number taken all together. Some are talking about raiding the boll weevel eradication fund, which sounds unimportant but, in fact, isn't. It is there for cotton farmers to use if needed for quick action.

Perhaps a sales tax holiday tied to budget conditions - if needed, proclaim a sales tax holiday to add to a large budget deficit.

Maybe consider releasing non-violent parole eligible illegal aliens. It is not as dangerous as it initially may sound. They are not truly released, as in released into the general population. ICE picks them up and immediately processes them for deportation. That alone could save about $100 million.

It's a start. Stand firm and honor your fellow representatives, Chairman Pitts. Move forward, not backwards.

$1 Million Mark Reached in 10 Weeks by Ted Cruz

If campaign contributions are any indication of enthusiasm in the early weeks of a U.S. Senate campaign, Ted Cruz is entitled to feel optimistic. The campaign to fill the seat of retiring Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is in full swing with Ted Cruz rising to the top. Cruz announced his fundraising success as he expressed his gratitude for such wide support:

“I am humbled by this extraordinary fundraising support across Texas and the Nation,” Cruz said. “Conservatives and independents everywhere are hungry for new leadership to step forward and stop the Obama Agenda, and I am honored that so many Texans are looking to this campaign to help provide that leadership.”
The campaign received more than 1,100 contributions from over 900 unique individuals in 122 Texas cities and 37 States. Seventy percent of the contributions were made online at

This swell of support is seen in the statistics: the former Texas Solicitor General has raised, on average, $100,000 for ten weeks with enthusiasm from Texans continuing to grow. Ted Cruz has a proven record of standing firm and standing up for conservative principles. With the campaign launch on January 19, support continues to grow inside and outside of Texas. Tea Party favorite Senator Mike Lee endorsed Cruz last month and said, "We need Ted Cruz in the Senate to help lead this fight and to help us win.”

Monday, April 11, 2011

Obama Whines About Lack of Privacy

Speaker of the House Boehner gave his first interview since successfully negotiating a budget deal Monday morning with Fox News. He appropriately sang the praises of the Tea Party freshmen and thanked them for allowing the Republicans to achieve a majority in the House with their victories at the polls. "If it weren't for our freshmen Republicans, this government would be spending $100 billion more over the balance of this year." "We wouldn't be in the majority" without them.

While some in the Tea Party will never be happy unless all of their immediate demands are made, this should send a clear message that they are appreciated and acknowledged for their contributions to the process. Politics takes time and the Tea Party folks will have to learn to be a bit patient, especially while the Democrats continue to control the Senate and White House.

This week brings a speech from the President on deficit reduction - better late than never, I suppose. And there is an upcoming battle looming over a vote to raise the debt ceiling. Of that Boehner said, "We don't want to default on our debt, we should not default on our debt." However, Boehner said the Republicans will not simply roll over as usual to increase the debt ceiling. Boehner encouraged the President to join with Republicans to work on getting spending under control. "Mr. President, lock arms with me. Let's jump out of the boat together. Forget about the next election."

So, while this president whines about not having much of a private life in the White House, House Republicans are hard at work solving our economic difficulties.

"I just miss -- I miss being anonymous," he said. "I miss Saturday morning, rolling out of bed, not shaving, getting into my car with my girls, driving to the supermarket, squeezing the fruit, getting my car washed, taking walks. I can't take a walk." "I just want to go through Central Park and watch folks passing by ... spend the day watching people. I miss that," he said

Obama was from Chicago, not NYC, so I'm not sure where all the Central Park babble comes from. But, hey, we'll be happy to oblige, Mr. President. Come November 2012, we'd love for you to have your private life back - as an ex-President and regular citizen again.