Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pantano for Congress

Sometimes you watch someone in a television interview that just catches your interest. I had that pleasure as I watched a video of a man now running for Congress in North Carolina.

Here is what caught my attention:

This is his life narrative, in his own words:

"I was born and raised in Hell's Kitchen, NY, which is about as far away from here that you can get," Pantano said. "I enlisted in the Marines at 17. I fought in the first Gulf War. I was based here at Camp Lejeune. After the Berlin Wall came down and it was clear that this was a very different time and place than when I had gone into the Marines, I made a decision to get out and go work on Wall Street. I did what the son of an immigrant does: you go out and try to make some money."

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, he re-enlisted in the military.

Pantano requested, and was granted, an age waiver, and a waiver for a dependent, to re-enlist. A sergeant when he first left the Marines after the Gulf War, he was now commissioned as a second lieutenant and assigned to lead an infantry platoon. He expected a lot from the Marines under his command but quickly earned their respect as a thoughtful, capable and passionate officer.

He experienced the wrath of the American press over one mission that resulted in the death of two Iraqis.

On April 15, 2004, Pantano and his men were dispatched to investigate a house outside Mahmudiya that intelligence indicated was being occupied by insurgents. Wary of being drawn into an ambush, he sent a dozen men to raid the house while the rest guarded the flanks. Suddenly a white car approached. Pantano’s Marines fired warning shots, and the two unarmed men inside the vehicle surrendered.

After the two Iraqis had been detained, Pantano dispatched one of his Marines to inspect their vehicle. His troops found a sizeable weapons cache inside the house and, taking no chances, Pantano ordered the captured Iraqis to thoroughly re-inspect the vehicle. Accompanied by two other Marines, both with their backs turned to him, Pantano supervised the Iraqis as they looked for weapons. Believing that the men — who ignored orders to stop whispering and then turned on him abruptly — had decided to charge him, Pantano opened fire, killing both.

One of the men with his back turned, a sergeant who had clashed with Pantano in the past, filed a report claiming Pantano had unjustly executed the captured Iraqis. Pantano was relieved of his command and faced charges that, were he convicted, could have resulted in the death penalty.

“It’s amazing to face murder charges in the high intensity combat in which we were in,” Pantano told TheDC. “It’s like getting a speeding ticket at the Indy 500.”

Eventually the case against Pantano fell apart. No one could corroborate the sergeant’s allegations and the evidence, including autopsies of the dead Iraqis, seemed to exonerate him of any wrongdoing.

The military dismissed the charges in May 2005, but not before Pantano underwent what he feels was unfair treatment from some media outlets. “This was in the wake of [the] Abu Ghraib [torture scandal], and they were looking for a scapegoat,” he said.

His opponent for the GOP nomination is a more traditional North Carolinian - he worked for Jesse Helms and Elizabeth Dole. His family roots are deep in the state.

In 2012 it is important to take notice and support those candidates that capture the imagination. It is crucial to elect men and women who will take a stand and won't go wobbly, as Margaret Thatcher once said.

Friday, December 30, 2011

U.S.Senate Candidate Dewhurst Calls for Holder to Resign

Texas Lt. Governor Dewhurst is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. He is calling for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder.

The Dewhurst for Senate campaign released a new web video, entitled “An Act of Outrage,” highlighting Attorney General Eric Holder’s inability to preserve state sovereignty by striking down Voter ID legislation. Instead of protecting the rights of each state, Holder has used the Justice Department to restrict meaningful legislation that ultimately prevents voter fraud.

The Obama administration is determined to strike down any new voter id legislation from any state - especially those with large illegal immigrants like Texas. It is important to demand those in power to rise up and stop the nod to voter fraud.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The End of the Campaign Road for Michele Bachmann

With only a handful of days left until the Iowa Caucus, Michele Bachmann can't catch a break. Wednesday brought about a firestorm centered around the resignation of her state campaign manager, Iowa state senator Kent Sorenson, who then turned around and endorsed Ron Paul. He did so after having only three hours before attended a rally with Bachmann.


Today her political director resigned, too. Or, he was fired.

Michele Bachmann confirmed Thursday that another key member of her presidential campaign was no longer working for her.

"He quit," Bachmann said of former Political Director Wes Enos. Bachmann was speaking on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." The Ron Paul campaign put out a release noting that he was "recently terminated" by the Bachmann campaign.

Seems Enos stuck up for his buddy Sorenson and that didn't go over so well within the campaign. So, he's gone.

Double ouch.

This wouldn't be such newsworthy headlines if it were not just five days out from the caucus. There is no doubt that Sorenson is an opportunist, looking out for himself. But, is that something unusual in politics? Of course not. No one wants to work for a losing candidate. We all love winners.

Michele Bachmann is not going to win the Iowa Caucuses. Congrats on her win of the straw poll conducted last summer, but that was her high water mark. One of her problems is that she comes off a bit unlikeable as she speaks in interviews. I find her to be defensive and that turns into an attack mode persona against the other candidates. She claims she wants only positive vibes in her campaign then launches into the attacks. She calls Romney and Gingrich liberals. She pounces on Perry for crony capitalism. She bashes Santorum as an insider who supported earmarks for his state. She calls Ron Paul dangerous for the country due to his foreign policy craziness.

It's all a bit much.

She is in deep denial about winning the caucuses. She continues to state with complete certainty that she will win yet she is at the bottom of all polls. Among the three evangelical social conservatives competing for the victory at the ballot box, Perry and Santorum being the other two, it is Santorum who is having a last minute surge in the polls. She may get a bit of a bounce from sympathetic voters but that's about all she can hope for at this point.

It is a shame, really, that a better woman candidate didn't come forward to run for the nomination. I am getting impatient waiting for an electable woman candidate to support for the GOP nomination for President. The key word, of course, is electable. Michele Bachmann was never that.

I have heard Bachmann speak in person. She gives a good speech. She is a pro at staying on message and driving home a point. She's just not enough.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kim Jong Il's Funeral Lasts Two Days

I find it a bit unnerving to learn that the U.N. lowered the flag to half mast in New York City and Geneva in recognition of Kim Jung Il's death.

The funeral for Kim Jung Il was held today.

Tens of thousands of military officials in uniforms stood still waiting at the plaza in front of the palace. At 10 a.m., the hearse carrying Kim's flower-decorated coffin atop made a grand entrance. Kim's successor, Kim Jong Un, escorted the hearse on foot with his left hand holding onto the sedan's side mirror. On the left was top military leader Ri Yong Ho, and just behind the young Kim was his uncle and Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law Jang Sung-Taek. Jang is believed to be the power behind the scenes.
"They are trying to stick a very powerful front image," said Lee Jung-Hoon, professor of international relations at Yonsei University. The entire procession is carefully choreographed "to make sure that the entire nation mourns and they pledge their loyalty" to these handful of men in the inner circle.
The official funeral lasts two days, after which late Kim will be laid to rest at Kumsusan Memorial Palace, where his father Kim Il Sung has laid embalmed since 1994. On Thursday noon, the nation will observe three minutes of silence -- trains, ships cars are required to blow whistles and sirens.

Clearly, Kim Jong Il's son is not ready to take over. He is being groomed and will eventually be ready for his destiny. The people have every right to be apprehensive of their future. There are shortages of food, electricity and all basic necessities for modern life.

The people have been brainwashed for decades. They have been taught since childhood how to act and respond to dictators. For anyone living in freedom to comment on the scenes of grief is wrong. They have been carefully orchestrated and fear any hints of disobeying orders. Any thinking person knew this was to be expected. It's all an act and the people have no choice but to go along with it.

The person who should be mocked is U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon. He made the decision to lower the U.N. flag to half mast in Geneva and New York City in recognition of Kim Jung Il's death.

The flag of the United Nations flew at half-mast Wednesday at the world's body headquarters in New York and its Geneva offices to mark the funeral for late North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.

Choi Soung-ah, a spokeswoman for UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, said it was customary practice for the UN flag to be lowered to half-mast upon the deaths of leaders of UN member states.

The United Nations exists to promote and defend human rights around the world. Actions such as this, equating the leader of North Korea with any other world leader, proves the organization is out of touch and ineffective.

The non-governmental organization UN Watch said while protocol had to be followed, "the world body must not forget that its founding purpose is to defend basic human rights."

"Sadly, that message is at serious risk of being blurred today," UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said

"Today should be a time for the UN to show solidarity with the victims -- the millions of North Koreans brutalized by Kim's merciless policies of starvation and oppression -- and not with the perpetrators."

Tens of thousands of weeping North Koreans bade farewell Wednesday to longtime leader Kim as his young son and successor walked beside his father's coffin through a snowbound Pyongyang.

It is more compassionate to voice a show of disbelief towards Ban Ki-moon. His decision is wrong.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One Week Until Iowa 2012 Caucuses

So, here we are. One week out from the 2012 Iowa caucuses. It is hard to believe how quickly this point has arrived yet it feels like it took forever to get here. To those new to the process, Iowa is exciting stuff. The first results of where candidates rank with the primary electorate, right? Well, not so much.

Remember, in a state like Iowa, it is the most committed of the activists voting and the winner rarely goes on to be the GOP's nominee.

But the Iowa Republican caucuses have a poor record in choosing their party's nominees. In the five presidential nominating cycles with active Iowa Republican caucus competition, the Hawkeye State has voted for the eventual Republican nominee only twice—in 1996 for Bob Dole, in 2000 for George W. Bush—and only once was the Iowa winner elected president.

The traditional process in place in Iowa is not for the weak. It is a two to three hour process, dragging voters out into the cold winter's night to hang out in a school cafeteria or some such less than comfy venue and it sure sounds like a tedious process. It is no show up and vote and you're done kind of evening. One nice touch this year - so far, winter has been mild by typical standards.

Iowa voters are, let's face it, spoiled. They are privy to frequent opportunities to shake hands with and ask questions of candidates. In fact, they demand it. I have heard more than one political consultant state with certainty that all the televisions commercials bombarding the folks in Iowa don't amount to very much as the voters head to the caucuses. The voters go with whichever candidate has impressed them most along the campaign trail. So, that is not such good news for a candidate like Governor Perry, for example, who entered the race late and is spending lots of money on ad buys, along with the help of a super-pac doing the same on his behalf.

It's the ground game. It must be frustrating to a candidate like Rick Santorum who up and moved his five children and wife to the state during the summer to show his dedication and yet he is still at the bottom of the rankings. Maybe he'll prove to be a sleeper candidate who does well and finishes in the top 3 or 4 to be able to continue.

With 45 percent of Iowa Republican voters undecided and a roller-coaster ride about to come to a screeching stop next Tuesday with the GOP caucuses, it may be Rick Santorum's turn to take the final ascent and surprise the political class by ... doing better than expected?

So, a full 45% of Iowa Republican voters haven't decided yet? Several candidates have made a bit deal out of scheduled bus tours of the state this week - including Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry. Newt Gingrich, detouring from the book tour, now says only about half of his bus tour stops will be met.

The candidate coming out on top as we approach January 3? Ron Paul. Strange, but true. His message is getting out and his ground force is strong. The man has been campaigning for a long time and his people are organized. His people are all ginned up and ready to go. If you have ever seen an exchange in social media between a Paul devotee and a non-believer, you know of the strong devotion he inspires, particularly among the youngest voters. Those of college age and those just past college are rabid about his candidacy.

From what is being reported from Iowa, the political ads airing have gone completely negative. Newt is all over Mitt and Ron Paul. Mitt is all over Newt and Ron Paul. Ron Paul is all over Newt and Mitt. Perry says he's the outsider. Santorum wants social issues front and center and was blessed with the endorsement of a man who presides over a large super-conservative values voters organization. The organization as a whole didn't endorse Santorum but their leader did. And, did you know that Michele Bachmann has five children and has foster parented 23 foster children?

So, yeah, it's an election year.

The anti-Romney forces are out and hanging on for dear life. It is commonly thought that Mitt Romney will be the eventual GOP candidate but it will be a long primary process. No one will drop out without a fight. I think that is a good thing and will make the eventual candidate all the stronger - think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2008 - as long as it doesn't go into territory that damages the GOP in the general election by giving Team Obama so much ammunition.

One week. This Texas resident is interested but not so excited about Iowa.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

No Humility in Obama's Game

It is time to stop the silliness that the man or woman running for president is a common man or common woman. It's popular about this time in a primary or re-election campaign for the exercise to begin - who can out-do the others on possessing the common American script?

The fact is that if someone is running for President of the United States, that person is far from common. No matter the level of success, simply entering the process, boarding a bus and touring the country asking people to vote for you is not a common person's practice. Common people don't just drop everything and campaign around the country.

And, a sitting President running for re-election is not a common man, either. Despite what the spin is from Team Obama, Barack Obama is not "regular people like us":

Julianna Smoot, deputy campaign manager for Obama for America, e-mailed supporters last night:

Beyond the titles, it’s easy to forget sometimes that our President and First Lady are, when it comes down to it, regular people like us.

Yup! Regular people, just like all American families, preparing for their $4 million, 17-day Christmas vacation.

Hawaii Reporter research shows the total cost for the President’s visit for taxpayers far exceeded $1.5 million in 2010 — but is even more costly this year because he extended his vacation by three days and the cost for Air Force One travel has jumped since last assessed in 2000. In addition, Hawaii Reporter was able to obtain more specifics about the executive expenditures.

The total cost (based on what is known) for the 17-day vacation roundtrip vacation to Hawaii for the President, his family and staff has climbed to more than $4 million.

True, until recently the Obamas could justify such extravagant holiday trips because that is where members of Barack Obama's immediate family circle lived. But, with the death of his grandmother, that is no longer the excuse. During a continued economic downturn, would it not be more humble to go to their beloved Chicago? They have a very nice home there and that is even where the re-election campaign has been located for the President.

And, humility. What about humility in a President?

Two baby boomer presidents have given us different looks into modern day presidential humility. We want a humble human in the White House. We saw traits of personal humility with President George W. Bush and we liked him as a person, if not always for his policy initiatives. We could relate to his emotional reactions and his visible tears revealed a compassionate heart. Yet, with President Bill Clinton we had a president who frequently spoke of his humble personal beginnings in Arkansas but acted with arrogant disregard for the sanctity of his office. Conducting extra-martial sexual adventures in the Oval Office is beyond acceptance, even for the most ardent loyalist to the man.

Barack Obama is not a humble man. Recently, during an interview, he claimed to be one of the four greatest Presidents to ever serve the United States. He put himself up there with FDR and Lincoln (just as the press did when he was elected, before ever serving a day in the Oval Office) and LBJ. I kid you not. It was so crazy that even "60 Minutes" edited it out and you will only see it online.

The issue here is not gonna be a list of accomplishments. As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president -- with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln -- just in terms of what we've gotten done in modern history. But, you know, but when it comes to the economy, we've got a lot more work to do. And we're gonna keep on at it.

I think we all know that had George W. Bush answered the question so asininely, it would have stayed in the piece for air and the press would have had a field day with it. But, as usual, Barack Obama gets a pass from them and it's no big deal.

So many seem to have gotten it all wrong - we must expect humility from elected officials and drop the premise of the common man. Humility is the binding trait with the American voter, the real common man.

Friday, December 23, 2011

U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security

Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) and Donna F. Edwards (MD-4), Co-Chairs of the Afghan Women’s Task Force, released a joint statement regarding the first-ever U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security released by President Obama.

“The U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security is a landmark commitment from the United States to ensure that women, particularly in those conflict zones, are included in peace negotiations and peacebuilding activities. It is well documented, and the strong belief of the Afghan Women’s Task Force, that including women in diplomatic, military, and development-support activities creates more stable, peaceful, and economically viable communities.

“Less than a month after the Bonn Conference in Germany, this national plan comes at an important time for the women of Afghanistan. The conference conclusions issued on December 5, 2011, recognize that the rights of women must be protected but provides less certainty on the framework for women’s inclusion. As we maintain our engagement with President Karzai and other Afghan officials, military personnel, and assistance organizations, the President’s National Action Plan will provide additional confidence to the women of Afghanistan that the United States will continue to advocate for the protection of their constitutional rights and their full and equal participation in Afghan society.”

Thursday, December 22, 2011

House Agrees to Payroll Tax Holiday Extension

After passing the one year payroll tax holiday extension requested by President Obama, House Republicans fought off the Senate's watered down bill which would only give a two month extension of the tax holiday. The fight came to an end today as Speaker Boehner agreed to call for an Unanimous Consent vote on agreeing to pass the two month extension and then the conference committee will meet to work out the one year extension with the Senate after Christmas.

The farthest of the conservative right are whining about Boehner blinking and caving to President Obama and the Senate. It's not that simple, though, and that is the problem. The Democrats were gaining ground in smugly taking credit for being more compassionate to the middle class taxpayer than Republicans who were, in fact, fighting for a reasonable and longer tax holiday. That was not a good place to be in and Speaker Boehner knew when to stop the bleeding.

The Wall Street Journal does a good job explaining just how absurd the jam the Republicans were in was in the first place.

The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play.

Republicans have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter, although he's spent most of his Presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible.

Ponder that. The Republicans were in the situation where they were the ones looking like they were the anti-tax holiday opponents. The one issue that Republicans are supposed to be consistent on - tax cuts for all Americans - and the Democrats were winning the public relations battle. The media is only too happy to chime in and allow such battles to favor the President and the Democrats - their team, after all - and that is exactly what happened.

So, let them all say that Boehner blinked. Or caved. So what? He will be able to say he compromised. Despite what the newbies to political discourse would have you believe, compromise is not a bad word. It is how policy is put forward. What wasn't bold headlines - thanks to the Obama-centric press - is that the tax hike to "millionaires and billionaires" desired by the Democrats to pay for the tax holiday has been eliminated from the bill. That is a good thing and Senate Republicans won that battle.

The battle was lost this time for Republicans, thanks to some awkward political maneuvering. The war, however, continues. That is the spending cuts that will be necessary to pay for the tax holiday as the bill goes to conference. During the two month extension, the House and Senate will have to figure out how to pay for the year long version. That war is very likely to be won by the Republicans.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Obama Takes Victory Lap on Iraq War

Foreign policy is vying with domestic policy as we come to the end of this year in politics and life. "The Protester" was named Person of the Year by Time Magazine, mostly in reference to the Arab uprisings. How does President Obama stack up in the region?

Look at this banner made by protesting Syrians:

Ironic, right? Remember when President Bush was in office and his opponents were determined to move the thought forward that he was hated in the Arab world for his stance of pursuing the Freedom Agenda, also known as the Bush Doctrine? Bush believed that by encouraging people in oppressed nations to demand freedom and pursue a more democratic way of life, an entire region benefits. He began that with our national response to Afghanistan after the 9/11/01 attacks on our soil and then went on to Iraq and took out Saddam. Along the way, others in the region took notice and in Libya, Gadaffi stopped his pursuit of a nuclear program. He understood that George W. Bush was a decisive leader willing to make difficult decisions and move forward. No one claimed he dithered and then made politically expedient foreign policy decisions.

So, of the politically expedient foreign policy decisions made by President Obama, the use of the Iraq war as a political football has been particularly unseemly. Obama was proud of his anti-war stance as a U.S. Senator - though the war began while he was still an Illinois state senator - and he vowed to bring all the troops home from Iraq if he became President. What he didn't say was that he really had no voice in that action - the agreement had already been made by former President Bush and the Iraqi leader and the withdrawal date was already on paper. Nevertheless, President Obama is trying mightily for re-election and the Iraq war is a tool in his tool bag.

While President Obama was in the U.S. Senate, he and then Senator Hillary Clinton both found themselves running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. They both signed on to a hideous full page ad condemning General Petraeus, commander in Iraq, and used it for some political theatre during a Senate hearing. They labeled him "General Betrayus". Both came off the campaign trail and questioned the General without respect and clearly with political motivation. It was a disgraceful hearing and they should have both been ashamed. Both opposed the surge in Iraq which has clearly been a success. Both said horrible things against President Bush, Vice President Cheney and the administration. They are both still unrepenent.

Now, the war is declared over and President Obama is only too happy to enjoy the limelight. Orginally scheduled to be on his holiday vacation in Hawaii, some sort of last minute arrangements must have been made for him to accompany Vice President Biden to the ceremony. You would think the President would have planned to be there all along, as the Commander-in-Chief.

President Obama and Vice-President Biden attended a military ceremony in Maryland welcoming home U.S. troops from Iraq, as the end of the war is marked with their return.

Blending solemn tradition with joyous reunion, the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq returned home to U.S. soil Tuesday, greeted by his wife and his president in an understated ceremony to mark the end of a nine-year conflict that has defined a generation.

President Barack Obama met Gen. Lloyd Austin and his top command staff with a smart salute at this military post in suburban Washington. Austin made his homecoming with his staff bearing the U.S. Forces-Iraq flag, the symbolic conclusion to the war.

Obama was accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden. Though neither offered formal remarks, both greeted the troops and their families.

Those families, however, had to await the ritual return of the flag before embracing their loved ones. Under Army custom the flag will be retired and either stored or displayed.

Our returning troops deserve better than being used as pawns by politicians.

No Deal on Payroll Tax Holiday

The House of Representatives has declined to act on the payroll tax holiday bill passed in the Senate. A two month extension of the tax holiday is not a doable solution, according to the payroll processors.

In a letter to the the leaders of the House and Senate Ways and Means committees, the National Payroll Reporting Consortium, whose members serve 1.5 million employers and more than one-third of the private-sector workforce, wrote that the Senate's two-month extension allows "insufficient lead time" to institute changes by Feb. 29.

The group wrote that a shortened deadline could create "substantial problems, confusion and costs affecting a significant percentage of U.S. employers and employees."

Speaker of the House Boehner has appointed eight members of the Republican majority to sit on the conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate, as is the customary process.

From the Speaker's press release announcing the conference committee action:
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today praised the House for seeking a full-year payroll tax cut extension to help families and small businesses by voting to move to a formal conference with the United States Senate. Boehner named eight House Republican negotiators to serve on the House-Senate conference committee, which is charged with resolving the differences between the House-passed one-year payroll tax relief extension and the Senate-passed two-month extension.

The House voted to extend payroll tax relief, and to extend and reform unemployment insurance, for a full year – as requested by the president. Senate Democrats voted to extend these programs for only two months – a proposal that non-partisan experts say will create substantial confusion and new costs for job creators,” said Speaker Boehner. “There’s no reason for millions of Americans to see their taxes go up or for Washington to make things harder on struggling small businesses. A formal House-Senate conference committee can resolve the differences between our year-long tax cut extension and Democrats’ short-term bill. We can avoid a needless tax hike on middle class families if Senate Democrats will work with us and appoint negotiators to extend the payroll tax cut for another year and help create new jobs.”

The following House Republicans were named by Speaker Boehner to serve on a formal House-Senate conference committee charged with completing work on a full-year payroll tax cut extension:

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX);Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI);Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC);Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY);Rep. Tom Price (R-GA);Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY);Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI);Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor speaks about the action on the payroll tax holiday:

It is completely irresponsible that the Senate has adjourned for the holiday vacation and left this business undone, all the while blaming the House leadership for the failure of the two bodies coming together. The House and the Senate are equal bodies. Both have to work together.

The President is correct - this is not a game. He said "this shouldn't be politics as usual". True again. Unless, of course, it is the President himself doing the politics. The House voted to do what the President himself requested - a full year's extension of the payroll tax holiday.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holder Throws Race Card at Opponents

There is a constant in the public comments made by Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama - both attempt to cover up their failings due to incompetence and throw the race card at the audience. Oppose this president's policies? You must be a racist. Question Attorney General Holder on his participation in the Fast and Furious operation? You must be a racist.

This is gutter politics and it is not helpful to the public discourse. It further points to the Obama administration's desire to flame the fires of class warfare.

All of us were subjected to the constants taunts of race baiting politics as Barack Obama ran to be the first bi-racial President of the United States. Hardly a victim of harsh circumstances, Obama was raised in comfortable settings and even adopted by his step-father. He seems to have changed his legal name back and forth - as opportunism struck in his professional and scholastic life - and then his wife Michelle added fuel to the race baiting as she said Barack was a potential victim of random violence as a black man simply fueling his gas tank at a service station. She even stated without shame that she was only just then - in 2008 - proud of America because her husband was a real contender to be President.


So, carrying on with this leadership from the top of the ticket, minions like the Attorney General, also a black man and in a top position in government, enjoys stating without hesitation that any questioning of his professional decisions is racism from his opponents. Recently Holder said the following about being held accountable for his department's operation known as Fast and Furious:

Attorney General Eric Holder accused his growing chorus of critics of racist motivations in a Sunday interview published in the New York Times. When reached by The Daily Caller Monday morning, the Department of Justice provided no evidence to support the attorney general’s claims.

Holder said some unspecified faction — what he refers to as the “more extreme segment” — is driven to criticize both him and President Barack Obama due to the color of their skin. Holder did not appear to elaborate on who he considered to make up the “more extreme segment.”

“This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” Holder said, according to the Times. “Both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”

President Obama thinks the Tea Party is promoting a "subterranean agenda" to block his agenda.

In May 2010, he told guests at a private White House dinner that race was probably a key component in the rising opposition to his presidency from conservatives, especially right-wing activists in the anti-incumbent “Tea Party” movement that was then surging across the country. Many middle-class and working-class whites felt aggrieved and resentful that the federal government was helping other groups, including bankers, automakers, irresponsible people who had defaulted on their mortgages, and the poor, but wasn’t helping them nearly enough, he said.

A guest suggested that when Tea Party activists said they wanted to “take back” their country, their real motivation was to stir up anger and anxiety at having a black president, and Obama didn’t dispute the idea. He agreed that there was a “subterranean agenda” in the anti-Obama movement–a racially biased one–that was unfortunate. But he sadly conceded that there was little he could do about it.

Those opposing Barack Obama and Eric Holder's policy decisions are not racially motivated. There are real questions to be answered and anyone in such high positions of trust in our government are required to answer them. Obama's lack of executive leadership and prescription to failing economic policies and Holder's incompetence in the office of Attorney General are not above questioning. By anyone, especially taxpayers who pay their salaries.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Combining the Payroll Tax Cut Extension and Keystone Pipeline Project

There was briefly a deal in the Senate to continue the payroll tax cut for two months and allow President Obama the luxury of signing the bill that also includes the go-ahead of the Keystone Pipeline project. The fine print is that Obama would not have to decide if actual permits would be issued for the pipeline project for those two months. He would be allowed to kick the can down the road for two more months.

The payroll tax cut would not be on the mind of the President were this not an election year for him. No one should think otherwise. And, the problem for many in Congress is that this tax cut takes money out of the coffers of Social Security - already in big trouble - and puts it into the general fund where Congress will spend it freely.

Keep in mind that the payroll tax "cut" is nothing more than a tax holiday. All the political palaver is about extending it for one more year, through 2012, so Mr. Obama can claim he did something for middle-class voters before Election Day. Because it is temporary, the tax holiday will do little to change employer incentives to hire.

The best one can say for the payroll reprieve is that individuals will better spend the money than the government would. The problem is that government will keep spending anyway, borrowing the money instead. The one-year payroll extension will take something like $121 billion from Social Security revenues, which means about 10% to 15% of the entire federal budget deficit expected for this fiscal year.

And, oh by the way, President Obama double dog dared the Republicans to insert the Keystone Pipeline project into the tax cut extension bill so that he could look like a decision maker and veto it all.

The problem is that the deal, though everyone was excited that both parties came together and voted in favor of it in the Senate, is so short sighted that it does no good. A two month extension of a tax cut? Really? That does what, exactly? What it does is show a continued unseriousness of Congress to address the issues of our dithering economy and show a little political courage while they do so. Instead, President Obama wants to delay a big decision for our energy independence past the 2012 election and not make a Democrat's Sophie's choice - does he go with labor unions who want jobs or with the environmental extremists who demand more time for studies that have already shown the project to be doable. What a nightmare for a leftist who really, really wants to be re-elected.

To the environmentalists, this is a bit of reality:

This is a map of crude oil pipelines throughout the United States:

There are crude oil pipelines across our nation and the record is good. We have the technology and experience to do this new pipeline safely and respectful of the environmental concerns. This is a perfect opportunity to walk the walk after talking the talk about our desire for energy independence from those who want to kill us. And, if Canada doesn't make this deal with us and sell us oil, they have decided to sell it overseas to countries like China. They can't be blamed. They have a product to sell.

The strange part is Obama's continued insistence in screwing our allies and true friends, like Canada as he goes out of his way to prop up our enemies.

This week Congress will vote and work out a way forward. Then President Obama can go on his extended Christmas holiday to Hawaii and continue to "not rest" until every American who wants a job has one, as he pledged three years ago.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

RIP, Vaclav Havel

The world has lost another great man. A true hero and patriot to freedom-loving people everywhere.

Václav Havel, the dissident playwright who led the Czechoslovakian "velvet revolution" and was one of the fathers of the east European pro-democracy movement that led to the fall of the Berlin wall, has died aged 75.

He stood for non-violent change and for national unity. He was a man of integrity and served his country out of a sense of patriotism, not ego. He was already a successful playwright.

His commitment to non-violent resistance helped ensure the velvet revolution was bloodless. It also help ensured that the "velvet divorce" three years later, when the country split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, was equally peaceful.

Havel opposed the split and stepped down from his position as president in 1992, rather than oversee the process. However, he stood for the presidency of the Czech Republic early the following year and won. It was a non-executive position but Havel brought to it both moral authority and prestige on the world stage. He stayed in the position, despite bouts of ill health including lung cancer, until 2003.

His role in the east European revolutions of 1989 was second only to Lech Walesa's in Poland. As the twin inspirations of the pro-democracy movement, they were strikingly contrasting figures: Walesa a flamboyant, brash, working-class union agitator; Havel a soft-spoken intellectual from a well-to-do family, who was a reluctant politician.

Havel was a strong supporter of the freedom agenda promoted by the G.W. Bush administration.

Statement by President George W. Bush: "Laura and I are saddened by the loss of our friend, Vaclav Havel. His strong voice for human liberty changed the course of his country and crossed continents. In the days of Communist rule over Czechoslovakia, he was viewed as an enemy of the state for ridiculing the pretensions of an oppressive government. The most subversive act of the playwright from Prague was telling the truth about tyranny. And when that truth finally triumphed, the people elected this dignified, charming, humble, determined man to lead their country. Unintimidated by threats, unchanged by political power, Vaclav Havel suffered much in the cause of freedom and became one of its greatest heroes. We send our heartfelt condolences to his dear wife, Dagmar, and the people of the Czech Republic as they celebrate the life of a great man."

His motto was: "Truth and love must prevail over lies and hate."

Amen. Rest in peace.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Joint Agreement on Primary Dates in Texas for 2012

Texans, this is the latest from the Western District Court which has now signed a joint proposal submitted by both the Texas Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Texas for the upcoming 2012 elections.

The new order includes some of the following changes to the elections schedule:

February 1, 2012 - New residency deadline for candidates seeking election to the Texas House and Texas Senate. (There is no residency requirement for Congress).

February 1, 2012, 6:00 p.m. - New deadline of court-ordered reopened filing period, in which candidates for all offices have the opportunity to amend, withdraw or file a new application for the ballot.

February 3, 2012 - New deadline for Democratic and Republican county executive committees to conduct drawing for candidate order on ballot. (This means there will be no Ballot Draw on December 20 as previously scheduled.)

April 3, 2012 - Date of the 2012 General Primary Election.

April 14 or April 21, 2012 - Date of County and Senatorial District Conventions, as determined by the State Chair of each political party.

June 5, 2012 - Date of the 2012 General Primary Runoff Election.

The joint agreement provides for a unified Primary that will be the best for the voters of Texas and Harris County.

Drilling Equals Jobs

Drilling equals jobs. It's a simple equation.

House Natural Resources Committee Republicans are committed to putting Americans back to work by enacting policies that embrace America’s abundant natural resources to help create jobs and grow our economy.

Freshman Committee Member Jeff Landry from Louisiana’s Third Congressional District. Rep. Landry’s constituents understand that drilling equals jobs. Since 1947, Louisiana has drilled over 50,000 wells off its coast and has created good-paying jobs. While the Obama Administration slow-walks permits in the Gulf of Mexico, the federal government is losing money and missing out on real job creation.

Here, Rep Landry explains how drilling equals jobs:

Common sense. It's a win-win for the economy and our country.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Some Thoughts After the Final Iowa Debate

The last Republican primary debate was held in Iowa Thursday night. The event was broadcast on Fox News Channel and it's news anchors were the moderator and questioners. The Iowa Republican Party sponsored the event. Here are some thoughts on each candidate:

To Newt Gingrich I say this: you are the frontrunner in most polls but that is slipping a bit. In order to remain on top, it is essential that you remain positive and tweak the others about their jabs to you. What you did with the zany reference during the debate was perfect. Also, continue to work on getting a shorter, more concise answer to the question about your association with Freddie Mac. The public is confused and your opponents are seizing the issue.

To Mitt Romney I say this: during this debate you clearly won the foreign policy questions. You were strong overall but the foreign policy questions made you the winner of this debate. Your remark that President Obama has a "pretty please" foreign policy was the best remark of the evening. You look strong and confident. This will be crucial in the coming weeks. Stay on message and continue to take the fight to Barack Obama, not fellow Republicans. Also, continue to educate all of us not from Massachusetts about the legislature and your tenure as Governor in a solidly Democratic state. Emphasize the more than 800 vetoes you issued yet the legislature overturned. And also speak about the judges you nominated, not appointed, as that is a common criticism - that you appointed liberal judges.

To Governor Perry I say this: keep your new team of advisers. Thank them for preparing you more fully to be on the stage in these debates. You look more relaxed and comfortable in your own skin. Those of us in Texas have been wondering where you've been. You have to continue to prove you can string sentences together to pursuade others to give you a second look. Being a "doer" is good but do not underestimate the importance of communication to the general public. You have to be able to get your message out.

To Michele Bachmann I say this: woman to woman, Michele, I do not ever again want to hear you say "I am a serious candidate" on a stage full of men. Do not play into any remarks you may consider condescending and do not play victim. It offends other serious women. Including me. We know you are serious in your pursuit of the GOP nomination, otherwise you would not be there in the first place.

To Rick Santorum I say this: I am still not a fan. You come off sanctimonious and self-righteous. Maybe it is just me. You continue to tout your legislative successes, rightfully so, yet you lost the last election you competed in and it was a big loss in your own state. That is hard to overcome. You continue to come off as everyone's moral compass and that is not what we would elect you to do. You are running for President of the United States.

To Jon Huntsman I say this: I really wish you were a better candidate. You are correct when you claim to not be the best politician. And, that is a shame. You have an excellent economic plan and you understand our role in the world. You know how to talk to all sides and you even worked for Ronald Reagan. You are the complete package - successful Governor, diplomat, fiscal conservative, social conservative - yet you can't get out of the gate. Again, it is a shame.

To Ron Paul I say this: while you do have some sound economic policy opinions, you are out of the ballpark on foreign policy. The Republican party is known for strength in this area and you are to the left of Barack Obama on subjects like Iran and the need for a strong presence in the world. You are under the impression that isolationism is a sign of strength. I would argue that the world looks to the U.S. for stability and a force for good.

The Iowa Caucuses are scheduled for January 3, 2012.

"All American Muslim" Loses Sponsors

Do you watch the new show on cable television setting the hair on fire of those proclaiming tolerance while denying the freedom of speech of others? I'm talking about "All American Muslim" on TLC.

I do. I watch it and enjoy it. Apparently I am too dense to realize it is brainwashing my feeble mind about Muslims in Deerborn, Michigan. Apparently I am too dense to realize that these folks are really terrorists, deep down, and not regular working class people living their lives as the rest of us do in flyover country. The show follows several Muslim American families as they go about their everyday lives. They go to work - we watch a high school football coach, a federal agent, a social event venue owner, a medical records administrator, a political staffer, stay at home moms, and working moms. Racy stuff so far, right? There is also a newly married man who converted to Islam from Catholicism. The show goes into his mother's hesitance to embrace his decision. It also shows how a non-Muslim converts into the religion.

The show explains what Muslims believe and don't believe and why. They also correct misconceptions about what is and isn't in the Koran. Last week's show spoke to their beliefs about dogs as pets, for example.

A couple of "major" sponsors of the show have pulled their support due to outside pressures. First the big splash was made by Lowes, the do it yourself home improvement giant. Now it is Kayak, the travel website online. A group known as The Florida Family Association is behind the effort to yank support from the show.

The Florida Family Association, which says it has received about 750,000 emails from people concerning the show, has launched an online campaign to get companies to pull advertising from “All-American Muslim”. According to the association, about 75 companies that were original sponsors of the program have decided to pull their ads.

Let me be clear - I am in full support of complaining to advertisers when programming is inappropriate for their purchasers. Or if advertisers are supporting online blogs with ads when the blogs promote hate filled pieces such as was the case recently over attacks on the child of Sarah Palin. But, to accuse a show of promoting propaganda for a religion, may be a different exercise.

It seems to me that if you are going to criticize a television show and accuse the people doing it as propagandists, then maybe you should have at least watched an episode of that show. But, maybe that's just me. Or common sense. Instead the author of this piece is forthright about having never watched the show and bold enough to proclaim that the show is propaganda, he just "knows" it is. Maybe he is clairvoyant. So, he applauds these retailers for accusations without his personal verification.

Or, just maybe he is doing exactly what he accuses others of doing - spouting convenient lines without substantive thought.

The piece is HERE

No, I have never watched “All-American Muslim”, but I don’t need to watch it it know that the show is created around the notion that Americans are just bigots who need to be taught that American Muslims are regular folks trying to go about their business in a country that irrationally distrust them. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Actually the show is created in hopes of educational value - in answering the call for moderate Muslims speaking about their religion and life in America instead of just the extremists hogging the headlines. And, it does just that.

So, why do we think moderate Muslims will come forward and allow non-Muslims into their lives if alarmists and bigots stomp out such participation? This is a learning opportunity. We should embrace it and learn about the culture, the beliefs, the people who make up the Muslim communities around our country.

Ignorance is not something of which to be proud. And, bigotry is not acceptable. The show is on Sunday nights and is re-run over several time slots. I encourage you to check it out for yourself.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Obama Campaign Encourages Holiday Hate Among Families

Remember back when Barack Obama was running for President and he was all about bi-partisanship and a new era of civility in politics? Remember those speeches about no red states or blue state but the United States of America? Well, that was then and this is now.

Team Obama, with an eye on re-election, now is encouraging holiday discord among families and friends. They think it will be jolly good fun. As though most holiday gatherings among families aren't tense enough when the subject of politics arises in conversation, Team Obama wants to fan the fires.

Here's their suggestion via email to supporters:

Know someone on Facebook or Twitter who, day after day, populates your feed with the latest right-wing talk-radio chatter? Or your cousin who won’t stop forwarding those chain email hoaxes? It can be frustrating.

So what do you do about it? You can go round and round in circles arguing with them — or you can have a little fun and make them pay. Literally.

Here’s something new: Today, we’re offering you the opportunity to make a donation to the Obama campaign inspired by your favorite conservative friend or relative.

You can choose to send them a note and let them know they’ve moved you to help build President Obama’s 2012 campaign. You can let them know a donation was made in their honor, but not that it’s from you (it will drive them nuts!). Or you can keep the satisfaction to yourself.

Whatever works for you.

By giving, you’re focusing your efforts on making sure we spend the next year having conversations with voters on the issues that matter, rather than the same old arguments that no one wins.

So while your Republican friends are busy anxiously waiting to see what happens in Iowa and New Hampshire next month, make a donation today — and kindly remind them we have our candidate, and we’re proud of it:



Julianna Smoot

Deputy Campaign Manager

Obama for America

P.S. -- If you like this idea, take it to the next level. Tell your conservative friends you’re going to donate $3 to the President’s campaign every time they say something outrageous. It’ll be fun.

Fun. Or just more blatant partisan attacks. You decide.

First Oil And Gas Lease Sale Conducted for Gulf of Mexico Drilling Since Deepwater Horizon Explosion

There is strong interest in oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The most recent lease sales shows that to be true.

The U.S. received $337 million in high bids for the first sale of leases for oil production in the Gulf of Mexico since BP Plc (BP/)’s oil spill last year, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said.

The sale showed “great interest” among energy companies to develop tracts in the western Gulf of Mexico off Texas’s coast, Salazar said today during a New Orleans news conference. ConocoPhillips (COP) submitted the highest bid of $103 million to drill in a tract in a region known as Keathley Canyon.

In all, 20 oil and gas companies submitted 241 bids, worth a total of $712 million, Salazar said.

This lease sale was not a good idea in the minds of some environmental zealots who tried to block it using court action.

In a suit filed in federal court in Washington today, the groups say the federal government has failed to take steps to avoid a repeat of the BP spill, which leaked more than 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement plans to sell 3,900 blocks off the Texas coast Wednesday in an auction in New Orleans. The sale covers about 20.6 million acres.

The suit was filed by Oceana, Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural Resources Defense Council

Many are still critical and skeptical of the over-reach of regulating the process that the Obama administration provides.

Lori LeBlanc, executive director of Gulf Economic Survival Team, a Thibodaux-based group that has lobbied against what it and many in the oil industry claim are the Obama administration’s excessive regulations since BP’s Macondo well disaster.

LeBlanc said she still has concerns that the federal government’s new, stricter permitting process will drive business away.

“I don’t doubt there is still interest in the Gulf. I think it is a strong domestic resource and will continue to be so. The real question is is this permitting process predictable and sustainable?” she said. “Plan approvals take over 200 days from submitting a plan to getting a permit, and smaller companies need some level of certainty about getting permits if they’re going to sign on to longterm contracts on a rig.”

With the increased regulations and permitting processes in place, the price of doing business in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling has increased 10% - 15%. That may not seem like much of a burden at first glance but remember, the drilling process from start to finish is a long and very expensive one. The exploration process is tedious and a gamble in the best of circumstances. Even before the tragic event of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the oil and gas industry was the most heavily regulated industry in America.

The industry welcomed the lease sale as an indication that job creation would tick up as future planning could be put into place.

Welcoming the move, Jim Noe, executive director of the Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition, said, “Doing so in an effective manner is not just good policy – it also means job creation and greater revenue flowing into the Gulf region and U.S. Treasury. We look forward to getting back to work in the Gulf in 2012 in earnest.”

Skeptics remind us that baby steps are still being taken to get the industry back on track.

Citing the sale on Wednesday as “a good sign for those companies and workers that really want to get back up to full speed drilling for oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico,” Frank Maisano, energy analyst with Bracewell & Giuliani called for more open procedures.

“Unfortunately, it is only a small step, and while the permitting process is improving, it still remains the real roadblock to getting workers back on the job in the Gulf region,” Maisano said

Noe noted that since the 2010 Gulf spill, applications to conduct energy activities “mushroomed from 50 to as much as 3,600 pages,” adding, “the window of time it takes for a plan to move from initial submission to final approval has roughly quadrupled.”

Looking forward from the perspective of industry, Noe said, “We trust …the administration is also vested in the less grandiose short- and medium-term work of processing permits for Gulf energy activity in a consistent and transparent manner.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

National Federation of Republican Women Donate to Fisher House in D.C.

Republican women across the country raise money for worthy organizations year round. The military tote bag project was used at the national level by the National Federation of Republican Women so that a donation could be made to Fisher House.

President Sue Lynch presented a check on behalf of the National Federation of Republican Women to the Fisher House in Washington, D.C. The donation was the proceeds from the sales of the NFRW Public Relation Committee's military tote bag project.

The NFRW military tote bag can been seen and purchased HERE

The Fisher House Foundation provides free or low cost lodging to veterans and military families receiving treatment at military medical centers. The website is HERE

Time Magazine Person of the Year is "The Protester"

"The protester" has been named Time magazine's person of the year, according to the magazine's editor.

"These are folks who are changing history already and will change the future," Time editor Richard Stengel said on Today.

One would think that if this is an honest recognition of large and effective protests that the article would have recognized the Tea Party movement as the beginning in 2009 of popular uprisings against government corruption and fairness for all. But, one would be wrong. Of course, this is a liberal publication and the Tea Party movement was made up of mostly fiscally conservative individuals and therefore, not worthy of proper credit. Does Time Magazine think the world was not watching as citizen activists in our own country arose and demanded better of their government? Apparently so.

After chronicling the rise in protests during the Arab Spring, which has continued into the Arab Summer and the Arab Autumn and the Arab Winter, it took the magazine to get to page two online before the words Tea Party appear. And, of course, we are to believe it all really began with Barack Obama's election. Who, by the way, was Time's 2008 Person of the Year.

In each place, discontent that had been simmering for years got turned up to a boil. There were foreshadowings. In the U.S., the Obama campaign was in part a feel-good protest movement that galvanized young people, and then its shocking success and the Wall Street bailout produced an angry and shockingly successful populist protest movement in the Tea Party, which has far outlasted its expected shelf life. In 2009, after the regime in Tehran denied the antiregime election results, millions of Iranians, especially young ones, protested for weeks. The Web and social media were key tactical tools in all three instances. But they seemed at the time to be one-offs, not prefaces to an epochal turn of history's wheel.

So the "angry" Tea Party citizens are acknowledged to have been successful and far longer running than expected by liberal America, kinda, and the beginning of all of this demonstrating for freedom and a better way of life is really due to the rise of Barack Obama.


Let's check back and see who the Person of the Year was in 2009, the year the Tea Party began as a recognized movement. That person was Ben Bernanke. And, in 2010, after a truly historic avalanche of Republican victories across the country and returning the House of Representatives to Republican control, who was the Person of the Year? Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook guy and Obama fan. So, there ya go.

Now that the liberals have the Occupy Wall Street protesters to embrace, suddenly the Protester is worthy of such recognition.

Who would expect anything less from Time?

Process Continues on Texas Primary Candidates Filing Deadlines

This is the latest from the Republican Party of Texas on the matter of filing deadlines, in limbo due to the on-going battle on the re-districting maps approved by the Texas legislature and currently challenged in federal court:

"The majority of the issues that were addressed today related to the immediate and pressing issue of candidate filing. Tomorrow, we expect an order from the panel that will ratify the agreement between the two political parties to extend candidate filing through Monday, December 19th for all races and positions on the ballot. We are instructing candidates to file their applications using the intended district number and designation for the office they are seeking.

There is, of course, the difficulty of how to best proceed without finalized maps. We have asked that the panel provide an opportunity for candidates who have already filed to be able to amend or withdraw their filing, should the need arise.

Under this solution, if a candidate files to run in a State Representative district whose number changes from the current map to a different number on a finalized map - the candidate would be able to either amend the designation on their application or be afforded the option of withdrawing their application if they choose not to run. Importantly, we are asking the panel to order that candidates who choose to withdraw their application will also be entitled to a refund of the filing fee, if they choose not to run based on the new district lines. This will apply to all candidates at every level.

If the court ratifies the proposal, this will also provide the opportunity for new candidates to file for a position once its district lines are finalized. In other words, filing will be re-opened once all court redistricting is finalized. In many cases, this will give an opportunity to a candidate who was running for a different position that is no longer an option to them. In other cases, it may open the race up to a newcomer in the contest who was not previously eligible.

We know this solution is imperfect, but like all of you, we are working to come up with the best possible, workable and fair solutions so the panel can get them approved, and we can quickly get focused back on the administration of these important elections. These proposals, if ratified by the panel, will allow for the quickest and most fulfilling method of handling the vast majority of candidate filings now, instead of creating a bigger problem days or weeks closer to the date of the election.

As to determining that date - we want to inform you that all parties will be in mediation on Thursday to discuss how to proceed with the timing of the election beyond the filing period. But again, a note of caution - with the exception of the court's announcement that they would sign an order on Wednesday which extends the deadlines, all other anticipated actions we have discussed are not a certainty until they are submitted to the court and signed. We do anticipate that occurring tomorrow afternoon. As always, we will keep you informed as soon as we have any news to pass along so that you can keep informed in your campaigns and in your community."

The previously established candidate filing date was December 15, 2011, so this is timely information.  Soon some decisions will be able to be made as to how our elections in Texas move forward.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gingrich Asks Staff and Supporters To Keep It Positive

In New Hampshire Monday, in response to an answer given by Mitt Romney in an early morning cable news show interview attacking him, Newt Gingrich lobbed a similiar answer against Mitt Romney.  The back and forth, of course, was fodder for the news shows looking for juicy reports.

Gingrich later promised to return to his determination to keep his campaign on a positive level.  He believes Barack Obama is the true foe, not fellow Republicans.

Following up on a promise he made during a town hall in Windham, NH on Monday, Newt Gingrich released the following letter today sent to his supporters and staff:

December 13, 2011

        Dear supporters and staff,
        Since I announced my candidacy for President of the United States, I have made it clear that I intended to run a positive, solutions-based campaign. There is not doubt, these are difficult times for our country. The American people deserve a respectful and constructive campaign that focuses on a vision for rebuilding the country we love.
        It is critical the Republican nominee emerge from this primary campaign un-bloodied, so that he or she can make the case against President Obama from a position of strength.
        For these reasons I have refrained from launching attacks on my Republican opponents, though I have reserved the right to respond when my record has been distorted. On Monday this occurred when Governor Romney and I engaged in what in diplomatic circles is called “a frank exchange” over our respective records in the private sector. That same day, however, Mr. Romney announced, “I’m not going to say outrageous things that can be used to hang [a GOP opponent] down the road.” I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. So let us hope that from this point forward we can devote our energies to real issues, such as discussing our plans for our nation’s economic recovery and helping to create millions of new jobs for the American people.
        I also want to reiterate to each of you what I have said from the beginning of our campaign, and most recently last Saturday in Iowa: We will run a positive campaign focused on our country’s future. We will not be running any negative advertising. With Ronald Reagan’s eleventh commandment in mind, we will ask our supporters not to contribute to any so-called SuperPAC that runs negative ads against any other Republican contender and we will discourage ad hominem attacks on our fellow Republicans.
        Therefore, I am instructing all members of my campaign staff and respectfully urge anyone acting as a surrogate for our campaign to avoid initiating attacks on other Republican candidates. It is my hope that my Republican opponents will join me in this commitment.
        Running a positive solutions-based campaign is the only way to guarantee President Obama is not reelected.
        Thank you as always for your support and enthusiasm.


        Newt Gingrich

Gingrich - Huntsman Debate in New Hampshire

Monday afternoon brought a Lincoln-Douglas style debate between Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich. Held at The New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, the event was sponsored by the College Republicans and the moderator was Patrick Griffin, a Senior Fellow. The three men sat at a table and the audience was under strict orders to only applaud after the introductions and after the closing statements.

The subject matter concentrated on foreign policy and national security. I will say that I would have really enjoyed being in this audience. This was a meeting of intellectual equals and contrasted starkly with the previous Cain - Gingrich debate in The Woodlands, Texas for which I was in attendance. Former Governor and Ambassador Huntsman and former Speaker Gingrich proved to be imminently qualified, common sense problem solvers, strong on foreign policy and both are far superior to Barack Obama as serious thinkers.

This was a civilized, serious policy discussion - not silly sound bites and gotcha questions. There was no inclusion of personal lifestyle questions and no pledging demands. It was for grown-ups.

Remember that Jon Huntsman so worried Barack Obama as a challenger in 2012 that he appointed him as ambassador to China. Newt Gingrich was so successful in setting a conservative agenda with a conservative majority in Congress that he forced Bill Clinton to the middle of the political spectrum, allowing such historic legislation as welfare reform domestically.

These two men are friends in real life. Gingrich mentioned that he and Callista were visitors to the Huntsmans as they were still unpacking from their move to China. They arrived in China on the second day of Huntsman's assignment as ambassador and were welcomed into their home.

Huntsman makes a strong case for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. He rightly says we have met our goals there: destroyed the Taliban, scattered al-Qaeda, and helped usher in free elections. He spoke of meetings with Karzai and how difficult it is for him to govern Afghanistan as a whole country while the old tribal form of life continues.

Both men were very strong on support for Israel. Huntsman said, "there should be no blue sky between the U.S. and Israel".

Newt complimented Huntsman for his knowledge of China and the coming challenges with that country. It was the first time I've heard him acknowledge that a debating partner had more knowledge about a subject than him.

Huntsman mentioned at the end that it was good to have a debate without a "raise a hand" question. Gingrich said, "This is not a Hollywood game, this is not a reality show. This is reality." That is reference to the need for serious discussion between the candidates, not quick answers tailored for the next morning's headlines. Huntsman took the opportunity to jab Gingrich with "I can't wait to compare this with the Trump debate with the Speaker". A civilized zinger from a man from whom huckster Trump wouldn't even take a phone call. To Gingrich's challenge of Obama - that he'd ask for seven such debates with him - the moderator said, "I betcha $10,000 he doesn't show up." That brought much laughter from the audience.

I hope a large audience took the time to watch this debate. More of them are sorely needed. We are in very serious times that call for them. We should demand them.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Obama Campaigns on "60 Minutes"

President Obama was interviewed on the CBS News show "60 Minutes" Sunday night and he was in full defensive mode. He was petulant with interviewer Steve Kroft and interrupted him frequently when he didn't agree with Kroft's questioning positions. He also employed the use of a phony looking smile when he was trying to look non-plussed at criticism.

Given two segments of the show, a rare gift, the President even said that there are lots of Republicans around the country who approve of his performance. See, it's just the Republicans in Congress who are against him. Funny, I've yet to talk to a Republican who thinks President Obama is doing a good job or even supports his re-election.

An interesting tidbit was tossed when Steve Kroft mentioned that President Obama "mostly" wrote the speech he recently delivered in Kansas. You know the one - it's touted as his kick-off speech for his re-election. It was also widely seen as bitterly partisan and rife with class warfare and for good measure, declared that capitalism has failed in America. So, the silliness of Obama pretending that he is all about bi-partisan cooperation and all that is just exposed as not what is in his heart at all.

Not that we thought that is was, anyway.

Obama says that "we're being honest" not divisive about income inequality when Democrats push their soak the rich (and, rich means any income above $200,000) tax mantra. He blamed the economic policies of the past for the present troubles and conveniently didn't mention he himself had been a member of the Senate, however briefly, and a part of that process. He described past policies of Congress "irresponsible behavior".

In typical Obama supporter mode, Steve Kroft complimented Obama for trying to work with Republicans after the bombshell 2010 election cycle. This gave Obama the opportunity to say that the GOP have decided to "stand on the sidelines" instead of working with him - for political reasons. Rich, really, coming from the most partisan President I can remember. He said that the GOP has made a "political, strategic decision of anything Obama's for, we're against".

Poor, Barack. It's not easy being President.

When Kroft stated that there is a general perception that the original stimulus package didn't work, Obama jumped in and objected. He said there is no such perception. He went on to say, "we should have done an even larger recovery act." For even larger failure, I suppose.

He thinks that unemployment could be at 8% by election time. There was no questioning about those who have simply given up on looking for work and how that brings down the unemployment rate, as it is credited with doing now.

One theme the voters will hear over and over from Team Obama is that Republicans want to "gut all regulations" on businesses.

When asked by Kroft what he would claim as his accomplishments, Obama listed that he "saved the country from another Great Depression" and "saved the auto industry" as well as ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell and "decimating" al-Qaeda.

When asked about prosecutions of those on Wall Street who are blamed with the economic downturn, Obama said he cannot comment on on-going investigations but touted the Dodd-Frank legislation as strong financial reform - the "greatest financial reform since FDR". Wonder why Republicans don't like it now? I didn't think so.

"I want everybody to be rich. That's good." Really. He said that.

He continues to lie about his involvement with the GOP negotiations and the deficit reduction debacle. He says it's all the GOP's fault that negotiations collapsed. "Democrats have moved significantly because of my leadership". "We were willing to make some tough cuts on programs I like but can no longer afford them right now." It's all about what "he" likes, apparently.

He snarls that the GOP is only about cutting taxes and how that does not solve economic problems. I have a suggestion - why doesn't President Obama simply voluntarily send a check to the IRS with added taxes to his own salary? He told Steve Kroft that they both could afford to pay more and Kroft didn't blink an eye about that assumption hoisted on him. Obama could set an example and lead all those liberal millionaires who are supporting higher tax rates on themselves.

Obama still hasn't learned that leadership comes from the top. Successful leaders lead by example.

Kroft openly chuckled and broadly grinned as Obama said, "my critics think I've been this radical Socialist". Funny stuff, that.

He said that Michelle isn't thrilled with the gig. When asked about why he was running for re-election Obama said, "not because our quality of life wouldn't be better" and "not because Michelle is enamoured with me being President". Wow. Those are some ungrateful people in the White House.

Obama acted as though he doesn't care which GOP primary candidate wins the nomination. He said the contrast is stark between the GOP and him. True that.

And, at the end as Kroft asked about the flowery, lofty ambitions presented in his announcement speech in Springfield, Illinois four years ago, Obama said he didn't "over promise" or "underestimate how difficult this would be". While he once said if he couldn't turn around the economy in three years, he didn't deserve a second term, he now asks otherwise.

In fact, he expects it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Iowa Debate Saturday Night Style on ABC

A debate on a Saturday night, so close to the holidays? Yes, it happened at Drake University in Iowa with six Republican candidates running for President. While some were grousing beforehand about watching yet another GOP debate, those who didn't watch missed the best one yet.

For a political debate, it got raucous. Zingers were zinged and candidates butted in out of turn and a bet was even tossed in, too. The polite veneer was removed. Moderators Diane Sawyer and George Stephanapolus were clearly enjoying grilling Republicans in a snotty and condescending manner.

Time is slipping away. The Iowa Caucuses are just a matter of days at this point. Newt Gingrich is the surprise front runner and Mitt Romney is looking for a path back to the top slot. The Rick Perry campaign is desperate for their man to be given a second look. Ron Paul has a strong organization of his loyal supporters in Iowa. Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann are strong social conservatives which plays well in the Iowa primary match up.

Gingrich, the latest front runner, was the guy with the target on his back. He threw the first jab.

"The only reason you weren't a career politician is because you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994", said Newt to Romney as he claimed he wasn't a career politician.

During a dust up over the individual mandate in health care reform between Governor Perry and Mitt Romney, Perry was challenged on his stance that Romney had been supportive of it. "$10,000 bet?" Countered Romney. "I'm not in the betting business". And, with that, the answer most talked about began to hit social media and commentators on television. Romney went on to compare Perry's Gardisil vaccine mandate to the fray.

This bet silliness brings focus to Romney as the stereotypical wealthy Republican out of touch with the little people. It was a gaffe that Romney will now have to overcome. The DNC and anti-Romney people are all over it and relishing the barbs tossed his way. It is a bit of a game now on Twitter - jumping on how Obama has wasted $10,000 increments in money vs Romney's challenge to Perry in the heat of a debate.

Two areas of questioning never brought up before in political primary debates - marriage fidelity and personal financial struggles - were introduced, clearly to attack Gingrich and Romney. Both did well in answering the gotcha questioning by two biased journalists. Think about that - George Stephanapoulis, ultimate Clinton insider, asking about marital fidelity.

Both Newt and Romney handled the questions well. Newt better than Mitt, though. Romney doesn't have a natural gift for snark and it comes off a little forced when he introduces it into an answer. Newt has no problem with it.

Newt was able to put to rest any martial infidelity questioning by being frank and honest. He said he asked God for forgiveness. He said he made mistakes. Romney said he grew up wealthy but his father didn't and that his mother instilled frugality into his life.

Governor Perry put in his two cents about marital fidelity - if a man is not faithful to his wife he will not be to his business partner, either, he said. He clearly is playing to the social conservative voters in the Iowa Caucuses. Santorum and Bachmann did, too, but they always try to out-social conservative everyone else. Santorum did get out a good point about fighting economically tough times with in-tact families and coming together to support each other.

All in all, it was far from boring and quite interesting at times. The next GOP debate is Thursday on Fox News Channel.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chairman of Republican Party of TX Responds to SCOTUS on Re-Districting

Republican Party of Texas (RPT) Chairman Steve Munisteri issued the following statement in response to the action taken by the Supreme Court to stay the maps of the three-judge federal district court panel in San Antonio.

"The Supreme Court's action in staying the recently drawn maps issued by the three-judge federal district court panel in San Antonio, is a clear indication that the concerns we raised last week concerning the panel's actions, have merit. It has been the RPT's position that the majority of the district court panel exceeded their judicial authority and attempted to usurp the rightful duties of the Texas State Legislature. It has also been our position that the maps approved by the Legislature did comply with the Voting Rights' Act and did protect the interests of minority voters, particularly the interests of Hispanic voters in Texas. I applaud Attorney General Greg Abbott and his legal team for their quick action in appealing this matter to the U.S. Supreme Court and congratulate them for winning the first round before that court in obtaining a stay on the panel's maps. We are hopeful that the Attorney General and his team will be able to demonstrate to the Court the necessity of throwing out the panel's maps. Further, we hope the Court will either restore the original district lines of the Legislature, or at the very least, make revisions to the district court panel's maps which are more in tune with the legislative intent. We do not have information at this time as to what effect, if any, the Court's stay will have on the filing period or primary dates. As soon as we receive further instruction from the Court, we will advise the public."

Here is the order:

The applications for stay presented to Justice Scalia and
by him referred to the Court are granted, and it is ordered that
the orders issued by the United States District Court for the
Western District of Texas on November 23, 2011, in case Nos.
5:11-CV-360, and 5:11-CV-788, and the order of November 26, 2011,
in case No. 5:11-CV-360, are hereby stayed pending further order
of the Court. In addition, the applications for stay are treated
as jurisdictional statements, and in each case probable
jurisdiction is noted. The cases are consolidated and a total of
one hour is allotted for oral argument. The briefs of appellants
and appellees, not to exceed 15,000 words, are to be filed
simultaneously with the Clerk and served upon opposing counsel on
or before 2 p.m., Wednesday, December 21, 2011. Reply briefs,
not to exceed 15,000 words, are to be filed simultaneously with
the Clerk and served upon opposing counsel on or before 2 p.m.,
Tuesday, January 3, 2012. The cases are set for oral argument on
Monday, January 9, 2012, at 1 p.m.

So, we are bounced to January 9, 2012 for oral arguments. Our primary dates are still in limbo. The process continues.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Holder Grilled About Fast and Furious

It was quite a battering that Attorney General Eric Holder took Thursday as he testified before the House Judiciary Committee, in cooperation with the House Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep Darrell Issa. The pattern was set early on - the Democrats on the committee may ask a question about the Fast and Furious operation but they preferred to change the subject and inquire about other topics - from medical marijuana to complimenting him for cleaning up crime in East Los Angeles (according to Representative Chu). The Republicans on the committee went after Holder with vigor. Several members barely allowed Holder to get some sort of answer out before hitting him with another question.

One topic that was fleshed out in a big way was the newest revelation of this disastrous operation - some in the Department of Justice obviously intended Fast and Furious to lead to new gun control regulations. Emails have surfaced that directly tie Holder's department employees with a political agenda that is pursuing limiting Second Amendment rights.

"It was a Rahm Emmanuel moment" Issa said of expanding gun database - to take away gunowners' Second Amendment rights.

Let's remember how we got here:

Fast and Furious was a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives-led investigation from late 2009 to early 2011 into an Arizona-based gun-trafficking network. “Straw buyers” purchased semiautomatic rifles, which were smuggled to Mexican drug cartels. Agents, seeking to identify higher-level figures and build a more significant case, sometimes did not immediately move to arrest low-level suspects or seize the guns.

They ended up losing track of hundreds of weapons. Of the roughly 2,000 guns purchased by suspects in the case, only about 600 have been recovered. Many probably made their way to Mexico, and two were found near the scene where a Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry, was killed in last December.

The most disturbing part of Holder's testimony is his attitude. He comes off as far too detached and laid back to be bothered with actually reining in his department. He claims to be a good delegater, which is fine, but at some point he has to be the person in charge. He still claims he is uncertain who actually put the operation into place, and who signed off on the whole thing.

The common thread of the GOP questioning was the distress over "misleading" Congress and having to take back a letter written by his chief deputy due to inaccurate statements on the operation. This has never happened before, that a letter submitted to a Congressional committee has to be taken back for inaccuracy.

So, a bit of back and forth set the tone for the hearing with Rep Issa requesting that Holder be sworn in before he began his testimony, though Chairman Smith deemed it not necessary, as Holder had been sworn in before his last testimony and considered to be still in effect.

Darrell Issa requested that Holder be sworn under oath before any testimony began.

This request was apparently in response to Issa's belief that Holder had in the past misled or lied to the committee and Issa's desire that if Holder dared again to evade, mislead or tell any direct falsehoods that Holder be held accountable.
Issa's request was denied but not until he was assured that Eric Holder had received a letter prior to his appearance that made it clear to Holder that his testimony was under oath and would be subject to all criminal charges.

Rep Sensenbrenner asked Holder to explain the difference between lying under oath and "misleading" with false statements. Threading the needle, Holder spoke much like former Clinton did - definitions that sound odd to non-lawyers. Holder essentially said that if the person believed what he/she was saying was the truth, then it was not lying. Holder maintains no one in his department lied to Congress. "It all has to do with intent", explained Holder.

Sensenbrenner, clearly agitated with Holder, then lobbed the impeachment threat. He stated that that would be one way to clean up the department, though no Attorney General has been impeached prior to Holder's term.

As usual, there were the typical moments of blaming the previous administration and trying to lump them into this mess. The problem with that, however, is that though they did try an operation similar to this one, they quickly realized it to be a mistake and halted the operation.

Simply pointing a finger at the previous administration and claiming they did it, too, is no defense of this horrible situation.

Heads have not rolled. Holder refuses to terminate anyone, and certainly not himself. Some personnel have been shifted around and one Senator is calling for firings.

Grassley did call for the resignation of Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. He suggested Breuer helped to cover up Fast and Furious.

“It is past time for accountability at the senior levels of the Justice Department,” Grassley said on the Senate floor. “That accountability needs to start with the head of the Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer. I believe it is time for him to go.”

Grassley called for Breuer’s resignation after making the “shocking” discovery that he had been consulted before a letter issued by the Justice Department in February claimed the ATF had never walked guns. Breuer had known about the programs since at least April 2010, said Grassley.

However, he said Breuer’s resignation would not satisfy him if he found someone with higher authority had approved the operation.

“If that’s Holder, then it’s Holder but I can’t prove it’s Holder today,” Grassley said.

Another questionable statement occurred when Holder claimed that he had never spoken to President Obama, Secretary Janet Napolatano, or Secretary Clinton about this operation. How would that be possible?

Many questions are still unanswered. Holder has been less than cooperative with the investigation. Congress has been lied to, or mislead. This is not going away.