Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Scorpions for Breakfast" Sees Record Sales After Obama Diss

Last week, after the State of the Union address, President Obama went on a five state - all swing states - taxpayer funded campaign tour to work on his re-election. We are told it wasn't a campaign tour but we are presumed to be as gullible and ignorant as in 2008.

One state in which President Obama landed was Arizona. Governor Jan Brewer met him on the tarmac when Air Force One landed, as is customary, and this is where the story gets a bit fuzzy. According to Brewer, Obama confronted her on her characterization of their White House meeting over illegal immigration and border safety in her book, "Scorpions for Breakfast".

According to the news reports, President Obama - known to be a thin-skinned politician with an inflated ego - was disturbed that Governor Brewer wrote of his lecturing her on the subject of border security. She felt he was condescending of her opinions.

On the tarmac, it is reported that President Obama chose to confront her on the words in her book instead of traditional tarmac pleasantries. She claims she was there to welcome him to Arizona and to invite him to tour the border with her, since he has never been there to see with his own eyes the situation for which he claims to have the answer. Actually, the closest he has been to the border of any southern state was in El Paso and that was only one visit without a trip to the border, as he held a campaign rally for the photo op.

Turns out, in a regular Friday afternoon document dump, there was a copy of the handwritten letter that Brewer presented to Obama. Doesn't look ugly to me. You be the judge.

“You’ve arrived in a state at the forefront of America’s recovery — and her future. We both love this great country, but we fundamentally disagree on how to best make America grow and prosper once again. I’d love an opportunity to share with you how we’ve been able to turn Arizona around with hard choices that turned out to be the right ones. And, of course, my offer to visit the border — and buy lunch — still stands.”

The governor offered a visit to the border, a conversation and lunch, too. What more could she have done?

The up side to this story is that the sales of Governor Brewer's book were lagging until this story broke. It went to the top of the Amazon list on sales figures overnight.


For the record, Governor Bobby Jindal told a very similar story in his book of a visit by President Obama after the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. He demanded that Jindal not bad-mouth him or his administration, as well as chastised him for a run of the mill letter sent to the Agriculture secretary.

Monday, January 30, 2012

GOP Primary Troubling to Voters

Am I the only one so completely turned off by this GOP primary that I am ready to bury my nose in a book and wait until the convention to come around? How in the world does the current atmosphere of personal attacks and petty ego stroking speeches translate into a win over President Obama in November? The short answer is that it doesn't.

If anyone is so delusional to think that President Obama's re-election is all but assured then I have some choice property to talk to you about. The power of the incumbency is a hard advantage to overcome and this president is a part of the Chicago political machine. The re-election team has been planning this since January 2009, make no mistake about that. Barack Obama never stopped campaigning and neither did his team.

Team Obama assumes that Mitt Romney will be our nominee. This is likely to come to bear. The question then is whether or not the conservative voters and Independents will rally around him after the convention. Or, will they allow themselves to be played and stay home to insure another Obama victory?

None of us gets the candidate of our dreams a majority of the time. That is just the reality of politics. What we have to do, though, is to apply the Buckley rule: nominate the most conservative electable candidate.

Am I a Romney supporter? No. But if he is my party's nominee, I will be. Am I a Gingrich supporter? No. But if he is my party's nominee, I will be. This is the first time I can ever remember where I truly do not feel I have a dog in this hunt. I simply don't care at this point, I'll vote for the one with an R after his name. Any of our nominees are better than the current president. Though, if push comes to shove, I do think that Romney will give Obama a real fight for victory.

That said, our bench this time around was shallow. Whether it was that those who would have truly given Barack Obama a tough run were too uncertain to enter the race - believing the president would be re-elected in the end anyway - or that it is a failure of the national party to cultivate leaders coming forward, probably both are true. Also in today's gutter politics, putting one's family and loved ones through the mud slinging is a tough decision to make.

Look at what this race has devolved into - today we are told by Newt that Mitt is a liberal. We are told by Mitt that Newt is mentally unstable. The back and forth was so bad between those two in the last debate that Rick Santorum had to ask that they move on to substance. It was disgraceful.

Romney is up in the polls in Florida, as we wait for Tuesday's primary votes to be tallied. Romney has out-spent Gingrich. Gingrich is whining that the Romney ads have unfairly hampered his polling numbers. What, then, would he do in the general election against Obama where it will, assuredly, be tougher? He expect whining from Obama. I expect better from a Republican nominee.

Polls show that in swing states that Romney ties Obama while Gingrich trails by almost double digits. A Republican must win the Florida primary to be the party's nominee and to become president, too.

The ugly name calling - Gingrich has ramped up his description of Romney from a moderate to a liberal Republican - is playing into Team Obama's dreams. The waiting for Gingrich to implode - as he always does - is tedious. Let's hope that by 2016 the Republicans can have the backing of conservatives who understand there is no perfect human being and that even includes those running for president.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

House Natural Resources Republicans Working for Jobs and Energy

The House Natural Resources Republicans are working hard to facilitate legislation to get Americans back to work for our nation's energy independence.

Through 115 hearings, Republicans on the Committee conducted rigorous oversight of Obama Administration policies and regulations that will cost jobs and hurt our economy and advanced numerous pieces of legislation that will put Americans back to work. Watch the Committee's work in action during the first session of the 112th Congress to create jobs and expand access to our own energy and natural resources.

Think of what could be accomplished if the Democratically controlled Senate were a willing partner in jobs creation and energy independence.

Friday, January 27, 2012

State of the Union Address Was Recycled Pablum

Did some of the State of the Union speech sound familiar to you? Turns out a lot of it was just recycled parts of previous speeches. No wonder it was so boring and uninspiring. We've heard it all before.

And, though President Obama claims to have single-handedly rescued the American auto industry, that is a stretch, charitably speaking.

GM’s recent profits speak only to the fact that politicians committed more than $50 billion to the task of rescuing those companies and the United Auto Workers. With debts expunged, cash infused, inefficiencies severed, ownership reconstituted, sales rebates underwritten and political obstacles steamrolled — all in the midst of a recovery in U.S. auto demand — only the most incompetent operations could fail to make profits.

But taxpayers are still short at least $10 billion to $20 billion (depending on the price that the government’s 500 million shares of GM will fetch), and there is still significant overcapacity in the auto industry.

Obama enjoys the use of straw men in his speeches and in this case, he likes to say that "some" didn't want to allow the auto industry to survive. In fact, conservatives wanted the companies in the industry to be allowed to declare bankruptcy and begin again. Ford Motor Company, it should be noted, stayed on its own and reaped the benefits of grateful taxpayers in increased sales.

And, the president's blather on instructing the Senate to do away with the 60 vote rule?

For starters, I ask the Senate to pass a rule that all judicial and public service nominations receive a simple up or down vote within 90 days.

Isn't President Obama touted as a Constitutional scholar? What about the separation of powers?

Setting aside the offensive nature of a President suggesting changes in the Senate rules (ever hear of the separation of powers?) the fact is that his proposal wouldn’t have mattered in the case of his recent “recess” nominations. First, Cordray was given a vote, with a required 60 for moving to consideration. He didn’t get 60. There’s nothing in the Constitution that defines Senate “consent” as a simple majority. Obama’s unconstitutional NRLB nominations weren’t even in the Senate for 90 days (his apparent standard).

Our founding fathers purposely created a system that made it hard, not easy, to legislate. The very existence of both a House and Senate is evidence they rejected simple majority rules for legislating. One of the many things I learned from working in the Senate, and having spent more time on the Senate floor than Obama, is that dealing in good faith can almost always get you to an broad agreement. If Obama feels his legislative agenda has come to a halt, he has himself to blame, not the Senate rules.

Isn't this the man who was said to be able to bring people together to fix a broken system?

GOP Debate in Jacksonville

Thursday night's GOP primary debate in Jacksonville, Florida was hosted by CNN, the Florida GOP, and the Hispanic Leadership Network. Wolf Blitzer was the moderator, so that was a definite step up from the previous one with John King.

It was a different kind of debate, leading off with a question from the audience about illegal immigration - well, it was Florida. That led into a tit for tat between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney about the attack ads each are running against the other. It went on for what felt like forever. At times like that, Blitzer looked like a weak moderator. Or, maybe he was taking a quick nap. Either way, those two went on and on without bringing any real substance to the discussion.

Word is that Mitt Romney has a new debate coach. It showed. He was strong and self-assured in his back and forths with Newt. It took Rick Santorum to finally say that the petty bickering between the two front runners was out of control and that the debate should move to real substance. The audience loved that. I did, too.

Rick Santorum had a good night. He mostly avoided his biggest downfall - that part of his personality that tends to be mean-spirited and whiny. He provided strong answers on his thoughts about religion and governing, and on why his wife would be a good First Lady - though I hated that trivial question. He was strong on foreign policy, as well, and brought up the travesty that was the Obama blunder in Honduras early on in this administration.

Newt Gingrich did himself no favors tonight. He was angry and defensive. His usual self-confidence was lagging and the audience didn't give him much of a boost. The audience seemed to favor Romney.

Ron Paul had a good night. There was not much discussion on foreign policy so he was strong on domestic conservatism. Wolf Blitzer asked about his health, considering his age, and he ended up challenging Blitzer to a 25 mile bike ride in Texas. He said he would be happy to produce his medical records, as the others did. He also reminded Blitzer that there are laws about discrimination due to age. That was amusing.

By Santorum and Paul having good nights, the nod goes to Romney. He won it by rising above Newt's attacks while strongly defending himself. The other three men on the stage just gelled together in contrast.

The Florida primary is Tuesday, January 31, 2012. Romney is a little bit ahead of Gingrich, if the polls are to be believed. Nothing happened during this debate to change that.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

About Warren Buffett's Secretary

One of the token throwaway lines from President Obama's campaign style speeches on reforming the tax code - by reforming, I mean increases taxes - towards the most successful in our country is one in which he declares that Warren Buffett's secretary pays her income taxes at a higher rate than Buffett himself does. Clever, right?

Clever. Yes. First of all, there is the characterization of Debbie Bosanek as Buffett's "secretary". Today, the term commonly used for women like her is "executive assistant". The term secretary conjures up visions of cheap metal desks in cubicles, including PBX machines. I know. I was there, back in another life. Now, however, the upscale version of that old job is a bit more respectful for those performing it. Better title, more perks, flexibility, etc. Not for all, don't get me wrong, but for many. I'm assuming that Ms. Bosanek is quite comfortable in her position. So, it's just another quiver in the Obama class warfare pack to use the term.

According to Forbes Magazine,it is likely that Ms. Bosanek makes a minimum of $200,000 and maybe up to $500,000 per year. How did the magazine's writer come up with this assumption?

Insofar as Buffett (like Mitt Romney) earns income primarily from capital gains, which are taxed at 15 percent (and according to Obama need to be raised for reasons of fairness), we need to determine how much income a taxpayer like Bosanek must earn in order to pay an average tax rate above fifteen percent. This is easy to do.

The IRS publishes detailed tax tables by income level. The latest results are for 2009. They show that taxpayers earning an adjusted gross income between $100,000 and $200,000 pay an average rate of twelve percent. This is below Buffett’s rate; so she must earn more than that. Taxpayers earning adjusted gross incomes of $200,000 to $500,000, pay an average tax rate of nineteen percent. Therefore Buffett must pay Debbie Bosanke a salary above two hundred thousand.

I don't know about my sister former secretaries but I never came anywhere close to making $200,000 per year. I didn't know of anyone else making that, either.

Maybe it is just another case of poor vetting by Team Obama. They have become known as fumblers in that department - it never fails that after President Obama uses an audience member as a prop for a point he is making in a speech to be discovered the next day that the story line is a fraud. Perhaps that is the case here, too. If not, then it is another case of Obama class warfare in an election year, with the twist of using a one percenter against the ninety-nine percent.

See, Warren Buffett is mega wealthy and his income is like Mitt Romney's - they live off investments made many years ago. The current tax code taxes that capital gains income at 15%. Plus, Buffett chose to donate a big ole chunk of his vast wealth to the Gates Foundation. So, there is some more tax break goodness for him. He is not a stupid man. Nor is he honest in his cry that the mega wealthy should pay more in taxes. Were he an honest broker in that plea, he would just voluntarily write a check to the national treasury and be done with it. Maybe, say, the amount he donated to Bill and Melinda Gates' foundation.

Just a thought.

And, if Ms. Bosanke makes that kind of money, more power to her. Her boss can well afford to compensate her handsomely. And the perk of attending the State of the Union address, sitting in the First Lady's box? Priceless.

Giffords Resigns from Congress

The resignation letter tendered by Rep. Gabby Giffords to Speaker of the House Boehner Wednesday morning is HERE.

She deserves the respect and attention she is receiving on Capitol Hill as she leaves office. A former Republican, she represents Arizona as a Democrat who reaches across the aisle to work with others not in her own party. That is something sorely needed in Washington, D.C. today. She is a happy warrior.

Giffords is leaving to pursue full time physical rehabilitation, her daily routine since the tragic shooting that took place January 8, 2011. She promised to be back and to serve again. Her ability to walk and the inability to use her right arm hinders her ability to walk on her own. She performs just fine with assistance.

Rep Jeff Flake, a conservative Republican representing Arizona, too, helped Giffords during the State of the Union address as he escorted her into the speech and he helped her stand when she wished to show support for what the president was saying. He was usually the only Republican standing during these times. Wednesday, he held her hand as Rep Debbie Wasserman-Schultz read her resignation letter aloud.

It is safe to say that there was not a dry eye in the House. Her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly was in the gallery to watch.

Godspeed to Gabby Giffords as she continues to rehabilitate in Houston.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Culberson Responds to the State of the Union Address

I live in the district represented by John Culberson in the U.S House of Representatives. This is his response to the president's State of the Union address:

Congressman John Culberson (TX-07) issued the following response to President Obama’s State of the Union address:

"I am pleased that President Obama’s State of the Union speech spent less time than usual attacking Republicans. Unfortunately, his speech was filled with statements that will play well on the campaign trail, but it contained little substantive policy. The proposals we did hear confirm that he will continue to try to transform the America we know and love into a European style social welfare state where a majority of Americans are dependent on the federal government for a paycheck or a handout.

"In light of the President's policies and his recent rejection of the Keystone Pipeline, it is not believable for him to tell us he is committed to “[a] future where we're in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren't so tied to unstable parts of the world [and] an economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.” For the last three years, the President has made it more difficult for America to produce our own energy, and he is determined to raise taxes on Americans who work hard and are the most successful.

"Like so many Americans who want to see the size of the federal government reduced, I also found it absurd to hear this president claim he believes in Lincoln’s motto that “government should only do for the people what they cannot do for themselves, and no more.” It is the height of hubris for him to promote tax cuts and deficit reduction, and to claim that he is committed to eliminating government waste and cutting regulations. President Obama has created more debt and bigger deficits than any president in history, and he has aggressively grown the government, expanded its power, extended regulations into virtually every corner of our lives, and driven federal spending to the highest level since World War II.

"Despite the praise he properly bestowed on our men and women in uniform, Obama and his party followers are aggressively working to dismantle and dramatically weaken the greatest military the world has ever known. At the same time, their policies embolden our enemies and strengthen Israel’s enemies yet they undermine Israel's national security as well as our own. He has also abruptly abandoned all our sacrifices in Iraq and left that fragile democracy alone to face their fanatical enemies in Iran.

"Around the world, America’s enemies, especially communist China, Iran and other radical states in the Middle East, are growing stronger and becoming bolder, while President Obama dismantles our military and apologizes to the world for our strength and our pre-eminence. It is appalling that he even tried to apologize to the Japanese for President Harry Truman’s necessary decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even the Japanese government understood that apology would have been a disaster and stopped it.

"His speech last night was utterly unconnected to the reality of everything he has done and is trying to do. His State of the Union was pure political theatre designed to trick us into thinking that he shares the values and goals of most Americans. He and his party followers hope they can fool us just long enough to win this next election.

"I prefer to follow Thomas Jefferson's advice, "Follow the core principles of the Constitution and the knot will always untie itself." We can balance the budget and restore our liberty and prosperity by unleashing American ingenuity and hard work with massive tax cuts matched by spending cuts but above all by restoring the Constitution's limits on the federal government, especially the 10th Amendment's guarantee of State sovereignty and individual liberty."

Governor Daniels Delivers GOP Response to State of the Union Address

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels delivered the GOP response to the State of the Union address Tuesday night from the Indiana War Memorial building in Indianapolis. "Greetings from the home of Super Bowl 46", the hugely popular governor opened with for his remarks.

Daniels delivered a strong rebuttal to the Obama speech. He congratulated the President on killing those who perpetrated the attacks of 9/11/01, for reforming public education, and for strong family values by example with his own family. Governor Daniels is a class act.

He said, however, that the president cannot claim that the last three years have been anything but a failure, that he made things worse. Mostly he blamed an explosion of sending with borrowed money. Remember, Daniels is an expert in economics and the former Budget Director under the George W. Bush administration who resigned when he felt that that administration was not serious about financial restraint.

He criticized Obama for his "grand experiment in trickle down government" and a big, bossy government balanced on the backs of the middle class.

He said the young generation is the first in memory to face a future with less success than that of their parents. He said, however, that he doesn't accept the idea that we are a nation of haves and have nots, as promoted by Obama. He said we are a nation of haves and soon to haves.

Daniels said that 2012 is the year for true opposition to restore hope and greater equality with a message of that will earn the way back to a majority and leadership in Washington. He said the loyal GOP opposition accepts the duty gratefully and will continue to offer solutions. He said the President disparages people in business, yet acknowledges the success of Steve Jobs. Jobs, however, was a critic of the president and his expansion of regulations harmful to small business and innovation development.

Daniels said the president's energy failings are a pro-poverty policy. He said a dramatically simpler tax code would maximize new energy technology.

He challenged politicians to unite and save Medicare and Medicaid and reform Social Security to fashion new and affordable safety nets for those in need.

He said it is unfair for the president to paint Republicans as obstructionists when the House Republicans have passed legislation only to have it sit on the desk of Harry Reid, the Democrat leader in the Democratically controlled Senate. He said it is up to the GOP to inform the country of this problem.

Daniels said there is nothing sadder than the president's constant efforts to divide us.

He said the loyal opposition, the Republicans, will speak the language of unity and encourage anyone who will join us as an ally and friend.

He pointed to the fallacy of benevolent protection - it is not up to the government to pick our mortgages, our health care, our schools. It is up to the individual. He spoke of allowing ourselves to be pitted against each other with these policies. The GOP will tell America of "dignity and the capacity of the individual citizen". We are still a people born to liberty. We will renew the American dream.

The speech was calmly delivered with a common sense approach to government. Conservative writer and pundit Charles Krauthammer said, "I could hear sighs all across the country over what might have been" had Daniels entered the presidential race. His strong and decisive leadership - with the ability to compromise - is sorely needed to get our country back on track.


State of the Union Address 2012

It was a surprisingly boring State of the Union address delivered by President Obama Tuesday night. Sixty-five minutes and interrupted eighty-five times for applause, always by the loyal of his own party, the speech that the White House tried mightily to proclaim as not a campaign speech was, in fact, just that.

It was to be expected, this campaign speech. All presidents do it. This White House just wants to use the smoke and mirrors efforts of trying to describe Barack Obama as a different politician. He has proven to be anything but different. I would argue that he is so much more of a run of the mill politician and not so skilled at it, at that. Consider how divided the parties are and remember that leadership comes from the top and sets the tone.

The "Date Night" nonsense continued as about one hundred members of Congress sat with those from the other side of the aisle. It is silly, to be sure, and did nothing last year to promote goodwill between the two parties. This White House is all about the theatrics. No doubt there are those in Congress who are up for re-election themselves and don't truly understand that voters are just not buying it.

Rep Gabby Giffords was there, as her last act as a sitting Congress member. Wednesday she will resign from office to continue on with her physical recovery in Houston. She rightfully received a standing ovation from her colleagues and the president made quite a show of going to her and hugging her as he entered the House floor. Giffords, by the way, was sitting next to her Arizona colleague, Rep Jeff Flake, a Republican. Her husband, Mark Kelly, was seated with the First Lady. He is rumored to be considering his own political run.

Though Speaker Boehner continues to say he has a cordial relationship with the president, he also noted that the two have not spoken for more than a month. Both he and Vice President Biden, sitting behind the president, were sedate and rarely applauded the speech. Several times I noticed that Biden looked as though he was fighting off a nap.

The theme was clearly one of inequality. The president tried to paint himself as the defender of the 99%, as the protector of the middle class. Same old, same old.

Obama opened with references to the military and the service of our nation's heroes. He spoke of the last troops in Iraq coming home and troops beginning to leave Afghanistan. He spoke of the death of Osama bin Laden, while being careful not to boast. That is important to his re-election efforts because he was one of the Democrats who enjoyed criticizing George W. Bush as running on re-election on the back of the war in Iraq and 9/11/01.

"Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example", he said of the unselfish devotion to country that the members of the military exhibit.

A catch phrase used was "built to last". He said that America is built to last and must re-build our manufacturing base for employment recovery. "What's at stake is not Democratic values or Republican values. It's American values." That line once worked for the man but rings hollow now. He has proven to be a president incapable to put his own politics aside and work with Republicans.

"The State of the Union is getting stronger." Weak tea coming from the man who was trying to instill a sense of optimism from the audience. His approval numbers remain low and consumer confidence numbers plunged to all time lows under his guidance. It will take more than some nice words, it will take real courage and leadership, to get us back on track. There are no illusions that this will happen in an election year.

He challenged business owners to "ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country". It will take tax reforms and a business friendly atmosphere that has been destroyed under his leadership, though. Business leaders cannot do it alone.

The usual favorite enemy of Barack Obama - Big Oil - surfaced a couple of times. Though he claimed to want to promote American energy - thus far failing to do so in his White House reign - he boasted that he has opened more land to drilling than ever before. That is a shady claim, as most oil is drilled on private lands and they have suffered from increased regulations. He said American oil production is at the highest level in eight years - a zing to President Bush, of course, yet that is due to shale oil production which is not regulated as offshore and land drilling is. He conveniently didn't mention that fact. He claims to want an "all of the above" approach to American energy though his policies continue to attempt to destroy oil and natural gas exploration in our waters offshore. There was no Keystone Pipeline reference. He said "I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy". Who asked him to do that? Those in the energy sector all want an "all of the above approach".

Obama, king of the straw men.

He claimed to want to reduce regulations for small business yet his administration brought about the increased regulations to begin with, especially those that will burden business under Obamacare.

He wants to encourage businesses with incentives to upgrade their buildings, to save energy and create jobs doing the renovations. It's a small ball approach to a federal jobs program. His signature stimulus spending bills are still hugely unpopular and have mostly failed. Unemployment was promised to not exceed 8% when the public was expected to go along with his first stimulus package. How'd that work out?

He promoted a huge new federal program to allow homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments to be allowed to re-finance their mortgages at new low rates, with a $3,000 tax deduction to boot.

He claims he has signed less new regulations into effect than former President Bush though he didn't mention that his regulations are wider sweeping and destructive to business development while Bush saw consistent economic growth until the collapse of the economy brought on mostly by the housing bubble - which began in the Carter administration and bad public policy encouraging cheap mortgages to people who couldn't afford them.

He put colleges on notice that if tuition cost continue to go up, federal assistance will go down. He wants those students here illegally due to decisions made by their parents to have a chance to become citizens. He wants more foreign students here on visas to remain in country and not return home to use their education elsewhere.

He wants to establish a Financial Crimes unit to make harsh penalties sick to those who commit fraud. No one believes this will be done but it was a talking point he wanted to make.

He still speaks of tax hikes for "millionaires and billionaires" and used the secretary to Warren Buffett, who sat next the the First Lady as a prop, to bolster his "Buffet Rule" - those making over $1 million per year should pay 30% in taxes with no tax subsidies or deductions.

He wants a bill to ban insider trading in Congress. He wants campaign donation bundlers to be banned from lobbying Congress. Ah, election year conversions.

He wants all nominees to receive a straight up or down vote within 90 days of the nomination. He would also like to end the super majority rules in Congress which require 60 votes in the Senate to pass legislation. He wants a bill to consolidate federal bureaucracies. This, from the guy who exploded the rate of federal expansion and has a record number of "czars" in his administration.

He ended as he began - referencing the military. "I will take no options off the table" in reference to Iran and the development of nuclear weapons. He tried to emphasize this "iron clad commitment to Israel" by repeating the claim. He said that America is held in higher esteem overseas than in recent years. Another jab at George W. Bush. He wants to continue to increase benefits to veterans. He promotes tax credits to businesses who hire veterans.

It was a rather boring speech. It was less partisan than recent speeches with no sweeping generalities, only tweaks here and there. It was small ball as a heavy nod to the fact that he would like another term as president. There was no real vision expressed other than calls for unity in general.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

No Budget in 1000 Days Yet Spending Increases Continue

The irony of a completely dysfunctional Congress now at the 1000 day mark of not passing a budget - as required by federal law - is not lost on many of those tuning into the president's State of the Union address Tuesday night. Despite the fact that a budget has not been passed during this president's term in office, the spending continues on in a brisk clip.

The federal government still managed to pile nearly $4 trillion onto the national debt as the Senate dithered during those 1,000 days. The Senate forced the federal government to function piecemeal for three years through a series of haphazardly stitched-together omnibus bills and continuing resolutions. These bring together in one massive document trillions in spending and borrowing that can then be jammed through Congress with one convenient up-or-down vote, with only token debate and few if any amendments allowed. It's Washington's nice and tidy way of handing voters a take-it-or-leave-it approach to federal spending.

Growing numbers of Washington politicians apparently would rather not be bothered with doing budgets. After all, budgeting is hard work, especially if, as it is for American families, there is a hard ceiling on how much can be spent. It requires politicians to make tough decisions about which programs get more funding, which get less and which, if any, are shown the door. Doing that means compromise, which in turn often prevents promises to constituents from being fulfilled. And worst of all, it means politicians can then be held accountable for their decisions by voters, who may not return them to office.

When the Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress during Obama's first two years in office, the Senate and the House were equally guilty. After the Republicans regained the House, however, they passed a proposed 2012 federal budget last year, thanks to the leadership of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. The Senate promptly rejected it, but didn't bother during the rest of 2011 to do its own version.

As is pointed out HERE, a lack of a budget has indeed increased spending.

A published budget would be an election-year death warrant for Senate Democrats, because Republican Senate candidates would stuff its highlights into every mailbox they could.

As Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., points out, going budget-less for so long has devastated our economy as Democrats have spent "$9.4 trillion and added $4.1 trillion to the national debt," plus over $1 trillion in deficits.

President Obama himself used to understand that a budget was a requirement of good government. But, that was then and this is now.

A budget, according to the president 1,000 days ago, is necessary "to lay a new foundation for growth." He praised Reid's 2009 budget for its massive new spending, like "new investments in renewable energy that will create millions of jobs and new industries, new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses, and new savings that will bring down our deficit."

How's all that renewable energy investment working out?

The White House continues its personal war on American energy production. Health care costs are continuing to rise and there is no way that Obamacare is paid for, despite the nonsense spouted by the president's supporters. Unemployment is still way too high at 8.5% and consumer prices have risen. Whether it is filling up the car's gas tank or purchasing the week's groceries, consumers continue to feel the hit in the pocketbook.

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) speaks about the lack of a budget for 1000 days on the Senate floor:

Are you better off now than you were $4 trillion ago?

Prelude to State of the Union Address: 1000 Days Without a Budget

Speaker of the House Boehner's office released this video as a prelude to the President's State of the Union address to be delivered Tuesday night before a joint session of Congress:

The trailer begins by reminding Americans of the downgrade to AA+ on President Obama's watch, and of the threat of future downgrades if serious action isn't taken to address our spending-driven debt crisis and protect our entitlement programs from going bankrupt.

Far from strengthening our economy, President Obama's policies - more spending, higher taxes, more regulations - are making our economy worse. Since President Obama took office, 1.7 million fewer people have jobs, gas prices have doubled, and the health care law is making it harder for small businesses to hire and provide health insurance to their employees.

President Obama says "we can't wait" for action on jobs -- even though that's exactly what his rejection of job-creating projects like Keystone XL has out-of-work Americans doing: waiting.

The 'stimulus' spending bill failed to keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent as the administration predicted. Instead, it's been higher than 8 percent for nearly three years.

The House has passed nearly 30 bipartisan jobs bills that have been blocked by the Democratic-controlled Senate -- common-sense bills to remove government barriers to job growth, stop Washington from spending money we don't have, and get government out of the way of small businesses. You can see the full list here and learn more at jobs.GOP.gov.

Instead of passing a budget of their own, Democrats attacked the House-passed budget which would cut spending, preserve and strengthen our entitlement programs, and help create new jobs. Their attacks earned them "four Pinocchios" from the Washington Post -- a dubious distinction reserved for outright "whoppers."

Here is the link for all things State of the Union address: http://gop.gov/SOTU

GOP Debate in Tampa, Florida

Conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer, commenting on the thirty point swing for Newt Gingrich in the Florida polls in recent weeks, said if "you get that in a patient, you pull out the Lithium". Yes, Republican voters have become quite emotionally motivated in their voting pattern this election cycle.

For those who proclaim that debates mean little in a political race, this primary has proved that reasoning to be quite false. Were it not for Newt Gingrich's stellar take down of CNN's John King in the last debate in Charleston, S.C. just two days before their primary, Mitt Romney would have likely maintained his lead and won that race. Gingrich piggybacked that debate win with the one a few days earlier in that week, the one held in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and he scored big points with voters there with his remark about jobs training and being a paycheck president, not a food stamps president. The crowds in both debates responded with standing ovations for Gingrich - a move rarely seen in these debates.

Monday night's debate in Tampa, Florida was preceded with the news that Gingrich has released his 2006 contract with Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac that the Romney camp was calling for while Gingrich continued to hammer Romney over unreleased tax returns. Gingrich is still the only one to release his tax return and at that, has only released last year's return online during the last debate. Romney said he will release his tax return Tuesday. Frankly, I don't think it will be to anyone's surprise that Romney is a very wealthy man and that he tithes generously to his church.

The debate was moderated by NBC's Brian Williams and questions were also asked by a reporter from The Tampa Bay Times and National Journal, both co-sponsors of the event.

It was two hours we will never get back. To say it was a lackluster event is an understatement. By default, Mitt Romney is the winner. He did nothing to hurt himself and he can claim victory. He mentioned that he learned some lessons in South Carolina and would not be so strong about positive campaigning. He certainly didn't go lightly on Newt Gingrich Monday night.

Newt Gingrich was quite subdued. The audience was quiet with only one real applause line taken. He seemed to have the strategy to leave angry Newt at home and not be indignant against the media, either. He did continue his attacks against Mitt Romney. Gingrich found favorable things to say about Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, no doubt a nod to his desire for their supporters to eventually go with him.

Rick Santorum has a couple of decent answers - especially about Iran and about mortgages underwater - but he is just an unlikeable man. He comes off angry and defensive, whether he is feeling that or not.

Ron Paul said nothing new or memorable.

The debate was a snooze fest and should go down as an embarrassment to NBC News but it won't. There were little in the way of substantive questions. It was 33 minutes into the debate before a real question was asked. Up until then it was all about Brian Williams baiting Gingrich and Romney against each other on personal attacks. It was ridiculous and a huge waste of time.

Again, no questions on Fast and Furious, the violence on the Mexican/Texas border, school choice, education reform, energy policy or other pertinent matters facing our country.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Vote 4 Energy - Supporting American Energy

This is a terrific ad currently being run on television in support of American energy by the American Petroleum Institute, using the voices of voters:

Gosh, American energy. What a concept.

The American Petroleum Institute is a strong supporter of the Keystone XL Pipeline project, recently rejected by President Obama in a blatant political pander for his re-election bid.

Getting more U.S. energy from a friendly North American neighbor would reduce U.S. reliance on energy resources from less stable regions, create American jobs, while enhancing domestic energy and national security. The Keystone XL pipeline expansion would provide a significant boost to U.S. energy security, bringing an extra 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries— With the pipeline, our crude imports from Canada could reach 4 million barrels a day by 2020, twice what we currently import from the Persian Gulf.

Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, now in its fourth year of review, could also create 20,000 construction jobs over the life of the project. Projects like this, along with additional investment in oil sands development in Canada and expansion of pipelines and refineries in the U.S. make it possible to realize an additional 500,000 U.S. jobs in 2035.

The U.S. government's own environmental review indicated that the Keystone XL pipeline would "have a degree of safety over any other," offering a safe, practical way to bring more Canadian oil to U.S. refineries. This is good for consumers, good for U.S. jobs, good for energy and economic security and certainly serves our national interest.

It is further proof that Barack Obama has no concept of a "shovel-ready job" and why would he? He has never held one himself. If he thinks that pandering to far left environmentalists will win his re-election or stop the oil and gas industry from developing new sources of oil and gas, he is sadly mistaken. Worse yet, no one thinks he believes that - everyone acknowledges it was a purely politically motivated decision in a re-election year. Once again, Barack Obama places his own career above the needs of his country.

President Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is an act of national insanity. It isn't often that a president makes a decision that has no redeeming virtues and -- beyond the symbolism -- won't even advance the goals of the groups that demanded it. All it tells us is that Obama is so obsessed with his re-election that, through some sort of political calculus, he believes that placating his environmental supporters will improve his chances.

Aside from the political and public relations victory, environmentalists won't get much. Stopping the pipeline won't halt the development of tar sands, to which the Canadian government is committed; therefore, there will be little effect on global warming emissions. Indeed, Obama's decision might add to them. If Canada builds a pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific for export to Asia, moving all that oil across the ocean by tanker will create extra emissions. There will also be the risk of added spills.

Now consider how Obama's decision hurts the United States. For starters, it insults and antagonizes a strong ally; getting future Canadian cooperation on other issues will be harder. Next, it threatens a large source of relatively secure oil that, combined with new discoveries in the United States, could reduce (though not eliminate) our dependence on insecure foreign oil.

Finally, Obama's decision forgoes all the project's jobs. There's some dispute over the magnitude. Project sponsor TransCanada claims 20,000, split between construction (13,000) and manufacturing (7,000) of everything from pumps to control equipment. Apparently, this refers to "job years," meaning one job for one year. If so, the actual number of jobs would be about half that spread over two years. Whatever the figure, it's in the thousands and important in a country hungering for work. And Keystone XL is precisely the sort of infrastructure project that Obama claims to favor.

President Obama and his far left ideologues in the White House continue to destroy the oil and gas industry in our country. They do so in this case at the expense of our relationship with our neighbor, Canada. Canada will sell the oil to China and other markets overseas now instead of to the U.S. It is, indeed, insanity.

I vote for American energy. I hope you do, too, in November.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gingrich Wins South Carolina Primary

Known as "the first in the South", Saturday's South Carolina primary was won by Newt Gingrich. The inevitable candidate, Mitt Romney, came in a distant second, followed by Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.

The new tally of convention delegates is: 31 -Romney,26 -Gingrich,10 -Paul,8 -Santorum.

Inevitable isn't so inevitable anymore.

The speeches after the primary winner was called were interesting. Romney came out first and went negative on the others, mostly Gingrich, and did some attacking of President Obama. Ron Paul went next and did a typical stump speech as he vowed to continue on to the convention. Rick Santorum spoke of his commitment to be the values voter's candidate and said he'd go on, too. Gingrich was last and went the other way. Instead of delivering digs to the other candidates, he focused on attacking Barack Obama.

There is no doubt in my mind that CNN's John King delivered the victory to Gingrich. Romney was ahead in the race up until the last debate where Gingrich delivered a scorching condemnation of King's choice of opening questions. Newt went ahead in the polling after that.

The battle goes to Florida now. Romney is in a comfortable lead, according to the polls there. He may be able to get a victory, as the demographics are different in Florida than in South Carolina. Less Evangelical, more moderate-leaning voters, more transplanted residents from the northeastern states, are just a few of the differences.

This primary will drag out. They all claim they are in it until the convention in Tampa this summer. Time will tell if that will be true. If Santorum can't place well in Florida then his money will surely dry up.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Keystone XL Pipeline Decision Slaps Canada

Environmentalists seem to think they can prevent the development of Canada's oil-rich tar sands, and that their rallies against Keystone XL will keep that carbon in the ground. They can't, and it won't. America's largest trading partner will simply build a pipeline to the Pacific coast from Alberta and sell its petroleum products to Asia instead, China in particular.

Such green delusions are sad, and Mr. Obama's pandering is sadder, though everything the country stands to lose is saddest. If Mitt Romney and the other GOP candidates have any political wit, they'll vindicate the Keystone's "national interest" and make Mr. Obama explain why job creation is less important than the people who make a living working for the green anti-industrial complex.

Those are the final paragraphs of a piece in Thursday's Wall Street Journal on the purely political decision issued by President Obama in rejecting the permits for the Keystone XL Pipeline project.

In reality, Canada will sell its oil to China and other markets overseas, instead of continuing to be our strongly loyal trading partner.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in a telephone call yesterday, told Obama “Canada will continue to work to diversify its energy exports,” according to details provided by Harper’s office. Canadian Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver said relying less on the U.S. would help strengthen the country’s “financial security.”

The “decision by the Obama administration underlines the importance of diversifying and expanding our markets, including the growing Asian market,” Oliver told reporters in Ottawa.

Currently, 99 percent of Canada’s crude exports go to the U.S., a figure that Harper wants to reduce in his bid to make Canada a “superpower” in global energy markets.

This decision - political pandering by Team Obama at its worst - has not gone unnoticed by our loyal partner, Canada:

The Keystone decision is the latest of several U.S. moves that have irked Canadian policy makers. Canada objected to “Buy American” provisions in the Obama administration’s $447 billion jobs bill that was blocked by Republicans in Congress, as well as the restoration of a $5.50 fee on Canadian travelers arriving in the U.S. by plane or ship.

Approval of Keystone is a “no-brainer,” Harper said in a Sept. 21 interview with Bloomberg.

To Team Obama, one man's re-election is more important than the energy needs of our country. President Obama went to his default position when he makes a bad decision - he blamed Republicans for it. He intended all along to kick the decision down the road until after his re-election bid and now he simply looks even weaker as a leader than before. This pipeline project has been in the works for several years now.

Pipeline approval has been pending since September 2008, when TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. applied for permission to build it. Because 1,384 miles were to be built in the United States, the State Department reviewed the application.

Although the State Department gave Keystone a positive environmental assessment last August, in November it announced that approval would be delayed until the first quarter of 2013, pending the study of alternative routes.

The panderer-in-chief had to chose between two hardcore Democratic special interest group, the unions and the environmental lobby, and he chose the environmental lobby at the expense of jobs creation and employment of blue collar workers. Ideology over the middle class. It didn't have to be this way. The studies are in and the environmental concerns have been addressed. Obama simply chose to allow the State Department to take the fall for his own indecisive leadership.

We all lose.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Debate in Charleston with GOP Candidates for President

Newt Gingrich won the debate Thursday night in Charleston, South Carolina in the first minutes. Incompetent CNN debate moderator began the evening's event with a question to Newt concerning his ex-wife Marianne's ugly interview with a rival network that was all the buzz the last few days. The interview aired after the debate by that other network.

Newt Gingrich made short work of John King.

And, to add some frosting to that cake, Gingrich received two standing ovations from the audience while he was delivering that response. King, by thinking he would put Newt on his heels right out of the chute ended up allowing Newt to do what Newt does best - school the American media on their own pathetic performances.

We are down to four candidates now. Simply put, it remains the truth that any of the Republicans would be an improvement over Barack Obama and his dismal record in office.

Mitt Romney needs a far better answer to the question of when he will release his tax records. While he is no obligated to do so before or until he receives the party's nomination, the others are asking about it and Romney needs a good response. The man has been running for President for many years now and should be better prepared. Newt released his tax return online as the debate was being held - an obvious jab at Mitt. Ron Paul said he really had no plans to release his and said he might be a bit embarrassed anyway as he doesn't have the kind of money that the others do. Rick Santorum hasn't released his returns, either, and vaguely said he'd try to do so though he does his own taxes and his returns are on his personal computer at home. Whatever. The fact is this - everyone knows Romney is a very wealthy man. The investigations into his wealth have proved nothing but that he has lived within the legal guidelines of the tax code.

Rick Santorum transformed into a petulant child on stage. When he clearly couldn't make much headway with Romney or Gingrich he turned snide and insulting to the others.

Ron Paul performed well, especially since absolutely no questions were asked about foreign policy. He reminded John King that he would like to answer the health care and abortion questions as he is the only actual doctor in the race. He spoke on behalf of benefits for veterans, also as the only military veteran in race.

The debate, while raucous at times, was poorly executed by CNN and John King. Instead of the real issues, King chose to go the route of standard Democrat talking points and questions on social issues. It was a waste of time when the audience and America consider the economy and jobs creation, as well as foreign policy, the most important issues in this election year.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Governor Perry Out - Endorses Gingrich

He started out on fire and quickly saw his campaign go to ashes. It is hard to imagine a candidate with strong potential fall to such a poor campaign and dismal debate performances.

Though his debate performances did improve as time went on, his campaign didn't and that is what finally did Governor Perry in. Rick Perry dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for President Thursday morning and formally endorsed Newt Gingrich in the race. He did so with a strong and gracious speech, endorsing Newt Gingrich with full support and mentioning that he "believes in the power of redemption" in all people, as his faith dictates. His wife, Anita and his son, Griffin were on stage with him.

Had Governor Perry been strong in the first debates and delivered more humble speeches like his speech Thursday morning, the race may have been quite different for him. But, it is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback.

I continue to believe that the campaign staff failed him miserably. Whomever told him it was a good idea to announce his candidacy on the day of the Iowa Straw Poll while he was in South Carolina for a bloggers convention started the bad decisions rolling. Iowans take themselves way too seriously to allow that to go without a fight. Perry did poorly in the Iowa caucuses as a result.

Whomever prepared Governor Perry for the first debates failed him. He has never been a very good debater but there is no excuse for a candidate at this level to not be better prepared. His campaign had plenty of money to hire the very best coaches. Unfortunately, they didn't do so until it was over for Perry. The first impressions that those in the country who don't live in Texas received of Governor Perry were not the kind that encourages much support.

Often Governor Perry gave the impression that he was running for Governor of the United States, not President of the United States. As President, he would have to work with both parties and that was not always clear in his speeches. Sometimes there was just too much bravado and we are a nation tired of bravado. We want strong, yet humble, leadership now.

Whomever allowed Governor Perry to announce he was re-thinking his campaign after his loss in Iowa and then twelve hours later tweet that he was all in and on the way to South Carolina failed him. No matter what the level of support a candidate thinks he or she has, skipping New Hampshire is not a good plan. It promotes ill will and makes the candidate look weaker.

I had the opportunity to go to Myrtle Beach for the weekend prior to the GOP debate there, as well as participate in an instant response exercise to the debate and I can tell you that no one I spoke to all weekend were proclaiming Perry as their candidate.

Governor Perry did the right thing by suspending his campaign Thursday before the voting Saturday in the South Carolina primary. He can not return to Texas with his head held high. He did his best, despite his blundering campaign staff and poor decisions. He left the campaign trail with dignity.

TPPF Issues Statement on Keystone Pipeline Decision

This is the press release issued from Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin. It comes from Kathleen Hartnett White, Director of the Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment

“The Administration’s denial of the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline to transport Canadian oil to refineries in the U.S. is a huge loss to the national economy, and especially to Texas. Many refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast have been configured to process this now-abundant oil from the tar sands of Canada.

“The Administration’s claim that Congress forced a premature decision is without merit. The project has been under review by federal agencies for several years, and the route and design of the Keystone pipeline has been scrupulously planned to minimize any environmental risks. With massive, enduring economic benefits and minute risks, the Keystone pipeline is a genuinely shovel-ready project that would create tens of thousands of jobs in several states. In stark contrast to the false promise of Solyndra-like green jobs created by billions of taxpayer dollars, private investment would create the Keystone jobs, adding rather than subtracting from taxpayer’s pockets.

“After 40 years of dependence on imports from countries hostile to U.S. interests, North America stands of the verge of becoming a net exporter of oil. The Administration’s denial of the Keystone pipeline stymies this achievement, and is a blow to the still-fragile economy.”

Kathleen Hartnett White has impressive credentials in the area of energy and environmental policy. She has a background in ranching, as well. Currently she and her husband partner in a ranching operation.

Prior to joining the Foundation, White served a six-year term as Chairman and Commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). With regulatory jurisdiction over air quality, water quality, water rights & utilities, storage and disposal of waste, TCEQ’s staff of 3000, annual budget of over $600 million and 16 regional offices make it the second largest environmental regulatory agency in the world after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Prior to Governor Rick Perry’s appointment of White to the TCEQ in 2001, she served as then Governor George Bush appointee to the Texas Water Development Board where she sat until appointed to TCEQ. She also served on the Texas Economic Development Commission and the Environmental Flows Study Commission.

I have had the pleasure of hearing Ms. Hartnett White speak on more than one occassion and she brings experience and common sense to these pressing issues. That's something Washington, D.C. could use a lot more of, if you ask me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Keystone Pipeline Project Denied by Obama

Continuing on in his determination to destroy the oil and gas drilling industry in our country, Barack Obama today allowed the State Department to nix the Keystone Pipeline project.  The decision was required from this administration as it was a part of the December payroll tax legislation agreement.  So, instead of actually making a decision, Obama again punted.  He tossed it off to the State Department and allowed that department to take the fall for his cowardness.

Upon the leak to the press, the Institute for Energy Research issued this statement:

“Tens of thousands of American jobs died today because of the president’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline permit. For more than two years, the administration has delayed, hoping to get past 2012 without having to reveal the president’s true anti-job, anti-energy agenda. Because of today’s announcement, Americans will continue to send $70 million overseas every day to purchase foreign oil that could be coming from right here in North America.

Today, the president has clearly said that the creation of tens of thousands of American jobs and a stronger relationship with our closest trade partner was not in the national interest. Out-of-work Americans are surely asking themselves what nation’s interest the president is considering? It certainly isn’t America’s — not our energy security and not our economy.

Moreover, it is an insult to the American people that he president has to hide behind Secretary Hillary Clinton to kill Keystone XL. Rather than coming out and saying what we already know — that he has chosen to side with environmental radicals and the EPA against job creators and hardworking, taxpaying men and women — he’s blaming his failure on the inability to finish a State Department review within the statutory timeframe. That timeframe, by the way, was approved by a Democrat-controlled Senate.

The president’s actions today are unconscionable. It is raw political hubris at its very worst. Every time the President has wanted something, he’s been more than willing to fast track it. He fast tracked Obamacare. He fast-tracked his trillion dollar stimulus. He fast tracked cap-and-trade. He’s fast tracked EPA regulations and Solyndra loans. But today, he claims he doesn’t have the time to do a thorough job.

It’s time for this president to stop worrying about his own job, and start worrying about millions of Americans who haven’t had a job since he took office.”

Jack Gerard, President and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute asks of the President, "What are you thinking?"

“This is a clear abdication of leadership on the part of the President. How can you say that you are for jobs and reject the largest shovel ready job in America. Mr. President, what are you thinking?
It makes the United States more vulnerable to rely on outside sources for our energy. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Harper of Canada just this week said because of the volatile indecisiveness on the part of this President, that they feel they are being held hostage and they will take their energy elsewhere specifically to Asia and China.

Obama claims that the Republicans were "rushing" him with an arbitrary deadline. He whines that he's "disappointed" that Republicans forced this decision. Excuse me, but that decision was voted on and passed in the Democratically-controlled Senate.  He continues to fib about the claim that under his administration the output of American oil is up. His moratorium is very much in place with the continued slow walking of permits allowing drilling and allowing drilling in progress to continue. He is completely in the pocket of his base, including the environmentalists, at this point, as he seeks re-election on very shaking grounds.

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus issued this statement:

“President Obama’s decision to block the Keystone XL energy pipeline is both economically destructive and politically self-serving. He has sacrificed 20,000 American jobs and an affordable, secure energy source simply to please his liberal base. With Americans suffering from high unemployment and high energy prices, the president has once again ignored the needs of the American people,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

“Obama’s failure to lead on the economy is a reminder of how desperately America needs a new direction. Today, Barack Obama proved he will say anything to save his job but do nothing to create jobs for the unemployed. America cannot afford four more years of misplaced priorities.

“We need a president who puts the interests of the American people ahead of the special interests."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Faith and Freedom Coalition Prayer Breakfast in Myrtle Beach

Kicking off an events packed couple of days in Myrtle Beach leading up to the GOP Presidential debate Monday night, the Faith and Freedom Coalition held a prayer breakfast. The event was even more popular than expected, with about 250 people being turned away.

I have to say, I don't think I've attended a prayer breakfast before the one today. Our group was front and center, with a great view. One table over was Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, who spoke to the crowd about religious freedom and public policy. He spoke of the troubling path taken by the Obama administration towards Israel, in particular.

Two GOP presidential candidates were in attendance.

We were also next to the table that seated Governor Perry and Ralph Reed. Governor Perry was mobbed by press and attendees alike. Governor Perry delivered a speech concentrating on his personal story of his faith and his life leading up to today. He introduced his son, Griff, to the crowd.

Ralph Reed spoke about the importance of South Carolina voters - who traditionally choose the GOP candidate - to support a candidate who is strong not just in economic policy but also in personal values.

Eric Metaxas, commonly known as the creator of Veggie Tales but also the author of a biographies of Wilburforce and Bonhoeffer for the grown-ups, spoke of living in Manhattan and the atmosphere of feeling out of the mainstream liberal view of stifling religious expression. He unabashedly supports Rick Santorum.

Rick Santorum brought his wife, Karen, and their daughter to the event. He said the other kids were not willing to get up so early to make the early morning drive from Charleston. He encourage the crowd to not allow the media and the "establishment" to chose the candidate but to take a chance on him, as South Carolina did with Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cruz Takes Debate Points to Dewhurst in Austin

Thursday night, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Empower Texans held a debate with the candidates running for the seat being vacated by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. The six participating candidates were: Glenn Addison, Ted Cruz, David Dewhurst, Craig James and Tom Leppert.

The moderators/questioners were a reporter from the Austin Statesman, an anchor from Univision, and a reporter from a local news station.

Let's get this out of the way: Ted Cruz brought the fight to David Dewhurst. With his very first answer, as he thanked the Lt. Governor for being there, after not accepting 19 debate invitations. At each opportunity, with most every answer, Ted Cruz pointed to differences in past performances between the two men. Cruz emphasized that performance records must be looked at when deciding on a candidate, not just words on a debate stage - or of election conversions.

Dewhurst is a deliberate speaker, by which I mean he pauses (sometimes too long) before he speaks. Nothing wrong with doing that - many of us could do more of it ourselves - but it comes off as slow and less strong than the responses of the others on the stage.

Tom Leppert is an impressive candidate in his own right. He has a clear understanding of economics and how government works, as a former mayor and a businessman. This just isn't his year, though.

Glenn Addison enjoys whipping out his pocket sized Constitution with each answer he delivers. He bills himself as "the common man". A successful funeral business owner in Magnolia, he engages the audience with his folksy banter and off the wall sayings. He talks up Ron Paul a bit too much for my taste but we can all agree on a couple of Dr. Paul's ideas - such as auditing the Federal Reserve. All of the candidates spoke in favor of that. Addison clearly envisions himself as a Tea Party guy.

Craig James entered the race last and this may have been his first debate. He was a bit awkward but held his own as he got more into the groove of answering questions. The reporter from the Austin Statesman tried to perform a classic "gotcha" question on the rookie candidate and James was not having it. He scolded the reporter for the question and then went on to answer it. The reporter asked, since most people don't know him or his level of knowledge of world affairs, "who is the Secretary of Defense?" After doing a bit of a rant about those kinds of questions, rightfully so, he then answered correctly. Like all of them, he has a compelling personal story and is not lacking in self-confidence after his career in football and then on camera on ESPN. He also has a real estate business.

The debate was well run. Actual meaningful questions were asked and policy agendas were forced out of sometimes reluctant candidates. The debate was livestreamed for a larger audience, though the audience at the event was quite large.

Thanks to Texas Public Policy Foundation's Communications Director David Guenther for my invitation and to Empower Texans for partnering with TPPF for a spirited and thoughtful debate.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Daley Out as Obama Chief of Staff

Bill Daley, brought in just one year ago to smooth the divisions between Barack Obama's White House and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American businesses, is out. He's headed back to Chicago after what must have been a completely frustrating year in Washington, D.C.

According to a new book out by The New York Times reporter, Jodi Kantor, Daley was at the mercy of Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett for big policy decisions. Now in unabashed re-election mode, Barack Obama no longer feels the need to appear as though he is trying to work with anyone who may not support his agenda on Capitol Hill. Obama has decided, in fact, to run against the Republican controlled House of Representatives and ladle out the generous dollops of class warfare at every venture.

Daley resigned the same weekend as this bit from the book leaked:

“When Michelle Obama worked in Mayor Daley’s City Hall in the early 1990s, she was 'distressed' by how a small group of 'white Irish Catholic' families — the Daleys, the Hynes and the Madigans — 'locked up' power in Illinois.

"She particularly resented the way power in Illinois was locked up generation after generation by a small group of families, all white Irish Catholic — the Daleys in Chicago, the Hynes and Madigans statewide.”

Sounds a bit racist, right?

This article points out that Daley was not effective because Obama didn't have his back in disagreements with Jarrett and Mrs. Obama.

Bill Daley is a political pragmatist. He cuts deals. Like his father and his brother, he is not a left-wing ideologue; nor is he a Republican in Democratic clothing.

He is a pro-business Democrat, an increasingly rare breed these days in Washington.

It is rumored that Daley will return to Chicago and work within the Obama re-election campaign.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Conservatives Attack Capitalism and Romney's Success

There is something very unseemly happening in the Republican primary battle - not just the nasty in-fighting that always happens - but in the attacks on Mitt Romney for his years at the helm of Bain Capital.

Since when did Republicans criticize free enterprise and capitalism? And, if you fall for the line from the non-Mitt supporters that it isn't capitalism that they are criticizing, you would be naive. It is all tied together. Romney was exercising his right as a business man. He went into venture capitalism and he saved companies from going under. Yes, some companies failed and he was in the leadership when jobs were lost.

That's life, isn't it? That is the free enterprise system. When all other cost cutting measures fail to stop the red ink on the company business ledger, jobs are eliminated. That is just reality.

The non-Mitt candidates are scrambling. Romney is winning and desperation has set in to prolong the Republican primary season. That's fine. I'm all for a long primary. It will produce a stronger, better candidate to go up against Barack Obama. This tactic, however, is crazy. And, cynical at best. I defended Newt Gingrich when the stories came out about his large line of credit at Tiffany's. Gingrich was a private citizen. It was his money. He paid the bills. It is none of anyone's business. Complaining about these kind of things is what Democrats do.

Same with attacking a successful business, working in a perfectly legal manner and yes, creating jobs. Democrats criticize that, not Republicans. We are the party of helping all people with job creation and a business-friendly atmosphere.

Kim Strassel in The Wall Street Journal wrote:

Actually, the only thing that is clear is that the GOP field is ditching first principles in a desperate attempt to stop the Romney locomotive. The candidates say that the attacks on Mr. Romney aren't a criticism of the free market. Their spin is that Bain was capitalism-gone-wrong, a firm that existed to strip wealth from companies and funnel it to "raiders" like Mr. Romney. Mr. Gingrich, for instance, explained that "those of us who believe in free markets . . . would find it pretty hard to justify rich people figuring out clever, legal ways to loot out a company." Mr. Perry said "there is something inherently wrong when getting rich off failure and sticking it to someone else is how you do your business."

There's something more wrong, at least for many conservative voters, with demonstrating a poor grasp of the fundamentals of the free market. Bain cut jobs. It also created jobs. It made money. It also lost money. This is what happens in business, and there is no version of it that is warm and fuzzy, and where everyone wins. To beat on Bain -- and its business of taking big risks, restructuring firms, making bets -- is to beat on every other investment firm, private-equity group, and hedge fund in America. The voters understand this, too, which is why Mr. Gingrich reaped a backlash in December, the first time he took a shot at Mr. Romney's business record. He found out then how difficult it is to hit Mr. Romney on this issue without also leaving voters with doubts as to his own beliefs in the basics of capitalism.

What voters might resent more is the lazy nature of the attacks. Mr. Romney isn't lacking in liabilities with a conservative base -- from his Massachusetts health-care experiment to his uninspired tax plans to his former positions on all manner of issues. Voters would no doubt prefer to hear his rivals making sharp contrasts with Mr. Romney over these flashpoints. Instead, they're getting a earful of cheap shots about his time making money.

Ms. Strassel is correct - there is plenty of ground to criticize Romney on legitimately. There is simply no need for this kind of wrong-headed attack.

For the record, I am not a Romney supporter. I have not settled on any Republican candidate yet in the primary race. I am, however, completely committed to supporting whomever our nominee is and will work diligently to defeat Barack Obama in November 2012. I encourage my fellow Republicans and conservatives to not make Barack Obama's re-election team's job easier by continuing to write their ads for them. That is exactly what this kind of line of attack produces - ads for the opponent.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Why I'm Endorsing Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate

I am a realist. I believe in the political philosophy of William F. Buckley, Jr. - nominate the most conservative electable candidate. Electable is the operative word.  In this race for the U.S. Senate to represent the State of Texas, it is not so easy to choose a candidate. We have a terrific field of candidates.

I have looked seriously at former Dallas Mayor Leppert, Lt. Governor Dewhurst and former Tx Solicitor General Ted Cruz. Not a bad choice in the bunch, if you ask me. And, despite whatever you may read or hear elsewhere, all of them are conservative, strong Republicans.

I don't think that this election in 2012 is the time to be safe, however. It would be safe to endorse Lt. Gov. Dewhurst. He has been a reliable Republican and he has served Texas well. He views his public service years as a way of giving back after much personal and professional success. He is the best kind of citizen patriot - he wants to help others to achieve their dreams. He wants Texas to be the shining star of the States. He is a good man.

Tom Leppert has a terrific economic plan, touted by The Wall Street Journal. He, too, decided to go into public service after succeeding in his professional life. He has a history of working well across the aisle, which is necessary in Washington if your pet legislation goals are to be successful. That is reality.

Ted Cruz, though, grabbed me. He captured my attention with the first speech I heard him deliver.  He is a compelling candidate - he inspires the audience.  In times like this, we need some real inspiration.  We are a nation mired in despair and anger.  We need someone fresh who will inspire us all.  Most importantly, we need someone who will inspire us as Republicans to be happy warriors.  Ted Cruz is a happy warrior.

Ted Cruz has captured the attention of  National Review, the conservative standard bearer of publications, begun several decades ago by William F. Buckley, Jr.  He has also received a quite favorable column by George Will, a highly respected conservative writer.

It will be a tough race.  Lt. Governor Dewhurst has the name recognition and a large personal fortune.  He could be an easy choice for endorsement.  But, this time around I'm going with my first instincts.  Sometimes the easy path is not the best way.  Sometimes we need to ask for a little bit more.  I think Ted Cruz can deliver for Texas and our country.

I endorse Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate.  I ask you to consider supporting him, too.

Are Obama's Recess Appointments Unconstitutional?

Are presidential recess appointments unconstitutional? The simple answer is no. President Obama's recess appointments are not unconstitutional. The question is, was Congress in recess? The answer to that question is also no. The Senate was in pro-forma session.

On Wednesday, he appointed Richard Cordray director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and named three more people to posts on the National Labor Relations Board. Obama gave these jobs out as "recess appointments", which is a provision in the Constitution that allows a President to name new heads of agencies without seeking Congressional approval when the Congress is in recess.

Here's the problem: Congress is not in recess. He's flat-out violating the Constitution. Legal scholars and major news outlets have already criticized Obama for this brazen disregard for our country's foundational law.

President Obama knew the Senate was in pro-forma session. He supported such an exercise when he was in the Senate himself and wanted to block President George W. Bush's agenda. That was then and this is now. Running for re-election, Obama has elevated himself into King Obama. The Congress be damned.

The 60-vote threshold may not seem fair. But in his 2006 book, "The Audacity of Hope," Obama wrote, "To me, the threat to eliminate the filibuster on judicial nominations was just one more example of the Republicans changing the rules in the middle of the game." He was angry with Republicans for thinking about flouting precedent.

Obama, however, didn't seem to mind when Democrats changed the rules during George W. Bush's presidency. On Nov. 16, 2007, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the Senate would hold pro forma sessions -- that could involve little more than gavel rattling -- during the Thanksgiving holiday "to prevent recess appointments."

According to the Congressional Research Service, "the Senate pro forma session practice appears to have achieved its stated intent: President Bush made no recess appointments between the initial pro forma sessions in November 2007 and the end of his presidency." Upon Obama's election, recesses resumed, but in 2010, the Senate resurrected pro forma sessions.

And now Reid agrees with Obama aides who say that his pro forma sessions are a gimmick. He's supporting the president's attempt to undermine Senate power.

During the Bush administration a favorite criticism was that Bush used his powers in the executive branch too much. That he was zealous in his actions. Now, however, there seems to be little notice of Barack Obama asserting himself and whining that he can't get anything done because those mean Republicans are blocking his agenda.

News flash to Barack Obama: blocking his agenda is the job of the Republican party. Just like Newt Gingrich worked to block the agenda of Bill Clinton and Nancy Pelosi worked to block the agenda of George W. Bush, Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader McConnell are working to stop the agenda of Barack Obama.

Senator Cornyn weighed in on the power grab by President Obama:

Senator John Cornyn is unhappy that President Obama has appointed Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It’s a recess appointment, done without senate approval.

He also pointed out that when Obama was a senator, Obama called a similar recess appointee “damaged goods.”

In addition, Cornyn said Obama is unwilling to work with Congress to adopt common-sense improvements in accountability and transparency that would protect small businesses from regulations and red tape.

And from the Wall Street Journal:

Eager to pick a fight with Congress as part of his re-election campaign, Mr. Obama did the Constitutional equivalent of sticking a thumb in its eye and hitting below the belt. He installed Richard Cordray as the first chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and named three new members to the National Labor Relations Board. He did so even though the Senate was in pro forma session after the new Congress convened this week.

Barack Obama knows he cannot run on his own record in office. He has no real bragging rights to much success of any issue. The only path to re-election he finds workable now is to fight Congress as the man who is looking out for the middle class, for the little guy in America. It's ridiculous, sure, but Congress traditionally has low approval ratings from voters and this year is no exception to that. Compared to Congressional approval polling, President Obama is higher rated and he has gone that route.

This is pure politics and makes for an even more cynical eye on the Obama administration.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Debating in New Hampshire - Part Deux

Sunday morning brought the second GOP presidential primary debate in New Hampshire. A mere twelve hours after the one held the previous night, this one was better but that's not saying much. The one Saturday night was horrid, at best, thanks to the unbelievably silly and unimportant questions asked by the two liberal network news anchors acting as moderators. This Sunday morning debate was also hosted by a liberal network news anchor but his inane questioning took a different turn. This moderator tried to bait the candidates into doing some in-fighting on stage.

The candidates were itching for a fight with front-runner Mitt Romney after a night of being told they totally wimped out about challenging Romney in the Saturday night debate. Everyone knows that Romney will win the primary in New Hampshire but it is a matter of by how large a margin at this point. For the others do make a decent showing, they have to distinguish themselves from each other, but in particular from Romney. They are all running as the not-Mitt candidate.

After about fifteen minutes of the not-Mitt candidates duking it out with Mitt Romney, they retreated again. No one understands this so I won't dwell on it. The best line delivered, however, before the tit for tat attacks ended was when Gingrich told Romney to stop with the "pious baloney" and that was memorable.

The host, NBC's David Gregory tried to make an issue of Senate Minority Leader McConnell's remark that his job was to make President Obama a one term president. It was silly, of course, and the candidates educated Gregory a bit. It is the job of the opposition party to make the president from the other party a one-term president. Gingrich spoke from personal experience - he spoke of his opposition to President Clinton, of Nancy Pelosi's opposition to President George W. Bush, etc. Romney was able to speak of his ability to work with the Massachusetts senate as governor when it was leaning 85% Democratic. "We can find common ground". He also pointed out that with that 85% Democratic senate in Massachusetts he cut taxes 19 times and created charter schools.

Governor Rick Perry was able to recite the three agencies he would like to abolish - the Departments of Energy, Commerce and Education - and that caused laughter from the audience. Frankly, while it was amusing it would have been effective had it he done that two months ago.

Newt continued his attack on Romney over his involvement in Bain Capital and the money he made in the private sector. I have to say, I am finding it most irritating for conservatives - Republicans - to bash others for success in the free market. We are the party who is on a mission to encourage free markets and the model of capitalism. To criticize one or the other for working and receiving money for that work is not a good tactic. It makes that person sound like a Democrat. Capitalism and free markets - it's a good thing.

Santorum brought his nasty face. He has a tendency to go negative in an ugly way when he is feeling defensive. He is trying mightily to stay in the fight and finish in the top three in New Hampshire, which he may very well do. But in order for him to remain viable on to South Carolina he has to solidify the social conservatives behind him. He doesn't have the organization or money in the bank to keep going without that happening.

The thing about Romney is that he is able to stand on stage and take the attacks while keeping a smile on his face. Real smile or not, it's effective. He looks calm and he doesn't have to get down into the fray with the others. It's the luxury the front runner possesses.

Gingrich was slighted by Santorum as Santorum tries to take credit for welfare reform and other entitlement reforms that were, in fact, ushered in under Gingrich's leadership as Speaker of the House. Santorum was, as Gingrich characterizes him, "a junior partner" in that work. Gingrich directly turned to Romney and told him to call off his former staffers and friends who are producing ads against him through the Super PACs. Romney declared he had not seen any of these ads then went on to go point by point on the claims in them. It is against election law, you see, for a candidate to work together with a Super PAC. So, that was interesting.

Governor Perry did well, both Saturday night and this debate. the problem is that he is no longer considered a viable candidate and is not given much air time. He is banished to the end of the stage and not asked to join the discussion. Perry is so far down in the polls that some are questioning if he has high enough numbers to even be in the South Carolina debates.

Debate Number One in New Hampshire

The first of two back to back debates for the GOP candidates seeking the presidential nomination was held Saturday night and moderated by ABC News' Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulous. To say it was the worst debate I have ever watched is not an exaggeration. The two celebrity moderators were clearly pushing the liberal political agenda and it was ridiculous.

Mitt Romney was the clear winner of this debate. He won simply by staying out of the fray and had the luxury of remaining calm and smiling as the others went on the attack. None of the other candidates were willing to directly attack Romney when the opportunities were there and only took a swat or two at him.

The first hour of the debate was devoted to such incredibly silly questions such as the right of citizens to use contraception. I kid you not. Trying to get all the candidates to answer crazy questions about religious or personal beliefs in the context of political decisions was straight out of the Democrats play book to make Republicans look like religious zealots or out of touch extremists.

On the contraception question, Romney shined. Instead of getting into the weeds of legal rulings, he joked about the absurdity of the exercise.

But instead of launching into a legalistic discourse, Romney was incredulous at the question. "I mean, the idea of you putting forward things that... no state wants to do and asking me whether they could do it or not is kind of a silly thing, I think." Romney said he of course wouldn't vote to ban contraception (which is Santorum's ultimate position), and then went on to blast judicial activism and argue that judges should not "stuff" rights into the Constitution that don't exist.

There were no real discussions of jobs programs, entitlement reform or the path forward for our nation economically. The only foreign policy questioning occurred as the candidates spoke about troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. On Iraq, Rick Perry said he would send troops back into that country. A clear mistake, his campaign spokesperson later said the governor meant he would place troops strategically in the country to protect against Iranian interference.

Governor Huntsman broke out the Mandarin towards the end of the debate. A former Ambassador to China, he was stressing the importance of our place in the world and that isolationism is not a good policy. Conservative pundits mocked him, and no doubt it didn't win over any voters, but I thought it was amusing nonetheless.

Ron Paul was strong in standing his ground on Constitutional issues. He and Newt Gingrich had a back and forth on military matters. Paul declared he went to do his military service when he was drafted, despite being married and having two children at the time. Gingrich, who used deferment to avoid serving during the Vietnam war, boasted of being an Army brat and his father's career service in the Army.

None of the candidates said anything to force an error from Romney. Santorum was strong but he will need to maintain his performance in the coming debates and not slide back into his whining or snarling manner seen in previous debates.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Are Huntsman's Adopted Children Fair Game in Campaign Attacks?

A new attack ad has been launched on GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman and this one is over the adoption of his daughter from China and a bonus cameo of his daughter adopted from India. To put the icing on this ugly, nasty cake - it's an attack launched by a group supporting another GOP candidate.

Jon and Mary Kaye Huntsman have seven children – 5 biological (Sons: William and Jon III; Daughters: Liddy, Abby and Elizabeth), and 2 internationally adopted daughters (Asha from India and Gracie Mei from China). Asha was left to die in a field after her birth and Gracie Mei was found in a vegetable market in China. Both had little chance for survival.

Some folks on both the left and right are trying to include the children of GOP candidates as fodder in the nasty political attacks launched recently. This is wrong and it must be stopped. It is indefensible, especially when the victims of these attacks are minor children. It is sick.

The ad is running now. The ad is by Ron Paul supporters. Ron Paul, to his credit, has stated that he does not approve of the ad and asked that it be taken down.

The attack against Jon Huntsman is particularly nasty. The attack calls Huntsman the "Manchurian candidate" because of his service as Ambassador to China. Yes, this kind of ignorance exists.

The video, posted to YouTube by a group claiming to be "New Hampshire Liberty 4 Paul," attempts to draw a sinister connection between Jon Huntsman's fluency in Mandarin -- he was a former U.S. ambassador to China -- and adopted children to suggest that he may be some sort of Manchurian Candidate. It closes with an illustration of Huntsman as Chairman Mao.

Classy, right?

You can listen to Abby Huntsman Livingston's response to the attack on her father HERE

"I think it's unfortunate that the political conversation has become this vile," she said. "I think this video goes a bit far. My two little sisters are the love of my dad's life. They came from very unfortunate circumstances, and we feel blessed every day to have them in our lives. So, they're the ones I think about in a video like this."

Abby Huntsman Livingston continued, saying "the Ron Paul supporters don't realize that these actions really affect the Ron Paul campaign."

Of all the candidates challenging Paul for the nomination, Huntsman is one of little consequence. New Hampshire will be his high water mark in the contest and he is predicted to lose it to Romney by a wide margin. The attack is wrong and completely unnecessary. Plus the question is presents: what kind of voter supports this kind of reasoning, that if you speak a foreign language and open your heart to a child, somehow you are parallel to a Communist dictator?

Also, I'd like to point out to my fellow Republicans and those proclaiming pure, conservative views: where is your outrage? Because Jon Huntsman is not the darling of the most vocal and purity seeking conservatives, the attack on the children of Jon Huntsman has mostly gone unchecked. How about some old-fashioned condemnation against this, like the kind of support Sarah Palin received when Trig Palin was part of attacks launched against her?

Jon Huntsman has been grossly mis-characterized by conservatives and is not taken seriously because he does not have a good campaigning personality. He is a real conservative, though, which cannot be disputed as much as his critics would have you believe. His record shows his conservative cred.

The silence is deafening.