Monday, December 31, 2012

Thank you, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is retiring from her seat as the new Congress is ushered in.  We Texans owe her a debt of gratitude for her service.  Our senior Senator worked tirelessly for causes dear to our hearts. She has consistently supported NASA, our military members and families, and women's health care,

First elected in a 1993, in a special election, Hutchison delivered her farewell speech to the Senate earlier this month.

Hutchison, who is retiring, has an impressive legislative record in her nearly 20 years in the Senate, including phasing out the controversial Wright Amendment, which limits service at Dallas Love Field; fixing the so-called marriage penalty, which taxed married couples at a higher rate; directing millions of dollars to higher education and research at Texas institutions; making state sales taxes an itemized deduction on federal income tax returns; and fighting for NASA dollars and the space program in the face of cutbacks.
"I think history will judge her as one of the greatest legislators we've ever had," said Patrick Oxford, chairman of the Bracewell & Giuliani law firm of Houston and a lifelong friend and supporter of Hutchison's. "She was Lyndon Johnson-level in terms of understanding the legislative process really well."
 As a woman, I appreciate her ground-breaking work to reform the IRA savings system so that women who are homemakers can also contribute to them.  She is being honored for that work by Texas Senator John Cornyn and Senator Barbara Mikulski.  They are behind the legislation recently passed to name the "homemaker IRA" after Hutchison.  The press release from Senator Cornyn's office:

MIKULSKI, CORNYN ANNOUNCE SENATE PASSAGE OF THEIR BILL TO RENAME PROVISION THAT LEVELED RETIREMENT SAVINGS PLAYING FIELD FOR FAMILIES AS ‘KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON SPOUSAL IRA’Senators Championed Hutchison Legislation in 1996 to Allow Stay-at-Home Spouses to Make Equal, Fully Deductible Contributions to Retirement IRAs WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) today announced Senate passage of their bill to rename legislation championed by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) to allow working spouses and homemakers to contribute the same amount to their IRA savings as the ‘Kay Bailey Hutchison Spousal IRA.’ Senator Hutchison spearheaded the effort after she was sworn-in to the Senate in 1993 with the support of Senator Mikulski, and saw the legislation signed into law as part of the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996.
 “It’s fitting that we recognize Senator Hutchison for her long-standing and steadfast advocacy for women,” Senator Mikulskisaid. “Her commitment to this legislation and to the women of America reflects the values of our nation. It rewards good parenting and families and recognizes that not all work is done in the marketplace. Moms and dads who are struggling to do the right thing for their family shouldn’t be penalized for staying at home. By amending this provision in our tax code, women and families across America will know that they’re benefiting from the Kay Bailey Hutchison Spousal IRA.” “I’m pleased to support this legislation to honor Senator Hutchison for her important efforts to help moms and dads who work full-time caring for their children at home plan for their future,” Senator Cornyn said. “As she retires from the Senate, Sen. Hutchison will be remembered for this and countless other contributions that have improved the lives of working Texans and Americans across the country.” Congress created the Spousal IRA in 1996. This legislation levels the playing field by allowing spouses who are non-wage earners to make equal, fully deductible contributions to individual retirement accounts. Women have traditionally been at a disadvantage in saving for retirement because they spend time in and out of the workforce. Currently, contributions of up to $5,000 for each spouse are allowed if the couple's wages or self-employment earnings are $10,000 or more.
As a political scientist, I am appreciative of the skill Hutchison used in working with Democrats in the Senate.  While it is en vogue in the current political environment to be as obstinate as possible to your opponents to appease the most strident within a party, the truth is that politics is the art of persuasion.  Coming together to work our solutions is a sign of maturity and the most patriotic of acts for the betterment of our country.

A hallmark of Hutchison's Senate career has been her willingness to work with Democrats, especially Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., whom Senate wags widely call her BFF (Best Friend Forever).
"When I first came to the Senate 20 years ago, Sen. Hutchison gave me a small briefcase that I still carry to this day. It hasn't worn out, and neither has our friendship," Feinstein said.
"I worked closely with Sen. Hutchison for two decades, particularly on issues related to women and families."
The two joined forces on the Amber Alert legislation for abducted children, named for Amber Hagerman of Arlington, who was abducted and killed in 1996.
They also collaborated on the Breast Cancer Stamp bill, which has raised more than $76 million for breast cancer research.
"Her legacy as a tireless advocate for these causes will live on," Feinstein said.

As a resident of Texas, I am grateful to Hutchison for promoting the passage of eliminating our state income taxes.  As State Controller, Hutchison produced that result for us.

She served us well.  Thank you, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Starbucks Gets Political

Starbucks is engaging in a two day "cups campaign" to urge elected officials in Washington to "come together" on the matter of the fiscal cliff.  CEO Howard Schultz has instructed his Washington D.C. area  employees to write the words "come together" on cups Wednesday and Thursday.

Whether members of Congress actually drink in the message is another matter. While the concentration of Starbucks cafes is high in the vicinity of the White House, it's relatively low near the U.S. Capitol. Members of the House and Senate enjoy private dining facilities and many of their offices have coffee machines.
Starbucks' cup campaign aims to send a message to sharply divided politicians and serve as a rallying cry for the public in the days leading up to the January 1 deadline to avert harsh across-the-board government spending reductions and tax increases that could send the United States back into recession.
"We're paying attention, we're greatly disappointed in what's going on and we deserve better," Schultz told Reuters in a telephone interview. 

Schultz said this is a part of a bigger group's tactics:

The CEO said he has joined a growing list of high-powered business leaders, politicians and financial experts in endorsing the Campaign to Fix the Debt, ( a well-funded non-partisan group that is leaning on lawmakers to put the United States' financial house in order.
Starbucks plans to amplify its "come together" message via new and old media, including Twitter and Facebook posts, coverage on AOL's local news websites and advertisements in The Washington Post and The New York Times.
"If (the talks) do not progress, we will make this much bigger," Schultz said of the messaging campaign, which he said is voluntary for cafe employees. 

I'm finding it hard to image a large company run by a conservative CEO taking such action with the acceptance of the mainstream media in our country.  The double standard at the intersection of business and politics rears its ugly head again.

Actually, I would argue that the nation's voters don't want elected officials in Washington to "come together" at all.  A clear majority of the House of Representatives were re-elected, as was the President and the Senate.  That means that the voters indeed voted for the status quo.  It's the House versus the Senate and the  White House, just as it has been since 2010.

President Obama is fond of saying that he ran on raising taxes and increasing spending.  Well, those Republicans running for the House and the Senate ran on the exact opposite of that platform and they were elected, too.  Where does that put us?  It brings us divided government, just as the Founding Fathers intended.

As for the hand wringing by Starbuck's CEO Howard Schultz : I present this tweet reported by FNC's Chad Pergram on Capitol Hill: "In Geithner letter, he says failing to fix  actually ADDS time to solve debt ceiling, since spending cuts and tax hikes kick in."  

Geithner is voicing what many on both sides of the aisle, truth be told, are saying.  President Obama has already raised our taxes and all of that kicks in with the implementation of Obamacare.  Remember, the Supreme Court ruled Obamacare is a tax.  When you read the word "fee", you should think tax.  That is what it is, you know.

Fiscal cliff deal or not, taxes are going up.  Why shouldn't Republicans hold out for actual and immediate spending cuts instead of being played again with promises of future spending cuts?  We all know that those cuts never materialize. Also, only in Washington, D.C. is it a cut if spending remains the same and not increased. 

Howard Schultz is a Democrat and a liberal, no doubt about that.  He is also a business man which means he sometimes comes out for common sense economic policy.  This fiscal cliff statement, however, just seems like a political statement against the Republicans.  It doesn't make much sense to insult the intelligence of so many customers, does it?

Instead of just overspending for coffee, now Starbucks customers will be served a political slogan as well.

Obama Spits on Vietnam Veterans

President Obama has decided to nominate Senator John Kerry as the next Secretary of State. Let me be clear in my reaction.  John Kerry does not deserve the honor of representing our country around the world.

There are many reasons to not respect John Kerry.  Whether it is because of his slander of fellow Vietnam veterans or his symbolic photo op of throwing his medals at the gate of the White House or his despicable treatment of other candidates as he ran for President in 2004 (you may remember his stunt of publicly outing Mary Cheney during a debate to slap at her father), John Kerry has consistently proven himself to be a man with a single focus on his own advancement and little else.

Maybe the treatment of veterans doesn't matter anymore, if the war is old news. This election cycle saw the first election with neither the Republican nor the Democratic candidate being a veteran of military service.
The 2012 election was the first since 1932 in which none of the candidates was a war veteran. In 1932, New York Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt had been an Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson, but he did not serve in the military. His cousin (and predecessor as president), Theodore Roosevelt, was famous for his charge up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War of 1898.
The Winter Soldier hearings should be enough to disqualify Kerry but not for the current leadership in Washington. The old and fading ruling class of 1960's liberals have a few tricks remaining up their sleeves and are running out of time.

Senator Kerry has a nasty habit of siding with the bad guys.

Even if you don't think Kerry's use of the Vietnam war for his personal career enhancement is enough to criticize this nomination, his lousy record on foreign policy decisions should cause concern.  In today's stories the continuing war in Syria is on the forefront.  Who has been Assad's biggest cheerleader in recent years?  Yes. John Kerry.  Why, he and the Mrs. have enjoyed lovely dinners with Assad and his wife in Syria and Kerry vouches for Assad's character. Even Obama has had to reign in Kerry.

And in 2011, when Kerry again wanted to go to Syria, his visit was blocked--by the Obama administration. “The Obama administration and France reportedly nixed a visit by U.S. Sen. John Kerry to Syria. Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has cultivated a relationship with the Syrian regime otherwise treated as a pariah in the West in the hope of drawing it away from Iranian influence. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Kerry had planned a visit last month, but the governments of the United States and of French President Nicolas Sarkozy blocked the visit out of concern that it would signal ‘Western weakness’ as pro-Iranian and pro-Western forces jockeyed for influence in Syria's neighbor, Lebanon,” reported the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in March 2011.
Kerry praised Assad later in 2011 as being a "very generous" man. "Well, I personally believe that -- I mean, this is my belief, okay? But President Assad has been very generous with me in terms of the discussions we have had. And when I last went to -- the last several trips to Syria -- I asked President Assad to do certain things to build the relationship with the United States and sort of show the good faith that would help us to move the process forward," said Kerry at a think tank. 

Not enough, you say?  How about South America? Much closer geographically to home and of growing concern, our relationships with South American countries are dicey, at best.

 A left-wing world view and an earnest conviction that it is his destiny to impose it on others may make him a perfect fit in the Obama cabinet. But it won't be good for poor countries or for U.S. interests.
Latin America knows all too well the dangerous combination of Mr. Kerry's arrogance and, to be polite, let's say, naiveté. In 1985, in the midst of the Cold War, he led a congressional delegation to Nicaragua, where he met with Sandinista comandanteDaniel Ortega. The Sandinista reputation as a human-rights violator was already well-established, and the Soviets were stalking Central America. Nevertheless, Mr. Kerry came back from Managua advocating an end to U.S. support for the resistance known as the "Contras." The House took his advice and voted down a $14 million aid package to them. The next day Mr. Ortega flew to Moscow to get $200 million in support from the Kremlin. 

And, more recently, in 2009 in Honduras, complete with some history revision, to boot:

In June 2009, Mr. Kerry again went to bat for the dark side, this time in Honduras. President Manuel Zelaya, an ally of Hugo Chávez, had been unconstitutionally trying to extend his time in office. The Honduran Supreme Court ordered the military to arrest him. All the other branches of government, the Catholic Church, Honduras's human-rights ombudsman and Mr. Zelaya's own party backed the court's decision.
Mr. Chávez, Fidel Castro and the Obama administration became furious, called it a "coup d'état" and moved to isolate the tiny country. When Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) planned a fact-finding trip to Tegucigalpa, Mr. Kerry's office tried to stop him by blocking funding. When the Law Library of Congress concluded that the Honduran high court had acted legally, Mr. Kerry wrote to the head of the library demanding that the opinion be retracted and "corrected." In the spring of 2010, a Kerry staffer traveled to Honduras to pressure officials there to adopt the Obama administration's "coup" narrative.

Kerry is a man blinded by ego and ambition.  This nomination is the final spitting on Vietnam veterans, as well as placing a dangerously naive man onto the world stage on behalf of our foreign policy. I have no doubt that his fellow senators will vote him into place and that is the biggest tragedy. The club will prevail.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bork Slandered By Kennedy in Confirmation Hearing

The death of Judge Robert Bork was announced Wednesday.  He is perhaps best remembered for the brutal personal attacks he suffered during his appearance before the Senate Judicial Committee as part of the process for his Supreme Court nomination. For those of us old enough to remember this televised political lynching, it is an easy assessment to state that Ted Kennedy is responsible for today's brutal confirmation hearings. A man of low personal character himself, Kennedy was the logical water carrier for a well orchestrated Democratic opposition to any nominee put forward by President Reagan.

In the summer of 1987, President Ronald Reagan nominated Judge Bork to sit on the Supreme Court. Just 45 minutes later, Senator Ted Kennedy took to the Senate floor to launch an attack not seen before in the nomination process. A bit of the slander and unfettered character assassination brought forward by Senator Ted Kennedy, during that speech appalled most decent human beings:
 'Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens.

Joe Biden was the chairman of the committee.  An admitted plagiarizer and consistently wrong on big issues, Biden took it upon himself to write a brief and present it to the committee.  Bork later described this in a book as "so thoroughly misrepresented a plain record that it easily qualifies as world class in the category of scurrility."  Hollywood actor Gregory Peck narrated a political ad using the slanderous Democratic narrative, too.  

The Reagan administration was slow to respond.  Too much time passed and the damage was done. The nomination was not successful.  Judge Bork, highly respected and eminently well qualified to serve on the nation's highest court was denied the position by raw politics. His crime? He was a solid conservative. Liberals in Washington were determined to keep the Supreme Court a liberal-leaning one.

Thus, the term "Borked" was born.  

Like the other atrocities credited to him, Ted Kennedy was never held accountable for this political nuclear attack.  Our nation is worse for that.

Rest in peace, Judge Bork.

Obama Uses School Shooting in Fiscal Cliff Talking Points

President Obama held a press conference in the White House press room Wednesday with the subject of gun violence on the agenda. Instead, it devolved into a filibuster on the subject of the fiscal cliff negotiations.  It is as though the White House press corps cannot focus on more than one issue at a time.

"This is not some Washington commission", said the president,though, of course, it is exactly that. He announced his appointment of Vice President Biden to head up the 'task force' on gun violence and tasked the panel to present conclusions to him in about a month.  Obviously the majority in the White House press corps were not impressed by this move and went directly to questions on the fiscal cliff when he began calling on them for questions.

The president was particularly narcissistic during his exchange with reporters.  He spoke as though he thinks Republican objections to his proposals solely have to do with them not liking him.  The president continues to sound like a middle school girl.  It is always all about him and it is always the other side who is being mean to him.  It is pathetic, to put it mildly.

President Obama is hell-bent to raise taxes and continue spending with wild abandon. This is the reason that Republicans will not support his proposals thus far. First Obama simply presented his 2013 budget which received not one vote from either side of the aisle in the House or Senate and has also refused the suggestions of his own appointed Simpson-Bowles commission.  Who is the non-compromiser here?

Mr. Obama won't agree even to $1 in cuts for every $1 of revenue. His latest offer calls for $1.3 trillion in new revenues paired with the vague promise of $930 billion in future budget cuts. Mr. Obama's offer also wipes out the $972 billion in cuts agreed to in the July 2011 debt-ceiling deal and adds at least $80 billion in new stimulus spending.
In response, Mr. Boehner has offered "Plan B." Tax rates on annual income above $1 million would rise to 39.6% from 35%, but lower rates on everyone else would become permanent and the Alternative Minimum Tax would disappear.
Mr. Boehner's thinking is that preventing increases on more than 99% of taxpayers could help Republicans escape from a battle they cannot win. Better for the GOP to show the president rabid for more taxes and spending, and then to pivot toward a debate about spending. Here Republicans will hold the upper hand: Mr. Obama needs the House to approve his debt-ceiling increase (likely by March). He won't get it without spending cuts.

A strange narrative began. His real message turned around to exploit the recent mass murder in Connecticut as the reason that opposition in Congress should just fold and accept unconditionally whatever he proposes as fiscal solutions. He went from saying the GOP doesn't like him and is blocking meaningful negotiations out of spite to saying that recent events demand everyone work together.  It was an exercise of passive aggressive behavior right before our eyes.  As Charles Krauthammer said on a cable news channel panel, the president was "excessively self-righteous" in his tone and words.

 And when you think about what we've gone through over the last couple of months -- a devastating hurricane, and now one of the worst tragedies in our memory -- the country deserves folks to be willing to compromise on behalf of the greater good, and not tangle themselves up in a whole bunch of ideological positions that don’t make much sense.
What the president implies is that those with a different political philosophy are not interested in doing what is right for all the country - the greater good.  This is a real character flaw with Barack Obama and it is why he cannot rise to statesman level in leadership.  It is simply not in his character to be an honest agent of leading the nation forward.

Shame on him for allowing this press conference that was to address gun violence to turn into a self-righteous filibuster.  At the end of the press conference I tweeted my feeling after sitting through this exercise:

Well, that's 40 minutes I'm not getting back.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Benghazi Investigation Report Released

The special investigation into the terrorist attacks on our consulate in Benghazi and the CIA building has ended and their conclusions have been issued in a report.  The unclassified version has hit the Internet and what was commonly thought is now verified: the security measures in place at the  facility were  "grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place."

Also expected, the report leaves Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama held curiously unaccountable for the failures that led to the death of our ambassador and three other Americans there.

It was reported, belatedly, that Hillary Clinton had a stomach virus which led to suffering a concussion from a fall earlier last week. Under doctor's advice, she was working from home during her recovery. She would be unavailable to testify before Congress, after all.  Why did it take a week for that information to be released to the press?  

John Bolton said this on a cable news show about Hillary's concussion excuse for not testifying before Congress as she was scheduled to do this week:

"You know, every foreign service officer in every foreign ministry in the world knows the phrase I am about to use. When you don't want to go to a meeting or conference, or an event, you have a 'diplomatic illness,' Bolton told Van Susteren. "And this is a diplomatic illness to beat the band.

You may remember that John Bolton was denied an appointment to be the ambassador to the  U.N. during the George W. Bush administration by Senate Democrats who simply didn't like his political philosophy.  It was just politics. Now that Susan Rice has been denied the appointment of being Secretary of State for her professional decision-making skills, suddenly objections are racist and misogynist.  The political double standard is alive and well in Washington, D.C.

Clinton has responded in writing to the report.  Addressed to Sen John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and probable successor to her position, which includes a standard Washington solution - increase bureaucracy and create a new position to handle the problems. The new position is called the Deputy Assistant of Security of State for High Threat Posts. There are common sense actions being taken, too, which should have previously been in place.  Top among these actions is hiring additional Diplomatic Security personnel.

So, Wednesday the elected officials will be briefed on the findings of this investigation.  Hillary Clinton will not be there.  It is unclear if or when she intends to finally sit down and answer questions on this event. It has been three months and still Clinton is given a pass.  She claims to take responsibility for her department as she avoids taking responsibility.  She allowed Susan Rice to take the fall and set it up so that her friend John Kerry would succeed her as Secretary of State.  She is still in her position and will remain there until she resigns, as planned, in January.

Business as usual.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gov Haley Appoints Rep Scott to U.S. Senate

This is the press release issued by the South Carolina Senate GOP upon the appointment of Rep Tim Scott to the U.S. Senate by Governor Nikki Haley:Congratulations Congressman Tim Scott! Earlier today, Governor Nikki Haley announced that she has chosen Scott to replace Jim DeMint as United States Senator from South Carolina. Scott vowed to focus on our country's debt and budget issues. He will also make history as the first African-American senator from South Carolina. We'd like to congratulate him and wish him all the best in the Senate.

Rep Tim Scott will be the first black Senator from the state of South Carolina.

South Carolina Republican Tim Scott will become just the seventh African American in American history to serve in the U.S. Senate when he is sworn in to replace Jim DeMint.
He will be the fourth Republican African American senator and the third from the Deep South. Three African American Democrats — all from Illinois — have served.

I had the pleasure of meeting and hearing a speech delivered by Rep Scott in Myrtle Beach, S.C. last January during the GOP Presidential Primary debate weekend.  I knew he was a rising star from his performance and his obvious connection with the audience. 

Scott has the kind of American Dream story that Barack Obama does not - raised by a single mom who worked 16 hours a day and went on to a successful college career. Then he began a successful business before going into politics. He received 65% of the vote in his 2010 race.

Prior to being elected to Congress, Tim served on Charleston County Council for 13 years, including four terms as Chair and in the South Carolina House of Representatives for two years where he was elected Chairman of the Freshman Caucus and House Whip.  He was the owner of Tim Scott Allstate and partner of Pathway Real Estate Group.

Governor Haley, the first Indian-American woman to be elected governor, appointed the first black U.S. senator from her state.  He will be the only black senator serving in the U.S. Senate when he assumes his new seat.

FLOTUS Claims Voter Suppression in Full Force

Recently, the First Lady said this on a nationally televised morning talk show:  “Voter suppression was in full force in so many states all over this country,”  This isn't proven by the results of the numbers reported from various demographics yet she states it as though it is the truth.  What a dog whistler that woman is!  Barack Obama received the support of black voters, senior voters, young voters, Asian-American voters and Hispanic -American voters in larger numbers than Mitt Romney.  Even in electoral victory, Democrats chose to exhibit the least common denominator in basic decency.

Here is something Michelle Obama didn't bother to mention, though.  The votes of the U.S. military overseas was suppressed.  Due to continued incompetence of our government's bureaucracy, the ballots were not mailed overseas in time to be filled out and returned to be processed in time for the election.  Who desires to be protected in the voting process more than those fighting for our freedoms overseas?

Senator Cornyn (R-TX) tried to produce better results on behalf of our military but didn't experience much success.  Where was Michelle Obama's outrage over this voter suppression?  She touts her concern for military families in election year speeches and at fundraisers yet this is a basic right being ignored.  Could it be due to the fact that so much of the military vote goes to Republicans? 

I noticed that our First Lady didn't attend the memorial service for the murdered school children in Connecticut, though the President did and spoke to the people there in a televised speech.  He alleges he wrote that speech himself.  Though he saw fit to bring politics into the speech, he did mostly strike the right tone.  What doesn't strike the right tone is an absent First Lady.  The First Couple is tasked with being the top comforters in our country when a tragedy strikes.  

Is it too much to ask that Michelle Obama honor the taxpayers who afford her with living a very large lifestyle by doing the right thing and performing the most basic of tasks?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Susan Rice Will Not Be Secretary of State

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has asked to be taken off the short list for consideration to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Susan Rice, though not formally nominated for the position, has made the request to the White House and explained this decision Thursday.
On Sept. 16, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was unavailable after a grueling week, the White House asked me to appear on five Sunday talk shows to discuss a range of foreign policy issues: the protests against our diplomatic facilities around the world; the attack in Benghazi, Libya; and Iran’s nuclear program.
She gave four specific points in her decision-making process.  These two are most interesting, in my opinion:
Second, I deeply respect Congress’s role in our system of government. After the despicable terrorist attacks that took the lives of four colleagues in Benghazi, our government must work through serious questions and bring the perpetrators to justice. We must strengthen security at our diplomatic posts and improve our intelligence in a volatile Middle East. Accomplishing these goals is far more important than political fights or personal attacks. Third, the American people expect us to come together to keep our nation safe. U.S. leadership abroad is and always has been strengthened when we transcend partisan differences on matters of national security. America is seriously weakened when politics come first. If any good can come out of the experience of the past few months, I hope that it will be a renewed focus on the business of the American people — and a renewed insistence that the process of selecting potential candidates for high national security office be treated in the best bipartisan traditions of our country.
While it is preferable to keep petty partisan politics to a minimum during nomination disputes, it is quite another thing to blame this battle on standard politics.  This battle was all about the fact that Team Obama was determined to present Barack Obama as the guy who banished al-Qaeda and that narrative was to be a key point in the president's re-election campaign.  You all remember the talking point of "General Motors is alive and bin Laden is dead", don't you?  Rice was sent out to be the patsy to take the heat for Obama, and, more specifically, Hillary Clinton on those Sunday talk shows. At the time, those of us political junkies who suffer through these shows were questioning Rice's appearances as a surrogate.  Obama was right. Rice didn't have anything to do with Benghazi.  It should have been Clinton on those shows answering questions.

You may recall this bit of theater uttered by President Obama as he stepped forward to stick up for the little lady:
"If Senator McCain and Senator Graham want to go after somebody, they should go after me. I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador? Who had nothing to do with Benghazi? To besmirch her reputation? It's outrageous." 

Instead of admitting that it was himself and his White House that threw Rice to the wolves in the press that fateful Sunday morning with disingenuous talking points, he sounds as though he is asking Senators McCain and Graham to step outside and settle the dispute using fisticuffs. Well, no one ever mistook Barack Obama for a statesman.

It is becoming clear why Rice has decided to throw herself on her own sword now.  It is not only those mean Republicans promising some tough questions about her nomination during the hearing process - it is also clear that Democrats are questioning her placement as Secretary of State.  Not only is Rice's decision-making process under scrutiny from Republicans in the senate.  Her previous service in the Clinton administration leaves much to be desired.  Her performance during the Rwanda genocide years, for example, leap to the forefront.

It is the job for the U.S. Senate to question the nominees brought forward by the president.  Republicans are being blamed for this mess due to charges of racism and misogyny. That might be more effective if the last Republican administration had not produced the first black woman Secretary of State, as well as the first black male Secretary of State.  Oops. Was Senator Barbara Boxer, for example, called a racist or misogynist for loudly opposing Condoleezza Rice's nomination?

We remember, as well, the utter politicization of John Bolton's expected nomination to the U.N. ambassadorship, too. Just move along, nothing to see here.

Here's the reality: Hillary Clinton wants Senator John Kerry to be the next Secretary of State.  Susan Rice fell out of favor with Hillary Clinton when she chose to be an early supporter of Barack Obama's in the 2008 Democratic party's  presidential primary. Clinton felt betrayed by Rice's lack of loyalty, as she had been a member of the Clinton administration.  That race for the nomination was ugly.  Hillary felt entitled to the job.  Her consolation prize was to be named Secretary of State in the first term of the Obama administration.   The criticisms coming for the Democrats on the potential Rice nomination, as well as the stinging opinion pieces by nationally read liberal columnists, are from Clinton (Bill and Hillary) loyalists.

By stepping aside, Susan Rice chose to avert the Libyan terrorist attacks from additional front page headlines. Republicans rightfully demanded she take responsibility for her choice of being this administration's patsy.  Democrats focused on her personal traits, as well as her previous performance within the State Department.  She was in a no-win situation.  Her proclamations of rising above politics in the process are meaningless.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hey, GOP - Woman Up!

I saw a headline asking this question in an article I read online today:
Can Jindal, Rubio and Ryan Save The Republican Party? It brought back the discussion I enjoyed with a friend over coffee this morning.  We were discussing the recent presidential election (what else?) and she said the key to the GOP defeat was the woman voter.  The knee jerk reaction - with some validity - was that Republicans failed miserably to win Latino votes and that is a true enough fact. But, a glaring reality is that women vote in larger numbers than any other demographic indicator in elections. 

So, I see this headline and immediately my mind edits it to say Martinez, Ayotte and McMorris-Rodgers instead of the male names there. That's a Republican woman governor, senator and representative - same as the men listed. The switch was easy for me to do but what about the rest of my party?  My favorite line from the Republican National Convention was delivered by Governor Martinez as she told the story of realizing where her true politicial home was - "Damn, we're Republicans", she told her husband.  They made the switch from Democrats to Republicans after that.

Senator Ayotte is being moved into the forefront on national security/foreign policy affairs.  The terrorist attacks in Libya and the demands for an investigation into all that being the latest example of her leadership.  Senators Graham and McCain have brought her into the fold as the third amigo to fill outgoing Senator Leiberman's place.

Speaker Boehner failed spectacularly to appoint any women as committee chairs for the top tier committees.  He did appoint Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, the highest ranking Republican woman in Congress as House committee chairman  .  She will now rank fourth in the House leadership.

Any or all of these women would easily fit into that piece's headline as saviors of the Republican party.  All of these women reach out and support other women in the Republican party.  The face of the Republican party has to expand to include more than white men. The bonus is the diversity of women within the Republican party.

Social issues are only a part of the Republican party yet that is what comes to mind when women think of my party.  To assume, for example, that Latino women voters will find a natural home in the Republican party because they are conservative on social issues is not the whole picture.  Latino women will tell you that they also may be in need of fiscal safety nets and that is where the split often appears.  They feel unwelcome in my party. Being a working, productive member of society doesn't mean you can always go it alone.

The Republican party is the party of smaller, more efficient government.  We are not the party of no government.  There is a real lack of concise communication coming from the most vocal in my party and often the tone is mean-spirited, intentionally or not.  The label of compassionate conservative is no longer en vogue and that is a pity.  We are a lesser party for that.

The task in front of us is to present a real alternative to the tax and spend Democrats. We have to present a way for those currently in need of safety net programs with reasonable paths going forward. A common thread  is a focus on education and school choice as a way to personal economic freedom.  Dependency on government assistance limits a person's future and that message can be delivered in a sincere and civil voice.

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.  Wake up, Republicans. Women vote.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Remembering Pearl Harbor Attack

Dec 7, 1941 - "a day which will live in infamy"

I have two lines of thought about this day in history.  I remember my mother telling me about the day from her memories as a young girl and the effects World War II had on her family.  I also have a memory of a college professor who shared the day with his class.

My mother remembered the day and how she learned of the attack by explaining to us,her daughters, that she was enjoying a movie matinee when the news broke to the audience.  I had an uncle who was so bitter over the war that he refused to buy products made in Japan.  

My father-in-law served in the war in the northern Africa/Italy theatre. Like most of the Greatest Generation, he did not easily share his stories of the war, and he refused to visit Europe in his later life as his wife did on vacations.

In college, my Freshman Philosophy professor was Japanese.  He invited the class to his home, just off campus, for sake and conversation on December 7th.  I clearly remember that social event to this day and also how difficult it was to listen to his lectures in class as his accent was still so thick.

I wish that President Obama was a bit less self-absorbed and more inclined to physically attend events honoring our veterans, especially those of World War II and the Korean War, as our veterans are dying off so rapidly now.  Obama did finally tweet out recognition of the day and linked it to his standard presidential proclamation.  Maybe he had a pressing golf game because we know he is not doing his job  on figuring out a path to fiscal stability.

- - - - - - -
On December 7, 1941, our Nation suffered one of the most devastating attacks ever to befall the American people. In less than 2 hours, the bombs that rained on Pearl Harbor robbed thousands of men, women, and children of their lives; in little more than a day, our country was thrust into the greatest conflict the world had ever known. We mark this anniversary by honoring the patriots who perished more than seven decades ago, extending our thoughts and prayers to the loved ones they left behind, and showing our gratitude to a generation of service members who carried our Nation through some of the 20th century's darkest moments.
In his address to the Congress, President Franklin D. Roosevelt affirmed that "with confidence in our Armed Forces -- with the unbounding determination of our people -- we will gain the inevitable triumph." Millions stood up and shipped out to meet that call to service, fighting heroically on Europe's distant shores and pressing island by island across the Pacific. Millions more carried out the fight in factories and shipyards here at home, building the arsenal of democracy that propelled America to the victory President Roosevelt foresaw. On every front, we faced down impossible odds -- and out of the ashes of conflict, America rose more prepared than ever to meet the challenges of the day, sure that there was no trial we could not overcome.
Today, we pay solemn tribute to America's sons and daughters who made the ultimate sacrifice at Oahu. As we do, let us also reaffirm that their legacy will always burn bright -- whether in the memory of those who knew them, the spirit of service that guides our men and women in uniform today, or the heart of the country they kept strong and free.
The Congress, by Public Law 103-308, as amended, has designated December 7 of each year as "National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day."
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 7, 2012, as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. I encourage all Americans to observe this solemn day of remembrance and to honor our military, past and present, with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I urge all Federal agencies and interested organizations, groups, and individuals to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff this December 7 in honor of those American patriots who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbor.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

DeMint Moves to The Heritage Foundation

South Carolina's junior senator decided to pursue the big bucks and accepted the presidency of The Heritage Foundation with the announcement coming out of the blue on Thursday morning.  Oh, did that come off as a bit harsh? You may not want to continue on here.

DeMint is admired by many in the conservative voting world.  I admit up front that I am not one of those people.  It's not that I don't think he has done an effective job in advancing his own agenda because I do.  I also think he advances the worst in conservative politics, too.  For that reason it is impossible to look at his departure from the senate with rose colored glasses.

Some in the conservative think tank world are welcoming DeMint's decision.  That is predictable.  HERE is the statement from Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), a premier state think tank in Texas.  Full disclosure - I support TPPF and their good work on conservative policy.  I blog my support frequently.

Here's the thing - does anyone think that if Mitt Romney won the presidential election and/or if the GOP was competent enough to win back control of the U.S. Senate in what should have been a cake walk that DeMint would be leaving just two years into his six year term?  Of course not.  Yes, he had murmured that he'd be leaving elected office at the end of this term but no one thought he wouldn't finish his term.  You know, if you are putting yourself out there as a highly principled public servant, should you at least finish what you asked for from your constituency?

THIS article  explains the connection between Heritage and it's political action wing.  It is assumed that DeMint will continue on with the recent political activity pursued by those in the action wing.  There is no doubt that DeMint will boost fundraising results for the Foundation despite today's malaise felt by a majority of conservatives and Republicans.

This is very similar to a politician leaving office to pursue a more lucrative career as a lobbyist.  I understand the need to make money after so many years in elected office - DeMint entered the U.S. House of Representatives in 1997 - and the salary of the exiting president at Heritage is said to be $1
million.  Nice.

DeMint enjoys the kudos he receives as a kingmaker among those seeking political office.  He brought along several candidates I completely support in the senate.  At the end of the day, however, he is just another politician.  Ego and all.  Today's announcement proved that.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Republicans Approach Immigration Reform

From a blurb in The Wall Street Journal: Margaret Thatcher writing in the Daily Telegraph, Jan 30, 1975:
One of the most hackneyed of political quotations is Disraeli's dictum that the Tory party "is a national party or it is nothing." Yet it means more than the obvious truths that Conservatives must put the interests of the whole nation first and must seek their electoral support among all classes and sections of the community. It means also that the party cannot long survive unless its policies are in tune with the deepest and best instincts of the British people. . . . My kind of Tory party would make no secret of its belief in individual freedom and individual prosperity, in the maintenance of law and order, in the wide distribution of private property, in rewards for energy, skill and thrift, in diversity of choice, in the preservation of local rights in local communities. Size is not all, any more than economic growth is all. Even efficiency is not enough. People come first—their needs, their hopes, their choice, their values and ideals. We have to understand these first—to be seen to be listening with sympathy and concern. It is important to be able to lead, certainly. But you cannot for long lead people where they do not want to go.
I have the highest respect for Margaret Thatcher and her political wisdom.  Substitute the word "Tory" with the word "Republican".  Do you understand what she is saying?  A huge barrier the Republican party faces today is the lack of communication skills in our speakers.  If we do not learn to get our message across to the population, we will continue to shrink as a party and as the agenda-setters.  Nothing could be clearer as the last presidential election.

Peggy Noonan notes this about the lack of basic tact in today's political discourse:

One of the biggest things often missing in politics? Tact. Simple tact. This is one of many reasons it would be good to see more Republican women rise and speak for the party: because they still have more of it than the men.
In the last few days, immigration reform has been the topic of several speeches delivered by those offering the path forward.  For instance, I have recently heard remarks delivered by Rep Paul Ryan, Senator Marco Rubio and former president George W. Bush.  All call for common sense, compassionate immigration policy reform.  Especially when it comes to the children born and raised here, with no knowledge or experience in another country, we must find a path with perimeters that allows them to transition into full community status.

I read this on Facebook today: from the George W. Bush Presidential Center: Did you know that more than 40% of all companies on the 2010 Fortune 500 list were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant? Read more in the 4% Growth Project's Immigration Handbook.

You may remember that Bush attempted to push immigration reform during his time in the White House but due to bad messaging and poorly written policy, the legislation went nowhere.  You may also remember that he received 40% of the Latino vote as a presidential candidate, and over 60% as a candidate for Texas governor.

Senator Rubio's remarks made at the 2012 Jack Kemp Foundation Dinner are HERE.

It's a crucial issue and it's time for Republicans to be on the offense, not defense.  It's a start.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

World AIDS Day

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio released the following video statement marking World AIDS Day on December 1.