Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Governor Perry Addresses Questions from Bloggers

Wednesday evening Governor Perry participated in a blogger's conference call to talk about his policy priorities for the 83rd legislative session.  Perry is one elected official who embraces social media and never skips an opportunity to express his appreciation of conservative bloggers.  He thanked bloggers for "fighting the good fight".

Here is a re-cap of the governor's remarks:
*Conservative policy is paying dividends in Texas, even through the rough times of the national recession.
*As for raising taxes he said, "We left the money in the hands of the taxpayers" instead.
*Texas benefits from a regulatory environment that is predictable.  Texas has the top business climate in the country, with Austin, Houston and Dallas holding the top three cities according to Forbes Magazine.
*He wants additional tax relief this session.  He referred to the Texas Budget Compact he brought forth last year. He went through the five parts of the Compact:

  1. Practice Truth in Budgeting
  2. Support a Constitutional limit of spending to the growth of population and inflation
  3. Oppose any new taxes or tax increases, and make the small business tax exemption permanent
  4. Preserve a strong Rainy Day Fund
  5. Cut unnecessary and duplicative government programs and agencies
 Texans can calculate more tax savings HERE.

*He promotes a strong workforce through education.  Graduation rates in Texas rank third in the nation now.  He wants to hold public schools accountable and determine best mix of testing evaluation methods. He wants to make school rating more transparent to parents.  A one size fits all approach to education is a disservice to students, communities and the state. He wants to explore scholarship programs, especially for those in low performing schools. He subscribes to the philosophy that education money should follow the child - it saves taxpayer money.  He supports State Senator Dan Patrick's legislation on education reform.  He wants to maintain academic rigor while allowing flexibility for students.

Governor Perry took questions from bloggers. 

When asked about Texans promoting education reform being opposed by bureaucrats fighting for the status quo, Perry spoke to the possibility of using mothballed school buildings as charter schools. "Why would taxpayers not want to see buildings utilized?" "Let's be thoughtful about this where school boards think it's appropriate." "Let's have this conversation." "Let's quit fighting over turf here."  He mentioned that earlier in the day, he spoke with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and other experts on education reform.

On refusing Medicaid funding through Obamacare, Perry said that it was "pretty straightforward opposition for me." While the funding begins at 100%, it goes to 90% after three years and would simply be a bait and switch move by the federal government.  He said he has tried to get waivers during the previous administration as well as from the current one.  He said this administration has been the worst to deal with from the state level. It's "their way or the highway". With Medicaid structuring today in Texas, 25% of the budget is consumed. To expand the way the Obamacare mandates it would mean an additional $8.7 billion over the next decade, which would bankrupt the state. It's a "strait up economic issue with me." He thinks Washington could allow more flexibility to allow greater access and do it for less money but it refuses to.  He said it is Washington's way of saying "we don't trust you to spend your own money." He said it was a way for Washington to blackmail states into compliance with the system. If the federal government doesn't have the money in the treasury to fund Obamacare, then there would not be the money to fund the states for Medicaid either. The states will be left on the hook for the program and eventually force a single payer system into effect.

Governor Perry plans to pursue some tax relief while building infrastructure.  Though TXDOT is pushing it's limit of credit, Perry thinks some amount of tax refund can be sent back to taxpayers while leaving the bulk of the Rainy Day Fund intact. He wants a Constitutional Amendment to give taxpayers a direct tax rebate.

Clearly, Governor Perry is upbeat about the successes of Texas and the state's top ranking as a job producer and friendly business environment.

Battleground Texas Mocks Texas GOP with Plea for Contributions

Today Battleground Texas sent out an email mocking the Republicans of Texas as they complained that Republicans were mocking them. At the bottom of the email was the obligatory plea for contributions. The group wants you to know Republicans are scared of them. 

And while we can appreciate a sense of humor, the way the GOP is leading our great state and their indifference to countless Texans being forgotten in the democratic process is no laughing matter. It's frankly ironic that Republicans have the time to write a lengthy note poking fun at a movement to help more people make their voices heard — yet they continue to ignore nearly half of the people of Texas.This dismissive, exclusionary attitude is exactly why Texans across the state are uniting behind Battleground Texas to make the Lone Star State count over the coming years — and to ensure our government represents all people, not just the few.In fact, today's statement is a simple reminder that the Texas GOP is worried we will succeed. Between the Party's "joke" and the host of uneasy comments we've already heard — including those from GovernorPerry and Senator Cruz, we think they're running scared.Texas Republicans know what we can do together — and it's clear they'll fight to stop us.
Boiler plate bluster, if you ask me. Also note the reference to "our government", which presents a bit of irony.  The leaders in this effort to turn the state blue (Democratic) rather than red (Republican) in political majority are all from out of state.  

HERE is the press release issued from the Republican Party of Texas, welcoming Battleground Texas to the state:

Statement from the Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri regarding launch of Battleground Texas, an Obama campaign effort to turn Texas blue by the next Presidential election.

“Texas recently has welcomed hundreds of thousands of political and economic refugees from far off lands, seeking a new home and better opportunity in the oasis of liberty known as Texas. Recently, a team of liberal Obama campaign insiders joined this migration. We thought we’d be hospitable to these friendly competitors by offering some tips and facts they may find useful for assimilating into what, for them, must seem like a strange and foreign land.”

  • If politics doesn’t work out, you might want to visit Dallas, Houston, Austin, Fort Worth or San Antonio – 5 of the nation’s 10 best cities for good jobs.
  • Get Texas residency quickly to avoid paying state income tax. Even though we don’t agree with your politics, we do believe that you are the best judge of how to spend your own money.
  • When offered a tamale, you need to remove the corn husk before eating the delicious meat wrapped inside.
  • Be sure to visit with some of the world’s smartest engineers at NASA. Their space exploration efforts have resulted in fantastic scientific discoveries and many useful inventions, including healthier baby food, advancements in breast cancer diagnoses and farther flying golf balls. Maybe when you’re done, you can call Ohio and recommend they send their retired space shuttle to Texas, where it belongs.
  • Don't sit cross legged while wearing spurs.
  • Texas Republicans have elected more minorities to statewide office in the past 19 years than Democrats did after controlling the state for over 100 years. The list includes Al Gonzales, David Medina, Eva Guzman, Wallace Jefferson and Dale Wainwright to the Texas Supreme Court, Elsa Alcala to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Victor Carillo and Michael Williams to the Texas Railroad Commission. And, Texas’ first U.S. Senator of Hispanic descent, Ted Cruz.
Texas is doing just fine with our low taxes, limited government and personal freedoms. We think it’s just a matter of time before you realize we’re doing things well here and when you do, invite you to join the dozens of Democrat elected officials who switched to the Republican Party in the last year. In fact, just this last week, we welcomed 3 more former Democrats to the GOP.

While the email mischaracterizes old statements from Governor Perry and Senator Ted Cruz as "uneasy" when answering questions about the Latino vote in Texas, what they were doing was truthfully assessing the last election results. An honest approach to welcoming Hispanic voters to our party and sincere outreach efforts are the answer that party leaders are spreading.  We win elections by growing our voting population.  The numbers don't lie.

We live in interesting times.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hagel Confirmed as Secretary of Defense

Tuesday the U.S. Senate voted to accept the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of State.  Four Republicans voted with all of the Democrats to make the vote tally 58 to 41.  This close vote has not been seen since John Ashcroft, also a former senator, was nominated to be Attorney General by former President George W. Bush. That vote in December 2000 was 58 to 42 with most Democrats voting against him.  

So, don't be fooled by Democrats complaining that the president is entitled to his choices and that a fellow senator should be treated better as one of their own.  The Senate has a job to do - that of advise and consent in the nomination process.  

Texas Senator John Cornyn released this statement upon voting no to Hagel's nomination:

“There is simply no way to sugarcoat it: Senator Hagel’s performance before the Senate Armed Services Committee was remarkably inept, and we should not be installing a Defense Secretary who is obviously not qualified for the job, and who holds dangerously misguided views on some of the most important issues facing national security policy for our country.”
Before the vote, observers knew that three Republicans had declared that they would be yes votes for Hagel.  The surprise was Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who voted no twice for cloture then voted yes for confirmation.  

There was no erosion in Democratic support for the president's choice and Hagel already had the backing of three Republicans -- Sens. Thad Cochran, Mike Johanns and Richard Shelby. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., also switched to support Hagel in the final vote. 
 If I am not mistaken, Cochran, Johanns and Selby have all announced that they will not be running for re-election.  Senator Paul explained his vote HERE:

 Kentucky Senator Rand Paul said his support for a filibuster against Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel never meant that he would vote against Hagel's confirmation."I voted no because I wanted more information and I think that part of what the Senate does is try to get information about the nominees," Paul told reporters in the basement of the Capitol after Hagel's confirmation Tuesday. "I've said all along that I give the president some prerogative in choosing his political appointees."
"There are many things I disagree with Chuck Hagel on, there are many things I disagree with John Kerry on, there are very few things I agree with the president on, but the president gets to choose political appointees," Paul said.
Senator Paul said he didn't receive the additional information he requested from the nominee.

As a rule, I also think that a president deserves his choices, provided they are not convicted criminals or weakened by alcoholism and like that.  I am well aware that elections have consequences.  However, in the case of Chuck Hagel, I think I would have been a no vote were I a member of the senate today.  I have written about Hagel in previous blog posts HERE, HERE, HERE  and HERE.  I still think the man is wholly unprepared and not capable of rising to the level of leadership needed for the job.

The world is in chaos and it is not a time for a new Secretary of State who is incapable of articulating our national policy towards Iran, for instance.  He is to the left of President Obama on foreign policy and the reason he was nominated in the first place.  He is no friend to Israel.  

He is not the man for the job.  

Battleground Texas Sings the Blues for Texas

Two former Obama campaign team members are setting up shop in the very red state of Texas because they have determined that Hispanics never really vote for Republicans. Or something.

Using the lapdog media as willing partners, as the current Team Obama does in the White House, Politico obediently reported on the launch of Battleground Texas.

Two veterans of President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign are deploying to Texas to head up a Democratic group aimed at turning the Republican electoral stronghold into a bona fide swing state.
POLITICO reported last month that Democratic strategists, led by former Obama field director Jeremy Bird, were creating a group called Battleground Texas with a goal of making the Lone Star State politically competitive.
Now, the group is bringing on two operatives to lead its efforts on the ground in Austin, according to strategists familiar with the plans.
Jenn Brown, who was the Obama campaign’s Ohio field director, will serve as executive director of Battleground Texas. Christina Gomez, a former digital strategist for the Democratic National Committee, will be the group’s digital director.
Yee haw. The Democrats are coming, the Democrats are coming.  From out of state, no less.  

Strategists have described the organization as an effort to bring Texas’s electoral behavior more in line with the state’s demographics. Despite having a majority-minority population – 38 percent of Texans called themselves Latino or Hispanic in the 2010 census – Texas continues to vote strongly Republican at the federal and state level.

I'd say that was a bit condescending towards our Hispanic brothers and sisters, but what do I know? It must not be a racist thing if you imply that Hispanic voters are too ignorant to know they are voting for the wrong party's candidates if you are a Democrat.  Double standards and all.

Mitt Romney may not have done well with Hispanic voters in Texas but George W. Bush did, thank you very much.  Hispanic voters supported him in his races for Governor and for President, too. In 2004, his last presidential race, Bush received 44% of the national vote.

From the DONATIONS page:

Battleground Texas is a grassroots movement by Texas for Texans. Your support means organizers on the ground in our communities and across the state.
We are committed to organizing in every community across the Lone Star State. Join us by making a donation today.

I'm not sure what the "by Texas for Texans" means since we know the two women in charge of starting up this effort are from elsewhere. You will notice that they use Governor Perry's quote - "The University of Texas will change its colors to maroon and white before Texas goes purple, much less blue." as the initial fundraising tool.

So, as declared at the bottom of the donations page by Battleground Texas, Game On! Active Texas Republicans have been predicting this battle for several election cycles of late.  Battleground Texas knows it will not be an easy fight.  It will take some time for them to be successful on the ground, as the state Democratic party is so weak and lacking infrastructure.  Texas Republicans intend to continue the fight to keep Texas in the red state column. From the local county level to the state level, actions are being taken to secure the state's political preference on the ground and even online. 

Game on, indeed.

Monday, February 25, 2013

FLOTUS Appears During Oscar Ceremony - For No Apparent Reason

Unclear as to what the purpose was, First Lady Michelle Obama made an appearance during the annual Oscar ceremony Sunday night. When it came time for the last award of the evening, that of Best Picture, veteran actor Jack Nicholson walked onto the stage and introduced Mrs. Obama.  She appeared on a large screen in full formal wear plus the bonus of military members standing behind her, in dress uniforms.  

It was bizarre, to say the least. As noted, conservatives in particular jumped to tweet about the stunt.  Most of all, the use of military personnel in dress uniform as props for her appearance was seen as a disgraceful move. One of my own tweets appeared in the collection.

Karen Townsend @penguinponders: FLOTUS announces Best Picture.Why?and military as props.Disgusting.

That went out as I recovered from my surprise at the stunt registered in my brain. I grabbed my BlackBerry and tweeted about it.  Apparently I was not the only viewer astonished that this White House continues to impose itself in absolutely every event that brings television cameras.  Plus, the woman didn't even bother to thank the military for their service - any of them.  She was too busy uttering bon mots to those promoting her agenda thru social manipulation of society.

Just like with her husband, her appearance was all about her.

The White House, failing to grasp the national pulse yet again as far as optics go, tweeted out a photo Monday morning of the appearance.  How proud they are!


Turns out Obama buddy and Hollywood liberal extraordinaire Harvey Weinstein was behind all this. It was the cherry on the liberal ice cream sundae feast.  Interesting that Mr. Weinstein's ultra violent movies, from which he is a very wealthy man and able to contribute so generously to candidates, are not being called out by the First Lady.  What with gun violence such a hot button issue in current events, you'd think that the First Lady would jump on the opportunity to voice her opinion of them as she promotes healthier lifestyles for children and families, wouldn't you?  

Oh. That's right.  This is the First Lady that only wants to work two days a week.  

She was supposed to be a different kind of first lady—an Ivy League–educated, fashion-trendsetting professional who blew up the conventions of the job. No one could have imagined back in the heady days following the election that she’d declare that she would work only two or three days a week, choose a couple of politically comfortable issues, and stay out of the glare of the political spotlight. The result has been a low-key tenure that some have found to be disappointingly conventional.
Playing dress up and reading off a teleprompter is hardly work, though.  I wonder if that was counted as part of this week's two day commitment. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dept of Interior Limits National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska Energy Production

You may have noticed that the cost to fill up your automobile's gas tank has risen this past month.  For more than 32 days, the price of gas has risen and continues to that path.  

The 44-cent jump in gasoline prices over the past four weeks was the largest in well over three years, according to AAA.“The 44-cent month-over-month increase is the most dramatic since June 2009. The largest increase on record was August 5-September 4, 2005 when prices jumped 75 cents largely because of Hurricane Katrina,” the travelers’ services group said in its weekly price analysis.
So, how is Team Obama managing this alarming trend? The Department of Interior is limiting, not expanding, the available land to produce energy - even that of a reserve specifically established by Congress for that very purpose.

On Thursday, the Department of the Interior finalized plans to lock up the majority of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) from energy production. The NPR-A was specifically established by Congress for oil and natural gas production and contains over 2.7 billion barrels of oil and 114.36 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. 

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) Thursday released the following statement after the Department of the Interior finalized plans to lock up the majority of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) from energy production. 

“As gasoline prices continue to increase for the 34th day in a row, the Obama Administration has responded by locking up a majority of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, which Congress specifically established for oil and natural gas production,” said Chairman Hastings. “Only in President Obama’s backwards worldview of anti-energy policies does it make sense to prohibit energy production in a place specifically set aside for energy production at a time when gasoline prices are skyrocketing and federal oil and natural gas production is declining.”

According to conservative estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey, there are over 2.7 billion barrels of oil and 114.36 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the NPR-A. Last Congress, the Natural Resources Committee passed bipartisan legislation to create jobs, expand energy production and lower energy costs by ensuring that oil and natural gas resources in the NPR-A are developed and transported in a timely, efficient manner.

President Obama has also decided, apparently, to continue blocking the construction of the Keystone Pipeline XL, though all studies continue to show it can be done in an environmentally friendly way.  So, if crude oil is not transported by a pipeline, how is it, you ask? By railroad.  And, who is a big winner here? Obama pal Warren Buffett.  

And of them, the biggest winner might just be the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate controlled by Obama supporter and Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett. In December, the CEO of BNSF, Matthew Rose, said that his railroad was shipping about 500,000 barrels of oil per day out of the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and that it was seeking a permit to send “crude by rail to the Pacific Northwest.” He also said the railroad expects to “eventually” be shipping 1 million barrels of oil per day.
How very cozy.  

Friday, February 22, 2013

Brain Scan Can Accurately Determine Political Allegiance

Republican Elephant_Reuters_Feb20.JPG

I like this brightly decorated elephant so I borrowed it from an article I read about the natural "hard wiring" of a person's political ideology.  A study found that by using a brain scan, the conclusion drawn will quite accurately determine which political party you will consider your home.

The study, from the University of Exeter and the University of California, San Diego, evaluated the brain activity of 82 subjects engaged in gambling games. Then, researchers compared participants’ cerebral activity to their declared political parties. While Republicans and Democrats took similar risks during the games, the brain activity that prompted those risks was extremely different.
Among participants who voted Democrat, gray matter showed more activation in the left posterior insula, the region linked with empathy and emotion. The other side of the brain was Republican territory: conservatives flexed their right amygdala more often when making decisions. That brain region is associated with fear, reward, and a fight-or-flight response.
It is true that Republicans are not the touchy-feely party.  We are the pull yourself up by your bootstraps party.  We are the take responsibility for yourself and your family party who value education, free enterprise and entrepreneurship. We believe you can make better decisions for yourself and your family than a government bureaucrat will make.

Those of us in the Republican party understand that when the government is taking care of you, you owe them.  Your dance to their tune and are not your own person.  All that "help" has lots of strings attached.  Not to mention a real power base for Democrats come election time.

We have lost some recent elections due to our never-ending inability to communicate with the average Joe or Jane.  Our heart is in the right place but you would never know it.  Democrats have been really successful with convincing voters that we want your grandma to eat cat food while living in a cardboard box suffering in pain because she can't get medical care.  We've been labeled anti-everything good and even though it is ludicrous to any thinking person, the nonsense has stuck.  

The good news is that change has begun.  Though slow, activists are realizing that the task ahead of us is huge.  I don't subscribe to the doom and gloom of those naysayers who state that our time is over.  Every time a party suffers big defeats at the ballot box, that claim is made.  Remember after the 2010 elections when even President Obama had to admit that the Democrats had their butts handed to them?

Reading a liberal columnist's idea of what young Republicans believe, I think he inadvertently got it exactly right in the final sentence below. The GOP is learning to embrace those who would be outside their regular comfort zone - those with technological knowledge, social media skills, common sense government budgets and yes, gays.

By proclaiming that their defeats are due mainly to technological inferiority or bad messaging, the young Republicans ignore the underlying source of popular disdain for their party.  It is true that their technology was feeble, their candidate and consultants were incompetent, and their messaging was often repellent. But the self-styled hipsters of the right are in fact not much different from the Tea Party octogenarians in their hostility to government investment, social insurance, health care, education, and industry - and both are in conflict with the evolving attitudes of young Americans across all demographic lines.
The disgruntled figures who spoke with Draper represent almost nobody in the GOP, compared with the legions commanded by Limbaugh and the religious right. But if their fantasy could be made real, what shape would it take? A tech-savvy, gay-friendly, 21st-century Calvin Coolidge? A composite of Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Rand Paul?

He gave it a "good luck with that" finish but I know it will be true. In order for a modern political party to survive, it has to be true.  It can all work comfortably into the conservative ideology that will lead the Republican party in the no so distant future. The old white men who have dominated the party leadership are being replaced by women, younger people and minorities, slowly but surely.  I have not given up.

By now demanding to be heard and that the party make the changes necessary, while maintaining our conservative principles, those coming up in the party and among activists are shaping the party's future.

Democrats are rooting for our failure, of course.  They really hope we just keep our heads in the sand and continue on our merry way as though no change is needed.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ted Cruz Perplexes D.C. Establishment

Texas Senator Ted Cruz went to Washington and began doing as he promised he would do.  He shows up for work and he takes no prisoners. Recently you may have noticed he is a frequent subject on cable news shows as political pundits sit around on television sets and express surprise, shock, disapproval and even disgust that Cruz is posing tough questions to the likes of Chuck Hagel.

Hagel was the one Republican that President Obama found who is to the left of his own administration and him, too, on foreign policy and defense questions. Hagel has burned bridges on both sides of the aisle as a matter of course as he sat in the U.S. Senate representing the people of Nebraska.  Hagel called former President George W. Bush "the worst president since Wilson" and the surge in Iraq "the worst mistake since Vietnam", so there is no base of support among Republicans for their former colleague. President Obama knew exactly who he was nominating and deliberately embraced dividing the members of the senate in this nomination.

“The big picture here is the Pentagon is not going to have much protection from outside political forces during the second Obama administration,” said defense analyst Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute. “Hagel has alienated so many people in his own Republican Party that reaching across the aisle would be a challenge. … It raises questions about whether he will be able to implement any major changes at the Pentagon, given how narrow his base of support on the Hill seems to be.”

This is how President Obama rejects learning how to lead our country and remains stuck in the bare knuckle politics of a former career politician with no executive experience.

The party of dead Ted Kennedy (misogynist-MA) calls frosh Senator Ted Cruz "nasty". And, by party I mean the lapdog press.  Perhaps the author of that description is too young to remember the Bork hearing where Senator Ted Kennedy (alcoholic-MA) started the current tone of Senate confirmation hearings. He deliberately slandered an honorable, respected man for political gain. He was no "newcomer".  He was just sorely lacking in character.

The party that destroyed the career of Republican John Tower, a Texan nominated to be Secretary of Defense, with charges of alcohol abuse and the like, found it perfectly acceptable for dead Ted Kennedy to remain in the senate after the scandal of allowing a young female staffer drown in a river after a car crash without reporting it for many hours to the police so as to protect himself. That was only one incident of fall-out from drunken Kennedy actions.

Senator Cruz is in his first term in the U.S. Senate.  The old white men in control of that institution are accustomed to more quiet, go along to get along kinds of new senators.  How dare this freshman come to a nomination hearing - that of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary, for instance - and ask actual hard-hitting questions? How dare he question Hagel's less than stellar record out of office as he pursued a career in paid speech making and lobbying in Washington, D.C.?

How dare Ted Cruz firmly question one of their own who is clearly not the right man for the job?

So, first it was that Cruz is nasty and a brash newcomer. Now it is that Cruz is the reincarnation of Joe McCarthy. Yes, according to Democrats, the age of McCarthyism is back.

Without naming names, Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, offered a biting label for the Texan’s accusatory crusade: McCarthyism.
“It was really reminiscent of a different time and place, when you said, ‘I have here in my pocket a speech you made on such and such a date,’ and, of course, nothing was in the pocket,” she said, a reference to Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s pursuit of Communists in the 1950s. “It was reminiscent of some bad times.” 
Yes. Senator Barbara Boxer is calling it McCarthyism. She, you may remember, caused a bit of commotion as she questioned a four star general in a hearing on Iraq and insisted he call her "Senator" and not "Ma'am" as the military etiquette demands. Most reasonable observers at the time thought that was beyond "nasty" and more like deliberately disrespectful of a military officer because she was opposed to the war and President Bush in general.  Yes. That same Senator Barbara Boxer.

Cruz joins other new senators in renewed efforts to shake it up in Washington. For better or worse, this seems to be necessary for leadership to listen and move away from business as usual.

“If you don’t ruffle any feathers, you’re not doing anything right,” said Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, who garnered similar attention in his opening weeks in the Senate two years ago.

Normally the leftists in our country fall back on the tradition of questioning authority.  Normally it is considered an honorable task to speak truth to power.  But these are not normal times.  The media in our country now feels comfortable in its role as contributors to political campaigns and even donating in-kind to the campaigns with cheerleading coverage for their candidate of choice.  In present day Washington, that candidate is Barack Obama.  They went all in for him in 2008 and continued in 2012 to ensure that he remain in office.  It is to the media's benefit to save face and continue to go after his critics.

Ted Cruz is doing as he said he would to the voters of Texas.  He is actually fulfilling campaign promises and that is rare enough today to garner national attention.  There is no reputation of Senator Cruz being a drunk or chasing women or the like. So, what else is left? Dredging up charges of McCarthyism, apparently. How sad.  What a low point we have reached in American politics.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Greater Houston Council Promotes Leadership Skills

An annual event, Greater Houston Council of Republican Women Tuesday featured presentations from Toni Anne Dashiell and Rachel Woods on leadership and communication. 

Greater Houston Council (GHC) is an umbrella organization for 36 Republican Women's Clubs in Southeast Texas, including 11 counties. Its mission is to promote political education in order to increase the effectiveness of Republican Women in the cause of good government.

The event is called the "Nuts 'N' Bolts" Seminar and this year's event specifically focused on leadership skills and communication skills for Republicans.  Dashiell and Woods are the authors of "Leading Freedom" . They have spread their message and instructed women around the world in the cause of developing leaders in the struggle for freedom.

About 150 Republican women heard ideas in developing emerging leaders in local clubs.  It is crucial to reach out to every club member and encourage that woman to accept the challenge of a role in which she is motivated to serve.  A task is well done is the person charged with it is interested in that task.  A club president must get to know members and their specific talents, needs and interests. Successful leaders bring in new members as soon as possible and assign that person a role. Everyone wants to feel a part of a group working on common goals.

It is important to remember to acknowledge members that are already motivated, too.  It is easy to slip into the habit of taking enthusiastic members and their participation for granted.

The development of communication skills in the Republican party is sorely needed.  "If a message is not received the way it was intended, communication did not occur.." said Rachel Woods.  93% of communication is non-verbal. This includes tone of voice, facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, etc, as a speaker communicates a message.  In the case of the Republican party, the image of an angry white man drowns out a message of Republican philosophy and values that appeal to voters.  

Parliamentary procedures for meetings were presented.  PAC treasury guidelines were discussed.

Given the malaise felt by many in the Republican party now, as we contemplate four more long years of President Obama and his agenda for our nation, it was encouraging to hear positive steps that can be taken by each club, every month.  

What keeps Republican women going? "We're doing this to fight for our freedoms", said Toni Anne Dashiell.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Hagel Nomination Vote Put On Hold

Though it was reported as the beginning of a filibuster against the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, the move was actually one of fulfilling their jobs as senators - that responsibility of advise and consent in the nomination process.  Republican senators are requesting information contained in speeches delivered by Hagel after he left office and on the Benghazi consulate attack from the White House. 

 Republicans succeeded Thursday in blocking a vote on Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s defense secretary nominee, by launching the first filibuster in history against a president’s choice to fill the Pentagon’s top civilian post.
GOP senators said they are delaying the confirmation in order to have more time to study Mr. Hagel’s record and to obtain more information on the White House’s handling of the September attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a matter on which they accuse the administration of stonewalling or providing wrong information. Republicans expect they will green-light him later this month after the chamber returns from a weeklong vacation.
Had Hagel been forthcoming on all materials, this delay would not be necessary.  By President Obama choosing to nominate the one former Republican senator with an anti-Israel biased history, he deliberately set up this intense scrutiny.

Not even Hagel's harshest critics are expecting a real filibuster.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) today released the following statement on the Senate’s decision to extend debate on the nomination of Sen. Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary:

"Today the Senate rightly voted to continue debate on Sen. Chuck Hagel's nomination. There is no reason to rush his nomination to a vote until he has adequately responded to multiple requests from members of the Armed Services Committee for additional information.
Twenty-five senators have asked Senator Hagel to disclose the personal compensation that he has received the past five years, and twice he has flat-out refused regarding what he was paid in 2008, 2009, and 2010. This is within his direct control, and his refusal to comply with this reasonable request is troubling. Both Henry Kissinger and Hillary Clinton were asked similar questions, and given the vital importance of the Secretary of Defense to our national security, Sen. Hagel should not be held to a lesser standard.
Once Senator Hagel responds to these reasonable requests to disclose whether and to what extent he has any foreign financial conflicts of interest, I am confident that a bipartisan majority of the Senate will move forward to the timely consideration of the merits of his nomination."

It's more of a "hold" than a filibuster.

But while all of this sounds like a big filibuster, Republicans would prefer it be described as a hold. Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler explains that the while it's unusual to filibuster a cabinet-level nominee, it's not unusual to put a hold on that person's nomination. A hold is like a threat to require a 60-vote margin. Usually a majority leader honors a hold, but this time, Harry Reid didn't, Beutler writes, effectively defying the holds. That's how Republicans are arguing this isn't really a filibuster. Arizona Sen. John McCain said delaying nominees like this in order to get more information is "a time-honored practice."  

Senate Majority Reid feigned shock that the process has come to this.  He conveniently left out that there is a little historical precedent here.  During the 1989 nomination process of John Tower, renowned as the first Republican senator from Texas since Reconstruction, as defense secretary, led to his defeat by a party line vote.

U.S. Senate confirmation of a president's Cabinet nomination of a former U.S. senator is usually pro forma. But the treatment of George Bush's pick for secretary of defense, ex-Texas senator John Tower, was anything but standard.
After five grueling weeks of testimony, debate, and rumor-mongering, Tower's nomination was defeated in March 1989 by a mostly party-line vote.

Also, as Reid insists that the filibuster rule is open to tweaking, he may be reminded that it was Senate Democrats who insisted it would be status quo during the George W. Bush years, when Senate Republicans contemplated going to what is commonly called the "nuclear option" in Senate votes.

That was then, this is now.

It should also be noted, in light of Senator Reid's distress, that Secretary Panetta is still on the job.  Next week he travels to Russia to represent the U.S., as a matter of fact.  Our country is not without a working defense secretary.  It's just more drama from the senator.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Rubio Delivers GOP Response to State of the Union Address

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was chosen to deliver the Republican response to the president's State of the Union address Tuesday night.  It was a very good choice. Senator Rubio wove his own story into his response and this provided an air of authenticity to his remarks.

You can read the transcript of his speech HERE

The State of the Union address is always a reminder of how unique America is. For much of human history, most people were trapped in stagnant societies, where a tiny minority always stayed on top, and no one else even had a chance.
But America is exceptional because we believe that every life, at every stage, is precious, and that everyone everywhere has a God-given right to go as far as their talents and hard work will take them.
Like most Americans, for me this ideal is personal. My parents immigrated here in pursuit of the opportunity to improve their life and give their children the chance at an even better one. They made it to the middle class, my dad working as a bartender and my mother as a cashier and a maid. I didn’t inherit any money from them. But I inherited something far better – the real opportunity to accomplish my dreams.
Rubio is Cuban-American and has lived the American Dream.  He is out front on big issues, such as immigration reform.  A real threat to Democrats, he is regularly criticized by them in social media.  Some in the Republican party criticize his stance on some issues, so this seems to prove he is a common sense, realistic problem solver.

I confess, I am a supporter of the man.  I had the opportunity to hear him speak in person last summer and his story is both compelling and inspiring.  Most importantly, he is a happy warrior.  There is no problem with tone or delivery with him.

During his response, obviously he was nervous.  It's a tough gig, this response to the sitting president, after a speech filled with theatre and visual props.  The president's supporters used the State of the Union speech this year to dot the audience with victims of gun violence to support his gun control agenda, as well as a few illegal immigrants to poke a finger in the eye of those supporting real immigration reform.  

Rubio rightly accused the president of being obsessed with raising taxes.  Democrats were appalled at the language but it is the truth - think about the fact that since the days of his campaign, President Obama's non-stop rhetoric of class warfare and punishing success with raising taxes on "the rich" cannot not be denied.  

Economic growth is the best way to help the middle class.  Unfortunately, our economy actually shrank during the last three months of 2012.But if we can get the economy to grow at just 4 percent a year, it would create millions of middle class jobs. And it could reduce our deficits by almost $4 trillion dollars over the next decade.
Tax increases can’t do this. Raising taxes won’t create private sector jobs. And there’s no realistic tax increase that could lower our deficits by almost $4 trillion. That’s why I hope the President will abandon his obsession with raising taxes and instead work with us to achieve real growth in our economy.
Rubio boldly criticized the president for his ugly rhetoric towards Republicans opposing his agenda, whether it is more regulations to strangle business growth and productivity as a sop to special interests, or the use of straw men to criticize opposition to ever growing out of control spending.  Rubio rightfully stated that Republicans do not want dirty air and water or to force your grandparents to eat cat food due to Medicare cuts.  How sad that Republicans actually have to make that argument to counter this very partisan, arrogant president.

Rubio on immigration reform:

We can also help our economy grow if we have a legal immigration system that allows us to attract and assimilate the world’s best and brightest. We need a responsible, permanent solution to the problem of those who are here illegally. But first, we must follow through on the broken promises of the past to secure our borders and enforce our laws.
Hardly radical words there, right?

Among his remarks on education reforms needed, he spoke of school choice:

We need to give all parents, especially the parents of children with special needs, the opportunity to send their children to the school of their choice.
On the floundering economic recovery, Rubio said:

The President loves to blame the debt on President Bush. But President Obama created more debt in four years than his predecessor did in eight.
The real cause of our debt is that our government has been spending 1 trillion dollars more than it takes in every year. That’s why we need a balanced budget amendment.

Rubio's strength is that he speaks from experience on the big reforms needed today.  He speaks of his parents and their use of Medicare.  He speaks of his parent's journey as legal immigrants, he speaks of student debt from financing higher education and the need for affordable solutions.  He speaks as a parent on the need for reigning in runaway federal spending.  Most of all he does it in a calm and optimistic voice.

There was an awkward moment when he reached for a bottle of water to ease his dry throat. His staff apparently failed to place it so that the gesture would be a smooth one and that brought about much snark on social media.  One Democrat supporting media type even truthfully mentioned that Democrats were thankful for that gesture to mock, as Rubio was delivering a powerful message, quite well.  No doubt it will be a sketch on Saturday Night Live soon.  

Marco Rubio is a humble man, though, and took the opportunity to poke a little fun at himself.  Unlike the thin-skinned Obama, Rubio went with humor and tweeted out a photo of the bottle of water on Twitter after the speech.  Good for him.

Good for Republican leadership on recognizing the strengths of Senator Rubio and supporting him as the voice of the Republican party.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Social Media Blitz for Second Term Agenda Planned by Team Obama

No, he's not going to DisneyWorld, but he is calling into a conference call with his campaign organizers and supporters after delivering his 5th annual State of the Union address.

Team Obama is going with a charm offense on social media to push Obama's agenda after the State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Good thing OFA pledged to remain non-partisan and not simply be tasked with advancing the President's agenda.  Oh, wait:

President Obama will hold a conference call with supporters of the nonprofit group formed from his reelection campaign organization following his State of the Union address Tuesday night.
"When President Obama leaves the Capitol on Tuesday night after delivering the State of the Union, we're excited to let you know that he'll get on the phone to speak with the folks who are going to help make his plan a reality: supporters like you," OFA organizing director Jon Carson writes in an e-mail. "This is a great opportunity to hear directly from the President about how we can help finish what we started. We've got momentum — let's keep it going."
They have the social media aptness in the bag and this is how it's going to work:

The White House is aiming to boost proposals outlined by the president in his address through a social media and advertising blitz in the days after the speech. The administration invited 100 supporters on the president’s social media networks to watch the speech at a White House viewing party, and Obama will travel to North Carolina, Georgia, and Illinois in the coming days to rally support for his proposals. The call with supporters will likely dovetail with those efforts.

The president’s campaign relaunched as a policy-oriented nonprofit — renamed Organizing for Action — following the campaign. Former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina has said the group will work to use the campaign's infrastructure and voter database to support the president in his second term.

"Issues like immigration, climate change and gun violence will be debated over these next four years, and President Obama is ready to take them on — but he needs us by his side," Messina wrote in an e-mail to supporters. "Our goal is to help him get things done, but also to help change how things get done in Washington in the first place."

And, this, if you need a chuckle:

“Neither OFA nor its chapters will be involved in any way in elections or partisan political activity,” the group recently posted on it’s website. “Its exclusive purpose is public policy advocacy and development, and in particular, both enactment of President Obama’s legislative agenda and the identification and advancement of other goals for progressive change at the state and local level.”

On Twitter Monday, the Obama flying monkeys were already priming the pump.  You may remember the grandson of Jimmy Carter who took the glory with his 15 minutes of fame over the video tape delivered to Mother Jones of Mitt Romney referring to the 47% of voters who would not be his supporters.  Yeah, that guy. Here's Jimmy the 4th's tweet:

My prediction for the state of the union address: Some Republican will call it one of the most partisan state of the union addresses ever.

Those Republicans. Always the opposition party, it would seem.  If only they would just go along with His Excellence, King Obama. 

Yeah, you've probably gotten us again, Little Jimmy.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

AFPF-Texas Holds Education Reform Forum in Houston

Americans for Prosperity Foundation - Texas held an education reform forum Saturday afternoon in Houston.  The forum was livestreamed online and also recorded for tv. The event proved to be a ray of sunshine to counter an otherwise dreary day in your nation's fourth largest city. The takeaway from the two hour long forum is this: some among us get it.  They are fighting on behalf of your children and all children to provide the best possible education, thus the best future for them and our country.  The common denominator for education reform success is choice.  There is simply no getting around the need for school choice.

Held at Houston Heights Learning Academy, a charter school now recognized as a TEA Exemplary School.  The school's Superintendent and Principle, Yvette East, was present and introduced to the audience. On the dais were the Honorable Rod Paige, former D.C. City Councilman and Louisiana native Kevin Chauvous, and Texas State Senator Dan Patrick, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee.  The panel moderator was Ben Streusand, a political commentator on radio station  KSEV and Advisory Board Chairman of Americans for Prosperity – Texas.  

Texas is in good hands with Senator Patrick leading the Senate side of education reform legislation.  He specifically asked for Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., a Democrat from Brownsville, to be co-chair of the committee due to his support of school choice.  Democrats in support of school choice play an important role in the politics of the reform movement.  Those bold enough to buck union pressure and often facing down harassment and personal attacks are to be commended.

Sen Patrick is promoting his business tax charter credit legislation. This is a way for businesses to contribute to scholarships for disadvantaged students to attend private schools. He also is out front in his push for a blend of traditional and online learning - he calls it the wave of the future.  He pointed out that 72% of Texas students are of minority ethnic populations and will benefit from choices allowing them to attend a school out of their home district.  

Kevin Chavous, who served on the D.C. City Council from 1993 to 2005, said we must "fly the plane at the same time we fix it", meaning reforms can happen as schools operate.  45% of students are in charter schools in D.C. and there are waiting lists for school attendance. He helped originate the popular and successful Opportunity Scholarship program there which now has a 94% graduation rate with 89% of students going on to college.  "No school bureaucracy has ever reformed itself from within".  Milwaukee has the most robust education  choice program in the country, showing marked improvement in testing from 2003 to 2010.  And, in Florida, former Governor Jeb Bush's reforms showed a proficiency rate increase from 53% to 70% in fifth graders from 1998 to 2007.  In Indiana, where 10,000 students are enrolled in school choice options, public schools are now advertising on billboards that "we can educate your children, too". 

Chavous went on to point out that every day 7,000 children drop out of school.  Home schooling is the fastest growing choice.  Of the 8500 campuses in Texas, 500 are rated as failing.  That amounts to schools teaching 300,000 students.

Asked about the politicization of education reform, Chavous, a Democrat who was also an advisor to President Obama's education department during his first term, said he didn't know any "Republican or Democratic way to teach a child how to read or write." The issue must be depoliticized.  He faced his heaviest opposition from Democrats and the unions to which they are beholden. He said the only yardstick to use in the argument is "will this help a chold or group of children learn?"

Former HISD Superintendent and Secretary of Education under former President George W. Bush spoke of the perils of speaking in favor of school choice in Washington, D.C. He mentioned that Kevin Chavous was run out of office on the D.C. City Council due to his leadership on the subject.  "How we are working is not working", he said.  Progress has not been sufficient or timely.  He noted that 4th grade reading scores nationally have only moved from a gap of 30% to 26% between white students and African American students.  Only a 4% improvement in 17 years.

Paige said it is imperative to raise the morale of people working in the schools so that they will make the changes necessary.  This will encourage teachers to join in on reform ideas, too.  He spoke of the advantages of online learning, especially to rural communities.  HISD has some of the widest choices of any in the country.  "Kids should be free to go to any public school in the state", he said.  Public school is not a structure, it is a concept made available through public means. He said it is a re-distribution of wealth in many districts.  The real conflicts come from job protection - protecting jobs above all else instead of doing what benefits the students most, and it interrupts effective use of dollars.  "You've got a major problem" with unions.  He said the NEA gave him the most headaches during his time serving in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Paige encouraged people "with good ideas" to run for their local school board.

As Chairman of the Education Committee on the D.C. City Council, Kevin Chavous voted for the charter school bill.  After that measure passed, 15 union members visited him in his office to harass him over the vote.  Due to the success of school choice in D.C., the same old arguments against school choice don't even occur.  Success has been proven and the voucher system has been very popular with parents.  Because of his bold leadership, he was defeated by a union member in 2005. He spoke of the leadership shown by Mayor Fenty , who hired Michelle Rhee.  Rhee implemented changes in the system as Superintendent of Schools, for which she was eventually also thrown out of her position by opponents.

Chavous said school choice is in demand nationwide.  "I'm going to Alaska next week, people want this stuff", he said.  He noted the very legislators fighting school choice are the ones trying to get their own children in charter schools.  In New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina when the charter school system was implemented, for example, he noted 10,000 families signed up for charter schools in a two week period.

Sen Patrick mentioned that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will testify before his education committee in Austin on February 27.  He also noted that in Texas, only one in three science teachers have a degree in science and the same is true for math teachers. There is a cap on charter schools of 215 in Texas.  He is asking for a lift of that cap and for full funding of facilities for charter schools to start.  Often that is the biggest hurdle for a new charter school to open - the lack of funding for the facility.  He also noted that the Homeschooling Association doesn't want tax credits or other special measures, as they don't want the strings attached to them that would occur.

Dr. Paige said that there were 21 charter schools in HISD before state charter rule began, while he was the superintendent.  He noted that KIPP schools began as HISD charter schools before moving under the state charter umbrella, which was due to increased funding and not lack of local support.

Senator Patrick spoke of his surprise that school board races now have such big money in them and the politics involved in running for school board.  It is no longer a concerned mom or dad wanting to make neighborhood schools better.  It is now the lobbying of textbook companies and vendors and then future runs for the state legislature in many cases.

Senator Patrick said, "There will be a special session" of the state legislature this year.  Using the help of his Democratic co-chair on the Education Committee, he expects his bill - SB3 - to be passed, even if it has to be in special session.  In the special session, a simple majority of 16 is needed, not the standard 22 votes. "This will happen", he said.

Mr. Chavous praised former President George W. Bush's efforts on school choice and criticized President Obama for his lack of support on vouchers.  "We gotta lead the leaders", he said. "Change is organic", he said, and used the example of President Reagan challenging Gorbachev to "tear down this wall" before the Berlin Wall came down and the Cold War ended, as though overnight.

Kudos to Americans for Prosperity Foundation - Texas  for holding this forum in Houston.  They are, in fact, "leading the leaders".