Sunday, March 31, 2013

Google Chooses Cesar Chavez Over Easter Recognition

Google - the all powerful search engine - chose to honor Cesar Chavez's birthday in the Google "doodle" on Easter Sunday, rather than a nod to the most holy of days on the Christian calendar.

This is Google's description of Chavez:

Cesar Chavez was an American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist, who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association.
Two years ago, President Obama proclaimed March 31 as Cesar Chavez Day.  The call for this action first came from him as he ran for president in 2008:

"Chavez left a legacy as an educator, environmentalist, and a civil rights leader. And his cause lives on. As farmworkers and laborers across America continue to struggle for fair treatment and fair wages, we find strength in what Cesar Chavez accomplished so many years ago. And we should honor him for what he's taught us about making America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation. That's why I support the call to make Cesar Chavez's birthday a national holiday. It's time to recognize the contributions of this American icon to the ongoing efforts to perfect our union."Senator Barack Obama March 31, 2008.

Clearly, the political implications and political payback are noted by the targeted groups:

Cesar Chavez Day, however, has become a popular day of celebration in states with significant Hispanic populations. In some cities, the revelry rivals the type seen on Halloween and St. Patrick's Day.In San Antonio, Texas, hundreds of people took part in the city's 17th annual Cesar Chavez march over the weekend, calling for comprehensive immigration reform.“We're all fighting to ensure there is going to be a favourable vote taken in Congress this year and that President Obama has the opportunity to sign a new bill granting legal status to farm workers,” said Arturo Rodriguez, now the president of the United Farm Workers.
It is too bad that notice of this and the backlash has been tagged as that from conservatives.  Aren't liberals religious people, too?  Aren't they saddened that politics trumps a major religious celebration recognized by  over 2 billion people around the world?

Of course, this could have been easily avoided.  On a year when March 31 is Easter Day, Chavez can be honored by supporters on a different day.  This is commonly done already in many places.

If you care about commemorating the heroic, nonviolent leader of what later became the United Farm Workers in a public way—check around your community, now. Some towns already have honored Chavez earlier in March. Some cities, including San Francisco, are delaying until warmer spring weather in April. Some states officially mark a legal holiday this week (although dates when government offices close vary widely). Many states don’t honor Chavez at all.
The Google guys are political.  They are liberals.  They are big Obama supporters, too.  This decision is not surprising but it is unfortunate.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

CBS Apologizes for The Amazing Race in Hanoi

A few days after a recent episode of the Emmy award winning show, The Amazing Race, the 31st anniversary of the 1982 ground breaking ceremony for a national monument recognizing Vietnam war veterans was noted.  Ironic, I thought.  During the episode of The Amazing Race a bit of a controversy broke out from attentive viewers.

I'm a fan of the show so I had watched the episode as the contestants vying for the million dollar prize trekked through Hanoi, Vietnam.  My first reaction was how odd a locale, given our history with the nation.  I am a Baby Boomer.  My generation grew up with the evening news of the Vietnam war in the background as we ate our evening meals and our older brothers and sisters were involved in the war.  I married a Vietnam war veteran.  We all remember how poorly our veterans were treated as they returned from war.  We also must now contend with the fact that the hideously politically opportunistic John Kerry is our current Secretary of State, though he should have never been elected into office in the first place as he turned his back on fellow veterans.  He accused them of war crimes during the Winter Soldier hearings.

During the race in Hanoi, the contestants ran by the remains of a B-52 aircraft, now used as a monument to victory in the war, while no mention of its history there was mentioned.  The contestants picked up a clue there to be used in the race. Then they were taught a song glorifying the Communist party in Vietnam and sang it.  It was quite surreal but I thought, well, this must be where we are as a nation.  We are so completely absent in knowledge and, more importantly, understanding of our national history that Hollywood now completely ignores and accepts a war that killed hundreds of thousands of our young people and those people living in Vietnam.

Then I tuned in for last week's show and as it began an apology was extended to the viewers for the Hanoi episode.  To say I was surprised is an understatement.  But, it was a good surprise.  It was the kind of action that gives me a glimmer of hope for our people.

We want to apologize to veterans, particularly those who served in Vietnam, as well as to their families and any viewers who were offended by the broadcast," read the statement aired ahead of Sunday's broadcast.
Parts of last Sunday's episode, filmed in Vietnam, were insensitive to a group that is very important to us: our nation's veterans," the statement read. "We want to apologize to veterans, particularly those who served in Vietnam, as well as to their families and any viewers who were offended by the broadcast. All of us here have the most profound respect for the men and women who fight for our country.

It should be noted that previously to this broadcast apology, the executives at CBS were silent when questioned about the objections to groups and viewers, such as the VFW National Commander, who wrote a letter to the network's top man:

"The B-52 scene, as well as the young people singing a propaganda song, was totally unnecessary to the show’s plot, which speaks volumes about naive producers who think they’re in charge when they are not,” VFW national commander John Hamilton wrote in a nearly 500-word letter to CBS Corp. chief Leslie Moonves.
So, had no one complained or spoken up for the hurt inflicted by this show, the slap would have gone unnoticed by the swells in Hollywood.  "Out of touch" is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.

Perhaps a lesson has been learned. I'm encouraged to know that sometimes it's not just me who remembers.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

National Kidney Month - Live Organ Transplant Awareness

March is National Kidney Month.

My friend Sandy Eckles recently filmed a PSA for live organ transplants.  Sandy received a kidney transplant at Texas Transplant Institute at Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital in San Antonio.  It is the largest live organ transplant institute in the country.

Sandy gave back to the Texas Transplant Institute by doing this Public Service Announcement in San Antonio, bringing attention to the live organ transplant program. She didn't find a kidney match in Houston but after three years of waiting for one, she found it in San Antonio.  It was a very successful operation for her.  Her family and scores of friends are very grateful.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

HCRP Outreach Committee Holds Community Forum

On Monday, March 25, the Harris County Republican Party (HCRP) Outreach Committee held a community forum for West Houston and the Alief Area with the focus on education.  Two speakers were featured - Donna Bahorich, SBOE District 6 and Nghi Ho, Alief ISD Board of Trustees. 

Donna Bahorich gave a legislative update about what was happening in Austin with education reform and encouraged everyone to follow activity online and whenever possible with opportunities for input from the public.

Nghi Ho spoke about the effects of state legislation from the standpoint of a local school district.  He distributed a copy of HB 5  that was going to the House floor Tuesday. The bill encompassed coursework, assessment and accountability.  While he had some concerns about parts of the bill, generally he said it was good. .  

The program was informative and the speakers were engaging.  Both took questions from the audience and answered questions from the moderator, Vladimir Davidiuk. Both speakers were candid and didn't seem to hesitate in honest answers.

Here's the thing - I went to this forum mostly because I was curious about the HCRP Outreach Committee.  As you can read HERE the Outreach Committee has been dead for quite some time.  I knew nothing about its activities of late, though I am active in both Republican Women and countywide groups.  See where I'm going with this? If someone like me doesn't know about them, how is the regular Joe or Jane going to be informed?

Committee Chairman Chris Carmona opened the event and mentioned that clearly more outreach efforts are needed, as the audience was quite small.  Without counting various candidates who came out and committee members, the audience consisted of about 14 others.  The room was capable of holding a large crowd.  It seemed like a wasted opportunity.  The people there, including myself, were not who an outreach committee should be bringing in for an event.  We are already Republican voters.  

I don't want to criticize outreach efforts.  We need all involved who are willing to step up and help spread the word about Republican principles and ideas.  We want to encourage a big tent outreach plan that targets all communities and reachable voters.  

I am happy to read that this committee is not simply targeting Hispanic outreach.  While very important, the Hispanic voter is a piece of the puzzle.  I am frustrated that every time I hear about outreach, I never hear about reaching out to women, especially young women.  Women comprise 56% of the voting population, did you know that?  The last election cycle showed a sharp decline in women voting Republican.  As a Republican woman, I find this unacceptable.

I have a suggestion.  I think the HCRP Outreach Committee should hold a public meeting and invite as many people as they can reach - from GOP clubs, college groups, business groups, etc.  Ask for help while educating the community on who the committee consists of and what the goal is for them.  I can safely say that few know anything about the committee.  That has to change as the first step before more people are interested enough to show up for future events.

We still have much work to do to get out of our comfort zone and speak to those not already on the same page.  

Huckabee Issues Threat to GOP

Marriage equality is the hot topic this week as the Supreme Court meets to hear both sides of the argument.  Conservatives and Republicans in general are being asked if the demise of DOMA and the changing tide of thought about marriage equality will have Republican support, too. Wannabe kingmaker Mike Huckabee sounded less than clever in his response,

Huckabee was recently quoted and it sounded like some sort of punkish threat:

Said Huckabee: "They might. And if they do, they're going to lose a large part of their base because evangelicals will take a walk."

Really, Mike Huckabee?  

Huckabee is last remembered in politics as the guy who dragged the GOP primary out as he battled John McCain until the bitter end, though the outcome was painfully clear long before he finally stepped aside.  Huckabee was a pastor before he got into politics and was last reported on from that career due to the wish list sort of request he and his wife provided to those parishioners who wanted to  give them gifts.  Remember, these two were vocal against the Clintons and their knack for political grifter behavior.  After the 2008 election cycle, Huckabee got a gig with Fox News Channel so now he's a star.  He comes complete with Florida estate and all the trimmings.

While Huckabee fancies himself the voice of the GOP, the fact of the matter is this: very few are listening.  Clearly Huckabee is of the wing that considers social issues above all others and our country is simply not there now.  Jobs and the economy take priority for most people in today's struggling day to day life.

Evangelicals frequently threaten to hold the GOP hostage to leverage more control over party decisions.  Then, to show party loyalty, what do they do? Evangelicals sit home on election day instead of voting for the conservative on the ticket, thus delivering electoral day victories to Democrats.  It's time to cut them loose.  They cannot be trusted to vote for Republicans.  They behave as spoiled children without a clue as to how politics works.  Viable, electable candidates that draw votes from Independents and Democrats will never measure up to the self-important evangelical crowd.  

Evangelicals refused to vote for John McCain in 2008 and Independents plus some Republicans ended up voting for Obama. Evangelicals refused to vote for Mitt Romney - both from religious bigotry (he's a Mormon, you know!) and because he couldn't measure up to their pious purity in ideology.  Well, we have another term of Barack Obama so I guess they prefer him. I would find it hard to sleep at night with that poor decision on my mind, if I were one of them.

There is a place for everyone, though evangelicals seem to think the Republican party is a private club just for them.  The Republican party has shrunk yet they continue to act as though we have voters to spare.  To believe that everyone must think the same and live exactly the same is to think like a Democrat.  Republicans believe in personal freedom and liberty for all.  

Young evangelicals get it.  The majority of them favor civil unions or marriage equality.  This mirrors the general population, as far as the next generation to run the world is concerned.  This is from a piece back in 2010:

Young white evangelicals were more than twice as likely as the overall white evangelical population to support same-sex marriage, 24 percent to 10 percent. The portion of young white evangelicals that support allowing gay and lesbian partners to marry is still relatively small but shows significant changes compared to their predecessors.They were slightly more supportive of civil unions for same-sex couples (28 percent) than they were of gay marriage. Notably, however, there is no real difference in support for civil unions between young white evangelicals and the overall white evangelical population (27 percent).Overall, a majority (52 percent) of young white evangelicals support either civil union or marriage between people of the same sex. By comparison, only 37 percent of the overall evangelical population share the same view.Both the overall white evangelical and young white evangelical population showed a significant jump in support of same-sex marriage if given religious liberty assurance that “no church or congregation would be required to perform marriages for gay couples.”The white evangelical support jumped from 10 to 20 percent, and the young white evangelical support from 24 percent to 35 percent.While evangelicals of all ages are still overall opposed to legal recognition of same-sex couples, less than half of young white evangelicals would identify themselves as politically conservative (47 percent), according to the Pew Forum Religious Landscape Study in 2007. The majority of evangelicals as a whole (56 percent) identify themselves as politically conservative.
The numbers continue to rise.  This will not be an issue in the near future, whether Mike Huckabee and his followers want to face it or not.  In 2011, a poll was taken on the subject.

The poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 44 percent – nearly half – of young evangelicals between the ages of 18 to 29 favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry.
It would be far more productive for the Republican Party if the likes of Mike Huckabee chose to unite conservatives instead of issuing veiled threats and bid for their own power.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Moran Throws the Race Card on ABC's This Week

Terry Moran, ABC News Nightline co-anchor has a history of leaning distinctively left in his reports on that network.  As a guest panelist on Sunday's This Week program, hosted by former Clinton administration inner circle guy George Stephanopoulous, Moran took the opportunity to throw the race card at the GOP. Hardly shocking, it was a bit out of context which led to the remark being noticeable. Except to the host, of course, who went on as though nothing happened.

During a discussion on the perceived demise of the Republican Party, first Terry Moran complimented the efforts of former president George W. Bush during his time in the White House to be inclusive as he hosted events.  Moran pointed out an event, for example, that the Bush White House hosted with, as Moran characterized it, "both sides of Thomas Jefferson's family".  Then Moran qualified the remark by saying,"that could not happen in today's GOP.  Immediate sounds of disapproval from Karl Rove and Peggy Noonan silenced him but the race card had been played.  Again.

When I was covering the White House and Karl was in it with George W. Bush, it was a Republican Party that was looking to that tomorrow and reaching out, winning 40 plus percent of the Hispanic vote. I remember there was an event in the East Room where President George W. Bush, said on Thomas Jefferson's birthday, I'm happy and proud to welcome both sides of the Jefferson family, the descendants of Sally Hemings.
A Republican couldn't get away with that today. It's...
NOONAN: I disagree. But it was a gracious moment.

ROVE: Let's be clear. Before we assign the Republican Party to the dust pin of history, 30 out of 50 governors of the United States are Republicans. Republicans have -- elected in 2010 the largest number of state legislators since 1920, a majority of state legislators are Republicans.
The U.S. House is Republican. The Senate would have been Republican had it -- were it not for bad candidates. I suspect we have a lot of agreement that were it not for the Sharron Angles and Todd Aiken and Richard Mourdocks of the world there might even actually be a Republican Senate majority. And this president got reelected with a smaller percentage of the vote than he got elected four years ago. And nobody believes that he got reelected because of compelling, positive, forward-looking agenda for America. He irradiated Mitt Romney and made him a plutocrat with a wife who is an open practicing equestrian, as my friend Haley Barbour says.
So let's not kid ourselves. We have two robust parties, each have got their own problems. The Republican Party has got its problems, the Democratic Party has got its problems. And we're likely to see a competitive political environment for decades to come.

Liberals are all about dividing and conquering.  Republicans try to appeal to the general population while Democrats target this group and that group to build coalitions.  Yes, it is true that black voters have been solidly in the camp of the Democrats since the days of LBJ and his big social entitlement programs came into play.  Democrats buy voters.  Democrats thrive when more are dependent on them.  No other group of voters votes over 90% for one party.

Republicans have to get better at the communication game along with the efforts to be made in broadening the tent.  As Rove pointed out, 30 of the 50 states have Republican governors, a large percentage of state legislatures are majority Republican, and the House of Representatives is majority Republican.  Barack Obama, once a Democratic icon, was re-elected with less votes not more votes, than in 2008.  His approval rate now is only at the 50% mark.  His legacy legislation, Obamacare, is still deeply unpopular with a majority of Americans.

The Republican message - that of smaller, efficient government, strong national defense, and individual freedom - is a winning message.  Even with the unprecedented amount of people on government assistance in one form or another, we are still a center-right country.  We have to be better in getting out there and delivering the Republican message to all communities.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Obama Tries Some Community Organizing in Israel

President Obama finally deemed his relationship with Israel important enough to merit a visit, his first as president. Mostly I think he's been shamed into it, especially with the rabble rousing of late from Iran. Liberals are giving him credit for a successful trip for simply not creating embarrassing headlines.  President Obama is fond of spinning that every act he performs is historic, to boost his presidential legacy.  So, I'll note that President Obama has a historically bad relationship with the leadership of Israel.

In typical Obama fashion, he decided to go into community organizer mode with the Israel people, especially the young people.  He spoke at Jerusalem International Convention Center to an audience touted as Israel college students.

Obama acknowledged his poor relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu as he made a joke about it:

Now, I know that in Israel’s vibrant democracy, every word, every gesture is carefully scrutinized.  (Laughter.)  But I want to clear something up just so you know -- any drama between me and my friend, Bibi, over the years was just a plot to create material for Eretz Nehederet.  (Applause.)  That’s the only thing that was going on.  We just wanted to make sure the writers had good material.  (Laughter.) 
 Note:" Eretz Nehederet (Hebrewארץ נהדרת‎, lit. A Wonderful Land) is a satirical Israeli television show, which made its debut on November 7, 2003. It features satirical references to current affairs of the past week through parodies of the people involved, as well as the thoughts of recurring characters. The program is one of the most watched and influential shows on Israeli TV.[1] It was first filmed in Tel Aviv, and in later seasons, was filmed in the neighboring Herzliya." It's like the Israeli version of Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show".

He spoke with personal references, as he is apt to do.  It's always all about Barack Obama.  He spoke of slavery, challenges of African Americans, growing up in "far flung places" with a lack of strong roots. He was heckled by an audience member and turned it into an opportunity to play victim by acknowledging the same at home:
  No, no -- this is part of the lively debate that we talked about.  (Applause.)  This is good.  You know, I have to say we actually arranged for that, because it made me feel at home.  (Laughter.)  I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I didn't have at least one heckler.  (Laughter.) 
He referenced the memory of those lost in the Holocaust while he spoke about America's commitment to Israel's security.  Israel's security is often called into question as it pertains to this president, given his membership in Rev Wright's church in Chicago - a man he called his spiritual adviser, like "an uncle" to him, and the leader of the church Michelle Obama grew up in.  His sermons and remarks are hate-filled towards Jews and white Americans.

One bright spot was telling the Palestinian leadership that settlements should not be considered as issue while renewed peace talks begin.  He did say, too, that "Israel isn't going anywhere".  A couple of times:

But make no mistake -- those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist, they might as well reject the earth beneath them or the sky above, because Israel is not going anywhere.  (Applause.)  And today, I want to tell you -- particularly the young people -- so that there's no mistake here, so long as there is a United States of America -- Atem lo levad. You are not alone.  (Applause.) The question is what kind of future Israel will look forward to.  Israel is not going anywhere -- but especially for the young people in this audience, the question is what does its future hold?  And that brings me to the subject of peace.  (Applause.) 
I don't have much faith that this trip will produce much in the way of movement towards a peace settlement and two state solution.  I also am not convinced that President Obama and his administration truly hold Israel in high regard.  Actions speak louder than words.

Friday, March 22, 2013

About that Repeal of Obamacare

We've all heard the old joke - How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It's relative in debates today because it speaks to common sense.  

Let's take Obamacare. Barack Obama sees this as his shining bit of legacy making legislation.  He planned all along to be not so much FDR, as that ridiculous magazine cover once caricatured him, but LBJ.  Lyndon Baines Johnson was a fiercely partisan Democrat who made great hay out of appearing to work with Republicans to get huge social programs passed, which in turn guaranteed future Democrat voters.  LBJ was your daddy.  

All that said, President Barack Obama was unable to work with Republicans on most anything, especially during his first two years in office.  He didn't have to, frankly, as every chamber was controlled by comfortable Democratic majorities.  He was able to make history, not just for the largest expansion of government control of an individual's life but for ramming through that legislation with only a one party vote in favor of it.  Talk about legacy.

Enter grassroots outrage at the out of control spending used by Democrats to turn around the economy.  In 2009 organized protest took form in the Tea Party movement.  What began as logical and warranted protests of the pitfalls of huge deficits and national debt turned into a form of a third party.  It was not a real third party with candidates running on the Tea Party designation but one demanding changes within the Republican party and its candidates.  OK. The Republican party is the natural home for those promoting smaller, more efficient government.  We all get that.  The rub comes in, however, with new activists who do not truly understand the political process.  Demands of immediate gratification from anything within the federal government is a lesson some are only now finding out doesn't happen.  Ever.  

Some candidates promoted heavily by factions of the Tea Party - a movement now fractured and willingly being co-opted by large political think tanks with lots of money - have been successful in winning elections.  Some have been dismal disasters.  It's the good with the bad.  It's politics.

What was the number one campaign pledge put forth by the most conservative candidates? The repeal of Obamacare.  Great, you say.  I'm for that.  Well, that's a worthy goal but totally unrealistic with a Democratic senate, a shrinking majority in the House, and Barack Obama in the White House.  That's the reality.  Yes, the House can cut off funding but where does that go without the senate and White House?

Enter Senator Orrin Hatch.  He was a whipping boy of the Tea Party in his last bid for re-election.  He was portrayed as an old out of touch guy who needed to be replaced.  Never mind that the Tea Party didn't present a candidate capable of doing that.  Electability is an important component in political races.  He gets it, as it relates to Obamacare.  So, instead of introducing legislation to repeal Obamacare which has a snowball's chance in hell for coming up for a vote in the senate, much less passing, he introduced a bill that had bi-partisan support to do away with an important chunk of Obamacare.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday night to repeal a tax on medical-device sales, despite the fact that the levy helps finance the health-care overhaul.The vote was largely symbolic, but the 79-20 tally signals strong opposition to the 2.3% tax on device sales that went into effect Jan. 1. Even though the levy is meant to help foot the bill for the signature legislative achievement of President Barack Obama's first term, 33 Democrats as well as independent Sen. Angus King of Maine joined Republican senators in voting to repeal the tax.The vote came as an amendment to the Senate Democrats' fiscal year 2014 budget, a partisan tax-and-spending blueprint that stands no chance of passing the GOP-controlled House. Still, the solid bipartisan support shows growing momentum for repealing the tax, which lawmakers have argued hurts U.S. competitiveness and costs highly paid jobs.Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) introduced the measure earlier Thursday with the support of nine Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) said on the Senate floor Thursday that she had long opposed the tax, despite its connection to the health-care law.

So, this bill was a way to cut a big source of funding for the implementation of Obamacare, which is still the law of the land.  It is a signal of support to the medical device industry.  It beats back a new tax.  

This is an exercise in governing.  

Obamacare will not be repealed.  It is the law of the land, despite the fact that one half of Americans still do not approve of it.  We need politicians on the Republican side who know how to work around that reality.  That means more than throwing bombs at the opposition and grabbing headlines.  That means actually doing the hard stuff.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Obama Visits Israel

As President Obama's staff was packing his bags for a trip to Israel and Jordan, the Embassy of Israel released a fluffy, feel good little video:

Yes, it's strange. 

Like the video, the visit to Israel will most likely be for optics.  This is an administration who has insulted and badgered the Israel leadership for four years with no real indication that anything will change in the next four years.  President Obama does the minimum with maximum photo ops.  He is only just now going to visit Israel, though Prime Minister Netanyahu has been here numerous times in recent years.  

During his arrival ceremony, Obama joked about his pleasure in getting "away from Congress". My, so clever.  Maybe he wants to portray himself as fully engaged with our Congress.  We all know that is, indeed, a joke.  Simply meeting with Democratic leadership or with any Republican warrants headlines and endless note on cable news.

As he stood on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International Airport with Israeli officials, an open mic caught him joking to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “It’s good to get away from Congress.”
The president is there just days before Passover, the most holy of Israeli holy days. He could have been more considerate in his timing, but that's not much of a concern for this White House.

In what is Mr Obama's first trip to Israel as President, he is expected to reassure America's top ally in the region that the country is still high on his agenda, and a number of public events are supposed to help reassure a nervous Israeli public. That said, some actions speak louder than words as many have already begun resenting the visit because of the timing- just days before Passover.
And, the presidential limo had to be towed away after it stalled out on the way to the airport, driven by the president's chauffeur.  Apparently, the chauffeur filled the tank with the wrong fuel on the way to pick up the president at the airport.  Oops.

The First Lady is noticeably not on this trip.  That's a shame.  Somehow the presence of the first lady on overseas trips seems more reassuring in the sincerity of the visit, no matter who occupies the East Wing of the White House.  

The photo op with President Peres was pleasant for the viewer but no questions were taken after each man made statements.  The press conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu was a bit strained.  The press corps didn't seem to fall for the optimism being promoted by both sides.  

Today was all about the optics of the visit.

Monday, March 18, 2013

GOP Releases Growth and Opportunity Project

If you don't have the time or patience to read all 100 pages online of the GOP's Growth and Opportunity Projecthere is a concise twelve point breakdown :

1.  Inclusiveness
    The Republican Party is for all Americans, regardless of race, religion, sex or ethnicity.

2.  Diversity
     The Grand (New) Party will highlight its diverse leadership and tap more such spokespersons for conservative ideals in the future.

3.  Media Engagement
     Republicans will become more media savvy and go onto media platforms where young people are attracted.

4.  Star Power
     Hollywood entertainers are powerful assets in the culture and should be engaged with what the party is promoting.

5.  Stop Living in the Past
     The Republican Party was once a strong force in national politics.  But Reagan-era one-size-fits-all marketing has outlived its usefulness.

6.  Digital Age Marketing
     The GOP must modernize and innovate its technology assets in order to stand a chance against Democrats' micro-targeting.  This is a major focus of the report.

7.  Less Infighting
     Although vigorous debate is always welcome, a shortened primary season should help prevent the party from wounding itself before national elections.

8.  Demonstrate Unity Earlier
     Staging an earlier convention should help demonstrate that the party can come together, unify, and coordinate at an earlier point in the elections campaign season.

9.  Don't Marginalize Potential Voters
     America needs immigration reform, but the party should emphasize that people of all backgrounds are welcome.  There is a reason that immigrants are attracted to America, and the GOP should constantly communicate to these prospective citizens what makes the country great and why the Republican Party is preferable to the Democrat Party.

10. Young People are the Future
      There are a number of recommendations for reaching out to young people, including an acknowledgment that the party needs to appear fresher and more sympathetic to people from all backgrounds.

11. Growth & Prosperity Should be Synonymous with the GOP
      America built the largest and most prosperous middle class in the world based on freedom and opportunity, not on central planning and stale statism.

12. All Americans Welcome in the Grand (New) Party
     The Republican Party will remain open to the concerns of all Americans and will work to address their wants and needs.  Instead of posing government as the solution to all of people's problems, the GOP will insist that the strength of America is not its government, but in its people.

All common sense steps to make the GOP a viable political party.  What disturbs me most right now is the constant in-fighting.  It is killing us.  The Democrats are winning, you know, from President Obama on down the line, as we allow them to divide us and watch as we disintegrate into the wilderness.  This plan is a step in the right direction.

The long primary season destroyed us.  We watched as Republicans used words and techniques against fellow Republicans running for the presidential nomination. The Democrats were delighted and used the attacks in their own ads.  Remember when some of the candidates - especially those loudest in their oath of allegiance to pursing economic freedom - attacked Mitt Romney's career success as "vulture capitalism" and the like? Yeah. That was a particularly low point in the primary battle.  

The conservative party is the Republican party.  We are Republican voters because we believe in common sense solutions - those that promote personal freedom and success.  A person dependent on the government is not free.  We have to be better at communicating a positive message of fiscal conservatism, strong national defense, and building a self sufficient life through education and good personal choices.  Simply saying Ronald Reagan believed in the three legged stool approach to conservatism doesn't mean a thing in today's debates.  If you are age 51 or younger, you weren't old enough to vote for the man when he won his first term as president.  

Putting a fresh, updated face on Republican political philosophy is not selling out.  It is not enough to depend on the past - we have to lead with a way forward, with a future.  

Saturday, March 16, 2013

CPAC Straw Poll Results

The results of the CPAC 2013 straw poll are in.  Here's how it breaks down:

Frankly, I don't understand why anyone thinks of Santorum in terms of presidential candidate material. I like Dr. Carson but he's not presidential candidate material, either. I don't think Palin will run again.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Portman Supports Marriage Equality

THIS article by Jen Rubin in the Washington Post explains best the problems I, too, have with CPAC.  She wrote it far better than I could have and the last point of the ten given is the best one:

Perhaps gatherings for the sake of gathering have lost their utility. Self-appointed purists meeting among themselves may be a disaster waiting to happen, cementing bad habits, rather than working to innovate and expand the movement.
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced a change of heart on the subject of marriage equality.  He is currently the only Republican in the Senate who has done so and the highest ranking Republican elected official to do so.  Needless to say, this has caused hissy fits from the pious purists at CPAC and from the liberals on the left who mock Portman.

Not to mention that it provides a chance for the far left to trash conservatives in general as the right side of the aisle continues in its circular firing squad.

Think Progress - yes, the liberal group - interviewed random CPAC participants and found some reactions to be mocked:

“Horrible!” said Tony Mele, an 88-year-old woman from New Jersey, of Portman’s decision. When told he did so because of his gay son, she responded, “That’s his fault! He gets no sympathy from me.” A pastor from Georgia, William Temple, told Portman to “quit being so selfish as to only think about his son,” and if he won’t reverse himself, “to step down and go home.” Another pastor, Rev. Robert Lancia, dismissed Portman’s point that we should treat each other according to the Golden Rule: “That doesn’t cover it.” One man, David Kern, even said Portman’s son’s choice of college turned him gay. “Well what did Sen. Portman expect when he sent his son to Yale?”

Lovely. Yet another article where the stereotypes some of us are fighting are yet again confirmed in the media. An international publication, to boot.  Those pious conservatives think it's the parent's "fault" if a child is gay, it's selfish to be influenced by a loved one, the parent must be looking for sympathy, Portman should just get out of office and go home for not toeing the line, and the really stellar one - his son went to Yale, what did you expect?! 

And, of course, one participant was dressed up in colonial gear. It always makes me sigh when I hear the pious ones claim that the Founding Fathers formed a Christian nation when many did not call themselves Christians. 

The conservative rock group, Madison Rising, is managed by a smart man.  He points out that CPAC is simply a money making venture which grows wealthy from the faithful on the right. He speaks to the fact that it's really only a gathering of those in a vacuum, unable to find solutions and settling for back slapping and smiley faces:

They call themselves CPAC – the Conservative Political Action Committee, but I think that tends to be a bit misleading. So I prefer to refer to them by a much more appropriate name: CPIC – the Conservative Political Inaction Committee.  After all, that would certainly be a much better description for a $5 million self-serving waste of money disguised as a positive, pro-American solution for all the problems this country faces.I have one simple question for the organizers (and the profiteers) of this political farce: how does anything being done at this event help promote American values of hard work, integrity and gratitude in any way? The answer is, it doesn’t. There is no take away whatsoever. There is no expansion of the voter base. There is no creation of any kind of value. As usual for the establishment on the right, the whole thing is nothing but a zero-sum game. Money goes from one pocket to another, and when everyone leaves, there’s nothing to show for the effort. Nothing on a macro scale at least, except maybe a few clips of the speakers on Fox, and a ton of ridicule from all the other networks.Let’s face it – at the end of the day, CPIC is nothing but the Academy Awards for the Right. Pretentious people superficially congratulating each other while all the time plotting some nefarious way to step over the other guy. Monopoly, duopoly, collusion. It doesn’t matter. The only thing that does matter is they are playing with your future. But that seems to have become a big business for them: sponsors, awards, fancy hotels, and first class airfare. Coveted parties and invites. Everyone involved gets to feel important and live high on the hog off of other people’s money.

Doesn't seem to be so conservative to go and spend the money and time attending a gathering on this scale with so little to show for it, does it?

Conservative pundit and author, Jonah Goldberg, was subjected to lots of criticism from others claiming to be conservative for stepping up and giving his opinion.  Can't have any of that here! He said Gov Christie should have been invited to speak - he is wildly popular in New Jersey and conservatives love him as he stands up to speak bluntly to union bosses and the like - and GOProud should have been able to be a sponsor of the event, as in the past.

I hadn't planned on coming to CPAC this year. I was invited to do a couple of different panels, but for various reasons I declined. Then I wrote this column on why CPAC should have invited Chris Christie to speak and let GOProud set up a booth. As a result, the folks at CEI invited me to their mini-protest panel in support of GOProud. At first I begged off, thinking that it was a bad idea for me to thumb CPAC in the eye after declining other panels. Besides, I loathed the title of the panel: "A Rainbow on the Right: Growing the Coalition, Bringing Tolerance Out of the Closet." My objection stemmed not only from the fact that it sounds awfully flouncy to me (like a political panel put on by the air traffic controller in Airplane!), but also that it smacks of the kind of self-congratulatory preening I hate so much in liberalism: "We're not bigots, like the rest of the people here!" That's simply not the approach to use if you want to bring people on the right to your side. But all of this was against the background of the rightwing reaction to my CPAC column. I got a lot of grief from folks, including some people I thought I deserved better from. I don't mind the disagreement -- I like disagreement. But I just have no patience for all this RINO-squish b.s. I particularly loved all of the folks sending me National Review's mission statement as if I'd never read it before.
So, in the midst of this all, I think it is particularly fitting that Senator Portman chose this week to go public with his support for marriage equality.  While the pious purists and hypocritical narrow minds meet to congratulate each other on being so rigid and shrinking the Republican party with delight, Senator Portman shows it is completely possible to hold personal values while embracing a loved one and others simply wanting to do the same as those proclaiming religious values - the ability to marry and have the security of a family.  Isn't the Republican party suppose to be the party who voices the loudest support for families and stable family life? 

Adding to the conversation, super wealthy GOP contributor Foster Friess weighs in on support for gay rights, too:

The mega-donor Foster Friess is best known as the moneyman behind Rick Santorum's socially conservative presidential campaign, the self-described born-again Christian takes a far more moderate position than his candidate on gay issues — because, he said, of a personal connection, his gay brother-in-law."When you talk about the party, that's the problem because there isn't any unified message," Friess said of the Republican Party's position on gay issues Thursday in an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday. "You've got people who are gay-bashers, who forget that these are human beings that need love just like all of us need love. We have to be sensitive to that."

 We who vote Republican and support the party do not have to march to the same drummer on every single issue.  We are a party based on fiscally conservative principles, strong national defense and supporting individual freedom.  Social issues are seen in a more conservative light by most in the party but not by all and that's ok.  The tone has to be moderated to interest more people in conservative principles.  We have to argue on principle, not criticize personal life decisions. If every argument calls for quotes from Ronald Reagan then you sure need to be a happy warrior to carry off those quotes. I'm sure you probably also remember, when convenient, that his 11th Commandment calls for Republicans to not speak ill of other Republicans, especially for public consumption.

It is commonly known that once you can put a face on an issue, it becomes easier to support. I promise that if you have a loved one who is gay or lesbian, you will look at marriage equality in a more compassionate way than those stuck in the hard stances now left by the wayside of history.  The up and coming voters and leaders in both parties no longer consider gay rights an abnormal way of thinking. It is a non-issue for them and taken for granted that it should be so.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

National Sunshine Week

Happy National Sunshine Week! This is a week set aside to focus on open government. A freedom loving people demand transparency in government from our elected officials and taxpayer funded government agencies.  Whether it is an individual seeking answers to a question on a particular issue or questions posed from the media, we demand transparency.

Here is a list of participants.

When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, he pledged to lead the "most transparent government ever".  Sure, we laugh at that memory now but it is wrong that in a democratic republic, we have just come to accept the lack of transparency in our government.  HERE is what a recent analysis from AP found:

On one hand, an Associated Press analysis released during the week found that the Obama administration in 2012 answered the highest number during his time in office of FOI requests for “government documents, emails, photographs and more, and it slightly reduced its backlog of requests from previous years.”
But the same analysis shows the administration more often cited legal provisions allowing the government to keep records or parts of its records secret, especially a rule intended to protect national security – though some say that may just mean there were more requests for those kinds of documents.
AP also said that officials were making more use of exceptions in FOI laws that protect the “behind-the-scenes decision-making process.”
And the private National Security Archives at George Washington University issued a report on March 11 noting that only about one-half of 90 agencies ordered by President Obama to upgrade their responses to information requests and foster overall openness have “actually made concrete changes in their FIOA procedures.”

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) praised Texas’ commitment to open government during a hearing on “Sunshine Week:”
 “It’s a no-brainer: democracy only works when the public knows what their government is doing, and holds public officials accountable. 
“The reason why Texas is a leading light in open government reforms is because not only do we have the right laws in place, but Texas leads because its leaders are committed to making sure the cause of open government is enforced and require government agencies to comply with the law.” 
For all his continued criticisms of the Bush administration, turns out President Obama is even more rigid in secrecy. Some of those raising the most vocal objections are loyal Obama supporters:
Just this week, the Associated Press conducted a study proving that last year, the Obama administration has rejected more FOIA requests on national security grounds than in any year since Obama became president, and quoted Alexander Abdo, an ACLU staff attorney for its national security project, as follows:"We've seen a meteoric rise in the number of claims to protect secret law, the government's interpretations of laws or its understanding of its own authority. In some ways, the Obama administration is actually even more aggressive on secrecy than the Bush administration."Re-read that last sentence in italics. Most of those policies have been covered here at length, and I won't repeat them here. But what is remarkable is that this secrecy has become so oppressive and extreme that even the most faithful Democratic operatives are now angrily exploding with public denunciations.
This administration has been compared to the Nixon administration in the level of secrecy which seems to cover a high level of corruption.  Whether it is still unanswered questions concerning Fast and Furious, Benghazi or even the multiple email accounts used by the former EPA director, there are many questions left unanswered.

Time for some answers.  Sunshine is the best disinfectant.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

CPAC Jumps the Shark on Homophobia

Do you go to CPAC? If so, why?

Maybe you go to CPAC to hear those you consider interesting or intellectually compatible with your political philosophy.  Maybe you get a kick out of having your picture taken with those who make a career out of offering opinions or writing about politics or even being in office. 

Maybe you go to CPAC because you think it's a good opportunity to network with those in the political world or with politicians and their staffers.

Maybe you go to CPAC for the parties and the social interaction.  That's a lot of money spent to go to a party, but, hey, it's your money.  

Maybe you go to CPAC because you think it makes you an activist.

I confess - I have never been to CPAC.  I've never even wanted to go to CPAC.  To me, CPAC represents all that is wrong with conservative politics. I know that is heresy to some believers but the history of the organization is one of nurturing those on the far right wing of the conservative spectrum and it's very successful at that.  

Talk about being in a vacuum.  I watch the speeches on C-SPAN like other political junkies.  Until the Ron Paul revolution brought in scads of young people, the typical attendee was a seasoned citizen with the financial means and time to indulge in a few days in D.C. talking politics.

Don't get me wrong - there is nothing bad about firing up the base.  The newbies into the political world love it. There is something wrong, however, with narrow-minded, hateful rhetoric that will only repel people away from my political party. 

Because when anyone hears "conservative" they think Republican, not Democrat. You are kidding yourself to think otherwise. 

Those who attend CPAC are fond of saying they are conservative, not necessarily Republican.  That's cute and all but we are still a two party country.  Even those running as Tea Party darlings ran as Republicans, not a Tea Party party.  

I'm a political blogger so I attend gatherings on occasion.  Frankly, I am at the point now where it seems to be a waste of my time and money.  There are so many conservative gatherings now that they all blur together.  Mostly they are viewed for the social aspects.  What with the side adventures included in the form of sightseeing at the locale or field trips to do an activity, it's all so much fluff.  Photos of the dinners with other bloggers fly onto Facebook pages.  They scream, "look, I'm a cool kid, too".  

Sorry. But you know exactly what I am saying here.  The majority of those in attendance are bloggers with a good bit of experience under their belts listening to others say the same things over and over in what is described as "activist training". 

CPAC's already questionable value has been damaged in recent years.  From the obvious rigging of straw polls by the Ron Paul people without dispute to allowing and then not allowing a gay conservative group to be an event sponsor.  This year the bigotry has risen to a new level of shame.

Enter Cliff Kincaid.  Granted, I had no idea who this guy was when I read his despicable piece about gay conservatives.  Not only is this guy broadcasting homophobia, he's just ignorant.  Apparently quite proud of that, too.

HERE is his piece.

Yeah, I was stunned, too. If you aren't after reading that piece, you should check yourself. 

You can read Kincaid's full bio HERE.

This is the face of CPAC now.  This is the group you support if you attend CPAC.  This is not how parties are grown.  This is how parties go into the political wilderness and stay there for forty years.  

Texas Senators Pay Tribute to Borah Van Dormolen

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) issued the following statement after the passing of Borah Van Dormolen:
 “Sandy and I are deeply saddened at the early loss of Borah Van Dormolen, a remarkable patriot, respected leader, and loving wife.  
 “Borah rose through the ranks of the Army achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After more than two decades serving her nation, Borah poured her energy and sense of duty into Texas. Frequently offering frank advice in only the way Borah could do, she was a leader by example and a friend.
 “Borah's legacy will live on in many ways, including in the young Texans she helped me select for nominations to our nation¹s military academies through her service on my Military Academy Selection Committee.
 “Sandy joins me in sending our thoughts and prayers to Borah’s husband, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Rich Castle, their families, and all of those that Borah touched throughout her journey in life.”

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)  paid tribute to the late-Republican National Committeewoman for Texas, Borah Van Dormolen:

In politics, Borah fought for what she believed with dogged determination and a commanding presence. In the military, she served our nation admirably with distinction. In business, she was a true entrepreneur in the spirit of limitless Texas opportunity. 

Heidi and I extend our deepest condolences to her husband Rich and their entire family. Borah will be dearly missed by all those who knew and loved her.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Joint Statement on the Passing of Republican National Committeewoman Borah Van Dormolen

The Texas Federation of Republican Women and the Republican Party of Texas, together, issued a statement on the passing of Lt. Col. Borah Van Dormolenan.   Borah passed away at 2:00 pm Monday as the result of a serious heart attack she suffered last week:  

"After serving her country in the US Army and achieving the rank of Lt. Colonel, Borah continued to commit her life to promoting the values of liberty and freedom when others might have retired quietly. In 2010 she was honored as the "Distinguished Military Retiree" for Texas for her outstanding contributions to both active duty and retired service members and their families. She also held a gubernatorial appointment to the Texas State Cemetery Commission."

 "As of today, Borah was serving her second term as Republican National Committeewoman from Texas and had recently been elected to represent the Lone Star State on the Rules Committee of the RNC.  She also served as President of the Texas Federation of Republican Women, and dedicated her many talents to different board positions within the TFRW for many years.  She also served on the Executive Committee of Maggie's List, a political action committee focused on recruiting, training and supporting women running for congressional office.  Borah was not only a servant but also a mentor for candidates and volunteers and was responsible for hosting candidate trainings across the state of Texas.  Borah has been active in hundreds of campaigns, organizing and leading volunteers in critical voter identification and Get Out the Vote efforts. Through all of her volunteer work, Borah found time to be a loving wife. She and her husband, Rich Castle, recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on a cruise through the Pacific."

"Republican leaders and friends across the state and nation today mourn her loss."

"From Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri, "One of the great privileges of my life is to get to know and work with someone whom I consider to be an amazing woman, Borah Van Dormolen.  Over the past several years I have had a chance to personally observe her tireless work on behalf of the Republican Party of Texas but more importantly on behalf of the country she loved dearly and served so well for so long. It is hard to believe that she is gone, having just been with her at last weekend's SREC meeting when she was her usual, passionate, energetic and inspiring self. What always impressed me the most about Borah was her kind hearted spirit and how she always treated other people with dignity and respect.  There will never be another Borah and we will miss her deeply.  On behalf of the RPT family, we extend our heartfelt condolences to her husband, Rich, and to her family."

From Texas Federation of Republican Women President, Carolyn Hodges, "TFRW mourns the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Borah Van Dormolen.  Borah was an inspiration to me as I began my path as a Republican Woman.  Her leadership in the Texas Federation of Republican Women was bold and decisive.  Her common sense, her sense of humor, intelligence, and caring for Republicans set her apart from others.  She was a dynamic and enthusiastic leader who was respected and loved across our state and nation.  Borah traveled tirelessly across Texas giving her all.  Everyone who met and heard Borah immediately began to share her enthusiasm and vision.  Let us all carry on as Borah would want us to do and be the Republicans she would be proud of - focusing on unity." 

Cruz To File Amendment On Continuing Resolution to Defund Obamacare

Continuing in his fulfilling the campaign promise of defunding and repealing Obamacare, Monday Texas Senator Ted Cruz released the following statement on his Continuing Resolution amendment to delay funding of Obamacare:

For the last four years, our economy has grown at just 0.8% per year. As a result of this anemic growth, 23 million Americans are struggling to find work, and millions more are being denied a fair opportunity to achieve the American dream.

Economic growth these past four years has been a small fraction of historic levels: since World War II, our economy has averaged 3.3% growth each year. Until economic growth returns, none of our economic problems can be solved. Improving the lives of the middle class, protecting our seniors, empowering people to escape poverty, and reining in the federal debt…all depend on economic growth.

The very first priority of every elected official—Democrat and Republican—should be restoring economic growth, so we can ensure continued strength, prosperity, and opportunity for the next generations.

Obamacare does precisely the opposite. It is already hurting small businesses, reducing the hours Americans are allowed to work, forcing employers to drop coverage, and leading to substantial increases in healthcare premiums—especially for young people. And, if Obamacare is fully implemented, it will create an even further drag on the economy, killing jobs and making it harder for those struggling to climb the economic ladder.

In my view, Obamacare should be fully repealed, and I have introduced legislation to do so.
At a minimum, however, it should not be implemented at time when our economy is struggling so mightily, at a time when its implementation could push us into a full recession.

Therefore, when the Senate votes on the Continuing Resolution, I intend to offer a “Restore Growth First” amendment which will delay funding of Obamacare. I believe we should continue to delay such funding at least until economic growth returns to historic averages, and I intend to object to consideration of any Continuing Resolution that does not include a vote to delay funding of Obamacare.

Last quarter, our economy grew just 0.1%. Getting growth back, getting Americans back to work, should be our top priority, and we should all roll up our sleeves and work in a bipartisan way to get that done