Friday, September 27, 2013

Senator Cornyn Explains His Cloture Vote

As the Senate opened Friday, I think that body's chaplain summed it up well in this day's prayer:

Capturing the sense of uncertainty gripping Capitol Hill, Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black called on lawmakers Friday during his opening prayer to “keep us from shackling ourselves with the chains of dysfunction,” adding later: “Lord, deliver us from governing by crisis, empowering us to be responsible stewards of your bounty.”

Friday morning Senator John Cornyn sent out a statement on his support for the House-passed Continuing Resolution that defunds Obamacare and called on Democrats to join him:

"Mr. President, this is a moment of truth. We need to be absolutely clear about what we’re voting on here. “A yes vote will be a vote to fund Obamacare because it will take out of the underlying continuing resolution the House position that Republicans have universally supported to defund Obamacare. “But I would ask my colleagues, before they vote yes on this important amendment, do you really want to be responsible for killing more jobs? Do you really want to be responsible for more people losing their health insurance and their own doctors? Do you really want to be responsible for making full-time work part-time work? “If not, then vote no. This is a second chance, and in life you don't get many second chances. I hope our colleagues will take advantage of the opportunity.” 

The cloture vote was held and the vote was 79-19 in the U.S. Senate.  Senator Cornyn voted with 22 other Republicans and all of the Democrats for cloture.  He spoke of his reasoning process in a conference with conservative bloggers, including me, Friday afternoon.

All 54 members of the Democratic caucus voted to end debate on the bill. They were joined by 23 Republicans. The 19 Republican senators who voted no were Mike Crapo (Idaho), Ted Cruz (Tex.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Deb Fischer (Neb.), Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), Dean Heller (Nev.), James M. Inhofe (Okla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Rob Portman (Ohio), James E. Risch (Idaho), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Richard C. Shelby (Ala.), Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.) and David Vitter (La.).
Next, on a strict party line vote , the U.S. Senate voted to strip out the Obamacare defunding effort in the House bill before them.  This was all very predictable to political strategists.  Maybe not so much for those who aren't political scientists.  Let me tell you what Senator Cornyn said.

If you have been paying attention to politics in recent days, you know that it is all about Republican efforts to defund Obamacare as the implementation date of October 1 quickly approaches.  Senator Cornyn has come under considerable friendly fire from the folks preferring the more dramatic style of Senator Ted Cruz and his 21 hour talkathon over Senator Cornyn's more judicial temperament.

Let me stop here and have a moment of FULL DISCLOSURE:  I proudly tell you, dear reader, that I was a blogger for John Cornyn before conservative blogging for candidates was cool.  He and his campaign team brought on a budding conservative blogging community long before most candidates did.  I was a part of that effort in his first Senate campaign and have continued to be a supporter.  This is also true of Ted Cruz.  I will also proudly tell you that I was a blogger for the Cruz campaign.  All of this was voluntary and I have never been a paid staffer for either man.  So, I want it to be clear I support them both. This is not an either/or proposition for me.

Meanwhile, back in social media, the folks who label themselves grassroots or far right conservatives or "true conservatives" or Tea Party have their hair on fire over this.  The popular parlor game is to conjure up names of potential primary challengers in Senator Cornyn's upcoming re-election.  He's feeling the pushback and is responding.

Senator Cornyn voted 'yes' Friday because he said he couldn't justify a 'no' vote on the House bill, which he strongly supports.  He said it is a reasonable disagreement between those pursuing short term strategy versus those pursuing long term strategy.  Senator Cruz's modified filibuster was for short term effect and voting for the House bill even though that then brought the vote to strip it of the Obamacare defunding was long term strategy.

Republicans remain unified on fighting Obamacare but there is a split when it comes to strategy.  That point is painfully clear.  Senator Cornyn came to the U.S. Senate from the Supreme Court of Texas and possesses a judicial temperament.  Senator Cruz pursues a more passionate approach to politics. His experience is as a trial lawyer. Both are needed in politics and,frankly, I think it is to the benefit of the State of Texas to have one from both columns.  Do not for a minute equate either personality with a lesser form of conservatism.  Senator Cornyn reminded those on the conference call that National Journal lists him as the second most conservative U.S. Senator.  "My record is very clear", he said, as he acknowledged that his style is "not as dramatic or as much of a rallying call" as that of Senator Cruz.

Now the Democratic senators in Red States are on record as a yes vote to both implement Obamacare and fund it, though they can no longer claim ignorance of the rejection of the program by a majority of Americans.  The government will remain open for business, avoiding a shutdown hoped for by Democrats.  They would love nothing more than running for re-election in 2014 on the back of a GOP government shutdown.  They have little else to run on.

"This fight is far from over", Cornyn said.  There is a difference in tactics within the Republican "family" but Democrats are now on record and a government shutdown would be a job killer plus Obamacare would still be funded from other sources of funding.  To be clear - a government shutdown would not defund Obamacare.  It continues until reforms are made and it is repealed.

Cornyn said that the distraction of a government shutdown would negate the headlines pointing to the really lousy recent months President Obama has experienced.  Plus, the 2.4% of government spending involved within the sequester is leverage against Democrats as the next battle is over raising the debt ceiling.  Cornyn will push for reforms to Social Security and other programs as that deadline approaches. He will push for a one year delay in the individual mandate within Obamacare and he is encouraged that some Democrats are beginning to voice concerns over the vastly unpopular program.

The strategy is to get more Republicans elected in 2014 to take back control of the Senate and have more sway over Obama's last two years in office.  "I know some of it is frustration", Cornyn said of the furor expressed by his critics in our party and that a lot of it is frustration with "this lawless administration."  The perception, though, that Senator Cornyn is not really fighting against Obamacare or that he is less of a conservative than others who vote as Republicans, is simply not accurate.

A unified Republican "family" will win elections.  There are legitimate differences in strategies and that is ok.  Actually, it is healthy within a political party.  The same end result and a vision of it is all that matters.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Memorial West Republican Women PAC Presents Houston City Council Candidate Forum

If the number in attendance of Tuesday night's candidate forum is any indication of interest in the race for Houston City Council, District A, then we can assume this is a big race. A comfortably full room listened as all five Republican candidates answered questions presented by the moderator, the Hon Martha Wong.

Memorial West Republican Women PAC and Houston West Chamber of Commerce partnered in offering a candidate forum to the community.  Memorial West Republican Women PAC (MWRW) has actively pursued our goal of increased community outreach and providing opportunities for educating the electorate.  Houston West Chamber of Commerce works to increase business involvement in the community.

Incumbent Helena Brown, Ron Hale, Mike Knox, Amy Peck and Brenda Stardig provide a slate of candidates that are experienced, engaged and enthusiastic.  All bring a little something different to the table.  

Helena Brown possesses the confidence and knowledge of an incumbent.  She defended her reputation of being the no vote on so many City Council votes and she stressed her insistence of voting her district - that she actively goes to the community for answers before votes.

Ron Hale is young, fresh candidate and has enough experience on the campaign trail now to hold his own.  He comes from a business background which he is able to use in his responses to questioning.  He calls himself a voice for the unheard.

Mike Knox is a retired union member of the Houston Police Department.  He is an expert on gang violence. He mentioned several times that he has lived in the district for 23 years and will live there the rest of his life.

Amy Peck has years of experience in government at the state level which she is now eager to put to use at the city level.  She possesses an impressive resume with higher education that includes an advanced degree and extensive knowledge of the legislative process.  Currently District Director for State Senator Dan Patrick, she offers a reasoned approach to matters before the Council.

Brenda Stardig has a strong business background and extensive financial experience. She held the seat before CM Brown.  Stardig stressed that she has continued the work in a volunteer capacity that was important to her on the Council.

All provided thoughtful and reasoned answers to the questions posed, which ranged from pensions, human trafficking, infrastructure, Chapter 42 and included the opportunity to ask a question of another candidate.  As a Federated Republican Women's PAC, Memorial West does not endorse any one candidate in the race, as stipulated in our by-laws.  I will mention though, that all three women candidates are either a full member or associate member of the club. MWRW is proud to have a membership roster that includes such actively involved women.

Memorial West Republican Women PAC recognizes that in politics, everything begins at the local level.  It is crucial that members of any community get involved and stay educated on the issues affecting them and their families.  Republican Women are particularly involved with education, which is essential for an informed electorate.  Community outreach to all communities is vital for party growth.  Recently MWRW was able to be a part of the First Annual Scholarship Luncheon presented by Camera de Empresarios Latinos de Houston.  We sponsored a table and our members enjoyed  a warm reception as we made some new friends.  Working together, conservative leaning voters can succeed.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Daughters of Liberty Republican Women Host Judge Mayfield & George P Bush

In celebration of  Hispanic Heritage Month,  Daughters of Liberty Republican Women provided a program including two Hispanic Republican speakers Wednesday evening at the SOSA Center.  Judge Debra Ibarra Mayfield spoke first and was followed by George P. Bush, candidate for Texas Land Commissioner.

President Cheryl Dalton welcomed all those in attendance and opened the meeting.  Judge Mayfield provided the opening prayer.

Mariachi music was provided by the High School of Performing and Visual Arts.  Alejandro Blanco, a member of the group, sang the National Anthem.  These young people did an exceptional job and the audience really enjoyed their contribution to the event.

Chris Carmona, Chairman of the Harris County Republican Party's (HCRP) Outreach Committee, led the audience in the American and Texas State Pledges.  Jared Woodfill, Chairman of  HCRP, introduced the elected officials and candidates.

Allyson Wilkinson, VP of Programs, introduced Judge Mayfield.  Judge Mayfield spoke of faith, family and freedom - the three tenets that brought her to the Republican Party as she learned them from her father.  She spoke of being questioned by Hispanics as to why she is a Republican.  She emphasized the comment spoken at another time by George P. Bush - that Republicans don't need to change their message, but they need to change the marketing.  

George P Bush was first introduced to America as the twelve year old grandson of George HW Bush at the Republican National Convention when the elder Bush was nominated as the GOP Presidential candidate. Anyone who watched that convention remembers that George P Bush introduced his grandfather to the crowd and ended the introduction with "Viva Bush!".  That was 1988.  Now he is a University of Texas Law School grad, successful young business man - having started three businesses, husband, new father, Afghanistan War veteran, Navy Reservist, and now he is a candidate for Texas Land Commissioner.

Among the aspects of the job Bush would like to focus on, veterans and their needs are a priority.  He noted it is Suicide Prevention month and the number of deaths attributed to suicide in the military.  He would like to streamline and make more transparent the process used by FEMA in natural disaster relief.  For example, Hurricane Ike hit the Texas coast five years ago yet FEMA monies have gone through three Texas agencies and still have yet to be distributed to all the claimants.  

He noted that he would be the first Texas Land Commissioner, should he be elected, to have a background in investing and equities which would be useful in financial management of the agency.   He wants to continue expanding the preservation of Texas history at The Alamo and keeping in tact the Texas History courses in schools.  

Bush stressed the need for more work by the Republican Party in minority communities.  He said the GOP cannot go to communities only right before an election, they must be there the day after elections, too.  He is concerned about the long term strategy being implemented by Battleground Texas.  He noted that in places like Tarrant and Dallas counties, Battleground Texas is sponsoring Little League teams and their logo is on the players' jerseys.  They are aggressively marketing their message and have the full cooperation and support of President Obama and his team in Washington.  Battleground Texas knows that Texas will not turn purple and then blue in the short term but that is why they have a more persistent, patient plan developing.  He said that Republicans must get out of the two year mindset in planning and focus on the long term, too.

As good Republican candidates do, he acknowledged the hard work that Republican Women do for candidates and our party.  He quoted Margaret Thatcher - " If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman." 

Rep Ted Poe Speaks to Greater Houston Council

Tuesday morning the featured speaker for the September meeting of the Greater Houston Council of Federated Republican Women was Rep Ted Poe.  In recognition of Constitution Day, Rep Poe was a fitting and timely choice to update the audience on his work in Washington, D.C.  Immediately after speaking he was to travel back to Washington to continue the peoples' business.

Poe noted the continued abuses of the Bill of Rights as those in government take an increased level of power and the majority of people remain silent, as though they are not concerned.  He spoke of this President's habit of using Executive Orders to circumvent votes in Congress and the will of the people.  The Bill of Rights is to protect the people from government, not the other way around. There is no such thing in the Bill of Rights as an Executive Order. All recent Presidents have been guilty of using Executive Orders to promote their agendas.

Poe calls the NSA the "National Spy Agency".  As for citizen surveillance, Poe stated, "when in doubt, get a warrant".  A former judge, Poe reminded his audience that in today's electronic world a search warrant only takes a matter of minutes to obtain.  Did you know that all of your emails over six months old are being collected and stored with the use of search warrants?

On Syria, Poe said, "it's a mess, folks". He believes the U.S. has no business getting involved in that country's civil war between Sunnis and Shias.  It is not in the national security interests of the U.S.  He has brought forth a bill to deny funding for sending weapons to Syria.  In speaking about arming the rebels, Poe pointed out the recent experience with Libya as an example.  He said it is the fox watching the hen house for Russia to be taking the lead in the response to Syria, as that nation supplies chemical weapons to Syria.

On the length of time this administration has been mulling the decision on the Keystone Pipeline, Poe said that five years is far too long - Boulder Dam was built in 4 years, 5 months.  He supports a "4 country alliance" of Canada, U.S., Texas, and Mexico - a North America Alliance.  Yeah, you see what he did there! "Let's build the pipeline", said Poe.

Wednesday brings a new hearing on Benghazi in the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  Despite this administration's insistence that this attack was long ago and old news, it is not over.  Poe noted that no one has been brought to justice or held responsible - that only the video producer is in jail, after he was victim of a bogus excuse for that attack.  Poe said the U.S. should employ the methods of Israel and track the terrorists worldwide until they are brought into custody.  He used the example of the Munich Olympics and how it took Israel 20 years but the terrorists were held accountable.

On the matter of Fast and Furious, Poe said a federal judge will decide if the contempt charge filed against the DOJ is upheld.  The judge keeps postponing the case.  It is a Constitutional issue that needs to be resolved.  In making a decision, the judge must "take the horse and ride it."

A big focus for Poe is on human trafficking.  He has traveled to other countries plagued with this human tragedy, as well as in our own country and has filed legislation with Rep Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) which would require smugglers to be charged and persecuted, as well as the "customer".  Unfortunately, Houston is a hub for the human trafficking business.  He spoke of the value of working with others from across the aisle to produce worthy legislation.

Poe declared that the Senate bill on immigration will not be voted on in the House. Period.

Which brings us to the last topic Rep Poe wanted to talk about.  Republicans must "think a little bigger" when it comes to the survival of our party. We will disappear as the Whigs did if the insistence by some on using litmus tests continues. "If I think I'm a Republican, I'm a Republican".  Differing opinions are healthy but not for declaring who is in the party.  As for the enthusiasm by some to bring a challenge in a primary election race, it is important to remember "at the end of the day, other Republicans aren't the enemy, the Democrats are". He noted that protesters have targeted his local offices and that they are paid, out of town people produced by the Democrats. Republicans would be better off funneling the excess vitriol on the other side, where it belongs in political battles.  The GOP has to get rid of the image that some are not welcome in our party. We must "be more inclusive, not exclusive" to grow the party and remain a vigorous party. "I don't know why we try to write people off", Poe said, especially about minorities and those thought to be non-traditional Republican voters.

This week in Washington, the Defund Obamacare resolution will likely be brought before Congress in the budget resolution debate.  "Let's be realistic", Poe said.  The goal must be to push Obamacare down the road until a new administration is in power.

Rep Poe acknowledged the importance of Republican Women in electing Republican candidates.  "All candidates know that they will win elections because of Republican Women." Simply put, the candidate with the support of a majority of Republican Women wins.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Jacquie Baly Speaks to Memorial West Republican Women PAC

The featured speaker for the September general meeting of Memorial West Republican Women PAC was Jacquie Baly.  Those of us in attendance were treated to a talk presented by a happy warrior.  It was a joy to listen to Ms Baly talk about Republican philosophy as it relates to women and the younger generation.

               Memorial West Republican Women PAC President Amy Teufel and Jacquie Baly

Ms Baly is a successful woman.  She is a very active working mom to two sons as well as a small business owner.  She is an adjunct professor at the University of Houston, teaching public policy in the Political Science Department.  She is the conservative voice for the local Fox affiliate weekly Sunday morning show political panel. She is an enthusiastic member of Team Abbott, working for the election of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott for Governor.

A native of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, she spoke of going to college at age seventeen and discovering that the university world is indeed a very liberal one.  She spoke of going to work at University of Houston as a professor and finding a dart board with Tom DeLay's - her neighbor and friend - face in the target. Though she voiced her disapproval to her colleagues, it was to no avail.

Some things don't change.

She spoke of the need to deliver the Republican message to young people, especially young women.  Where the Republican party loses young people is when harsh messages are put out there on social issues.  We must work harder to speak of inclusion, not exclusion, which does not mean we change personal beliefs but that we show respect for others.

She spoke of the lack of knowledge by so many of today's black voters and the history of black people and the Republican party. That history has to be re-introduced to voters and, again, welcome in those voters not pursued by Republicans in recent elections.

Ms Baly delivers her message with joy in her voice.  Hers is a smiling face and her manner is open and friendly.  She is someone who represents the best of the Republican party and Republican women.  We are grateful she is on our side.