Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Scalise Under Fire For Scandal That Wasn't

It's a slow news week.  People are on winter breaks, celebrating the holidays and the incoming New Year. What constitutes a newsworthy item during such a slow time? The scandal that wasn't, as it turns out.

First you take a reporter working for the Washington Post reporting on a story written on a state politics website by a blogger in Louisiana. Add the bonus of the victim being a newly ascended Republican in the U.S. House, now third in the leadership ranks. Mix in cable news outlets with lots of air time to fill and presto! We have a scandal brewing.

Or, do we?  Rep Steve Scalise, (R-LA) is the incoming House Majority Whip.  It was reported Monday that he spoke to "a gathering of white supremacists" back in 2002 in Metairie, Louisiana - Scalise's home, a suburb of New Orleans. At the time, Scalise was a state representative with visions of pursuing higher elected office.

The Washington Post reporter promoted the breaking story heavily on social media Monday.  It was reported on CNN by late afternoon.  It has been all the buzz on Tuesday cable news shows.  CNN has been very deliberate to use black female anchors and talking heads to talk about the story.

Tuesday, however, the real story breaks that should cause heartburn to all those giddily reporting a story involving race and the GOP, but it won't.  It never does.  The question is till being asked if Scalise should resign his position, preferably his seat in Congress.  That's how Democrats roll, despite their own smarmy record on race relations and elected officials.

Here are the facts, as retold by the guy who invited Scalise to speak to this group:
Kenny Knight, a longtime political adviser to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, said in an interview Tuesday that he personally invited House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) to speak to a 2002 gathering of white supremacists.
“He was my neighbor,” Knight said of Scalise, who was serving as a state representative at the time of the conference. “I asked him to be the first speaker before the meeting kicked off.”
“This all came about because I organized the EURO meeting for David Duke as a courtesy after he had moved to Russia. I’ve known David for 40 years so I did him a favor. As part of that, I decided to ask Steve, our local representative, to come by and say a few words before the conference started,” Knight said. “He agreed, believing it was going to be neighbors, friends, and family. He saw me not as David Duke’s guy, but as the president of our civic association.”
Knight continued, “Now, at the time, I was a prominent person in state politics. I was on the radio, I was doing campaigns. Steve knew who I was, but I don’t think he held it against me. He knew I lived by his street and that I was active in our community. And I didn’t see a problem with having him speak.”
“Steve came in early on the first day of EURO, spoke for about 15 minutes, and he left,” Knight recalled. “He didn’t hear David speak remotely to the crowd.” Knight also said that he does not have video of Scalise’s remarks nor does he know if video of the speech exists.
So, David Duke was not present, he was videotaped from Russia.  Scalise was not told the facts of the group or Duke's association.  And, he left after being the first speaker - about 15 minutes later.  Silly enough for you yet?

David Duke is a despicable person because of his personal viewpoints on race and Jews and all that entails, there is no question about that.  The man is a former Metairie city councilman and pursued elected offices, including Governor of Louisiana before deciding to move to Russia.  That's right, Russia.  Any elected official should be held accountable for associating with David Duke.  This, however, is not a story that fits that narrative.  

The media is all too happy to pursue stories that do not end well for Republican elected officials.  This is just the latest example.  Scalise has made a statement explaining this speech and disassociating himself from the group.  There is no indication that he knew enough about the group to support them.  He was accepting an invitation to speak to a local group of business men and neighborhood people in the suburb where he resided and represented in the Louisiana State House.  Politicians with aspirations to run for higher office speak to anyone and everyone who invite them to do so, that's how campaigning works.  

I hope Scalise survives this ordeal.  Obviously someone had a political score to settle and decided now was the time to do it, as Scalise took the position of House Majority Whip.  He took responsibility for the speech right away.  I hope Speaker Boehner supports him.

And, let's hope that Scalise does a bit more research into the background of organizations and groups requesting his speeches in the future.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Culberson Sets the Record Straight on CRomnibus

U.S. Representative John Culberson (R-TX) sent out an email to set the record straight on the passage of the Omnibus bill, referred to as CRomnibus, as false information continues to be spread on the facts of the content of this bill.

My office has received a tremendous number of phone calls and emails from constituents who believe I should have voted against the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill. However, there is a tremendous amount of misinformation about the bill, and I believe a yes vote was the right vote for both Texas and our nation. I am sending you accurate information in this email so you can decide for yourself.
 1.  All Republican Members of Congress share the same goal – to totally defund and repeal President Obama’s illegal amnesty and to repeal and replace Obamacare. Our only difference is in the tactics we believe will work best.
2.  It is not true that the omnibus funds President Obama’s illegal amnesty. 
3.  It is not true that the omnibus fully funds Obamacare.
4.  If the House had passed a short term Continuing Resolution, we would have almost certainly lost all of the good provisions that House conservatives won in this legislation. Plus a Continuing Resolution means the President can continue to do everything just as he has been. We need to stop President Obama as quickly as possible, and I do not want him to keep doing things the same way.
Former Texas Senator Phil Gramm often said that liberals achieve so much because they’re satisfied with small incremental gains. He often told me that conservatives must advance our legislative agenda, even if it’s just two or three feet at a time. This bill does that. As a college football fan, I know it is always a bad idea to punt the ball and get nothing if you are in field goal range. Particularly since we will have a Republican Senate in less than three weeks and can immediately get to work to go after the rest of President Obama's destructive agenda.
I am frankly amazed we forced Obama to cut overall federal spending and to implement the additional spending restrictions House conservatives won in this bill. The final omnibus bill is the product of nearly 100 House committee hearings and markups, more than 400 amendments offered by members during 79 hours of floor debate, and is based on eleven individual House Republican appropriation bills. So all House Republicans participated at length in creating almost all of this bill. 
I am writing today to reassure you that I will always keep my word to you. My good name is my most valuable possession, and my reputation as your representative in Congress is built on trust. I have given you links within this email so you can verify everything I have told you. Above all, I want you to know that I treasure your trust, and I will always work hard to earn it. 
You have my word that I will do everything in my power as your representative to stop Barack Obama from doing more damage to this great nation, and that I will not rest until we have undone his illegal amnesty and repealed and replaced Obamacare. I will always do the right thing for the right reasons, and I will keep working to cut spending and taxes, to balance our budget, and to restore the 10th Amendment to get the federal government out of our lives, so that Texans truly run Texas.
The House Appropriations Committee released this statement.

THIS is a good piece explaining the win for conservatives in Congress. Is it a perfect bill? No. There is no such thing as perfect in governing.  

There’s some grumbling on the right, of course, but that is to be expected. It’s not a perfect vehicle and not, one hopes, what would have been put forward if there had been a Republican president in office ready to sign legislation sent up Pennsylvania Avenue by a Republican House and Senate. Nevertheless it is a strategic victory that strengthens the hand of the GOP, even at the expense of what are arguably tactical setbacks.
Listeners to talk radio need to stop being willing advocates for those who make a very handsome living off  dividing the voters in the Republican party.  They are paid dividers - professional complainers.

Culberson made the right decision to support the passage of this bill.  It was the right thing to do.  Those criticizing the elected officials who voted to pass the bill refuse to accept the reality of a minority Republican party.  That all will change in January, with the new majority Republican party in Congress.

In January, Republicans will right the process of appropriations and do it the correct way.  While Democrats have controlled the Senate and the White House, the elimination of the normal appropriations process brought about the prospect of government shutdowns, which Republicans are blamed for and only recovered from the last one because of the utter failure of the Obamacare website failure.  Do not believe any "conservative" who states that government shutdown was a win for Republicans. It wasn't.

Sometimes a bit of experience in working inside the legislative process comes in handy.  Culberson's choice to support the CRomnibus brought as big of wins for the Republicans as was possible.

Want a more perfect bill to the liking of conservatives?  Stop the divisions within the Republican party and work harder on unity.  Work harder to support and elect our nominees to higher offices.  Stop staying home if you are not 100% happy.  Start acting like a winner.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cornyn Succeeds In Purple Heart Medals For Ft Hood Victims

The terrorist attack at Fort Hood, Texas executed by Nidal Malik Hasan, a former Army psychiatrist and Medical Corps officer, was carried out in 2009.  Originally described by this President's White House as "workplace violence" it was later determined to be, in fact, a terrorist's attack on U.S. soldiers.  

Senator Cornyn has been a champion for the families of the victims of this attack.  One area in particular, awarding the Purple Heart medal to victims of the attack, is now a reality. Senator Cornyn wrote the legislation for the Senate bill which has now been voted into law.  On the House side, Rep John Carter, (R-TX31) and Rep Roger Williams (R-TX25) ushered the bill through for passage.

Here is some background provided by Senator Cornyn's office which speaks to why the process took so long to move through Congress:
Existing criteria for the Purple Heart provide for the medal to be awarded to service members killed or wounded “as the result of an international terrorist attack against the United States.” The provision in the FY2015 Defense Authorization bill would update the definition of “international terrorist attack” to include a terrorist attack that was inspired or motivated by al Qaeda or another U.S. State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization, and one prior to which the attacker was in communication with the terrorist group. The provision would be retroactively effective as of September 11, 2001, and would require fresh reviews of the 2009 Ft. Hood attack and other attacks since 9/11. For the civilian equivalent of the Purple Heart—the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom—the measure would require a determination of whether it should be awarded to any civilians who were killed or wounded in the 2009 terrorist attack at Fort Hood. Sen. Cornyn and Reps. Carter and Williams previously introduced similar legislation, the Fort Hood Victims and Families Benefits Protection Act, in both 2009 and 2011, and the Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act, in 2013.

The bill now goes to the President's desk for signature.  The Department of Defense will then be able to make the awards so long overdue.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Landrieu Delivers Farewell Speech to U.S. Senate

Today soon to be former Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) delivered her farewell speech to the U.S.Senate.  She was mostly gracious in acknowledging those who supported her and helped her along the way, both in her own party and in the Republican Party.  She did, however, feel the need to give a parting smack to former president Bush when it was time for her to talk about Hurricane Katrina.  She wants to keep alive the notion that somehow he is to blame for the failures of New Orleans.

"President Bush was not that forward leaning. I will just leave it at that. There will be more about it in my book." Senator Mary Landrieu criticized the former president in his actions post Hurricane Katrina, mostly about the money she was trying to get appropriated to the state.

Here is the speech.

She said several times that she has been an elected official since the age of 23. That's more than long enough for her.  She fell victim to her own campaign boasting long ago as she believes she is a legendary figure from Louisiana.  The fact is, she traded on her family name and political patronage.  This does not make her unique, certainly not in a state like Louisiana.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Landrieu Loss Lights Up Louisiana

Saturday night brought election defeats in Louisiana for both U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu in her bid for a 4th term and former Governor Edwin Edwards, who was running for a congressional seat. It is a new day in the state in which I grew up.

A wide coalition of conservatives from across the country fanned out and took on the task of working  the ground game on behalf of Rep Bill Cassidy.  National Federation of Republican Women, Texas Federation of Republican Women, tea party activists, and a newly formed group called the Black Conservatives Fund  were among the coalition. Though Landrieu's defeat was commonly thought to be a sure thing, Cassidy's trouncing of her on Election Day would not have been so spectacular without the Black Conservatives Fund.

Leading the way into new inroads for the Republican Party in black communities, members of the Black Conservative Fund organized in April, 2014. From their website:

The Black Conservatives Fund is a political action committee committed to turning out the black vote and elect black conservatives at every level of government. We provide direct contributions in addition to running TV and radio ads, conducting get-out-the vote drives, and funding any other activities our endorsed candidates need. We are first and foremost a CONSERVATIVE political action committee.  We are committed to assisting candidates who support reining in the size and scope of government, protecting our nation through a strong military, and promoting American values – especially the right to life.
We believe that despite the election of Barack Obama, the conservative movement has a golden opportunity to expand our coalition by supporting black conservative candidates whenever possible.
You may not have heard of this PAC but you will.  Perhaps best known among the founding members is Anita MonCrief, the ACORN whistleblower . The PAC is comprised of the next wave of conservative activists working to take on the black community and spread the word of the Republican Party and its principles of smaller government and strong national defense.  Their mission is to promote and support black candidates at all levels of government.

Defeat was obvious early into the evening.

CNN called the race for her Republican opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy a little over a half hour after the polls closed. Republicans picked up nine Senate seats this election cycle and will have control of 54 seats in the chamber next year.
Once seen as Democrats' strongest incumbent, Landrieu ended up such a long-shot in her runoff with Cassidy that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee cut its investment in the state, a move that Landrieu decried as leaving "a soldier on the field."
In her concession speech, Landrieu touted her own "record of courage, honesty and integrity and delivering for the state when it mattered the most."
The senator also said she didn't regret her vote for Obamacare, which the GOP used to attack her and every other vulnerable Democratic senator this cycle.
"This is something to be proud of, and I'm glad we fought for it," she said, touting some of the benefits of the law.

Mary Landrieu said of Obamacare: "If they don't like it, they can unelect us." So, the voters of Louisiana did just that.