Monday, March 31, 2008

Not Just in Travis - Ron Paul convention takeover reports

UPDATE: 3/31/08 - I am putting the Daily Paul Thread on the Texas conventions at the top. One report on the SD-25 in Travis takeover:

Well after 10 hours of "Ye's", "Nay's", "standing counts", "points of inquiry", "motion to amend", "division", "I call into question" "your out of order!", and finally a "motion to adjourn"; the Ron Paul Republicans took over all convention chairs, the Nomination committee, the Resolution committee. Then proceeded to pass the Resolutions that we had drawn up in committee after several hours of arguments over some big and small changes in wording or whole sections. Then succeeded with the nominations of a heavy percentage of RP Rep. to be state delegates. Of which I made the trip to Houston. : o
So I can say this, we won today at a local level and shook up the base that has been in power here for 30 years at least. We got our guys in the committee chair positions, passed the resolutions that we wrote up and sent our guys to Houston to be delegates.
There was so much fireworks involved with these people losing power you had to be there to see this. It was amazing, it was a 110 to 96 vote that made the difference in the takeover. This went on for 10 hours! It started at 9am, these people went crazy when we took it over you had to be there to see it. There might be video of this, the old committee stormed off the stage and took the flowers that were on the table and all the decorations around it like the red, white and blue runner at the front of the table. It was insane!

If there is any doubt this was a well-organized strategy, he's tipped their hand:

I mean this was just comical at times to see these people get so upset by the takeover. We were well prepared, organized and professional and it worked out the way we planned. We had meetings and worked out the strategy weeks in advance and then met the week of the convention to have our own mock session so we would know what to expect.

It was funny! I still can't get over all that happened today. There were many other funny instances that I can't think of due to the exhaustion of it all.

In Missouri - “Ron Paul backers succeed in guerilla takeover of some GOP caucuses”:
Caucuses in Missouri, held only in presidential election years, are typically low-key affairs attended mainly by party diehards. But this year, the pro-Paul activists commandeered gatherings in the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County, Kansas City and Springfield. Paul supporters also controlled caucuses in at least a half dozen rural counties.

The result: Paul's supporters predict they have snagged roughly a third of the 2,137 state Republican delegates. Those delegates will determine the state GOP platform this spring and help select the presidential delegates to the national Republican presidential convention in Minneapolis in September.

The unorthodox push, which sparked shouting matches in some meetings, reflected Paul's campaign — an anti-establishment, grass-roots movement built on passion.

"This is a movement for change in the long term," said Ruth Carlson, a 24-year-old secretary from St. John who helped organize Saturday's push in the St. Louis area.

At many of Saturday's caucuses, the Paul contingents also won approval for some of their man's key positions, including resolutions for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and against the federal Patriot Act and warrantless wiretaps.

GOP chairman thwarts takeover in Nueces county, near Corpus Christi.
The scene at the Nueces County convention appeared to be part of a larger effort by Paul supporters to gain delegates to the Republican National Convention. The Kansas City Star reported his supporters took over a county convention there March 17 and elected 170 of 187 delegates.

Bertuzzi, who chaired the meeting, said he did not recognize the group to speak and some members were escorted out by the sergeant at arms. Then about 40 members of the faction convened in another room in what's known as a "rump convention."

A report from 'anymouse' on Free Republic on Galveston county:

Down here in Galveston County, the Ron Paul bots tried to hijack the convention using subterfuge and tactical advantage of surprise, that would have made al Queda proud (high-placed sleeper, multiple coordinated attacks with a goal of causing a larger scale effect at the State convention and later at the National convention.

Unfortunately for them it was discovered and thwarted for the most part by perceptive Republicans that took action and alerted others to help block their efforts. But it did make for a long and chaotic mess.

Like jihadists, they took advantage of a weak Party leadership in transition and general apathy of Party activists and precinct delegates.

A high level trusted elected official used the opportunity of a sick convention coordinator, a lame duck Party chairman and an honorary convention chair that did nothing but show up to give a speech at the start of the convention, to appoint weak commitee chairmen and pack key committees (Nominee, Credentials and Platform) with Paulbots, who had never been active in the Party before. To cover the obvious, a few “go-along” follower types were added to the committees to ensure the Paulbot block vote would not be challenged.

I sat in on the Resolutions/Platform committee after seeing some disturbing planks in the draft Platform. I witnessed a shocking railroad job of a Libertarian platform pushed through with highly questionable planks voted through with little opposition. Including one listing a list of complains against Sen. McCain and stating a no confidence in him as the Party’s nominee. This was later removed in a heated floor fight.

Also the trusted official tried to get a change to the rules to allow people that had not voted in the Primary to be allowed to considered as State delegates. Supposedly to allow his daughter who had just turned 18 to go to State as a delegate (an understandable excuse.) But because I had been alerted to the plot to stack the nominations and Credentials committees, I knew that this could also be used to let Libertarians, who had not voted in the Republican Primary to be rammed through as sleeper Ron Paul delegates, merely by swearing to a worthless Party loyalty oath. The Parliamentarian eventually figured out that it was against State Party rules and it was withdrawn, before I could get my turn at the mic to explain the potential hazard of our entire SD delegations being disqualified at the State convention by the Credentials committee discovering that some of our delegates had not voted in the Primary.

They even had the audacity to add Bob Smither to the Nominating committee. Spither ran in the 2006 General election as the Libertarian Party candidate for CD 22. He didn’t show up to the convention, but it was a clear evidence of a concerted Libertarian plot to hijack the Nominations process.

Eventually things worked out in a long and painful floor fight.

Most of the State delegates and alternates ended up being known Republicans, but there were a few that made it, that I didn’t recognize as well as quite a few known Ron Paul supporters. So don’t be surprised if other Paulbots make it to the State convention in Texas and elsewhere and try to infiltrate the State committees and attempt other mischief in a vain attempt to push Ron Paul as a viable nominee over McCain.

Although we are not thrilled with McCain as the presumptive Republican nominee, we cannot allow the resulting Party angst and apathy to be exploited by another Party, the Libertarians (and their radical Left and Right Paulbots) to hijack our State and National conventions.

What's the reason? -
Could this be a new strategy for the (small l) libertarians - give up on the (big L) Libertarians and take over the GOP:
I joined the Libertarian Party in 1972. I do not regret the 35 years I donated, worked, and voted for them. However, the time and opportunity has come to take control of the Republican party from the Nixonian Neo-Cons.

Previously finding other like-minded liberty loving people was a big obstacle. The internet and meetup groups have made this easy. Third parties try to do things back-asswards, attempting to get national exposure. If Libertarian and Constitution party members will join the Republican party at the county level, they can get control. Control the county parties and the state will follow. Control the individual state parties and the national party will be controlled as well.

At the aggregate meeting before we broke into precinct caucuses, motions were made for the party platform. This was my motion: "Republicans should once again stand for fiscal responsibility and stop spending like drunken sailors and Democrats." After the cheering, the motion passed with a 100% yes vote.

In my Precinct (I was the PCO) were sent 6 delegates, myself included, to the county convention. All are Ron Paul supporters.
After banging my head against a brick wall for all these years, this is going to be easy.

Frankly, it makes a lot of sense. It's what the Religious Right did in the 1980s and 1990s and helped them wield a bigger stick with the party.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Another Report on SD-14 Convention

David Nalle did his own "live blog" of the SD-14 Convention. I met him, he's a local party member as well as a part of 'blogcritics' crew. He also blogs at He stayed there to the bitter (10PM) end. I have some followup comments, which I'll post as an update.

Btw some interesting comments - I consider this ... "You are absolutely correct. Those individuals sporting earpieces ARE establishment Republicans who have connections with the Legacy PAC (as if 'Legacy' doesn't SCREAM establishment/status quo)" ... The most ironic post-Sager-era comment possible. The "Renegades" who battled Sager are 'establishment' now?!? Cue The Who's "Don't Get Fooled Again".

Gardiner Selby (Statesman) - Paul supporters win one, lose one. As in, they took over SD-25, lost the SD-14: "Robert McDonald, an Austin CPA elected the permanent chair of the county’s GOP SD 25 convention, said he won the post by about 17 votes—after which some of what he called the old guard walked out, including the temporary chairman, Brian Padden."

McDonald was Libertarian Party candidate in 2006 for JP precinct 3, helping to defeat Republican Melissa Goodwin in that race. Libertarian Wes Benedict does the high-fives over it. It looks more and more like we really dodged a bullet in the SD-14 convention.

It's semi-official: KBH is Running for Gov

Corpus Christi paper reports: "U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is planning to run for governor in 2010, her spokesman Matt Mackowiak said while he was in town Wednesday."

Obama helped Farrakhan with 1995 Million-Man March

Via FR and Newsbusters, From a Farrkahan biography: "In 1995, along with other prominent black leaders such as Al Sharpton and Barack Obama, Farrakhan helped lead the Million Man March on Washington..."

Audacity of propoganda is what Newsbusters calls the lack of media interest in Obama's 1990's words and actions, words that peg him as a 'progressive' man of the left. Obama's comments to rally blacks to the march, that came from a glowing 1995 review of Obama, show a man fully versed in 'blame whitey' rhetoric:

"This doesn't suggest that the need to look inward emphasized by the march isn't important, and that these African-American tribal affinities aren't legitimate. These are mean, cruel times, exemplified by a 'lock 'em up, take no prisoners' mentality that dominates the Republican-led Congress. Historically, African-Americans have turned inward and towards black nationalism whenever they have a sense, as we do now, that the mainstream has rebuffed us, and that white Americans couldn't care less about the profound problems African-Americans are facing."

A real Travis on "Travis Monitor"

With his inaugural post, we welcome Travis Fell to our Travis Monitor blogging crew. Travis has been blogging at Voice in the Wilderness. Welcome aboard.

God Blessed Texas...

...With Affordable Housing and a Good Economy

Seen in an AP story on Yahoo News last Thursday:

"Four Texas metropolitan areas were among the biggest population gainers asAmericans continued their trend of moving to the Sun Belt in 2006 and 2007,according to Census Bureau estimates to be released Thursday. ....

"People are running away from unaffordable housing, from the economic slowdown," said Karl Eschbach, a state demographer in Texas. "I would expect Texas to stay at the top of a slowing game." ....

According to figures compiled by Eschbach, 16 percent of Americans who moved to other states between July 2006 and July 2007 came to Texas, which led the nation for the second straight year in that category."
For more, click here.

Needed: Conservative Apologetics

Via American Thinker: Alan Roebuck is concerned about 'Seeker-sensitive' conservatism, which conforms to rather than challenges liberal assumptions. He says: "Let's fight liberalism where it matters most: in the realm of ideas." How? He wants a conservative apologetics to challenge the Liberal hegemony and bringing conservative back to the American people. Our most difficult challenge - "In the long run, conservatives must break the liberal monopoly over education." We need a conservative alternative institutions in higher education.

A statement that has stuck with me was the comment by a Johns Hopkins sociologist "We are at any time, twenty years from barbarism." Our culture survives and sustains itself on the next generation, and education and inculcation of our values is essential for our survival. In ideological terms, conservatives are fighting an uphill battle trying to re-educate adults who have been mis-educated into liberalism as students on campus and in our schools. We are at any time, twenty years from losing control of the destiny of our society.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

SD-14 Convention - Open Thread

Open comment thread for thoughts on the convention ... what do you think?

SD-14 Convention - live blog

10:30am Delco center, where we are having the Senate District 14 Republican convention, has Wifi. Cool ...

I spent almost an hour waiting in line to register. There is a big turnout, and looks like Ron Paul supporters are out in force. Rob Morrow has a minority report to change allocation of delegates to state.

10:40am - Convention chair Pojman announces that twice the attendance from previous convention, over 800 people.

Dan MacDonald on Credentials. 1400 delegates. 1943 voting strength. Some folks trying to become delegates who voted in Democratic primary (oooh). ... Credentials report adopted by voice vote.

11:00am - Rules Committee - Travis Brewer speaking. Unanamous consent on all of rules, except for allocation of delegates. Precinct caucusing was put in 2 years ago; "it is a good process and departure from the past"; more precincts than before but fewer delegates to state. "You can trust the report." Approach taken by rules (4-1 vote, Morrow has minority report): 80% through the precinct caucus process, and 20% through the nominating process. "Process and product were fair."

Due to lower Perry vote in 2006, number of delegates were lowered significantly, to 164. Under party rules, the divisor is 300 Perry votes per delegate to state. Lots of questions.

12:15pm Rob Morrow has given minority report and lots of questions. Over an hour and counting on the issue of how to allocate the remaining 'at-large' 20% of delegates. Lots more questions and some misunderstanding. Morrow got a big whoop when he blasted those 'running the convention' for talking about a 'renegade group' of Ron Paul supporters; his answer "we worked our butts off."

Overby: "This is a test vote" and "We need to get on the business of the convention."

Mallory: Mentions she is "Active on Ron Paul campaign." speaks out in favor. Zimmerman in favor, with the main 'pro' argument being about getting the 'new voters' in smaller precincts to go.

Several pro and con speakers, then Overby calls the question. Attempt to divide the question fails. On to vote on the minority report.

1:08pm - Roll call on Morrow's minority report is ongoing. In the 100s, yeas are winning.

1:26pm - 200s are more balanced. Several split precincts. Pct 253 - 1 nay, with voting strength 25. 256, 258, running against. Smaller precincts running for it; larger precincts against. 260 has 2 for, pct 262 has 7 against. If 300s run against it like the larger 200s, it will be voted down by about 60% against. NB voting strength is different from body count on the floor, working against the minority report.

1:50pm - 300s mostly against, but not uniformly ... our precinct 3 to 1 against. 400s ran strongly for the minority report, many small precincts 100% for minority report.
Despite this, it looks to fail on the basis of opposition from many of the large 300s precincts.

New TCRP chair Rosemary Edwards, Judge David Puryear, NRC Committeeman Bill Crocker, Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, spoke while they did the vote tally.

2:30pm - yeas - 801.61, nays - 1065.0, motion to adopt minority report fails.

2:40pm - after some tussling over motions, they fail as well, and Rules Committee majority report passes.

Donna Keel is up after the vote. Good speech, hits at Valinda Bolton's liberalism and stands up for fiscal responsibility.

Credentials up. Nominations and resolutions will meet up conclusion of caucusing by precinct.

2:50pm - Precinct conventions. In 36, we had 2 slots, and filled them, with 2 alternates as well.

4:20pm - Permanent committees are meeting. We are running way late, with resolutions and nominations going on.

Justice Wainright spoke. He is running for re-election on Texas Supreme court. He spoke about his parents and their values. He put in a good word for God, family, and the red, white and blue.

Abbott sent a video: Speaking on uncovering waste and fraud in Medicare/Medicaid, legal action on right-to-work, protecting private property rights, collections of child support of over $10 billion which saved $7 billion in taxpayer funds.

Jim Hasik, candidate for HD-49. Describes the 49 district as Democrat-heavy. Speaks about the "God Bless Texas" as Bob Bullock statement. For us to succeed, we espouse a wide range of view founded on conservative principles. "March to the sound of the guns." Vision of Government is limited but pro-active. Mentions his website

Waiting on report of permanent nominations committee. Recommendation passes without incident (phew, 3 hour diversion saved).

4:40pm - McCaul is up next. Message is unity. Starts off with a strong anti-earmarks position. Mentions/praises Ron Paul as a friend and colleague, but is also hammering "support the troops" theme.

4:55pm - An old Ronald Reagan "Victory Squad" video running. This convention managed to take longer than any other one I've been to. Running way late and we are in the boredom stage waiting for Resolutions and Nominations reports. Time to go home.

7:05pm - Checked with a friend on Resolutions Committee. Still haven't reported out, nor has nominations.

Meanwhile, we heard that across town the Ron Paulites took over the SD-25 convention, overturned the convention chair and committee assignments and put new ones in.

Friday, March 28, 2008

On the Frontlines

Michael Yon phones home

John McCain hates war

UPDATE 3/30: After American and Iraqi military hammers Mahdi Army, al-Sadr calls for end to fighting:

Sadr has sent a message to his loyalists urging them to end all armed activities ... Sadr’s call for an end to fighting by his followers comes as his Mahdi Army has taken high casualties over the past six days. Since the fighting began on Tuesday 358 Mahdi Army fighters were killed, 531 were wounded, 343 were captured, and 30 surrendered. The US and Iraqi security forces have killed 125 Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad alone, while Iraqi security forces have killed 140 Mahdi fighters in Basra.

Accused Saddam Agent Met With Hillary

Accused Saddam Agent Says He Met With Hillary at White House: "A Michigan man facing federal criminal charges of illegally working for Saddam Hussein's Iraqi Intelligence Service says he met with Hillary Clinton at the White House in May 1996." And Hillary then pushed 'oil-for-food' program on the State Dept. This same guy arranged and paid for the junket for 3 Congresscritters to go to Baghdad and pow-wow with Saddam Hussein in 2002. Nice "Sleeping with the Enemy" guys.

Bloggers for Cornyn

Latest News from Cornyn. Cornyn had a conference call with bloggers this week and will have more. We will try to get connected to future calls and report back.

Testing the Left's Double Standard

The left sure is funny - all bent out of shape about Cornyn and Hagee, yet willing to forgive and forget Obama and Wright.

Obama sat in a Black Liberation afro-centrist ‘church’ for 20 years, gave money to a nutjob Rev Wright who in turn preached about hating America and called Africa the homeland, gave awards to another hater Louis Farrakhan. Obama insists Wright is “a brilliant man who was still stuck in a time warp.” Wrong, Obama. Wright is a hate-mongerer who would be JUST AS WRONG if we were to go back 20 or 30 years and hear him say “God D**n America”. Obama’s behavior on this is absolutely and totally inexcusable. Obama has endorsed by his 20 years of association with this church that preaches alienation from America. Such connections are far closer than those between a politician and an endorser.

Pot, Kettle ... er, African-American?

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus says "Obama's very first service at Wright's church was ... controversial." Mentions Obama's autobiography describes the sermon - "the Reverend Wright spoke of Sharpesville and Hiroshima, the callousness of policy makers in the White House and in the State House." And mentions that "Obama isn't disapproving of this sermon. In the book he weeps at the end of it;" The Rev Wright sermon that Obama loved. Kaus' point - Wright's alienation-based sermons didn't drive Obama away, they attracted him to the church.

Kaus also talks of "He's a wuss!" and "He's arrogant!" as the 'underdeveloped memes' on Obama.

UPDATE2: ABC reviews the Wright sermonology:

An ABC News review of dozens of Wright's sermons, offered for sale by the church, found repeated denunciations of the United States based on what he described as his reading of the Gospels and the treatment of black Americans.

"The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people," he said in a 2003 sermon. "God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."

In addition to damning America, Wright told his congregation on the Sunday after Sept. 11, 2001, that the United States had brought on al Qaeda's attacks because of its own terrorism.

UPDATE3: Nice catch: Dean left the church over a bike path.

Tools of The Week

Great concept. Texas Hold 'Em blogger gives their 'tool of the Week' award to: "the three Democrat House members who took a trip to Iraq in 2003 paid for by Saddam Hussein." Way to go, Reps. McDermott (D-WA), Bonior (D-MI), and Thompson (D-CA).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Update on Electricity Market in Texas

The Texas Policycast for March 27th: Checking Texas' electricity marketplace (MP3): Bill Peacock, Director of the Foundation's Center for Economic Freedom, shares his findings on the health and vitality of the Texas competitive electric market. Key quotes: "Since we have gone to full deregulation, electricity prices have declined. Compared to rest of country, we have improved slightly since 2001. ... In real dollars, electricity prices are about where they were before deregulation, which is great considering other energy costs have gone up. ... Number of consumers picking new competitive rate plans are going up. ... Competition is working and consumers are choosing."

Bottom-line: Electricity deregulation, which was threatened with a roll-back in 2007, is working.

UPDATE, 4/2: Link to "Texas Consumers Benefit from Competitive Electricity Market", by Bill Peacock.

Cut the payroll tax

Bob Novak says:

"Cutting the payroll tax, which funds Social Security, is not easy but offers a rich economic prize in this lean Republican year. Republicans have been wary of touching the Social Security third rail of politics, ever since a re-elected President George W. Bush abandoned his reform under withering Democratic fire. Moreover, Republicans talk about offsetting payroll tax revenue loss by cutting future Social Security benefits, which contains seeds of electoral catastrophe.

Neither McCain nor his advisers seem to realize the value of the political prize that they can grasp. The regressive payroll tax oppresses most Americans, especially young men and women, and burdens small businesses that must match the tax that their employees pay. With dogma-bound Democrats unable to remedy this, the GOP has an opportunity to reach out beyond top-bracket taxpayers, big business and high finance. "
How to grasp the prize of tax cuts 'for the rest of us'? With the 15% Solution. This plan cuts payroll taxes from 15% to 10% across the board and makes the system much less regressive.

Hype meltdown over ice sheet

Media meltdown over Wilkins Ice Shelf collapse is over 0.01% of Antartica's ice sheet breaks off, while Antarctic ice mass has been increasing overall.

Speaking of meltdown, the IPCC is getting frantic over lack of actual warming and lack of ocean heating. A cold 2007 and 2008 is making trends look much less ominous than the hype predicted.

Global warming hot air is running up against cold, hard facts. Expect a storm front when the two finally clash in full.

Railroad Commish Michael Williams on Nuclear Energy

Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams gives his support for nuclear energy (video). He asks what we think. I think nuclear energy is good energy. Nuclear Energy is as renewable and just as good an energy source as wind, solar, biomass, etc. and should be treated as such by the policy-makers. Texas needs nuclear energy as part of our energy future, and Austin can meet CO2 reduction goals by moving to nuclear, at lower cost than any other CO2 mitigation method. That's what I think.

The Railroad Commissioner website has a few key facts on nuclear energy in Texas:

Texas has 4 nuclear units that produce 8.8% of the state's electricity. The U.S. has 103 nuclear units - the most for any country in the world - that generate 20% of the nation's electricity. This is ahead of the world average of 16%. ...
At 4,768 MW, Texas generates the 7th largest amount of nuclear powered electricity (XLS) in the country.

Due to consolidation within the nuclear power industry, streamlined federal relicensing procedures and improved operating efficiency, operating costs have fallen from 3.31 cents per kilowatt-hour in 1988 to 1.7 cents, which is slightly lower than coal and much lower than the 3 to 5 cents per Kwh cost for natural gas-fired plants.

Michael Williams is running for re-election as Railroad Commissioner and has more videos on YouTube and

Obama's Extremist Friends

No, it's not just Reverend "God D*** America" Wright and his Black Liberation Theology church, pushing the Hamas manifesto and Giving awards to Nation of Islam leader Farrakhan (Farrakhan by the way endorsed Obama). After all, the Liberals have praised Obama for "standing by his man" Rev Wright.

But wait, there is more. There is Rep Chaka Fattah:

Obama went out of his way to endorse a pan-Islamist, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel bigot and one of the most radical Members of Congress--Congressman Chaka Fattah ... Fattah, for example, was one of 62 Democrats voting against a House resolution in favor of Israel's right to defend itself against Palestinian terrorism and also build a border fence to keep terrorists out.

It is also General Tony McPeak, the aide who blamed 'NY, Miami' for failed peace talks. So Jewish voters in America are to blame for the lack of progress in Mid-East peace? How? By not supporting 'great ideas' like handing Jewish settlements over to Hamas? Oh, the stinkers.

Thomas Sowell notes that:

Barack Obama's own account of his life shows that he consciously sought out people on the far left fringe. In college, "I chose my friends carefully," he said in his first book, "Dreams From My Father."

These friends included "Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk rock performance poets" -- in Obama's own words -- as well as the "more politically active black students." He later visited a former member of the terrorist Weatherman underground, who endorsed him when he ran for state senator.

Obama employed and continues to employ several Farrakhan acolytes in high positions on his Illinois and U.S. Senate campaign and office staffs. His aides are suspect. His friends are extremists. As one comment puts it: If he is such an advocate of Israel, why did he pick at least 4 rabid anti-Israel foreign policy advisers? Samantha Power, Robert Malley, Susan Lake, and Zbig Brzinski? Obama seems to be surrounded by people who often say the wrong things, which Obama then promises he disagrees with. What is the proof that he really does though, when he has a history of the opposite?

UPDATE: Obama and Kenyan socialist pal/cousin Raila Odinga. "Odinga was educated in Former Soviet controlled East Germany and maintains a strong loyalty to the vision of his ‘Educators’ and has allied with Islamist in order to gain their political support." Obama endorsed Odinga for the Kenyan Presidency.

The Hamas caandidate Obama is supported by Gaza Palestinians.

Obama Profile.
Wright & 9/11.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Supreme Court Upholds Texas Sovereignty

Supreme Court sides with Texas, in a dispute where the World Court ruled in 2004 that the convictions of Medellin and 50 other Mexicans on death row around the United States violated the 1963 Vienna Convention, which provides that people arrested abroad should have access to their home country's consular officials. The Bush administration was seeking to get the courts to go along with this ruling.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said the international court decision cannot be forced upon the states. SCOTUSblog via Michelle Malkin says:

"The Supreme Court, in a sweeping rejection of claims of power in the presidency, ruled 6-3 on Tuesday that the President does not have the authority to order states to relax their criminal procedures to obey a ruling of the World Court. The decision came in the case of Medellin v. Texas (06-984). Neither a World Court decision requiring U.S. states to provide new review of criminal cases involving foreign nationals, nor a memo by President Bush seeking to enforce the World Court ruling, preempts state law restrictions on challenges to convictions, the Court said in a ruling written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.

The decision, aside from its rebuff of presidential power, also treats the World Court ruling itself as not binding on U.S. states, when it contradicts those states’ criminal procedure rules. The international treaty at issue in this dispute — the Vienna Convention that gives foreign nationals accused of crime a right to meet with diplomats from their home country — is not enforceable as a matter of U.S. law, the Roberts opinion said. "

This is a good day for Texas and American sovereignty and for keeping American law unfettered by the internationalist busybodies.

PS. Those seeking an appeal for Medellin are asking for another chance for a brutal murderer (warning: graphic).

November Ballot

Via Texas Weekly, a 5 page spread on the Statewide and Texas House and Senate races.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Austin City Council Elections


13 file to run for Austin City CouncilCOMPILED FROM STAFF AND WIRE REPORTSTuesday, March 11, 2008


Thirteen seek City Council seats

Thirteen candidates will vie for three Austin City Council seats, according to final applications filed Monday.

Place 1 Council Member Lee Leffingwell will run for re-election on May 10 against mechanical engineer Allen Demling, real estate agent Jeffrey Hancock and Jason Meeker, who has an advertising and public relations firm.

In Place 3, Council Member Jennifer Kim will run against Internet entrepreneur Randi Shade and former Texas Army National Guardsman Kenneth Weiss.

Vying to replace Place 4 Council Member Betty Dunkerley, whose term ends in June, will be lawyer Robin Cravey, perennial candidate Jennifer Gale, urban planner Cid Galindo, disaster management consultant Laura Morrison, parole officer Sam Osemene and real estate agent Ken Vasseau.

Single Member City Council Districts

The City of Austin Charter Revision Committee recently recommended City Council members be elected by single-member districts instead of at-large. This will be a bold change for Austin politics if Austin voters approve this change.

Currently, the Mayor and 6 City Council members are all elected at-large in Austin. There are currently no districts in Austin, each member represents the community at large. The reality of the situation is that the Central Austin environmentalist agenda controls the City Council as all of the members elected to the City Council are hand-selected to run. Due to low turnout in the May elections, the special interests of the pro-environmental, anti-business community in Austin elect the City Council.

If the State Legislature were elected through at-large districts, all 150 State Representatives would be attornies from Houston or Dallas as the largest number of votes and the most active voters are in those areas of Texas. The citizens of Texas would cry fowl if the State Legislature was did not represent their diverse interests. Citizens of Austin should do the same.

A proposal for single-member districts would allow for the diverse interests of Austin to elect their own representative to the City Council by district. Tarrytown will have one council member (instead of 6), Northwest Hills will have a member (instead of none), East Austin will have a member (instead of token representation), as will Southeast, Southwest, and Central Austin. The diverse interests of the community will be better debated by electing City Council members by district instead of collectively as a city.

The current composition of the Austin City Council is:

Mayor Will Wynn
Mayor Pro-Tem Betty Dunkerley
Mike Martinez
Jennifer Kim
Lee Leffingwell
Brewster McCracken
Sheryl Cole

Contact the Austin City Council if you support Single Member Districts to give the citizens of Austin better representation for our wide range of issues.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Threat to Homeschooling

By Bob Ward

A California appeals court has effectively outlawed home schooling in that state by ruling that a home school does not satisfy the state’s definition of an adequate education and ordering a family to enroll their children in a public school or "legally qualified" private school.
It’s significant that the court’s decision was not based on a finding of abuse or neglect. The mere fact of homeschooling was ruled illegal. The state’s educational program, the court said,”was designed to promote the general welfare of all the people and was not designed to accommodate the personal ideas of any individual in the field of education."
The court agreed with the trial court that "keeping the children at home deprived them of situations where (1) they could interact with people outside the family, (2) there are people who could provide help if something is amiss in the children's lives, and (3) they could develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents' 'cloistered' setting."
The judges noted that California law requires "persons between the ages of six and 18" to attend a public school, a "private full-time day school" or be "instructed by a tutor who holds a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught." They concluded that the family failed to demonstrate "that the mother has a teaching credential” and that the supervision by Sunland Christian School's independent study programs was of no value
Also “of no value” in the judges’ eyes was the First Amendment. The court considered the family’s "sincerely held religious beliefs," to be "not the quality of evidence that permits us to say that application of California's compulsory public school education law to them violates their First Amendment rights."
The problem, as the court sees it, is that “any parent” could claim a right to religious freedom under the First Amendment. At least they got that part right. The First Amendment does apply to everyone.
The court didn’t even dispute the family’s claim of religious motivation. They simply said that California law, as interpreted by them, trumps the First Amendment.
But the judges were just warming up. Justice H. Walter Croskey who wrote the opinion, said, "Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children." That would be news to the U.S. Supreme Court. In Pierce V. Society of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus, the court affirmed “the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children [268 U.S. 510, 535] under their control.”
The Supreme Court took this point a little further noting, “The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”
Requiring all children to be taught in a public school operated by the state, a private school deemed “qualified” by the state, or by a tutor credentialed by the state certainly amounts to an attempt by the state “to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only.”
It is particularly urgent that the Legislature amend this totalitarian policy in light of recent legislation making public schools hostile to families holding traditional moral and religious views. Specifically, SB777 and AB394, recently signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, which mandate the promotion of homosexuality and make any mention of mom and dad” suspect have caused serious concern among California parents.
It has long been obvious that parents who cherish their freedom and their children should remove their children from public schools. Now, it appears they must remove them from California.
Texas parents would be wise to make protection for the right to home school an issue in the upcoming election. Currently, the right to home school rests on a 1994 unanimous decision of the Texas Supreme Court in Leper v. TEA. But a change in the personnel of the court could result in as reversal any time. Parents need stronger protection in the form of explicit legislation or even a constitutional amendment.
Candidates for the Texas Legislature should be forced to declare their position on this important issue.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Stagflation is here

High oil price rattles Global markets. The consequences of the Fed's easy money policies is a retreat of the dollar, commodities inflation, in particular high oil and food prices, and further economic pain down the road. The other consequences include inflation and export dropoffs in Asia. We will have a slowing economy with accelerating inflation. Stagflation is here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tax Hikes Hurt the Economy

NBER study shows Tax Increases Reduce GDP: "an exogenous tax increase of 1 percent of GDP lowers real GDP by roughly 2 to 3 percent. ... The large effect stems in considerable part from a powerful negative effect of tax increases on investment. (Abstract of the Economics Study by Romer and Romer.) We need a reminder of this common-sense principle, proven by experience and economic study, in a week when the Democrats in Congress voted to increase taxes by 2012 by almost a trillion dollars. The Democrats have voted to send this country into a recession.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Allen West for Congress

Iraq war veteran is a great choice for Congress, running in Florida's CD-22.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Price of Environmental Faddism

Price #1: We leave ANWR undrilled and leave offshore areas undrilled and consequently face higher oil prices and bigger trade deficits because of it. The cost in more exact terms is now about $1.5 trillion in oil we are leaving in the ground. USGS estimates 10 billion barrels of oil in ANWR, worth $1 trillion. Minerals Management Service director Randall Luthi makes the case for environmentally responsible energy exploration: " The National Academy of Sciences, in a 2002 study, reported that over the past 20 years, less than .001 percent of the oil produced in U.S. waters has spilled. The same study reported that 150 times more oil enters the ocean every day from natural cracks in the ocean floor than from oil and gas activities."

Price #2: Costly Ethanol subsidies ( aka "the stupidest subsidy") are leading to skyrocketing food prices and hurt chicken and beef producers and consumers. Not only does it do little to curb oil imports, it costs Costs $1700 per ton of CO2 saved. See also Taxpayers for Common Sense on this boondoggle.

Price #3: Environmentalist phobia of nuclear power has slowed development of a cost-effective and environmentally sound energy source .

Meanwhile, our faddism leaves the real problem of foreign oil dependency unresolved. Samuelson on how we help OPEC: "By doing so little to check its own thirst for imports, the United States has contributed to OPEC's present triumph." Teh result of our failure to have real energy independence policies means that oil prices are not coming down: "The savvy economist, investor, politician and consumer ought to be encouraging as much development as possible. However, with policies like the renewable fuel standard and corn-based ethanol, restrictions on drilling sites, and emissions standards that prohibit diesel cars, we cannot foresee anything that brings those prices down."

UPDATE: A smarter solution - use money from ANWR drilling to fund renewable energy.

UPDATE II: More stupidity from the Democrats - they want to close off the possibility of USA benefitting from commercializing the 800 billion barrels (thats $80 trillion worth) of shale oil.

TCR Calls for a GOP compact to win back voters

Texas Conservative Review looks at lessons Of 2008 Texas Primaries:

The record Democratic turnout around the state if replicated in November spells real trouble for the GOP.

Party unity alone will not do it. Glen Bolger, respected pollster at Public Opinion Strategies says the GOP is not badly splintered and is solidly behind Senator McCain now. This is confirmed by a recent Pew Center poll, which showed in trial heats that McCain gets 87% of the GOP vote versus Obama and 91% versus Clinton.

The same Pew poll shows the real problem: 38% say they are Democrats and 24% say they are Republican and after adding in leans, it's Democrats 55% and Republicans 34%!

The challenge: "grow the Republican Party quickly, or do a lot better with independents." But how. Polland suggests:

... why not have a Texas contract or compact with the voters? In the May 26, 2006 TCR Vol. V No. 9, we laid out ideas for seven issues to run on. They are certainly a starting point for 2008:

1. Residential property tax cap will be reduced to 5% less an index adjusted for inflation (just like income tax benefits are adjusted for inflation.)

2. TABOR type state spending controls limiting state increases in spending to no more than the increase in inflation and population.

3. Repeal the new gross receipts business tax (which could mean taxing a business that makes no money) and instead institute a broad based consumption tax at lower than the current rate.

4. End bilingual education in Texas to be replaced by an English First curriculum.

5. Support a constitutional amendment to require a super majority before the raising of any taxes.

6. Eliminate the top 10% rule on college admissions as it discriminates against students going to better high schools.

7. Institute a pilot program for school choice for students in under performing schools.

He says: "If the GOP, locally and statewide, can layout an agenda of five to ten points, get approval from candidates, elected officials and the Republican party itself, we will have something to run on and something to win with."

The best hopes for the GOP are getting back to basic issues to show the voters that their values, agenda, ideals and interests are in-line with what the Republicans offer, not what the Democrats offer. The GOP is going to have to aggressively market themselves in waysMedia brainwashing and the politics of personality and identity are being used to trump the real wishes of the voters.

Daniel vs Hobbs in HD 52 Runoff

In HD-52 runoff coming up, Bryan Daniel faces Dee Hobbs in the runoff. John Gordon has just endorsed Dee Hobb. In his endorsement, Gordon praised both men who are in the runoff, recognizing that they are both able and honorable men. Hobbs has local politics as a family business and has benefited from that pedigree in getting votes, but thats a different question than whether he is the best man for this job.

Bryan Daniel is the better man for the office. They both have unique experiences, Hobbs as prosecutor and Daniel in agricultural Govt service, business, and related issues. Yet Daniel will be a better officeholder and will be a more consistent conservative that fights for taxpayers. He's been unwavering in his conservative positions. That is why he’s gotten endorsements from taxpayer-friendly and conservative groups like Heritage Alliance PAC and Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT).

They will face off against an "Annie's List" (think EMILY's List)-supported pro-choice liberal Democrat Diane Moldanaro, and so whichever of these two Republicans wins will be a better Representative for Williamson than the Democrat.

Cornyn Co-Sponsors Earmark Moratorium

This bill would shut down earmarks for the next budget cycle. Good for Cornyn. AFP has more.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Democratic nomination update

What a Joke - Al Franken is likely Democratic candidate in Minnesota. Al Franken is a former comedian turned light-weight pugilist, both physical and political ( personal attacks a specialty).

Delegate math - this Forbes calculator shows how the delegates for the Democratic nomination are allocated and lets you construct scenarios. Result? Even if Clinton wins every upcoming state
except for North Carolina, Oregon and Mississippi, i.e., Clinton wins Pennsylvania and 5 other states and Guam and Puerto Rico, she'll need at least 60% of the remaining super-delegates to win. The more likely scenario of Obama winning the caucus and western states, as he has done in the past, leads to an Obama victory even if he only gets 35% of the remaining super-delegates. And all this assumes a 57% to 43% win for Clinton in Pennsylvania. The only thing that saves her is a sweep of the super-delegates.

She will fight it out until its mathematically impossible. By June, it will be time to sing the Munchkin song.
but then we have to face the spectre of Obama's first 100 days - "it is a bad sign for a candidate when the best we can hope is for him to violate his commitments."

Geraldine Ferraro's comment to the Daily Breeze of Torrance, Calif.: "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. ... He happens to be very lucky to be who he is." Once again proving, a gaffe is when a politician is caught accidentally telling the truth.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Parents Desparate for Choices

Parents Desperate for Choices

By Jamie Story, Texas Public Policy Foundation Education Analyst

Last month, dozens of Austin parents camped out on the cold concrete of the Austin Independent School District headquarters parking lot with one goal in mind: securing a better learning environment for their children.

For reasons ranging from better academics to safer learning conditions and less crowded classrooms, these parents sought transfers from their children’s assigned public schools to others within the district.

This campout has become an annual tradition for some Austin families. One Saturday each February, the district opens its transfer application period for the next school year. Some parents get in line up to 24 hours early to ensure their child’s first-choice school. This school year, 10 percent of Austin ISD students will transfer out of their assigned campuses.

Late that Saturday morning, a father hurriedly parked, jumped out of his car, and ran into the building with his son following close behind. Perhaps the babysitter was running late, or the oil change took longer than expected; whatever the reason, this man was clearly panicked at the possibility of his son not receiving the transfer he so desperately needed.

Another father left the administration building with his two sons, for whom he had just requested transfers. As he put it, “gerrymandering” by the school district had changed the school to which his home was zoned. “In the past, we have moved to get to a school that we wanted to go to,” he stated. But finances and other situations kept that from being an option this time around, he said.

The ability to transfer is especially important to his family, since one of the two boys is enrolled in special education classes due to a learning disability. This father’s transfer requests have always been successful, but he knows the mother of another special education student who has not been so fortunate.

While Austin ISD provides concerned parents with some degree of choice, parents should not have to camp out overnight in the hope that their child is one of the lucky few to be accepted for a transfer. At the very least, students should be allowed to attend the school of their choice within their local district.

Beyond that, the state must commit itself to offering meaningful choice between districts for students who are eligible for the Public Education Grant (PEG) program.

This program allows students in low-performing schools to transfer to higher-performing schools within or outside of their home district. Last year, more than 600,000 students were eligible for the PEG program, but unfortunately, a mere 188 exercised this choice.

It is not enough merely to create the options that allow children to transfer away from low-performing schools. Parents need to be aware of these options, and the system needs to be structured so that the schools have appropriate incentives to accept these transferring students.

But ultimately, unsatisfied parents need the opportunity to take their tax dollars to the public or private school of their choice. While public school transfers may offer a quick remedy for students in undesirable situations, they will never result in the systemic improvements associated with widespread school choice programs.

At Austin ISD that Saturday morning, a third father emerged from the administration building after requesting a transfer for his daughter, who “wants to go to a better school and wants to get a better education.” When asked if he would take advantage of a school choice program that would allow him to choose a private school instead, he said, “Yes! St. Ignatius [Martyr School] is very good, but is too expensive for my family.”

Perhaps someday, Texas parents will be blessed with a statewide school choice program that allows them to choose the public or private school that is best for their children. But until then, lawmakers should focus on ways to make school choice within the public system a viable option for more parents.

Jamie Story is an education policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin.

Troubling Fed and the path of production

Something is seriously amiss in America's economic policy. It feels like the 1970s again. The Democrats in Congress are raising taxes and threaten to do more, and now we have this troubling Bernake statement has indicates he's a believer in the dicredited Phillips curve, ie, slow growth cures inflation. It's phony flipside is that easy-money and cheap dollars cures slow growth. Wrong.

Taylor Frigon blog point to this Production versus consumption dichotomy. Productionists see the problem of economics as one of production; we are "supply-siders", if you take care of production, the rest takes care of itself because human wants and needs are unquenchable. The consumptionist sees idle factories and does not think "Why is production ailing?", they assume "Aha! There is not enough consumption." The consumptionist view is a wrong view of economic health. The giveaway 'stimulus' is pure consumptionism, giving an illusion of wealth since it displaces economic activity. But displacement is not creation, it is merely moving money from one pocket to another. The classic way to 'create consumption' in history has been to inflate the money supply. Like a drug, it creates a temporary high, but then a downside later; either you keep printing money to debauch the currency and create ruin, or you . You do not create wealth with such policies. A return to the Phillips curves, Keynesian myths and a cheap dollar is not the way to wealth. The way to wealth is through production and maximum productivity and utilization of assets.

UPDATE: Kudlow agrees.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Education Reform - Is School Choice Enough?

Sol Stern says "School Choice is not enough":

During the 15 years since the first voucher program got under way in Milwaukee, university researchers have extensively scrutinized the dynamics of school choice and the effect of competition on public schools. The preponderance of studies have shown clear benefits, both academically and otherwise, for the voucher kids. It’s gratifying that the research confirms the moral and civil rights argument for vouchers.

But sadly—and this is a second development that reformers must face up to—the evidence is pretty meager that competition from vouchers is making public schools better.

His article set off hot debate in the City Journal. Most of the respondents defended the fact that school choice programs have no failed per se, they just haven't overcome political objections and opponents, but when implemented do show benefits to schoolchildren. Jay Greene defends choice by showing the gains made in achievement due to choice programs:
Clive Belfield and Henry Levin at Teachers College, no friends of school choice, conducted a systematic review of over 200 analyses in that literature, concluding: “The above evidence shows reasonably consistent evidence of a link between competition (choice) and education quality. Increased competition and higher educational quality are positively correlated.”

There are two questions: Who decides the key factors in a child's education? And what is the right way to instruct children? School choice is a structural reform to enable better decisions about instruction, but the instruction methods are ultimately what determines how well kid's do. Education happens in the classroom or more exactly, in the mind of the child. No education reform changes anything unless it changes what happens to the child.

The Weekly Standard reported on the debate:

The school choice movement correctly recognized that the quasi-monopoly powers that school boards and teachers' unions exercise over public education is an anachronism in a society increasingly built around consumer power. Their mistake, however, was in thinking that you could be agnostic on what these schools ought to be teaching. ...
You can't be indifferent to the curriculum, E.D. Hirsch argues in his response to Stern. Without making content an explicit part of your education agenda, you abdicate to some third party--bureaucrats, textbook writers, political activists--control over what is actually taught every day. That's not only what parents really care about, it is the thing that matters most to educational achievement. "Grade-by-grade core substance of the curriculum is what schooling is," Hirsch writes.

The gains in learning from school choice are due in large part to the fact that the monopoly school systems, hostage to agendas beyond the best instruction of children, hostage to education fads and fancies, are not doing their job right. To attempt to fix the instructional failures in the system directly is as difficult as attempting to fix it structurally with choice. One can be pessimistic and assume neither can succeed, or one can be realistic and consider that making progress on one path will help make progress on the other. More school choice will expose more clearly the differences between flawed and working instructions.

Ultimately school choice deserves support for reasons more fundamental than markets and incentives. School choice is about getting parents involved in the education of children. Parental responsibility cannot be exercised without a level of parental choice, and parental involvement in a child's education correlates with higher achievement. We need to treat education as a parental responsibility, and one that parents delegate and decide, not as a Governmental responsibility that bypasses the parents.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

What Can States Do About Illegal Immigration

A staggering 1169 bills and resolutions related to immigration or immigrants have been introduced in State legislatures in 2007. Krikorian at NR Notes:

State activity: Attrition is starting to work in Arkansas. Nebraska legislature moves forward on tax penalties for companies that hire illegals. Gov. Barbour of Mississippi expected to sign bill requiring employers to use the federal E-Verify system. A roundup of other state action.

Minnesota - House Minority Leader Marty Seifert wants the state to punish cities that don't check immigration status by taking away state funding. It failed to pass by one vote recently.

So what can a state like Texas do about illegal immigration? Some ideas:
1. Make certifications as to whether borders are secure or not.
2. Forbid state contractors from hiring illegals.
3. Put tax penalties for companies that hire illegals.
4. Require employers to use the federal E-Verify system, i.e., mandates every employer in the state to participate in the Basic Pilot Program.
5. Allow state troopers to enforce immigration law. Push for inclusion in the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement's 287(g) program. The program, named after the section of law it occupies, allows local and state police officers to perform immigration checks and take part in operations in the field.
6. Check the immigration status of every person in the criminal justice system. (Consider the participation in such program at the Travis county jail.)
7. Cut state funding to cities that are 'sanctuary cities' that do not enforce immigration law and allow flagrant violations of it.
8. Require government agencies to verify that those seeking benefits, such as unemployment compensation, be legal U.S. residents. Require verification of legal status for receipt of public benefits.
9. Restrict drivers licenses to legal residents and citizens only; require legal residency check for those seeking a drivers license. Require the expiration date for drivers licenses to be no later than legal visa expiration date if any.
10. Repeal the state law allowing illegal immigrants to attend college at in-state tuition rates. Mandate that a determination of the immigration status of persons be complete before they may participate in educational programs. This should include K-12 so that it is known, even though such children have a right (by Supreme Court ruling) to such education, how many illegal immigrants are in the education system.
11. Implement voter picture ID rules and make immigration status and residency check a part of voter registration.
12. Increase penalties for identity theft. Add penalties for false documents.
13. A Texas bill would prohibit inquiring into the immigration status of a patient in the context of emergency treatment. On the contrary, a bill should require collection of such status information to understand the impact and cost of illegal immigrants using such services.
14. Add criminal penalties for human trafficking and funding to better secure the border and eliminate border drug trafficking and human trafficking.
15. Restrict granting of business and professional licenses to citizens and legal immigrants and establish documents that are acceptable proof of identity.
16. More funding for border security and support Federal programs for "zero tolerance" of border crossing and 'catch and return' of criminal aliens.

McCain needs Gramm and Romney

There are two things McCain needs to do to get in shape for the general election: Bone up and sharpen his economic message, and win over the conservative base. Both tasks can be done if he does his homework and gets helps on a clear conservative economic message. Two messengers who can help him are Romney and Gramm. The buzz on the blogs is that something is shaking between Romney and McCain, and a Monday announcement or event may be in the offing. And Gramm has for some time been helping McCain win over conservatives.

There is energy, money, and passion behind Obama, yet the energy for Obama comes from a narrow slice of the electorate:
1. People too young to remember how bad a similar guy named Jimmy Carter was.
2. Liberal progressives, especially academic types.
3. Blacks

McCain’s got many lines of attack to hammer Obama:
- Obama is a left-liberal extremist
- Obama lacks experience to be CinC and has naive views on foreign policy
- McCain is judged the most ready to "answer the 3am phone call"
- Obama’s “patriotism gap” compared with McCain the war hero
- Obama’s tax hikes and spending spree will hurt the economy
- Obama is too anti-Israel and too soft on our enemies the Islamic jihadists
- On Iraq: Obama's position is out of touch with the success of the surge; nobody wants to lose a war and McCain can make the case that only he will win the war and bring the troops home with honor.

The real GOP weak spot is going to be the economy. We have prospect of near 0% growth and/or recession, and 2 out of 3 voters say the economy is going in the wrong direction. The Democrats will try an election like was done on 1992 grounds. The Democrats will make the economy the issue and run against McCain by tying him to a 'failed' Bush.

McCain needs to bone up to survive the attacks on those grounds. He will need to show not just that he is his own man, but have a clear and convincing vision on the economic future of this country. That vision of course must be grounded in conservative principles; his spending credentials are good, but he his tax cutting agenda will need to be convincingly sold. He needs Gramm and Romney and others helping him make the case. It may in fact suggest that there is a good case for putting Romney on the ticket with him.

Obama's Pals

Obama's friendships with hard-core leftists is the clearest indication we have of his extreme views, views which are not getting aired in the campaign. One example: Obama and Edward Said.

As for his corrupt pal, Tony Rezko the Syrian immigrant, Hot Air's Ed Morrissey points to a June 2007 article that shows that Obama failed to come clean on what Rezko gave him for his campaigns:

During his 12 years in politics, Sen. Barack Obama has received nearly three times more campaign cash from indicted businessman Tony Rezko and his associates than he has publicly acknowledged, the Chicago Sun-Times has found.

Then there is this:

One of Rezko’s associates turns out to be Ali D. Ata, who worked in Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s administration. Ata now faces fraud charges for writing a letter on state letterhead on behalf of Rezko that lied well enough to get millions of dollars in loans. Rezko brought Ata into Obama’s camp as a contributor.

What is interesting about this "lies for loans" charge is that it is exactly the same charge used against Jack Abramoff. Even guilt-by-association was enough to taint many Abramoff associates in Republican circles. Here we have people up on charges of influence-peddling and related charges who gave to Obama's campaign. And Obama didn't come clean on it until forced to by the press? When one considers the Obama image versus this reality, there is quite a disconnect.

Clinton's Slash and Burn Path to Nomination

Liberal Jonathan Chait laments what it would take for Clinton to wrest the nomination from Obama:

She isn't going to win at the polls. Barack Obama has a lead of 144 pledged delegates. That may not sound like a lot in a 4,000-delegate race, but it is. Clinton's Ohio win reduced that total by only nine. She would need 15 more Ohios to pull even with Obama. ... Clinton's path to the nomination, then, involves the following steps: kneecap an eloquent, inspiring, reform-minded young leader who happens to be the first serious African American presidential candidate (meanwhile cementing her own reputation for Nixonian ruthlessness) and then win a contested convention by persuading party elites to override the results at the polls. The plan may also involve trying to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations, after having explicitly agreed that the results would not count toward delegate totals. Oh, and her campaign has periodically hinted that some of Obama's elected delegates might break off and support her. I don't think she'd be in a position to defeat Hitler's dog in November, let alone a popular war hero.

You can go down graceful or go down ugly; Clinton is doing the latter. Either way, the math says she is going down. It will be Machiavellianism not a miracle that will upset the math equations now.

Intrade shows a 25% chance of Clinton nomination and 75% chance of Obama nomination. The chance of the Republican winning in November is rated at 38%. It means that the most likely next President is ... Barack Obama.

UPDATE: Obama wins Wyoming and gets 7 delegates to Clintons's 5, a gain of two.

UPDATE II: Map of Texas primary shows that Obama won big in Travis and other Democrat areas: "In Texas, Obama is the Democrat, winning in the places Democrats normally win, like big cities, and Clinton is the Republican, winning in the countryside (but also in some smaller cities like El Paso). However, nationally, it is the opposite. Clinton has won all the big Democratic states like California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, while Obama triumphed in Republican states like Idaho, Utah, Kansas, and Alabama."

Home School "Illegal" in California

Home Schooling "Illegal" in CA
The Associated Press

California parents without teaching credentials can no longer home school their children, according to a recent state appellate court ruling.

"Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children," Justice H. Walter Croskey wrote in a Feb. 28 opinion for the 2nd District Court of Appeals.

Noncompliance could lead to criminal complaints against the parents, Croskey said.

An estimated 166,000 students in California are home schooled, but it was unclear how many of them are taught solely by an uncredentialed parent.

To earn a five-year preliminary teaching credential in California, a person must obtain a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and complete multiple examinations.

Until now, California allowed home schooling if parents filed paperwork to establish themselves as small, private schools; hired a credentialed tutor; or enrolled their child in an independent study program run by an established school while teaching the child at home.

The state left enforcement up to local school districts, but there has been little oversight.

The old system "works so well, I don't see any reason to change it," said J. Michael Smith, president of the Virginia-based Home School Legal Defense Association.

The ruling stems from a case involving Phillip and Mary Long, a Los Angeles-area couple whose eight children are enrolled or have been enrolled in Sunland Christian School in suburban Sylmar and occasionally have taken tests there.

But the children were educated at home by their mother, who does not have a teaching credential.

Attorneys for the state Department of Education were reviewing the ruling, and home schooling organizations were lining up against it.

Phillip Long vowed to appeal to the state Supreme Court."I have sincerely held religious beliefs," he said. "Public schools conflict with that. I have to go with what my conscience requires me.

Friday, March 7, 2008

2008 International Conference on Climate Change

There was an important conference on climate change held in New York this past week. The media tried to dismiss it, but the question is whether the concerns and points raised in the conference have scientific merit. Here is one view: Prominent Scientists Debunk Global Warming.

Marc Shepperd roundup of the conference.

A milestone report was presented at the conference: Nature, not Human Activity, rules the climate, a position statement on global warming by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). This is perhaps the most important document, on the global warming debate this decade, aside from the IPCC assessments. This report is a dissent from those assessments, pointing out the flaws and errors in those assessments. Since practically all the Global Warming is a Crisis crowd uses IPCC reports as a basis, this dissent is a powerful antidote to the hype.

This email from Lord Monkton, a global warming 'skeptic', was posted as the pro-AGW blog RealClimate, in a thread that was highly dismissive of the conference. Yet the response forms a good summary of the "skeptic" position:

“Thank you for getting in touch. You do not explain what points in my published work on climate change you disagree with, though it seems that you do disagree. You ask what I have to offer the scientific community. When I first wrote publicly about the climate, I received 1,000 emails, of which a substantial proportion were from scientists round the world, some of them eminent, who have grave doubts about the official theory of anthropogenic “global warming” and were very grateful that these doubts had been expressed, since they themselves were under official pressure not to speak out. Several scientists, including the most eminent in the field, maintain regular communication with me to exchange ideas and to ask for scientific source documents. I have also assisted in the drafting of peer-reviewed papers to add clarity and logic to the presentation of scientific arguments, and my contributions are acknowledged in the text of the relevant papers. And I am conducting my own (admittedly rather inexpert) researches, which have revealed numerous errors and inconsistencies in the IPCC’s methodology for calculating the magnitude of the effect of greenhouse-gas enrichment on temperature. I attach a draft of a paper for the technically-minded layman that I’m currently working on. In parallel with this, I lead an international team of scientists which is currently working on a rigorous re-examination of the climate sensitivity question from the ground up, with a view to eventual publication in a peer-reviewed journal if the results prove compelling enough.

For what it’s worth, my provisional conclusions are as follows: that the science presented by the IPCC is in numerous respects demonstrably defective and in several areas dishonest; that it has substantially exaggerated the imagined problem; that it has excluded eminent scientists who disagree with it (one of whom, the world’s foremost expert on the malaria mosquito, will be visiting me next week); that it ruthlessly suppresses all dissent; that its publications are not peer-reviewed in the accepted sense of the term; that its reports provide no sound scientific basis for any alarm whatsoever about the influence of humankind on the future evolution of the climate, which will be negligible and largely beneficial; that the failure of global temperature to rise in a statistically significant sense over the whole of the past decade is no accident, but is a consequence of the ending of the 70-year-long solar Grand Maximum, during which the Sun was more active and for longer than at almost any similar previous period over the whole of the past 11,400 years; that it is only marginally more likely that the climate will warm over the next century than that it will cool; that the warming, if it occurs, will be unlikely to exceed one-third of the IPCC’s central estimate; that even if the IPCC’s central estimate were correct the consequences for sea level would be negligible; that all other consequences of warmer weather worldwide are generally beneficial; that, though there are many environmental problems, our influence on the climate is too small to be one of them; that it would be profoundly unwise to adopt any of the mitigative measures proposed by the IPCC, which would merely have the effect of transferring jobs, economic prosperity and carbon emissions away from the West and into China, India and other third-world countries where environmental controls are nothing like as stringent as they are here; that any attempt to restrict fossil-fuel use by third-world countries will have the effect of keeping them poor, so that their populations will continue to increase; and that, therefore, the net effect of attempted mitigation - which would of course have no appreciable effect on the climate and would hence be entirely futile - would be to increase the “carbon footprint” of humankind in the medium to long term, without reducing it in the short.

These are among the points that will be reviewed and discussed at the climate conference in New York, where the emphasis will not be on proselytization and preaching but on quiet conversation about the science. Many of the world’s leading climate scientists will be present, and they will represent a wide range of disciplines and opinions. There will also be laymen like me, who are invited because their influence and experience as policymakers may help to clarify some of the issues.

Finally, you mention “disinformation” which you say I have been spreading. If you would be kind enough to make a list of any points in my published papers at which are scientifically inaccurate, supplying in each instance a reference to a peer-reviewed scientific journal which establishes that what I have said is in error, unless there are scientific papers that give another opinion I shall of course be happy to make corrections and see to it that they are posted. That is how true and honest science is done. - M of B”

A Call to investigate Macias v Miller race

San Antonio Toll Party put out a Press Release on the Macias / Miller race. They are concerned that the race was not just 'stolen' through a very dishonest campaign, but there was vote tampering that gave Doug Miller the close win. At the very least, a recount is needed:


(Comal County, TX, March 7, 2008) – Concerned voters, including San Antonio Toll Party members in District 73, will request that the Secretary of State investigate the election results for the State Representative Nathan Macias (R – Dist 73) vs. Doug Miller race. A relative of Doug Miller, and other known supporters were reportedly the sole initial vote counters of copied paper ballots, the Republican Party Chair for Gillespie County (where possible improprieties took place) was repeatedly on the phone with former Macias opponent and former State Representative for District 73 Carter Casteel while ballots were being counted, and members of the “counting team” in Gillespie County took over 4 hours after midnight to hand-count the 160 copied paper ballots which changed the outcome of the election from a 58 vote win for Macias to a 38 vote win for Miller.

WHAT: Press conference to ask the Secretary of State to investigate Macias vs. Miller race

WHO: Extremely Concerned voters, including San Antonio Toll Party members


WHERE: Commissioner Court Bldg (next to courthouse)

199 Main Plaza (corner of Landa & San Antonio), New Braunfels, TX

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The 3AM Call

Fundamental Tax Reform - The 15% Solution

Jeb Bradley call for tax reform via a flatter income tax reminded me that I agree on the need for tax reform and have some ideas on the matter. We need to start laying out what principles we should have behind our tax policy. Moving to a 3 tiered rate is better, but is not enough of a change and does not take away the problems of complexity in the current system.

How about this for a radical idea: Abolish the income tax for everyone making under $100,000 and have a simple 15% flat tax for everyone above that. Impossible? No, very possible.

The flat tax is a good idea. The FAIR tax is a good idea. But both ideas are getting picked apart because the current complex web of taxes is hidden and obscure enough, and the proposals, ironically, dont attack the core issues: It's both the complexity and the cost of taxes (ie quantity) that drags us down.

So let us start with 5 principles for fundamental tax reform:
1. The Federal Government Costs too much, spends too much and taxes too much. Tax reform should include tax reductions.
2. We need a simpler, flatter, lower rate tax system.
3. We need to shift taxes to tax production less and consumption more
4. We need to fix entitlements through choice
5. We need legislative and constitutional protections for taxpayers to limit tax hikes, spending hikes and runaway deficits.

Let's look at these 5 Fundamentals of Fundamental tax reform

1) The Federal Government Costs too much and the burden of Government should be limited.
We can implement this by limiting Government Spending to 15% of GDP as long-term goal. Since WWII, the Federal Government burden has been between 18% and 23% of GDP. It has not shrunk even as Defense spending fell in the post-Cold War era. There is a simple way to cap the burden of Government spending: keep spending, including entitlements, at inflation rate plus population growth. Limit Government spending to that rate, and the Federal Government will shrink relative to the economy, until we reach 15% of GDP as long-term goal.

Without a long-term overarching goal of lessened burden of Government, tax reform is doomed to be ineffective, as the cost of Government pushes tax rates up.

2) We need a simpler, flatter, lower rate tax system.
The tax system needs to go in the direction of BROADER BASE and LOWER RATES. Our current system includes billions in compliance costs; people filling out forms, collecting income tax information, paying accountants, etc. A tax system with lower rates mean less tax avoidance and economic distortion; this maximizes economic efficiency and minimizes. An economist put it this way before Congress:
"the theoretical case remains valid for a tax system with a broad and clean base which minimizes the reward to tax-driven economic activity."

In other words, the broadest tax base with the lowest rates possible has the lowest economic drag. We don't do that because the Congress and politicians want to use the tax system to reward and punish behavior. However, that is not a valid purpose for the tax system. It should be used for revenue collection, not social engineering.

The solution the FAIR Tax proposes is to abolish and replace the income tax.

Out solution is less drastic, and it takes us in the direction of a "the rich pay 100%" simple, flat income tax. Abolish the income tax for all but 15% of Americans. The top 10% income tax payers would pay about 95% of the income tax (people making $100,000 or above). the next 5% would pay a fraction of the income tax. The remaining 85% of americans should pay NO income tax. With a simple flat 15% rate there would be a radically simplified income tax. We would have the same simple flat rate for corporate taxes, cap gains, income: 15%. This has huge benefits for the tax system in that it does not reward one type of income over another, making tax avoidance by shifting types of income a thing of the past. In this system, long-term gains over 4 years could be indexed to inflation if that is desired/useful.

The estate tax could also be abolished and/or replaced with a mechanism to shift capital gains from one generation to the next. Ie, heirs would pay adjusted basis for their inheritance, or may defer that until they sell assets acquired in inheritance, again at the 15% rate.

One simple flat rate of 15% that leaves most people alone to pay nothing would also enable the abolition of tax breaks, complicated tax rules and classification, complex depreciation and depletion rules. In short, the system could be massively simplified. We would allow expensing of items that today are under complex capital rules (it would not harm tax collections, as they would be paying BTT on purchases).

3) We need to tax production less and consumption more
There are many reasons why we must most to tax consumption instead of production. Our country is consuming its seed corn and diminishing its base of wealth by running very unhealthy and large trade deficits. These deficits are not a function of sloth, but rather a function of our tax system, which disfavors production and favors consumption. The trade deficit is an $800 billion gap of economic activity (consumption) that is taxed at a We need to fix the trade deficit over the long term; this is due to tax policy; shift taxation to include imports.

Solution: As we lower the corporate and personal income tax rates to 15% maximum, have imports and energy (oil,gas, coal) taxed at 15% flat rate. The 15% import tariff is not a protectionist tariff but a money-raising tariff on 20% of the economy. Free trade agreements might impinge on the tariff for goods from some countries. Then add a 5% Federal BTT/VAT (business transfer tax/value added tax), akin to the FAIR Tax NRST, but at a much lower rate. All goods bought and sold are subject to 5% Federal sales/value-added tax.

The FAIR tax shifts the tax code 100% to consumption, replacing all other taxes. In doing so creates its own issues: First, the rate is very high, as high as 30% sales tax (or 23% when viewed as portion of final price); to avoid having this tax be viewed as regressive, there is a need for a rebate, but this rebate becomes the equivalent of a universal subsidy payment to every family in America, thus requiring some interaction with the taxing authority. (In our plan there would still be a limited EITC program to rebate for social security and sales taxes, but it would be for a limited section, the low income households.) Last, the FAIR Tax has to consider whether to tax capital good sales, like houses (only if new), and in that dividing like is possible mischief with the tax code or some possible economic distortions. In the housing example, new home sales would be taxes but not existing home sales. Renovations would be rewarded over new construction.

No tax system can avoid the distortions, and it may be that the culprit is not what is taxes, but the rate itself. Would it stay simply and clean when the rate is so high? Consider excise taxes: they can and are different on different types of goods. The FAIR Tax could fall prey to that complexification if interest groups beg for 'relief' of the high rate.

Simplicity in the tax code is a virtue, and there needs to be some way of locking down the simplicity. Our approach is simply to point out that simplicity, a wide base, and low rates are three aspects that go hand-in-hand. A wide base means to exempt as little as possible. Simplicity likewise means few or no exceptions and treat as many things alike as possible. Thus we believe the FAIR Tax rate itself is the flaw

But a lower FAIR Tax rate won't raise enough revenues by itself. So we fall back on a combination of a very scale-down, stripped-down flat fair income tax that only the rich pay, combined with a reduced social security wage tax rate, and a stripped-down BTT tax rate and income/energy excise tax. These four taxes, combined, can raise 15% of GDP at low rates. A maximum rate of 15% on all taxation.

This proposal is more balanced; it shifts us about 40% of revenue in the consumption tax direction. There are equity or "fairness" objections to flat taxes and the FAIR tax. This proposal keeps the good ideas of the FAIR and flat tax, but provides it in a more balanced way of achieving it and does it in a way where working and middle class families have a very reduced tax rate.
The rich pay a lower rate overall, but pay a great share of total taxes.


15% - personal income ($100,000 exemption level for family of 4, so only top 15-20% pay); corporate income; cap gains
15% - import tariff; energy excise taxes
5% - BTT/VAT/Federal sales tax
10% - soc insurance tax; all visible to wage payer

4. We need to fix entitlements through choice
Part of the impediment to tax reform politically is that the majority of workers are now actually paying more into social security tax rate than income tax, thanks to prior efforts to cut the income tax rates for middle income payers; the social security tax, if left alone, is too high and too regressive. Alas, flat tax attempts on the income tax leave this behemoth alone. But to attack the social security tax rate, we have to answer the questions about addressing social securities' future.

One fundamental is this: We need to lower the Social Security tax rate. And we can do this, if we raise the limit on contributions: Set the rate to 10% from current 15%; increase contribution limit to $1 million or even make it unlimited so this is a real flat wage tax. What this does is shift a lot of the taxes that the rich were paying into income taxes at the 28-35% rate into social security. The benefit of this shift is that this enables keeping the fundamental tax reform from resulting in an overall regressive tax system.

This would be a dramatic tax reduction for working class and middle class, but will beg the question: How to keep social security afloat? The answer is simple. Get people who have their own means to fund retirement to opt out, while they continue to pay some contribution to the system.
Have Choice in social insurance - #1 opt-out options for all programs.

Solution: Reduce from 10% to 7.5% for those who choose to opt-out of social security. Opt-out means that they are deciding they will not partake of the benefits of social security when they retire. We will require a 401(k) plan for those who do. With no cap on social security tax, there will be a big incentive for high income people to opt out, and thereby have zero reliance on the govt for their retirement security. we can evolve social security to be a safety net program.

Solution: Have Choice in social insurance - #2 medicare choice. By letting people opt out, we encourage less Government dependency.

The tax proposals I outline above are NOT regressive, while at the same time providing lower tax rates at all income levels. A low flat tax plus a regressive social security tax equates to a regressive tax scheme wherein the tax rate on millionaires could be less than on someone making $50,000, and has been opposed by liberals on those grounds. The problem has been that social security has been this hybrid tax and retirement scheme. What we need to do to ultimately reform social security is to separate out the portion of social security that is a redistribution/safety net and the portion that is a retirement security mechanism. A personal account based on individual contributions can be and should be the method. That can be based on the 2.5% add on to the 7.5% tax on wages. Such a scheme will be fair and workable.

The 15% solution tax system is based on four key taxes: Income tax, wage tax, sales tax, import/energy tax. The virtue of the system is that all rates are low. One objection to a proposal that adds one more tax but does not abolish another is that all tax rates can become greater,
getting raised by tax-hikers incrementally without great injury all at once, but a drip-drip of accumulated burden. We must avoid creating a powerful mechanism for large Government. We must instead restrain the tax rates and the tax system so it cannot simply grow back. This is one reason why we cannot do the above scheme without taxpayer protections ...

5. We need constitutional protections for taxpayers
We need a Taxpayer Bill of Rights
- repeal and replace 16th amendment with a constitutional limit on tax rates, putting in a constitutional maximum of 15-25%. Similar limit of 7.5-10% on BTT/VAT could be put into the amendment
- 2/3rds vote in both Houses of Congress required for tax increases
- spending limitation, tax limitation
- line-item veto
- balanced budget amendment

If these items cannot be made into constitutional amendments, they can be made into law or as Seante and House rules in such a way that Congress will be constrained in spending and in new taxes. Just as today there is a point-of-order on budget-busting, a similar point-of-order on any tax increase, or a House and Senate rule that requires 2/3rds approval for tax increases is required.

In summary, tax reform is vital for America and it needs to start by agreeing to the basic principles for tax reform: Less taxation overall; simpler, flatter tax code; tax production less; address entitlements; put in taxpayer protections. These principles are satisfied with a balanced "15% solution" package that brings the best of the Flat Tax and FAIR Tax ideas. The 15% solution package that would be harder for liberals to demagogue, since it lowers taxes for the working class and maintains the 'equity' of having those who make more to pay more. At the same time, in shifts taxation towards consumption to a signficant degree, enabling America to level the competitiveness playing field.

Most importantly, if we went in this direction, our economy would take off like a rocket. The tax rates would encourage production and investment at much higher levels, and the economic boom would lead to higher revenues that would enable us to reach the goal of a Government that could live on 15% of the nation's total GDP.