Thursday, December 30, 2010

Maria Cino for RNC Chair

Maria Cino is running for RNC Chair. This is fantastic news for the party, and I hope the national committee members will quickly rally around her. The party is extremely fortunate that she is willing to undertake such a job after the mess Michael Steele has made of the RNC.

I met Maria years ago, at the RNC during the second Reagan administration. She is one of the funniest, nicest most competent people I met in Washington (or anywhere, for that matter).

She has no ego. None. She will not use the RNC Chair as a stepping-stone -- something that has been a big problem under the Steele regime.

It is not possible to find a more motivational boss, particularly for an institution where morale has suffered in recent years. Maria knew everyone at the RNC, and everyone loved her. She has this creative energy and passion for conservative politics that makes everyone around her want to work as hard as it takes to not only get the job done, but to achieve excellence in the process.

As the Daily Caller notes, her resume is unparalleled. The 2008 Republican National Convention ran like precision instrument under her leadership (she was convention CEO). She has taken troubled organizations in the past and turned them around. She has Midas touch for fundraising -- again, exactly what the RNC needs at this juncture.

And Maria has integrity. Anyone who has ever met her knows that immediately. What makes Maria such a rarity in Washington is that she is completely forthright. Moreover, she has proposed specific changes to prevent a recurrence of the scandals that have embarrassed the RNC under Steele.

The national committee members have a rare opportunity to hire someone who has proved, over the course of three decades, that she can do the job. Indeed, she has proved that she can do most any of the jobs on the RNC staff personally, if necessary. There is no other candidate who can claim that.

The notion that her experience makes her too much of an insider for Tea Partiers is laughable. Maria is a Reagan conservative. She comes from the union, Catholic background that Reagan brought into the conservative fold, and without which Republicans cannot win.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas, 2010

Hopefully the START treaty won't prevent NORAD from tracking Santa.

My youngest son, Eric, explained the whole NORAD system a few years ago when he was 10, and I cannot improve upon his analysis:

If you want to know the exact location of Santa to know when to put your children in bed, Google Earth and NORAD in Peterson Air Base in Colorado have created the ultimate site to track Santa. Click here. If you're wondering how their high-tech machines track Santa, it all starts with their radar tracking his take-off. Then their satellites (which are normally used to detect missiles that may be launched into North America) find their targets by heat sensors. But this time it picks up Rudolf's nose. Then the Santa cams, which are placed all over the world, pick up images of Santa and his reindeer. Pilots in Canada in numerous locations fly off in their CF-18's and escort Santa. American pilots take off in F-15's or F-16's and get to fly with Santa.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

McConnell on So-called Net Neutrality

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell addressed the FCC's plans to regulate Internet providers -- just the latest intrusion from an administration that has never met a government regulation it did not love. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Here's a little background on the issue. And here's McConnell's statement from the floor of the Senate, below. I wonder if the reference to Trojan Horse is an Internet pun?

“Later today the Federal Communications Commission is expected to approve new rules on how Americans access information on the Internet. It has a lot of people rightly concerned.

“The Internet has transformed our society, our economy, and the very way we communicate with others. It’s served as a remarkable platform for innovation at the end of the 20th century and now at the beginning of the 21st century — and all of this has been made possible because people have been free to create and innovate, to push the limits of invention free from government involvement.

"Now that could soon change. Today, the Obama Administration, which has already nationalized health care, the auto industry, insurance companies, banks and student loans, will move forward with what could be a first step in controlling how Americans use the Internet by establishing federal regulations on its use. This would harm investment, stifle innovation, and lead to job losses. And that’s why I, along with several of my colleagues, have urged the FCC Chairman to abandon this flawed approach. The Internet is an invaluable resource. It should be left alone.

“As Americans become more aware of what’s happening here, I suspect many will be as alarmed as I am at the government’s intrusion. They’ll wonder, as many already do, if this is a Trojan Horse for further meddlingby the government. Fortunately, we’ll have an opportunity in the new Congress to push back against new rules and regulations.”

Sunday, December 19, 2010

McConnell to Oppose START Treaty

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announced this morning on CNN's State of the Union show that he will not vote to ratify the START treaty. Good for McConnell; Ronald Reagan would have advocated exactly the same position with respect to verification and missile defense

McConnell also objected the Democrats' attempt to jam this through before Christmas -- just like last year's infamous Christmas Eve vote on Obamacare.

"I've decided that I cannot support the treaty. I think the verification provisions are inadequate and I do worry about the missile defense implications of it. The McCain amendment yesterday regarding missile defense was defeated, and I know the administration actually sent a letter up yesterday, indicating they're committed to missile defense. But an equally important question is how do the Russians view missile defense and how do our European allies view missile defense? And I’m concerned about it. I think if they'd taken more time with this—rushing it right before Christmas, it strikes me as trying to jam us. I think if they'd taken more time—I know the members of the Foreign Relations Committee spent a lot of time on this but the rest of us haven't—and so all of a sudden we're once again trying to rush things right here before Christmas Eve. I think that was not the best way to get the support of people like me.”

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sen. Corrnyn Gives GOP Weekly Address

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) gives this week's Republican address. He notes that even though the new Republican members of the House and Senate have not been sworn in, their election has changed the terms of the debate in Washington by giving Republicans leverage to keep taxes from going up. Likewise, in preventing a huge spending bill Republicans as Cornyn put it, "got the message."

And here's the transcript:

On November 2, voters elected 13 new Republican Senators and sent 63 more Republicans to serve in the House of Representatives. This week, even before these new reinforcements have taken their seats, Republicans showed the American people that we got the message. And everyone can see how your choices have already changed the terms of the debate here in Washington.

“First, Republicans prevented a massive, job-killing ‘New Year’s Day tax increase.’ Before Congress acted, every American taxpayer was looking at a much higher tax bill in just a few weeks. Those higher taxes would have been devastating to millions of American families and small businesses and could have increased the risk of a ‘double-dip’ recession.

“But our bipartisan agreement with the White House changed all that. Our agreement keeps marginal income tax rates low, preserves the one-thousand-dollar per child tax credit, extends relief from the marriage penalty, blocks higher taxes on capital gains and dividends, protects at least 21 million additional families from the Alternative Minimum Tax and reduces the sting of the ‘death tax’ on families and small businesses.

“This bipartisan agreement was made possible because voters gave Republicans much more leverage at the negotiating table. Our leverage forced the White House to abandon its ‘class-warfare’ rhetoric; stop pandering to the President’s left-wing base; and do the right thing for American taxpayers and job creators.

“Republicans delivered even more ‘tidings of comfort and joy’ this week by holding the line on reckless federal spending. Despite their willingness to work with Republicans on taxes, Senate Democrats went their own way on spending by proposing a nearly $1.3 trillion omnibus bill on the American people and by insisting we’d have to vote on it before anyone had the time to figure out what was in it.

“This ‘spending snowstorm’ was nearly 2,000 pages long. It combined 12 separate appropriations bills that were never debated or amended on the Senate floor. And it included more than one billion dollars to feed the beast of ObamaCare, part of which was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge just a few short days ago.

“Senate Republicans stood together but we did not stand alone. Millions of Americans made their voices heard on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. You lit up the phone lines across the Capitol and across the Nation. Thank you for doing that. You helped strengthened the resolve of the Republican Caucus and rattled the nerves of the big spenders on the other side of the aisle.

“As we approach the Christmas Season and the New Year, it’s easy to see how much you have changed our Nation’s Capital. Last year, on Christmas Eve, Senate Democrats passed a divisive 2.6 trillion dollar health care bill strictly along party lines. This year, God willing, Washington will give the American people a far better gift: a silent night.

“Have a joyous holiday season, keep our troops in your prayers, and remember that the best days for our country lie ahead.

Friday, December 10, 2010

This is What a Real Governor Looks Like

Mona Charen's piece on Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, and the prospect of him running for president, is bitter-sweet for Kentucky Republicans.

On the one hand, Daniels would be an outstanding president; conservatives are lucky that a man of such substance is even considering a run. America would be blessed.

On the other hand, for those of us who live just across the Ohio River from Indiana, Charen's profile reminds us how a competent governor can transform a state. The contrast between Daniels' record of achievement and Beshear's mediocrity could not be more stark.

Inheriting a $600 million deficit, Daniels transformed it into a $370 million surplus within one year, without raising taxes. "You'd be amazed how much government you'll never miss," he grins. Six years on, Indiana now enjoys a AAA bond rating, boasts the fewest state workers per capita in the nation, enjoys the third-highest private-sector job growth in the nation, has seen property taxes drop by an average of 30 percent, and was ranked first in the Midwest for business climate by the Tax Foundation. Daniels was named Public Official of the Year in 2008 by Governing magazine.

It isn't that he has simply accomplished economies. Daniels believes in improving government's performance -- cutting less important spending in favor of more important, and keeping close tabs on results. Under his leadership, the state has increased K-12 education funding by 12 percent, hired 800 new child welfare workers, added 150 more state troopers, provided free or reduced price medications to 288,000 Hoosiers through the Rx for Indiana program, reduced wait times at the DMV to fewer than eight minutes, funded a $10 billion infrastructure improvement plan to repair roads and bridges, and improved health care for the low-income through the Healthy Indiana Plan, which encouraged healthy behaviors (and which may be unsustainable if Obamacare is not repealed).

You did not misread: in Indiana, wait time at the DMV has been reduced to "fewer than eight minutes."

Compare that to a trip to the DMV in Kentucky, which is akin to walking on coals through hell.

I have governor envy. I want a real governor, like Mitch Daniels. Instead we get Steve Beshear, the seat warmer.

We can't have Daniels as governor. But we can have him as president.

Jack Conway Gets Mail

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli has written to the Attorneys General of the other states, requesting their help on the "Repeal Amendment."

The Repeal Amendment would amend the U.S. Constitution. It is an attempt by self-described modern-day Federalists to restored limited government.

According to Cuccinelli's letter, the text of the amendment provides:

"Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulations to be repealed."\

Cuccinelli says that he has ten of the 38 states needed to amend the U.S. Constitution. He asks state Attorneys General who will sign on to the plan to join him in a press conference December 15.

Randy Barnett explains how the amendment would work:

At present, the only way for states to contest a federal law or regulation is to bring a constitutional challenge in federal court or seek an amendment to the Constitution. A state repeal power provides a targeted way to reverse particular congressional acts and administrative regulations without relying on federal judges or permanently amending the text of the Constitution to correct a specific abuse.

The Repeal Amendment should not be confused with the power to "nullify" unconstitutional laws possessed by federal courts. Unlike nullification, a repeal power allows two-thirds of the states to reject a federal law for policy reasons that are irrelevant to constitutional concerns. In this sense, a state repeal power is more like the president's veto power.

This amendment reflects confidence in the collective wisdom of the men and women from diverse backgrounds, and elected by diverse constituencies, who comprise the modern legislatures of two-thirds of the states. Put another way, it allows thousands of democratically elected representatives outside the Beltway to check the will of 535 elected representatives in Washington, D.C.

Congress could re-enact a repealed measure if it really feels that two-thirds of state legislatures are out of touch with popular entiment. And congressional re-enactment would require merely a simple majority. In effect, with repeal power the states could force Congress to take a second look at a controversial law.

Cuccinelli is the same Attorney General who brought the suit challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare -- which Jack Conway refused to join.

I'm betting Jack won't sign on to Cuccinelli's Repeal Amendment, either. No one has ever accused Jack Conway of being a Modern Federalist.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

And Now Diane Sawyer Reports on Hal Rogers

Last night's ABC News with Diane Sawyer featured yet another story with a Kentucky connection. This piece focused on the election of Rep. Hal Rogers to Chair the House Appropriations Committee.

It was an extremely cynical piece, even by mainstream media standards. The focus was that by selecting Rogers -- the so-called "Prince of Pork" -- Republicans lack any credibility on their earmark moratorium.

There is another way of looking at it altogether -- one that ABC's liberal bias precluded it from grasping. Rogers refined the procurement of earmarks to a fine art. He was masterful.

Who, then, is better equipped to curtail the process than Rogers? He knows all the tricks. It is no different than having a 12-step meeting led by someone in recovery. The Republicans' selection of Rogers was not only brilliant, it was the necessary prerequisite to making the earmark moratorium work.

The ABC story was, to put it mildly, dubious that Rogers would personally fore swear off of earmarks. Rogers patiently explained that the voters had spoken clearly about their opposition to earmarks, and Republicans had heard and would honor that mandate. Listening to the voters -- it is a concept as foreign to an ABC reporter as it is to most Democrats.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Diane Sawyer Reports on Ark Park

Louisville native Diane Sawyer never misses an opportunity to give national exposure to weird stories coming out of Kentucky.

Tonight, she highlighted the controversy regarding Gov. Steve Beshear's plan to use public money for the proposed Ark Park in northern Kentucky. Here's the link.

The piece did not quote any Kentucky politicians other than Beshear, which is unfortunate, because Phil Moffett made an excellent point about the plan: one need not reach the constitutional issue of whether the state aid constitutes an establishment of a religion, because government has no business giving money to any private business. As Moffett told Joe Gerth,“It isn't an issue of religion at all; it's an issue of taxing everyone too much so politicians can spread the money around when it suits their political agendas.”

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dems Try Twice to Raise Taxes

Two test votes on tax hikes took place in the Senate this morning in a rare Saturday session. Democrats failed both attempts to raise taxes.

The first vote was on a bill brought by Sen. Harry Reid to raise taxes on individuals and small business making more than $250,000. Republicans united to oppose it, joined by five Democrats.

The second bill was Sen. Chuck Schumer's plan to raise taxes on those who make more than a million dollars. Democrats previously had tested this in focus groups. That bill failed along the same lines -- five Democrats joined Republicans to oppose it.

Good to know the opposition was bipartisan!

Sen. Mark Kirk Gives GOP Address

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) gives this week's Republican address. He focuses on the need for America to spend less, borrow less and tax less. This point alarmed me: "Harvard economic historian Niall Ferguson warned that the decline of a great power is clear when a country pays more to its money lenders than its army. We face that year when interest payments on our debt tops our defense budget as soon as 2016."

Here's the text of Kirk's remarks:

“Last month, the American people sent a clear message to Washington: spend less, borrow less and tax less to put America back to work. "

“Unfortunately, too many in Washington want to continue the reckless tax and spend policies of the past. They ignore the warning signs of more debt, taxes and inflation. They embrace wasteful government spending and pork-barrel earmarks. And they think a new massive tax hike on the U.S. economy is exactly what the American people need.

“The current leaders of Congress should not move forward with plans that were just rejected by the American people. These leaders should not raise taxes and risk another recession. Instead, Congress should reduce spending and prevent another tax hike on American taxpayers.

“Americans already pay some of the highest taxes in the world. By raising taxes in order to fuel higher spending, we threaten to restart the recession, pushing millions of Americans out of work.“Right now, families and small business owners are scratching their heads asking one simple question – what will my tax rate be next month?

“Taxpayers don’t know what their personal income tax rates will be come January 1st."

“Family business employers don’t know what the death tax will be.

“Investors and small businesses don’t know what the capital gains rate will be.

“Their uncertainty hurts our economy. It’s unfair and short-sighted.

“Congress should set its highest priority on preventing the massive tax hike currently scheduled to hit our economy on January.

“Meanwhile, our mounting debts pose a clear and present danger to our future. It’s time to cast aside our partisan differences and work across the aisle to solve this problem.

“Congress should set an example by ending pork-barrel earmarks and cutting its own budget. This week, Senate Democrats rejected a proposal to end wasteful earmark spending. Their decision was disappointing and disconnected from the American people.

“In the weeks ahead, Republicans and Democrats should enact bipartisan solutions to cut federal spending like a presidential line-item veto, a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution and a new procedure to ensure spending reductions actually happen.In the 1980s, President Reagan’s bipartisan Grace Commission set the standard for serious oversight by identifying federal spending that would add little to our nation's growth, but much to its debt. Marrying a new Grace Commission with the authority to submit a proposal to Congress for a straight up or down vote would lead to actual spending reductions. This proposal is in my first Senate bill – the Spending Control Act.

“Harvard economic historian Niall Ferguson warned that the decline of a great power is clear when a country pays more to its money lenders than its army. We face that year when interest payments on our debt tops our defense budget as soon as 2016. It’s clear, we need to cut spending to avoid a bankrupt future for our kids and our country.

“I believe that America’s best days still lie ahead of us. If we correct our economic policy by focusing on growth and spending discipline, the sky will once again be the limit for young Americans.

“Spend less, borrow less and tax less to put America back to work. That’s what we heard from the American people last month – and that’s what we should expect from our leaders today.

“May God bless you, your families during this holiday season, and may God bless the United States of America.”

Friday, December 3, 2010

Will Rand Paul Make Baba Wawa's List?

ABC is promoting Barbara Walter's Most Fascinating People of 2010 incessantly. Every time I see a promo, I wonder who the mystery guest will be.

Here's the list so far:
  • Sandra Bullock
  • Princess bride Kate Middleton
  • Justin Bieber
  • Betty White
  • LeBron James
  • Sarah Palin (for a record third time)
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • cast of Jersey Shore
  • Oprah
Michelle Obama and Nancy Pelosi have made the list in recent years and therefore, I predict, will not be the 10th guest this year.

I'd submit that Rand Paul is the most fascinating person of 2010. He is the face of a movement that changed the composition of our government and probably the future of the Republican Party.

Realistically, Barbara Walters recognized that she needed to acknowledge the impact of the Tea Party in 2010 and chose to do so with Sarah Palin rather than Rand Paul. To be sure, Palin is more telegenic than Paul, and the list has a certain "beautiful people" quality to it.

Walters will presumably treat Palin like some sort of King maker. To some extent, she is. But I don't think she can take the credit for Rand Paul's election. He did that himself. His primary win was more fascinating than his general election victory, given that he had to slay the Republican Party establishment to win the primary.

In addition to actually having won an election this year (unlike Palin), Paul is more fascinating than Palin because of his colorful remarks. Who will ever forget Aqua Buddha? Yeah, he's just a Senator-elect from a small state, but Saturday Night Live missed some great material when it failed to pick up on Aqua Buddha. It's the sort of thing Sarah Palin might have said back before she became her own corporate brand. That polish might help her electoral chances in 2012, but it makes her a lot less fascinating.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

GOP Caucus Writes Harry Reid

Senate Republicans -- 42 of them -- have sent a letter to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. In sum, Republicans will not agree to cloture votes on any of Harry's pet ideas, like the "Dream Ac," until legislation is completed to (1) fund the government and (2) prevent the automatic tax hike that will otherwise occur on December 31. Here's the letter in full:

Dear Leader Reid,

The nation’s unemployment level, stuck near 10 percent, is unacceptable to Americans. Senate Republicans have been urging Congress to make private-sector job creation a priority all year. President Obama in his first speech after the November election said “we owe” it to the American people to “focus on those issues that affect their jobs.” He went on to say that Americans “want jobs to come back faster.” Our constituents have repeatedly asked us to focus on creating an environment for private-sector job growth; it is time that our constituents’ priorities become the Senate’s priorities.

For that reason, we write to inform you that we will not agree to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers. With little time left in this Congressional session, legislative scheduling should be focused on these critical priorities. While there are other items that might ultimately be worthy of the Senate's attention, we cannot agree to prioritize any matters above the critical issues of funding the government and preventing a job-killing tax hike.

Given our struggling economy, preventing the tax increase and providing economic certainty should be our top priority. Without Congressional action by December 31, all American taxpayers will be hit by an increase in their individual income-tax rates and investment income through the capital gains and dividend rates. If Congress were to adopt the President’s tax proposal to prevent the tax increase for only some Americans, small businesses would be targeted with a job-killing tax increase at the worst possible time. Specifically, more than 750,000 small businesses will see a tax increase, which will affect 50 percent of small-business income and nearly 25 percent of the entire workforce. The death tax rate will also climb from zero percent to 55 percent, which makes it the top concern for America’s small businesses. Republicans and Democrats agree that small businesses create most new jobs, so we ought to be able to agree that raising taxes on small businesses is the wrong remedy in this economy. Finally, Congress still needs to act on the “tax extenders” and the alternative minimum tax “patch,” all of which expired on December 31, 2009.

We look forward to continuing to work with you in a constructive manner to keep the government operating and provide the nation’s small businesses with economic certainty that the job-killing tax hike will be prevented.