Saturday, January 31, 2009
I Like to Win
But it isn't all bad. When it comes to elections, I really like to win. And there's a darn good reason for that: the stakes. If I am a Republican, I believe the country works best a certain way, governed by people who share my values. If I don't do my best to see that viewpoint prevail, then I'm saying I don't care so much who runs the show.
I'm convinced that some people who feel passionately about the issues are dropping out of the process. They might feel the party is taking a direction they don't support, or that the politicians elected under our banner don't promote the values of the party, but instead their own selfish agendas. And they're probably correct.
But the solution to that isn't to take the ball and go home. The solution is to get back in the game, to be an active part of the process. If your voice of dissent isn't heard, then you leave the works in the hands of people who haven't listened to you BECAUSE they haven't heard you.
The way I explain it to friends is this:
There is only one game in town.
If you want to be on the field, you have to be on a team.
There are only two teams.
Play to win.
To win (and isn't that ultimately what we're talking about here?), Republicans need several things.
1) They need all the groups and factions to realize they have much more in common with each other than they each do with Democrats.
2) They need to recruit, train, and run candidates who can carry the message of our shared values.
3) They need a good organization behind the candidates to mobilize grassroots teams and increase their size and scope and reach.
If the party is falling down on any of these things, it isn't doing its job. Too many Republicans look at results as snapshots. It's time to look at the trends and realize the MOVEMENT that is in them, and then reverse it.
Suit up, Republicans!
Friday, January 30, 2009
Michael Steele, new RNC Chair
If you want to read his plan for the party, go here. Under Platforms, you will find his Blueprint for Tomorrow. In it, he covers preparing for redistricting, grassroots activism, technology and also ethics.
Quotes from today's acceptance speech:
"Get ready, baby, it's time to turn it on" (to the northeastern states)
"We stand proud as the conservative party of the United States."
"For those of you who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked over."
I like this guy's attitude!
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Kirk's Fourth Principle
In the current financial crisis, the temptation to try anything, to throw all ideas at the wall and see what sticks, is overwhelming. In a crisis, hurt people want action. There's no time for thinking through the consequences.
But is it a crisis? Are we really that vulnerable? And is this stimulus package going to fix anything?
Kind intentions can be deadly. Try to help a pidgeon out of its egg, and you will kill it. Hold a child nonstop, and he sees no need to learn to walk. An attempt to bubble-wrap your life doesn't always result in a safer world.
The House did pass the stimulus bill (or the Porculus, which I think is ever so much more descriptive) and the issue resides now with the Senate. Considering the above statement, it seems unlikely any conservative Senator can vote for this. It ought not be the sole item upon which a senator's conservatism is judged, but it ought to be a large portion of the equation.
Unfortunately, Congress has for years thrown prudence out the window, preferring to kick many issues down the road for future generations to tackle. Social Security not really secure? No problem. Borrow more, and by the time the bill comes due, those in the body passing the buck are dead, no doubt with a hefty Death Tax bill paid by the heirs. Immigration not working out so well? Easy peasey. Pass an amnesty bill and say "No mas" until the issue comes up again in fifteen years.
Politicians don't gain anything by dealing with the long-term, except a kick in the pants from the other guys saying "You idiot, you're going to kill us all!" Politicians think one election cycle ahead. It's all they can afford. You can't blame the fish for swimming.
Still, I think we all need to start hoping, expecting, and demanding more of our elected officials. I've contacted my Congressman and Senators before, but not nearly enough. I know it's a pain. I know it doesn't fit into the schedule. But we need to be doing it anyway. Because it matters.
And we ought to be electing statesmen when we can find them.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
First, the length of the meeting. After spending nearly two hours sitting through presentations and reports in an unprecedented level of detail, I honestly thought the "mood" for real debate was lost. While there were people in the room who would have welcomed the argument, at some point the exhaustion factor kicks in and people who actually have lives need to return to them. Those who might not care passionately about a particular resolution can't be blamed for leaving.
Secondly, parliamentary nerdiness. I know some members were waiting to see whether a chair sponsoring a resolution would rise to seek the microphone. I learned the motion to adjourn was probably imminent if I rose and went forward. One can't really run through an assembly, can one? Perhaps I ought to have moved up a row at a time. :)
I still believe the process ought to be investigated thoroughly (which is why the motion was to refer the matter to Rules,) and the election code and applicable rules are being studied. The Secretary of State may well give an opinion on the issue.
In the meantime, anyone who witnessed the flurry of activity up on the podium last night is aware of one thing: the pressure put on the leadership has produced movement. I'm not ready to hang out the "Mission Accomplished" banner, but it's certainly an attempt to steer the fleet towards the battle.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Into the Fire
Tonight is the Executive Committee meeting of the Harris County Republican Party, and I'm offering a whopper (apparently) of a resolution, one that's supposed to ignite a firestorm. Ready for this?
My resolution calls for the Rules committee to craft language about removing party officers, and present it to the body for approval.
That's all. And somehow, asking the party to consider implementing a process for removal of anyone is A NUCLEAR OPTION.
There was a way to remove Clinton from office, not that it was successful. There was a way to remove Gray Davis from the California governorship. There's a way to remove Illinois governor Blago, for Pete's sake. Are we saying that precinct chairs, legal counsels, vice chairs and party chairs are more indispensible?
And aren't we out shouting from the rooftops that we're the party of accountability? But we won't hold our own party officials to account?
And consider, a removal process allows the "accused" an option of defending himself. It avoids the images of storming the castle with a pitchfork, and instead replaces it with a reasoned, methodical means of deciding the issue.
So, if I'm accused of being a subversive, a Ron Paul nut, a closet RINO, a fruitcake, a tool, an idiot, and anything else fun and uplifting, I'll report back. Meantime, just pray for me.
Here's the text I'm offering. How anyone can object to even considering it is beyond me.
Resolution of the Executive Committee of the Harris County Republican Party (“HCRP”) to create a procedure for the removal and replacement of party officials
Whereas, the Harris County Republican Party (“HCRP”) is established by Bylaws last amended as of May 6, 2008, and the Texas Election Code (“TEC”), Section 171.02; and
Whereas, Precinct Chairs and the County Chairman are elected officers of the party; and Senate District Chairs, the Vice-Chairman, the Secretary, the Treasurer, the Legal Counsel, the Parliamentarian, and the Chairmen of the standing committees of the Executive Committee are the “party officers” of the HCRP; and
Whereas, neither the current Bylaws, nor the TEC, provide a procedure for the removal and replacement of party officers, and
Whereas, the HCRP needs to implement appropriate policies and procedures to allow for the removal and replacement of party officers by the Executive Committee under appropriate circumstances in order to assure that the HCRP continues to accomplish its legal and political purpose to advance the interests of Republican voters in Harris County.
Be It Therefore Resolved, we, the Executive Committee, refer to the Rules Committee of the HCRP the responsibility to draft amendments to the Bylaws to provide a procedure for the removal and replacement of party officers who are found to have violated the Bylaws and TEC; to have violated any state or federal law or regulation applicable to those individuals or to the party offices they hold; to have failed to meet the duties and obligations of their offices as set forth in Bylaws, laws or regulations; or to have failed to promote the mission or implement the objectives of the HCRP consistent with the responsibilities of the party offices they hold.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
New Year Cheer
And no, it isn't Reagan.
Friday, January 23, 2009
That's about all I have right now - unprintable names that I've been chomping down on to keep from saying them. I think God heard them anyway. He's heard me going down my fecal roster, and I think He understands.
First on my Fecal Roster is the House of Representatives, ready and willing to spend my unborn grandchildren's effort and sweat to prop up a socialist-leaning economy. Hell, at this rate, my kids might not be able to afford to have kids. But that's okay, because my girls can of course, by then, take advantage of fully-subsidized abortions, at least until the Left realizes that they've killed all the potential taxpayers that could have paid the freight for their largess. Then maybe they'll be mandating at least four children per family. Or encourage polygamy.
Second on the list is the Senate, fully expected to confirm Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary, despite his apparent skill at avoiding paying his taxes. I don't know why I am so foolish, but I expect the PRETENSE, if not the actual fact, that the members of the Senate have some sort of standards, including not confirming actual criminals. And they get a hickory switch on the bailout too. My own senators are supposed to be so conservative. Watch; they'll fall in line. I have no faith left.
Third on the list is a good portion of American electorate, who put us in this predicament by electing representatives and senators who have no concept that taxes are really only government-sanctioned theivery. If I could design a recovery that would only benefit people smart enough to be responsible, I'd spend everything I had to institute it.
Oh, wait, there is one. It's called capitalism.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
You learn a lot reading a word cloud.
So with that, Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb posted several word clouds from inaugural speeches, including Obama, Lincoln, Bush, Clinton and Reagan.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I don't like to trust "feelings" to make decisions, I need a better mechanism. I believe in meritocracy, liberty, self reliance and the idea that a society that has winners & losers motivates more to try to be winners.
I think that's clear enough.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
You Can't Do That
Everyone knows that it's wrong to engage in voter fraud, and yet the Texas Democrats explode when Texas Republicans try to do one little thing about reducing it. Further, the Left all seem to get on the same page while going off. (h/t: Lone Star Times)
Everyone knows lying under oath is a serious thing, yet the whole nation remembers what happened the last time someone tried to hold a Powerful Democrat to account for a number of whoppers under oath.
I've given up trying to figure it out. There are a lot of things going on that are wrong, and people simply wink at it, tell you not to make such a big deal over a little thing. And you're left with a teeny little voice declaring "But it's still WRONG!"
There is no "You can't DO that!!" left anymore. There's only "Watch me."
This picture is wrong for so many reasons. And there isn't anyone on the Left who knows better who will dare stand up and say it.
Thanks to Inside Charm City for getting it out there, and Michelle Malkin for passing it on.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Leave Us Alone
Norquist is serious, and people are listening. Witness the first ever Debate for RNC Chair hosted by Americans for Tax Reform and moderated by Norquist himself. That's some stroke, right there, to be able to get all chair candidates for a televised debate in which almost none of the viewers are allowed to vote. Norquist calculated, correctly, that the exposure to publicity among lower-level party activists would keep the candidates engaged in talking about issues rather than merely strong-arming their way to the top of the party. It's as if the "incumbent" Duncan has none of the benefits that usually accrue to officeholders.
But back to the book. Norquist systematically analyzes the history of different tax battles in ths country, and proposes strategies and tactics to continue to push for tax cuts in many areas. He takes on the Death Tax (we have to keep calling it that!) and capital gains taxes, as well as the different ways the politicians involved have tried to confuse the issue.
The main thing I'm taking away is that there are two groups in this country. Yes, a sharply divided America, but not for the reasons the media tell you. Norquist puts it this way:
"[The Takings Coalition] views the proper role of government as taking things from one group and giving them to someone else. Taking what? Money, property, power and control.They start with money.Often for themselves. Who are they in favor of taking it from? You and me, the taxpayers."
"[The Leave Us Alone Coalition] is a coalition of groups and individuals that have one thing in common. They do not want the government to give them something. Or take something from others. On the key issue that motivates their vote, they want one simple thing from the government: They just want to be left alone."
Politicians line up generally on one side or the other. Sustainable economic development and personal freedom result from putting the Leave Us Alone Coalition representatives in power. Depressed economic conditions, loss of liberty and theft on a national scale result when the Takings bunch are in control.
It's that serious. We can argue about how this or that politician didn't line up perfectly with our views on one issue or another, but we have to face this truth. We have a much better chance of getting real economic growth and serious tax reform with a RINO than we ever will with the most centrist Democrat. Not because the centrist Democrat wouldn't want to vote for those things; he just might. But are you going to trust a first-term Democrat congressman to go up successfully against Nancy Pelosi?
The reason ANY centrist Democrats were elected in the recent past is because in the past Daschle and Reid and Pelosi allowed them to run as far to the right as they wanted in campaigns, as long as they understood that when the votes came down, they had to deliver. And apparently we weren't focused on winning, but on making a point.
In order to get anything done we have to elect over 62 Republicans to the Senate (to allow for squishiness) and significantly more than a majority in the House. If that's not JOB #1 right now, we're wasting our breath, and we'll lose a generation or two of opportunity to thwart the Takers from using our money to buy votes and power for themselves.
Choose now. The work has already begun for 2010.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Ya Wanna Fight?
But now it's taking on more serious connotations.
Harris County is poised to turn completely Democrat in a short period of time, and I'm not okay with that. All other large cities in the country are suffering, from one degree or another, from the fiscal and social problems that come with Democrats running them. I'm not willing to see Houston go the same way, and I propose to fight.
But the fight, contrary to common belief, isn't with the current Republican leadership, though some would like to make it so. However, there are some confrontations that will have to take place. When a friend involved in the Rebuild the Party effort here began publicizing our meeting tonight, a local candidate (who lost, by the way) asked him whether the county chairman had sanctioned our meeting.
Yeah, I'll take on that fight. I'll stand up for our opportunity, no, our NECESSITY to question the current methods and tactics of the leadership. I'll stand up and ask the hard questions, such as: "Where were you during the election?" and "Why don't you answer e-mails requesting help?" Furthermore I don't need, and my cohorts don't need, sanction from any part of the party, official or not; chairman or not.
I'm DONE with making nice as if it's the only priority on the table. I'm DONE with hearing "We'll get back on top in the off-year election, wait and see." Waiting and seeing isn't going to accomplish ANYTHING. And making nice without demanding more is going to mean one thing: we'll all be hugging each other at our pity parties in 2010 and 2012.
I'm ready to fight for Republicans to get elected, not to fight within the party. But trust me, I will continue to be advocating for change in the way we do things. We can argue all year about what needs to be done, but I say this:
Ya wanna fight, or ya wanna WIN?
I choose win.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Countywide, the GOP has a precinct chair vacancy rate of almost 50%.
Countywide the Democrats have a precinct chair vacancy rate of around 26%.
And that was before the county shifted blue. And also probably a good measure of WHY it shifted.
So what's to be done? I can tell you what I'm doing.
While working on a campaign last spring, I got a copy of all Republican primary voters who voted in March. I forgot I had it saved on the computer until last night. In a matter of minutes I had the list sorted by Senate District and precinct. Once I compared it to the list of vacant precincts from the local party, I removed all voters from the precincts that had chairs. Whoever was left was placed on a list to give to activists who are recruiting.
Now the activists will have a list of everyone:
* who cared enough to come out for the primary in March
* who cared enough to vote Republican in an area where Republicans are often scarce
* who voted in a primary that did NOT feature Obama as a choice.
If a precinct has 25 Republican primary voters, it's just a matter of contacting them, getting them together to form a grassroots team, and finding one who agrees to be the party representative by running for precinct chair.
The hard work will be done by the people on the ground doing the recruiting, but hopefully I put a tool in their hands that will get some teams in place before summer.
You learn quickly that there is always something a person can do.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Public Service Announcement
Main Motion - The initial topic being discussed. Imagine a series of stepping stones on a path. This is step one. (I move we hold a car wash fundraiser.)
Postpone Indefinitely - Kill (for the remainder of the term) the motion at hand. Once postponed indefinitely this topic is DEAD. (I move to postpone the motion indefinitely.) If this motion fails, you can keep going.
Amendment - Proposal to tweak that main motion. (I move to strike the words "car wash" and insert the word "carnival.")
Secondary Amendment - Further tweaking the tweaking of the motion. (I move to insert the words "and bake sale" after "carnival.)
Commit or Refer - Send the motion to a committee to report back to the body. (I move to refer the question to the fundraising committee.) This puts the original question AND the amendments (or anything else attached to that motion)in the hands of the committee.
Postpone to a Certain Time - Put the discussion off for a while, until a certain hour or until after a certain event has occurred. (I move to postpone the question until after lunch.)
Limit Debate or Extend Limits of Debate - agree to change the existing rules regarding debate. (I move we allow twenty minutes for debate on this motion rather than the usual ten minutes allowed.)
Call the (Previous) Question - cut to the chase, get to the vote. When the question is called, debate is through and the motion goes to a vote. Remember, this is only the most recent motion unless otherwise specified. If the question on an amendment only is called, this forces the vote on the amendment. Then you still have to step back down to the original motion. (I call the previous question [with all adhering motions.])
(Lay on the) Table - NOT a motion killer, despite its popular use as such (remember, that's Postpone Indefinitely.) Instead this motion "lays on the (secretary's) table" the motion until the body decides to pick it up again. There are rules for how long it can lay there, but just remember, it doesn't kill a motion; instead it schedules it to be picked up as Old Business in the next meeting. If it isn't taken up then, it "falls to the floor." (I move to table the motion.)
Recess - a move to take a break for a specified time. (I move we recess for fifteen minutes while the speaker is setting up his equipment.)
Adjourn - pack up and go home, you're done. This is the end, and all business is done that the body wants to conduct. One warning: if you're in a convention, don't leave until it's adjourned SINE DIE (without day). That means the convention body is totally excused, and nobody can reopen the convention to discuss more business - the body is terminated. (I move to adjourn.)
Those are most of the important motions in order of rank, lowest to highest.
Some others to remember are:
Point of Information - I need something clarified.
Point of Order - I don't think something is being done correctly - please rule on that objection.
Division of the House - I don't trust the voice vote, we need to repeat the vote by having members stand to vote.
Hopefully that helped clarify what some of the motions mean, and how to use them. Follow along in the next meeting you attend and see if it helps, then let me know!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
What if the objections some Democrats are raising to Obama's appointments are for show?
What if Senate Democrats are only pretending to have reservations about, say, Leon Panetta?
What if the whole thing is being ginned up by all of them to help Obama separate himself and his image a little from the more liberal of his colleagues?
And what if they all planned this because they learned so well from Bill Clinton about triangulation?
What if this is all a show to give Obama an opportunity to say "I took on my own party"?
And what if it's all designed to position him for a landslide in 2012?
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Lights, Law, Liberty
I just read Last Light by Terri Blackstock. It was a departure from my recent fare of books with political slants to them. I figured I was due for some fiction. The premise of the book is an unknown event that shuts down all technology, presumably in the entire world. Airplanes fall out of the sky, cars refuse to work, telephones and lights are out, the whole deal. In the course of the story the family profiled has to learn to work around the lack of technology as well as the danger posed by other people loosed from the restraint of law enforcement.
Though the book's focus is practical Christianity in the midst of that struggle, I focused more on the societal aspects.
The characters find themselves in some difficulty. What to do with the garbage? How to wash clothes and bathe? What to eat? How much? Keep the windows open to keep cool, or lock up to keep thieves out? Share with others or keep supplies to themselves? But those practical details only frame the story.
Soon, a neighbor is murdered, and then several more, and the houses raided for stores and useful items. Law enforcement, in the form of Sheriff Deputies on bicycles, has no way to cope with the challenge, and no hope of solving the crimes. Vigilantes settle on the family's next-door neighbor as a likely culprit, opening up another set of challenges.
Pair that with this interesting video about forms of government, and you get some difficulty sleeping at night.
Both make the case that without law, there can be no freedom.
That sounds odd at first, but if you have to guard your stuff at all times, like the family in the book, you can't devote time to other things. You can't go far from your stuff; or if you must go somewhere, you have to take it all with you, severely limiting your mobility. Having laws, and representatives of order to enforce those laws, allows you to leave the job of protecting your stuff (and your person) to someone else so you can tend to other necessities.
Aside from the freak-out factor of a world without a computer or a television or even a radio, imagine a world where you either have to 1) ally yourself with people you aren't sure you can trust or 2) isolate yourself completely and depend only upon your own abilities.
Sure, it's a far-fetched scenario. But it does make it possible to visualize why laws actually can help make us more free. And why it is so important who we choose to write, implement, and interpret those laws.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Hate It When That Happens
Saturday, January 3, 2009
From Spectator to Activist
Twelve years ago, I didn't do anything but vote. I remember having to take a day off work in Austin so I could go back home and vote in some election because I never bothered to change my registration. I read up on candidates and the issues, but not in the way I do now. I admit it. I was supremely lazy.
Since having my second child and buying a house and settling down, I have become much more radical in my political involvement. I don't know what changed, really, except that it did.
Now I'm starting the new year with a lot on my plate. I'm working with others to train non-tech-savvy people to learn the technology that's out there, and harness it for conservative ends. I'm helping to fill precinct chair vacancies. I'm part of a committee to better organize local political divisions. I'm studying for the upcoming political season, including school board elections that are right around the corner. In there somewhere, I'm also studying for the Registered Parliamentarian exam, serving on a committee with the county party, and planning a run for a state party office.
WHO did this to me?
Anyway, one of the things I realized today is that it's hard to mobilize people to take action. For instance, the Texas Childrens' Bill of Rights that's being introduced in this upcoming session. This is utter lunacy, and yet I would wager that I can't get ten people to read it, much less do anything about fighting it.
And then there's the problem of effectiveness. Once you have someone's attention and committment to take an action step, where do you send them? There may be a hundred offensive bills up for consideration in the Legislature. Where do you concentrate your effort? And how do you get the information out to people who WILL take action in a way that doesn't overwhelm them? How do you get over the glut of panicked e-mails we receive every day on topics from abortion to welfare reform?
There has to be a clearinghouse somewhere that collates all the threats to liberty and conservative values. There has to be a place where you can read about the Dunkirk movement (calling for Christian parents to rescue their children from public schools) and the Texas Speaker's Race and the Blocker Bill.
I'm on the hunt. And if I don't find something that fits the bill, I'm creating it.
Friday, January 2, 2009
LOLCats in Politics
Mussolini himself coined the term (totalitarian) to describe a society where everybody belonged, where everyone was taken care of, where everything was inside the state and nothing was outside: where truly no child was left behind...it is my argument that American liberalism is a totalitarian political religion...
...it is nice, not brutal. Nannying, not bullying. But it is definitely totalitarian - or "holistic," if you prefer - in that liberalism today sees no realm of human life that is beyond political significance, from what you eat to what you smoke to what you say. Sex is political. Food is political. Sports, entertainment, your inner motives and outer appearance, all have political salience for liberal fascists. Liberals place their faith in priestly experts who know better, who plan, exhort, badger, and scold...
...The conservative or classical liberal vision understands that life is unfair, that man is flawed, and that the only perfect society, the only real utopia, waits for us in the next life...
...what unites [fascisms] are their emotional or instinctual impulses, such as the quest for community, the urge to "get beyond" politics, a faith in the perfectibility of man and the authority of experts, and an obsession with the aesthetics of youth, the cult of action, and the need for an all-powerful state to coordinate society at the national or global level.
I don't know about you, but that scares the fire out of me.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
New Year's Resolutions
Yes, I'd like to get all those things into my to-do lists for the year. But politically, I have some resolutions that I have to get put down here.
#1. Track local political races. Though I've been involved in a few races, there are a lot of upcoming elections that I am not even aware of. No more. Starting now, I intend to learn everything I can about the local races. Local officials can get into my wallet and my home much more quickly and directly than the national guys can. In addition, I can get to talk to a local candidate much more easily than I would a Senator or President.
#2. Join a Republican Women's Club. I've avoided doing this because a) I haven't got the resources and b) I don't "do lunch." But I'm going to search out an organization that does more than listen to speakers and hold $1,000 a plate rubber-chicken dinners. Not that all RW groups do that, but that's all that a lot of them that reach my consciousness do.
#3. Recruit more precinct chairs. I've already begun this one, but I need to put it in gear. In elections, the most important asset a campaign can have is "boots on the ground." Filling precinct chair vacancies is a start in the right direction.
There, that's a good start.