Archive for January, 2010

Candidate Begins With C

Boerne’s young professionals organization kicked off the primary candidate forum season Wednesday. “Emerge Boerne” hosted a forum at a place you might expect of Generation X and Y…Boerne’s new gourmet pizza parlor, Ruscello’s.

Republican candidates for County Judge (incumbent Gaylan Schroeder and challenger Dan Banks) and County Court at Law Judge (incumbent Bill Palmer and challenger Brent Hardy) addressed the group of twenty and thirty-somethings.

Historically, local politics have provided plenty to run from. Many savvy politicians avoid them like a plague. Issues can get too personal. Consequences can hit too close to home. But sometimes local politics give us a glimpse of a political system worthy of the people it serves. Wednesday was one such occasion.

First, there was competition, a necessary fuel for a thriving democratic republic. Both the County Judge and the County Court at Law Judge seats have popular incumbents defending them. That hasn’t stopped their opponents from offering a respectable challenge. The Republican Party is better off because of it. As iron sharpens iron, so to speak.

Second, there was choice. The incumbents voiced compelling reasons for the proverbial “four more years.” The challengers communicated ideas of how things could be different. At the minimum, these counterpoints shed light on the status quo and force business as usual to be defended. Well enough might should very well be left alone, but at least it will be a conscious decision to do so.

Third, there was civility. That’s not to say the discussions were void of feistiness. But a fundamental assumption of well-meaning motives seemed to prevail. The candidates weren’t trying to annihilate each other. They simply attempted to offer the best justification for their candidacy.

Fourth, there was candor. Candidates being candid, how appropriate. One candidate acknowledged “butting heads all the time” with certain members of his court, but that didn’t stop him from working together to bring all sides to the table to solve problems.

Finally, there were compliments. If I had a dollar for each time a candidate acknowledged a positive accomplishment or attribute of his opponent, I could have paid for my meal. Far from making the compliment-giver look weak, it actually made him look stronger. Who wouldn’t want a leader who can identify and verbalize the giftedness of those around him?

On Tuesday night, February 16, at 6:45 p.m. these candidates and others will take to the stage at Boerne Middle School North’s auditorium. The Kendall County Republican Women and the Kendall County Republican Club are joining forces to host a ballot-wide candidate forum. Come see what other C-words you see in our competent conservative candidates.

A Massachusetts Brown Out

General George Washington took command of the Continental Army in July 1775. His physical and mythical stature quickly captured the hearts and minds of freedom-seeking Americans. Within months, some colonists, mesmerized by his mystique, wished to pay homage to him.

Dozens if not hundreds of geographic places in the U.S. are named for our nation’s founding father, including Texas’ first capital, Washington on the Brazos. Washington, Massachusetts, however, was the first. The township, incorporated in early 1776 at the dawn of the American revolution, still sits fifty miles southeast of Albany, NY, on the Bay State’s far western edge.

The New Englanders there witnessed traits in Washington that they did not want to forget: Courage in the face of danger. Vision in the face of myopia. Freedom in the face of tyranny.

Oh yes. And humility in the place of pride.

After General Washington guided the colonials to an against-all-odds victory over the world’s most formidable imperial power, some of his soldiers wanted to crown him king. Far from feigning false humility, Washington retorted,

“No occurrence in the course of the war has given me more painful sensations than your information of there being such ideas existing in the Army … you could not have found a person to whom your schemes are more disagreeable … if you have any regard for your country … or respect for me … banish these thoughts from your mind.”

No painfully cold winter at Valley Forge could hold a candle to Washington’s burning disdain for monarchy. We’re all the freer today because of it.

On Tuesday, Bay Staters reiterated Washington’s distaste for royalty. As legendary as the Kennedy name became in the 20th century, it did not guarantee retention of power in the 21st.

Massachusetts voters handed the seat held for 47 years by the late “Lion of the Senate” (Ted Kennedy) to him who shares but one hereditary trait with his predecessor: blandly named Scott Brown is also a de facto son of the American revolution. The historically liberal state’s conservative choice will likely kill the health care system overhaul bill and other far-left initiatives (e.g., cap and trade).

Remarkably, the same independent, pioneering spirit that overcame oppression in Washington’s day is still alive in this one. No party loyalty or blue-blooded assumptions could subdue it, first in Virginia and New Jersey (each elected Republican governors in November), and now in Massachusetts.

Thankfully, the same rejection of concentrated power that roused General Washington in 1781 still stirs citizens in 2010 – in the state of the town to first bear his name.

2010: The Year of the Elephant

Why would God allow his beloved Longhorns to lose last week’s BCS title game? How could he let their saintly star quarterback be speared in the back and knocked from the game within its first five minutes?

Only one explanation exists: 2010 must be the year of the elephant (the mascot of the national champion Alabama Crimson Tide). Democrats beware. Your ass may be in danger.

Political tides seem to be turning. Voters haven’t gotten what they bargained from their self-proclaimed post-partisan president. He’s shown no will to restrain liberal leaders of Congress from executing their heavy-handed, mass government agenda. He’s often even egged them onward.

As a result Democrats up for re-election are dropping like flies in Mr. Miyagi’s kitchen. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter are all bowing out. Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith has switched from D to R. The senators appointed to replace President Obama and Vice President Biden have chosen not to run for full terms.

Even my hometown congressman, Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), has chosen this year among his 25 in Washington as the one in which he’ll retire. (In 1984, he succeeded Al Gore in Tennessee’s 6th congressional district when the globally warmed, Internet inventor ran for U.S. Senate.) Boy, I could have used such news during all those years of dad’s complaining about him.

Such Democrat veterans seem to have witnessed the Obama revolution and are not particularly inspired to stick around for more hope and change. They sense the political wisdom of the American people rising to act as its done for two-plus centuries when parties in power exceed their mandates.

Edward Kennedy represented Democrat stronghold Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate for 46 years. Still, his seat is as competitive as it’s been since future Governor Mitt Romney made a run at it in 1994. And this with a Republican candidate (state Senator Scott Brown) with nowhere near the personal wealth or name ID of Romney.

The last Republican triumvirate (Senate, House, White House) was ousted just a few years ago, but only after a slow erosion of first principles. The next ejection may come more abruptly because the current statist agenda has been so “in your face,” the bait and switch so brash.

The electorate had hoped for a JFK or Clinton. Instead it’s getting an FDR or LBJ. Rather than meaningful reform of existing fiscally unsustainable entitlement programs (read: Social Security and Medicare), it’s getting a shiny new government program, a coup that will one day reek with the same inefficiencies and backbreaking financial requirements as its predecessors.

A 1994-esque Republican takeover of Congress in 2010 would not reverse the damage, but it would stop the bleeding. Here’s to hoping for a herd of elephants to stem the crimson tide!

Harry Reid’s Spam Factory

If routine legislating is akin to sausage-making, the Senate health care bill was all-out Spam-production. Witnessing its creation made my stomach roil. Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid had to buy more votes than a third world petro-dictator.

By Christmas Eve, every ornery Democrat and Independent in Congress’ “upper chamber” had a gift under the tree. And each recalcitrant Republican received a coal in her stocking. Merry Bipartisan Christmas.

A recap of the payoffs:

1. Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) – $100 million in Medicaid subsidies and $6.7 billion in fee exemptions for Nebraska-based companies

2. Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) – $300 million in Medicaid subsidies

3. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) – at least $3 billion in Medicare benefits

Other Senate winners:

1. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) – $600 million in Medicaid reimbursements

2. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) – $500 million in Medicaid reimbursements

3. Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman (D and I, respectively-Connecticut) – $100 million for a hospital

Why couldn’t every state receive the Medicaid help that a few received? The $30 billion price tag was deemed too high. Evidently, there is a limit to entitlement ideology: the state line between blue and red states.

How can the party of equitable wealth redistribution justify such favoritism? Because politics trumps principle. Expediency tops intellectual honesty.

The average American knows that horse-trading happens in politics. But I doubt Average Jane wants it on such a magnanimous scale and surrounding such broad-reaching legislation.

I doubt she wants the biggest entitlement expansion since 1965 (Medicaid/Medicare) rammed through on a party line vote.

So why did we need the first Senate vote on a Christmas Eve since 1895? Why the longest running session of Congress (18 days) since the run-up to World War I?

Because the Democrats’ demigod depended on it. (President Obama had originally promised health care reform by the August Congressional recess, remember.)

Who loses in this rush to entitle?

1. Insurance Companies (You know, those “evil empires’ who simply save hundreds of thousands from financial ruin each year.)

They get caps on their upsides but not on their risk. They must insure all people like they’re Michael Phelps without the marijuana inclination. And if an insurer’s revenues exceed ten percent of its administrative costs, it must return a rebate to policyholders.

If all goes according to Plan Left, insurance company owners will realize that their limited chance at reward doesn’t justify their extensive exposure to risk. They’ll withdraw their capital, leaving the federal government as the people’s lone insurer (i.e., universal health care).

2. Statue of Liberty (You know, that symbol of individual freedom from government coercion.)

Congress isn’t just ordering us to send a percentage of our income to Washington, it is now telling us how to spend what’s left over. Under the Senate bill, citizens will be fined $750 for not buying health insurance.

While we’re at it, let’s fine them for not spending their money on night classes (is education not important?). Let’s make ‘em pay for not giving money to charity (is eradicating poverty not a noble social goal?).

3. Tanners (You know, those bronzed beauties in the dead of winter.)

Protests by cosmetic surgeons (they were initially on Reid’s chopping block) resulted in new taxes on tanning salons. How random. If we’re taxing tanners because they may get cancer, should we tax every farmer, rancher and construction worker for not wearing SPF 45?

4. Finally, Our Posterity (You know, those munchkins who unwrapped everyone’s presents.)

The most unsettling of Reid’s sausage concoction is the price future generations will pay for its government expansion. More taxes + less freedom = leaving this country worse off than we found it.

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