Tuesday, September 30, 2014

TPPF Hosted At the Crossroads Energy and Climate Policy Summit

The recent summit held by Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) in Houston, titled At the Crossroads Energy and Climate Policy Summit, has proven to be a very timely event given recent headlines.  The event was well attended and everyone came away with an arsenal of new information and factual arguments against the onset of the liberal climate change agenda. Those promoting more and more regulations and public policy to curtail the effects of carbon production are true believers that the science has long been settled.  Most of the presenters at this event were of a different mindset.  

There was even a strong presentation on the moral argument for fossil fuels.  The most effective way to lift the poor out of dire circumstances and into stable, productive lives is with the production of electricity.  Electricity, of course, most reliably comes from fossil fuels. 

From a press release concerning the intrusion of EPA regulations on Texas electricity market: 

Texas Public Policy Foundation Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment Director Kathleen Hartnett White testified Tuesday before the Environmental Regulation Committee of the Texas House of Representatives on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP).
“EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan rule would usurp long-upheld state authority over electric utilities and impose federally centralized low-carbon operation of the nation’s electric power system,” said White. “Yet, EPA admits that the intended reduction of carbon dioxide from electric power plants would not have any meaningful impact on assumed global warming.
“The CPP would have a disproportionately large impact on Texas – more than any other state. The regulatory mandate imposed on Texas is almost two times that of the next two states combined. Full state implementation would involve violation of Texas law to comply with EPA regulation that violates federal law.
“The U.S. Congress alone can restrain EPA’s ever expanding regulatory regime. The time is nigh for Congress to establish clear limits on EPA’s authority so that federal courts can meaningfully restrain an agency which now knows no bounds.”

And this article Tuesday from Institute for Energy Research on the consequences experienced in Germany from arbitrary renewable energy mandates:

Germany now has the second highest residential rates for electricity in Europe, second only to Denmark; just a decade ago, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy had higher rates than Germany. Between 2005 and 2010, the annual increase in residential electricity rates in Germany was 4.3 percent. Since the tsunami hit Japan in 2011, the annual increase was 7 percent because Germany increased its solar and wind subsidies to spur their development so it could close down eight of its nuclear reactors. Germany’s 40 million households and other taxed consumers paid 106 billion Euros between 2000 and 2013 to renewable energy producers. The government estimates it could cost as much as 1 trillion Euros by 2040. Due to the higher prices, household electricity consumption has declined by about 1 percent per year since 2005. The economic toll on the country and its residents has made the government recently cut renewable subsidies by 29 percent on average to 120 Euros a megawatt-hour.Germany is also taking an economic toll for the energy transition when job-creating investment leaves Germany for countries with lower power costs. For example, earlier this year chemical company BASF said it would reduce its investments in Germany from one-third to one-quarter of its global total.[iii]

Government mandates are jobs killers.  

Last week at the U.N. climate summit, California Governor Jerry Brown pleaded for cap and trade legislation and regulations.  Maybe he doesn't realize what a poor state of affairs California is for the ordinary resident.  Already overtaxed and watching jobs leave the state for more business friendly states - like Texas - Californians must have been shaking their heads. As noted in a Wall Street Journal piece this week:

The truth is that the glut of oil being produced from U.S. shale—in part via fracking—has helped reduce gas prices. Luckily for Mr. Brown and his environmentalist friends, the oil boom will also mitigate a gas price spike in California next year. Although Californians may ultimately pay more for gas because of the carbon regulations, they might not feel it.Consider the state's divestment from coal and renewable mandate. The average retail price of electricity in California has increased by 2.37 cents per kWh in the last three years—or about 15%—compared to about 1.42 cents nationwide. Yet electricity prices would be a lot higher in California (and nationwide) were it not for the natural-gas surfeit from fracking. The price of natural gas, which provides about 50% of California's electricity, has fallen by more than half since 2008.Mr. Brown is smart enough to appreciates how the fossil fuels are in effect subsidizing his expensive anti-carbon agenda, even if it's an inconvenient truth that the Al Gore crowd would rather ignore.
And, who else is jumping on the bandwagon? Your doctor. Thanks, Obamacare!

Among the more than 310,000 demonstrators marching through Manhattan in last week’s People’s Climate March were contingents of physicians. And now the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the voice of the nation’s powerful medical establishment, has issued a call-to-arms to doctors,urging those in health and health-related fields to throw their weight behind climate change prevention efforts.“Is climate change similar to poverty and war, best left to other scientists and politicians, or is it of such fundamental importance—like clean water, clean air, and adequate sanitation—that physicians should strive to further clarify the effects of climate change on health, educate themselves and the public, and mount a campaign to ensure that climate change does not lead to an epidemic of eroding health?” wrote Howard Bauchner, JAMA editor-in-chief, and executive editor Phil Fontanarosa.Yes, they concluded.“Understanding and characterizing this threat and educating the medical community, public, and policy makers are crucial if the health of the world’s population is to continue to improve during the latter half of the 21st century,” according to Bauchner and Fontanarosa.  
 Those are three articles from just the first of this week that crossed my path with no effort at all.  Imagine what awaits us as this administration remains in office for two more years.  We should all be alarmed by those thoughts.

If you are interested in the presentations delivered by some excellent speakers at the TPPF summit, keep an eye on their website.  We were told that the panels would be up on the website soon.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

HCRP's Westside Victory Center Holds Grand Opening

The Westside Victory Headquarters held a Grand Opening event Wednesday night featuring a 20 year old young man from Illinois as the guest speaker.  He spoke truth to power and held the attention of the entire audience of Republicans with his candid opinions and his experience as told in the stories he recited.

Charlie Kirk is the Founder and Executive Director of Turning Point, USA. One very good prediction made by Kirk is that in the 2016 election campaign, look for the Democrat candidate to entice young voters with a promise of legislation to eliminate student debt.  I see the Wall Street Journal editorial page is thinking along the same lines with this story:

"Last week we told you  about the$20 billion annual rise in Department of Education outlays, due to an increase in student-loan borrowers using income-based repayment programs. Today the Journal reports the disturbing details for taxpayers.

"Enrollment in the plans has surged, thanks in part to a continuing administration publicity campaign. As of June, the number had swelled to 1.91 million Americans holding more than $101 billion in student loans—nearly a 10th of all outstanding federal student debt. The number of borrowers and debt covered roughly has doubled in the past year," reports the Journal.
These plans allow borrowers to reduce monthly payments to just 10% of discretionary income. The loans can then be forgiven after ten years if borrowers work in government or for a non-profit—basically any job as long as it doesn't involve a profit-seeking business.
So the government is spending taxpayer dollars to encourage young people to avoid repaying loans to taxpayers, while at the same time encouraging these young people to work for outfits that don't pay taxes. Margaret Thatcher might have called it a perfect formula for eventually running out of other people's money."
The Obama White House is currently running a publicity campaign to encourage young people to go into public service by offering the goodie of reduced payments on student loans.  As Charlie Kirk mentioned, the typical graduating college student leaves school $33,000 in debt.  Unfortunately, free money is more of an incentive to support a candidate than the logic of a private sector job that Republican business economics can produce.
The Westside Victory Center is a part of the Harris County Republican Party network in the get out the vote effort.  There are now several centers open throughout Harris County.  Phone banking for candidates and campaign literature distribution are two of the ways these centers are helping out this election season.
Thanks to Republican Women, the Westside Victory Center is up and running.  The Grand Opening was hosted by Village Republican Women and Magic Circle Republican Women.  Also credited with support was Memorial West Republican Women. Many candidates and elected officials stopped by, as well as Paul Simpson, chairman of Harris County Republican Party and Tracy Hobson, HCRP Political Director.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

POTUS Salutes Marine With Coffee Cup In Hand

President Obama saluted a Marine while holding a coffee cup in his right hand.  I've never seen that done before, by a Commander in Chief.  In case you have never seen this either, take a look:

That tidbit was not originally in the report from the White House press pool.  The White House, though, included it in its Instagram account.  Social media strikes again.  See how this works?

Also, on the subject of basic manners, you will also see on the little video clip that he comes down the steps from Marine One and walks on down the tarmac without looking back at First Lady Michelle Obama disembarking behind him. He just keeps walking with his sunglasses on and coffee cup in hand.  What a swell guy.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Republicans Must Embrace Social Media to Win Elections

Where are you, fellow Republicans, as the political debates and discussions are waged on social media? In the beginning of the world of Twitter, a real effort was made for conservative leaning people - especially among those identifying with the Tea Party - to grow a real presence.  It is an undeniably useful tool in getting a message out.  Campaigns not embracing the full use of Twitter are missing a large block of politically engaged people.  The same can be said of Facebook.  Every candidate for political office in the year 2014 should have a presence on Facebook.  Every campaign should have a Facebook page that can be "liked" by supporters.  Each time a new supporter hits the "Like" button, the candidate's page is opened up to more eyes.  The candidate's information moves into more time lines and more exposure.

How many times have you heard, especially in Republican circles populated by older members, that all this social media stuff is silly?  How about the canard that social media is just for the younger people and doesn't really amount to much?  Generally speaking, Facebook attracts more older people and Twitter is more popular among younger people.  Embrace both outlets for a successful campaign.  A campaign wants everyone to hear the message.  Grassroots volunteers are a ready source of social media activism.  

Journalists,bloggers,television and radio people are on social media all day long. There is no easier way to have a message attract the attention of those who write about candidates and campaigns. Get the Republican message in print and on air, not just that of the Democrats! 

A key to growing the Republican Party - essential to remaining a viable political party - is to bring in younger voters, as well as those newly awakened to the world of politics.  Just as the original Tea Party movement did, before it became a vehicle for paid, professional dividers, using activists and grassroots supporters is the key to political success.  There is no easier way for an activist to engage in politics than through social media.

Friday night brought the first debate between Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis.  These two candidates running for the office of Governor of Texas debated for one hour in the Rio Grande Valley and it was televised statewide.  It was also live streamed on the Internet from various sources.  I am sorry to say that the Republican Party of Texas did not live stream the debate on its website.  Battleground Texas did. There is no daylight between Battleground Texas and the Democratic Party of Texas.  

I was dismayed that I saw so little engagement on Twitter during the debate.  While I was sending off thoughts in 140 characters, I noticed all the tweets coming from Wendy Davis supporters.  From Jaoquin Castro to Annie's List and everyone in between elected officials and special interest groups, the thoughts flew.  The opportunity was lost to reach a broader audience with Abbott's messages and directing traffic to his campaign website.

Let's recognize that the Communication Director for Wendy Davis' campaign is the former Communication Director to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. There are few that are nastier in their speech and quotes than Harry Reid.  The Davis campaign is organized in social media efforts using the Obama campaign model.  

In an email that went out overnight from Amber Mostyn, the woman and money behind Annie's List, her pitch included playing up the "anti-woman rhetoric" of some on social media during the Texas governor candidate debate.

"I can't believe the words I have seen directed at me, Wendy Davis and all other women tonight, but I know Annie's List will be there to call out the politicians who think that behavior is acceptable." 
"Annie's List is there to fight back against all of the vitriole that is being spewed. We need you to fight with us!"

This is right in line with the obvious theme that Team Wendy decided upon before Friday evening's debate.  Mostyn used a few ugly remarks made on Twitter as examples in the email.  

All Wendy Davis really offered to viewers and listeners Friday night, in my readily acknowledged partisan opinion, was the standard Democrat talking points of the war on women, pay inequality, and victimhood.  She was lacking in solutions and used an overabundance of personal attacks on Attorney General Abbott.  She came off looking robotic and disengaged.  It was not difficult to push back on her in social media.  I wish more on the GOP side had done that.  

Here is an article about the efforts in social media and voter tracking data base research coordination being done at the RNC.  It is a fact-filled article and should be read by Republican voters and those encouraging others to vote Republican in the mid-term elections.  I hope the Republican Party will be able to take back the technical advantages we had at one time, in the pre-Obama days.  I think it is fair to say we can't win without it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Houston Columnist Bill King Sparks Lively Discussion with United Republicans of Harris County

Despite a very stormy night, United Republicans of Harris County hosted a full room of interested guests Tuesday evening. The featured speaker was Bill King, columnist for the Houston Chronicle. The audience was treated to a very candid talk about the current environment for Republicans in Harris County and Texas, as well as the national picture.

Mr. King frequently noted that the audience may not appreciate what he was saying, but it is important to understand the conclusions derived from polling, as well as census numbers.  The truth is, often those who attend political events live in a bit of a bubble.  It is normal to gravitate to events that will feature a speaker with views we also hold but it is essential to allow the whole picture on an issue to filter through.

Bill King began the speech by stating that, though he tends to vote Republican, he no longer considers himself a Republican.  He is an Independent voter.  Before he was introduced, a person addressing the crowd on behalf of a Republican candidate spoke to those in attendance about the importance of voting a straight Republican ticket.  Mr. King said he would not be voting a straight ticket and wasn't there to encourage anyone else to do so.

Clearly, this was going to get interesting.

King spoke about the growing numbers of Latino voters in Harris county and in the State of Texas. Republicans must find a way to speak to this demographic with compassion and intelligence in order to remain a viable political party.  This isn't random criticism, it is a real necessity.  He used the example of George W. Bush and his ability to garner 40% of the Latino vote in Texas and then carried a good amount of their support when he ran for President.  Since then, Republicans have failed miserably to grow that vote, instead falling backwards.

Mr. King noted that though the Latino community in general would be a natural for joining with the Republican Party in elections, candidates and party leaders unable to shed harsh rhetoric during campaigns, especially on social issues, send those voters to other candidates.  He used the example of abortion and gay marriage.  One topic already law, the other topic going that way across the country.
On immigration reform, King supports the U.S. Senate's bill as written.  He used the Romney campaign example of the unintended error of Romney's "they will self-deport" remark that sealed his fate on election day.  King does not believe that voter fraud plays a real role in the outcome of elections.  In the case of Mitt Romney, he noted that Romney lost by 5 million votes in November 2012. Who could believe that number was the fault of voter fraud, he asked.

I keep reading polls that show voters are not so concerned about immigration reform.  While it is important, it is not at the top of the issues driving voters to get out on election day.  This is also cited as a reason the President Obama has put it on the back burner until after the mid-term elections in November 2014 - why stir up the voters who might be angered against any executive action he may take on the subject?  Yet, during the question and answer portion of the program, the first question was about immigration reform.  Perhaps because Texans are quite in tune with the subject, as a border state which feels the impact of illegal immigration, the first questioner took King to task for what was perceived as his acceptance of those already here.  King said that, as a Christian, he thought it was morally wrong to have a policy that would send someone back to another country when that person had been raised in America.  He also stated that Evangelical voters were turning away from the Republican Party over this issue.

The question and answer portion of the program was spirited, to say the least.  This, to me, was the best part of the evening.  It is crucial that people come together and debate important issues while remaining civil to each other. That is what our nation was built upon - ideas, not tribes or geographical lines. As Mr. King pointed out, that is what makes America truly unique in the world. The United States of America is the only country built on the ideas of our founders.

It was apparent that the audience enjoyed the program and discussions.  The best part?  Everyone left energized and with a smile on their face.  That's a winning ending any day of the week.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Texas Public Policy Action Announces Texas Government Waste Contest

Using the example of Senator Tom Coburn's Wastebook, Texas Public Policy Action is offering cash prizes to citizens turning in examples of Texas state government waste.  Prizes are available in two categories: video submissions and written submissions.  First, Second and Third place will be awarded in both categories.

Does this sound like something you might be interested in doing?  You can accept the challenge and expose wasteful spending in Texas state government which may result in a cash prize for your efforts. Any unit of government in Texas is eligible, if waste is found.  This doesn't have to be the Texas state budget - it can be your local government. Just remember the excess has to be in the State of Texas.  Write a story or make a video, it's your choice.

HERE is the website.  I am passing along the press release with all the details.

Texas Public Policy Action Announces

Contest to Expose Government Waste

Competition allows public to highlight examples of egregious government waste in Texas

AUSTIN - Texas Public Policy Action today announced the Texas Government Waste Contest, an open competition to allow members of the public to identify and describe examples of egregious and frivolous government waste at all levels of government in Texas.  The contest runs from September 3 to October 24, 2014, with winners announced by November 14, 2014.

"Even in Texas there is an incredible amount of wasteful spending, political favoritism, and crony capitalism.  This contest will help to expose waste and cronyism," said TPPA Executive Director Nathanael Ferguson. "By creating a compendium of government waste we will arm taxpayers with the information they need to focus elected officials on solving problems and working to affect change."

Contestants will submit stories of a wasteful spending item or program in either a written essay or in an original creative video.  Winners in each of the two categories will be awarded cash prizes, $4,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place, and $1,000 for third place. All entries will be included in the Compendium of Texas Government Waste, copies of which will be furnished to every legislative office in advance of the 84th Legislative Session.

Entries can be submitted here:

"Our aim is to inform, engage, and empower citizens to help promote pro-growth policies of limited government and fiscal restraint," said Ferguson.

All entries must be limited to wasteful spending in Texas state or local government and will be vetted for accuracy.  Citations must be included with submissions. The contest will be judged by a panel of well-respected policy experts representing multiple think tanks and activist groups in Texas, including Americans for Prosperity Policy and Legislative Director Peggy Venable, True the Vote Founder and President Catherine Engelbrecht, and Grassroots America Executive Director JoAnn Fleming.   

Texas Public Policy Action is a non-profit 501c4 organization based in Austin.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Obama Addresses the Nation About ISIS

America is expected to be the leader of the free world, the torchbearer of freedom.  In this case, with this president, America is slow to defend those being overrun by the brutal forces of ISIS.  President Obama is only now reluctantly coming before the American people and stating his plan of action against ISIS.  He is performing half heartedly at best.

President Obama appears to think that a congressional vote is not necessary for a war carried out by air strikes, only if boots are on the ground.  He is so quick to say there will be no boots are on the ground. That's not the truth, however, as there are the boots of Special Forces and intelligence gatherers on the ground, just maybe not what regular people think of as military boots. War is war, as far as the Constitution is concerned.  One would think that a man who ran as a self-proclaimed constitutional scholar would not make that distinction.

George W. Bush's coalition of 37 countries was called "unilateralism" by anti-war Americans and others but Obama touts a "broad coalition" now of 9 countries - all a part of NATO, except Australia.

President Obama said "This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist. This strategy is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years."  Think about that. Those two places are a mess.  Maybe he hasn't gotten the news from the media where he has stated he gets information in the past.  Is he asleep during presidential briefings?

There is no way that the Iraqi army and the Kurds can protect themselves and defeat ISIS without the help of the U.S. military. Despite all the time wasted as Obama insisted the war on terror was over and that the war in Iraq had ceased and Iraq was now stable, ISIS continued to grow.  This president has been unable to muster the courage to admit he was dangerously wrong about foreign policy and his ideas have been failures.  We are not safe as ISIS grows wealthier and gains more land mass.  Make no mistake, ISIS is truly a threat to our homeland.

THIS ARTICLE sums up the curious inability of President Obama to grasp reality. A mere 34 days ago, he said that ISIS was like a "JV" team.

Americans want to join together and support our president.  Though he said,"we will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL", he  does not inspire confidence. Other countries no longer trust or respect us. It seems that he is being pulled into action - that the American people are out in front of him, war weary though we are.

This president is seeing the lowest numbers in the polls that his presidency has seen.  This whole revision of his previous stances, now that other nations and the clear majority of American people demand action, smacks of poll watching.  That is no way to protect America. Our president has a 9/10/01 mind set instead of a post 9/11/01 mind set.

HERE is the speech transcript. You can decide if you find clear thought and strategy.  All I really got out of it is more air strikes, no land combat, and he'll ask Congress for money to provide equipment to those fighting the war on the ground. This speech should have been made more than a year ago.