Archives for June 2007

Tax hikes for the rich

Remember this next liberals howl about tax cuts:

The average federal worker made $59,864 in 2005, compared with the average salary of $40,505 in the private sector, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Arizona, the average annual salary for federal employees is $56,510, compared with the average annual private-sector pay of $37,706.

The gap may be driven by increased competition in the private sector, where globalization and technological advances have held salaries down.

Meanwhile, the federal workforce has no harsh business realities to face, said James Sherk, a labor policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington.

“We have two parallel economies: one is hyper-capitalism, and one is from the Eisenhower administration,” [Harvard economist] Donahue said. “Government pays everybody the same, no matter their level of productivity. But the private sector pays people differently.”

Bush’s 2003 tax cut gave me a bigger raise than my employer had for the previous 3 years.

Not over yet – part deux.

     Tuesday’s cloture vote on the senate immigration bill (now S.1639) was only a procedural move to begin discussing the bill (officially called the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to Consider S.1639.) The more traditional cloture vote to begin voting on the actual bill should be later this week.

     The same procedure happened in late May when the immigration bill (then S.1348) was first brought to the floor of the senate. That cloture vote to begin debate was on May 21st. Then 69 voted for cloture and 23 voted against. This week’s vote of 64 for, 35 against is a great improvement over May 21st.

     June 7th was the cloture vote to close debate and vote on the bill (the one that really mattered.) That vote failed with 34 for cloture and 61 against (Kyl voted against cloture thus helping to stop the bill at that point.)

     Looking at this Tuesdays vote in perspective makes it clear that there is still a chance to kill the immigration bill in the senate before it even gets to the house. We will have more updates but do not give up and be ready for action later this week!

URGENT ACTION NOTICE!

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., second from right, meets with House Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 26, 2007, that are opposed to immigration reform legislation being considered in the Senate. Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., is second from left, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., is at center, and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. is at right. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)

 Word from Capital Hill is that the House Republicans are holding a special Conference meeting at 5:30 p.m. today (2:30 AZ time) to vote on the following resolution: “Resolved the House Republican Conference disapproves of the Senate immigration bill.”

 In a Conference meeting this morning, a quorum was not present, so when Intelliegence Committee Ranking Member Peter Hoekstra (MI) introduced the resolution, they debated it, but no action was taken.  Insiders say that the Hoekstra, Arizona’s own John Shadegg and Indiana’s Mark Souder spoke in favor of the resolution.  You can reach any member of Congress by dialing (202) 225-3121 and asking for their office.

Following the conference meeting this morning, Hoekstra, Shadegg, Souder and some other House Republicans held a press conference and were joined by Senators Tom Coburn (OK) and Jim DeMint (SC), both of whom have been leading the fight in the Senate against the bill.

Politico.com covers the story here.

You action needed now!

UPDATE:

The House Republican Conference passed the resolution 114-23!  Still awaiting word on who the 23 were (we may never know).  Also interesting that more than 60 Republican members did not vote.

Not over yet.

     The Senate has voted to proceed on the immigration bill. Senator Kyl and former presidential candidate McCain both voted to proceed with the immigration bill.

     (Too bad Bush never lobbied this hard when he had a chance to get social security reform through the Republican congress.)

Lord on Kyl

The Senator and the Anchor
By Jeffrey Lord
Friday, June 15, 2007

It isn’t hard to see why they lose.

The other day Arizona’s Republican Senator Jon Kyl sat down with the Wall Street Journal for a discussion about all the heat he’s taken for what the paper termed Kyl’s “efforts to forge an immigration compromise.” Several days later, ex-CBS anchor Dan Rather unloaded on his old network, weighing in on Katie Couric’s dismal ratings in Rather’s old job.

What do these two seemingly disparate subjects have in common? What could possibly connect Arizona’s junior Senator, Ms. Couric, the losing immigration bill and tanking television ratings?

In two words: conservative principles, or more accurately, the lack thereof.

Reading the Kyl interview is a vivid exercise in understanding exactly what spending too much time in Washington can do to even someone generally viewed as a conservative. Here is Mr. Kyl attacking the concept that he and his fellow Senators (including his Arizona seat mate, presidential candidate John McCain) actually support an amnesty bill. “It’s impossible to make the existing system work so we have to change the law, and changing the law requires Democratic votes, so you have to make concessions to Democrats.”

In a blink Kyl reveals the mindset for which Washington is so notorious. He is not in the Senate to represent the conservative principles which he presented to Arizona voters. No, he is in the Senate to “make concessions to Democrats.” Kyl goes on to say that “[t]here is only one reason to do what I am trying to here, and that is to get a problem solved that has got to be solved.”

The thought that the way to solve the problem is to have candidates go to the American people in the next elections, or the next and the next and the next, to win a majority of votes to secure the border — when in fact this authority and the money to do it is already in place — simply is not considered to be dealing with reality. Executing the law as it is now written and, failing that, winning back control of the Senate in 2008 and electing the next president to do precisely that, is automatically ruled out.

We have been here before. When Ronald Reagan gave that famous October, 1964 televised speech for GOP nominee Senator Barry Goldwater, he outlined an entire conservative platform based on conservative principles and the reality of what liberal New Deal policies had already done to the country. Goldwater lost in a landslide. Neither Reagan nor the gathering conservative movement gave up. For years afterwards, in every successive election in which his own name was on the ballot for Governor of California or president, Reagan was attacked as an extremist who simply was unwillingly to acknowledge reality. His response was to re-double his efforts, to take his principles to the country and campaign for like-minded candidates. He did not always win. But he in fact was able to turn the debate from the automatic assumption that the answer to all problems was to enlarge government, continually raise taxes, appoint liberal judges, and accommodate the Soviet Union.

The critical difference between Reagan and Establishment Republicans who believed, just as Jon Kyl believes today, that their job in Washington was to “make concessions to Democrats” was that Reagan believed it was his job to represent America in Washington. Kyl and his GOP colleagues clearly believe the reverse — that it is their job to represent Washington to America. Representing America to Washington meant Reagan said and did things that made Washington insiders cringe. From tax cuts to the military build-up to the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court to his speech demanding the Soviets tear down the Berlin Wall, Reagan was consistently advised by those in the grip of the Washington fevers that he was wrong, ill-advised, and that X,Y or Z Reagan initiative was just not the way things were done.

By the time he left the presidency, and certainly by the time of his death, millions of Americans had come to realize that Reagan’s conservative principles did in fact work. They also understood that the liberal subtext of the media and Washington insiders had been exposed, that it could in fact be overcome. Reagan had become the very embodiment of the American “can do” attitude that is such a critical component of understanding the American people and American culture. So it doesn’t take much for Americans to look at the Kyl-supported immigration “compromise” to understand that it is Kyl — and others including South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham — who simply don’t “get it.” When Kyl says in a remarkable statement that “Democrats won’t allow” a policy of “enforcement first,” he epitomizes the idea that it is a Senator’s job to represent the Senate and Washington to America instead of the reverse. It is no wonder that conservatives’ instinctive response is to go out, change the debate, and get votes to change Senators. They feel not the slightest obligation to “work with” Ted Kennedy. To the contrary, they believe their job is to get more votes in the Senate to defeat Ted Kennedy. It is a fundamentally different approach to the idea of leadership in Washington than that of Mr. Kyl.

LAST FALL, I WROTE A PIECE in this space discussing Ronald Reagan’s view of losing elections, mentioning in passing that while conservative principles were now part of the bedrock of America they would never surface in that citadel of elite American liberalism — The CBS Evening News. “The philosophical presentation of the new CBS News hasn’t changed a whit…” I said, pointing out what is now a seriously hard-to-accept fact over at CBS that is truer now then when I wrote it: the high point of Katie Couric’s ratings career at CBS was the night she had Rush Limbaugh on-air for a brief segment featuring Limbaugh delivering his own opinion. It was easy to see that it would be all down hill from there for Katie — and it has been. While Rush Limbaugh has a well-known buoyantly warm-and-fuzzy on-air manner, it is a serious mistake to think that he spiked Katie’s ratings because of his personality. This is akin to thinking Reagan won two presidential landslides because he was “genial” or had that ready smile. The success of both is tied unmistakably to their clear understanding and articulation of conservative principles.

Yet quite predictably, even now, floundering around in the television ratings basement, CBS has not a clue about its problems. Infighting among the troops has broken out. Hilariously, Dan Rather pops up to charge CBS with “tarting” up the news, drawing instant wrath from CBS executive Les Moonves and Katie’s boss, Clinton friend, and veteran Mainstream Media honcho Rick Kaplan. In the middle of the war of words Rather, unsurprisingly and doubtless unconsciously, put the traditional liberal bias on display. “We have enormous life-or-death issues and challenges facing us in this country and the world today,” he told the Washington Post’s Tom Shales. “Everything from the dismantling of civil rights enforcement within the Justice Department to the war in Iraq to news of secret prisons in Europe and, of course, the next presidential election.”

There isn’t enough space to deal with all of Rather’s liberal assumptions, but let’s take his civil rights charge. Abigail Thernstrom, a vice-chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, long ago asked another question altogether about the behavior of Justice Department career employees in this area, accusing them of rank liberal partisanship in the making of civil rights policy. Would CBS ever dream of following up on Ms. Thernstrom’s premise? Are you kidding? CBS, as with other liberal institutions, is wedded to rigid liberal doctrine that insists among other things that career Justice lawyers (i.e., liberals) are always right, any American Southern state in their sights is always wrong and racist to boot. They look at George W. Bush (as they looked at Reagan and Goldwater) and see Bull Connor. So intent are they on fulfilling their stereotypes they see no contradiction (and certainly no bigotry!) in simultaneously demanding civil rights for Mexican-Americans while they insist on getting the political head of the first Mexican-American Attorney General.

The problem for CBS is that in 2007 most Americans view the 1960s as ancient history. In a post-Reagan era, listening to Rush Limbaugh and his conservative talk-radio compatriots, creating and contributing conservative videos all over the Internet, Americans understand the implicit story line of liberal news organizations. They understand that exchanging Dan for Katie is a meaningless exchange — the new boss same as the old boss, “tarted up” or not.

And so — Americans don’t watch CBS. And they won’t accept the idea of an immigration bill that is cobbled together because of a felt need on the part of various Senators to appease Ted Kennedy. They know instinctively that when they see lines of Americans whose travel plans have been screwed up because they can’t get a U.S. passport to travel to Mexico or Canada, when they realize 3 of the Fort Dix plotters were not only illegal aliens but were stopped 75 times (!!!) by various police authorities and never once had their status questioned, the very notion that a Washingtonized-immigration bill is going to “solve the problem” of immigration is hilarious nonsense.

So take your pick. The immigration bill or lousy ratings for CBS News. Jon Kyl’s idea of what it means to be a Senator or Katie/Dan’s idea of what it means to report the “news.” It’s the same old, same old.

For different versions of the same reason, both the bill and the newscast are in trouble. But don’t expect this to change either Senator Kyl or Anchor Couric.

And don’t lay odds on a President McCain, either.

For the same reason.

Jeffrey Lord is the creator, president and CEO of QubeTV, a conservative online video sharing and networking website. A former Reagan White House political director and author, he writes from Pennsylvania.

Hewitt on Kyl

In Defense Of Jon Kyl
By Hugh Hewitt
Thursday, June 21, 2007

Arizona’s Jon Kyl, perhaps the single most effective and principled conservative in the United States Senate, is the model of what every senator should be –smart, hard working, humble about his occupying the office, and aware of the obligations of that office. He is also a gentleman and a scholar –a genuine authority on Constitutional law, and a man of genuine character. Kyl’s also a fighter for conservative causes, especially the fortunes of President Bush’s judicial nominees.

Jon Kyl is also the workhorse for the GOP caucus on the immigration bill, doing his best to make the bill as workable as possible from the position as point man of the minority party.

This unenviable task has earned Senator Kyl an enormous amount of enmity from very vocal opponents of the bill, especially those for whom the issue is the single most important piece of legislation. Suddenly Jon Kyl’s impeccable record on the war, cutting taxes, the life of the unborn, spending restraint, and of course judges matters not at all, and the airwaves are full of spleen. The attacks on Kyl haven’t just been harsh, they have been full of the sort of venom usually seen in the fever swamps of the left directed at George Bush for waging the war against the Islamist jihadists.

If I was a member of the United States Senate I would not vote for cloture on the immigration bill, even though this version is bound to be much better than the version that failed to gain enough votes on the last go around. I wouldn’t vote for it because the border fence “trigger” is only 375 miles instead of the 700 authorized by last year’s border security bill. There may be other reasons to oppose the bill, but in an on-air conversation yesterday with Senator Kyl –the transcript is here —the senator indicated that many of the other major problems in the bill are being worked on. Whether those fixes are sufficient to remove some of those concerns –such as the treatment of illegal immigrants from countries with deep jihadist networks in the same fashion as illegal immigrants from Mexico—remains to be seen. Senator Kyl is clearly working to improve the bill as much as is possible.

For this effort he deserves thanks. This will evoke many comments denouncing Kyl as a turncoat and a traitor, but the obvious utility of making the best of a bad situation needs to be mentioned here, and more than merely mentioned, praised.

If the bill is going to pass the Senate, I want it to be the least bad bill possible.

If the bill is going to pass the Senate, I want as many of the drafting errors corrected and loopholes closed as possible.

If a GOP senator has to lead the effort to put lipstick on the pig, I want that senator to be the smartest, most principled senator available.

I am grateful to Senators DeMint and Sessions and Thune and others for blasting away at the bill and forcing the debate to be serious and sustained. But I am also grateful that Jon Kyl has the spine necessary to stay in there and take the heat so as to keep the improvements coming. It would have been far easier for him to side with the conservative critics of the bill and leave the negotiations and drafting to, say, Lindsey Graham. Instead he is doing the conservatives and border security advocates a great, great –if completely unappreciated– service, and doing so without any of the outbursts that have marked other proponents of the bill.

Kyl isn’t complaining in the least. He isn’t whining. He isn’t attempting to deflect or dodge, and –and for this I am greatly appreciative—he isn’t ducking or dissembling. He answers the questions candidly and repeatedly, and when told that he hasn’t persuaded, he acknowledges his regret but doesn’t get angry or testy or even combative.

Kyl has not branded opponents of the bill as racists or nativists. He hasn’t condemned talk radio. He hasn’t refused interviews with critics. Kyl is taking the pounding like a senator should be willing to do when he’s opposite many of the folks who sent him to Washington.

I don’t expect many among the bill’s opponents to accept this perspective, but it makes it no less true. Jon Kyl is doing the hardest thing in politics –standing against his base for reasons of personal conviction and perhaps against his every political instinct in order to do his job as best he sees fit. I appreciate him for the manner in which he has done so, even if I can’t agree that the end result deserves to become the law of the United States.

I really, really wish I and others had persuaded Senator Kyl and through him the majority of the Senate of the absolute necessity of building all 700 miles asap, regardless of expense. When the I-10 Freeway collapsed in the aftermath of an earthquake in California, then Governor Pete Wilson didn’t worry about bidding rules and costs, he let a contract with a huge premium for early completion. And the job got done early.

A broken border is much more important than a broken freeway, but there is none of the urgency that should attend the construction effort. Senator Kyl, Secretary Chertoff, President Bush and other supporters of the bill just don’t see the great upside that I and others do in getting that fencing erected and the Border patrol expanded in record time.

But when the debate is over and the bill either passes or is defeated, Jon Kyl is the same guy who stood rock solid since the war began in defense of the prosecution of that war and in support of the troops, in defense of Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Alito and scores of other judicial nominees, and on the side of countless other conservative causes over a dozen years in the Senate and eight years in the House. He deserves much better than he is getting. When he writes that “If I were the only one writing this bill, it would be very different,” he has earned our trust in his good faith.

We don’t owe Senator Kyl our agreement or our silence, of course, but we do owe him a hearing and a respectful though vigorous and full-throated dissent, one that is coupled with a recognition of his past, present and future service. If you have trouble giving him both, then you have lost track of the central proposition that distinguishes conservatives from the far and sometimes not-so-far reaches of the left: Justice.

Hugh Hewitt is a law professor, broadcast journalist, and author of several books including A Mormon in the White House?: 110 Things Every American Should Know about Mitt Romney.

Back to its Roots

Lets give a little credit to the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  Their 2007 Awards Luncheon was a big change.  Back in 2003, the COC Awards Dinner was a love fest with speakers drooling about the “public-private partnership”.  This translates into Big Business publicly backing tax hikes and spending programs that win praises from liberal editorial boards, while they privately lobby for government handouts for themselves.

The 2007 fete featured speaker after speaker praising the free markets and the need to reduce tax and regulatory burdens.  They even had a Milton Friedman Award! Refreshing. 

I’m not sure if the credit goes to outgoing chairman Steve Twist or the COC’s executive director Glenn Hammer.  Either way, congratulations and hopefully COC will stay focused on creating a fair playing field for all businesses, not one that favors a priviledged few.

Three of our state legislators received awards.  Representative of the Year Kirk Adams (R-Mesa), Senator of the Year Jim Waring (R-Phoenix) and Freshman of the Year Doug Clark (R-Anthem).  Good job guys.

Multiculturalism as Uniculturalism

In the city of Oakland, CA it’s called tolerance when government promotes “Happy Coming Out Day” and then bans pro-family groups such as the Good News Employee Association (GNEA).

The treatment of the GNEA illustrates one technique by which America’s growing ranks of self-appointed speech police expand their reach: They wait until groups they disagree with, such as the GNEA, are provoked to respond to them in public debates, then they persecute them for annoying those to whom they are responding. In Oakland, this dialectic of censorship proceeded on a reasonable premise joined to a preposterous theory.

Liberals suppressing free speech.  They claim diversity to pursue their morality and cry hate crimes in order to shut down other people’s free speech rights. 

End of round one soon.

     The Senate Immigration bill is back. We defer to Michelle Malkin who has excellent coverage of the current situation. Looks like the bill will come up for a cloture vote on Tuesday of this week.

To What End?

Is it really worth it to win the battle but lose the war? I fear that for both sides of the internecine battle going on right now that is likely becoming the case. The loser? The Republican Party. Now, I am sure that this post will bring with it many comments from both sides pointing the finger at the other. So be it. But at what point do we all go too far and risk Republican majorities in the Legislature, greatly hamper the ability of our candidates to win back the two Congressional seats we lost last year and irreparably damage the party for years to come?

I have good friends on both sides of this battle and I understand and think there is merit in both sides’ arguments against the other side. I, for one, am not taking a side in this battle. Too many on both sides have adopted a “you’re either with us or against us” stance that I think is proving incredibly detrimental to everyone.

You may not like who is Chairman of the State Party. You may not like the apparent heavy handedness of the so-called McCainites. You might think the State Party is too conservative. You might think the Chamber of Commerce is too soft on illegal immigration. But whether you like it or not, we need all sides to buy in to the idea that we all need to work together to win in 2008. Intramural battles are interesting and I would argue good for the party when we are all fat and happy with big majorities in the Legislature, a lock on the Congressional delegation, and control of statewide offices, but they are a luxury we cannot afford in our present position.

We need to face some uncomfortable facts here. We are four seats away from losing the majority in the State House, three seats in the Senate. We face significant uphill, though winnable, battles to get AZ-05 and AZ-08 back. We don’t have control of the Governor or the AG offices. If you gauge a party’s success on winning races, then we haven’t had a good run of things over the last five years. Yet we continue to fight viciously with each other.

Now, I know, each side is going to want to say it’s the other sides fault. And, as I said earlier in this post each side is going to want to point the finger at the other. I understand that this is natural reaction, but maybe right now, not the right one. Because if we do that, this fighting won’t stop.

If you don’t believe that this kind of fighting is devastating to a state party, look directly west to our neighbors in California. Republicans, with the exception of a once in a lifetime candidate in Schwarzenegger, control basically nothing in California. There are many arguments to be made as to why that is the case, but I think one valid reason is the infighting that took place within the California Republican Party during the nineties. Each side felt the other side was responsible for the problems they had and each side, not matter who was in control, was quick to lay blame on the other side. Each side took the attitude that if the other side wasn’t going to do what they wanted, they were going to take their toys and go home. The chaos that ensued only hurt Republicans.

Like many conflicts globally, I fear the war going on right now within the Party is being driven by hardliners on both sides who believe that winning this battle is so important that they are willing to sacrifice the institution that is the Arizona Republican Party to do it. If this continues, one side very well may win. But it will take years and leave us with a Party that is weak and nothing more than a shell of it’s former self. I, for one, don’t want to see that happen.

Now some on both sides will say that I am being alarmist, and for the sake of Republicans in Arizona, I dearly hope that I am. But are we really willing to fight this battle to find out?

Before it’s too late, I implore both sides to lay down their weapons and come to an unconditional cease fire if only for the sake of all of the good candidates in our Party who are putting their lives on hold and sacrificing so much to run as Republicans in our state. Because, if we don’t, I fear that 2008 will not be a good year for Republicans in Arizona.

I have always felt the boiler plate calls for uniting the Party were somewhat trite and had very little meaning behind them. They have been co-opted by both sides who really mean that they want the other side to put aside their very strongly held beliefs on political issues and agree with them. That’s not what I am calling for here.

What I am saying is that we need to unite as Republican officeholders, activists,, candidates, and political operatives, behind the greater good that is a strong and vibrant Republican Party in Arizona as an institution. Let’s unite behind the common ground of winning races for Republicans.

I recognize that this is easier said than done. It won’t be easy. There are a lot of hard feelings on both sides that will be tough to overcome. But, if only because there is so much at stake this election cycle, we need to do it.

It’s time for Republican leaders, whether they are members of the Congressional delegation, respected activists on both sides, or financial backers, to have the courage and wisdom to step up and help end this battle.

I hope this serves as a clarion call to all sides in this battle that it’s time to stop. Look within and ask yourselves to what end are we doing this. If we don’t, we will all be losers. One side may win this battle, but we will all lose the war.