Friday, May 29, 2009

Nebraska Ben v.s. Washington Ben

Once again Senator Ben Nelson appears to be advocating a policy position he had previously led Nebraskans to believe he did not support.

According to an article entitled "Nelson Now Open to Public Health Care, Baucus Will Fight for It" published yesterday in the Huffington Post Sen. Nelson "backed off his opposition to a public [health care] option in a meeting with health care advocates . . . " Previously Nelson had told various business groups and others that he would not support government run health care.

Clearly there are two Ben Nelsons. There's the Nebraska Ben Nelson who claims he's a moderate and supports job creators. Then there's Washington Ben, who is beholden to liberal special interest groups that fund his campaigns and their radical agendas.

Recent estimates of The Lewin Group, a health-policy consulting firm, suggest that the policies that Sen. Nelson now appears to support will put some 120 million Americans in a position were they would lose their private health insurance coverage. This is simply due to the fact that many employers would have to stop offering plans to their employees. A recent issue of National Review does a nice job laying out what lies ahead if Washingon Ben has his way.

Looks like Sen. Nelson wants the federal government to run our health care system--the same federal government that gave us the subprime mortgage crisis and corporate bailouts. If he is successful it could cost the Nebraska insurance industry thousands of jobs, while forcing us into socialized medicine.

Ask yourself--How many Americans go to Canada for medical care?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Should Sotomayor be "Borked"?

It's official: President Obama has nominated federal circuit court judge Sonia Sotomayor to fill the seat on the U.S. Supreme Court currently held by Justice David Souter.

Judge Sotomayor hasn't exactly been dinner table discussion material in most (er, normal) American homes, so most of us don't know much about her or her qualifications. I'm confident that in the coming weeks we'll learn a lot about her philosophy, prior judicial opinions, temperment, background and, like it or not, personal life.

The appointment of federal judges has become a rather sordid process, and for that you can thank the Democrats. In 1987 the Democrats, led by Sen. Ted Kennedy, then Sen. (and now VP) Joe Biden and the horde of liberal special interest groups that comprise the modern Democratic party, engaged in reprehensible acts of misrepresentation and outright dishonesty to torpedo the nomination of Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. Their despicable tactics continued, albeit unsuccessfully, with the appointment of Justice Clarence Thomas. President Obama has demonstrated that he is not above such tactics, as evidenced by his opposition to the eminently qualified Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.

The appointment of federal judges is a prerogative of the executive branch, and to the victor belong the spoils. That being said, Republicans must be vigilent in their opposition to judicial activism and cannot simply be a rubber stamp for President Obama's nominees.

So, Judge Sotomayer, what exactly did you mean in February 2005 when you said that "court of appeals is where policy is made"?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Republicans on the Right Side of Life

During some recent media training with the Republican National Convention I was required to participate in a taped mock television interview. During the interview I was questioned by the supposed host about myriad topics, including the controversy surrounding Notre Dame's invitation to President Obama to speak at commencement. My response was that, while I'm not Catholic and don't pretend to speak for the Catholic Church or its affiliated organizations such as Notre Dame, I did find some irony in the fact that Gallup just released a poll that showed that a majority of Americans now describe themselves as "pro-life" rather than "pro-choice," the first time this has occurred since Gallup began polling this issue in 1995.

The Catholic perspective is aptly presented in a recent article in First Things :

"John Kerry managed only 47 percent of the Catholic vote in 2004. Barack Obama brought home much more in 2008, and the Democratic party wants to keep those hard-gained votes. The bad economy may have turned some Catholics against the Republicans, but it hasn't necessarily bound Catholics back to the Democrats. The sticking point remains abortion: Catholics are against it, Democrats are for it, and nothing on either side looks likely to budge."

Republicans have long understood that they are on the right side of the issue of life from a moral and cultural perspective. Now it is apparent that we are on the right side of this issue from a political perspective as well. This is yet further proof if you stand by your convictions and advocate your position in a respectful,reasoned manner, voters can be persuaded. Something to keep in mind as the Democrats now in power seek to divide us by class and take our nation down a road never intended by our Founders.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Nebraska Dems: Hiding Their True Colors

In a short opinion piece recently published in the Grand Island Independent I shed light on a common tactic of Nebraska Democrats, i.e., to vote one way and strive to give their constitutents the impression that they voted another. Sen. Ben Nelson has worked this deceitful tactic to perfection, and now Democrats like state Sen. Annette Dubas are following in step:

On this particular vote, Sen. Dubas had the opportunity to side with the hard-working taxpayers and job creators in her legislative district, or to side with the trial lawyers, union bosses and other liberal special interests group that make up today's Democratic party. She made the wrong choice, and her constituents have a right to know.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Union Campaign Contributions Come with a Price

On May 7, Lincoln Journal-Star reporter Deena Winter authored an investigative piece on local campaign funding by unions and the effects it can have on elections and hence public policy:

A couple of weeks ago we wrapped our city elections here in Lincoln. According to Winter, unions contributed $17,000 of the $63,000 that the Nebraska Democratic Party raised from late April to late March – roughly 27%. That is in addition to another cool $27,000 those same unions gave to just two Lincoln city council candidates. Couldn’t that $44,000 spent by unions, out of employee’s pockets, have been better spent feeding employee’s families during such harsh economic times.

The amount of cash that the union bosses spend in our recent elections could have been a lot higher. Lately, we have all been reminded in the press that private-sector union membership has been dwindling during the past 30 years. To fight declining membership, unions nationally spent several hundreds of millions of dollars funding pro-union candidates. In return, the nation’s most powerful labor unions are wasting no time claiming their spoils. Unions are demanding the most radical change in labor law in over 70 years – legislation that will add significant numbers to union rosters and allow them to spend exponentially more than $44,000 on elections here in Nebraska. That legislation is the euphemistically named “Employee Free Choice Act” (EFCA). In reality, EFCA provides workers anything but Free Choice.

Union bosses have been promoting EFCA through misleading propaganda that proclaims the legislation is intended to restore worker’s rights. We all know millions of employees nationwide already belong to unions and millions more are free to choose to form or join a union if they so desire. It isn’t a stretch to take this analysis a step further and realize that, EFCA is actually a “card check” law that would, in practice, force many employees to join a union through intimidation and coercion.

Losing the right to a private ballot election for unions has received most of the attention in the press related to EFCA. In response, many of our nation’s leaders have been discussing a compromise bill that would retain the right to a private ballot election for collective bargaining agents. However, contained within the legislation is something potentially even more dangerous and lesser known – compulsory binding arbitration. Binding arbitration is something on which unions will not budge or back down.

If a contract is not signed between the employer and the union organizers within an artificially short period of 120 days, a federal arbitration panel is sent in to mandate contract terms for two years – a contract which, under EFCA, the employees will no longer have the right to ratify. More than likely, the panel will have no prior knowledge of the individual industry, let alone the business. The two year contract will contain everything from worker’s wages, vacation time, sick leave, and insurance to mandatory union dues. These contracts will apply to every worker in the business, even those who opposed union membership. This legislation is being promoted by our nation’s largest unions not because it will help workers regain the rights they deserve. It is being promoted because it is a cash cow that will save their sinking ship. A two-year contract has the very real potential to shut the doors on many Nebraska businesses.

Simply put, if enacted EFCA will force even more lay-offs and higher unemployment. I assume Nebraska workers would prefer continued employment over harassment by union organizers, mandatory dues, and thousands of dollars in union money flowing to Democratic campaign coffers.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Honeymoon is Over

I just had the opportunity to listen to RNC Chairman Michael Steele's address to the state GOP chairs. Great speech. 5 highlights:

Point No. 1:

"People are sick of politicians and political parties who never own up to their mistakes. We have done so. We lost our way on spending and we owned up to that. We came to Washington to change it and in some ways we let Washington change us, and we owned up to that. We’ve taken some important steps to recover our values and our senses, and we can say we see the world with a clearer head and a sharper vision.

The era of apologizing for Republican mistakes of the past is now officially over. It is done. The time for trying to fix or focus on the past has ended. The era of Republican navel gazing is over. We have turned the corner on regret, recrimination, self-pity and self-doubt. Now is the hour to focus all of our energies on winning the future."

Point No. 2:

"We are going to take the president head-on. The honeymoon is over. The two-party system is making a comeback, and that comeback starts today.

The Democrats are in power. They wanted it and now we are going to make them own the results of their arrogance of power: Policies that are hurting the long-term health of our country. We are going to give voice to the growing chorus of Americans who realize that there is a difference between creating wealth and redistributing wealth. And we are not going to be shy about it. Simply put, we are going to speak truth to power."

Point No. 3:

"We’ve seen strategists writing memos and doing briefings urging that Republicans avoid confronting the President. Steer clear of any frontal assaults on his Administration, they warn.

They suggest that instead we should go after Nancy Pelosi, whom nobody likes.

Or Harry Reid, whom nobody knows.

Or this Tim Geithner fellow, whom nobody believes.

Or maybe even Barney Frank, whom nobody understands.

You know the thinking. In the same way that the Democrats target conservative talk show hosts and former vice presidents, we should also engage in some misdirection, just like they do.

The argument goes that we should be careful here, because the polls suggest that President Obama is popular.

Well, the president is personally popular. Pity the fool who paid for a poll to figure that out. Folks like him. He’s got an easy demeanor. He’s a great orator. His campaign was based on change and hope. He’s young. He’s cool. He’s hip. He’s got a good looking family. What’s not to like? He’s got all the qualities America likes in a celebrity, so, of course he is popular.

There’s only one problem. He’s taking us in the wrong direction and bankrupting our country. Were it not for that little detail, I’d be a big fan too."

Point No. 4:

"The honeymoon is over. We are going to challenge those policies that we believe are wrong, and we are going to do so without apology and without a second thought.

But there is a very important distinction I want to make here.

We are going to take this president on with class. We are going to take this president on with dignity. This will be a very sharp and marked contrast to the shabby and classless way that the Democrats and the far left spoke of President Bush."

Point No. 5:

"Let’s look at the first 100 days of President Obama’s “reign of error” in a factual manner, not in terms of his speeches, but in terms of his actions:

• Under President Obama the federal government is now in the banking business.

• Under President Obama the government now makes cars.

• Under President Obama our country has amassed debts that will take generations to repay.

• Under President Obama America is increasingly in debt to foreign countries, from China to the Middle East.

• President Obama now wants to cap and tax every single American into paying higher utility rates.

• President Obama and his allies in Congress have now put their taxing eyes on soft drinks.

• President Obama and Democrat leaders want a brand new tax on our health care benefits and are devising a plan to give federal government bureaucrats control of our health care system.

• President Obama is backing a plan to take away the basic right of every American worker to cast a private ballot.

• President Obama has for the first time in our history politicized the US Census process by putting political appointees in his White House in charge of it and wanting a corrupt, fraudulent organization to run it.

• President Obama and his far left allies are flirting with an attempt to squelch the basic freedom of speech of our nation’s airwaves.

• President Obama’s Attorney General is trying to use Mexican drug gang wars as a reason to advocate a new gun ban in America.

• President Obama’s Administration has disparaged our war heroes and veterans by suggesting that they are a threat to our safety, when the truth is they are the cause of our safety.

• The president, who thinks that every student should be able to go to college, is cutting much needed funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

• The president, who pledged that he would create millions of jobs through federal public works projects, now requires project labor agreements on such projects which effectively denies small and minority owned businesses access to those jobs because they are not unionized.

• And the one the galls me the most: While the president sends his kids to a private school, he is at the very same time taking away opportunity scholarships from poor Hispanic and African-American kids right here in our nation’s capital.

Those are the facts of the president’s first 100 days."

Monday, May 18, 2009


Washington, DC

This is the inaugural post for this blog, so it's only fitting that I'm posting it from out nation's capital. After landing at Reagan International (I still love saying that) I headed straight for our hotel and some media training I signed up for. I was the first Republican chair scheduled. The training consisted of a taped interview and critique. The first question out of the gate dealt with what the Republican Party stands for today, which I was more than ready for having just read the recent lecture by Mark Steyn published in Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College (thank you to former Gov. Kay Orr for lining up a subscription for me, and thanks to Hillsdale for providing a steady stream of solid conservative interns over the years).

It is my firm belief that the foundation of the GOP is built upon three things: responsibility, security and freedom. Steyn’s lecture, entitled “Live Free or Die!,” focuses on the latter.

Steyn rightly complains that while President Obama’s budget “adds more to the national debt than all the previous 43 presidents combined,” that’s not the biggest problem. Rather, the biggest problem is that the Democratic proposals “deform the relationship between the citizen and the state. Even if there were no financial consequences, the moral and even spiritual consequences would still be fatal.” Essentially, if President Obama has his way, the federal government will provide for all of our basic needs, we will then become increasingly comfortable with the government regulating our behavior, we will then grow indifferent to government regulation of our thoughts and eventually, dissenting opinion will be barred by the government. (Doubt that? When Scotland Yard has a Community Safety Unit for Homophobic, Racist and Domestic Incidents targeting “questionable” speech as it now does, everything is possible). According to Steyn, that’s where Europe is at, and sadly that appears to be where America is headed under the new Democratic regime in Washington.

I’ll likely post more from Steyn’s lecture in the days to come, but perhaps my time in DC is better spent at the Jefferson Memorial. Inscribed inside is one of my favorite quotes from Thomas Jefferson, which is as clearly applicable to our time: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility over every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Words to reflect upon during these trying times.