Monday, June 30, 2014

A Good Day for Religious Freedom

My plans for today’s post went out the window this morning when I learned the Supreme Court had ruled, at last, on the Hobby Lobby case. Big news!

Hobby Lobby story, photo from here
It is a 5-4 decision in favor of Hobby Lobby, ruled narrowly. In short, closely held companies, such as Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods, cannot be forced to pay for employees’ contraceptive methods that, in their religious view, terminate life. [Note: the case is now referred to as Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, rather than Sibelius v. Hobby Lobby; Burwell is the newly appointed head of Health and Human Services.]
These companies already pay for (and have all along) insurance coverage for many methods of birth control, but refused to pay for four specific methods that are abortifacients (terminate a fertilized egg). They will still pay for coverage of those other contraceptives. But they will not be forced to go against religious beliefs to pay for these four specific ones.
The ruling is narrow, because only closely held or family owned companies get the exception. Larger, publicly held corporations are not granted the exception—even if every member of the board has strong religious beliefs and they have always directed the corporation according to those beliefs.
The ruling is further narrowed, because it only addresses this particular religious conflict in the ACA; it does not necessarily apply to other religious conflicts with other laws.
Despite the narrowness, I accept this as a victory for religious freedom. Also despite the narrowness, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent claims it is overly expansive, and brings on a flood of so-called religious belief conflicts, which she will find annoying. She says,
Reading the Act expansively, as the Court does, raises a host of “Me, too” questions. Can an employer in business for profit opt out of coverage for blood transfusions, vaccinations, antidepressants, or medications derived from pigs, based on the employer’s sincerely held religious beliefs opposing those medical practices.
The dissent seems to be really miffed that a for-profit entity can be considered to have religious beliefs and/or rights. In other words, the concept that was defeated in this 5-4 ruling is whether trying to make a living in the marketplace means you forfeit your religious freedom rights.
Ginsburg, et al., ought to read the relevant religious beginning of the First Amendment—again:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
It doesn’t add the proviso, “unless and until a citizen chooses to participate in for-profit enterprise.” Ginsburg’s assertion that such a proviso is implied separates her from those who read and understand the law. She identifies with those who decide the law is what they believe it should be.
That battle goes on, despite today’s victory.
The ruling is based on the RFRA law; i.e., the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It outlines specific limits the government may not cross. According to RFRA, government may have a compelling interest that could override a person’s religious belief. Alito’s majority opinion included reference to these closely held companies as “persons”:
As we will show, Congress provided protection for people like the Hahns and Greens by employing a familiar legal fiction: It included corporations within RFRA’s definition of “persons.” But it is important to keep in mind that the purpose of this fiction is to provide protection for human beings. A corporation is simply a form of organization used by human beings to achieve desired ends.
Government must not only show that the interest is compelling; it must show that the law is the least restrictive approach. Pushing aside the significant religious issues, Ginsburg claimed that paying $26 million or so in fines wasn’t an undue burden, since it’s only approximately equivalent to the total costs of providing health insurance (to be clear, the fines would be on top of the costs of providing insurance). However, Alito and Kennedy both pointed out that government has already found ways to accommodate organizations that qualify as religious non-profits, and those accommodations could be used to accommodate these for-profit organizations.
So today’s ruling pointed out that having religious people go against their beliefs to pay for insurance coverage of those additional four “birth control” methods was not the least restrictive approach.
The compelling government interest this is compared to is racial discrimination. The court says, "The Government has a compelling interest in providing equal opportunity to participate in the workforce without regard to race, and prohibitions on racial discrimination are precisely tailored to achieve that critical goal." So this ruling will not be expanded to include this issue unrelated to the ACA, so Ginsburg's fear is unfounded.
The Court fell short today of ruling whether the ACA itself violates the First Amendment. That question came up in the SCOTUS Live Blog. Since this ruling is limited to following RFRA, if RFRA were repealed (or exempted for the ACA), would that then reverse the ruling currently in Hobby Lobby’s favor?  Under those speculative conditions, the Court would eventually have to rule whether the ACA itself violates the First Amendment.
One thing about this Roberts Court, every time it rules, relating to Obamacare especially, it rules as narrowly as possible, so that little can be made of the ruling beyond the specific case. There’s some value to that. Still—we would not be in this mess if Roberts had simply ruled logically that forcing American citizens to make a purchase the government prescribes is beyond the powers granted to a limited federal government.
I believe there is still plenty of reason to hope we can get rid of Obamacare in its entirety. At least today’s ruling incrementally helped, rather than hindered, the goals of free American citizens.
Want to read more on this case? The first three are posts I wrote previously. The others are pieces I came across today.
·         Corporate Religious Freedom, 12-13-2013
·         Essential Religious Freedom, 2-6-2014
·         Fractious Fractional Argument, 3-24-2014
·         NPR report
·         IJ Review report
·         Buck Sexton on Glenn Beck Radio Monday morning
·         ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice) report
·         SCOTUS Blog analysis by Lyle Denniston

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Supreme Court Sampler

It’s that season, when all of us watch, with nailbiting expectation, to see who the winners and losers are.
No, I’m not referring to World Cup Soccer. That’s for normal households. In the Spherical Model household, we’re watching the Supreme Court rulings come in. (If I had a graphic arts team here at Spherical Model, I'd have justices in robes kicking around a soccer ball in a grand stadium. Please imagine that here.)
The biggies for this session (Hobby Lobby and others who don’t want Obamacare to force them to purchase things against their religious views) have not shown up yet. There are still a few more days.
But there are a few things that appeared so far this week.

Recess appointments--Canning v. NLRB (National Labor Relations Board)
This was a 9-0 decision, slapping the president’s hand for reaching into the power cookie jar. But it isn’t as strong a rebuke as it could have been. The Constitution expects presidential appointments to be subject to Senate approval or disapproval (advise and consent). The president doesn’t like to submit to that—even though he has a Democrat Senate, because there are enough Republicans that might bring up the inappropriateness of many of his appointees. He is not the first president to misuse the recess appointment procedure.
It’s in the law because, at the time of the founding, when the legislative branch took a break and people returned to their home districts, it could take weeks to call them back to reassemble. If a need came up during their absence, it made sense to make a temporary appointment, so work would not be held up.
It doesn’t take weeks to recall the Senate now. But the Constitution doesn’t include reasons and intentions, so presidents have used this clause for their own political purposes—more so as transportation becomes less and less an issue. The SCOTUS today ruled that, while the president can indeed appoint during breaks in session, he can’t decide that a long weekend is a break. Even 10 days is probably too short a break. The justices fell short of defining the length of the break, but clearly ruled that the president shouldn’t be doing what he’s been doing.
The more conservative members of the Court held that the rule should be when the legislature is actually not in session—probably just during their annual August break. I’m with them. My son Political Sphere suggests that they ought to have also added the requirement that the appointment be urgent, couldn’t have been made in time before the legislative session ended, or couldn’t wait until the legislative session was to meet again. And of course such appointments ought to be approved or disapproved as soon as the legislature meets again—rather than just letting the appointment stand. In other words, change the expectations for Senate approval of appointments back to what the Constitution requires. What a concept.
I heard several times today that this ruling was the 12th (maybe 13th) time SCOTUS has ruled unanimously against Obama’s executive power overreach.

Buffer Zones at Abortion Clinics—McCullen v. Oakley
In this Massachusetts case, there was a rule that within a 35-foot buffer zone, no one could enter the space near an abortion clinic except patients, workers, and anyone with business in the vicinity. In other words, no one could approach someone who might be going for an abortion and offer them “counseling,” or information that might sway their behavior.
This is a free speech argument. We’re talking about public sidewalks, which are traditionally places where demonstrations of speech are legal. And here the restriction is on specific speech on a specific topic—to prevent anti-abortion speech. Why that speech? Why is that targeted, but other speech could be allowed other similarly public locations? What makes the public space around an abortion clinic a non-free-speech zone?
The Obama administration supported censorship. The plaintiff asked for support of free speech rights. While there could be a safety issue to consider, the government must choose the least intrusive alternative. The Court could see that banning all free speech in a specified area, mainly to prevent speech on a specific issue, was not the least intrusive means. (A good discussion was on Hugh Hewitt's The Smart Guys segment Thursday--available by subscription.)
Here are a couple more of the rulings, with links to read further:
·         EPA Greenhouse Gas Regulation—Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency (read here and here).

·         Cell phone searches require warrant—Riley v. California (read here and here).

Meanwhile, in the Tenth Circuit Court, the state of Utah has been disallowed to define marriage. You’ll probably read errant headlines that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage has been found unconstitutional. That’s not really accurate. The 3-judge panel of the 10th Circuit ruled against the state, in a 2-1 split, based on the Windsor ruling of June 2013, which decided that the US DOMA law was wrong to define marriage as between one man and one woman if other entities (i.e., state governments) defined it differently. In other words, the Supreme Court was leaving the defining of marriages to the states. But every time it has come up since then, some court has decided that states do not have the right to define marriage as between one man and one woman, because it’s unconstitutional. Hmm.
So, the courts are ruling that defining a term in a contract cannot be done at the federal level nor at the state level. That is very troubling. So how can governments define terms in a contract? The way the unelected and nebulous but powerful politically correct police say they can, according to the whims of the day—of course.
In this case, Kitchen v. Herbert, the steps may include appeal to the 10th Circuit en banq (the full panel of 10th Circuit Court judges). That may or may not be tried or accepted. If it is, then that court will hear the case first. If not, it could go to the Supreme Court as early as this coming fall. In the meantime, the Court stayed its ruling (will not in the meantime allow same-sex “marriages” to take place while the issue isn’t ultimately settled).

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fears Realized So Far

Back in 2008, well before I had this blog, I wrote down the fears I had following the election of our current president. I used Facebook Notes, so I could look back at them later. 

The purpose here today is not to praise my prognostication skills; we have plenty of evidence of how limited those skills are. Rather, if there are things I knew easily in 2008, then there’s no reason to be surprised about them as they happen. 

Another day we’ll tackle the things that went beyond what I imagined.

Bold type means I was proven right, by 5 ½ years into the administration. Plain type means maybe I was wrong, or at least we don’t have obvious evidence yet; some of these were on my mind at the time, but haven’t kept my attention, so I might not know enough. Comments added today are in brackets and italicized. 

Fears in Wake of Election
November 6, 2008 

  • Troops will be quickly removed from Iraq, leaving that country vulnerable to invasion by Iran or other forces—breaking the word of the US and ruining our chances of being trusted in a coalition in the future.
  • Using troops for actions where there is no threat to US interests, nor request from US allies, such as Darfur. And, further, that US troops will be placed under the control of the UN, negating our sovereignty. [Syria could be an example. There are numerous examples of trying to subject us to the UN. But it hasn’t been as in-your-face military submission as I feared.]
  • Borders will not be enforced; “illegal alien” will cease to have meaning, since anyone here will be given citizenship rights, including welfare, draining the treasury and endangering the populous. [Granting of actual citizenship with voting hasn’t yet been accomplished—in part because of citizen outrage in 2010 or so.]
  • Porous borders will enable terrorists to enter the US, as well as drug trafficking and other illegal trade. [And human trafficking and sex trade, which I didn’t foresee.]
  • A major terrorist attack on US soil will soon happen. [Boston bombing is one; many have been thwarted, fortunately.] Efforts to protect the US, such as listening in on conversations between terrorists, will be prohibited. [No, I was wrong on this; what I didn’t foresee was the extent to which this administration would target citizens and claim they’re protecting us from terrorists. I should have known that, if something is a power, this administration will take it and run way beyond the limits.] Perpetrators will be prosecuted as citizens through the judicial system, rather than as wartime enemies. [Yes, often against military council, but sometimes prevented because the court system requires revealing our intelligence gathering methods to the enemy combatant and his legal team. Which is why GITMO exists, and hasn’t yet been closed down.]
  • Funding will be cut for the military, making it less able to defend us in the world. [Military generals suggest we can no longer sustain two war fronts, if called upon to do so.]
  • Equal funding will be spent on some nebulous “civilian force,” as Obama suggested, with equal funding and power as the military, to be used purportedly for natural disasters, but in reality to be used as enforcement against US citizens. [I don’t know if the funding is equivalent to military. But the recent BLM example is one; the BLM is made up of geologists, mineralogists, mapmakers, bureaucrats—and now also apparently its own SWAT teams. FEMA and Homeland Security also strike fear in the heart of innocent citizens.]
  • “Fairness Doctrine” will be enacted, removing free speech from Americans with opposing (conservative) points of view, starting with talk radio, but eventually will not be limited there (fear for internet). [This has been attempted, again recently, but has been unsuccessful because of constant vigilance.]
  • People speaking out against the president or his policies may be attacked and speared (as were Joe the Plumber and Sarah Palin). [The IRS scandal, showing targeting of non-profits the administration dislikes is well beyond what I envisioned; it’s closer to totalitarian regimes.]
  • Repeal of 1996 US DOMA law, and eventual enforcement of “same-sex marriage” in states that have laws and constitutions against it—ignoring the sovereignty of states to make these laws. This will lead to prosecution for differing views, loss of freedom of religion, loss of freedom for parents to decide on education of their children, loss of business freedom to refuse service when it goes against personal beliefs. [Yes. Some questions of state sovereignty are going through the courts, which is a tenuous thread for civilization to depend on. Note that I wrote this when the president was declaring he supported traditional marriage—because it was politically advantageous for him to say so at that time, but I knew better than to believe him.]
  • Taxes will increase on anyone considered rich (possibly as low as $42,000/year), as is certain to happen when Bush tax cuts expire in 2010, but taxes are likely to be raised on most taxpaying Americans in addition to that.
  • Taxes will increase for small businesses, causing less entrepreneurism, fewer jobs.
  • Taxes will be increased on corporations, leading to businesses leaving the US to locate in more favorable countries—which will mean less wealth created in US, and lower employment.
  • Tax will increase on capital gains, reducing incentive for investment, causing stock market drop. [Truthfully, I haven’t paid enough attention to capital gains rules to know how much effect this has had on the economic malaise, which has so many presidential-policy causes.]
  • Social Security taxes will be levied on income above $102,000, instantly raising rates for these earners by 7%, without any compensating benefit. [This was being discussed in 2008, including by John McCain. It hasn’t been accomplished. The upper limit continues to rise a bit annually, and is $117,000 for 2014. Social Security as a program, however, continues toward an inevitable fiscal cliff.]
  • Restrictions aimed at particular energy-related industries, reducing our ability to provide energy from our own resources, and possibly bankrupting major companies or entire industries: coal and oil in particular. [Solyndra, etc. Blocking XL Pipeline. Refusal to allow any new drilling on public lands, or new refineries. Nevertheless, drilling on private land has boomed, mainly in North Dakota and Texas, lowering our dependence on foreign oil. Yay! Obama took credit for this, despite his continuing efforts to thwart fracking and other techniques, in a recent state-of-the-union speech.]
  • Restrictions on energy use on individual Americans, which will hinder business and travel and lower standard of living for most Americans. [Attempted, but not accomplished, for the most part. But smart meters are in place for future purposes.]
  • Making unlimited abortion the national law, negating state laws across the nation—just one evidence of ignoring state sovereignty. [Attempted, not accomplished thus far. Supreme Court cases related to forcing corporations to pay for abortifacients of employees, regardless of the corporation’s religious beliefs, should see rulings any day.]
  • Replacing up to three Supreme Court justices with liberal judges who fail to acknowledge the supreme law of the Constitution, who willingly favor poor, minorities, and other special interest groups that currently have liberal approval. Justice no longer even attempts to be blind. In addition, other levels of judges will be filled with similarly activist judges, leaving a legacy of judicial activism for at least a generation. [Two so far. And, oddly, conservatives are in the position of hoping Ruth Bader Ginsburg holds on until a different president has the opportunity to appoint her replacement.]
  • Economic problems will return to the challenges of the Carter administration: double-digit inflation, high unemployment, double-digit interest rates, stock market recession or depression, and skyrocketing federal debt. [Yes, with the exception of double-digit inflation, which has been kept artificially low by low interest rates and printing money, which is a more invisible form of inflation. The rest is beyond the intensity and length of the Carter malaise. They refer to this as a slow but steady recovery.]
  • Socializing banking, energy production, and other parts of the economy that have thrived in a free market. [General Motors. Some other attempts, but mostly not fully accomplished.]
  • Socializing of medicine, leading to severely lowered services and service providers, and inevitable decisions to devalue statistically high medical risks: children born with genetic disorders, elderly, people with chronic illnesses, people whose lifestyle habits don’t coincide with the government’s requirements for diet, exercise, and other practices. [Obamacare passed in March 2010, in dark of night, with nefarious manipulations, and the failures on every level continue, beyond our fears. Actual death panels cannot be fully implemented until Obamacare succeeds. Incompetence on their part gives us hope there may still be repeal. Evidence of likely outcomes of Obamacare are before our eyes in the VA scandal.]
  • Revelation that the philosophies of this new president’s friends are actually his philosophies, and that is why he sought such alliances: terrorist methods for remaking America into Marxist country (Ayers and others), African racist supremacy over America and rest of the world (Wright, Pfleger and others), pro-radical Islam and anti-semitic (particularly anti-Israel) and anti-Christian policies (Kahlidi and others), organized crime and Chicago thuggery (Rezco and others). His cabinet and staff will be made up of people who, in normal times, could not be given security clearance needed to do their jobs. The president himself, under normal circumstances, could not be given security clearance. [I wrote all of this years before I read Stanley Kurtz‘s book Radical in Chief, which lays out the evidence. Dinesh D’Souza’s film 2016: Obama’s America was also informative in explaining the anti-American behavior we see in this president.]
  • Without the checks and balances of an opposite view in the legislature, judiciary, or media, he will lead as one would expect of one with the most liberal record in the Senate. [We at least got the brakes put on with a Republican House in 2010. Media has stuck by him, but is showing signs lately of cracking in the face of the onslaught of lies, which they have so long been expected to repeat.]
  • America will cease to be a superpower, or even leader among nations. The first step (after withdrawal from Iraq and negative consequences of that move) will be to destroy missile defense and nuclear weaponry, leaving the US vulnerable to attack from both rogue terrorist entities and rival world powers (such as China and Russia). [That’s what we’re seeing, and feel vulnerable to. And we can sense the president smiling about it off-camera.]

Using the Spherical Model, what we can be sure of is that Obama will not move us out of the southern hemisphere toward freedom, free enterprise, and civilization—because he prefers tyranny, controlled economy, and savagery.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Texas Talk--Part IV

This is the fourth and final part of my report on the Texas Republican Convention, from June 5-7. Part I and Part II were on some of the speeches. Part III and today's Part IV are on the platform debate.

If you read Part III, then you have some understanding of how the process works. It’s kind of a game against the clock. The priorities for debate are set long before the floor of 7000 or so delegates gets to work. The minority reports, dealing with the relatively simple issue of medical marijuana and then the more complicated issue of immigration, took until around 4:00 on Saturday afternoon. By this time, everyone is tired, and frustrated by the cumbersome discussion—which had included a 45-minute counted vote on some issue—but no one can go home until this thing is done. (Well, people can go home, but they give up their opportunity to participate, and their obligation to do the job of a delegate.)
So, under the pressure of impatience, then there’s the rest of the platform, up for debate, a possible 200 or so more amendments to wade through. And everyone’s thinking, “Let’s just get this over with.” That happens every time. It is a strategy, so there is as little floor debate as possible.
One amendment got put forward by a congressman, who was also a delegate. Under the heading Promoting Individual Freedom and Personal Safety, in a section called Internet Access, the plank talks mainly about an open and free internet, uncensored by government. But hidden in there is the statement “We support Net Neutrality.”
The proposed amendment was to delete that statement. “Net Neutrality” is code for a government program in which individual websites, bloggers, and others, are required to give “equal” space to competing points of view. That would mean, on this Spherical Model blog and website, I would have to “lie” about my beliefs every other post, or maybe half of every post. That’s totally unacceptable.
In debate, someone argued that the phrase didn’t mean that, that it meant simply that government had to be neutral about what is on a website. But the capitalization in the phrase implies a specific program—a program we have heard of and strongly protest. Why put the phrase in, if it is supposed to mean something else? The amendment passed—which means the phrase was removed from the platform.
No other amendments were discussed. Let me repeat that: NO other amendments were discussed. At this point, around 4:30, the “question was called,” and debate ceased. This is a tactic to ask the ultimate question: pass the platform as is, or fail to pass a platform at all.
That means that those 200 or so amendments that were filed the night before did not get discussed, because they did not get recognition on the floor. We do not even get to see what they related to (although a good number probably related to immigration, so they were already more or less handled).
There are some questionable things in the platform. These are the things the media is having a field day with. But THEY DID NOT GET DISCUSSED AT THE CONVENTION.
One of these is related to “reparative therapy” for homosexuality. The platform says: “We recognize the legitimacy and efficacy of counseling, which offers reparative therapy and treatment for those patients seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.”
This is a freedom issue. The “gay mafia” would like to enforce—and has been pretty successful in doing so—the belief that homosexuality and its associated lifestyle (including promiscuity, sexual addiction, and failure to create committed or exclusive relationships) is normal and shall not be treated. Therapists can forfeit licensing for attempting to treat, or even suggesting that there could be treatment.* Nevertheless, data shows a fairly successful rate of behavioral help for those who seek it. This plank does nothing but state the obvious: freedom should be granted to those who seek treatment or offer it.
The plank itself is pretty mild, and supportable by data, regardless of what the media might say. But it was not discussed at the convention. Did delegates read and agree with it? I did. But I have no way of knowing whether it crossed the awareness of other delegates.
Just a humble delegate, right before the
Saturday afternoon platform debate
There are other things in there that are ripe for ridicule—but were not discussed. Among these is: “Full Repeal of the 17th Amendment of the United States Constitution—Return the appointment of United Sates Senators by the state legislatures.”
This issue actually came up in a lieutenant governor debate, with Jerry Patterson accusing Dan Patrick of approving of repeal and then denying it. Dan Patrick actually said he understood the question, the history, and that it was probably a bad change made back in 1913. But that’s different from pressing for a repeal of that amendment now, 100 years later. I’m with Dan Patrick. It meant a loss of state sovereignty, and state representation. But there has been a century of gerrymandering since then, and I can’t say my trust in state legislatures (especially other state legislatures) is such that I prefer going back to their influence. It’s an academic argument that doesn’t belong in our platform. But there it is—because some group with that issue on their agenda maneuvered to get it included in the platform, expecting, accurately, that we wouldn’t have any debate on it.
There are confusing, contradictory  calls in the platform concerning constitutional conventions: “We strongly oppose any constitutional convention to rewrite the United States Constitution.” But in the very next plank, “We urge the Texas State Legislators to take the lead in calling for an Article V Amending Convention of the States, for the specific purpose of reigning in the power of the federal government.” Such a convention supposedly would not rewrite the Constitution, but would clarify that the government must abide by the Constitution. But why have a constitutional convention to say that? I know this relates in some way to a recent book by Mark Levin, which I haven't read. Nevertheless, I’m not in favor of these contradictory planks—which, again, had no debate.
The platform says, “We believe the Environmental Protection Agency should be abolished.” Maybe it should—but we did not debate that, and it’s kind of ridiculous to assume that everyone running as a Republican invariably agrees with this.
There was this little plank: “Voting Rights—We support equal suffrage for all United States citizens of voting age who are not felons. We oppose any identification of citizens by race, origin, or creed and oppose use of any such identification for purposes of creating voting districts.” That makes so much more sense to me than assuming only people of a certain ethnic, gender, or racial group can represent others of that group. Ideas, beliefs, and convictions are what matter. Gerrymandering to have “black” or “Hispanic” representatives is anathema to freedom. But, again, this was not debated.
The first page of the platform has a preamble, and a list of 11 principles. I think these are the same as in the last platform, and maybe the one before that. That single page—without the following nearly 40 pages—would be a better total platform. Less for media to dig at and ridicule. Less disagreement among otherwise united conservative party members.
It may be helpful for grassroots to have some way for concerns to bubble up and get talked about; I’m in favor of that. The rest of the platform might prove informative prior to the next state legislative session, but it’s not really a statement of our beliefs.
But a platform ought to be solid, simple, and agreed on by practically everyone in the party. That single page would serve us well. Then we could boldly speak our clear message, as all those speakers encouraged us to go forth and do.
So, my advice, when the platform becomes available online (2012’s is here), check out the first page, learn to put those conservative concepts into your own words, and let people know that’s what we really believe.
* A good illustration is a seven-part piece in 2007 by Mike Adams, “Of Mice and Mormons,” about a family therapy master’s degree student who asked his program supervisor where to refer a client who was asking for help with unwanted same-sex attraction; for asking the question, the student was persecuted: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Texas Talk--Part III

This is the next part of my report on the Texas Republican Convention, from June 5-7. Part I covered Ted Cruz’s speech (which maybe was a preliminary to running for president). Part II covered some of the other big speeches: Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and Rand Paul. The theme of the speeches, put together, was to speak the conservative message—Constitutional freedom and prosperity—and speak it with a welcoming but bold clarity.
Now we’re covering some of the nitty-gritty business of the convention: the platform. The platform ought to be the bold, clear message those speeches suggested that we share. Hmm.
It’s going to take two more posts. Today gets us through what was actually debated—mainly concerning immigration. And part IV will cover the rest of the platform—most of which was not debated.
First, a little background on the making of the platform.
·        Step 1 is probably to start with what’s in the previous platform, instead of simply from scratch.

·        Step 2 happens at precinct caucus meetings. Individuals meet together, after the polls close on primary election day, and elect delegates to the next level convention and propose items for the platform. Those that the precinct supports get sent to the platform committee at the state senate district level.

·        Step 3: Proposals from the precinct are read, sorted, categorized, combined, and reworded by the platform committee, made up of precinct chair volunteers in the senate district. They do some of their work prior to the one-day district convention, and then they take public testimony at the convention.

·        Step 4: This committee presents its draft, and then the floor is opened up for debate. More proposals can be offered from the floor. Amendments can be offered. Depending on the size of the district (mine is maybe the biggest in the state, with multiple delegates from 700+ precincts), this can be unwieldy, but Roberts Rules of Order are in place to protect and frustrate the process.

·        Step 5: The draft of propositions from each senate district across the state (there are 31) get sent to the Temporary Platform and Resolutions Committee (TPARC) of the Republican Party of Texas. This committee of appointees starts meeting on Monday of state convention week, weeding through the 3000 or so resolutions. They go through the process of weeding through, combining similar statements, seeing what is widely believed across the state, and trying to come up with a draft platform.

·        Step 6: This drafting process includes dividing into several subcommittees, taking public testimony over two days, and then coming together with about 300 draft platform planks by Wednesday evening, followed by more public testimony Thursday morning.

·        Step 6: Senate districts caucus and elect permanent platform/resolutions committee representatives. Often this is a formality in which the appointed temporary platform person gets elected to the permanent committee. However, this year there were a number of temporary committee people who were replaced in their caucuses. More on that in a minute.

·        Step 7: The Permanent Platform and Resolutions Committee (PPARC) meets Thursday evening, after the district caucuses. They take additional brief public testimony. Then they vote on what goes into the platform.

·        Step 8: By Friday afternoon the Report of the Permanent Platform Committee is printed and provided to the full body of delegates. Amendments to this platform can be submitted, in writing, up to 6:00 PM Friday. There were some 200 such amendments filed.

·        Step 9: On Saturday, the final business of the convention is to debate and vote on the final platform. This is an open floor debate with some 7000 or so opinionated people, discussing their various views. Roberts Rules of Order are followed, with a parliamentarian helping the state party chair keep the chaos to a minimum.
So it is this final step we’re looking at.
In that Thursday evening debate, with a significant change in the makeup of the PPARC from the TPARC, a couple of issues came to the top: medical marijuana and immigration. These became minority reports in the report. A minority report is a suggested amendment, signed by at least 7 members of the permanent committee, filed immediately after the close of the committee meeting—and they get handled as amendments prior to other amendments handled from the floor.
In the floor debate, the two minority reports related to medical marijuana were handled first, because they were simplest.
One was to include this language: “We believe that Texans should have legal access to medical cannabis as a controlled narcotic prescribed by a physician.” There was respectful testimony, from physicians and others, on both sides. Some on the “pro” side tried to convince the body that this referred not to cannabis in the form that can be smoked, but only to essential oil forms, which can be used for children suffering from seizures. Touching—but the wording is not limiting; it is open to pretty much any “physician’s” definition of medical use—which has led to a lot of abuse in states where it has been tried. The body rejected this.
The other minority report (suggested amendment) concerned studies of cannabis. The minority suggested removing this line from the platform: “We urge the Texas Legislature to allow, encourage, and facilitate the study at our Texas medical schools the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis.” Now, this is in a plank related to allowing citizens to choose their nutritional products and alternative health care choices. The rest of the plank allows freedom to choose. But this wording isn’t simply the typical libertarian “allow choice to use drugs” plank; it is putting the power of the Texas legislature into the business of encouraging and facilitating (i.e., provide funding for) these studies of a specific substance—that has been studied out the wazoo already elsewhere, so there’s plenty of testimony without further funding. Nor is there a prohibition of studies if the Texas legislature doesn’t get behind them.
The body agreed to remove this phrase. But this was a closer vote, and people next to each other could respectfully disagree. There was some perception that it was a good thing to just “be” in favor of research.
I have to say, this is the first year I have sensed anything like a significant presence in favor of medical (or recreational) marijuana. There’s a larger libertarian presence in the GOP than there used to be. On some things, that’s good, but on vice, including mind-altering “recreational” drug use, it’s a bad thing. [See "Why I’m Not Quite a Libertarian"  and "Libertarians on the Sphere"].
Mark Ramsey
The other minority report concerned immigration. Mark Ramsey, my district’s temporary and permanent resolutions committee representative, explains:
By far the most controversial topic was what to do with the immigration plank that in 2012 was consolidated into a single comprehensive one called “The Texas Solution” by its supporters (2012TS). By the time the full TPARC met Wednesday, it was already unrecognizable compared to 2012. MAJOR changes had been made to it, undoubtedly influenced by the huge popularity and recent election landslide mandate by Sen. Dan Patrick in the race for Lt. Governor.
Major differences in the immigration planks’ details include whether the border is secured “first,” who determines that it is secure (states or federal government), and whether any visa or guest worker program must wait until the border is secured. Other variables include insisting applicants speak English, preventing visa applicants from obtaining public assistance, specifying those here illegally cannot participate in legalization (visa/citizenship/etc.), whether to address “mass deportation,” penalties and back taxes, and building a fence.
The minority report failed in committee in a 15-15 vote (the committee chair, by tradition, does not vote, and a tie is a fail). Unfortunately, the full Immigration plank and the full Minority Report are both too long to include here, so I’ll just summarize as best I can.
The platform plank has three paragraphs of introduction. Then it has sections on securing our borders first (with details of how), opposing amnesty, opposing mass deportation, modernizing immigrations laws (with some probably too detailed suggestions), and a provisional visa program.
The minority report claims it is taking its language from Dan Patrick’s website—but it did not coordinate with, nor get permission or approval from the senator, and there may be disagreements in content and intent. It covers increasing border security, ending in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, enhancing smuggling laws, prohibiting sanctuary cities, prohibiting employment of illegals, providing landowners with civil liability protections, and protecting law enforcement officers when they inquire concerning legal status of someone in custody.
Then it suggests various details ways to modernize current immigration laws.
Here’s the situation: immigration is in part a PR problem for the party. We agree we need to secure the border and enforce current immigration laws before anything else is even worth doing. And we agree that we approve of LEGAL immigration, and encourage that in many positive ways. But the perception is that, if you don’t handle “comprehensive reform,” regardless of the numerous failures of government regarding the border, then you get called “anti-immigrant.”
I took this photo from a distance; it seemed so
quintessentially Texan. I learned later this citizen is
Jack Finger from San Antonio.
Nationally, GOP leadership has dabbled in the idea that pushing for “comprehensive reform” (i.e., making a path for citizenship for illegals already here, while doing nothing about the porous border) would get us more Hispanic voters; if you want to see how that is going over, take a look at the recent loss by Eric Cantor.
Anyway, there’s probably a 60/40 split between those who want border security before any discussion of anything else (the 60%) and those who say we must be realistic about dealing with the long-term illegals already here.
Mark Ramsey, recognizing the considerable size of both sides, suggested an amendment to the original platform, which might preclude the need for the minority report. He suggested changing the “Provisional Visa Program” part of the immigration plank thus:
In order to deal with the current undocumented population, only after the borders are secured and verified by the states, we urge Congress to enact establish a provisional visa program with a term of five years that does not provide amnesty, does not cause mass deportation and does not provide a pathway to citizenship but does not preclude existing pathways.
The purpose was to put in a trigger, forcing the border to be secure before the other issues could be dealt with. The Ramsey Amendment, as it came to be called, passed.
But then we went back to the minority report, in the form of another amendment, including much but not all of the minority report. This amendment, if passed, would replace the full immigration plank, including the Ramsey Amendment.
There was a fair amount of debate. But debate was frequently—too frequently—interrupted by questions such as “So, if the minority report passes, it means the immigration plank, including the Ramsey Amendment, is replaced, and no more amendments can be put forward on immigration?” Answer: yes. Then another person would interrupt with practically the same question. Eventually the minority report passed.
So, the immigration plank is more hard-nosed than the body of Texas delegates would actually feel. Nevertheless, the message that border security must be accomplished—and verified by Texas—before anything else happens is the clear, bold message that we mostly agree on.
Is there an anti-immigration sentiment in Texas? No. But there is no longer any patience with the federal government ignoring laws and dumping the results of lawlessness on our state. And we believe, if spoken clearly and boldly, Hispanic Texans will agree with us. Because there aren’t Hispanic Texans and regular Texans—there are just Texans.
Then there’s the rest of the platform. We'll finish that in part IV.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


We interrupt our three-part Texas Talk post for this Sunday extra, because it’s Father’s Day. It will be short, with links, things I came across this week, which I might have noticed even if I hadn’t been thinking about Father’s Day.

Last week I was driving home from the GOP Convention in Fort Worth, which took even longer than it should have, because 40 miles out of town, I realized my camera wasn’t with me. Failing all other options, I drove the 40 miles back, was lucky enough to find a door open at the convention center, and I walked past workers to me seat and found my camera (yay!). So it was an extra-long drive. And the read-aloud feature on my Kindle crashed, so I couldn’t get through the book I’d been in the middle of. Fortunately, I was in the good car with satellite radio, and I tuned in to BYU Radio. The Matt Townsend Show was on "Fathers and Daughters." The discussion included an interview with Dr. Meg Meeker, who wrote (among many books) Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know. I couldn’t take notes, and I’m not sure I heard a list, but one customer says it’s better than expected. Instead of a prescription of what a father needs to do specifically, it’s ten specific developmental needs a girl has that are best met by a healthy relationship with a loving, involved father in her life. In other words, it’s the evidence that what a father is doing is every bit as important, long-term, as it feels when he holds in his arms for the first time.
In case that wasn’t convincing of the worth of fathering, a recent study from social scientist Brad Wilcox on the physiological transformations fathers go through by parenting, called “Mother Bodies, Father Bodies.” Female physiological changes from becoming a mother are somewhat more obvious. But it turns out that some things happen to dads as well, and for the most part they point men toward greater civilization.  Men become better human beings when the engage in good parenting.
Dr. Brad Wilcox
In an interview about the study at National Review Online, Dr. Wilcox said,
After kids come along, men are more likely to be engaged civically in their communities in activities ranging from youth soccer to church. Furthermore, they typically work harder and earn more money after they become dads, provided that they live with the mother of their children. One study found that “married, residential, biological fatherhood is associated with wage gains of about 4 percent, but unmarried residential fathers, nonresidential fathers, and stepfathers do not receive a fatherhood premium.” So, men become more engaged at work and in civil society in the wake of assuming the role of fatherhood.
Many of the outcomes of good fathering reinforce what sociological studies have been showing for some time. Additionally, though, Dr. Wilcox says having an involved father in the home actually leads to better mothering from mothers—assuming the father is doing his job well. To reap that benefit, he said, “It’s crucial for married fathers to do their best to be attentive, affectionate, engaged in the practical work of the home, and thankful towards their wives.”
He ended the interview, with this Father’s Day wish:
A simple and sincere “thank you” from his family is all that many dads want this Father’s Day, I would say. It matters a lot for dads, especially in a society where fathers are often belittled or minimized in the popular culture, to have their sacrifices and love recognized and appreciated.

So, earlier in the day, our daughter, Social Sphere, posted this daddy-daughter photo from her wedding day. There are plenty of stories to tell, but in that photo is the evidence that Mr. Spherical Model has done the daddy job pretty well.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Texas Talk--Part II

This is part II of a three-part piece, reporting what I observed at the Texas State Republican Convention last weekend. Part I covered Senator Ted Cruz’s speech, which was important because he was so clearly the Texas favorite for a 2016 presidential candidate—and it was a good speech, which we never hear from our current president. Today we’ll cover highlights of some other speakers. And in part III we’ll get to the part that’s been coming up in the news, concerning platform debate, which I found interesting but much less contentious than the media portrays it.

Greg Abbott speaks at Texas GOP Convention
Speeches aren’t really the business of a convention, but they are an opportunity for sharing views, and getting the hardcore grassroots of the party excited about candidates. More of that happens in a presidential election year. But this year includes a number of statewide Texas races: governor, lieutenant governor (that’s like vice-governor in Texas, a position with a lot of influence over the state senate), attorney general, railroad commissioner (a three-person commission over mainly the oil and gas industry and other natural resources), and agriculture commissioner.


Greg Abbott—Attorney General, Candidate for Governor
I want to cover Greg Abbott’s speech first. He is the current Texas Attorney General, and has used that position to sue the Obama administration numerous times. He has prevailed on allowing displays of the Ten Commandments. There are many cases still pending related to Obamacare, but he does understand the 10th Amendment and has been asserting those rights first through legal channels, which was his job. (Ted Cruz served under him as Solicitor General before running for senator.) I have liked him since the first time I heard him speak—at a state GOP convention ten years ago. He’s been one of my favorites every year. So I was pleased to know he was running for governor, and I’ve been behind him from the beginning.
He’s a lawyer, so you expect a cerebral approach to things, and you get that. His campaign theme is Bicentennial Blueprint. In 22 years from now—when babies born today will be about ready to graduate from college and get out into the world—Texas has its 200th birthday. That is, when it won independence from a tyrannical Mexican dictator and became an independent republic, before some years later becoming a state in the United States. So, he points out that Texans have been pioneers in oil, in ranching, and even space exploration. “Texas is truly exceptional.” So he’s asking what it will look like 22 years from now. Because he and his opponent, Wendy Davis, have very different visions of what Texas should look like.
“Her prescription is more government. My prescription is more freedom,” Abbott says. Texas is the best business climate in America now. How to you get it better?
·        Limit the size of government, to stimulate the private sector to create jobs—so you keep more of your hard-earned money.
·        Government must live within a budget. Don’t allow the Rainy Day Fund to be used like an ATM machine. Debt today becomes taxes tomorrow. All levels of taxing entities in Texas must post online how they’re spending their budgets.
·        Government answers to you—not the other way around.
·        Reduce property taxes.
·        Prioritize roads and water. Protect the water supply. And build roads without raising taxes, fees, or tolls.
He inserted some humor here. In case you don’t know, Greg Abbott is in a wheelchair. When he was in his 20s, a couple of years after getting married, he was out running and a tree fell on him, leaving him paralyzed. I’ve heard him tell that story before, adding, “People assume I must have been the world’s slowest runner, if I couldn’t outrun a tree.” This time, talking about roads, he said, “There are places where a guy in a wheelchair can go faster than a car in traffic. Elect me governor, and I’ll get Texas roads moving again.”
Confetti Storm after Greg Abbott's speech
He also said his main plan for crime is to secure the border. “Cartel activity has contaminated across the state,” he said. Priorities are messed up. “The government stops a valedictorian from mentioning God, but doesn’t stop drug cartels.”
And while he was on federal failures, he added Obamacare and VA care: “The federal government doesn’t have a clue how to run healthcare. Get government out of healthcare. Let doctors and patients make decisions.”
“Patients first; bureaucrats last.” Of veterans, he said, “Having served on the front lines, they should go to the front of the line to get healthcare.”
He said the cornerstone of his Bicentennial Blueprint is education. His wife has been a teacher and principal, so he has some contact with the front lines. Texas reigns in jobs, energy, exports, and business climate. “It’s time for Texas to become number one for education of our children.”
I tend to cringe when anyone in government talks about education, but I think he gets it. “The job of government is to set the vision,” he said. And added that we need genuine local control, including allowing opt-outs from hurdles put in the way from the capitol in Austin. “Teachers and parents know better how to educate than bureaucrats.” And he’s against so much standardized tests. He said, what will matter in preparation for tomorrow isn’t how a student does on some test, but how prepared they are for life. He emphasized, we’ll “drive a stake through the heart of C-SCOPE (Texas’s version of Common Core) and never allow it.”
One highlight of his speech was what you might call the outreach part. He said the blueprint is to live up to greater opportunity for all, “Regardless of race, religion, or zip code.” And he said his family mirrors the state of Texas. His wife is the daughter of an Irish father and Mexican mother, and he is the son of Anglo parents. “Juntos somos una familia.” (Together we are a family.) “This blending of culture works in the Lone Star State.” I think he’s right about that. You see that at our local tea party meetings, and at the convention.
If he is elected governor, which I am planning on, his wife will be Texas’s first Hispanic first lady. The democrats, meanwhile, are offering a divorced, gold-digging, self-centered blonde, whose claim to fame is a pointless filibuster of a bill to limit late-term abortions to the point where fetuses are known to experience pain. Sometime I’ll talk about the “abortion Barbie” candidate. But for now, let’s just say, Greg Abbott is going to make an excellent governor of the biggest, most conservative and therefore most thriving state in the union.

Dan Patrick—State Senator District 7, Candidate for Lieutenant Governor

Dan Patrick is my state senator. So I’ve talked with him in person, and heard him speak in person many times. Plus, he’s had a radio show I started listening to when I moved to Texas. So I feel like I know him well. And he’ll be an excellent Lieutenant Governor.
Senator Dan Patrick
His speech at the convention was on fire.
“There’s this thing called Battleground Texas—they’ve picked the wrong ground to battle on.” That was his beginning. In case you’re not familiar, Battleground Texas is a sub-ACORN organization with the purpose of turning Texas blue (democrat). Mathematically, if they could do that, Republicans would never again win a US presidential race. But it’s not going to happen—because we’re being vigilant, which those guys aren’t used to facing.
Dan Patrick said, “We are the high ground on liberty. They live in a valley where the desert never blooms freedom. We will win on the high ground of principles.”
Much of his speech was on how to get the message out of who we are and what we stand for: life, job opportunity, educational opportunity. This “Be bold,” and “Share the Message” was something of a theme through all of the speeches, and probably a good plan of action for all the grassroots going forward.
His opponent, Leticia Van de Putte, he said is an ideological copy of democrat candidate for governor Wendy Davis: “Nothing she stands for has anything in common with any American or Texan.” He listed a few: “They’re for abortion, and against school choice. They’re for Obamacare, and against border security.”
Immigration is a big issue with Dan Patrick. “We’re not against immigration—we’re against illegal immigration. Hispanics are with us on securing the border.” I didn’t get all the numbers written down, but I think these are what he shared. There are 100,000 gang members in Texas, here illegally. In four years there were 113,000 violent criminal aliens arrested, and then released; 79% went back mostly into San Antonio. There are 700,000 young adults that have come in in the last several months, causing a humanitarian crisis. Our service centers are almost full, so that, if we have a hurricane or other emergency (likely in any given year), we have no place to evacuate our own citizens.
His policy on immigration is pretty much equivalent to mine: Secure the border first. No pathway to citizenship for those here illegally. Once the border is secure and no special gimmes are offered, then deal with those that are still here. (Need I point out that this is what Romney said in 2012?) And when is the border secure? “It’s secured when Texas tells Washington it’s secured—not when Washington tells Texas it’s secure.”
He’s headed the Education committee in the state senate, and is clear on education issues. (I know he’s been educated along the way on homeschooling.) Like Abbott, his wife has also been a teacher.
He’s for lower property taxes—so we don’t forever “rent” our own property from the state of Texas.
Unlike his relatively good predecessor, Dan Patrick promises, “I’m not going to put democrats in leadership of committees.” Yay!
He points out how oil and gas is an example of free enterprise working. In Midland, he says McDonald’s pays a bonus to attract workers. That’s what happens when there’s full employment and opportunity.
He’s traveled the state in this campaign, with some 1000 meetings. With no entourage. He has had a chauffeur. And a bodyguard. “She’s the same person, my wife of 39 years.”
He has been effective in the state senate. At age 63 he has no aspirations beyond being Lieutenant Governor. I believe him when he says he wants to serve, because I’ve seen that’s what he’s done consistently. 


Rand Paul—Senator from Kentucky
Rand Paul isn’t a candidate for anything in Texas. However, he was born and raised in Texas (son of former US Representative Ron Paul). He grew up in Lake Jackson, south of Houston, and went to Baylor, where he met his wife, a Kentuckian, which is how he ended up there. There’s a possibility he might run for president in 2016. So he came home for the convention. 

Rand Paul has the talent of talking to a room of 8,000 people as if he’s in your back yard having a casual chat over barbecue. He’s fun to listen to. And on ideas I like him better than his father. Still, there are things I disagree with him on, as I do with many libertarians. But he’s fairly careful about how he says things, and I believe we could occasionally disagree without rancor. There are so many things to agree on.
Senator Rand Paul
He starts out, “I’m a little annoyed with Obama right now.” He refers to the illegal release of five Taliban higher-ups from Guantanamo. He referred to the marine who accidentally crossed the border into Mexico and is being imprisoned there, Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi. He suggested it would be a better idea to trade five democrats for the marine—“John Kerry, Hilary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi….” Later, news media attacked him for this suggestion. He said to lighten up; it was a joke. “Except for Nancy Pelosi; I was serious about her.”
He talked about how difficult it is to cut even the rate of growth of government spending. During the shutdown, he said everyone in government was “asked to list who was essential and unessential on our staff. So I asked my staff to get together the list from the EPA, the IRS…” Those entities listed 90% of their staffs as unessential. Still, they manipulate things so that the unessential get paid while not working. “The government could be shut down completely, and it costs more than when it’s open.”
He’s good with examples. “One woman was paid for not working—over $100,000 a year—and hadn’t even clocked in in five years.” They didn’t fire her.
One government employee was discovered to be downloading port six hours a day. He wasn’t fired.
There was John Biele, a senior EPA official, who collected a salary for work he didn’t do—for 13 years, getting $150,000, whether he showed up or not, and the time he didn’t show up totaled 2 ½ years. He told the EPA that when he wasn’t in, it was because he was on secret assignment with the CIA. It took more than a decade before that TV script story was questioned, and someone called the CIA and found out he’d faked the story.
“But the democrats say there’s nowhere we can cut.” So he offers help. There’s $100 billion in the budget unaccounted for. A simple hiring freeze, allowing for attrition, would save $6 billion a year. We pay $20 billion a year keeping up unoccupied federal buildings. We pay $20 billion in aid to corporations—an average of $200 million a year to each company receiving corporate welfare.
He admits that the 2/3 of mandatory social spending, like social security, requires some difficult choices. But he suggests we raise the retirement age by 1-2 months a year for 30 years. He offered this solution, and asked the democrats to “work with us, do the right thing.” The response? They accused him of “pushing grandma off a cliff.”
A third of the budget goes to the military. During the shutdown, the president was afraid you might not notice—“so he had to make you notice.” He closed down private monuments. One great image was of WWII veterans cutting through the barrier tape.
He told of one ridiculous example: Twiggy the waterskiing squirrel. There’s $3 million in the budget for this. Now, compared to the whole budget, when they’re saying we can’t cut anything—we find Twiggy? It turns out, Twiggy the waterskiing squirrel is used to promote American walnuts in Spain. “I’ve got a suggestion,” Paul says; “If you’ve got a walnut farm, pay for your own d**n advertising.” When it came to a vote, Twiggy the Squirrel funding passed 320-90. It’s not just a democrat problem.
He took a moment to refer to the “Old McDonald’s Farm” of scandals, “here a scandal, there a scandal, everywhere a scandal.”
Benghazi means the death of four Americans. The ambassador had spent six months asking for reinforcements. Specific request: a DC-3, a 50-year-old plane, just in case they needed to evacuate. Hillary said no. They ended up begging Libyans to let them use a plane to evacuate.
Three days after turning down the Libyan ambassador’s request, she approved $100,000 for changing (I think he said) carpet in the Italian embassy. She approved $650,000 for Facebook ads. Later that season the Brussels embassy got $100,000 for landscaping, and $5 million went for crystalware.
In August 2012, Ambassador Stevens sent a cable to Hillary asking if she’d read his requests for help. She said no. “That is dereliction of duty.”
“To win nationally, we need to be a bigger, better, bolder pary. We need to keep on message and be bolder with our message.” There’s that “be bold” theme of so many speeches.
He reminded us Reagan was dramatically, boldly, for cutting taxes—to create jobs. We bring new people into the party when we speak that truth.
He said we’ll keep on emphasizing the Second Amendment—“Don’t give up on that. But also the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and First Amendments.”
There more examples—of abuses of freedom, and why we need the protections. And also ways to address those things in Congress. Here was one not likely to pass: “Cut congressional pay in half—have them there only half as much. And institute a work requirement.” He also said, “There’s no monopoly on knowledge in Washington.”
He ended with that bold theme again: “Bigger, bolder, better—with optimism.” He used a memorable image for this a quote historian David McCullough has used. It’s from painter Robert Henri, about the joyful, bold way he paints. Rand Paul changes it slightly for the political party: “Proclaim our message like a man coming over the hill singing.”
I believe a bold, clear, uncompromising message is many times better than defensive, compromising off-message talk. Let’s defend the Constitution, let people know why we believe in it, show why it makes better opportunities for everyone. Conserving the Constitution has so much more to offer humanity than any other political path. That bold talk is something I really like about Texas.