Thursday, February 24, 2011

In Politics, As In Life, Sometimes “No” Means “No”

If a woman says “no” to the unwanted advances of a man, we hear that “no means no”. If that same man continues to badger the woman, after she says “no”, he is understood to be guilty of harassment.

When people badger a person to become a presidential candidate, to put their life on hold, travel the nation campaigning, open their life to the media and virtually unlimited scrutiny and of course expose themselves and their family to vicious attacks- even after that proposed candidate has eloquently articulated why they don’t feel they should run- what is that? Is it harassment?

Is it reasonable for well-meaning grassroots activists that would like a particular person to run for office to not accept “no” for an answer? Is there some obligation for a person to answer the call to run for office?

Allen West is a decorated, retired Army Lt. Colonel who served his nation in combat, with honor and distinction for more than twenty years- earning a Bronze Star, 3 Meritorious Service Medals, 3 Army Commendation Medals and a Valorous Unit Award. He then served as an advisor to the Afghan Army for three years.

After serving his nation, in the military and honoring his oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution from enemies, foreign and domestic, he returned home and ran for Congress (unsuccessfully) in the 2008 election cycle. Having garnered a very respectable percentage of the vote and building a solid and loyal following, Lt. Colonel West made the decision to run for Florida’s 22nd Congressional Seat again in the 2010 election cycle. He unselfishly put his life on hold and his reputation on the line- suffering brutal personal attacks on a daily basis- because he felt that his nation needed him again.

Lt. Colonel Allen West was victorious on November 2nd, 2010 and was sworn in as Congressman Allen West on January 5th, 2011. He has now been in office for less than 2 months.

Running for Congress is itself a full-time job. A candidate eats, drinks and breathes his/her campaign. They are on the road for many long hours. And yet, compared to running for President of the United States, running for the U.S. House of Representatives is a cakewalk.

In order to run for President, a candidate must travel to all 50-states (57 if they’re Barack Obama) as well as some of the U.S. territories. They must do countless media and public appearances, endure relentless scrutiny and be away from their home and family- for weeks and months at a time. It is a 24 hour-a-day, 7 day-a-week, 365 day-a-year commitment, that one should only embark upon if they are totally, 100% resolute to it.

Frankly, considering what a thankless job it is and the scrutiny that modern presidential candidates face, it is a wonder that any qualified person would even contemplate attempting to run for President of the United States.

Congressman West has said that he is “humbled” by those that think he would make a good president. But when asked directly if he was thinking at all of running for President or Vice-President in 2012, he answered just as directly, “Well of course not”. He went on to articulate why he would not run in 2012, without ruling out a run at some future date, by saying “It’s so important that we as conservatives avoid the cult of personality style of leadership. But we really do elevate people based upon merit and talent. And, you know, I have to prove myself as an American statesman, as a political leader, and not just someone that is able to, you know give some good speeches. I have to be able to get up there and create legislation and get legislation pushed through and make myself a game changer on the House floor.”

Rather than accepting the straight-talking West at his word, many have chosen to say that if enough people call upon him to serve his nation again- on their schedule- he will answer that call.

Allen West is undoubtedly an American patriot. With enough pressure applied and enough repeated requests for him to run, it is remotely possible that he may choose to run. But the question is do we want him to run, not because he thinks he’s ready, or because he believes himself to be the most qualified candidate, but because he feels he has some obligation to give in and to answer the call of the people? To put it another way, is it right to draft a man who has already served his nation voluntarily?

This writer knows Allen West and has only the greatest respect and highest regard for both him and his service to our nation. And because of that admiration and esteem must question whether it is selfish for the people that continue to push for Congressman West to run for President at a time that is not of his choosing.

There is no question that conservative-Republicans are eager, even desperate, for a proven leader to step up and assume the role of the 2012 GOP nominee for President of the United States. But we shouldn’t let that desperation lead us to harass a reluctant patriot to run for an office he has said repeatedly he does not wish to seek at this time.

In politics, as in life, sometimes “no” means “no”.

Steven Rosenblum is the host of ‘Conservative Republican Forum’- on BlogTalkRadio and a 2010 GOP Florida State House Candidate.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Michele Bachmann: “This Game Doesn’t Last Very Long and the Music Stops”

In an exclusive one-on-one interview, recorded earlier this week, I spoke with Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, for ‘Conservative Republican Forum’- on BlogTalkRadio.

The interview with the Congresswoman who sits on the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees, covered topics ranging from what qualities she would like to see in the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, to the efforts to defund, repeal and replace Obamacare, to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s handling of border security and immigration enforcement.

I began by asking her, “As a business owner, a mother and a constitutional-conservative what qualities would you like to see in the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee?” Bachmann- who has not announced whether or not she will run for President in 2012- answered, “What I think we need to have in the 2012 nominee is a strong, courageous, constitutional-conservative who will be willing to come in and make the decisions that will be very difficult ones that will have to be made, but they will be bold enough to do that and by example I would mean the full repeal of Obamacare.”

She went on to say, “…if we are able to replace President Obama in 2012, they [the nominee] will face down probably the largest spectrum of special interest groups that we have ever seen arrayed before and there will be screaming and wailing and gnashing of teeth from everyone, from the media… as well as industry groups who seek to gain by having contracts with the federal government on implementation of Obamacare. So I think we will need a very strong individual, we will need a person who understands our times, who knows what to do and has the requisite political courage to make those important and very strong decisions.

Congresswoman Bachmann, who is the founder and chair of the House Tea Party Caucus, was asked about the House Republican leadership’s commitment to their promise to repeal, defund and replace Obamacare and what rank-and-file Republicans should make of the decision of the House Rules Committee to reject an amendment, by Iowa Congressman Steve King (R)-to the Continuing Budget Resolution-that would have fully defunded Obamacare.

Bachmann seemed sincerely unhappy with the answer she had to give. She began by saying, “I think what rank-and-file Republicans need to understand is that there is a commitment.” However she continued by explaining, “the insidious nature of what President Obama and Speaker Pelosi put into place in order to actually implement Obamacare.”

“We were under the thinking that we would have it within our authority in the House of Representatives to defund Obamacare. What we came to understand- You have to remember because Speaker Pelosi infamously said “we have to pass the bill to know what’s in it”- what we came to understand is that Speaker Pelosi put the funding for Obamacare into mandatory spending (which is two-thirds of the Federal Budget, including Social Security and Medicare), which means we are prohibited by law from touching that spending. They knew what they were doing, because they knew that they wanted socialized medicine to continue even if they lost the majority.”

The Congresswoman urged conservatives not to lose hope. She said instead, “what this does need to do is give us motivation to make sure that we win the Triple Crown in 2012. In other words we have to win the White House, win the Senate with 60 votes and the House of Representatives. This will be an uphill battle, but we can do it. The Tea Party demonstrated that we can have victories and we need to band together and explain to people that the only way that we will get rid of this government takeover of private industry and all of the sea of red ink that the liberals are producing is if we replace the White House, the Senate and the House.”

In light of the disappointing information about the prospects of defunding Obamacare, I asked Bachmann whether eliminating the funding for the new IRS agents that would be needed to enforce some of the provisions of Obamacare was still a possibility.

Her answer to that was query much more promising: “That is something that we’re looking at; as well we want to be able to do that. And I’m so happy that you brought that up, Steve. It’s important that your listeners know that the enforcement mechanism for Obamacare is now through the IRS. So the IRS now will take on a dual role. Their original charge was to collect revenues for the government. But now the IRS will effectively become the benefits manager for healthcare. So now think of how bizarre this will be, when we have problems with our healthcare, we’ll be contacting the IRS because they will be the benefits manager. So this is just one more huge hassle and huge bureaucracy that’s being created. Because remember with Obamacare we’re not getting more healthcare. We’re not getting more doctors or nurses or more healthcare. We’ve bought a bureaucracy. So we will be spending over a trillion dollars on this new welfare system in healthcare, but all we’ll be getting is a bureaucracy and of course the bureaucracy’s job will be to say NO. So what a deal, pay more, get less, that’s the future of socialized medicine. And no other nation has had any other experience with socialized medicine other than pay more get less. So we have a motivation and a reason to get rid of this program. And trust me, between Steve King and myself and others we are going to continue to look at this to figure out anything that we can do to stop implementation of Obamacare.”

Next I asked Congresswoman Bachmann if she “thinks that anyone in the Obama administration really has a grasp of just how harmful continually increasing our debt and massive deficits are to our economy.” Her answer was direct and typical of this straight-talking Tea Party favorite, “No. Other than the Debt Commission, that the President supported, there is a column that came out today by both former-Senator Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the two co-chairs of the President’s Debt Commission- one a Republican, one a Democrat- they both agreed that not enough money has been cut, either by the administration or by the Republicans. They’re recommending that more be cut and that we deal with the obvious cost driver in this budget, which is the mandatory spending under all of the healthcare/welfare programs.”

In terms of the federal government’s unsustainable borrowing to pay for Social Security, Bachmann said, “This game doesn’t last very long and the music stops. And so we have to reform Social Security, we have to reform Medicare. Quite simply it must be done and we can do it, that’s the good news. So people who are currently on Social Security and Medicare they would be able to continue their same benefits- it would be very difficult for them to change their current circumstances- the government can keep our promise with them, but for future retirees we will need to make adjustments and I think we can actually make positive adjustments that would mean even a better ending point for future Americans.”

Moving on to the issues of border security and immigration enforcement, I asked her, “What is your opinion of the job Secretary Napolitano is doing on border and immigration enforcement?” Once again Bachmann didn’t mince words, “I think it’s been a failure. If you look at the statistics, we do not have an airtight border. We do not have a border that is impenetrable and everyone realizes that there can be mistakes and lapses. But unfortunately we would prefer that that would be the exception rather than the rule. The rule today is that there is fairly lax border protection… the first duty of government is to secure the safety and security of the American people and a large part of that as we have seen in recent years has been with a failure to secure our borders and our ports.”
Following up on the performance of Secretary Napolitano, I inquired whether it was appropriate for Secretary Napolitano to travel to the Afghan/Pakistani border and to actually deploy our very limited border patrol agents to help them secure a border that probably can’t be secured. The Congresswoman said, “That doesn’t really bode well for a good story line here in the United States when we are dispatching Americans to secure other nation’s borders. I understand that there can be an American interest in doing so, because that may mean that we would be saving the lives of our American soldiers, and I certainly am in favor of that. But I think that both of those ends do not need to be mutually exclusive. Because again she is the director of homeland security, and as such, her position demands I think a greater attention to securing the American borders and unfortunately that has not been done.”

My final question for Congresswoman Bachmann was about her reaction to the congressional testimony of the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who infamously referred to the Muslim Brotherhood as a “secular organization” that has “eschewed violence”. She was limited in what she could say due to her position on the House Intelligence Committee, but I think what she did say was telling. “I think there is information available publicly, to anyone who would like to discern that information, as to what the Muslim Brotherhood writes about themselves and what their positions and views are. And I think that is readily available for people to read. Now because of the position I hold on the Intelligence Committee, our committee is tasked with dealing with the nation’s classified secrets and because of that I am not in a position to comment.”

You can listen to this interview in its entirety (as well as our interview with a survivor of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon & author of ‘Pentagon Prayer’Dan Holdridgehere.

Steven Rosenblum is the host of ‘Conservative Republican Forum’- on BlogTalkRadio and a 2010 GOP nominee for Florida State House.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wisconsin- Political Backbone vs. Spineless Hypocrisy

The current battle over public employee benefits in Wisconsin is a contrast between those with political backbone and those who are politically spineless.

Republican Governor Scott Walker, facing a budget shortfall of $3.6 billion, has come to the correct conclusion that rather than raising taxes he must ask public workers – whose wages are paid by the taxpayers of Wisconsin - to contribute half the cost of their fixed-benefit pensions and 12.6% of their health coverage. In other words, to do the exact same thing private sector employees (those who have pensions anyway) have been doing for years -- pay their fair share.
In response to these modest demands, President Obama, Organizing for America, the Democratic National Committee, the labor unions and the Democrat members of the Wisconsin State Legislature have accused Governor Walker of launching “an assault” on unions.
In a gutless political stunt, the Democrat members of the State Senate fled Wisconsin in order to avoid having to take a vote. Although infantile and dramatic, this off-putting action will ultimately have no impact.
Speaking to Fox News’ Greta Van Sustren by phone, Governor walker said of the AWOL state senators, “They’re hiding out in another state. You know, unlike the vast majority of state and local government employees, most of those employees – 300,000 – showed up for work today,”

President Obama, who'd supposedly moved to the center, waded instinctively into the fray, predictably taking the side of the unions, noting "And I think it's very important for us to understand that public employees, they're our neighbors, they're our friends." He conveniently forgot that Wisconsin’s teachers make about $50,000 a year (for 9 months work), which increases to about $70,000 when benefits are factored into the equation. Moreover, the President also named police and fireman as “victims” of this allegedly unjust legislation, even though they are specifically excluded from its provisions.
As an example to their students, many of the State’s teachers called in sick and headed to Madison to protest the Governor and legislature. With apparent disregard for President Obama’s recent call for civility in public and political discourse they carried signs that compared Governor Walker to Hitler and Mubarak, some saying things like “One dictator down, one to go”. Another sign featured an image of the Governor with a crosshair over his face and the words “Don’t retreat, reload”. Ironically another sign urged, “Stop the hypocrisy”.
As more and more Americans realize that unions are not representing the best interests of their members -- the people they’re supposed to serve – let alone the nation, public opinion turns further against them. Governor Walker obviously recognizing this fact said of the protestors, “I’ve said all along: The thousands of people who are storming the Capitol have a right to be heard. But I’m not going to let them overshadow the voices of the millions of taxpayers in the state of Wisconsin who deserve to be heard, as well.”

At a time when states are trying to close huge budget shortfalls and unemployment is over 9% nationally, and in double-digits in many states, union members and leadership must recognize that if they don’t agree to concessions, they will join the ranks of the unemployed.
The actions of Governor Walker and the Wisconsin Legislature are necessary to save their state from financial ruin. Their move to curtail the collective bargaining powers of the big labor unions is a real threat to the dwindling power of unions and that’s why they and their Democrat allies are so scared. If the unions don’t get back to work and get with the program, the Governor should fire them all and hire non-union replacements to take their place.
As we’ve seen with Chris Christie in New Jersey and even Andrew Cuomo in New York, state governors across the USA realize that they have to show backbone and cut costs if they want to balance their budgets. The era of the spineless politician that caves in to unreasonable union demands and raises taxes is thankfully over.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Drill Domestically, End Ethanol Subsidies, Feed The World- A Formula For Stability Without Compromise

The recent collapse and destabilization of Western-backed governments in Middle Eastern nations like Lebanon, Tunisia and Egypt have created fears of a destabilization of the region, Islamic extremists seizing power (as they have in Lebanon) and the possible shutdown of the Suez Canal- leading to increased oil prices and supply shortages.

Politicians and pundits have been bloviating about the folly of American support for tyrants that, while friendly and/or helpful to us, deny their own people the freedoms that we take for granted. They have also questioned the implications of these dictators’ fall from power to us and of course Israel.

The question that no one is asking, even as the price of crude continues to rise, is why do we continue to leave ourselves vulnerable and compromise our principles- by supporting unsavory rulers and hostile nations-  by not exploiting our own natural resources?

Contrary to what President Obama and other liberals say, the United States possesses more oil, than all of the Middle Eastern nations combined. Instead of propping up despots and sending American jobs and money overseas, we could be drilling here at home and offshore.

So why don’t we open up drilling in the many areas within and offshore the United States that are currently closed to it? It’s certainly not because of environmental concerns. If it were the President wouldn’t have guaranteed $1 billion in loans to the Mexican state oil company PEMEX to drill in the Gulf of Mexico, while putting a moratorium on U.S. drilling in the Gulf. He also probably wouldn’t have made a similar arrangement with Petrobras, the Brazilian oil company so they could exploit an offshore field that they recently discovered.

Some say the reason we don’t “drill here, drill now” is because President Obama and his progressive allies want to redistribute the wealth to poorer nations. Others say it’s because we don’t care if Third World nations are ravaged and polluted as long as we get what we need from them.

The problem with both these arguments is that the people in oil producing nations are poor. Most of the money from the production of oil goes to the rulers and the oil companies, not the average person on the street. As for the environmental impact, there is little evidence that oil drilling has adversely affected these nations.

There is no doubt that if the United States were to announce tomorrow that it was going to open up areas that are currently off limits to oil and natural gas drilling in Alaska, the continental U.S., as well as off the Atlantic coast and shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico the price of a gallon of crude would drop precipitously and immediately.
If we were to end subsidies for ethanol and bio-diesel, the price of corn and soybeans  - artificially inflated by such subsidies- would fall, along with the prices of livestock feed and most foodstuffs.

This would be in the best interests of U.S. national security and would ease the financial strain on not only Americans, but also poor people around the world who are going hungry because of food costs and shortages. It would also end our “need” to support dictators in the name of stability, while turning their populations against us.

We could stop the stranglehold of OPEC and the tyrants that profit from it’s monopoly around the globe- some that are somewhat friendly to the U.S., some not- if our so-called leaders would end the lies, ignore the special interest groups and act in the interests of those they’re supposed to represent- We the People.

If we drill domestically, end ethanol, bio-diesel (and oil company) subsidies and use our crops to feed people- not cars- we can have long-term security without supporting tyrants or compromising our American principles.