Posts Tagged ‘Republican Party’

Stupak and the Blue Dogs caved / drank the Kool-Aid / got bought off — don’t hold your breath for that executive order, Bart — and the Senate’s bill passed the House. Now what?

Painting of the Battle of Waterloo

Famous painting of the Battle of Waterloo, by Robinson (c. 1820)

Some on the Left (and part-time Republicans like David Frum) are saying that the passing of Obamacare signifies a “Waterloo” moment for the Republicans & conservatives. Now, I don’t know much about the Waterloo Campaign, but I understand that Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo marked the end of the war and the end of Napoleon’s rule. So, I guess this is supposed to be it for the Republican Party as we know it — the end of any meaningful resistance to Obamacare and the end of the days of influence/relevance for the GOP and its supposedly heartless, hatemongering, “Right Wing Conspiracy” cheerleaders.

Naturally, I disagree with the sentiment. For one thing, the poll numbers for Obamacare were clearly in our favor — somewhere between 60% & 70% were/are against it. Other surveys indicate that America still leans conservative. We may be down, but we’re not out. If I was a better student of military history, I might be able to come up with a better metaphor. I’m thinking maybe something to do with George Washington and his battered & beleaguered troops in the American Revolution. There were many battles, and they suffered many defeats. Yet, through a combination of “luck”, Providence, perseverance, bravery & skill, and the overconfidence & arrogance of their enemy, the American colonies won their independence against the superior numbers of their elitist, tax-obsessed oppressors. See the parallels?

Of course, this wasn’t just any fight, this “battle for healthcare reform”. It was one where the larger opponent tied the smaller opponent’s hand behind his back, took his gun and left him with a knife. And, as the fight progressed, the larger opponent kept changing the rules. (OK, I could try to carry this analogy out further, but it’s late, so I’ll stop.)

The Obama-Pelosi-Reid machine combined the radicalism of Alinsky, the corruption of Springfield and the machine power politics of Chicago. Sunday was a pressured, bought, intimidated vote worthy of Hugo Chavez but unworthy of the United States of America.

[But,…] This is not the end of the fight; it is the beginning of the fight…. The American people will not allow a corrupt machine to dictate their future. Together we will pledge to repeal this bill and start over. Together we will prove that this will not stand.”

Newt Gingrich

General Washington pulled victory from the jaws of defeat. So, what can we do? A number of things are already underway or in the works:

1) Republican Senators are doing all they can (within the rules) to fight the “reconciliation” maneuver being used to pass the House-required “fixes” to the bill. (For example, there is still the issue of whether “reconciliation” rules can be bent far enough to pass non-budgetary proposals.) From what I can tell, the “fixes” have to be passed as is, as a package. So, if any changes are made to the “fixes”, it will have to go back to the House for a vote. (Or, whatever Pelosi & Co. can cook up to get around a vote, if they don’t think it will go their way.)

2) Republicans in both houses are releasing “repeal” bills. It’s a longshot, and it won’t happen anytime soon — not with our current, Democrat-dominated legislature, of course. And it probably won’t have a chance until at least 2012. But, the reasoning is that a) talk in Congress, the media, & the public will keep the idea alive and “get lawmakers on the record” before upcoming elections; and, b) the bills will be in place for if/when Republicans regain the majority (see below). Some Republicans in Congress see such efforts as a distraction and an unrealistic goal. But, as Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said, “Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go after it.”

3) Over 3 dozen state governors and their attorneys general are suing Congress — 14 have already filed — for passing an unconstitutional law. Of the two main issues that come up, the first is the mandated health insurance. The argument (with which I agree) is that the Constitution gives no authority to the federal government to force any citizen to purchase any good or service, let alone from any particular merchant/source(s). The other concern is the unsubsidized billions of $ the states will have to come up with to support the millions of additional people being put into the Medicaid program. Most states are already casting about for ways to meet their budget; they can’t afford to have this thrown on top, too.

Gov. Butch Otter of Idaho

Gov. "Butch" Otter of Idaho (AP)

4) Meanwhile, a few states (beginning with Idaho and Virginia) are passing legislation to exempt their citizens from parts of Obamacare like “being forced to purchase government-approved health insurance.” As with the above lawsuits, the matter of federalism is also at issue. By instituting these federal laws, is the federal government infringing on the states’ sovereign rights?

5) It doesn’t really matter now, but had the “deem and pass” strategy been utilized by Speaker Pelosi to force Obamacare through without a House vote, Mark Levin — popular conservative talk-show host and constitutional law scholar — had already drafted a lawsuit to be immediately filed against President Obama, Att. Gen. Eric Holder, Sec. of Treas. Timothy Geithner, & Sec. of HHS Karen Sebelius for allowing such an “unconstitutional contrivance” to be used. (Not sure why Pelosi and Reid weren’t included.) Sort of a moot point now, but I am glad someone was prepared to challenge that ridiculous maneuver in court. There may still be opportunity for a similar challenge….

6) Stay Active! We need to continue to write; call; sign petitions; attend rallies; volunteer & donate to conservative candidates, PACs, Tea Parties, and other groups; etc. Let the current administration and its cohorts know that we will not stand idly by as they transform us into the European Union West. The rhetoric from the Right must be challenging and forceful, yet respectful (of persons & offices, not ideas). Marxist thought may be tolerated in America — people are free to read, say, and believe what they want — but it is, arguably by definition, NOT American and should have no part in our government.

7) Take back Congress and Take back America! In November 2010, we can begin voting out/against any candidates who aren’t & weren’t fully against Obamacare. We cannot let a few months’ time wash from our memories the stain that they left on the Constitution and our freedoms. We must vote solidly conservative leaders into office, so that they can begin repealing Obamacare, either in pieces or as a whole, if possible. We must replace it with REAL healthcare reform — common-sense, patient-centered, market-driven, and not under Big Brother’s control.

Let’s make Washington proud. George Washington, that is — as well as the rest of America’s Founding Fathers and the Framers of the U.S. Constitution. Let’s get America back on track! Can we do this? With the right people, the right strategy & tactics, with focus and perseverance, and with blessings & guidance from God above… “Yes, We Can!”

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What should one look for in a candidate for U.S. Senate? A certain amount of intelligence, competence, ability to work well with others. A bit of leadership experience would be nice, but not necessarily the same amount as one needs in a governor or president. Someone who is familiar with the issues of the day, though not necessarily an expert. (That’s what aides and advisors are for.) An innovative thinker. A man/woman of principle, with personal and professional integrity. Someone who values service to his country and fellow-citizens over power and the privileges of office. And, last but not least, a healthy, originalist respect for the U.S. Constitution & Bill of Rights.

When Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison decided to run for Governor of Texas, she promised to resign her senatorial seat shortly after the election, whether she won or not. Before the ensuing special election, the then-elected Governor — who ended up being the incumbent Gov. Rick Perry — must pick someone to serve out the rest of Hutchinson’s term. (If she ever gets around to stepping down, that is.) This is where Michael Williams comes into the picture, because he threw his hat… er, name into the ring to fill that seat way back in Dec. 2008. So, who is this guy?

Michael L. Williams headshot

Commissioner Michael Williams

“I learned I could compete, could succeed and had value. That was the genius of my parents’ emphasis on religious faith, strong family and community bonds, self-reliance, hard work and learning.”

Michael L. Williams was born in 1953 to a pair of public school teachers who were very conservative but not particularly political. He grew up in Midland, Texas, excelling in academics (especially spelling, speech, & science), athletics, and student government. All of these aptitudes would serve him well in the coming years. After earning his law degree from USC Law School (1979), Williams returned to Texas to pursue his career. He eventually became an assistant district attorney in his hometown of Midland. In 1985, Williams married his wife Donna, a mechanical engineer who is now a regional V.P. for Parsons Corporation.

Williams has had the privilege of working in three executive departments of the federal government. From 1984-1988, he prosecuted hate crimes and police misconduct cases at the U.S. Department of Justice in the Reagan Administration, where he was awarded the Attorney General’s “Special Achievement Award”. (He prosecuted the KKK, who threatened his life.) Then he was assigned the office of Special Assistant to the Attorney General from 1988 to 1989. From 1989 to 1990, Williams served in the U.S. Department of the Treasury as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Law Enforcement. His duties there gave him policy oversight for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Customs Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. He was then (1990) appointed by President George H.W. Bush to be Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. All before he was 40.

Williams served as “of Counsel” with the Haynes and Boone law firm (1993-1996) and as General Counsel to a minority-owned high-tech corporation (1997-1999). He volunteered his services as General Counsel for the Republican Party of Texas, as chair of the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, and on the Board of Directors of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and Our Mother of Mercy Catholic School. He also taught in the School of Public Affairs and Texas Wesleyan School of Law as an adjunct professor at Texas Southern University.

Since 1999 Williams has served as one of the three members of the Texas Railroad Commission. But, don’t ask Commissioner Williams about railroads. (Well, you could….) As it turns out, the Commission hasn’t had anything to do with them since 2005. Instead, the RRC oversees & regulates oil, natural gas, and other energy issues. Originally appointed by Gov. George W. Bush in 1998 to fill a vacancy, Williams then handily won the special election for the unexpired term in 2000. The 2002 race was closer, but he won the 6-year term by better than a 13% margin. Williams ran unopposed for the Republican nomination in March 2008, gaining broad party support from several hundred Republican grassroots leaders across Texas, most members of the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC), 100+ county chairmen, and both members of the Republican National Committee (RNC) from Texas. Vowing to “develop new energy sources, create a pro-growth energy policy, control government spending, and produce the next generation of mathematicians, scientists and engineers,” Williams won that November with 52% of the vote. He is not only a commissioner but chairman of the RRC from Sept. 1999 to Sept. 2003, then again from June 2007 until present.

Commissioner Michael Williams on TV

Michael Williams on Texas Monthly Talks

Williams is proud to chair the Governor’s Clean Coal Technology Council and represent the Governor and the Commission on the Southern States Energy Board. He chairs the Governor’s Competitiveness Council and is a member of both the National Coal Council (an advisory board to the U.S. Secretary of Energy) and the Interstate Compact Commission. He also serves as “point person” for agency regulatory reform and technology modernization efforts. In Sept. 2005, Gov. Perry asked Williams to spearhead Texas’ long-term efforts for Hurricane Katrina relief, and he initiated the Texas response against the tragedy in Darfur. Until recently, Williams was Honorary State Chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Texas, which “helps to enrich, encourage, and empower children through safe, positive, one-to-one mentoring relationships.” He also created and co-sponsors a summer camp program — “Williams Future Innovators”, or “Winnovators” — that, in line with his campaign promises, encourages “the next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.”

According to Williams, central to his way of thinking is the question “What is going to uplift the community?” On any particular issue, what is going to enhance the freedom of individuals and the ability to control their own lives?

So, I know you’re wondering, what are Williams’ positions on the big issues? What is his record like?

Here are a few nuggets:

Government Size: “Government’s primary responsibility is to advance the cause of freedom and promote, protect and secure the inalienable rights that were endowed to us by God. As such, the proper role of government is both limited and subordinate to man. In its proper role, the federal government would refrain from usurping the proper functions that should be performed by state and local governments—who are closer to the people.”

Government Spending: “We need to bring greater transparency to spending to curtail waste, reform the flawed earmark process, and control the growth of government. Wasteful government spending puts a needless burden on the next generation….” He has been consistently against pay raises for federal workers, who already make much more than their private-sector peers. In fact, he has refused to accept his own (significant) pay raises, as voted on by the Texas legislature, 3 times in the past few years. He even cut the size of the Commission’s bureaucracy by 20%.

Taxes & the Economy: “The best tax system helps make poor people rich, not rich people poor. An efficient tax system has a broad tax base and a low tax rate. America has the second highest corporate tax burden in the developed world. We need to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit by cutting taxes and reforming the tax code with a flat tax…. The key to generating jobs and growth is cutting taxes instead of raising them. It is a fundamental issue of fairness, and it is critical to bringing America out of recession.”

Michael Williams signing pledge

Michael Williams signing Taxpayer Protection Pledge

Healthcare: “I don’t want either the insurance clerk or a government bureaucrat making healthcare decisions for me.” He wants patient-centered reform that encourages flexibility, choice, & competition; increased use of HSAs and no government-run “public option”.

Climate Change: “I believe that the science is unsettled…. I disagree that Man is the principle cause of any kind of warming of the planet. But, more important than that, I disagree with [the Obama Administration about] the economics and the financial costs that would be imposed by… whether it is Kyoto-style emissions reductions or whether it’s an EPA-mandated emissions reduction or whether it is Cap-and-Tax…. I call it ‘Cap-our-economy-and-Trade-our-jobs-to-China.”

Energy: “[O]ur motto should be ‘all of the above.'” Strong believer in “Drill, baby, drill!”, building nuclear power plants, utilizing more clean coal, harnessing wind power through the Texas corridor, and incentivizing the development of innnovative, clean, alternative-fuel technologies. His initiative called “Breathe Easy” advocates the conversion of Texas public and private fleets (especially schoolbuses) from diesel & gasoline to environmentally cleaner, cheaper and domestically-produced natural gas and propane.

Border Security/Immigration: “Border control is a matter of national security. Amnesty is an affront to the rule of law. To reduce illegal immigration, we must secure the border first with both physical and virtual fences as well as more patrols; aggressively enforce sanctions against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants; immediately deport immigrant felons; require applicants for a temporary work visa to return home and maintain a tamper-proof identification card…. For generations, immigrants have provided America with a great vitality and robustness. Coming to America must mean more than coming for a job. Coming to America is about coming to be an American. And it must be done in accord with the rule of law.”

War in Afghanistan: Primarily it should be a counterterrorist mission, making sure the jihadists cannot use Afghanistan as a base from which to export terrorism. Rebuilding the country is another mission, and a broader and more difficult one.

Further conservative credentials:

o argued against racial preferences in academic admissions

o lifetime member of the National Rifle Association

o helped get out the vote for Republicans as Chairman of Texas Victory 2004 and 2006

o served as Convention Chairman and Platform Committee Chairman at Republican Party of Texas’ State Conventions

o one of the original board members of the Texas Christian Coalition

Michael Williams with Newt Gingrich

Michael Williams and Newt Gingrich

Known for his signature bowtie, Williams is a popular, well-respected elected official in Texas. He is a devout Catholic and unabashedly pro-life and pro-business. He is a clear-thinking, articulate, and principled conservative, not to mention “an engaging and charming conversationalist.” And, he has the endorsement of solid conservatives like former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), and RedState. (Also, former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, whom I generally like, though I can’t bring myself to call him a “solid conservative”.) DeMint called Williams “probably one of the brightest stars in the country” among conservatives, and “we’ve got some great candidates around the country but none better than Michael Williams.” Barring any future scandal, he looks like a great candidate for the GOP.

No doubt about it, I like this guy. If you do, too, stop over at WilliamsForTexas for more information — maybe even sign up to volunteer or make a donation. We need more consistent, courageous conservatives like Michael Williams in the U.S. Senate.