Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Inevitable

Hello everyone. I have been pondering this for some time, but have been hesitant to pull the proverbial trigger.

If you haven't noticed (I'm sure you have), I have been contributing far more to Race42012.com and Conservatives4Palin.com and less here. Furthermore, I did not feel that I could keep this site up to my own standards under my current schedule, which does not allow for daily posts. So, I think that it is probably best that I officially put The Brickyard on indefinite hiatus. I won't say I'm shutting the place down - because I hope to eventually get back to a footing where I can successfully operate an independent blog. However, that is not the position that I am in currently, and I am passionate about both of the other projects to which I currently contribute.

So, obviously I am not going anywhere, but my posts will not be put up here. All of you in the comments section have been fantastic, and I love the feeling of community that we have created. That said, I also know that many of you are already part of the growing and vibrant community at C4P, and we can still get together there. I would also encourage your to get involved in the comments section over at Race42012, as our comments section has a reputation for being overpopulated with Romney devotees (nothing against Gov. Romney, BUT WE DESPERATELY NEED MORE PALIN PEOPLE!)

Also - I link almost all of my posts from my Twitter account and I don't do normal Twitter updates - so if you just want to read my stuff without doing any digging, you can follow me there. I would also add that you don't need a Twitter account to look at my page - so going to that page is basically just the same as coming The Brickyard.

So, this has been fun, but I think that it is best for everyone if we officially move to the next stage. This is not the end, but rather the beginning, and I look forward to continuing our interaction via R4'12 and C4P.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thank You, Mr. Novak

Me with Robert Novak in August 2006

Robert Novak was a paragon of conservatism and one of the great reporters of our time - as I'm sure you have read today. However, for me, he was also one of the people to whom I owe the life I live today.

You see, Robert Novak was a trustee of the Phillips Foundation, which grants scholarships to conservative student activists and fellowships to aspiring journalists. As a result of my activism in college, I had the privilege of receiving a $7,500 scholarship from the foundation for each of my last two years in school. At the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, this covered my entire tuition plus books. Hence, I could pursue many activism opportunities (including starting a blog) that would have otherwise been put to the side in order to hold down a job. Getting that scholarship - which was meant for the exact purpose of freeing students to pursue conservative activism - changed my life.

So, thank you Robert Novak. I look forward to seeing you again some day. As odd as this may sound - I'm sure they found a place for the "Prince of Darkness" in heaven.

Monday, July 27, 2009

People for the Ethi¢al Treatment of Animal$™

What Might Have Been:
PETA Spokesman Michal Vick Launches
a Yorkie Into Orbit at a PETA Fundraiser


I probably shouldn't be surprised, but it looks like our supposedly saintly friends at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have been caught with their hands in the corruption cookie jar.

Over at Townhall.com, Dwayne Horner has a piece up detailing how the animal rights group seems to have developed a bit of a pay-to-play operation. Or, maybe it was just a coincidence that they launched a campaign against MasterCard while cutting a deal with VISA to issue a special PETA VISA card (with one percent of all purchases made with said card going into PETA's coffers). It's probably also true that everyone's favorite animal lovers had perfectly righteous motives in accusing the IAMS pet food company of animal cruelty - it had nothing to do with the fact that they were getting an 8 percent cut from the sales of a new "holistic" dog food.

Nope - nothing at all is amiss at PETA...and in other news, pigs are sprouting wings and taking to the skies.

Writing for Big Hollywood, Ken Blackwell exposes another potential sellout opportunity for PETA - although luckily this one fell through. Apparently, the dog-lovers were working on a deal with convicted dog-abuser (and former NFL QB) Michael Vick, in which he would film public service announcements condemning dog-fighting. With all due respect to our well-intentioned friends at PETA - rehabilitation is a noble goal, but putting a just-released mutt-murderer in an animal rights PSA is a bit of a stretch...unless you're after money and free publicity, in which case it makes perfect sense.

Listen, I'm sure there are many wonderful (if misguided) people working for PETA, but something definitely smells a little fishy.

Oh...and just in case you were about to mention all of the animals that PETA saves - Horner also pointed out that they only manage to find homes for one out of every 300 animals they take in, with 95 percent being euthanized.

If you to donate money to save animals, I would suggest a reputable conservationist organization like Trout Unlimited - because PETA is obviously not cutting the mustard when it comes to looking out for our furry, feathered, and fishy friends.

Note: Vick photo listed as licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 on Wikipedia - Yorkie photo listed as public domain.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gov. Sean Parnell (R-AK)

A lot will definitely be said about Gov. Palin's farewell address today - it was one of the best speeches I have ever heard from her. However, we should remember that today was really Sean Parnell's day. With Palin moving on to bigger things, Gov. Parnell now leads the nation's largest state, and I am enthused to see such a stand-up guy taking the reins. I hope we will be hearing more about him here, because he is the first person in the country to openly taking on the Palin mantle. He is the first official, other than Palin herself, who can be unquestionably labelled as coming from the "Palin wing of the GOP", and so he by nature will play at least some role outside Alaska as an example of how "Palinism" works when the media circus fades. Gov. Parnell's success will be a reflection on his former boss -so for my part, I hope that we can keep one eye on Alaska even as our main focus goes national.

Congratulations to Govs. Palin and Parnell. You both embarked on huge new journeys today, and you both definitely count on the support of this blogger.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

BPA Will KILL You! (And Elvis is ALIVE!)

On June 10, News Channel 13 in my hometown of Colorado Springs reported that, "More potentially harmful health effects have been discovered for the chemical bisphenol A..." To be sure, the language was all couched with qualifiers such as "potential," but the point was clear: We are very afraid of bisphenol A (BPA).

This was merely the latest in a long string of shoddy stories alleging BPA does serious harm. Never mind the fact that the FDA says BPA is fine, the chicken littles in the media love to scare people, so the story was repeated ad nauseum until no one even remembered where the heck it came from.

Just five days after this news story surfaced, however, a California board of seven physicians and Ph.D.s voted unanimously that the chemical posed no serious danger. As the AP reported,

"The panel, comprised of seven physicians, unanimously decided that the chemical known as BPA should not be covered under Proposition 65, a voter-approved measure used by regulators to identify substances that can cause birth defects, developmental or reproductive harm."

Conservatives are notoriously slow to defend products and companies who have come under attack by radical environmentalists, but several conservative bloggers have picked up on this story, and what they have found has been very interesting.

Most interesting to me, was blogger Rob Port, who recently noted that all the attacks trace back to Fenton Communications, a liberal PR firm that was also behind the ‘General Betray Us’ ads:

“Putting aside the fact that the claims were entirely bogus, the fear campaign against BPA was a brilliant business move for Fenton-and a win/win/win for liberals. David Fenton, of course, is a liberal activist. He represents many radical environmental groups like the San Francisco-based Tides Foundation, who could benefit from creating a bogey man. And he also represents trial lawyers, who could make millions by bringing about class action lawsuits against the manufacturers of plastics. Lastly, trial lawyers are major donors to Democratic politicians, so getting them on board was easy. And plastics competitors who didn’t use BPA could now charge absurd prices for their products at upscale stores like Whole Foods, based on the fact that their product (though more expensive) was ostensibly “safer.”

The blogosphere is a wonderful place, but it's still sad that the primary purpose for conservative bloggers is merely to set the record straight - and to correct the mistakes made by the MSM. The "dangers" of BPA are about as real as the Easter Bunny, and I'm amazed that more is not being done to point out this pathetic scare tactic.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Good New Palin Blog

Just wanted to point everybody over to a fun new blog at nypalinpower.blogspot.com - looks like a great startup and the proprietor is an occasional commentor here. She was nice enough to drop me an email, so I figured I would drop her a link. Here's hoping for a sucessful run. She certainly has a lot of energy, so I would expect this to be a fun blog to read.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Palin Actually EXTENDED Her Influence In Alaska Today

I have been asking myself this question for months - "if Sarah doesn't run for re-election, what happens to the pipeline?"

Had she simply not run for re-election, she would have triggered a competitive GOP gubernatorial primary, and run the risk of the "Good Old Boys Club" (or "CBC" for those Alaskans who understand that acronym) taking the GOP nomination and the governorship. Otherwise known as the "Republican Majority", this group is vociferously anti-Palin and even functions as a SEPARATE PARTY in the State Senate - where both the majority and minority leaders are Republicans, due to the "Majority's" decision to govern in coalition with the Democrat's rather than work with their fellow Republicans. If they had taken the governorship, the pipeline project (and many other Palin programs) would have been near the top of the cut list.

However, by resigning now, Palin installs Sean Parnell as an incumbent before the 2010 primary. So, instead of fighting off a strong "CBC" challenger, Parnell will have a much clearer shot at keeping the office in Palinite hands for another four (or possibly eight) years. Sarah Palin did not give up on her reforms today - she institutionalized them, Now, they will not leave office with her, but rather continue under Gov. Parnell.

While we're on the subject of Sean Parnell, I think we need to welcome him to the Governorship. In following Palin for so long, I have followed Parnell by default - both as Lt. Governor and as a congressional candidate. He's a stand-up guy, a fine campaigner, and a fantastic leader for Alaska. In fact, with a little seasoning, he might be a good national candidate himself someday.

So, I'd like to offer a toast to Governor-designate Parnell, all of the accomplishments of the Palin administration, and all of the fun we will be having now that "Gov. Palin" is now "just Sarah". Something tells me this is only the beginning for Sarah, and I for one am more than ready for the next stage of this journey.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Laura Brod and the Most Interesting Race of 2010

While we still have quite a wait before the 2010 midterms, one thing that can be said with some certainty is that the gubernatorial race in Minnesota is going to be one of the more entertaining contests. The DFL (Democratic Farmer-Labor Party) was already gearing up for a crowdedprimary, and with Tim Pawlenty opting against a third term, we Republicans now have a multi-candidate smackdown of our own (pardon the Jesse Ventura joke).

What’s more, most of the potential GOP candidates are young hotshots rather than established figures – and playing field is ridiculously level. There’s State House Minority Leader and tentative frontrunner Marty Seifert (age 37), and State Rep. Paul Kohls (35). Moving up to the old people, there’s former State Auditor Pat Anderson (43), State Rep. Tom Emmer (48). An then there are the more reasonably seasoned former State House Speaker Steve Sviggum (57) and State Senator David Hann (also 57).

However, the candidate who seems to be generating the most excitement is State Rep. Laura Brod (37), who I first mentioned back on June 3rd. I said back then that I thought she showed great potential. Since then, she has blasted out of the starting gate to set herself up as a potential frontrunner -and she hasn’t even announced her candidacy yet! (Granted, that’s likely coming very soon.) In a recent poll of GOP insiders at the State Central Committee meeting, Seifert won, but there was more focus on Brod’s strong third place showing. It’s nothing to sneeze at when a lowly State Representative blows away a former State Auditor (Anderson) and a former Speaker of the House (Sviggum). And that’s just the insiders. With a the primary still over a year away and not many candidates with name recognition, Brod should be more than able to catch up to Seifert.

Furthermore, some of the lefty Minnesota blogs are already cranking out attacks on Brod (and attacking me for daring to mention her), which makes me inclined to concur with the assertion of Truth vs. The Machine – this woman scares the Dems.

She’s young, she’s fresh, she’s well-spoken, and she knows how to play to Minnesotans. She’s not a perfect conservative, but she is certainly no squish on either fiscal or social issues – and frankly her slightly more moderate environmental positions will be a big help in her state (I love Jim DeMint types, but they don’t play statewide in MN). Also, I would note her stated commitment to the development cellulosic ethanol – which means she’s well aware of the damage that corn ethanol can do to food supplies.

As a hard-core conservative, I would personally have absolutely no trouble supporting her as a nominee, and she also seems to have some credibility with libertarian leaners (my old friend Eric Dondero is as libertarian as they come, and he likes the idea).

So, while she may be a little more Pawlenty than Palin, she’d probably be the most conservative person to hold a major statewide office in Minnesota for a long time – and she’s electable to boot.

The more I hear, the more I like – so unless something changes in a major way, Laura Brod has my endorsement for Governor of Minnesota in 2010.

…and did I mention that Sen. Brod is on Twitter? Definitely someone to follow.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Webathon for Sarah!

As you may know, I also blog occasionally at Conservatives4Palin.com, and the people over there are doing a webathon this week to help Gov. Palin retire the legal debt from the truckloads of frivolous ethics complaints which have been hurled at her by left-wing activists. Personally, I don't care what you think of Palin herself, it is absolutely unacceptable to sit back and watch as a prominent political figure is subjected to a concerted effort to personally bankrupt her. The people filing complaints about snowmachines and hockey sticks are the some of the lowest scum inhabiting today's political scene, and I think that we are obligated as Americans (regardless of politics) to help Sarah fight them off. If you have a problem with her views, fine, but we should be debating the issues rather than engaging in acts of personal sabotage.

So, please head over to C4P and follow their donation instructions. The goal is to get a half million dollars donated to the Alaska Fund Trust (Palin's legal defense fund), and I think that is a very achievable goal. This is also the first real attempt at an independently operated "money bomb" in the conservative blogosphere, so it is a good chance to show just how much power the internet has. Let's get to work!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Creigh Deeds Thumps Terry McAuliffe in VA Primary

It’s official - Terry McAuliffe and his mountains of cash will not be competing for Virginia’s governorship this November. Instead, the Democratic nominee will be moderate State Senator Creigh Deeds, who crushed both McAuliffe and former Delegate Brian Moran in tonight’s primary. Local TV here in DC just reported that, with 87% of the vote in, Deeds has 49% of the vote compared to just 27 for McAuliffe and 24% for Moran. This is even more impressive when one considers that Deeds had only about half of the money and staff than McAuliffe threw at the race, and lagged behind Moran on those fronts as well.

In fact, Deeds was lagging in third place in the polls until las month - but for some reason he’s been riding a rocket for to the last few weeks. As he surged to the front, he managed to pick up the endorsement of the Washington Post - which is amazing for a rural moderate who was running against two liberals from the DC suburbs. Now, the erstwhile also-ran has seized the nomination and will face of with the GOP’s Bob McDonnell in November. And while I am 100% behind McDonnell, I have to take my hat off to Creigh Deeds tonight. What he pulled off is flat-out amazing.

On the more practical side, Deeds is probably the toughest opponent for McDonnell. He’s pro-gun, and hails from rural Bath County - deep in the heart of red-state Virginia. This is a guy who can eat into the GOP voting base and knows how to win in GOP territory. He has experience against Bob McDonnell, having run against him for Attorney General and lost by just 323 votes. However, he is also the worst-funded of the three Democratic candidates, and he does trail McDonnell in the polls - so there is some good news.

Still, Creigh Deeds proved tonight that he can come from behind and beat better-funded opponents. So, we are definitely going to have to throw the kitchen sink at this guy - or else we will find ourselves thinking what Terry McAuliffe must be thinking right now: “What the hell just happened?”

Sunday, June 7, 2009

UK Elecions - Hell Officially Freezes Over

The entire European Union Parliament is being elected at the moment - and that is interesting - but I’m personally glued to the British results broadcast on the BBC. British politics is a mess right now due to an expenses scandal in Parliament, support for the ruling Labour Party is collapsing, and all hell is generally breaking loose. And tonight - the craziness has reached a head. A lot of the news is good, but some of it is actually scary.

On the good side, the Conservatives are wiping the floor with everyone, topped the polls in the Labour heartland of Wales for the first time in history. Many results are yet to come in, but Labor is currently fighting for second against the UK Independence Party (UKIP), a Euroskeptic party that sits decidedly to the right of the Conservatives. By the end of the night, I would not be surprised to see Labour in third or even fourth (depending on the performance of the Liberal Democrats, who currently sit fourth).

However, there is also some news - as the racist British National Party (BNP) has won it’s first ever seat in the European Parliament. The BNP has benefitted from the wave of anti-establishment sentiment (which is also carrying UKIP), and while UKIP is mainstream protest vote, the BNP is unfortunately picking up the people who want to flip the finger to the all of the mainstream parties. And while I am all for throwing bums out, I am certainly not for electing parties who only allow whites to join (which is BNP policy).

The BNP breakthrough may also provide a lesson to those of us in the U.S. who are interested in our own experiments in anti-establishment sentiment - the “Tea Party Movement”. We should be more than happy to embrace the mainstream of this movement (independent, Glenn Beck-style libertarians - who I would say are our equivalent of UKIP). However, we need to be very vigilant in making sure that we don’t allow hard-core wackos to ride the wave. Otherwise, we will wind up dealing with our own versions of the BNP.

Luckily, as we have a two party, first-past-the-post system - we will never see racist fringe parties elected here (the BNP made it through via a “proportional representation” system where seats are allotted based on percentage of the vote). However, we still should be watching out for nut jobs who wish too use “tea parties” and other such events to gain legitimacy.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

How The NRSC Gets It's Groove Back

In the last few years, grassroots Republicans have directed a lot of their anger at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), and it’s sister organization on the House side - the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). These organizations have unfortunately developed a reputation for two things: shutting down “new blood” candidates in GOP primaries against “old bull” incumbents and sinking GOP candidates by runnning overly nasty smear campaigns against Democrats.

I personally find this to be a travesty, as I think the NRSC and NRCC are two of the most valuable organizations we have. They are supposed to be the ones finding ”new blood”, and talking the best candidates into running. We need them more than ever in the next few years, and there are a few races in 2010 where they have major openings to both pick up seats and rehabilitate their reputation. So, I want to lay out a few suggestions as to how the the NRSC can “get its groove back” quickly and hopefully provide a model of the NRCC to follow.
Specifically, I want to look at two races - one where the NRSC is involved and shouldn’t be and one where they aren’t involved and should be.

First, the Crist-Rubio showdown in Florida. Crist seemingly has a commanding early lead - but Rubio is quickly consolidating a big following in the conservative movement. Personally, I’m a Rubio guy - but I’m also a realist. This is Crist’s race to lose at the moment, and he doesn’t need the NRSC’s help. Furthermore, he has a major image problem with non-Floridian Republicans. I’m not going to call on the NRSC to drop it’s endorsement - what’s done is done - but they would be well served to de-emphasize that race and move on to places where they are needed. Crist can win without them - and they don’t need to get involved in a big-ticket primary between two strong candidates.

On the other hand, the race to unseat Michael Bennet in Colorado is in desperate need of NRSC involvement. The Senator is highly vulnerable, but the GOP is not getting electable candidates in the race. Right now, we merely have and amateur-hour primary between Weld County D.A. Ken Buck (Oh dear…) and Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier (Oy vey…). Nothing against either of these men - but the campaign so far has shown that neither is going to take down even the most vulnerable Democrat. The NRSC actually cited the pickup opportunity in Colorado as a race that they could help with if Crist wins in Florida - but no amout of NRSC money is going to win Colorado if they don’t help us find a candidate now!

So, let’s forget about the Florida fracas, let bygones be bygones, and start using the NRSC for what it was made for - scouting out quality new candidates, talking them into the race, and making sure they win. In Colorado, they have the opportunity to totally resphape the race by pushing Major General Bentley Rayburn in, introducing his spectacular record of acheivement to the voters (how many candidates have managed a $17 billion military budget?), and making sure that he gets connected to national bigwigs who can bankroll him to victory. Seriously - how do you lose with a guy like this? Just give him a budget, wind him up, and watch him make mincemeat of Senator Bennet...


...and if you don't want the general, go pound down John Elway's door or something. Just give us a candidate!

So - this is how the NRSC and NRCC need to be operating in order to heal the rift with the base. These organizations are sorely needed in today's political situation, and there is an opening for them to go from zeroes to heroes very quickly if they allocate their resources properly. Let's forget about the large-scale brouhahas like the Crist-Rubio circus and get the Bentley Rayburns of the world into the races where Democrats are gaining a false sense of security. That is how we can move forward to victory in 2010 and beyond.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

...can I just say that this lady ROCKS?

No, I'm not talking about Sonia Sotomayor - who I'm really not in the mood to comment on.

Instead, I want to give a shout-out to Michaƫlle Jean, the Governor General of Canada (Queen Elizabeth II's representative in the country), who has come under fire from mean-spirited environmentalist radicals.

If you haven't heard the story, Gov. Gen. Jean recently made a trip to the Arctic region of Canada - where the local Inuit community took her on a seal hunt. After they shot a seal, they threw a big feast and offered Jean the traditional honor of eating a piece of the animal's heart (considered a delicacy). Being a good head of state, Jean obliged them by slicing open the dead seal, cutting off a piece of the heart, and eating it.

Naturally, this ritual shocked and horrified greenies around the world - especially considering that Canadian sealskin imports were recently banned by the European Union (who apparently don't like it when cute little seals get whacked).

All kidding aside - the radicals fail to see that seal meat is an important source of nutrition for the Inuit, and seal for them is no different than beef for us. It's not about killing animals for the heck of it, it's about food.

For her part, Gov. Gen. Jean is standing by her actions and rejecting cries of those who want to come between the Inuit and a valuable food source. She is a true public servant, and I only wish our leaders here in America had that kind backbone.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH A GREAT NEWS REPORT ON JEAN'S RESPONSE TO THE CONTROVERSY.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Justice Christine Arguello?

Cross-posted from Race42012.com.

I was doing a little surfing on some state-level blogs in my home state of Colorado - and I found an interesting tidbit from last week that seems to have gone largely unreported in the national press. Apparently, Colorado district court judge Christine Arguello confirmed in an intereview with a local paper that she was being vetted for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Now, that story is a few days old, but I think Arguello’s name is worth bringing up for one very specific reason: President Obama is facing pressure from a lot of people to appoint a person who meets specific criteria in the areas of demographics, experience, age, attitude, etc. The laundry list of “requirements” is almost nauseating to read - and almost impossible to find embodied in one person. This is why I’m intrigued by this woman - because up to now, she is the only candidate who meets all of the “qualifications”.

Female? Check. Hispanic? Check. Under 55? Check. Lengthy experience outside the courts? Check (only a District Judge since late last October, previously a tenured law professor, a top aide to Ken Salazar, and a counsel to the University of Colorado). Intellectual heft to satisfy Obama’s desire for an academic? Check. “Empathy” for the working class? Check (daughter of a railroad worker, family lived in a boxcar for a while during her childhood).

To top it off, Arguello could be shopped as a “bi-partisan” choice, as she was appointed to her current position by George W. Bush in the last days of his administration. Granted, that probably had more to do with getting her through the Senate, as Bush had specifically chosen not to renominate her earlier in his term (Bill Clinton had nominated her for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and her nomination was still pending when Bush took office).

Her ties to Ken Salazar may also help - as Salazar has himself been agressively pushed for the nomination by Hispanic groups and his fellow Coloradoans. However, as there is an even stronger push for a woman to take the seat, Salazar will likely be unjustly pushed off the short list due to his ownership of a Y chromosome. Arguello gives Obama a chance to tip his hat to both the Hispanic community and Salazar personally while still nominating a woman.

I would also say that her lengthy experience in non-judicial positions, and the fact that she does not sit on a circuit court (a qualification emphasized by several senators) gives Arguello a distinct advantage over the other Hispanic woman being mentioned for the job - Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. And last but not least, Arguello graduated from the same law school as President Obama - if that means anything.

Now, it’s entirely possible that Arguello struck out in the vetting. There could be problems we don’t know about, or the administration could have decided that her views aren’t what they are looking for. However, they have been implying that they are looking at potentially surprising nominees, and at first glance, Christine Arguello looks like their dream candidate.

So, you heard it here first - and while the rest of the world reacts in shock to Judge Arguello’s nomination, we at R4′12 can say that we were watching her all along.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

David Williams - Endorsement for an Old Friend

Last spring, as my "parting shot" to my alma mater, I had the privilege of serving as campaign manager to David Williams - who was then running for student body president at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (UCCS). We won that election, and David went on to start a firestorm of controversy that captured the attention of the local media (and showed just how intolerant left-wing campus groups can be). I'll spare you the details in this post, but suffice it to say that I am very proud of David for standing up for his fight to freedom of thought and I hope you read about his exploits.

David has since become rather popular with the local Republican Party, and yesterday (at the ripe age of 22) he announced his candidacy for the office of County Commissioner in El Paso County, Colorado. It looks like he will face a tough, uphill battle in the GOP primary - but I learned a long time ago that underestimating David Williams was a bad idea. He's always aimed higher than people wanted him to - so this is not necessarily a surprising move for him - and he exhibits a ridiculous amount of determination in pursuing his goals. In college politics, he was an innovator who tried to craft grassroots solutions to problems that most student government officials didn't dare touch (parking fees and bookstore prices) - and I know he would bring that same attitude to local office. Furthermore, I know from experience that David is both a solid fiscal conservative and as stubborn as a mule - both qualities I admire in leaders.

So, David, you have my endorsement...besides I think El Paso County could use a young, outspoken Commissioner who could breathe new life into the County government.

Good luck, old buddy - and give 'em hell.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Announcement

I just wanted to let everyone know that starting Monday, May 18th, I will be working as an intern for the CNSNews.com division of the Media Research Center. I will be trying to maintain this and other blogs as normally is possible - but I am taking on both a full time job and a long commute. So - I plan to try to keep up, but I just wanted to let you know what was up...just in case.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sri Lanka War Over?

I have a real soft spot for the island nation of Sri Lanka. I have personal friends there, so their decades-long civil war is - to a small degree - my problem as well. Hence, I have watched with great interest this year as the Sri Lankan Army has launched a new offensive against the terrorist rebels known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) - who had set up a de-facto nation in the North of the island. A few months ago, the government began a new push to root out the LTTE. The rebel capital was captured, along with massive swaths of LTTE territory, and the rebels now hold only a small piece of land.

Today, President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced that all remaining LTTE possessions will be captured and the war ended within 48 hours. I sincerely hope that he can follow through that - as the LTTE has terrorized the country for decades, pioneered the use of suicide bombers (a tactic adopted by Islamofascist terrorists), and conscripted untold numbers of child soldiers. They are one of the world's most prominent and deadly terrorist organizations - and it is high time that they are relegated to the ash-heap of history.

That said, assuming that President Rajapaksa can follow through on his pledge - the real war may just beginning. War-torn Northern Sri Lanka is in shambles, and there is still a lot of lingering tension between the minority Tamil ethnicity (who the LTTE claimed to "liberate" - although "enslave" might be a better term) and the majority Sinhala ethnicity. I am happy to see this long, hard war come to an end - but putting the nation back together could be just as daunting of a task.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bentley Rayburn and the Forgotten Senate Race

Cross-posted from Race42012.com - click here to read the original.

We’ve talked about a lot of races here at R4’12, and in the absence of an active presidential primary we’ve dwelt on a lot of Senate contests. However, we very rarely talk about one of the best potential pickups for the GOP in 2010: Michael Bennet’s seat in Colorado. Bennet, you may recall, was the Denver school superintendent appointed to serve out the term of now-Secretary Ken Salazar – and he has absolutely tanked in the polls.

While he does stand a chance, Bennet has extreme difficulty polling above 45% in any matchup, and loses to credible Republicans when polled against them. However, while I was back in Colorado last week for my little sister’s graduation, I was appalled to find that the local GOP is overly fixated on the upcoming gubernatorial race, and that the highly vulnerable Bennet may keep his seat simply because the Republicans can’t find a credible challenger. Up to now, only two candidates have entered our primary – and both poll behind Bennet (keep in mind that Bob Beauprez , who got positively squished by Bill Ritter when he ran for governor, polls slightly ahead of Bennet if he were to run).

In one corner, we have Ken Buck – the ultra-conservative D.A. from Weld County. He seems nice – but he is unknown and lacking in charisma. His campaign, up to now, has been a comedy of errors, and while I have nothing against him – he’s not going to win. In the opposite corner is the Ryan Frazier – a young city councilman from the Denver suburb of Aurora. He has the benefit of being young, charismatic, and black – drawing lots of Obama comparisons - but he simply lacks the gravitas to pull this off. Furthermore, he has a reputation as either “very moderate” or libertarian (depending on who you talk to) making it harder to play to the primary electorate out West. Let us remember that Obama, who at least managed to get into the State Senate before going national, only got his Senate seat because of the implosion of his opponents in both the primary and the general election – and Frazier will not be so lucky. He has potential, but he is not even close to ready.

So, we have a dilemma. Neither of the current candidates can win, and almost nobody else wants in. RNC Committeeman Mark Hillman took a pass, and State Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry is leaning toward a run for Governor instead. I personally don’t like the idea of handing the seat to Bennet without a fight – so the only choice we have is to start thinking outside the box and looking for other willing, electable candidates. This brings me to the man I think we should be begging to get in the race. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like you to meet Major General Bentley Rayburn, U.S. Air Force (Retired).

The general burst onto the scene in 2006, when he made a run for Congress in the state’s fifth district. Despite an absurdly late entry into the primary and a total lack of name recognition, Rayburn shocked everyone by coming third in a crowded six-man primary - besting the sitting mayor Colorado Springs, who came fourth. In my opinion, Rayburn only lost because he was still busy commanding troops while the top two candidates had been building massive local organizations. Personally, I thought he was a joke when he got into that race – but nobody was laughing when he pulled 17% of the vote in an election where the winner (Doug Lamborn) only got about 29%. After that race, I got to know the general personally, and I came to realize that he was the real deal – a solid leader, an honorable man, and the type of no-nonsense guy we need in Washington. The top three candidates from the 2006 race (Rayburn, Lamborn, and talk show host Jeff Crank) quickly started moving toward a primary rematch in 2008, and I knew immediately that General Rayburn was my guy (I had previously supported sixth-place Duncan Bremer, brother of L. Paul Bremer – and for the record I wouldn’t mind seeing Duncan back in politics either).

While Rayburn came third again in the 2008 primary, he improved his vote share to 26% (just 3% short of second place) and picked up a number of high profile endorsements - including Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera. He may not have made it to Congress, but after only two years in politics, Bentley Rayburn had clearly established himself as a force to be reckoned with.
The general’s name was floated for the Senate in 2008, and he has drawn a few mentions for the next cycle, but not many. However, with several leading contenders bowing out and only Buck and Frazier in the race, I would hope that we start talking about him. Seriously, if you had the choice between a rural D.A., a suburban city councilman, or a two-star general who used to be Commandant of the Air War College – who would you pick?

Bentley’s conservative credentials are impeccable on both the fiscal, social, and national security fronts – and he has an extremely tight grasp of both foreign and domestic policy. The only thing that might hold him back is that a lot of the state GOP leadership supported Jeff Crank in the 2008 congressional race, and Mr. Crank has vocally blamed General Rayburn for the fact that he is not in Congress today (an absurd claim, as Doug Lamborn finished way ahead of Crank in the 2008 primary with 45% - and a high number of Rayburn supporters preferred Lamborn over Crank anyway). Either way, when it comes to getting rid of Senator Bennet, I would hope that we can bury the proverbial hatchet and just put a good candidate in the race.

Bentley Rayburn has the experience, the gravitas, and the charisma to take down Michael Bennet - and there is no good reason why the National Republican Senatorial Committee should not be pounding down his door and throwing money at him.

Am I crazy for suggesting this? Maybe – but I’d like to hear from anyone who thinks they have a better idea. And no, “let’s take our chances with Buck and/or Frasier” does not qualify as a “better idea”. I don’t want a questionable candidate who will have trouble taking down one of America’s most vulnerable Senators – I want someone who can pound Michael Bennet into the ground without breaking a sweat. In my opinion, if he were to win the nomination, General Rayburn could do just that.

2008 Rayburn for Congress TV Ad - If you don't think this guy is marketable, you are out of your mind.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Eurovison: Israel in the Finals!

I know you guys are probably getting tired with my obsession with the Israeli singers in the Eurovision Song Contest - but it is my blog, and politics as usual can wait until after I've had my fill of campy European pop music.

Anyway, the Jewish-Arab duo of Achinoam "Noa" Nini and Mira Awad have made it through the semi-finals and will sing in the final on Friday. I watched the show online, and I wanted to punch the host in the nose when our girls made it through. After he announced Israel as the third finalist, he labeled them "the most politically correct song in the contest" and for some reason felt compelled to remind us that the results were presented in random order. Heaven forbid that we mistakenly assume that a horrible nation like Israel Could place third! And no, he did not continue remind us of the random order of the remaining 8 announcements. Maybe it was innocent, but "innocent slips of the tongue" seem to happen all too often when Israel takes part in international competitions.

Anyway, here's the video of Noa and Mira's the performance. Congratulations to all of the finalists - and for the record, the entries from Andorra and Montenegro got shafted. Both of those girls deserved to move on (sorry - had to go there). Back to politics tomorrow.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Noa and Mira Take Europe's Biggest Stage

Hey everyone - just so that you know, I'm still alive an finishing up my trip to Colorado (and no, I did not catch swine flu on the plane). There's a lot of interesting stuff going on, and I am more than ready to jump back into blogging.

This week, we launch into Eurovision fever. I've been posting since January on the Israeli entry in this year's Eurovision Song Contest (think American Idol mixed with the Olympics). Specifically, I was incensed by the fact that Israeli Arab singer Mira Awad came under political fire for daring to represent her home country in Europe's leading pop culture event. Luckily, Mira didn't listen to the naysayers, and will take Europe's biggest stage tomorrow night along with her duet partner - Jewish Israeli pop star Achinoam Nini (known as "Noa" outside Israel).

So, let's cheer on our girls in tomorrow's semifinal and hope that they can get enough votes to make it to Friday's final. The competition is stiff - but I think they have a solid chance with their inspirational son "There Must Be Another Way". I'll post video and results here as soon as I know them (the livestream of the broadcast starts at 3 PM Eastern here in the states). To whet out whistles, Eurovison has posted YouTube videos of the rehearsals - so here's our first look at Noa and Mira onstage (and our chance to watch Noa trip over her own dress...I'm sure that will be ironed out by the final performance)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

In Memoriam: Jack Kemp

Jack French Kemp
1935-2009
A lot will be written in the coming days about Jack Kemp, the 1996 GOP Vice Presidential nominee and patron saint of supply side economics - but for me, Congressman Kemp represents something totally different.

The first political event I ever attended was a Kemp rally during the 1996 campaign. So, Jack, if you have internet access in heaven, please know that tonight I am rembering you not as conservative blogger mourning an economic guru - but as a wide-eyed 10 year-old desperate to get your autograph on a campaign sign (you didn't sign it, by the way, but I kept it on my bedroom wall for the next four years anyway).

Thanks for the memories.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Selflessly Volunteering My Body To Test Joe Biden's Paranoia

After hearing the Vice President’s remarks this morning - I realized that my coming trip to Colorado was more than just an opportunity to watch my little sister receive her high school diploma (you rock, Katie Bug!), it was a potential opportunity to sacrifice my life for public health research.

Tomorrow morning, I will be boarding a plane to Colorado at Reagan National Airport. Coincidentally, the easiest way to access said airport is via the DC subway system. Hence, I will be testing not one, but two of Joe Biden’s “closed spaces to avoid”.

I may not be blogging much during my trip, but I will be checking in occasionally to inform you as to whether or not I have died of swine flu.

Wish me luck, and we’ll see if pigs (or at least pig flu) really can fly. I only wish I had a T-shirt that said “Official Swine Flu Test Subject - Please Cough”

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Spectre of Specter

I usually don't do this, but I really want to direct you all to one of the other blogs I contribute to. There is a great ongoing debate on Arlen Specter going on over at Race42012.com - and I am course am contributing. Normally, I would cross-post rather than link - but in this case there is an ongoing, multi-player dialogue, and there really is no way to get a feel for it with out keeping up with all of the players.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

College Republican Carnage: 4 Clubs Down

A quick update to my previous post -two more clubs are officially out of the California College Republicans tonight due to the de-chartering of the clubs at UC-San Diego and UCLA. In protest of those votes, the chapters from Saddleback College and the University of California-Irvine voluntarily de-chartered and walked out of today's convention. This brings the total number of de-chartered clubs to four (UC-San Diego, UCLA, UC-Irvine, Saddleback).

The walkout was also joined by the College Republican chapter from Pasadena City College, as well as numerous delegates from UC-Santa Barbara.

Stay tuned - I'm nowhere near finished with this issue, and it looks like it's onl going to get juicier...

California College Republicans: Excrement Hits Fan

The California College Republicans convention was today - and my sources inside tell me that it got a little ugly. The UC-San Diego College Republicans were not only denied their charter again, but denied the chance to present their case to the delegates (Chairwoman Inez Feltscher
had been promised the she would be allowed to speak, but was not even allowed onto the floor.) In fact, the entire chapter was forced to stand behind a cordon in the back of the room.

In addition, it appears that a THIRD university fell victim to the State Committee's penchant for de-chartering dissenting clubs. The UCLA College Republicans, key supporters of rechartering UCSD, were denied a charter themselves after showing up a little late - despite the fact that they had been told that they had until Sunday morning to get there and that the chartering deadline was extended three times for chapters who happened to support the state board's agenda. Even more appalling is the fact that the UCLA decision was made on a close voice vote, described by my source as a "screaming match", but that calls for a roll call vote were rejected and victory was declared for the "nays". I'm also told that several chapters actually walked out after the UCLA incident, and more after the UCSD vote.

I will be posting a lot more info on this situation later - including video and documentation of numerous wrongdoings - which I had previously been denied access to in hopes that the state convention would see the light. I'll be posting a lot of other stuff as soon as I get it, but I will start with a copy of the check for $500 which had to be written to the UC-San Diego chapter by the state committee after that same amount was stolen from their bank account by the start-up chapter which then stole their charter. The crazy part of this story is that the final check had to come from the state board rather than the new group of people who took the money - as the funds were apparently donated to the state committee as soon as they were withdrawn (and before the vote to de-charter the club from which they were stolen). I'd love to hear the explanation for that.


I'll be getting a better scan of this check soon (along with other materials), and the CCR State Committee can thank me later for being nice enough to blot out their account and routing numbers.

...and since I'm sure the hateful comments from state committee supporters will start flowing in soon - I'm going to make a rule that will delete anyone who uses profanity, makes absurd personal accusations against other commenters, or attempts to masquerade as me in order to make me look stupid. Though, I will leave most of the vitriol up, as you people seem intent on digging your own hole - which makes it even more fun to antagonize you,

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

California Corruption Spreads

You may remember that I touched off a bit of a firestorm when I called the California College Republican State Committee on the carpet for needlessly de-chartering the chapter at UC-San Dieg0 - but now it looks like that's just the tip of the iceberg. Almost the exact same stunt has now been pulled on the College Republican chapter at the University of the Pacific - but this time he people affected decided to put together a video showing all of the documentation. Please watch this in its entirety - its worth 7 minutes and the best stuff is at the end (If the video stops halfway through, restart it and fast forward to the middle - problems with Facebook Video). I think this really speaks for itself, but the one thing I will say is that this madness has got to stop - and if you must engage in corruption, save it until you have an office that actually means something (like Governor of Illinois). This is getting flat-out disgusting, and its time for people bigger than the College Republicans to start taking notice.

Democracy or Dictator - South Africa Decides

I reported on this story back in January, but today is the day that the yogurt hits the fan. South Africans are voting in an election that, in my opinion, will define their future as a nation - and perhaps the future of the entire region. At the very least, this is the most pivotal election since the end of apartheid.

Not that the outcome is in doubt. Every one knows that that the African National Congress (ANC) party will win well over half the seats in parliament - just like they always do - allowing them to elect their leader, Jacob Zuma, as President of South Africa. There are, however, two big differences this time. The first is that Mr. Zuma is a corrupt barbarian who reminds me far more of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe than Nelson Mandela (read my January column for grisly details). The second is that, for the first time in years, there is the potential that the ANC could lose its two-thirds majority - which allows the party to change the constitution whenever it wants.

Here's why I think this is important: The ANC was an important force in ending apartheid, but its post apartheid dominance has made South Africa essentially a one party state. Furthermore, Jacob Zuma and his supporters have moved the ANC closer to authoritarianism by moving to sideline the supporters of former President Thabo Mbeki - even forcing Mbeki himself to resign and hand the presidency to a Zuma supporter. Luckily, many Mbeki supporters were smart enough to leave the ANC and form their own party, the Congress of the People (COPE), which could pull 10% away from the ANC. This could push the non-ANC parties over the one-third mark.

I have come to think that South Africa will inevitably slide away from democracy unless the ANC's hold on power can be replaced with a true multiparty system, and the emergence of COPE makes this possible. However, I would not be voting COPE today if I were South African, I would be supporting the other major opposition party - the Democratic Alliance (DA).

Despite the media focus on COPE, there are two reasons why I think that the DA is more important to South African democracy. First, the DA is liberal and market-friendly, whereas COPE shares the ANC's socialist leanings. Second, the DA is the only major post-racial party in South Africa. The ANC grew out of the movement to empower the black community (a a good goal under apartheid), and it has remained a black party - and obviously COPE was part of the ANC until last year. The DA, on the other hand, grew out of the anti-apartheid movement among white South Africans. Its current leader, Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille, is a white woman and a former member Black Sash movement - a group of white women who stood against against apartheid and fought for black rights. Zille was also named World Mayor of the Year in 2008.

In any true multiparty democracy, Zille would likely be the runaway favorite to win the Presidency - after all, she's literally the best mayor in the world and shes a former civil rights crusader to boot. Unfortunately, South Africa is a de-facto one-party state, and Zille's DA is forced to fight COPE for a distant second. Meanwhile, the authoritarian Zuma is poised to take power - and the once-venerated ANC is starting to look more and more like the Zimbabwean ZANU-PF party of Robert Mugabe.

So, here's hoping that South Africa takes the right step by denying the ANC its two-thirds majority and continues marching toward democracy. Furthermore, while I am grateful to COPE for taking a stand against Zuma, I fervently hope that the DA can remain the second biggest party.

South Africa has come a long way since the days of apartheid. However, the legacy of that dark time will not be fully eliminated until the country ceases to be dominated by a single party. Furthermore, if apartheid was really in the past, then a tolerant white woman like Helen Zille, who clearly has far more credibility than Zuma, would be able to win election despite the majority-black electorate. However, anyone with a bran knows that Zille will not be President-elect tomorrow morning - proving that apartheid is still alive and well.

To all of my friends in South Africa - the choice is yours. You can keep the ANC supermajority and march toward third-world oblivion, or you can take another tiny step toward a post-racial, democratic future. Take your pick.

RealCYA

I've talked in the past about the ongoing battle between Hollywood Studios and the makers of the RealDVD software program - which would allow you to save your DVDs on your computer legally (as it adds all sorts of anti-piracy encryptions to copied files). However, this one just seems to get more and more interesting.

First, FreedomWorks has come out with a detailed report on the subject, written by their Chief Economist Wayne Brough. According to Brough, a victory for the studios would actually be a blow to personal freedoms and the competitive marker. If RealDVD is deemed illegal, he says, the resulting precedents would be "much to the detriment of fair use, innovation, and competition."

In addition, it's starting to look like the studios themselves are trying to get in on RealDVD's industry. If you haven't noticed, the sci-fi thriller The Day The Earth Stood Still is now out on DVD, and if you go to the website, they are selling a "3 Disc Special Edition with Digital Copy". Basically, they give you an extra disc that allows you to save the movie on your computer or iPod!

THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT REALDVD SOFTWARE DOES!

So, while they are trying to get the courts to make RealDVD illegal, they are starting to build RealDVD capabilities into their own DVDs. So, they clearly don't want to stop you from making digital copies of their movies, they just don't want to share the profits of the technology with other companies. So, this is not really about protecting copyright, it's about the studios covering their rear ends. All of the moralistic huffing and puffing is really just an excuse to shut down a competing company.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Moderate" vs. "RINO"

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the brewing hostility between moderates and conservatives in the Republican Party. Not only does it look like “RINO-hunting” is back in vogue, but we now have “Charging RINOs” to go with them. Meghan McCain, for instance, seems almost giddy about the prospect of a civil war over the soul of the GOP.

Now, personally I fall firmly on the conservative side of this skirmish and there are people who I think the party can do without. On the other, I’ve never been a big fan of “RINO-hunting” or even the term “RINO”. There are a lot of center-rightists in this country, and in many cases they are a great asset to the GOP (and at the very least we need their votes). In fact, I’ve realized just how two-minded I am on the issue by examining my own opinions on two potential Senate primaries in 2010.

On one hand, I would love to see Pat Toomey knock off Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania. On the other, I have openly advocated taking out Louisiana’s conservative-yet-tarnished Senator David Vitter and replacing him with the extremely moderate Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao. So, why take out one centrist while working to elect another? For me, the answer lies in defining the difference between what I would call a “constructive moderate” and a “destructive moderate” (or, if you’re not into tact, a “true RINO”) - and I can find no better prototypes than Specter and Cao.

We’ll start with Specter. He’s not necessarily a liberal, and he votes with us most of the time - so it’s hard to make the case that he’s in the wrong party. Furthermore, he seems pretty strongly rooted in his socially and fiscally moderate beliefs. He’s not a guy who operates with his finger in the wind, and I respect that. However, there is a serious problem with his attitude. He has no problem labeling himself as a Republican, running on our tickets, and cooperating with our legislators when we happen to agree with him on something. However, when there are disagreements (and they occur often), he goes completely AWOL.

Not only does he vote with the Dems, but he makes a show of shoving it in our face and kvetching about what a horrible party we’ve become. Yes, he’s with us more often than not, but he only gets excited when he’s poking us in the eye - and he is happy to soak up press that results from being the guy tearing down GOP plans from within. He’s not interested in building the party as much as he is in being the kicking, screaming voice of an otherwise long-dead brand of Rockefeller Republicanism. He has become a cancer, and he needs to be cut out - period.

Now, let’s look at Rep. Cao. He may be almost four decades younger than the Gentleman from Pennsylvania, but like Specter he seems to be a moderate if there ever was one. He’s been a Republican less than two years, he’s open to working with Democrats, and he flirts with breaking ranks on every single budget vote. Furthermore, he is more than happy to request lots of earmarks for his district. Now, in his defense, I would note that he always comes down right on those budget votes and that, as the representative of New Orleans, he has more justification for those funding requests than any other Congressman. Still, we can safely say that he is clearly a moderate on everything but the life issue.

However, Cao’s attitude is radically different than Specter’s. He’s the type of guy who got into politics because he genuinely wanted to help people, and he talks constantly about the fact that his goal is always to do what is best for his district. And whereas Specter is bridge-burner, Cao is a bridge-builder. He’s there to build consensus solutions, and while he sticks firmly to his center-right principles, he’s willing to work with both parties to make sure things get done. That, in my opinion, makes him a class act and the very definition of a statesman. Far from being a cancer, he could be a productive coalition builder in Congress for years to come.

This brings me back to my original point about the rise of moderate voices like Meghan McCain, who not only claim to be the only future of the GOP, but are ready to go to battle for their cause. I happen to have a good deal of respect for Miss McCain, but people like her need to decide whether they are with Specter or Cao. They can work with us to help acheive our common goals - in which case, I’m ready to support them wholeheartedly. However, if they continue the march toward some sort of apocalyptic ideological confrontation between the various wings of the party - they will find themselves significantly outnumbered and doomed to failure.

So, Meghan, shall we build bridges or burn them? The choice is yours.

Friday, April 17, 2009

"The Speech"

I would be remiss if I did not post a link to video of Gov. Palin's speech in Evansville last night - especial since a lot of the people here were been Palinistas long before most people knew what that word meant. Personally, I thought she did a good job, and - more specifically - that this speech was "vintage Sarah" rather than "campaign Sarah". The tone was relentlessly positive but still brutally honest, and every issue was related to her personal experience. This was how Sarah operated as a candidate and as a Governor - and I'm suddenly very glad that she has so much time detoxing in Alaska. If this Sarah continues to show up, we are well on our way to eliminating the negativity of the campaign - and charging toward a Palin presidency.

Welcome back, Governor.

(Note: I posted a link instead of an embed on purpose - I can't get that cool loop to run like C4P did, and I don't want to post 8 videos)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Noa & Mira - "There Must Be Another Way"


If you were to mix the Olympics with American Idol - you would probably get something like the Eurovision Song Contest. It's always a huge deal across the pond, as the nations of Europe compete in an continent-wide grudge-match of pop musicians. However, as I reported in January, this year's show took on political significance when a bunch of self-hating Israeli intellectuals begged Israeli-Arab singer Mira Awad not to represent Israel in the competition. Apparently, they were concerned that Mira's duet with Jewish pop star Noa would cause people to have positive feelings toward Israel. Of course, their calls went unheeded, and Noa and Mira have recently released the song they wrote for the contest (see video above).

Bravo to this Arab-Jewish duo for standing up in the face of adversity. I wish them luck in semifinals on May 12th and (hopefully) the finals on May 16th. Personally, I think they should be a top contender, considering their compelling story and Noa's status as a Europe-wide pop icon. I personally think they have a very good song as well, but you never know what the voters are going to like. For instance, consider that the 2006 competition was won by these guys...


...Mommy...make the scary Finland people go away!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Brickyard Profile: Tzipi Hotovely

Let me talk for a minute about my favorite part of politics. I do a lot of election-watching, but I'm not always watching the top-level dynamics. Instead, its usually more fun to watch the mid-level legislators and candidates. For one, you don't understand any government unless you know who serves in certain key roles. Secondly, and arguably more importantly, the real fun is not in knowing who is in charge now - but who is on the rise. What are the newest dynamics in a country, and who is ahead of the curve in addressing those new realities. Find those people, and you find the power players of the future.

Hence, I tend to do crazy things ... like diverting my focus to first term Alaskan Governors. So, what I've been watching lately in Israel is not the big players, but all of the young parliamentarians who came in with them - and one in particular seems to be perfectly positioned to capitalize on rightward shift in Israeli politics.

Meet Tzipi Hotovely of Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party. At age 30, she's the youngest member of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), but she is far from a neophyte. Instead, she was already a well known right-wing pundit in the Israeli media, and Benjamin Netanyahu personally recruited her as a Likud candidate in the last election. Then, she ran in the party's primary to select Knesset candidates and did far better than expected. Instead of winning "realistic" chance of getting elected, she locked up the 18th slot on the Likud list - ensuring her election and blowing past Likud's more established female leaders.

Even better, she sits well to the right of the Likud mainstream, closer to what Israeli's would call a "religious Zionist" ideology. This is very important, considering that the conservative Likud is hemorrhaging votes to hard-right nationalist parties like Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu. However, Hotovely also seems far more palatable to the mainline in Israeli politics, as she chose to run for a mainstream party and has the personal support of Prime Minister Netanyahu (unlike more hard-line Likud rebels).

The Likud will need leaders like Tzipi Hotovely if it wants to continue to fend off Yisrael Beiteinu, and her media background shows that she has the charisma needed to gather a following (not unlike a certain Alaskan Governor). I personally expect her to rise very fast in the Netanyahu government (although she is not a current cabinet member), and would not be surprised to see her leading the Likud Party herself someday.

She may not be making world headlines just yet, but she definitely has the potential to come from nowhere and rocket to the top of the national scene. So, if anyone in the world is going to be the next Sarah Palin - it's Tzipi Hotovely.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tea-Drinkers

If you haven't noticed, this blog has not previously addressed the nationwide "Tea Party" movement in opposition to the pseudo-socialist policies being introduced by our new president. This is not necessarily because I am in opposition to the concept, but because I am generally skeptical of the effectiveness of mere protests - especially those that involve large numbers of people scrawling cheeky slogans on posterboard with Sharpie markers. That said, I might be willing to embrace the idea if the people involved can convince me that this is more than just a one-time chance for people to vent their anger. If this is a serious movement that will contribute to long term change - then I just might get off the fence.

Hence, I am impressed with a project being put forward by Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring. Mr. Hanna is trying to create a national coalition by getting all of the Tea Party organizers to have their attendees to text the words "Tea Party"to the 74362. If this succeeds, we will finally have the basis to build an organic, conservative rival to Barack Obama's massive network of supporters.

So, congratulations to Mr. Hanna for finally getting this skeptic to pay attention to the Tea-Party Movement. That said, I still need to see proof that these "Tea Parties" are actually going to do something constructive - because if I see a bunch of mad hatters singing "A Very Merry Unbirthday" on April 15th, I'm tuning out for good.
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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Closed for Passover

Well, it looks like I started a bit of a riot with my post on UCSD yesterday. We ended the day with almost 1,800 hits and the story was linked by Townhall.com, Michelle Malkin, and CRNation.com. We even generated a response from the state chairwoman of the California College Republicans.

I will have a lot more to say about this and other issues, but unfortunately it will have to Wait. Passover starts tonight, and that's a higher priority. I'll be back on Friday with all the latest on the California slugfest.

Shalom.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Trouble at UCSD: We Have To Help These Kids

Anyone who has immersed themselves in political life knows that the toughest and dirtiest battles are not fought at the top of the food chain, but the bottom. The watchful eyes of the media largely keep our elected officials in check, but when absolutely no-one is watching, you create the potential for one of the most toxic political environments in the country. I’m speaking, of course, about the College Republicans.

The vast majority of CRs are great people, but there are far too many of us (myself included) who come out scarred and jaded after watching four years of shameless backstabbing, political vendettas, and routine corruption. Often, those who claw their way to the top of the garbage pile go on to become our most aggressive and successful strategists - Karl Rove was national chairman in the 1970s, and Lee Atwater managed his campaign for that office. However, for every Karl Rove, there are probably ten young activists who end up fleeing the cesspool. Most of the time, we “grown-ups” shrug off their antics, because “they’re just college kids” – but eventually somebody has to stand up and say that our young leaders deserve better than to be treated like dog feces. The CRs are an integral part of the party’s operations, and they need to be subject to the same ethical standards we apply to anyone else.

Unfortunately, the only way this situation was going to get the attention it deserved was if it spun far so far out of control that it became newsworthy – and sadly, the California College Republicans (CCR) have finally reached that low. I’ve spent the last several days interviewing people familiar with the situation, and frankly I have been shocked and disgusted by actions of that organization’s leadership.

A plethora of strange and twisted events have occurred in the last few months, all of them connected with the CCR State Committee’s desire to influence the election of their successors - but in order to understand the full scale of the issue, I want to begin with the biggest act of corruption I have ever witnessed in College Republicans:

Last Thursday the CCR State Committee voted 6-1 to revoke the charter of the College Republicans at the University of California–San Diego (UCSD). As a result, all of the members of the UCSD chapter (30 active, over 500 on the mailing list) have been effectively kicked out of College Republicans, and a full 10% of the electorate at the state convention (and a key center of opposition to the incumbents) was eliminated in the blink of an eye. The flippant expulsion of these kids should be enough to provoke outrage – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A quick look at the months leading up to this travesty reveals a sordid tale of corruption and intrigue that would rival the most imaginative works of political fiction.

The whole thing started near the end of last year, when I had the chance opportunity to befriend a young intern by the name of Sarah Johnson (we stayed in the same intern dormitory her in DC) – while I was just getting out of college, Sarah was a wide-eyed 18-year-old who would soon be a freshman at UCSD. We talked a lot about CRs, as I had just finished my career (I was the chapter chairman at my college), and she had been receiving strange Facebook messages about the UCSD CRs impeaching several officers. At the time, we laughed it off - but when she got back to San Diego, she found out that she was not dealing with a run-of-the-mill CR squabble. As she told me Friday, she had “walked into a war zone”.

As it turned out, those Facebook messages she showed me were the first shots in the mother of all collegiate conflagrations. There had, in fact, been an underhanded attempt to impeach the CR chairwoman at UCSD, Dejah Stanley – and it backfired in a big way. Inez Feltscher, who succeeded Miss Stanley as chairwoman, gave me the run-down on the circus that followed. Apparently, one of the club’s Vice Chairs, Megan Rodriguez, wanted Stanley gone (most of the club didn’t). Hence, she called a meeting to impeach Stanley, where the articles of impeachment were convincingly voted down. However, this technicality did not stop the instigators from Facebooking the entire club to notify them that Stanley had been voted out of office. The rest of the club was none too pleased with this stunt, and promptly called a meeting where Stanley’s leadership was affirmed and Rodriguez was unanimously impeached as Vice-Chair - YouTube video of the vote was even made available to prove the integrity of the process. Rodriguez, however, decided not to recognize her removal and insists to this day that she is still the club’s Vice Chair for External Affairs. She was also a member of the CCR State Committee, and she decided to use her connection to make life hell for the club - that’s when the hard-core sleaziness started.

According to Feltscher, members of the UCSD CRs started receiving threatening phone calls from CCR state officials, telling them that (among other things) their involvement in Rodriguez’s impeachment would prevent them from ever working in politics again. As the problems got worse, the UCSD CRs found themselves on the outs with the state committee, and they ended up endorsing “Red State Rising”, a slate of state committee candidates running against the incumbent-endorsed slate (known as “Revolutionize CCR”). At this point, they found out that they were subject to an even bigger state committee vendetta – this one aimed at crushing “Red State Rising” in the election.

I got the details on this second sub-plot from Adam Ellison, head of “Red State Rising” and their candidate for State Chairman. RSR has also experienced the strong arm-tactics employed by certain members of the State leadership, this time in their capacity as representatives of the “Revolutionize CCR” campaign. At the state’s annual Republican convention, one state co-chair even went so far as to imply that physical violence could occur against a consultant for Red State Rising.

Then again, that wouldn’t be terribly surprising to anyone frequenting the comments section at The Dana Report, one of the only blogs covering the election. State Co-Chair Leigh Wolf is a frequent commenter, as are other people involved in the race, and you’d be amazed at the comment threats being fired off on one post written after that convention. One commenter asks another “Alec, are you the dude that got thrashed by Leigh Wolf after passing around some random s*** at the CCR meeting? Saw the camera… just wondering.” Mr. Wolf then responds “Yes he was. You’re a sniveling weasel Alec. Bring that trash to the CCR convention, I dare you.” Another shocked commenter than asks if Wolf is making a threat, and receives a rather chilling response: “Yes Matt Schenk it is a threat. I’m glad you picked that up... I will publicly embarrass and make famous anyone who puts their own agenda before CCR at the expense of CCR’s reputation. So i repeat to (name deleted), Bring that trash to the CCR convention, i dare you.” I might add here was that the person was merely distributing literature noting that impeached UCSD Vice-Chair Megan Rodriguez, now a top-ranking “Revolutionize CCR” candidate, had no business masquerading as a sitting vice-chair of the USCD College Republicans…which brings us back to the plot that resulted in dozens of innocent CRs being thrown out of the organization.

Somewhere in the middle of this debacle, Club Treasurer (and Rodriquez ally) Chelsea Green resigned from the UCSD club along with a few lackeys. She then removed all of the other officers from the club’s bank account and commandeered it for her own use. While the university did ensure that the account was eventually returned to its proper owners, Green did manage to withdraw $500 before ceding back control. Coincidentally, she was also able to form a rival “College Republicans” club (with herself as chair) the very same day. At this point, I should probably tell you about the bogus restraining order filed against a member of the UCSD CRs (thrown out in court), but that would interrupt the story.

The renegades then set out on a quest to get their old club de-chartered by the state committee - not a bad plan, considering that they could abuse Megan Rodriguez’s connections. So, they compiled a mailing list of “members” by trading signatures for Red Bull during finals week. They have yet to use that mailing list, despite being in existence for several months - nor have they even hold single meeting - but they did amass a “membership list” to submit to the state committee in their bid to steal the UCSD charter. So, the state organization scheduled a “debate” between the two clubs to determine which was the “legitimate” holder of the UCSD charter.

Now, one would think that preference would be given to the larger club with a 23 year history. However, through a rather amazing feat of intellectual gymnastics, the charter was awarded to the upstarts who don’t even bother to have meetings. Here’s how it went: First, the committee validated the invalid impeachment of Chairwoman Dejah Stanley (remember her?). Then, they declared that, because the club refused to recognize that impeachment, all actions taken by the club afterward were illegitimate. This invalidated the subsequent impeachment of Megan Rodriguez, meaning that the club could now be charged with preventing their suddenly-unimpeached vice-chair from performing her duties. Furthermore, the committee deemed that, as the rebels did recognize the impeachment of Dejah Stanley, they were the only legitimate CRs at the school.

Personally, I find this entire process appalling – these people are supposed to be the future of our party, and nobody will even slap them on the wrist for unjustly expelling an entire chapter. Not only that, but the chapter was disbanded largely for reasons that had nothing to do with the UCSD feud. Yes, that was the excuse, but I’m guessing that the primary reason had far more to do with eliminating voters who were going to oppose “Revolutionize CCR” in this month’s elections.

It’s high time that somebody stood up to these punks, and I personally am willing to flog this issue until something is done about it. If “Revolutionize CCR” and their state committee friends want to play hardball, then let’s play hardball. From here on in, I’m on a mission to make them famous. Any slimy move they make will be blogged about, fed to my Twitter followers, sent to my mailing list, and forwarded to my media contacts. The only thing that these people are “revolutionizing” is ham-fisted, Chicago-style machine politics, and our kids deserve better than that.

College Republicans is supposed to be a place where our young activists learn about the principles of our party - but if this travesty is allowed to stand, then the only thing they’ll learn is that Red Bull does indeed give you wings. We need to do everything we can to get these kids back into CRs (and maybe throw out the bums that did this to them) – and there is no time like the present to get moving.