Sunday, May 31, 2009
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
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 Michaëlle 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.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
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 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
Friday, May 15, 2009
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
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
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
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
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.