Monday, June 7, 2010

Bortz Should Resign

Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Bortz is trying to cling to his seat on council, despite recent revelations that in 2009 the Ohio Ethics Commission informed him that his ties with Towne Properties (the development company owned by his family and of which he is an employee) was a conflict of interest that disqualified him from any involvement with the streetcar issue before council. Bortz has chosen, until recently, to vote in support of the streetcar. Not only should Bortz have abstained from all votes on the streetcar, but should resign from City Council or sever his ties with Towne Properties.

Bortz’s family owns Towne properties which has development interests along the proposed streetcar route. Until recently, Bortz maintained that as an employee, he need not follow the Ethics Committee advisory opinion that he steer clear of all discussions and votes on the streetcar issue. But doesn’t it make you wonder, how could he have an unbiased opinion about a touted financial windfall to his employer? The answer is, he couldn’t.

This issue has been addressed before when John Cranley resigned due to his ownership interest in City Lights Development. In attempting to retain his seat on council, Bortz is hanging his hat on the fact that he is not an owner of Towne Properties, he’s an employee. You also have to ask, are you ever just an employee when it’s your family’s business?

Bortz has already stepped over the line by continuing the push the streetcar issue in the face of a clear conflict of interest. Politicians are supposed to represent their constituents, not their own interests. The majority of Cincinnati residents are opposed to the streetcar project. Since Bortz wasn’t able to look beyond his own interests to those of the people of Cincinnati, it’s time for him to be shown the door.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Rand Paul’s Race to Lose

Kentucky’s Senate race is the race to watch this fall. Rand Paul is currently polling six points ahead of Democratic challenger Jack Conway. It appears to be Paul’s race to lose. Can the controversial Republican with strong libertarian leanings keep his lead?

Rand Paul has been busy since winning the Republican primary. His appearance on Rachel Maddow’s show the day after his win caused a round of controversy. His libertarian defense of private property rights when asked about the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition on discrimination in private businesses was immediately seized on by liberal opponents to paint him as a fringe candidate. Paul immediately clarified his position that he did support the Civil Rights Act. Was anyone really worried that he’d want to revisit this issue once elected? Rand’s small government beliefs simply limit the government’s reach to the public arena, even if that means private property owners may choose to discriminate.

Following on the heels of the Civil Rights debacle, in a recent interview, Paul told a Russian television station that he was opposed to automatic citizenship for children born in this country to illegal aliens. Paul argues that we are the only country that guarantees citizenship to those born in this country and that this must stop. This stance is coupled with support of legalized guest worker status that is in line with his libertarian principles. Illegal immigration is a topic no one seems to want to address and Paul’s positions are practical offerings that would reduce the motivation to enter this country illegally.

Rand Paul is a different kind of Republican. He doesn’t just give lip service to small government principles, he stands behind them even in the face of controversy. It remains to be seen if the people of Kentucky really want limited government or if they were just following the Tea Party trend. The 2010 elections will tell the truth about people’s support of small government and Rand Paul’s fate will be a bellwether for 2012.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Streetcar Undesired

After Issue 9 failed last November and voters failed to throw a roadblock in the path of Mayor Mallory's pet project, it looked like smoother sailing for the Cincinnati Streetcar project. However, obstacles still remain in the form of funding and public support.

Funding arrived to the tune of $86 million (including $64 million in bonds to be issued by the City) of the $128 million needed for the project. Mallory and Streetcar supporters hope that the issuance of the bond by the City will prompt the federal government to add to that total. Rather than condition the issuance of the bonds on the receipt of federal funding, City Council choose to dive in, hoping that the federal government will reward the risk.

Mallory continues to tout the Streetcar as the potential savior of the City, however his praise seems to have fallen on deaf ears. In a recent Cincinnati Enquirer poll 48% of participants thought the project was a waste of taxpayer money, while 20% felt it was risky. Only 24% supported the Mayor's view that the Streetcar would revitalize the City's core. The people aren't dancing to Mallory's tune.

The Cincinnati Streetcar is just another example of big government waste. While Issue 9 was overly broad, it's failure didn't indicate support of the Streetcar. Between the need for the City to borrow funds and the lack of public support, the Streetcar is a project that should be scrapped before we end up with another debacle like the Cincinnati Subway.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tea Party Matters

In the year since the Tea Party emerged through nationwide protests on April 15, it has gained acceptance and garnered criticism. The more the movement has grown, the more liberals and the mainstream media have tried to smother it. However, two recents events may alter the media’s perception of the Tea Party in a slightly positive way.

After months of slurs and accusations, liberals may have gone too far in their attempt to paint the Tea Party protestors with a racist brush. On March 20th, black Democratic Congressmen took part in a staged event, walking through the gathered Tea Party crowds, in the hopes that the crowd would throw out some racial slurs while numerous cameras recorded the event. Representative Andre Carson claimed he heard the N-word 15 times. Faced with this accusation, blogger and Acorn arch-nemesis Andrew Breitbart offered $20,000 to anyone who could produce a video of the event that proved Carson’s claim. No video has yet to be produced. When all else fails, make it up? This kind of lame attempt to smear a movement with legitimate grievances smacks of desperation.

Second, a recent Gallup Poll of Tea Partiers found that approximately 49% identify themselves as Republicans, 43% as Independent and 8% as Democrats. The Tea Party is starting to look a lot more like America.

While neither of these events will end the criticism and attempts to downplay the importance of the Tea Party, and nothing will stop MSNBC hosts from gleefully calling them “Teabaggers,” the liberals and the mainstream media just may be coming to the realization that there’s more to the Tea Party than right-wing extremists. The majority of the Tea Partiers are Independents and Democrats, Obama’s bread and butter. If they are joining the Tea Party movement maybe mocking isn’t the way to win them back. Maybe it’s finally time to listen to the Tea Party’s message?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Word to the Unwise

Dear Eric Massa,
Yes, it does seem that the attacks aimed at you are suspiciously timed. However, please consider that if you hadn't treated your intern pool like your own personal happy tickle factory they wouldn't have any ammo to come after you with. You can't complain about the timing of the assault when you've provided the weapons.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Paul Ryan

Working on getting my vote for President in 2012.

Read Read this.

and this.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Charlie Rangel: The Buck Stops Elsewhere

Charlie Rangel, arguably the House’s most ethically challenged member, has added to his running tally of oversights. Although investigations of Rangel’s actions are now almost routine, nothing seems to stick. Will Charlie Rangel finally be forced to resign from his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means committee?

Ethically challenged seems like a fair description of Rangel. The twenty term Congressman knows the ropes and exactly what he can get away with. In the past Rangel has flirted with ethical violations by using a rent-stabilized apartments in New York and by failing to declare income and assets on the annual financial disclosures congress members must complete. This time he enjoyed Caribbean trips in 2007 and 2008 funded by corporate sponsors. His excuse? He didn’t know who was paying for the trip. What kind of disconnect does being a lifetime member of Congress create that you have no idea who is springing for your Caribbean excursion and you don’t ask? He admits his staff knew who was paying, but that he was not aware. Convenient to have staff to throw under the bus.

Nancy Pelosi again refuses to remove Rangel or demand his resignation from the influential tax policy committee. While she admits it doesn’t look good for Rangel she quips “[i]t was not something that jeopardized our country in any way.” Lots of things don’t rise to the level of jeopardizing our country, but they are still punished. How long will Pelosi and Democrats look the other way and make excuses for Rangel’s ethical lapses?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Palin vs. Reid

Sarah Palin and the Tea Party takes on Harry Reid in his hometown. Should be fun. Have to give Harry props for his amusing response.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Citizens United Controversy

When Obama took the unprecedented opportunity during his State of the Union address to demonize the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission he called negative attention to a decision that restores First Amendment rights limited by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, better known as McCain-Feingold.

Citizens United, a non-profit corporation, released a documentary in 2008 entitled “Hillary: The Movie” that was critical of then-candidate Hillary Clinton. After releasing the movie in theaters, the corporation planned to release the documentary on cable “on demand” within 30 days of the primary elections. This was a potential conflict with election law. Corporations and Unions could not fund "issue ads" within a particular time period prior to an election or primary. Citizens United challenged this ban.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United striking down part of 2 U.S.C. 441(b). The Court found that it was unconstitutional to limit free speech simply because of the speaker’s corporate identity. This ruling applies equally to unions’ free speech rights.

The President’s comments during the State of the Union are intellectually dishonest. Citizens United struck down part of 2 U.S.C. 441(b) and did not deal with 2 U.S.C. 441(e) which bans election contributions by foreign nationals. The Court even notes that it need not address the government’s interest in preventing “foreign individuals and associations” from contributing to elections and cites Section 441(e). 558 U.S. 46-47 (2010)

Clearly, the government has a strong interest in preventing foreign influence over our elections, but by overreaching and limiting free speech for American citizens, McCain-Feingold flies in the face of the Constitution. The Citizens United decision does not open the floodgates to foreign influence. It removes an unconstitutional limit on free speech that violated the rights of Americans. As a former constitutional law professor, our President should know this.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Not True

Justice Alito responded with a whisper to Obama's misleading State of the Union tirade on the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United. Obama's spin on the decision is not only wrong but wholly inappropriate. The President should not be using the State of the Union to undermine another branch of government.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Obama's Changing Presidency

What’s the difference between 2010 and 1994? According to Obama, it’s him! Unlike 1994, his presence was going to prevent the Democrats from losing their chokehold on Congress. This was the pre-Senator Scott Brown Obama, brash and confident. Has the Massachusetts election shock caused a shift in Obama’s thinking?

In 1994, when the Democrats lost control of the House and Senate, President Bill Clinton reassessed his agenda. He acknowledged the failure of his healthcare plan and started moving back to the center. He became a moderate that reached across the aisle and made some concessions to the Republicans, most notably with welfare reform.

Is Barack Obama ready to take the road Bill Clinton took and finally slow his Progressive agenda? The White House is sending mixed messages. Continue to focus on healthcare? Start to focus on jobs? Decide that now is the time to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy to attempt to placate the left who are mad about Guantanamo and Afghanistan? Tell everyone that you’ll continue fighting for the middle class? When did you start, Mr. President?

Obama himself doesn’t seem to know where to go next. His presidency is adrift and the promises keep coming fast and furious without the fortitude to follow through with many of them. How much longer can the President get by on Hope and Change?

Lessons from Bill

Obama could learn a little from everyone's friend Bill Clinton

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Scott Brown

May I say that while I am thrilled at this development, I'm also concerned. I don't want Republicans to read too much into Brown's election. Remember the lessons you've been learning over the past year about what the majority of people in this country want, small government. Remember it and don't assume you can go back to the Bush spending habits. As Han Solo said "Great kid. Don't get cocky."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Buyer's Remorse

Most people now would not vote to re-elect Obama. Took long enough.

Faking It

Is there anything real about the Obama Whitehouse? Even the veggies are fake.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Democratic Majority?

The Democrats have been in control of Congress and have had the Presidency for about a year now and it’s amazing what they’ve done with the place. You’d think they’d be sitting pretty on a big pile of legislative accomplishments, but oddly they seem to be stalling. The honeymoon only lasted a few months. The Democrats started moving forward with the plans they felt their 2008 victory mandated. Unfortunately, 2008 was more of a referendum on Bush’s presidency than it was a ringing endorsement of the Democrats big plan to remake America. The Democrats are now trying to stick enough fingers in the leaky dam to keep it from busting in 2010.

Despite Nancy Pelosi’s fabulous spin, after the losses in Virginia and New Jersey Democrats saw the writing on the wall. Among the first major retirements is Chris Dodd. Sliding in the polls and almost certain to lose, it was an easy call. The state’s Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who is on task to replace Dodd as the Democratic candidate is well known and a much stronger candidate. It’s all about saving seats and stemming the tide.

Next to go will be Harry Reid. After his unfortunate statements about Obama’s being “light-skinned” and lacking a “Negro dialect,” Reid’s poll numbers will likely to continue to go South with his support. The statement, while seemingly intended as an assessment of race issues in politics today, paints the President as a media image to be packaged and handled. Condescending at best. Reid has to choose between a humiliating defeat or retirement. If he chooses Dodd’s path, the local Democrats would then be free to run a fresh face and distance themselves from the mess Congress has created.

More retirements will certainly come. Long-serving Democrats will take the easy way out and will likely be given a nice cushy appointment to soften the blow of taking one for the team. Where did it all go wrong? Hubris and spending wears thin pretty quick and Congress wallowed in both.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

C-SPAN Smackdown

C-SPAN humbly requests that Obama and Dems honor their pledge to put healthcare debates on C-SPAN. Well, it was a promise, right? They're just telling Obama that they are in. Is he? Not likely.