Let's see, the six power talks with Iran a few weeks ago were reset to May 23 so Iran gets five more weeks closer to nuclear weapons. Reliable sources reported on April 18 in Debka Met Weekly that President Obama gave up "his demand" that Iran come clean on its nuclear actions and open up all projects to international inspection. So it appears Obama is following his new policy of being more flexible after the election.
TCR believes, due to the vacuum of U.S. leadership here, Israel's war operation to cripple the Iranian nuclear weapon program is coming soon. Can we replace Obama soon please?
Another Dumb Idea Some Want
To Import From California:
A "Non-Partisan" Texas Redistricting Commission
There has been talk recently in the media and among some politicians that because of the ongoing saga involving the Texas redistricting plans and the battles with the Federal government that we should shift to a non-partisan redistricting commission.
California did it and you won't be shocked to discover that Republicans got the shaft. Please read contributing editor Bruce Bialosky's recent article here. After reading it, tell your representatives in Austin to forget this dumb idea.
Aggrieved societal interests see a problem - and then develop a solution that's worse than the problem. Political interests with an agenda are perhaps the worst offenders; nobody is better at crafting legislation that fails to consider all of the side effects. One shining example of this tradition was McCain-Feingold. The newest case of overzealous government reform is the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.
As you know, the Constitution requires that the United States perform a census every ten years. The results of the census form the basis of how Congressional seats are apportioned, and are also used by the states to redraw the lines for Congressional, Assembly, and State Senate seats. Each state has its own reapportionment methodology, but these have come under greater scrutiny in recent years because of the preponderance of non-competitive seats.
In California, there has historically been a simple process for redistricting. Henry Waxman and Howard Berman - the state's two most powerful political figures - would hire Berman's brother Michael to do the job. Berman negotiated with all the established powers (including Republicans to a limited extent), and then seats were redrawn to appease all the special interests. He took care to comply with federal laws that protect minorities in order to avoid challenges from ethnic group lobbies. Of course, incumbents rarely were defeated, and some went unchallenged. In fact, some districts were so grossly partisan that members of the opposing party often didn't even mount a campaign.
Stepping into the breach were do-gooder groups such as Common Cause and the League of Women Voters funded by Charles Munger Jr. (son of Warren Buffett's billionaire partner), who in 2008 sponsored Proposition 11 - craftily named the "Voters First Act." This measure established a commission composed of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four Independents (decline-to-states), who would then work with "strict, nonpartisan rules to ensure fair representation." Advocates for the Proposition claimed that it would take redistricting out of the hands of politicians in smoke-filled rooms and bring it into the public domain with open hearings and public meetings. Everything would now be posted on the Internet for anyone to review. In fact, the web site's home page features a bucolic photo montage of hard-working Californians and senior citizens in order to reflect what the ideal process would be.
The voters, of course, never saw anything beyond the boilerplate blurbs in printed handbooks or the ubiquitous 30-second TV and radio ads. In a spasm of euphoria, the people of California passed this Proposition (50.8% to 49.2%). They would now have fourteen "independent and fair-minded" residents to draw their political districts. To ensure the integrity of the panel, members of the commission had to be registered with their political designation for the last five years, not have held political office for the last ten years, and agree to not pursue elected office for ten years going forward. The architects of the Proposition thought that with all these do-gooder ideals, the commission would be a smash hit. In 2010, Proposition 20 was passed overwhelming (61.2%), putting the additional task of apportioning Congressional districts in California in the hands of the fourteen citizen commissioners.
What they seemed to forget was that redistricting is, at its heart, a political process. And, try as you might, you cannot take politics out of it. One might have hoped that the "sophisticates" who drew this up had read William Golding's Lord of the Flies, but they were educated in California schools - so who knows what they read. Or perhaps they might be somewhat interested in pop culture and had watched Survivor, but maybe that was too low-brow. Either way, to believe that fourteen people would get in a room without a single political agenda among them can only be described as preposterous.
After the commission's final results were released, a firestorm exploded when ProPublica.org, a truly independent operation that studies issues like this, produced a 14-page analysis detailing how Democrats had gamed the system from the outset. What they found was that Democrats had initially been against the Proposition. After all, they had Michael Berman - who had previously protected their elected officials so impeccably that not one Democratic incumbent had lost an election in the past decade. But Democrats weren't going to sit on their hands in the face of this new procedure, and so they covertly started a process to protect their interests.
Republicans, on the other hand, sat on the sidelines until the commission was actually seated - and by then the game was over.
ProPublica's analysis was explosive, but what we found was that the situation was even worse than they described. It was a nightmare of ethnic-driven politics where the interests of Republicans and the residents of California would ironically have been better served by Michael Berman.
Woodfill Has Earned Two More Years
Bruce Bialosky is the founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of California and a former appointee of President Bush.
As Harris County GOP Chair
Jared Woodfill, incumbent Harris County GOP Chair, is seeking re-election, and based on his last report card, he has earned it. Woodfill led the party to a historic sweep in 2010, has upgraded fundraising and is a talented spokesman for the party and its issues.
Jared's leadership on holding fast and speaking out about not surrendering to the Democrats on redistricting and his leadership in opposing the creation of new taxpayer-funded government bureaucracies, correctly predicting they inevitably lead to higher taxes to pay for them. He is a leader we need going into the critical 2012 elections.
Race For The White House,
It's Ours For The Taking
Despite the highly negative primary race for the GOP nomination, Mitt Romney is in a statistical tie with Obama. This race will go deep into the fall and will probably depend on the state of the economy, which currently is slowing. In mid-September, we will have a better idea.
Ted Poe On A Public Defender In Harris County
In a recent appearance on PBS's Red White and Blue, Congressman and former top-rated criminal District Judge gave his take on a Harris County Public Defender:
"In Harris County, the system has worked very well, the appointment system with the Judges responsible for the representation of criminal defendants in the courtroom with court appointment system which has been tweaked to be better.
"The Public Defender system is just another bureaucracy set up and paid for by the taxpayers to make us feel good, but doesn't make much difference at all.
"I am not so sure they are that good and I have received information from attorneys and some defendant's families that it is not a good system. It costs too much and allows the Judges to push their responsibility for quality representation off on a government bureaucracy. I am not a big fan of the Public Defender system for Harris County."
- Congressman Ted Poe
TCR on the Air
Red, White & Blue featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland and liberal commentator David Jones, Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and replaying Sundays at 5:00 p.m. on PBS Houston Channel 8 and on the web at www.houstonpbs.org.
05/03/12: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm: Conversations with the Candidates: The U.S. Senate, Texas
05/04/12: "U.S. Supreme Court Rulings", Key issues this term, voting rights, Obamacare and Arizona immigration laws.
05/11/12: "14th Congressional District U.S. House Race", with Michael Truncale, Felicia Harris, and Randy Weber.
For a fun feature go to www.houstonpbs.org and under Red White and Blue, you can see commentary about the show and its guests by Gary and David each week. The current show as well as past shows are also available on YouTube.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his fourteenth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last eleven years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 8 years, Gary has published election guides for the GOP primary, general elections and city elections, all with the purpose of assisting conservative candidates. Gary is also in his ninth year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on PBS Houston. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.