I hope you missed me, we've been off line for a few weeks due to being out of the country with business travel and a trial. A lot has happened so this will be a larger than normal issue.
Mission to Israel - A Real Eye Opening Visit
I was privileged to recently visit our strong democratic ally, Israel. The group was composed of 120 people from Texas.
This visit to the cradle of our Judeo-Christian heritage was to the front lines of the war against Radical Islamic terrorism.
First, the citizens of Israel could not have been more friendly and gracious. Second, for being on the front line on the war on terror, the country was calm. Third, the security mindset prevalent was eye opening mainly because it was in such contrast to our preparations here. We have a lot of work to do.
Among so many highlights were - touring the Wingate Institute focusing on using sports as a way to integrate the disadvantaged into Israeli society, home hospitality with citizens, a visit to Houston Texas sister city Petah-Tikva, a visit with new immigrants fleeing anti-semitism and the decimated Argentinian economy, lunch with soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces at a tank base near the Golan Heights, a visit to the historic Kinneret Cemetery on the shores of Lake Kinneret, (a/k/a Sea of Galilee) where our host told us stories of pioneers who came to Israel early in the 20th century to transform the Holy Land but in addition transformed their souls. We visited a youth village (boarding school) focusing on new immigrants from the Former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, all with personal problems and interested in sports (which was inspiring).
In a moving ceremony covered by the Israeli media, we held a memorial service and planted trees in honor of the lost Columbia Astronauts and Ilan Ramon.
Sabbath in Jerusalem is a special experience as the city essentially shuts down and you feel an almost mysterious quiet in many parts of the city along with enhanced spirituality. Of course, seeing the holy sights is always an inspiration.
Finally, we volunteered to put care packages together for soldiers. We did about 800! Then traveled to the Negev Desert to tour the area and see the true transformation of the land from deserts to fields of oranges, winter wheat and wild life.
On our final day we visited Had Jasah Medical Center and met with doctors, social workers and innocent victims of Palestinian terror attacks. This was most touching as two mothers told of their "personal holocausts". One, a victim of a bus bombing and another whose child was a victim. There was not a dry eye in the group for these women of courage who faced senseless violence.
Our last event was a dinner and salute to Israel Security Forces. In a touching program we exchanged gifts from Texas with the police, fire, ambulance and border security officers. The Jerusalem Fire Department loved the Houston Fire Department T-shirts we gave to them, courtesy of Houston City Councilman Mark Goldberg.
Everywhere we went people thanked us for visiting. While we were there only about 500 tourists were in the country and the economy is really suffering. At all times we were completely safe and were not concerned at all about our safety.
I want to thank Mike Richards of KSEV for having me on his show live from Israel, it was late since Israel is eight hours ahead. I hope some of you got to hear the interviews.
If you've thought about going to Israel, Pastor John Hagee had a great time in October (www.sacornerstone.com) and Rep. Debbie Riddle is putting together another trip with Martha Greenlaw in the near future. You should go to the cradle of our civilization.
Security Mindset In Israel - What We Can Gain
One thing we learned about our trip and returning is what I call an intelligent security mindset. They have it and we don't. Profiling is a way of life in Israel and we are foolish to not do so. We waste a lot of resources on non-threats.
Stores, restaurants, hotels, major public venues all have armed security, restricted entry and use metal detectors in Israel. The reasons public buses have become a target is they are accessible and one of the few "soft" targets.
In returning home as I've looked around you find a plethora of soft targets. So we have a lot to do and a lot to learn from Israel. The good news is U.S. security people have been to Israel to view what works. The "smarter" we are about security, the better.
Forget political correctness, that discredited concept belongs in the ash heap of history.
Make Texas Proud Unveils Judicial Reform Plan
An Idea Whose Time Has Come
As long-time GOP chair in Harris County, I worked hard to make total domination for Republicans in our judiciary and after three local sweeps in the judiciary in a row it's time to look to the future.
After much study and meeting with key supporters, I've come to the conclusion that Republicans Senator Robert Duncan and Rep. Mike Krusee are right. It's time to reform our selections system. I've joined such key Republican leaders as Governor Bill Clements and former long-time National Committeeman Ernie Angelo to support the plan.
First, by viewing the present I see the future. Right now we don't elect our people everywhere. Judges in South or East Texas are where most of the runaway lawsuits occur. Coincidence? No. Lawsuit reform depends on conservative judges who follow the rule of law and enforce it. What's happening there will shift to our older urban counties to the Democratic in the not so distant future. When the shift occurs we will lose our current crop of conservative judges to be replaced with the likes of what South and East Texas generally have now!
Like many of you I thought an appointed retention system would take away my right to vote, but statistics tell a different story. Specifically, almost 90% of all incumbent Texas judges took office by appointment by the Governor. Since 1980, almost 70% of our incumbent judges never had an opponent in any election. Interestingly, retention elections would require all judges to face the voters regularly.
With changing demographic patterns our Republican judges in our large urban counties will be at risk. For example, in Dallas County last year our judicial candidates averaged 52%! While Harris County did better than Dallas County, we are on the same road. Republican base vote is in decline as the cities become more Democratic. While we should control the state for a decade plus we will begin to take control of larger urban areas, given present trends. And there's another reason we have increasingly asked our judges to be two people. One is a fair and independent judge and the other is a politician who needs to raise substantial dollars to stay in public office. The appearance of impropriety is rampant, even with the Judicial Fairness Act which limits donations to $25,000 per person, per cycle. As a potential party to a case how would you feel if the other side's attorney gave your judge the maximum? Retention elections are much cheaper and thus avoid the possible corruption of money in politics.
The reform we are talking about can only occur while we are in control. Once it starts slipping the bipartisan support will go bye bye. Now is the time to join the Make Texas Proud Committee at (512) 474-1781.
Short Takes - Interesting Political Tidbits
The League of Women Voters, are they to be trusted by conservatives? Recently, LWV has been in the news honoring leaders of both political parties and around the same time I came across Phyllis Schlafly's comments which you may find interesting. "The League of Women Voters abandoned its former credibility and became a federally funded lobby to expand the size of government so that it can accommodate expensive feminist programs. The League, which spent $4,620,246 in 2000, supports gun control, abortion access, universal health care, more environmental regulation, and increased power for the United Nations."
Source: 12/02 The Phyllis Schlafly Report (www.eagleforum.org).
Here comes the local tax increase- North Harris Montgomery Community College District is talking about increases to property taxes by 50% to make up for an expected $10 million loss in state funds, officials say February 12, 2003. To our legislators in Austin- any local tax increase caused by cuts in state funds means the legislature can't really claim taxes didn't go up.
is a long time Republican spokesman, fund-raiser and leader who
recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican
Chair. During his time as Chairman, Gary was described as the
most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events.
For six years, Gary put out a bi-weekly newsletter which he has
continued due to requests from many Republican activists.
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