Since the recent faulty U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Texas sodomy case, Texas pro-family conservatives have been pondering the proper response to maintain the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman in America.
Some suggest waiting until marriage licenses for same sex marriages are issued. Some say it's too divisive an issue to push and some correctly say we need a constitutional amendment.
If we want the amendment route, we need to decide what kind. In a recent visit with pro-family leader, Gary Bauer, he raised a concept that others are coming to embrace. Let me explain in detail what the correct amendment should entail. First and foremost, constitutionally remove unelected judges from the decision-making regarding all aspects of marriage. Second, define marriage between - a man and a woman only. It would also ban state or federal governments from granting benefits that are conditioned on non-marital sexual relationships. It also would ban all courts from second guessing any legislative efforts to give benefits to married couples.
Passing constitutional amendments despite broad public support are a challenge. Clearly, if one has to focus on the most critical, it's to keep judges out of this area. In short, we don't need legislators on the bench.
The New World Economy - What It Means To Us
As many of you know, TCR has written previously on the loss of American jobs overseas. Manufacturing jobs are going to China and some services now to India. Why can't people find things "made in America" to buy? Because things made in America are too expensive, what with the crushing regulatory burdens of government and bankrupting levels of liability insurance occasioned by an out-of control legal system where people are actually suing, and winning, because they are not happy with acting like irresponsible morons. Because we are in a new world market and their wages and benefits (by 70% or more) undercut American workers big time. This is true even with the increase in the U.S. productivity. The problem is our middle class is being slowly eroded.
So what is the answer? It's not simple, as we truly live in a global economy. One, is to encourage purchases made in America. Remember the old "Buy America" campaign? Second, is the repeal of any tax advantages and subsidies for shipping U.S. jobs overseas. Third, is to encourage cutting edge innovation in research to create new products and opportunities. In truth this will be a most difficult challenge.
Texas/Israel Legislative Mission 2004
I recently returned from leading a mission to Israel with key Texas legislators: Senators Todd Staples and John Whitmire, Representatives Diane White Delisi, Debbie Riddle and Larry Taylor and with Texas private sector leaders - Cathie Adams (Texas Eagle Forum) and Jim and Ellen Arnold.
Among the highlights - touring the Christian and Jewish quarters of Jerusalem, a meeting at the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), a visit at Yemen Orde youth Alliyah village, visit to Capernum and the Mount of Beatitudes, overnight at a Kibbutz in the Galilee, and the Golan Heights with a tour of the key tank battle site in the 1973 war with tank commander Avigdor Kahalini. We also saw up close various aspects of the security fence, Sabbath at the Western Wall, religious services on the Mount of Olives, a walk up Masada, floating in the Dead Sea, a stirring visit to Yad Vashem the memorial to the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust including a lecture by a survivor, a visit to the Western Wall tunnels including a walk on the streets that were in use during the time of Jesus, a tour of Hadassah hospital and its critical care center where terror victims are treated, Tel Aviv - gelato at John Goott's cousin's place and a meeting with Deputy Chief of Mission for U.S. Richard LeBarons. It is hard to believe we did this all in eight days - of course God created the world in six. Needless to say it was a fascinating trip.
I want to share with you some comments from my travel companions:
Senator Todd Staples
"Until you see the sites (in Israel) first hand, it is difficult to grasp the feeling of witnessing a culture with a 4000 year history. This was truly one of the most educational trips that I have been privileged to attend."
Representative Diane White Delisi
"What a marvelous experience it was for me…the program for us was extraordinary to the man and to the woman that presented both as guides and official presentation were disarmingly candid. That honest dialogue helped me solidify my commitment…to the long-term viability and prosperity of the nation of Israel for the Jewish people. The group seemed to coalesce into a large extended family."
A Look at the Key State Senate Special Elections
We have two special State Senate elections this spring - in SD1 and SD31. These are key races for the GOP and conservatives if we are to hold our majority in the Texas Senate.
In SD1 (NE Texas) to replace a self described 51% Republican, Bill Ratliff, GOP candidate and former Tyler Mayor Kevin Eltife faces off against former Democrat State Representative Paul Sadler.
With full support from GOP elected officials and interest groups like Texans for Lawsuit Reform, turnout remains the key. A GOP victory in the ground war will result in victory.
The "other race" in SD31, two GOPers are in the run-off so in theory we can't lose. Former Odessa Council Member Kirk Edwards faces off with former Amarillo Mayor Kel Seliger. Seliger is the slight favorite due to leading the pack in round one.
Mainstream Media's Got it Wrong
WMD's Were Really There - Per Debka File
This last week's big news was WMD hunter Dr. David Kay's resignation and declaration there are probably no stockpiles in Iraq.
However, a major intelligence source, Debka file (www.debka.com) reports this week Hussein's WMD program was present on the eve of the U.S. led invasion and quantities of WMD were spirited to Syria. In fact, Debka file reports that U.S. intelligence agencies and Dr. Kay were given maps of Syria marked with the secret weapon storage sites - identified as Qaratshuk, Al Qamishli and in the area of Az Zawr and some under the ground in the Bequa Valley in Lebanon near the Syrian border.
One problem for uncovering the WMD's (we were inspecting in Iraq), we need to get into Syria and Lebanon to locate the weapons.
The truth is, President Bush is correct, let's figure out what it takes to prove it. The President should not be ripped on this issue - any ideas by his democratic critics of how to search the indicated areas of Syria and Lebanon without expanding the war ought to come forward. Don't hold your breath waiting.
Democrats Cry Wolf on Entitlement Spending
You have noticed John Kerry and other D's are complaining we (the U.S.) have under-funded education, health care and the environment, blaming the critically important Bush tax cut.
Just the facts - entitlements top 57% of total federal spending, consuming 11% more of the budget than they did then during President Reagan's last fiscal year in 1989 (thanks to the non-partisan Tax Foundation).
So it's fair to say - it's not the tax cut, but the spending stupid. The President's call to freeze discretionary spending in FY2005 is a good idea to start.
The View From Austin
by Royal Masset
In this issue of the newsletter, we are including a guest column as a new feature of the Texas Conservative Review. The inaugural submission is from my friend, Royal Masset. Royal is an Austin-based political consultant and longtime warrior of the conservative movement. He can be found online at www.RoyalMasset.com.
Another Look at Redistricting
Contrary to everything you have read or heard, the Redistricting Congressional plan for Texas adopted by the legislature in 2003 is a very fair plan. And that isn't a matter of my personal opinion. It is objective fact.
Gerrymandering occurs when legislators make weird shaped districts in order to guarantee election outcomes. Through the years mathematicians have developed an objective measure of gerrymandering: The Perimeter to Area Ratio.
This is the "compactness" ratio of the area of a circle with the same perimeter as the district perimeter to the area of the district. A perfectly compact district would be a circle with a ratio of 1.
The idea is that the longer the length of the perimeter of a district, relative to its area, the more objective evidence we have that boundaries were purposely skewed to capture certain voters and get rid of other voters. A district with smooth lines will have a much lower compactness number than one whose lines are saw toothed, with tentacles reaching out to capture desired voters and deep holes where undesired voters are packed into other districts.
The evidence is clear; the compactness ratios shows that the Republican drawn 2003 Congressional redistricting was relatively compact. It had a ratio of 6.3. By itself this figure is meaningless. When you compare it to the Democrat Congressional redistricting plan of 1991, which had a compactness ratio of 21.3, you realize that there is a major difference in these two plans.
Perimeter to Area Compactness Ratio &
Average Deviation from 2001 Plan:
2003 Republican Plan - 6.4 & 1.3;
2001 Federal Judges Plan - 5.1;
1996 Federal Judges Plan - 8.2 & 3.1;
1991 Democrat Plan - 21.3 & 16.2
Most observers agree that the 1991 Democrat Redistricting plan was the worst gerrymandering in the nation. The compactness ratio proves it. Think about it, the boundaries of the districts drawn by Democrats in 1991 were about three times longer than the districts drawn by Republicans in 2003. Where was the media outrage in 1991?
In 1996 Federal Judges redrew the 1991 lines and still would up with a compactness ratio of 8.2. In 2001 Federal Judges drew a new plan with a 5.1 compactness ratio. The reason the compactness ratio is so low here is because, after incumbent protection, compactness was their main goal. It can be reasonably argued that this 5.1 compactness ratio, created by a nonpartisan tribunal, represents about the best that can be done, especially when it is considered that the Voting Rights Act requires the drawing of long convoluted districts to protect minority voting rights.
In light of this it can be seen that the recent 2003 plan's compactness of 6.4 is incredibly close to the optimal compactness of the 2001 plan at 5.1. The Democrat 1991 plan was 12 times as far from the optimal compactness ratio as the 2003 plan.
If you hate numbers, go to gis1.tlc.state.tx.us and simply look at the different Congressional maps. The districts Republicans drew are fair and compact. No flying elephants or Roschach ink blots. Every convoluted district was drawn because of the Voting Rights Act. The Republicans drew a fair plan.
About Your Editor
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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