Governor Rick Perry and Comptroller Carole Strayhorn don't agree on much these days. Going by a newly released budget plan from Perry however, it appears that these two gubernatorial rivals have found one area of common ground. Perry's plan, released on September 28th, includes a proposal to reform the biennial state budget cap found in Article VIII of the Texas Constitution.
As readers of TCR know, Article VIII and spending cap says that the Texas discretionary budget may not exceed the rate of growth of the state economy. Our readers also know that TCR's editor serves as attorney on a currently pending lawsuit by CLOUT to enforce this clause, which the legislature is currently violating to the tune of at least $1.3 billion. A part of the problem revolves around the legislature's use of State Personal Income (SPI) as an index of the Texas economy, even though the experts agree that this index creates an artificially high budget cap and does not accurately reflect the state economy. CLOUT has asked for a better measure such as Gross State Product (GSP) to be applied instead.
With some surprise, the Perry plan seems to concur with CLOUT and endorses using GSP as the new measure. Perry is the third gubernatorial candidate to reject the SPI-based cap being used by the legislature (Strayhorn realigned with the plaintiffs in the original suit and independent Kinky Friedman released a similar plan last month calling for a better measure). If the candidates are taken at their word the message to the legislature is clear: SPI is a bad measure and needs to go.
With Gov. Perry now apparently joining the call for fixing the legislature's abuse of the budget cap, TCR wonders why our other Republican officials have resisted this necessary reform. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Speaker Tom Craddick dug in when the CLOUT suit was filed and insisted there was nothing unconstitutional about their budget despite over 100 pages of exhibits proving otherwise. A few weeks later Attorney General Greg Abbott sided with them when he moved to throw out the CLOUT suit on frivolous technicalities, all based on the erroneous claim that Texas taxpayers do not have the right to sue their government. Abbott's actions delayed the issue from being tried and resolved, so now it is pending before the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin.
Perry's plan is a clear admission that something is wrong with the way the legislature does its budgeting. Unfortunately these same problems including the faulty SPI index extend to the last legislative session's budget bill, which Perry himself signed. The Perry plan nevertheless represents a positive development, and it indicates that he acknowledges the current problem. Let's hope that the governor sticks to his campaign promise in the coming session, and also communicates his newly released proposal to Dewhurst, Craddick, and Abbott.
In Case You Missed It
We suffered the biggest setback in the war with Islamic Terrorists recently. TCR is talking about Pakistan's surrender of parts of the country adjacent to Afghanistan to the Taliban and Al Qaeda and while they were at it, they released 2500 terrorists from custody and left weapons for them as a going away present! As a direct result, attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan are up. This new development obviously gave a sanctuary to the terrorists and suggests that General Musharraf, the leader in Pakistan, is relatively weak and the story only gets worse. Pakistan has nuclear weapons which could easily fall into the hands of the Islamic fascists should the government fall. This is very bad.
The War In Iraq And Afghanistan,
Where Do We Go From Here?
TCR has been doing a lot of reading and thinking on this subject, unlike the left wing critics that are still debating why we went to war. TCR believes we need to figure out what we need to do to win. We have been down this road before as a country in Vietnam and you recall the mistakes made; like privileged sanctuaries fighting to a stalemate with no plan to finish the job, tying the hands of the military, and using possible civilian casualties as a paralysis to the required action.
So now in Iraq we see somewhat of a similar pattern. So what to do? Why not victory, and to get there we need:
- Significantly more troops.
- Change of strategy from patrol and policing to counter insurgency and civil war prevention.
- Close the sanctuaries off in Syria and Iran.
Not finishing the job correctly only sows the seeds of the next conflict. The Islamic fascists didn't arise out of the Iraq war, they've been around since the late 1970's. (Remember - Iran hostage crisis 1979, Beirut and Marine barracks attacks, etc.) The next battle will be more costly in lives and treasure, like a nuclear suitcase bomb courtesy of Al Qaeda and Iran. Appeasement and weakness bring war. Peace can be obtained by strength and the intelligent projection of power.
Thoughts This Fortnight
The Mark Foley scandal and its impact on conservatives ought to be nothing. Obviously, he needed to go, but his voting record on many social conservative issues was mixed and that's where it should end. But you know the left wing attack machine is looking for more bodies. Remember that the attackers are the same ones that thought it wasn't a big deal when Representative Barney Franks' (D) friend ran a male prostitution ring out of his house. The left is trying to use the gay issue to keep pro-family voters home on November 7, 2006. Of course if we let them win, look out.
Conservatives Are Different From Liberals, Social Edition: TCR knows that at times you think there's not a dime's worth of difference between both parties and that often is unfortunately true, but there are some important differences. (Thanks to Gary Bauer - www.cwfpac.com):
"One is operationally pro-life; the other is pro-abortion. One wants marriage to remain the union of one man and one woman; the other is "in bed" with the militant homosexual rights movement. One defends the Boy Scouts, the Salvation Army, and other traditional groups; while the other stands with the ACLU, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, MoveOn.Org, and the radical Left. One party understands the war we are in, the other is still in denial about Islamofascism. One is for big spending and one is for bigger spending." Yes, and that one is a big problem.
Did The New York Times Get It Right?
Has power become the only point for the GOP in D.C.? As the New York Times says, like so many issues there isn't a simple answer, but one thing is clear, the GOP has abandoned the conservatives base on issue after issue. Let's just review a few highlights: (1) Runaway federal spending, (2) Largest expansion of the welfare state since the Great Society (prescription drugs), (3) Largest expansion of federal involvement in education in decades, (4) An undersized military for all its responsibilities, (5) slow progress on ending illegal immigration. In fact, if back in 2000 TCR predicted these things would occur you would all have guessed the Democrats would be in control. Of course there are pluses: judicial appointments and a clear understanding on the war with Islamic fascists, among other things
So what do conservatives do? You take out non-ideological office holders who are there only for power and control and replace them with committed conservatives. It is important to recall Congressman Ted Poe's description of the problem in D.C., "Conservatives are in the minority."
Races Of The Week
Martha Wong (R-incumbent) vs. Ellen Cohen (D), District 134 Houston - River Oaks, Bellaire, West University, Southside Place and the Medical Center. This is a lean Republican district (Bush got 54% of the vote in 2004). The Democrats are going all out to beat Martha spending north of $500,000 in this race. Left wing special interest groups: Planned Parenthood, the teacher unions and their allies are already spending independently to take Martha out. But opponents always underestimate her incredible energy and get out the vote machine. Overall, she has a good voting record and supports appraisal caps. She needs the conservatives to turn out. Contact her campaign at www.marthawong.com - (713) 621-0888.
Talmadge Heflin (R) vs. Hubert Vo (D-incumbent), House District 149 - Southwest Houston. This is a rematch of 2 years ago when Heflin ran an average campaign and shot himself in the foot with a high profile interracial adoption case. That being said, Heflin is a front-line conservative, an innovator on tax relief and reform whose loss two years ago ended up letting spending in the legislature go wild. (Where two years before as Appropriations Chair, he held the line on state spending.) Kerry only got 46.6% of the vote last time, so with the right turnout Heflin can be returned to where we need him. Contact the campaign at www.talmadgeheflin.com - (281) 495-7420.
Has America Lost Its Mind?
By Brian S. Ettinger
Recently, the U.S. State Department granted entry to our country to the former Iranian President to travel around the U.S. and give speeches at universities and other public forums to spread their hatred of the U.S. and Western society principles. All this did was give the Iranian government and leaders a public forum with press coverage to spread their anti-American message. They did this under our principles of free speech and expression, but it is lunacy to invite them to our country to spread this message.
If we went to Iran and spoke out about their government and society we most assuredly would be arrested or beheaded.
Last month, the U.N. held its annual meeting and other world leaders came and spoke including the President of Iran and Venezuela spreading their anti-American messages. They were greeted at other events in New York to spread their hate for our society and way of life. America needs to wake up and take a stand that restricts the ability of these and other foreign leaders to have a public forum to spread their anti-American messages. Some people may consider this to be at odds with our principles of free speech and expression, but remember that these rights are ones granted to American citizens and not absolute rights for all.
Next, the U.S. needs to request the United Nations relocate outside of New York and must stop U.S. funding of this most ineffective organization that promotes anti-American sentiment. At one time, the U.N. was an organization set up to promote the peaceful dialogue for all nations to work out their differences. They could address their issues in this setting and reach through dialogue an understanding and mechanism to settle disputes including wars. This organization has now turned into just an anti-American platform with a corrupt process that needs a total shake up of leadership. The roles of the members need to be redefined since the resolutions passed by Security Council members and General Assembly have no effect. This was quite evident in the recent Middle East conflict as well as the current crisis in Iran and North Korea.
The U.S. needs to rethink its policy and take a stand by requiring the U.N. to relocate and by restricting foreign leaders who simply want to spread their anti-American Western messages from entering the U.S.
If the United States does not regain its sanity, this situation will continue to worsen and we will lose our credibility and position as a great country.
Brian Ettinger is a practicing attorney, strong conservative and a concerned citizen about America's future.
COMING ON THE CONNECTION - (Friday, October 13, 2006 at 8 pm) to Channel 8 PBS in Houston, Texas - The Connection - Red, White & Blue A Texas special edition one hour debate with Martha Wong (R) and Ellen Cohen (D), House District 134 and the most expensive and hotly contested House race in the Houston area. Tune in on October 19, 2006 at 8:00 p.m. with guest Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, on October 26, 2006 with Kinky Friedman, Independent Candidate for Governor, and on November 3, 2006 TBA.
Coming soon invited guests; Senator John McCain, Governor Rick Perry and a new version of Red, White and Blue, a roundtable featuring a rapid-fire discussion of key issues of the day with key members of the local media.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who recently 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 ninth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last four years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant and can be reached at (713) 621-6335.