Sunday, November 22, 2009

RINOs beware: Republicans have no use for phonies

Dierdre Scozzafava is a RINO.

That doesn't mean she is a large gray mammal with a horn on her nose. That's a rhino. The New York assemblywoman is a Republican In Name Only, meaning she claims to be a Republican but votes like a Democrat.

The Republican Party too often has supported RINOs like Scozzafava based on the theory that it's better for a wishy-washy Republican to win an election than a true Republican to lose it.

Unfortunately, that kind of thinking has led to trillion-dollar deficits and ever-expanding government. Moreover, it's proven to be a bad electoral strategy. Not surprisingly, voters often decide that, if they have a choice between a Republican who grows government hypocritically and a Democrat who does it enthusiastically, the result is the same and they might as well vote for the one who's sincere about it.

Thankfully, that's not the case with the Club for Growth. Founded in1999 by the brilliant free market economist, Stephen Moore, the Club lets other organizations argue divisive social issues and focuses on something most (taxpaying) Americans can agree upon — the need for lower taxes and less government.

The club supports candidates who believe in economic freedom regardless of party — Republicans most of the time, of course, but others willing to hold the line on taxes and spending.

Case in point: the recent 23rd Congressional District race in which the Club for Growth opposed Scozzafava and instead favored Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman. Unlike Scozzafava, the seat is reliably Republican, and had she won, she would have been one more big government congressperson who just happened to have an "R" beside her name. Thankfully, the club held firm in its principles and threw its support, and $1 million, behind Hoffman, the true conservative in the race. Scozzafava withdrew. Following the club when it should have been leading, the Republican National Committee threw its support behind Hoffman, and he almost won.

Future wishy-washy Republicans beware: The club has only begun to fight. In Florida, it's supporting House Speaker Marco Rubio, the true conservative, in his GOP Senate primary race against the party's establishment (and more liberal) candidate, Gov. Charlie Crist. And in Pennsylvania, it's supporting conservative Republican and former club Executive Director Pat Toomey in his race to unseat the incumbent, Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter.

The two Pennsylvanians have a history. Toomey challenged Specter in 2004, and as too often happens, the party establishment closed ranks behind Specter, the RINO they thought would win. After his re-election, Specter voted as a liberal and then switched parties.

Check out the Club's web site, . It provides a wealth of information and plenty of ammunition for any American who cares about limited government and economic freedom. In addition to hard-hitting opinion posts, it provides timely information regarding key votes in Congress and links to roll call tallies listing each senator's and representative's votes. There voters can see who really believes in less government and who only pretends to.

Ronald Reagan famously commanded, "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican." Unfortunately, some of today's Republicans might as well be Democrats. True Republicans who believe in less government and lower taxes have a choice: Support any member of their party regardless of their beliefs, or stand up for the conservative principles that create wealth and jobs.

The Club for Growth has made its choice: No RINOs.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Obama needs to listen to his generals

President Obama is hearing from widely different viewpoints as he reconsiders his policy on Afghanistan. The U.S. and NATO commander there, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, wants as many as 40,000 additional troops. Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden wants to shift our focus elsewhere. In other words, lose.

Let's hope President Obama listens to his senior military leader on the ground and not his vice president.

History has shown us that presidents shouldn't blindly trust their military leaders. But on matters of national security, if you give me a choice of placing my trust in generals or in politicians, I'll usually take my chances with the generals.

McChrystal, in particular, has earned that trust.

The general whose unit captured Saddam Hussein has been open and honest about the war's progress and about what he needs to win it. He got the nation's attention when he wrote in a report to the secretary of defense that, without a change of course, the war could be lost within a year.

He's known for walking the Afghan streets without armor so he can better connect with the locals, and his morning video teleconferences involve hundreds of people at all levels rather than a select few at the top.

He's even shaken up the way the United States and its NATO allies are conducting the war.

Convinced that the collateral damage from air strikes is turning the Afghan people against the effort, he's ordered troops to act with restraint, practically banning air strikes against residential areas even when they are sources of hostile fire.

He needs additional troops in order to effectively combat the Taliban and other insurgents who threaten the gains made by the United States and its NATO allies.

An additional 40,000 would bring the total number to 140,000 — not much less than the 150,000 that were in Iraq after the troop surge that proved so successful, and which Obama voted against as a senator.

Those 40,000 troops won't guarantee victory. But failing to provide them will make defeat a lot more certain.

After eight years, the United States is nowhere near accomplishing its objectives, so it's not surprising that some want to quit. But doing so would enable the return of an Islamic fundamentalist regime that oppressed its own people and supported the terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001.

Afghanistan is hard. It is larger in both population and area than Iraq, and its geography, tribal society, and resistance to outsiders have made it impossible to invade, as the mighty Soviet Union learned a few decades ago.

But the United States is not invading. It is working to establish a democratic government so that Afghan society will be marked by smiling voters holding up purple-stained thumbs and not fearful women hiding in their black burkas.

It's a noble effort that so far has claimed the lives of 800 irreplaceable Americans. A competent and trustworthy general has asked for up to 40,000 troops so that they did not die in vain.

Let's give him what he's asked for and, until we're shown otherwise, trust that the power of America's ideals and the valor of its men and women in uniform will lead to victory in the end.

Let's win this war.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Obama closing door on school choice

On January 5, 2009, Sasha and Malia Obama arrived for their first day of classes at the Sidwell Friends Academy, a private Quaker school that also educated Chelsea Clinton. Tuition is about $30,000 per year per student.

Meanwhile, 2 million other children across the United States were also attending urban faith-based schools. But while Sidwell's ritzy student body assures its financial survival, those other, less fortunate students face a more uncertain future. Since 2000, the number of urban faith-based schools has fallen from 7,200 to 6,000.

Research tells us that students who attend faith-based schools are more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to attend and graduate from college and more likely to have higher incomes. Meanwhile, they are more likely to vote and to be engaged citizens. They'll more likely be more tolerant of diverse views than their publicly educated peers. When those schools close, many of their students are forced to attend failing urban public schools that won't provide them a decent education or a safe learning environment.

No one can blame the Obamas and the Clintons for wanting to give their daughters the best education possible. It's not hypocritical for political leaders to be outspoken proponents of public schools at the same time they want better for their own children.

The problem is when, after escorting their own children arm and arm into a safe and nurturing private school environment, they turn around and lock the door to those who would like to follow. A case in point is the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides vouchers of up to $7,500 for low-income students to escape D.C.'s poorly performing, inefficient public schools so they can attend a private school. While $7,500 is a lot of money, it's one-fourth the cost of a Sidwell Friends education and less than a third of the amount ($24,600) that taxpayers spend to educate each D.C. public school student.

Obama wants to end the program, though he would allow currently participating students to graduate. Helping these at-risk students attend superior private schools isn't only good for those students and their families. Public schools that compete with a vibrant private school sector are forced to provide a better education or risk losing students.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Obama's liberalism takes toll in polls

Democrats were giddy after last November's elections, and seemingly for good reason. President Obama had won an historic victory, and Democrats enjoyed overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate.

Democrat strategist James Carville wrote a book in which he argued that his party would maintain majority status for 40 years. Adding to the chorus, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned his fellow Republicans that the GOP was in danger of becoming a regional party.

But even the most popular political figures eventually come back down to earth — especially when they are wrong on the issues. Despite the never-ending lovefest between President Obama and the media, polls show his popularity is sinking faster than that wounded duck he threw for the ceremonial first pitch at baseball's All-Star Game.

According to Rasmussen Reports, as of July 26, more likely voters disapprove of Obama's handling of the presidency than approve of it, by a count of 50 to 49 percent. Meanwhile, while only 29 percent of likely voters strongly approve of his performance, 40 percent strongly disapprove. And why wouldn't they? Despite enjoying a nearly filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and a heavy majority in the House, all Obama has managed to pass is an $800 billion grab bag of a stimulus package.

That package has helped lead to a $1.7 trillion deficit, a figure unprecedented in U.S. history. Yet, according to Rasmussen, only 25 percent of likely voters believe it helped the economy, while 31 percent say it hurt it. Meanwhile, according to a Gallup poll, a majority of Americans don't believe he will be able to meet his stated goal of cutting the deficit in half in four years — to $850 billion.

Meanwhile, Obama's efforts to remake health care in government's image and to tax productivity in the name of fighting global warming have yet to get real traction.

The disconnect between Obama's positions and his popularity can be explained more by his personal charisma than his performance. I admit that he's a likable guy, but Americans eventually will expect results, and if Obama's liberal policies don't deliver them, James Carville can say goodbye to his 40-year majority.