Pawlenty Encourages Californians, Firmly Backs Romney at GOP Convention

Former Governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty spoke during dinner at the last night of CRP convention in Burlingame, focusing his speech on restoring Californian and American greatness. “We must not give up—this is a call to political arms,” he stated. Many Californians have given up on the conservative cause because of the weight of the government and, as Pawlenty put it, the “stupidity in the state.”

“It’s time to take back this state and its destiny,” he boomed, receiving much applause and cheering. “What’s America’s secret? What makes us the greatest nation on the earth? … It’s not because we’re the biggest, or the cheapest, but because we are the freest people the world has ever known.”

Gov. Pawlenty encouraged Californian Republicans to continue campaigning and working hard for the party. “It’s not impossible to have a conservative serve in the state office, even in a blue state,” he stated. “I did it! So don’t complain about how it’s ‘so tough’ in California. We made it happen in Minnesota.”

Citing the burgeoning growth of the government, Pawlenty assailed the Obama administration for allowing government to creep into American lives “one more increment at a time,” crowding private markets, religious freedom, family lives, and more. “It not only runs up the budget and numbers through the roof, but it begins to wear us out and weigh down our American spirit.”

The former Governor then talked about the critical need to cut back on government, its regulations, bureaucratic processes and requirements, encroachment upon personal liberties and freedoms, and more. “If we’re going to be a great country, we need to grow jobs. The answer lies with the people that start and grow businesses, not the politicians in DC that have probably never held a private sector job,” he said. “The basic message to the government is this: ‘Get the government off my back!’”

Gov. Tim Pawlenty then gave a shared a few words regarding why he felt Mitt Romney was the most qualified candidate for the Presidency. He pointed out the fact that “Romney is the only candidate that polls competitively against Obama,” and that “Obama handily beats each and every one of the other GOP runners.” Pawlenty praised Romney’s record in the private sector, then as a Governor in the state of Minnesota. “He is the only GOP contender that has the experience to make executive-level decisions,” he asserted. “There’s a difference between rubber-stamping bills and giving speeches—anyone can do that.”

Towards the end of his remarks, Pawlenty also firmly encouraged the room full of California Republicans to “band together” and remember that no matter who won the GOP primaries, it is essential that we all rally behind that candidate and support that individual. The message was clear: at the end of the day, anyone is better than Obama.

(Josephine Djuhana is Assistant Editor for the California Political Review.)

Herman Cain Inspires Crowd at CRP Convention in Burlingame, Introduces Gingrich

“The Founding Fathers got it right. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator—not by the government—with certain unalienable rights,” opened an enthusiastic Herman Cain, all smiles and confidence. “The pursuit of happiness in America is under attack, and it’s up to us to get this country back on track.”

The former CEO of Godfather’s pizza was on fire today at the California Republican Convention in Burlingame, CA. Accompanying Michael Reagan, son of former US President Ronald Reagan, and Calista Gingrich, he introduced former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was the keynote speaker for the lunch event at the convention. A firm supporter of the former Speaker, Cain highlighted Gingrich’s bold leadership and ability to get America back on track.

Speaking on the size and scope of government, and how far America has strayed from the origin and intent of the US Constitution, Cain stated that it is “the right of the people to alter or abolish it.” Additionally, he emphasized his decision to put his family first, by dropping out of the GOP Primary race. “But I did not choose to shut up,” he said, to a room full of cheering and applause. “I am still on a mission, and our mission is to maintain control of the House, gain control of the Senate, and alter the occupant of the White House.”

He encouraged the audience of California Republicans to stay informed, involved, and inspired, to be unafraid of Obama’s million-dollar campaign and claim to four more years in office. “They want you to believe that we can’t do this. But we can do this, and we will do this, because this nation is at a crossroads in history,” said Cain.

“In November we are not only going to elect a new president and elect new leadership in Congress. We are going to determine the future of this great nation; we are going to decide if we are going to go away like other great nations—the Roman Empire, the Greek Empire, the British Empire. They all failed for the same reason—arrogance and too much government… we need to know if we are going to go the way of history or rewrite history.”

Quoting the Irish political philosopher, Edmund Burke, Cain continued, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing. I will not die doing nothing, and I don’t believe you want to die doing nothing.”

“And we have a message for Barack Obama, we have a message for a broken DC; we the people we want our power back, and it’s going to be led by Speaker Newt Gingrich in 2012.”

(Josephine Djuhana is Assistant Editor for the California Political Review.)

Are the poor lazy, or are the lazy poor?

It seems that I am hearing the invective phrase, that so-and-so republican really said in his speech that, “the poor are lazy”. This phrase is often attributed to a democrat or liberal leaning media person or pundit.

Forgetting the political nature of this statement in the first place, and trying not to take a side in the partisan argument, my issue falls in the fact that the statement itself is carefully crafted to be inaccurately damning a class. The reference is that someone, or some group, who doesn’t like or care for the poor really believes that that if you are poor then you must be lazy. But, if you read the original statements, and not the convenient sound bite, what they are saying is, “if you are lazy, then you likely will be poor.” The former statement damns a class, the latter damns a behavior.

Words matter and when one reads the interpretation of another’s words it is a good idea to actually read the original statement and remember that in politics, each of the replies, regardless of party, has been manipulated, crafted and tested to provide a vilification effect on the opposing interest, regardless of the original intent or context.

Words and their order in a phrase can alter meaning. These slight placement differences are never accidental. We are in an age where most of politics is now based on some form of fraud. And it is we who now suffer its effects.  In the world or profligate sound-bites we know longer think–we just emote–and the effect on us and our society is building to a catastrophic conclusion.

If we are to combat this sound-bite, words as weapons mentality, we must first and always correct the semantic error and then argue the real point. In this case we need to make sure the point is not that the poor are lazy but that if you are lazy you will likely be poor.  Then one can argue the real point and not get bound up by false emotional relativism.

Perhaps we should go back to thinking!

(Tom Loker served as the Chief Operating Officer of Ramsell Holding Corporation. Prior to joining Ramsell, Mr. Loker was the founder and senior partner of Wild Tiger Holding Company and Thomas Loker Consulting. Visit his website at www.loker.com and his blog at tloker.wordpress.com.)

Fair Shot, Fair Share, Fair Play: Why “Fairness” is Relative

The United States, by all external accounts, has one of the fairest judicial processes in the world.  Hundreds of thousands of pages of rules and laws have been written and established with fair justice as the principal goal.  Yet, look at the O.J. Simpson trial, or more recently, the Casey Anthony Trial.  Ask most Americans if the outcome was fair and they will tell you that both of them got away with murder.  Clearly, our own experience shows us that life is not fair and no government can provide fairness.

In an odd way, the system itself recognizes life is not, nor ever will be, fair.  Our form of justice is not as much about fairness as it is equalization of injustices, both perceived and real, by the transfer of some value or asset from the defendant to the plaintiff.  Even things that are clearly recognized as accidental, now include compensation for the victim as part of the “fairness” concept of justice.  In the early 1800s through the mid-1900s, liability for damage due to death from addictive patent medicines rested in the hands of the person who purchased it and chose to take it.  If you used a piece of equipment in the 1840s or 1850s and you lost a finger—well, its a shame you lost the finger, stuff happens you know!

Today, for some, by no means all, such events become a life changing payday.  Our concept of fairness has evolved much over the last century or so.

For this election, President Obama is now decided to use the main theme (sound byte, talking point, mantra – you pick it) of Fair Shot, Fair Share, Fair Play.  In these moments he contra-poses the hope of fair with the negative of things like the mortgage foreclosure crisis or the stock market collapse, or the “greed” of wall street and the rich corporations.  Without stating it directly, first he imparts the message that we should expect fairness and it can, in fact, be attained.  Secondly, he is building the image that only he is fair and anything else is not fair.  He makes the statement that everyone should be able to buy a home but does not discuss whether or not they should have the requirement to afford the home in the first place.  If they can’t get the loan, for whatever reason then the lender is not fair.  If they buy the home and now the lender wants to collect or repossess the home than the lender is not fair. He uses terms like unscrupulous in these cases to paint a broad picture.

Clearly, some lenders are unscrupulous, just as some people seeking loans are also unscrupulous.  But being a lender does not directly equate to being unscrupulous any more than being a borrower automatically equates to deadbeat.  While one side can quote statistics to show how all the lenders did such-and-so to be unfair to home buyers, conversely the national statistics on upside mortgages and home mortgage defaults leads one to draw the conclusion that a large part of borrowers are deadbeats.  Neither of those assumptions are of course true.

Framing the argument for his re-election in such a lopsided way is indirectly and in some cases directly, instilling in the public that they have a right to own a home regardless.  If they, you know those unscrupulous people, don’t loan you the money or you can’t pay it back it is they, the unscrupulous, that are unfair…

(Read Full Article)

(Tom Loker served as the Chief Operating Officer of Ramsell Holding Corporation. Prior to joining Ramsell, Mr. Loker was the founder and senior partner of Wild Tiger Holding Company and Thomas Loker Consulting. Visit his website at www.loker.com and his blog at tloker.wordpress.com.)

President Obama visits Orange County


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President Obama stopped by Corona Del Mar early this morning for a breakfast fundraiser. Unsurprisingly, the crowd of protesters and dissenters vastly outnumbered the handful of supporters that showed up to the event. Check out the gallery below for more pictures.

Obama’s Housing Plan Should Be Rejected

The central question that should be before us at this point is not to revisit the “why” of the collapse in housing prices occurred – as we unfortunately cannot go back in time to correct what has already occurred.  Many theories have been put forward as to the “why” and policymakers, politicians, and  academics will likely be debating the true causes for decades.  Rather, we should focus on how best to move forward in the most constructive manner with what is currently known as fact at this moment.

Although some will try to guess at whether the President’s plan helps or hurts a turnaround in the housing market, at this point unfortunately neither he nor we cannot know what the true impacts, effects or outcomes of the President’s proposal on the housing market.

For example, President Obama states that “it is wrong for anybody to suggest that the only option for struggling, responsible homeowners is to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom.”  For all we know, this may have already happened – the housing market may have already bottomed.

But we do know a few trends occurring in the housing market right now:

  • There is pent-up demand from several years of below-trend new housing unit construction;
  • Mortgage interest rates are at historic lows; and
  • The overall economy is improving, especially the job market and employment outlook.

All these lead us to believe that the factors that drive a healthy housing market are starting to move in the right direction.  The last thing it seems we need now is to institute untested policies that have potential for uncertain results and unintended consequences.  Thus, President Obama’s plan should be rejected.

(Lucy Dunn is the President and CEO of the Orange County Business Council.)

McClintock: Obama’s policies lead US down the path of economic ruin

House Chamber, Washington, D.C.- January 23, 2012

Madam Speaker:

Long ago, Jefferson warned, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.”  The exceptions to that rule have been few and far between recently, and ought to be celebrated when they occur.

One did this past week with the announcement that supporters of the so-called “Stop On-Line Privacy Act” and the “Protect Intellectual Property Act” have indefinitely postponed their measures after an unprecedented protest across the Internet.

SOPA and PIPA pose a crippling danger to the Internet because they use the legitimate concern over copy-right infringement as an excuse for government to intrude upon and regulate the very essence of the Internet – the unrestricted and absolutely free association that links site to site, providing infinite pathways for commerce, discourse and learning.

It is not the Internet per se that has set the stage for the next quantum leap in human knowledge and advancement – but rather the free association at the core of the Internet.  And this is precisely what SOPA and PIPA directly threaten.

But as dangerous as this concept is to the Internet, it pales in comparison to the danger it poses to our fundamental freedoms as Americans.

It is true that rogue web sites operating from off-shore havens, are stealing intellectual property and then selling it.

We already have very good laws against that, as evidenced by the arrest yesterday of Mr. Kim Schmitz and his associates in New Zealand, who now stand accused of operating one of the biggest of these rogue sites.

Theft of intellectual property is fundamentally no different than the theft of any other kind of property.  It should be taken no less seriously than the thefts perpetrated by the likes of Bernie Madoff, John Dellinger or Willie Sutton.

It is no different and it should be treated no differently.  In every such case, it is the individual who commits the theft and the individual who is culpable and accountable to the law.  And it is the individual who is accorded the right of due process, including the presumption of innocence, while he stands accused.

This is what SOPA and PIPA destroy.  Upon mere accusation, these measures would allow the government to shut down web sites, ruin honest businesses, impound property, disrupt legitimate speech and dragoon innocent third parties into enforcing laws that may or may not have been broken.

When property is stolen, we hold accountable the individuals who knowingly commit the act, and place the burden of proof on the accuser.  The accuser must demonstrate to the satisfaction of a jury that the defendant stole property or that he received property that he knew was stolen.

Yes, it is a ponderous system.  Yes, it means you actually have to provide evidence.  Yes, it means you have to convince a jury.  Yes, it means we can’t catch and successfully prosecute every criminal.  But the experience of mankind over the centuries has proven that this is the best possible way to protect the innocent and to protect our freedom while also punishing the guilty.  In part, we punish the guilty to discourage others we might not be able to punish.

And as the arrests yesterday in New Zealand prove, it works.  Let Mr. Schmitz and his confederates be extradited and let them have their day in court.  Let evidence be presented.  Let a jury be convinced of that evidence.  And if convicted of one of the greatest thefts in human history, let us mete out the full measure of punishment provided by the law to stand as a fearsome example to others.

That doesn’t and won’t stop all theft and it isn’t perfect.  But to replace it with one where mere accusation can bring punishment or inflict ruinous costs upon innocent third parties, would introduce a despotic and destructive concept that is antithetical to the ancient rights that our government was formed to protect.

The developments of the last few weeks have saved the Internet and saved these fundamental principles – at least for now.  But Jefferson was right that the natural order is for government to grow at the expense of liberty.  That is why we have our Constitution.

And to the protection of that Constitution, the Internet has now empowered its rightful owners, “We, the People,” to defend it more effectively than ever before.

Which leads me, Madam Speaker, to conclude that because of the events of this past week, we will see many more victories for freedom in the days and years ahead.

(Congressman Tom McClintock represents the 4th Congressional District in the United States Congress.)

CRA/RDA Funds Slashed: Cities in Despair

Today, we celebrate the ultimate demise of California Redevelopment Agencies. After a failed attempt to prevent the dissolution of RDAs in the state legislature and CA Supreme Court, the California Redevelopment Association and numerous California cities have submitted a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown in a final plea to extend the life of the agencies. They list a handful of important issues such as bond defaults, loss of taxpayer funds, potential litigation, abandoned projects, and more. But that February 1st deadline is already here, and cities are losing out on much more than just their redevelopment funds.

In 1969, California enacted its Housing Element Law, which requires localities to use census data to determine income levels, and subsequently, populations in need. From there, local councils were made to determine the need for affordable housing units within each city’s housing element. Historically, RDAs have been the backbone source of funding for cities to meet that affordable housing mandate. In fact, redevelopment agencies receive 12% of all property tax revenue in the state.

Here’s the clincher: if those affordable housing needs are not met, social service funds from the state to the city may be discontinued. In other words, by not fulfilling the mandate, cities miss out on other funding programs provided by the state. Here is a minimal, partial list:

  • Building Equity and Growth in Neighborhood fund: assists qualified residents with down payments
  • Home Investment Partnerships fund: capital for constriction of family homes
  • Community Block Grant: new construction, housing acquisition and programs
  • Infill Incentive Grant: supports infrastructure programs
  • Housing Related Parks Program: assists in rehabilitating parks near affordable housing communities
  • Local Housing and Trust fund: creates trust funds that support affordable housing
  • Work Force Housing Reward Program: provides capital for public works, parks, and infrastructure
  • Infrastructure State Revolving fund: affordable financing for infrastructure programs
  • Housing Enabled by Local Partnership Program: reduced rate loans
  • Residential Development Loan Program: reduced rate loans

Those funds mentioned above are the real reason why cities don’t want their RDAs dissolved. Cities have been arguing that the RDA shut down and consequential stripping of funds is devastating for populations in need, and will bring a halt to affordable housing programs. But we can see above that cities get an extra boost when they fulfill their mandate by using RDA funds; they don’t provide affordable housing out of the goodness of their little hearts—they’re out to get more money from the state! The fact that these additional funds and programs even exist in the state of California is far too much. And not all of those RDA funds are even used to fulfill that affordable housing mandate.

Proponents of RDAs argue vehemently that the reduction of RDA funds will obliterate affordable housing—even though in many cities, only a small portion of funds are headed for affordable housing requirements. According to the Community According to the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Santa Ana, only 20% of its massive $268.4 million redevelopment fund is directed towards affordable housing. In Yorba Linda, Housing and Redevelopment Manager Pam Stoke and Assistant City Attorney Bill Ihrke stated that $9.5 million is annually redirected to other services, such as the Placentia-Yorba Linda School District.  Placentia has used its funds to renovate parts of downtown and plans to use funds to restore buildings, build a pedestrian crossing, etc. Cities have used RDA funding for parks, schools, economic development, infrastructure, transportation, and more.

Since not 100% of current RDA funds are not dedicated to affordable housing, cities shouldn’t be whining about getting their funds taken away. Gov. Brown’s plan is to cut RDA funding and reroute that $5 billion back to social services for individual cities and localities, which is more or less what the cities need.

But city officials have wasted funds, too. According to state data, more than 120 cities spent over $700 million of their affordable housing funds between 2000 and 2008 without building a single new unit. That is a prime example of the abuse in RDA funding, since it is mostly unregulated. Cities and local councils mainly determine the allocation of money, and since most Californians are unaware of redevelopment or have little understanding of the process, the public does not hold localities accountable either.

The termination of RDAs will be a hard hit for many cities across the state, which not only lose out on the physical funds, but may also have to forfeit other funding programs given by the state. It’s hard to feel any compassion for their losses, though. Perhaps localities will finally cut down on expenditures, shrink down the sprawling bureaucratic system in place, and stop wasting taxpayer dollars—wishful thinking?

(Josephine Djuhana is Assistant Editor for the California Political Review.)

The Soros of the Right: Sheldon Adelson?

Photo courtesy העין השביעית • the7eye.org.il, flickr

One prominent figure of the political Left perhaps more loathed by conservatives and Republicans than President Obama and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is billionaire political activist George Soros. The 81-year-old native of Hungary is viewed by many as the sugar daddy of progressive-liberal movement in the United States and elsewhere – he even once pledged his entire fortune if someone could guarantee no second term for President George W. Bush. His reach has been significant, successfully garnering increased organization, mobilization and, particularly, collaboration for progressive causes.

While the Right has its share of affluent political donors, there has not been an equal to Soros, that is, someone so committed to core philosophical ideals and unification of a broader, better organized, cohesive political movement.

That may be changing. With the cash splash he made in South Carolina’s primary and his wife’s contribution this past week just in time for Florida’s GOP primary, perhaps casino magnate Sheldon Adelson will become the George Soros of the Right.

(Read Full Blog)

Brown gets public support for tax increase, tries to woo CA business groups

Governor Jerry Brown is aggressively pushing his agenda, dead set on increasing taxes, and actively threatens more trigger cuts to education, as well as other key social services within the state.  In the past week, Gov. Brown toured California and met with various business groups in San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles, hoping to gain some support from the corporate community and secure endorsements for his initiatives.  Gov. Brown has expanded his circle of influence, not merely targeting unions and preaching to the choir; he is stepping out into business communities, and pitching his plan to traditionally conservative groups.  By holding education hostage, Brown is able to take bold steps and ask for backing, where normally, he and the jungle of Sacramento politics would be shunned.

According to a recently published PPIC poll, support for Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative has jumped from 60% to 68% within less than two months.  Though the increase is relatively high, the numbers are not surprising.  The initiative that Gov. Brown filed in December is composed of two parts: a temporary increased statewide sales tax, to 7.75%, and an increase on taxes for individuals making more than $250,000, and couples making more than $500,000 annually.

Though there are some strong reactions against the increased sales tax, many Californians support the higher income tax, which appeals to the Occupy Wall Street crowd and some of the lower-middle income earners.  The idea of taxing the rich and using that money to fund K-12 education throughout California is appealing to many—and Jerry Brown is using that to his advantage.

But these business groups aren’t asking for new taxes; they want clearly outlined reforms and reduced spending where it is necessary.  It is a clear reflection of what is actually needed in California—reform!  Lucy Dunn, president of the Orange County Business Council, recounts Brown’s visit:

… Actually, very little time was spent by the CEO’s on the tax proposal.  Overwhelmingly, the Q&A time was dedicated to his reform proposals: education—specifically categorical spending reforms and testing reforms, a 12 point plan to overhaul government pensions, a strategy for updating the water delivery system for southern California, long term income tax reform to curtail the volatile state revenue stream too dependent on high wage earners, infrastructure investment and regulatory relief. If he can deliver on even a few of these, businesses would significantly benefit—clear evidence that elected leaders finally “get it” which would in return inspire businesses to invest, hire and grow.  Reforms were what they were most interested in.

Unfortunately, the Governor’s tax proposal is not tied to, nor dependent upon, reforms.  Further, there’s a strong argument to be made that more funding for education has not historically assured academic improvements.  In fact, just the opposite.  A 95% increase in education funding since 1968 has resulted in a 4% drop in SAT scores, according to the Cato Institute.  More funding to a status quo education system cannot be the answer …

Ruben Barrales, president of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce stated that taxes are a “hard sell,” and that “focusing on those other issues could build some good will, but [may not be] enough to pass a tax initiative.”  While speaking at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Gov. Brown also briefly mentioned pension reform, which elicited a positive response from the crowd.  But without a solid outline and reform plan, his promises are entirely baseless.

Gov. Brown’s tax increase may eventually receive a blessing from California’s business groups, but not without reform tied to the initiative.  California as a whole should share these sentiments, and not blindly pass a temporary tax increase to fund an education system that is already rotting.  If Gov. Brown has this initiative passed, nothing can stop him from threatening to cut other key public services in order to raise more taxes.  Some of those public services need to go, but Californians seem to love big government, and will happily increase taxes to hoard all of those redundant and useless government services and keep them functioning.  We cannot simply hand more money to Sacramento to run programs that don’t work; we need issues to be fixed and problems to be solved.

(Josephine Djuhana is Assistant Editor for the California Political Review.)