Politics: January 2009 Archives

An interesting appreciation of soon-to-be-former President George W. Bush, from Dawn Summers, who doesn't "agree with the President on *anything*," but she's grateful to him for two things:

The Homeland. No, I don't think the idea of this juggernaut department or its infinite surveillance powers were a good idea, but I love the term. I love this country, but too often we're expected to trade the unpopular "nationalism" for a wishy washy "global citizen" viewpoint where we're all about Darfur and Gaza and nation building.... President Bush went a long ways to bringing the Homeland to the forefront of our conversation. We may be children or grandchildren of immigrants, or immigrants ourselves, but now we are all Americans.

Second, I loved watching the President as a father.... President Bush, on the other hand, seemed to cherish his role as father and husband in a way that has brought a dignity to the White House and American *men* in general, that I hope President-Elect Obama can, at the very least, meet, if not exceed. A good American and a great father, not too shabby for eight years work.

Jim Inhofe has a YouTube channel, and he's using it to mobilize support for S. 64, his bill that would require an affirmative congressional vote to release any more of the remaining $350 billion in bailout funds.

Here's the text of Inhofe's message.

For the first time since the Clinton administration, the 168 members of the Republican National Committee will be picking a new chairman without simply deferring to the wishes of the president. Traditionally, if there's a Republican in the White House, he makes the call, and the RNC members merely ratify the decision.

The RNC is composed of 3 members -- the state chairman, a national committeeman, and a national committeewoman -- from each state plus DC, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, US Virgin Islands, Northern Marianas, and Guam. (Yep, Guam and Texas have the same amount of pull on the reins of the GOP.) Oklahoma is represented by State Chairman Gary Jones, National Committeeman James Dunn, and National Committeewoman Carolyn McLarty. Dunn and McLarty are new to the RNC, succeeding long-time members Lynn Windel and Bunny Chambers.

Six candidates are seeking the job, including incumbent Mike Duncan. According to Politico, Jones has endorsed Ken Blackwell, former Ohio Secretary of State. The other candidates are Chip Saltsman (Mike Huckabee's campaign manager and former Tennessee GOP chairman), former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, and two current state chairmen, Saul Anuzis from Michigan and Katon Dawson from South Carolina.

Morton Blackwell, a long-time national committeeman from Virginia and someone who has inspired and mobilized two generations of grassroots conservative activists through his Leadership Institute, put together a list of 37 characteristically thoughtful questions for the candidates and received thoughtful answers in reply.

In response to the first question, about how to overcome the Democrats' superior ground game, I like the fact that Anuzis and Ken Blackwell (no relation to Morton) both identified the problem behind the problem. Anuzis called it the "passion deficit":

The articulation of good ideas breeds passion; Passion breeds excitement; excitement breeds volunteers, and volunteers are the life's blood of a political ground game. So our first task is to be the party that is effectively communicating conservative ideas, so that we can once again stir the passions of our nation.

Ken Blackwell elaborates:

However, to have an exceptional ground game, our Party must first inspire thousands of people who can then be activated to work for our shared values during the election cycle. Lately, our party has become overly focused on mechanics while failing to articulate a clear, concise, positive and practical message. To inspire enough prospective Republican volunteers to be a part of a new "ground game," we must stand firm for our core beliefs: Limited government, traditional values and a strong national defense. If we become the "Obama-lite" party, we will not be able to recruit the substantial number of volunteers needed for such a massive effort.

As chairman of the Republican Party, I will lead by articulating a clear conservative vision that paints in bold strokes, not pale pastels. Doing so will rally a dispirited Republican base and present a vision that stands in stark contrast to the failed left-wing policies of the Obama Administration. This is the first and most important step we can take to rebuild the ground game of the Republican Party.

I have only skimmed the Q&A, but I noticed a series of insightful questions about the relationships between the RNC and the two congressional campaign committees (NRCC and NRSC) and between the RNC and political consultants.

On the strength of his responses to Morton Blackwell's questions, the Council on National Policy, which includes leaders of many conservative social and political organizations (as individuals, not as representatives of their organizations), endorsed Ken Blackwell.

A group of about 90 conservative RNC members, calling themselves the Conservative Steering Committee, will meet today (Tuesday) to consider the possibilities for RNC chair and to cast a straw vote. The real election takes place in about three weeks.

Notice something: 90 conservatives -- that's a bare majority of RNC membership. Notice too that the gathering of this conservative caucus has prompted discontent from other RNC members, who organized enough states to force a full meeting of the RNC the following day.

MORE: Hoosier Pundit explains why he thinks Blackwell is the best choice:

When the base gets mail from the national party and the campaign committees and is again willing to write checks, then you will know that the party is unified again and marching in the same direction. Right now, all I hear from people (going on two or three years now) is about how they won't give money to the national party and the campaign committees because they support liberal RINOs and don't do enough to stand up to the Democrats and (previously) to enact conservative policies.

The RNC chairman has to appeal to the base, be competent in terms of record, and not commit unforced errors in the current political environment.

Mike Duncan is just more of the same. It may be that he did "an alright job, considering the situation" but we need somebody that will do a great job regardless of the situation. None of the candidates inspire me in that way, at least yet.

That leaves Ken Blackwell. He's not tone-deaf, he's articulate, nobody it seems can question his conservative bona fides (the base can buy-in to him in ways that they can't or won't for Steele), he's Evangelical without being from the South (it's important for the chairman to not have a southern drawl, if only to demonstrate that the party is not regionalized), and criticism of Obama is going to be much easier if it comes from Blackwell (or Steele) than from some typical GOP white guy.

Looking for some information relating to my next column (dealing with the requirement to add sprinklers to older apartment and condo buildings), I found the text of one of Ronald Reagan's radio commentaries from the summer of 1977 that had to do with Tulsa and part of the local Army Corps of Engineers office moving into more expensive digs because of Federal fire prevention rules. It's found on pp. 178-9 of Reagan's Path to Victory, but with Reagan's edits and abbreviations. I've retyped it to read as he would have read it for broadcast.

Government Cost
July 6, 1977

Every once in awhile another example pops up to illustrate why government costs so much. Since it's your money, I figure you should know about it. I'll be right back.

Over in Tulsa, Okla., the Army Corps of Engineers is moving about a fifth of its operation out of its present quarters and into a new office building at roughly four times the rent NOW being paid. The figures are really interesting. The engineers are leaving almost 21,000 sq. ft. of office space for which they pay $2.89 a sq. ft. to move into only16,000 sq. ft. of office space for which they'll pay (make that, we'll pay) $11.88 a sq. ft.

The operation that is moving represents only about 22% of the Corps' Tulsa headquarters. The other almost four-fifths of their offices are located in the old Federal building which has 75,000 sq. ft. of vacant space and which was remodeled 10 years ago at a cost of $700,000 for use by the engineers.

Apparently none of this is the doing of the engineers. The Business Service Center of the General Services Administration is in charge of this move. According to the chief of GSA the new more costly office building is the only building in Tulsa which meets "Standard 101 of the National Fire Protection Code" called "Code for Life Safety from Fire in Buildings and Structures." He says the government is really getting tough about the fire regulations. Standard 101 is a book with 16 chapters.

The CIty Fire Marshal of Tulsa says he doubts any building in Tulsa can meet all the requirements of Standard 101. The Fire Marshall isn't saying downtown Tulsa is a fire trap -- he's indicating Standard 101 like so many government documents goes beyond the bounds of common sense and reason. To their credit the Corps of Engineers had asked for other locations but were turned down by GSA.

A lot of questions come to mind in this whole thing, beginning with why the one-fifth of the engineers' operations aren't over in the Federal Building with the other four-fifths where there is vacant space amounting to more than four and a half times as much space as they are moving into. If the Federal Building doesn't meet the rigorous requirements for fire safety laid down in Standard 101 why haven't the rest of the engineers been moved out? A spokesman for the Corps can only say it will be up to GSA to say when the building is no longers uitable for use by Federal employees. That answers another question. Standard 101 isn't a code that can be enforced on buildings in general. It's just a code for the protection of Federal government employees. Taxpayers can work and earn in less protected quarters. And just between us I'm sure with every bit as much safety as government employees are provided.

According to the Tulsa Tribune the shortcomings of the building the engineers are leaving consists of the following: one stairway is 4 inches too narrow, and there was some concern expressed about the distance to the rest rooms.

Don't feel guilty if you can't make sense out of what they're doing. Let me read a paragraph from a memo on another subject -- zero budgeting by the Office of Management and Budget. When you can understand this paragraph everything will become clear to you.

"Agencies may use whatever review and ranking techniques appropriate to their needs. However the minimum level for a decision unit is always ranked higher than any increment for the same unit, since it represents the level below which activities can no longer be conducted efficiently. However, the minimum level package for a give decision unit may be ranked so low in comparison to incremental levels of the decision units that the funding level for the agency may exclude that minimum funding level package."


This is Ronald Reagan. Thanks for listening.

(Audible.com offers a downloadable five-hour collection of Reagan's radio commentaries for less than $20.)

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from January 2009.

Politics: December 2008 is the previous archive.

Politics: February 2009 is the next archive.

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