The Democratic Party Exodus Continues: Colorado Speaker Pro Tem Walks Out

Barack Obama accepted his party’s presidential nomination in Colorado last year and won the state in November by a 5.5% margin. Now the political landscape has changed considerably. The approval ratings of prominent Democrats have plunged. Gov. Bill Ritter (D-CO) is seeking re-election but is already trailing former Rep. Scott McInnis (R) by a 48 to 40% margin. Appointed U.S. Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO) is losing by an even larger margin to former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton (R).
Furthermore, the Democratic Party exodus is continuing. Walking out the door yesterday was the Speaker Pro Tem of the Colorado House of Representatives who has also served as Chair of the Agriculture Committee for the past 6 years. State Rep. Kathleen Curry, 49, describes herself as a conservative Democrat but no longer feels comfortable in her party because they are not fiscally responsible.
“In a leadership position you should march in line more than I have,” she said. Curry was a dissenting voice in the Democratic caucus on the unionization of state employees. She also opposed the legislation to take away the senior citizens’ homestead exemption, and the sales tax exemption for agriculture. Additional breaks came when she opposed the doubling of “assessments” (i.e. taxes) on vehicles, as well as the “assessment” on health insurance premiums to pay for CoverColorado.
Curry will have to give up all of her leadership positions. Her decision has nothing to do with politics. She has been unopposed in the past two elections and no candidate had surfaced against her for 2010.
Now she will have to conduct a difficult write-in campaign to get her name on the ballot. Curry was first elected to the House in 2004 when Democrats won both chambers in the legislature for the first time since 1960.
Curry participated in a bus tour last year on behalf of the Obama campaign where she was joined by former Gov. Roy Romer (D), seen in the background of this photo, Ken Salazar (who is now Secretary of the Interior), and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Last year Curry claimed Obama would be able to get the deficit under control. She changed her registration to Independent and has no plans to become a Republican. There has never been an independent in the Colorado House.

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There He Goes Again: Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) Justifies the Actions of the Detroit Bomber

In a debate on CNN’s Larry King Live last night Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) was once again out front justifying the actions of America’s enemies. Ben Stein said the U.S. attack on an al-Qaeda camp in Yemen two weeks ago was warranted “because they are terrorists, murderers and they’re very anti-American.” The Texas lawmaker responded by saying: “Why are they terrorists? They’re terrorists because we’re occupiers.”
This is not a new argument for the former Libertarian Party presidential candidate. He has often said the same thing to justify al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack, “They attack us because we are over there. We were bombing Iraq for 10 years. . . If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don’t come here to attack us because we’re rich and we’re free. They come and they attack us because we’re over there.”
First, the United States did not bomb civilian targets in Iraq for 10 years. As usual, Rep. Paul never explains America’s role in Iraq. The Clinton Administration, along with our coalition allies, merely enforced the no-fly zone which was established after the Gulf War.
The Coalition was permitted to fly warplanes over the no fly zone to prevent Saddam Hussein’s government from using military aircraft to attack Kurds and Shiite Muslims. Iraq repeatedly attacked U.S. and British aircraft that were enforcing the no fly zone. This required missiles to be launched primarily at radar, command-and-control installations, and bases for Iraq’s highly mobile surface-to-air missiles.
Second, The United States has never occupied Yemen. 15 of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, and America was never bombing their country. The Gulf War was waged in part to defend Saudi Arabia.
Third, Osama bin Laden’s own tapes emphasize his hatred of the United States which goes well beyond our support of Israel. They hate America’s life style, our freedom, the emancipation of women, democracy, human rights, freedom of religion and everything else the United States represents. Their hatred would continue if all U.S. aid to Israel was stopped, which is what Rep. Paul advocates.
Fourth, Paul’s repeated insistence that “There would be no risk of somebody invading us” is just what the isolationists of the 1930s believed — right up until Pearl Harbor. Paul’s idea that we can maintain peace by halting our projection of military strength has been proven wrong by history. He wants the United States to ignore genocide, ethnic cleaning, human rights violations, terrorism and numerous security challenges. No one wants America to be the world policeman, but sometimes our military is needed.
Fifth, Paul justifies his isolationist foreign policy by pointing to the founding fathers. He may not realize why ‘The Shores of Tripoli’ are in the Marine Corps hymn. In the early 1800s Islamic fanatics were capturing American merchant ships in the Mediterranean. They hijacked ships and cargo, and either murdered or enslaved the crews. The Pasha of Tripoli demanded ransom from President Thomas Jefferson in 1801. Jefferson instead sent the Navy and Marines to subdue Tripoli and to capture the pirates. A state of war existed between these Islamic states and America until 1830.
Similar to Ben Stein, Fox News commentator Sean Hannity is also criticizing Rep. Paul and the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. Many Paul supporters describe themselves as very conservative, but Hannity says they are actually backing an isolationist foreign policy and national security agenda which is far to the left of the Democratic Party. Hannity noted that Republicans lost two U.S. Senate seats in 2008, Oregon and Minnesota, because of the Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates. Libertarians who receive 1 or 2% of the vote are responsible for the Democratic Party’s current 60 seat super majority.
Last week Hannity called the Texas lawmaker crazy and nuts, and said many of his efforts are directed at silly conspiracy theories. The most prominent “anti-war” libertarian website has just published an article entitled “Sean Hannity Can’t Stand Ron Paulians: But after all, he is a paid shill for the merchants of death.” It reprinted this December 14th exchange between Hannity and a caller named George from Chicago. The libertarians are obviously sympathetic to the viewpoint of the caller.
George: “…yeah and we have the most corrupt government in the world, the biggest world empire… and you’re a violent imperialist.”
Hannity: “I’m a violent what? What is violent about me?”
George: “Because you love death, destruction and murder. You’re a spokesman for the merchants of death,Sean Hannity. The military industrial complex owns you – it’s time to wake up and be a Ron Paul Republican.”
Hannity: “What is the military industrial complex?
George: “Raytheon, G.E, Northrup Grumman, etc. You act like the Pentagon isn’t the biggest socialist part of our government Sean.”
Hannity: “They own me; is that what you are saying?”
George: “You’re a spokesman for the merchants of death.”
Hannity: “I’m a ‘spokesman for the merchants of death’. And what do you suggest we do for our national defense?
George: “Certainly, but they shouldn’t be controlling our government the way they do now”. . .
Hannity: “I think the fact that we have great companies creating defense weapons to keep us safe is fantastic. Yes, I think it is wonderful. So I am part of the industrial military complex that you discuss because I believe in security, safety, liberty, freedom and everything else that is associated with it.”

The Trail Blazer: A New GOP Star in the West

The Oregon Republican Party has a 23 year record of losing gubernatorial elections, but similar to the rest of the nation, independent and moderate voters are now shifting to the GOP column. George W. Bush lost the state twice, and John McCain was clobbered here in 2008 when Obama received 57% of the vote. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has so far been cruising to an easy 2010 re-election with a 55 to 33% approval rating, and no significant Republican challenger is on the horizon.
Oregon is definitely in Blue America, and Democrats have firm control of both houses in the state legislature. However the dismal approval rating of the incumbent Democratic governor (37%) and the state legislature (26%) has GOP strategists believing an upset is possible.
Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D), the two term incumbent, is not eligible for re-election, and former two term Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) is trying for a come back in 2010. Both Democrats have pushed tax increases and are in favor of an additional tax hike despite the state’s high unemployment. They do not understand the simple concept that trying to tax the state into prosperity isn’t going to work. They have also caved into every labor union demand.
Many Republicans had been hoping to nominate former Senator Gordon Smith or Rep. Greg Walden, but neither has stepped forward. Now considerable enthusiasm is behind former Portland Trail Blazers center Chris Dudley, 44. He is 6’ 11”, and graduated from Yale with degrees in economics and political science. He is already equal to the Democrats in fundraising.
Comparisons are already being made between Dudley and basketball sensations Bill Bradley and Dave Bing. Bradley of the New York Knicks began his campaign one year after retiring from basketball and served three terms in the Senate. Bing of the Detroit Pistons is now the mayor of his home town.
In 1994 Dudley signed a six year $24 million contract with the Trail Blazers. It was one of the NBA’s largest contracts at the time. He won the NBA’s Citizenship Award, USA Today’s Most Caring Athlete Award, and the Freedom Corp Award. His grandfather, Guilford Dudley, was the U.S. Ambassador to Denmark during the Nixon and Ford administrations.
The GOP basketball star enters the race with high name recognition and excellent fundraising prospects. Oregon’s 11.1% unemployment rate is well above the national average and Dudley says job creation is “the focal point of my campaign.” Over 100,000 Oregonians have lost jobs during the past year. “Our state is in a jobs crisis,” Dudley says, “All the legislature and Governor have done about this is punish job creators with higher taxes, cannibalize our education system with out-of-control pension costs, and let government spending grow at an unsustainable rate.”
He is promising to make Oregon more business friendly by wiping out regulations that are stopping economic growth. It is wrong to “overtax and over regulate the very people who are motivated to create jobs,” and he blames the states fiscal problems on public employee unions and an anti-business state legislature. Oregon’s reliance on high personal, corporate and capital gains taxes makes the state a less attractive place to locate a business, or keep one going.
Dudley has no experience in elected office, but says that is a plus: “I believe it is a strength and not a weakness that I haven’t spent the last 30 years in politics. Our state government has grown stale at the hands of insiders.”
Dudley’s must first get past four candidates in the GOP primary, and is already being criticized for not voting in 7 of the last 13 elections. His top challenger is Allen Alley, a former venture capitalist and co-founder of Pixelworks, a high-tech company. Alley was serving as Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Kulongoski in 2008 when he resigned to accept the GOP nomination for State Treasurer, but then lost the November election.
Chris Dudley’s focus on job creation and economic issues is being well received. Polling data indicates the Oregon electorate is pro-choice and in favor of gay marriage. High profile pro-life and social conservative candidates have been rejected in many past general elections. A social conservative can win, but it would not be wise to emphasize those issues in the fall 2010 campaign.
The successful Oregon Republicans of the not too distant past include liberal Senator Mark Hatfield, and moderates such as Senator Bob Packwood and Governors Tom McCall and Victor Atiyeh. Oregon has never elected a hard right conservative to statewide office.
A GOP candidate has to walk a tightrope because if they stray too far from social conservative issues the religious right will mount a third party challenge. That happened to former Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer (R) in his 1990 gubernatorial campaign in which a social conservative third party candidate received 15% of the vote.
Republican hope Kerry Eggers, the Portland Tribune columnist is speaking for many when he wrote: “I’ll be voting for Chris Dudley for governor if he wins the Republican primary. I’m a full-fledged Democrat, and Chris is a Republican. I’m crossing party lines, and couldn’t be more than happy to do so. Mine will be a vote for a straight shooter, a man of integrity, a man I can believe in to run this state. I’ve known Dudley since 1993.”

The End of an Era: GM Produces its last Big Block Engine

After 51 years in production, General Motors this week produced its last big block V8 engine. These were the power plants for the high performance cars – Corvette, Camaro, Impala SS, GTO, Firebird, and numerous heavy duty pickups. The autos were at first called muscle cars, and over five million big blocks were built at six GM plants.
The engine design was updated many times since 1958, and its versatility and power was the reason it stayed in production. According to “Car and Driver” magazine, “The only people who could possibly be happy at the death of the big blocks are ones who haven’t owned or experienced one. If you wanted an engine that could pull your house trailer up Pike’s Peak, this was it.”
Unfortunately, they were also beasts at the fuel pump. The future now belongs to small displacement V6 turbo engines which will meet the new fuel economy requirements. Times do change but that in no way makes the accomplishments of the big blocks any less impressive.
Today the two extra cylinders in a V8 are considered a waste of gasoline, and this is apparent in the current Corvette which is rated at 16 city and 19 highway mpg.
That will change. By 2016, automobiles manufactured in the United States will have to operate at 35.5 miles per gallon. Europe already has a 40 mpg standard. The new requirements will cost Americans an average of $1300 a vehicle.
The increased CAFE standards (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) will also mean an increase in automobile accident fatalities. This is because manufacturers will meet the new fuel standards by building smaller cars and trucks with lighter but more fragile material. This will protect motorists less during automobile accidents.
The National Academy of Sciences estimates the increased motorist deaths from small cars at 1,300 to 2,600/year. That is far higher than our casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan combined, and it is on the magnitude of the Vietnam War.
The major reason for increasing the CAFE standards is to reduce greenhouse gases. According to the Heritage Foundation, cars and trucks subject to the increase CAFÉ standards generate only 1.5% of greenhouse gases. The new standards will decrease greenhouse gases by only one half of one percent.

A Christmas Present for Republicans: 10 New House Seats in 2012

The population report released by the Census Bureau on Wednesday afternoon was excellent news for the Republican Party. This is the last report the Census Bureau will make prior to next years count. The data shows Americans are continuing to relocate in low tax and business friendly sun belt states where new jobs are being created.
The high taxes and burdensome business regulations of the Northeast and the Midwest are once again resulting in significant population losses. The next official population count will be released a year from now, and the changes will be reflected in the 2012 election.
At a minimum the population shift will most likely mean 12 seats will shift from the north to the south and west. My prediction is that the 2012 election will result in a 10 seat House gain for the GOP. I am basing this on the new census figures, as well as the analysis provided by Polidata and Election Data Services.
A census has been conducted every 10 years since 1790, and it is a Constitutional requirement.
In the past year alone, Texas grew by 478,000 which is almost the size of a Congressional District. The Lone Star state is expected to receive four new districts as a result of the upcoming census. That could change and the alternative would mean three new seats for Texas and two for Arizona.
To win control of Congress in 2010, Republicans would need to gain 11 Senate seats and 40 House seats. A 25 to 30 seat House gain in 2010 could well lead to control of the House of Representatives in 2012. Washington is the only Blue State to gain a Congressional District, and it is far from certain Democrats will win the expected new seat in the suburban Seattle area.
Who ever is in charge of the states in 2011 will be drawing the new Congressional District maps, and once again the outlook is favorable for Republicans. In Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Utah and Texas — Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion. In Nevada, Democrats control both chambers, while a Republican is governor.
Based on the data in new report the probable gainers and losers in the next election are as follows:
Probable Gainers:
Texas (4)
Arizona (1)
Florida (1)
Georgia (1)
Nevada (1)
North Carolina (1)
Washington (1)
South Carolina (1)
Utah (1)

Probable Losers:
Ohio (2)
New York (1)
Illinois (1)
Louisiana (1)
Massachusetts (1)
Michigan (1)
Minnesota (1)
Missouri (1)
New Jersey (1)
Pennsylvania (1)
Iowa (1)

A Christmas Message From My Parents by Gregg Hilton

The true spirit of this season reflects a dedication to helping those in need, giving hope to those in despair, and spreading understanding throughout the Earth. As we enjoy the traditions of this holiday, I am sure you share my gratitude for the men and women in the military who are working to defend freedom, and advancing peace and safety around the world.
The vast majority of my friends and associates are politically active. They represent a wide range of views on our political spectrum, and they all have good intentions. As Theodore Roosevelt said, the credit for our progress belongs to people in the political arena – “who know great enthusiasms and devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
No matter where we are on the political spectrum, we all want to make this world a better place. We are doing what we can to effect change. To lift one another up and to bring a better life for all. This is a central message in all religions.
Christ said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” St. Francis of Assisi told us “For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” In caring for one another we find purpose in life. When we stand for freedom, human rights and those who are less fortunate, we are fighting for each other.
My parents have passed away but at Christmas I am always reminded of some of our family traditions. I still remember my mother reading and explaining “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Her message was neither unique nor especially profound, and I was just 6 years old when she read it the first time. She felt it was important for a small child to understand why Ebenezer Scrooge was so unhappy. He had everything as far as material wealth was concerned, but he had been miserable for decades.
There are many people today who have an outlook similar to Ebenezer. They believe happiness comes from material possessions. They are delaying their happiness until they have a new house, car, job or the improved version of some product. My mother said Ebenezer Scrooge was unhappy not because of a failure to get but to give, and she wanted me to know this was the most important message of Christmas.
My parents were instrumental to the happiness of the first half of my life, but they will not know the second half. Their lesson was to find happiness by looking around you. What are your opportunities to give with joy? This is your best chance to find happiness at midlife.
May you always keep fighting the good fight.
“Peace on Earth, and Goodwill Toward Men.” (Luke 2:14)

Some People Are Never Happy: Republicans Should Welcome Party Switchers

Rep. Parker Griffith (AL), 67, switched parties and became a Republican today. This is the first time in 140 years his district has been represented by a Republican, and most elected officials in his native north Alabama are Democrats. Unlike most party switchers over the years, he went from the majority to minority party.
With each congressional seat now costing in the millions to win or retain, losing one is always significant. This is especially true when it is the result of an act of conscience rather than an election.
In making the switch Griffith said “I believe our nation is at a crossroads and I can no longer align myself with a party that continues to pursue legislation that is bad for our country, hurts our economy, and drives us further and further into debt. . . I want to make it perfectly clear that the health care bill is bad for my fellow doctors. It is also bad for patients, and bad for anyone considering going into the health care field.”
In July Rep. Griffith promised to never again vote for Speaker Pelosi. He is pro-life, pro-gun, voted no on the stimulus, cap-and-trade, Obama’s budget and ObamaCare. He promised to return over $80,000 in donations from Democratic political actions committees.
Griffith was also annoyed with the Obama administration’s decision to scrap plans to build a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. His district contains the facility for Boeing’s ground-based missile defense research program.
Many Blue Dog Democrats are in a position similar to Rep. Griffith, and it makes perfect sense to welcome them if the GOP wants a majority. That was what we did with Rep. Billy Tauzin (LA) and Sen. Richard Shelby in 1993, and by 1994 we controlled both the House and Senate. I completely disagree with RedState and the Club for Growth who are now mounting a primary challenge to Griffith. They are upset because he did not vote right on cash for clunkers, and some other minor matters. There are 15 Democrats who are more conservative than Griffith, and I want them in the GOP. It does not help our efforts to recruit them when conservatives mount a primary challenge.