Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Florida senator Marco Rubio will compete in the GOP presidential primary

Florida Senator Marco Rubio

Florida Senator Marco Rubio

Here’s a profile of Marco Rubio posted by Rachel Alexander at The Stream.

She writes:

On Monday night, Florida Senator Marco Rubio became the third major Republican candidate to announce he was officially running for president, after Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. He made the announcement from the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami, considered the Ellis Island of Florida, where Cuban refugees seeking political asylum from Castro’s communist regime were processed by the federal government in the ’60s and early ’70s. It made a powerful statement, that the son of refugees is now running for president.

Rubio’s parents came to America before the Castro regime, and took menial jobs. He told the cheering crowd, “My father stood behind a small portable bar in the back of a room so that tonight I could stand behind this podium in front of this room.”

Rubio has been an outspoken critic of Obama’s efforts to relax relations with Cuba, and takes a hawkish approach to foreign policy. Earlier this year, he published the book American Dreams, which lays out how to rise to success economically in the U.S.

The youngest candidate in the race, Rubio reached out to younger voters in his speech, saying, “This election is not just about what laws we will pass, it is a generational choice about what kind of country we will be.”

He has lots of experience and a track record we can analyze:

A lawyer, Rubio worked his way up through the political system, serving in the Florida House from 2000 to 2008 and eventually becoming Speaker. While there he developed a reputation for pursuing innovative policy ideas and while Speaker of the Florida House, he wrote a book, 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future, which contained many ideas he implemented while Speaker.

He went on to defeat liberal Republican turned Democrat Charlie Crist in a surprising underdog campaign to become U.S. Senator in 2010, making him an instant Tea Party favorite. The New York Times magazine declared him the “first Senator from the Tea Party.”

His most exciting policy is his tax policy:

On the fiscal side of the conservative equation, Rubio’s new tax reform proposal is raising some eyebrows. Introduced with conservative stalwart Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), the plan would consolidate income tax rates into just two, 15 percent and 35 percent, eliminate capital gains taxes on investment income for individuals, combine all corporate tax rates to 25 percent, and resuscitate the child tax credit, which had shrunk under the Obama administration. However, individuals making as little as $75,000 would be subject to the 35 percent rate. Many conservatives prefer the more radical flat tax option advocated by Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

Mike Lee is my favorite conservative in the Senate.

Rubio is a solid conservative in terms of voting:

He has a 98.67 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, higher than most other Republican Senators.The Pulse 2016, a new site tracking the presidential election, gave Rubio an A grade on handling the Indiana religious freedom law controversy. The site noted that during an appearance on The Five, Rubio spoke “intelligently, knowledgeably, and at length about the need to protect the rights of Christians to follow their religious convictions.”

But he doesn’t have the executive accomplishments of a Scott Walker or a Bobby Jindal, since he isn’t a governor.

This is his biggest flaw:

Since taking office, Rubio has disappointed the Tea Party once, in 2013, when he joined a bipartisan group of Democrats and moderate Republicans to propose a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, which went further than even Jeb Bush’s plan. Bush supports a path for legal status only. Rubio’s legislation failed, and at CPAC earlier this year, he said he now would only support a path to citizenship after securing the border.

Rubio is a strong candidate, but I can’t forgive him for endorsing a path to citizenship for those who break the law coming into the United States without a work permit. I don’t even favor work permits for people who break the law, much less permanent residencies, much less citizenship. Rubio is far to the left of me on immigration. But if you take away that negative, he is a formidable candidate in the general election. He would make an extremely difficult opponent for Hillary Clinton, or whoever the Democrats choose.

I am OK with him being our candidate in the general, and I think he would be as electable as Scott Walker, my top choice. If we were just choosing positions, I agree most with Cruz, but Cruz lacks accomplishments and I don’t see intelligent policies coming out of his mouth – the kinds of policies that can move us in a conservative direction, while still appealing to independents.

But I rank Rubio fifth in my list:

  1. Gov. Scott Walker
  2. Gov. Bobby Jindal
  3. Gov. Rick Perry
  4. Sen. Ted Cruz
  5. Sen. Marco Rubio

I like Rick Santorum more than Marco Rubio, but I’m not sure if he’s running. Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson are not on my list because of lack of experience, but I would love to see them run and be present to speak at the debates – I like listening to them both. They are both stars, but maybe not ready for the Presidency.

Rand Paul is a good candidate on fiscal policy. His statements on social policy are good, but he lacks accomplishments.His foreign policy is too much like Obama’s for me. He has said some good things, but he lacks accomplishments. I don’t want any more weakness and appeasement. Paul is to the left of Cruz and Rubio on foreign policy – I don’t want him on my list. But I’d put him in charge of the Federal Reserve in an instant.

We have SO MANY good candidates, and the Democrats have picked themselves a stinker. It’s so good! I feel bad that young people are so lousy on the marriage issue, but maybe with a good leader, we can change some of their minds during the debates? Do young people even watch debates?

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Hillary Clinton never signed separation form that required her to turn over all e-mails

National Review reports:

After days of fending off the question, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki admitted on Tuesday that the department has no record of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signing a separation form that could open her up to perjury charges.

Form OF-109 is a document required to be signed by all State Department employees as they exit the department. In it, the employee claims, under penalty of perjury, that he or she has turned over all relevant communications to the government at the time of his or her departure.

By turning over her private e-mails at the end of 2014, two years after leaving office, Clinton violated that agreement — if, in fact, she signed it.

On Tuesday, the State Department finally indicated that she did not — or at least, they have no records of her doing so. “We have reviewed Secretary Clinton’s official personnel file and administrative files, and do not have any record of her signing the OF-109,” Psaki said on Tuesday. “It is not clear that this form is used as part of a standard part of check-out across the federal government, or even at the State Department. So we’re certainly looking into that.”

AP reporter Matt Lee pressed Psaki, asking why the department had previously intimated that the form was “required” and if Clinton’s non-signature violated any rules.

“It’s not a violation of any rule, no,” she said, saying that signing the form may not be a common departure practice and that “there are differences between regulations and, certainly, recommendations.”

“The form exists, certainly,” Psaki said. “Beyond that, I don’t have more statistics on what percentage of State Department employees sign on departure from the building.”

“Yes, the form exists, and it exists for a reason,” Lee replied. “It doesn’t exist simply because someone thought, ‘Hey, let’s have a form that someone has to sign!’ It exists for a reason, and probably a pretty good reason, right?”

“Well, there are probably hundreds of forms in the federal government that exist — thousands, tens of thousands of forms that exist,” Psaki said. “So I don’t know that I would over-emphasize the existence of a form.”

They don’t have a record of her signing a required form. Everyone is supposed to sign that form before leaving the State Department. If the signed form were recovered, then she would be guilty of perjury for keeping a private e-mail server and deleting the e-mails. Add the missing e-mails to the millions of dollars of donations to the Clinton Foundation, and you have the makings of a serious, serious scandal.

Your puny laws don't apply to Queen Hillary!

Your puny laws don’t apply to Queen Hillary!

My absolute favorite liberal journalist is Ron Fournier, who writes for the very left-wing National Journal.

He says this is a big deal:

National Journal Senior Political Columnist and Editorial Director Ron Fournier said that Democrats are “scared to death” over the scandals regarding donations to the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s emails on Monday’s “Special Report” on the Fox News Channel.

“Don’t buy the spin, they [Democrats] are scared to death. And there’s a lot of them who are already starting to think ‘is she really the best candidate for us?’…Their bench, compared to the Republican bench is awfully, awfully thin. And there’s a lot of Democrats, by the way, who are saying ‘follow the money.’ A lot of Democrats are really worried about the Foundation, that’s what they’re really worried about” he stated.

Earlier, Fournier said that the Clinton Foundation’s acceptance of Chinese donations is “a big issue. There’s a lot of other ways the Chinese government, and the Saudis, and the [Qataris] — there are other ways that they can help the world if that’s what they want to do. They’re giving their money to the Clinton Foundation for a reason. They want something out of it. So I know, what I really want to see in these e-mails is any e-mail that mentions the Foundation and mentions one of the donors.”

Watch:

This should sink Hillary Clinton as a candidate, and it will, so long as the heat stays on.

White House turns its back on transparency

You might recall that previously, Barack Obama told us that his administration would be the most transparent ever:

But the White House is now refusing to comply with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests:

The White House is exempting an office from compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, angering open-government advocates, who accuse President Barack Obama of not living up to his pledge to run the “most transparent administration in history.”

The White House said Tuesday that the move to exclude the White House Office of Administration from the federal open-access law reflected a court ruling that predated the Obama administration and wouldn’t have any effect on its commitment to open records and its compliance with requests for records.

“This is a matter of just cleaning up the records that are on the books,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. “It has no impact at all on the policy that we had maintained from the beginning to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, when it’s appropriate.”

The move, announced Tuesday in the Federal Register, came as news organizations marked Sunshine Week to showcase the public’s right to know, and it drew sharp criticism from advocates who already give the administration poor marks for news-media access.

“This is another example of the White House position avoiding transparency,” said John Wonderlich, policy director of the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation. “Instead of creating more and better access to information, it’s trying to control it.”

“The president has routinely failed to deliver on his promise,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who’s proposed a law that would reduce the use of exemptions to withhold information from the public.

The most transparent administration in history? Not a smidgeon of corruption? Not so much.

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Clinton Foundation: all eight of the highest paid executives are men

Previously, I blogged about how Hillary Clinton pays the women on her staff 72 cents for every dollar she pays the men on her staff.

This is from The Weekly Standard.

They write:

In late February, Hillary Clinton, a self-proclaimed champion of women’s rights and gender equity, came under fire for a Washington Free Beacon analysis that showed women on Mrs. Clinton’s staff during her tenure in the Senate were paid an average of 72 cents on the dollar compared to male staff. Now, an analysis of the latest IRS filing for the foundation that bears her name, the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, shows a similar compensation disparity between men and women employees. Although compensation figures are available for only a limited number of Foundation personnel, the 2013 Form 990 filed with the IRS shows that out of eleven highly compensated individuals listed, the top eight are all men.

[…]A further analysis of the four most recent 990 filings shows that a “gender gap” among highly compensated employees at the Clinton Foundation has been relatively consistent over time, with the gap actually widening for the years considered in this analysis. The number of women represented in the highly compensated group has seen a decrease over the same time period.

The data is summarized below showing the year, the average compensation of the highly compensated men versus that of the highly compensated women, the number of men versus women in the highly compensated group of individuals listed on the 990s, and the percentage on the dollar that those men were paid versus the women:

2010 – $210,000 vs. $149,000 (four men vs. five women) – 71%

2011 – $190,000 vs. $147,000 (five men vs. four women) – 77%

2012 – $257,000 vs. $166,000 (five men vs. three women) – 65%

2013 – $294,000 vs. $185,000 (eight men vs. three women) – 63%

Again, this analysis does not consider all employees of the Clinton Foundation, but only those required to be listed on the 990 IRS tax form. The total pay of the highly compensated employees for 2013 totals only $2.9 million versus total salaries and compensation for all employees of $29 million.

We don’t have the numbers for all the employees, but I would expect it would be comparable to the 72 cents on the dollar she pays her female staffers.

You can read all about what the Clinton Foundation does in my previous post, but a one-line summary is that they take millions of dollars from foreign countries. While Hillary is Secretary of State. It’s the Clinton Foundation. Taking money from foreign countries. And she wants to run for President.

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Wisconsin governor Walker’s reforms hit the left in their wallets

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is mean

First, let’s talk about Stephen Harper. I sometimes blog about conservative Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, who Dennis Prager calls “the leader of the free world”. He has a record of putting into place laws that cut off the ability of the left to get campaign funding without consent from the people supplying the money.

Here’s an article from Canada’s National Post.

Excerpt:

While the political showdown making news this month has pitted Prime Minister Stephen Harper against Senator Mike Duffy, a more important battle is shaping up for the 2015 election. It’s between the Conservative Party and organized labour — as evidenced by the resolutions the party will be debating at its policy convention in Calgary this week.

Proposals include allowing secret ballots during strikes, banning the use of dues for political purposes, requiring increased financial disclosure by unions, and passing right-to-work legislation. The resolutions are moved by electoral district associations in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, and together represent what appears to be the largest block of resolutions on any one theme.

Why the focus on organized labour, and why now? In part, it’s ideological. While small-c conservatives respect freedom of association, they also respect the freedom not to associate. The labour movement’s rules — particularly the RAND formula, which obliges workers in unionized workplaces to join whether they want to or not — restricts workers’ freedom of choice. Unions also spend dues on causes that workers may not support, and demand workers follow their direction on strike action, even if workers may be opposed or not be able to afford the loss in pay.

[…]The Conservatives have pledged to balance the federal budget by the time they go to the polls. One of the elements of their plan is downsizing government, which pits them directly against the Public Service Alliance of Canada. For two years now, PSAC has been fighting against Conservative cuts to the bureaucracy and the party’s policy of reduction by attrition. PSAC’s rallies and campaigns, however, have done nothing to dent the Tories’ resolve (long overdue, considering that they substantially grew the size of the bureaucracy during the early years of their mandate). Curtailing PSAC’s power and voice would help the Tories achieve their downsizing goals for both the short and long term.

Back in 2006, Stephen Harper banned political contributions from corporations and unions. Nasty! And he’s not done yet, according to this article. It’s good to win, and win, and win again. I am tired of conservatives losing, even in other countries.

Governor Scott Walker

Now when I look around at the Republican Party, I rarely see the same will to do effective things that will cripple the left financially. It’s like Republicans don’t want to offend people, especially journalists. They want to be liked at cocktail parties.

But there is one Republican who is fine with being hated by his enemies, and he is getting a lot of attention from conservatives ahead of the 2016 election.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is also mean

Here’s the story from the Associated Press.

Excerpt:

The 2011 state law that all but ended collective bargaining for most public workers has hit Wisconsin’s second largest union particularly hard.

The latest tax documents available show combined income of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) dropped 45 percent in 2012 _ the first full year of the law, according to The Capital Times.

In 2011, the four councils that make up the state organization reported a combined income of $14.9 million. In 2012 that dropped to $8.3 million. Dues revenue dropped 40 percent to $7.1 million.

Walker and supporters of the law said it was a way to help local governments reduce the costs of employee benefits, but the legislation also included measures aimed at financially weakening unions by ending automatic dues deductions.

The union’s Council 40 executive director, Rick Badger, says that while the declines in revenue stemming from the law were expected, he has been encouraged by the number of workers who have continued to pay voluntary dues.

“In fact, what (the law’s) architects might find surprising is our resilience,” he wrote in an email. He said thousands of “front-line workers are remaining engaged in fighting for their rights despite heavy-handed political attempts to silence them.”

While public unions no longer enjoy the official bargaining power that they exercised in recent decades, he said many public workers continue to value their presence as advocates for their rights and welfare.

AFSCME is second only to the Wisconsin Education Association Council, or WEAC, in members in Wisconsin. It has long been a powerful player in state politics, funneling money directly to campaigns and running independent television ads in support of pro-labor candidates, as well as providing a legion of employees and member volunteers who made sure their union brethren voted on Election Day.

The law has also hit other big unions in the state. For instance, WEAC, the state’s largest teachers union, saw its revenue drop from $26 million in 2011 to $20 million in 2012.

This is definitely someone we conservatives need to look at in 2016. He has had to face the left in a blue-ish state, and he won.

During the Christmas vacation, I read governor Walker’s new book, which was a Christmas present from my friend ECM. If you want to learn more about governor Walker, I recommend picking that up. I actually got the audio version, and it’s read by governor Walker himself.

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Looking for some inspiration? Here’s an interview with Wisconsin governor Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

This interview was conducted by John Hawkins, who runs Right Wing News.

Here’s a quick summary of why Scott Walker is famous – he stood up to the public sector unions:

Q. Outside of Wisconsin you are most famous for taking on the unions in your state; briefly tell us what you did legislatively and what the impact of it has been on the state.

A. The easiest way to explain it is we had a choice.  In the past the big union bosses had been in charge of both state and local government.  We made a change that ultimately put the hard working taxpayers back in charge and by that, what I mean is under the old system of collective bargaining, not only the state but local governments had to abide by union contracts that many times were run contrary to the best interest of the taxpayers and to the people they newly elected.  So we came in early 2011, we faced a big budget deficit, $3.6 billion per capita, one of the biggest in the country — and we knew to balance our budget we weren’t going to raise taxes, we weren’t going to do massive layoffs, we weren’t going to cut things like Medicaid.  Instead we put in place these long-term structure reforms that put the power back in the hands of, again, of the hard working taxpayers.

By pulling back on collective bargaining we empowered local governments, school districts, counties, cities, towns, villages, and the state to go out and control and not only get things like reasonable pension and healthcare contributions which were nowhere in line with the private sector, but they got to change work rules and everything else as part of running a government.  We went from a $3.6 billion budget deficit to today we finished our fiscal year off with just shy of a $760 million surplus.  We cut taxes a billion and a half and an unemployment rate that was once 9.2% is now 6.3% —  so we’ve had some positive results and we’re going to keep on that path.

What Scott Walker is famous for is that he passes laws that work so well that even in one of the bluest states, he can win elections. Why is that? It’s because if your policies are good, you will get good results. And people recognize good results regardless of their party identification. If you couple good results with sincerity and honesty, then you can win over a lot of independents and even some conservative Democrats.

And this is the part that made me the happiest to read:

Q. In your book you encourage Republicans to do something important that the GOP, much to its detriment, has gotten out of the habit of doing.  You said we should champion the vulnerable.  Talk a little bit about that, talk about why that’s important for Republicans to do.

A. Yeah, one of the things that frustrates me so much in the Presidential election is I thought there was a tremendous lost opportunity — and obviously the clearest example of that was when Republican nominees talked about the 47% and also in a similar conversation talked about not worrying about the poor because the poor had a safety net.  That really, truly doesn’t match where I’m at.  I don’t think it matches with people like Ronald Reagan who was a great inspiration for me as a kid.  I went back in the book and talked about how Reagan in 1980 at the National Convention in Detroit in his acceptance speech talked about things like saying if you’re living in poverty, we want to lift you out.  If you’re living in despair, we want to be hope, but that hope isn’t based on more government.  It’s based on empowering people with the skills and the talents and the abilities that they need to go out and control their own lives and so I think the message is really simple, I believe, and I think this was the missed opportunity.  I believe the president and his allies in Washington in particular measure success in government by how many people are dependent on government, by how many people are on Medicaid, by how many people are on food stamps, by how many people are on unemployment.  That’s why they want to extend unemployment benefits.  They want more people signed up, more people dependent.  I think we as Republicans should measure success by just the opposite — by how many people are no longer dependent on the government, not because we’ve got to be careful to articulate this correctly, not because we don’t care about people or because we want to push people out to the streets, but because we understand that true freedom and prosperity don’t come from the mighty hand of the government.  It comes from empowering the people to control their own lives and their own destiny.  One example that I give in the book that I’ve talked about before is we made a change in food stamps that said if you want to get food stamps, if you don’t have kids, you’re an adult in our state and you want to get food stamps, you’ve either got to be working part-time or you’ve got to be in one of my employment training programs, and I said it’s simple.

I don’t want to make it harder to get government assistance.  I want to make it easier to get a job and we’ve got to show people.  I think any of us who either have our own households or who have friends who have sons or daughters who are in their 20’s, they’re at college and at some point you say to your son or daughter eventually in their best interest, “Hey, it’s time to move out of the house.  It’s time to get your own job and your own place.”  That’s not about being heartless and cold.  That’s just the opposite.  It’s about you love your kids so much you want to get them out and help them get on their own two feet so they can have the pride that comes from work in controlling their own destiny.

Now, recently there was  post on Politico about 10 people who should give the Republican response to the state of the union address (SOTU), and Walker was in the top spot. I heard about this list on Dennis Prager’s show, and it came up again on Michael Medved’s show. Now I think Prager is more of a principled conservative, and Medved is more of a pragmatic moderate. And yet they both thought that Walker should do the response. I think that Republicans across the spectrum are realizing that we need to pick someone competent in order to be different from the Democrats.

During the Christmas vacation, I read governor Walker’s new book, which was a Christmas present from my friend ECM. If you want to learn more about governor Walker, I recommend picking that up. I actually got the audio version, and it’s read by governor Walker himself.

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