Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Changing the World in 180 second


Friday, January 06, 2012

On the Road for Rick Perry: Final Day of the First Chapter, pts 1 & 2 - The Adventures of Mr. Ed and Little Punk

“This election is not about me, this election’s about our children, it’s about our grandchildren . And they’re waiting, they’re waiting for us to answer if we’re going to participate, if we’re going to call. This is your country, and your country is calling.”- Gov Rick Perry

This is the tagline to a viral ad released by the campaign on Tuesday, with an implication to the way Perry works the crowds to which he speaks, and the captivating speeches he delivers. The best part: He means them, and has the record to prove his moving words. That's why we're here.
When America is on its knees, he will bring us to our feet.

The morning of Tuesday, January 3rd was the moment for which I'd had been waiting for two months, since I decided to take my passion and dedication to the fields of Iowa. That morning, as I rolled out of bed early I knew sources had indicated Governor Perry was going to give us a “surprise” visit at speaker-training, so I had an extra bounce in my step. I hoped to get a chance to meet him!

As I arrived, the media began forming against the rear wall of the hall like ants at a picnic. The media loves Rick Perry events, and no it’s not because they await a mistake – Gov. Rick Perry is compelling in front of a crowd and captivating on-screen. For as much abuse as he’s received in the media over two or three tiny moments of humanity, the media loves to be around when he speaks because there’s always something to talk about. Substance; emotion; unwavering principle; usually a veteran or two.

The Governor made his entry at about 9:15 am to a room filled to over capacity (approximately 400), sliding down the right side of the room, stopping to shake the hands of every person he could physically reach, and after a brief introduction and with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot flanking him on his right and left, Perry gave an incredibly moving speech. He compared our energy to the anticipation before Omaha beach, and was actually moved to tears while addressing the crowd because of its overwhelming size and the level of dedication we had all shown.

Politics is filled with a lot of good talkers, great salesmen, clever lawyers and shrewd (if not antithetical) businessmen. However, to this author, one who reads people for a living, I know you need only look in the eyes and watch the body language to know whether a person is genuine. Gov. Rick Perry is about as genuine a man as I’ve met. Slightly shorter than he appears on-screen, more charismatic than you’d think, more emotional than you’d expect and more articulate in a crowd than he’s ever given credit for, this man is inspiring, sharp and motivating. His reminder about the importance of the day (first leg of a long marathon), what we represent (limited government and a moral society), and who we are there for (our children) moved many to tears before he made his way down the center aisle and spent a good 10 minutes reaching every hand to the left and right that he didn’t get before.

As I observed with his wife Anita two days before, he looks you straight in the eye and for a brief moment, you’re all that matters. His expression is not the same every time, and he asks you questions. This was my first time shaking his hand and I managed to get a small snapshot of it (see video attached), but the moment was short lived for me as my friend and co-patriot Bettina Viviano moved upon our favorite Governor with a bear hug and wailing “thank you” and “we love you” into his ear. Poor Rick probably had to rub his ear after that one (I could hear it 10 feet away in a loud, crowded room full of clapping!), but it was a precious moment captured on video and featured in an ad released by his campaign only 6 hours later!

As you can see in the video attached, the clapping was both constant and ear piercing. The crowd was excited, and unified in their vision to bring America back to it's simple roots of Conservative values. The crowd stood twice during his speech, but remained on their feet for the entire 10 minute exit at the end. Just when people feel the most discouraged, a leader arises to lift them to their feet; there's no exaggeration in how this man moves an audience.

After Perry left for afternoon stumping in downtown Des Moines, me and Paulette Miniter paired with Yomi Faparusi to take to the streets with our one last push to get caucus-goers to find a home in Perry’s camp. Earlier that morning, Riley broke my heart by begging me to take him with me. “Daddy, I want to go with you. Please?! I miss you, so that means you have to take me with you!” So, after my fabulous motivational rally that morning, I headed over with Paulette to pick up Riley at the hotel, then to meet Yomi for our afternoon outreach.

Once again, the contacts we made were genuine and more enjoyable than the traditional phone bank tactic; I have found this is my niche, not just because of my familiarity with the method but because I so enjoy the conversations and locality of political discussion with people who care. The voters we descended upon were only previous caucus voters, so they were more engaged than the traditional passersby.

Riley had a blast walking the condos we were assigned. Comprised mostly of 50-60 yr old voters, these homes were very close together and made for easy block walking. Paulette and Yomi took the first few houses, and Riley watched them from the car asking questions, “what are they doing?” or “Why are they talking to that lady?” and “I want to go with them, let’s go daddy, lets GO!”

So after three or four homes, I hopped out with Paulette and we proceeded to talk with a very nice older lady who found Riley adorable as he jumped into her leaves and attacked the mounds of tree fodder that filled the corners of her gangway. She assured me “he’s ok, I don’t mind. I don’t like the leaves anyway.” As I tried asking her serious questions and probed her for the real political concerns she had, Riley kept jumping up and down and yelling “hi-ya! I’m crushing the leaves!” Not exactly the perfect environment for a conversation, but after a few homes it seemed to have a charming effect on the people we visited, and at one home a voter even expressed that she was impressed we were so dedicated to even come out with a child in tow for someone we believed in. Riley, for the record was having a blast carrying literature and killing more leaves. Most of all, it felt good that on a day I was going to be investing at least 12-13 hours working for the campaign, I could spend it with my boy.

The moment came to take Paulette and Yomi back to the hotel, and Paulette had a long trip ahead (and hour and a half) to get to her precinct assignment. I stuck behind to finish up the previous day’s report and take care of some personal business. Riley and I split a plate of $15 Sheraton Hotel nachos and a diet coke before heading out to our own precinct. The energy was high, but the anticipation was reserved.

As the sun was setting in the west, I was out the door headed east, with Little Punk in tow to Des Moines Precinct 83 to represent the man I have chosen to fight with, and fight for. The night was actually growing brighter, not dimmer as I anxiously drove to my destination. We all knew we had a tough, uphill fight ahead of us, but this was the night we had been building this organization for and it was finally SHOW TIME.

(My account of the day was continued in a second piece posting later that day)


"I wanna tell you, there has been no greater joy in my life than to be able to share with the people of Iowa and of this country that there is a model to take this country forward and it is in the great state of Texas.”- Governor Rick Perry

Part Do... or Die
In mid-December, a Progressive voter-awareness group named 'Iowans Fueled With Pride' released a Voters’ Guide before Caucus week. As a lobbying group funded by the ethanol industry, their primary focus was, reaching every one of the tens of thousands of ranchers and corn-growers across Iowa with their message: Perry hates ethanol mandates. Conservative, limited-government Conservatives have developed one vice in the last ten years – ethanol. Especially, in Iowa, the largest corn-producing state in the nation.

Rick Perry's primary Conservative challenger has quickly become Rick Santorum, who consistently was five to ten points behind Perry in the polls until more recently. Shortly after the 'Voters’ Guide' was released, the tide began to shift - significantly. Inside the guide, voters found a list of various fuel standards, fuel mandates and various federal subsidies listed and who supports them. Each policy showed a graph where the current President, Barack Obama marked yes on piece of legislation. The remaining list below showed each GOP candidate in the race and where they stand. With a few exceptions of Bachmann or Paul, every other candidate found themselves in the almost sardonic position of the same “yes” column as Obama. Rick Perry was the ONLY candidate consistently outside that column and against all government meddling in faulty fuel alternatives. This issue turned an otherwise Perry-friendly rural countryside into solid Santorum-land, considering Rick “I’ll defend my earmarks” Santorum has always been very subsidy-friendly, and fits well into the conflicted Conservatism Iowa has long been known for.

Riley and I arrived at our caucus and immediately I went into campaign mode, handing out literature and working the room, introducing myself to voters as they entered the Weeks School auditorium, and pettin' puppies and kissin' babies. I had a few really good conversations and a few really short ones. My most engaging was with a Michelle Bachmann supporter that felt more like an orphan without a home and wanted answers to very serious questions; a Democrat – stretching a too-small Ron Paul R*LOVE*ution t-shirt across his truck-driver frame began arguing with me while talking with the woman. At the first claim of Constitutionality, I hit him with the earmarks abuse that Paul is so well-known for. He said “Ron Paul never votes for them!” to which I replied, “But he inserts them in there, knowing they’ll pass – what’s the difference?” His reply showed the utter ignorance and/or foolishness of these cross-over voters that infiltrated our caucuses that night: “Well, he has to look out for his people, so that’s why he makes sure they’re in there.” Which is it?!

There was another group of younger people that had just re-registered Republican and were carrying Ron Paul signs (and surprisingly one had a Rick Santorum sticker), and sat in the front waiting for their chance to sway the GOP polls.

First, Gingrich’s representative read off her talking points sheet in a Sean Hannity crescendo. She finished in 2:39 and sat down in awkward silence.

Next, Ron Paul’s surrogate stood to read off of her talking points as well, apparently struggling to read her own handwriting. It was substantive material, but shockingly unfamiliar to her. The best moment of the Paul presentation was when she went off script and spoke about the troops and purpose of war.

Then it was my turn to make a splash. I had prepared myself with my notes and learned what I was asked to cover by the Perry campaign. Between my seat in the third row and my position in the front of the room, I decided to go my own route: I shot from the hip and spoke about leadership. It went over remarkably well, and I even got a golf-clap from the angry Paul supporter in the skin tight “LOVE” shirt when I spoke about the out of control government we allow to have a place in our lives. There was a tense moment when the one-speaker-per-candidate rule was overruled by tshirt guy, and I was challenged to back up Rick Perry's record in a quasi-debate, but for the most part the night went very well and I know my message was well received.

My precinct was in the city, and our results were as follows:
22% Gingrich 22% Paul 19% Perry 19% Santorum11% Bachmann7% Romney0% Huntsman
Needless to say, Perry had a much harder time in the farming counties than we had hoped, where ethanol is the local Friday Night Light drug of choice. As Riley and I arrived at the watch party, results began pouring in. Perry’s numbers stood at a hard-nosed and deflating ten percent like a stubborn mule until the night was over. No fanfare, no confetti; even the extensive h’orderves tasted less palatable as it was becoming quickly apparent that our candidate would not crack the top three, let alone win the Caucus.

In all honesty, winning it all – while certainly the goal of any self-respecting team – was not expected; a top three finish would have been a HUGE upset by the Perry campaign. There were many factors: ethanol interests working feverishly to get out the vote for conglomerates to protect their lifelines to federal politicking; the Family Leader organization holding its endorsement of Santorum until the last possible second; the Obama campaign flooding Iowa newspapers and magazines with ads the week leading up to the Caucus, coupled with grassroots emails encouraging Democrats to temporarily re-register as Republicans – they specifically named Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul as the alternates; Ron Paul’s campaign specifically directed volunteers to recruit independents and Democrats to support Paul. Perry had an uphill battle and he waged a good one.

When it came time for his interview with Megyn Kelly on Fox News at 9pm, he was optimistic and steady. We all watched from a few feet away as he spoke with conviction, telling her “I’m not going to change who I am to get a few more votes.” As he left the room for some back-room business, I was able to get a picture with the Governor and thank him for inspiring my own Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker to do the right thing no matter what. He said, “He’s a good man, your welcome, son. Keep up the good fight!” With this he moved on down the line and made his way upstairs.

Between the somber watch party and the distraction of the cocktail bar, the 400+ supporters in the Sheraton were just a little unsure what was next. We knew the Governor was still around, and we knew he would speak at some point, but we spent most of the next two hours discussing what happened, why it happened, and what we could do about South Carolina.

I had Riley with me this entire time, and he was getting quite tired and rambunctious so I decided to take him to our hotel and come back. Right as I got back, after 11pm, I received a text from a campaign worker that Perry was back and I needed to get moving into the ballroom. As I entered, the mood was in contrast to the previous several hours; hundreds of people were smiling, gathering by the stage and the media was anxiously getting their cameras ready in front and back. Then the Governor came out onto the stage with his family.

His wife Anita, son Griffin, daughter-in-law Meredith and daughter Sydney surrounded him on the stage in casual clothes and smiles on their faces as Perry thanked his supporters for their efforts that day. He detailed his bus trip, the conversations he’d had, the 38 states that volunteers came from to invest into the Iowa Caucuses, and he read a letter he received from a young man who came from Kansas and lost a transmission along the way. The enthusiastic supporter detailed how he borrowed $2,000 to get it fixed and make it in time to work the door to door campaign. Then the Governor talked about the young veteran who had been present most of the weekend, having been injured in the line of duty in Iraq. Whenever Perry speaks about vets, he gets very emotional; it’s a Texan thing. It is real, no doubt about it.

As his speech wound down and the crowd began to remember the stressful day and disappointing opposition we had all faced that day in a crowded GOP field, he began to explain his heartfelt appreciation for us, and desire to return to Texas to rest before reengaging his campaign in South Carolina. "With the voters' decision tonight in Iowa, I've decided to return to Texas, assess the results of tonight's caucus, determine whether there is a path forward for myself in this race."

The gut bomb those words gave each of us took the breath out of everyone, and for just a second you could wave your hand in front of anyone’s face and probably not get a wink. Was he really quitting? His plan was for every state! Did his words just reflect the frustration of a man who’s NEVER lost a single election he’s ever run in? He still has plenty of money to move forward!

As he began to leave the stage, he was sure to reach out to each of the supporters there to help him that weekend. He gave many hugs, many handshakes, a few tears – missing this time were the high-fives and thumbs-up he’s so well-known for. I had to speak with him once more. I squeezed and waited, then realigned my position in the line and then found an opening to the left. An older woman standing there with tears in her eyes, shaking her head was not appearing ready to move in on the governor so I seized the moment and politely asked her “excuse me”, and moved in front of her to the crowd line. As Governor Perry came closer to me, I knew exactly what he was feeling, but figured he could use a reminder of what kind of man we knew him to be. I remembered his often re-quoted “Bring it on! Live free or die! Victory or death!” line, and knew this was simply a man humbled by a machine working against him, because it knew he was the only one capable of changing that machine into something we, the people could actually control again.

The security detail grew stiffer and began asking people to stop asking for autographs and pictures. I moved to the very end of the line before the doorway and as the Governor came up to me, he reached out, grabbed my hand and looked me in the eye. I pulled him in toward me and said, “Ronald Reagan never quit; you sure as hell better not.” And he said, “okay son,” and turned to leave the room.

I don’t know if what I said made a hill-of-beans difference, and I know the Governor spent the night talking with his organization in South Carolina and onsite in Iowa about his “path forward.” What I do know is that an hour later, his son Griffin said “He’s not quitting, absolutely not.” By 10:14 the next morning, the Governor (who controls his own Twitter account and does not have a staffer do it for him) tweeted a picture of him on his morning run and said, “The next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State… here we come, South Carolina!!!”

Facebook and Twitter exploded within minutes and all of Rick Perry’s nationwide family of support unified behind him once again. The only question likely dogging the Governor was the money to move forward in actual primary states where massive amounts of money are needed to make an impression and "Perry" forward. In fine form, every-day people rose to the occasion. The donation referral link I’ve been assigned at RickPerry.org receives notice of one or two donations per week; within 24 hours after his encouraging tweet, I had received notification of 15 new donors. This is a Governor who has no quit in him, and his supporters reflect the leader they follow. We’re not quitting either. South Carolina is calling, and we’re answering it.

“Do not gloat over me, my enemy. Though I have fallen, I will rise.”

See you again. Soon...

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Day Three for Rick Perry - The Adventures of Mr. Ed and Little Punk

"Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm ... As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others."- Audrey Hepburn

I set out on this journey to help someone I believe can help Americans help themselves, and make it exciting to be an American citizen again - truly knowing what that means. Monday, January 2, and day three of my trip started early with me joining a Facebook friend and recent arrival from Tennessee: Yomi Faparusi, a doctor and lawyer, originally from Nigeria, and fiercely dedicated to Governor Perry’s campaign. We were tasked immediately to deliver caucus kits for leaders in seven precincts; Yomi's Sequoia lumbered down the freeway as i navigated with an iPad, travelling over 300 miles through the farmlands of Iowa for an experience like none other for a city boy like myself. Several of our stops were accessible only by dirt roads. I loved it.

In keeping with past experiences, two people apologized for not inviting us in to sit down, all were extremely gracious, and three more people today thanked us for coming to them

Our long travel day took us to Gowrie, IA, where we came to see a wonderful 78 yr old woman – when she heard we were with Governor Perry’s campaign she screeched “He’s my man”. Her husband, mayor of Gowrie, had a much less enthusiastic response – he left the room permanently when we entered never coming back! He apparently was a Santorum supporter, according to his wife. “I thought Perry forgot about me!” she said. And I replied, “That’s why I’m here! We would never forget you. We need you”. She is caucusing for Perry and wearing her Perry shirt proudly.
One man, with three caucus goers in the home, loved Perry but was leaning Mitt because he hadn’t watched a debate since October. He took our materials and said he would likely caucus with Perry.

The biggest encouragement working with people is pointing out to them that we are the only campaign that has motivated enough people from around the country to actually be able to stop by their home. It works!

On the way back to HQ for the evening, we were able to stop in Perry, IA, where the Governor was capping his 44 stop bus tour before landing in Des Moines. As Yomi and I approached the amazing Hotel Patee, the buzz could be felt from a block away. The venue isn’t that large, but was packed with hundreds of supporters carrying signs, stickers and wearing Perry for President attire. Once inside, the homage to railroad life and dark wood floors warmed the environment and made a crowd that was actually quite large feel quaint and intimate. Around the corner was a small banquet room where Governors Jindal, Brownback and Perry had just finished rallying the crowd and people were still walking with a pep in their step.

The energy at Perry’s events has been infectious and the high profile endorsements – from Gov. Bobby Jindal to Steven Forbes and Sen. James Inhofe – have lent a strength and durability to the Gov. Perry’s campaign which will carry him long into this primary race. I was able to speak briefly with Gov. Jindal and at more length with Gov. Brownback, since I have a personal connection to him through one of his past colleagues. I was able to have a picture taken with each.

We finished our evening back at HQ, where we stocked up with 75 signs and participated in the late-night sign blitz! Teams of Strike Force volunteers fanned out across the metro area with 2,000 signs and placed them by as many local precincts as possible; Iowans woke up in the morning to find many local caucus locations like schools and community centers surrounded by Perry signs. Riley came along on the trip, since he was well-rested and prepared with a good two hour afternoon nap. He had an absolute blast helping us push those metal wire signs into freezing cold ground. I couldn’t keep him in the warm car, so I snapped lots of pictures and made a few memories along the way. Riley was very proud of his work, and kept saying “I’m a sign worker guy, I’m a GOOD sign worker guy!”

The long day ended around midnight as I dropped off the last volunteer at their hotel. During a brief conversation (while both puffed three cigarettes each) with Ted Royer, Perry’s speechwriter and David, his primary researcher, we felt affirmed that our efforts were having a direct effect on their internal numbers. Crawling into bed, I was excited for the day coming ahead, and I knew we had physically done as much as we could do. One of the hallmarks of this Iowa ground game has been the actual ground covered and recovered by tireless volunteers.

Five volunteer centers, two larger coordinating HQ's and 2,000 volunteer and staff workers are motivated, energized and looking forward to beginning the restoration of a sound, balanced and effective American government. I’m so proud to be a part of giving my son this opportunity to have the same life I did, because win or lose in Iowa, we're putting out energies into something that matters.

That’s what we’re here for! Onto bed…

Monday, January 02, 2012

Almost Gone With the Wind - Day Two - Adventures of Mr. Ed and Little Punk

“Blow, Boreas, foe to human kind! Blow, blustering, freezing, piercing wind! Blow, that thy force I may rehearse, While all my thoughts congeal to verse!” – John Bancks, Chief Justice of England, 1644

Today was field day; scores of volunteers headed into the fierce teeth of a conflicted Iowan December. 58 degree days gave way to wind chills in the low twenties within 12 hours, forcing hundreds of Texans scurrying for hotel lobbies like armadillos on a freeway.

The rest of us who came from midwest states Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, North Dakota... we just smiled and marched on.

Our assignment today was to reach out to the community going door to door, and what better day to do so than on a day of bombing temperatures and 35-40 mph winds with gusts up to 50? I didn’t bring Riley out with me today, but left him with Maria to go to the mall and Toys R’ Us, playgrounds and everything between. He had a blast, but poor Maria was worn out by the end of the day. She’s been a big help on this trip, and I’m grateful for her help allowing me to go about our business, and following me around as we dart from room to room plugging every hole and pulling together every thread we can in this patchwork of grassroots support.

The scene at Perry HQ was enthusiastic and determined. There is a comprehensive, coordinated plan for every aspect of the campaign. Perry’s staff is in one accord and excited about their prospects in Iowa and beyond, and they wear their excitement on their sleeve.

Door to door contact is what I do for a living, so this was nothing unfamilar, but still a unique experience. I absolutely LOVED the opportunity to meet people face to face, and let me tell you, the registered Caucus-goers we visited were happy as well. Three people actually thanked us for stopping by, instead of calling. Phone banks are a staple of every campaign for the last 80 years, a necessary evil if you will, but our method was something no other candidates have attempted this year; Perry alone has the large masses of volunteers hitting doors all over the state. Hundreds of them.

Two nerve centers, Sioux City, IA and Des Moines have their hundreds of canvassers heading out daily, armed with facts, passion and energy bars. And the response has been remarkably strong. Since my career in sales development makes this "old-shoe" territory for me, I took pleasure in asking voters what their biggest concerns were and getting them to tell us exactly what they needed to hear from Perry. Out of four voters we spoke to, all attending their local caucus on Tuesday, two undecided folks changed their minds right there, previously leaning toward another candidate because of misunderstanding or not knowing particular policies or records about Governor Perry. So, NET GAIN: Team Perry.

In one of the best moments of the day, Riley and I were back at HQ in the evening, walking through the atrium when Texas First Lady Anita Perry came walking by. She noticed Riley almost right away and scooped down to tell him how adorable he was. He smiled and - as usual - hammed it up a bit. But... come picture time, Riley balked, maybe from all the immediate attention (or possibly the effect from standing next to one of the most beautiful women in America) and he began to step away; the picture snapped, making it a little blurry, but it’s a keeper! She spoke with us for a few minutes and left an indelible impression. Mrs. Perry looks you straight in the eye when you’re talking with her, no hesitation or distraction in her eyes.

It is an amazing trait to be the kind of person that has so much exposure and responsibility and still have that genuineness that makes you feel like you matter. This isn’t merely good politics, this is a reality that only some people have, and i imagine most people need. The Perry family has it. It translates into effective leadership, which nurtures into a political machine, well-oiled enough to take out President Obama next November.

The evening finished with a social mixer at the Sharaton Hotel, where media and campaign staff spent time thanking the workers from the weekend and talking about Tuesday plans for Caucus. Governor Rick Perry is the only candidate who has motivated 2,000+ volunteers to come from 38 states to make a difference; the next candidate to face President Obama in 2012 must have the ability to move the masses and excite the base.

Fortunately, come hell or high water – or 50 mph winds – this is a candidate who is capable to changing the tide and has enough financial and human support to take your vision for America and turn it into political momentum in Washington, D.C.

Rick Perry is far from being gone with the wind, he's only just beginning to speak up.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

A New Year - Day One - The Adventures of Mr. Ed and Little Punk

It's the first day of a new year and our trip.

360 miles, five potty stops and two emergency pull-offs to the side of the road later, we arrived in Clive, Iowa outside Des Moines, and it’s been an entertaining ride, to say the least. Immediately, I was invited to a New Years’ Eve bash at the Marriott hotel in West Des Moines. Ringing in the New Year with supporters just as hopeful as me – there’s only a thing or two that would make for a better start to 2012.

Des Moines has to be one of the most unique places on earth at Caucus-time. Everywhere you go, out-of-state plates, rental cars and devotees in unbuttoned shirts and loosened ties litter the shops and restaurants while minivans full of stickers representing different candidates come and go from the hotel entrance with car-fulls of people. In contrast, you can tell who the locals are by the glaze in their eyes from overexposure and the fatigue of these political olympics.

Riley and Maria, who came along to nanny, drove with me to the New Year’s Eve bash hosted by Texans for Perry, the Governor’s campaign organization for the last 11 years. Within five minutes of starting to settle in a fantastic country/rock cover band began to move the more stoic folks out of their corners like a cattle prod as the dance floor filled with Texas-Two-Step and other wannabe-variations by people never built to dance. The author is one of the latter group, so he found a way to become official photographer for two tables; a master at diversion and disguise!

Out of 300 people in the room, Riley took not so much as 15 minutes to become the show-stopper with his own camera. I couldn’t believe my eyes as the volunteers placed a hat on his head and began handing him their own cameras to take their pictures for them. Then, others began taking pictures of Riley taking pictures which was even more entertaining. I had a local hedge-fund managing fundraiser come ask me “he eventually comes out of his shell, right?” Nothing beats being the guest of a kid like this at an event.

This morning, the campaign takes a break. Most of us are attending church and resting before firing up again at 2pm. The staff will have volunteers participate in a day-opening prayer meeting and time for preparation. Training for new volunteers begins at 2 pm. I asked several people about the activity, and they said the daily training meetings have seen anywhere between 30-150, arriving for their credentials and instructions. Today’s registration is expecting hundreds more; The Governor’s volunteer base has swelled to over 1,500 and is expected to top 2,000 by Tuesday.

The enthusiasm appears even higher than I thought, and I don’t believe it’s merely Texan pride or southern hospitality making up the difference. Many have been trudging on, like me for months, and dozens have been here on the ground for weeks. Joe Hyde, host of the site http://rickperryreport.com/ has been following the Perry campaign bus for the last two weeks and has confirmed what CBS only yesterday began to confirm: Perry’s campaign stops are frequently double capacity and are by far the loudest of any candidate; CBS’ Rebecca Kaplan implied she couldn’t find a single attendee that said they were not committed or leaning toward Perry after hearing him speak.

As a surrogate speaker, I've been told I may be assigned a Des Moines precinct. If not here, then I’ll have an opportunity with Regional Coordinator Mike Thom in the Quad Cities. I should know my precinct by Monday evening. Iowa Caucus goers come from their respective neighborhoods to establishments like schools, churches and libraries where they will listen to others like me deliver short talking points about each candidate, then afterward come and ask questions to learn more about our candidates without media convolution.

The voters attending make their decision that night of whom they support and go home. I predict the evening will be full of the themes of values, federal control and burdensome regulation. The impetus to remove President Obama from office next year must be focused on restoring a faith in America like Reagan once did, and reforming the road to bankruptcy from our centralized, over-spending ways that will lead to severe taxation or institutional default to remedy. This election is about simple principles, not a Candidate’s view on 130 different policies. Governor Perry believes that most of these policies should not even be the discretion of a cabal in Washington to begin with, so it allows us to refocus the Federal Government on things it was meant to do and do well – national defense, equality of interstate commerce, management of our world trade affairs, protection of our borders and guidance of interstate infrastructure needs.

I hope and pray this New Year of 2012 will ring in a new paradigm of how we view our Government in the words of two Presidents that reveal the A and Z of the Progressive disease:
“We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude. Taxation follows that [latter choice], and in its train [is] wretchedness and oppression.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1816
“So… ask not what your Country can do for you – ask what you can do for your Country.” – JFK, 1961

I am a pragmatic idealist, I admit it. But I do not believe that my idealism is unrealistic, it is principled and dedicated toward moving toward the right goal. The times are very serious and require particular expediency, but whether you think a man like Gov Perry can accomplish this or not in his time as President must yield to the optimism of restoring our nation, one elected official at a time.

I finish with another quote from 1961: “All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin."

Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Three Days Till Caucus-Time - The Adventures of Mr. Ed and Little Punk

Tick, tock, tick, tock...
As I’ve been preparing for our journey to Iowa this weekend for the GOP Caucuses, I’ve found that my motivation and creativity has already landed in Iowa, making the focus on my business here a bit more difficult than usual, the week after Christmas. But, I must keep progressing as I take a few days away from my own business, leaving it in the hands of my trusted management team.

The Christmas wrapping is not even cleaned up yet, the race tracks are still littering the bottom of the tree and the half-eaten candy canes are still strewn across the living room. Riley played Pirate and steam engine builder all week (yes, I bought and built with him, a REAL steam engine) while I prepared myself for the weekend in Des Moines. The next few days will see - no exaggeration - thousands of alien politicos from around North America descend upon the corn fields for a piece of the pie as Presidential candidates give one last appeal to win Iowans’ vote on Tuesday, January 3rd. This is the non-stop, fast-paced crop circle I’ve chosen to jump into, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Other Parental Patriots from around the country are bringing their little buggers too, so I’m not the only one. However, I think I’m one of the few single parents crazy enough to try. Riley will be bringing a fresh Christmas load of presents to keep busy, but I fully intend on bringing him to events as much as possible. He’s at this stage now in his four and a half years of life where he listens to what people say then sounds out entire phrases with a question mark at the end. “Rick Perry is a cool guy?” he says. Yes, I expect him to have a significantly developed vocabulary by next Wednesday when we return home. “Caucus”, “ethanol”, “bailout”, “Texas” and “Constitution” are on the pre-school spelling list already. I’ll be sure Riley engages his Dora the Explorer Phonics iPad app all weekend so he’s prepared for this experience.

The only part of the trip I’m not looking forward to is the six hour drive through Chicago and the monotony of flat, government-mandated farm fields with a four-year-old that will be asking to stop at every gas station he sees. But I will be travelling with my cousin who is playing nanny for the week, and another political activist friend of mine; surely it will take the edge off.

The last three weeks have been a fascinating study in Primary politics, media news cycles and polling. When I last wrote here, Gingrich was surging on his ability to speak alone, and Cain was falling apart under the inability to discuss Libya without a water bottle. Governor Rick Perry has since gained steadily two to three percentage points per week as he tours the state to standing-room only crowds that, if nothing else, are interested to hear him speak their language on local and national issues with such confidence, even if they are still unsure of their support for him come next Tuesday. “Retail Politics” is what this is called, and no one does it better than Governor Perry. He now stands in third place in most local polls, and is second among GOP voters.The Texas Governor has been a public servant in various capacities over the last 25 years: State Legislator, Agricultural Commissioner, Lt. Governor and now 11 years as Governor, and has never lost an election. He has raised more money on the campaign trail in his years in Texas than any statewide public figure in American politics. As he often says, “This ain’t our first rodeo,” and in his last debate in Iowa stated gleefully, “I am starting to really like these debates, and would be there early to debate Obama” [should he get the nomination].

Any objective observer would have to acknowledge that Perry’s steady return from underdog to real contender while staying on message and improving every facet of his campaign is respectable, if confounding and surprising – but surprising only to those who don’t know this Governor. He's inspiring and determined, and he knows every day issues as well or better than anyone running.
Once I leave Saturday afternoon, I will continue to report from the field and look forward to sharing our travels with you. If there’s any random requests you have back home, let me know. Ronald Reagan figurines in Dixon, IL or famous Cream Puffs from Davenport, I’ll try to bring back what I can. I plan on bringing back a glowing smile of victory to Caledonia by next Wednesday!

America needs leadership and experience, and the support to make the case for the Governor. My son and I are merely a sample of the 2,000+ activists making their way to Iowa for Perry alone, from Bettina in California and Randy in New York, to Chrissy in Florida and us in Wisconsin. This is the kind of energy that wins elections, and the sort of believable enthusiasm America needs. It’s been 30 years since we’ve felt this way.

Soon, you will too.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Welcome to My 1/4 acre - The Adventures of Mr. Ed and Little Punk

Hello, my name is Ed.

OK, that’s how I start off every conversation in my sales career, and it feels just tad tripe.
How do I introduce myself? I’ve only recently joined the Patch community here, as a local blogger. And I’ve been spotty at best with active involvement in politics over the last several years, but I’ve always enjoyed writing about it. I’ve been tearing up Facebook with my rants, raves and misgivings for years now. So, a few of you know me because of my online passion already. But to a larger audience – the Community I live in – I want to have a part in adding to the character, the substance and maybe even the entertainment of the people that make up this virtual tax shelter I call home.

I moved to Caledonia in May of 2008, primarily because my family needed a larger home, but equally as important, the direction of the County I was in. I wanted lower taxes, more space, and a friendly community. Milwaukee County, despite the best attempts of its County Executive was simply headed in the wrong direction, so my wife and I moved to a wonderful ¼ acre lot in southern Caledonia, or as I affectionately refer to as, “So-Cal”. It’s my ¼ acre in “Cali,” and you can’t take that dream away from me.

The last three and a half years have brought me many joys (a new company that grows in a recession), various pains (an unwanted divorce) and new friends. I have the great privilege of raising my four-year-old son full-time. Having been raised as an only child by a single mother myself, I have a distinct, first-hand knowledge of the challenges and joys of living the life I have accepted.

From the time he was born, I’ve always given my son Riley the affectionate name, “Little Punk.” So for anyone potentially offended by this, understand it’s a term of endearment, not a reckless, burping, name-calling, and chauvinist bachelor showing a lack of tact. Little Punk and I enjoy riding his Power Wheel Jeep at Cliffside; late nights driving to Pick n Save because I forgot to buy milk, and playing ball at Crawford Park. We even got to enjoy some CRICKET with Indian men who stopped by this last summer. So far, it has already been an unforgettable experience living here, as I’m sure it has been for you.

Every March for the last five years, I’ve attended Spring Training in Phoenix, AZ to watch the Brewers play baseball in the sun. Learning the names of future major leaguers, meeting promising and current stars on the team and enjoying the AZ desert have been great traditions for me and now I get to share them with my son. This year will be his fourth Spring Training; yes, he’s only four… (I couldn’t even find an appropriate onesie for the little guy when we took him for the first time, so I just had him wear a Brewers bib every day.) We already have our tickets for this next March. Wanna come?

My childhood was a blessed one, being raised by a single mother who ran a bookstore, homeschooled me and raised me entirely on her own – Only God knows how… Superwoman? She led me through the high school years, getting her GED in the process, and teaching me most of all how to love experiencing new things, and HOW to actually learn. I graduated top of my class… har, har… went to college, the first in my family to earn a degree. My mom deserves the credit for being two parents in one for me. Blessed even more was the life I lived because she took me travelling to places all over the United States, and it taught me so much about the nation I love and the people that make it great.

I still remember, vividly, going to Washington, D.C. when I was five. Never mind the fire I started I the hotel sink with matches and plastic cups, it was an amazing experience, even at five. We travelled to Florida; journeyed over the mountains to California when I was seven; hoofed down to Texas for a business convention – where I rode a horse for the first time, experienced puppy love with a girl named April and swam in jeans in a Texas-shaped pool at a “Dude-Ranch” – experienced a Christian mission trip to Honduras when I was 9... I saw many parts of the world, and even though I was young, I still remember them like yesterday. I intend on giving my son the same incredible memories as long as I am able.

In the last year I’ve made no secret of my political interests, and having previous experience in various local, state and national elections I finally decided to pour myself this year into one particular candidate I used to despise in my ignorance and now admire with every fiber of my being. As of last month, I have been given the opportunity to travel to Iowa 26 days from now to help my candidate on his road to the White House. My son and I will be travelling to Iowa to help educate caucus goers, distribute signs and literature, make phone calls, meet residents and just have a good time in an old-fashioned political way, for my candidate: Gov. Rick Perry – America’s most experienced and successful public Executive.

Whether you agree with the politics I share with him or not, my goal for you in this Road Series is to be entertained by the adventures, educated by the details and engaged by the human experience of a single dad taking his only son on the trip of a lifetime, even if Riley doesn’t entirely understand what is going on. Yet.

I hope you enjoy reading the series as much as I will enjoy writing it. I invite lively debate, and hope it makes my community feel a part of this significant, Middle-American tradition: the Iowa Caucuses!

I’d be even more enjoyable for me if I could caravan a bunch of you all with me on this road trip to Des Moines late this month! Of course, only if you were voting for the same guy.
Just jokin’…

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Rave: A Record That's Proven: Perry

Earlier this year, during their sit-ins and demonstrations, Wisconsin teachers compared their state’s (supposed) #2 ranking in ACT/SAT test scores directly to Texas (at #47). Their reason for comparing to Texas was that Wisconsin teachers are unionized while teacher unions are illegal in Texas. This direct comparison was intended to show the benefit of unionized teachers in educating our children.

However, those rankings were found to be: 1) obsolete, using 12-year-old data, and 2) used questionable methodology. The ranking was debunked by PolitiFact and the claim has since been removed from the union’s website, in other words, they stretched the facts to fit their agenda.

One facet that makes a Texas comparison to many other states is the racial makeup of the student population. Minority students – regardless of state – tend to score lower than white students on standardized tests, and the higher the proportion of minority students in a state the lower its overall test scores tend to be. Regardless of the reasons, the gap does exist, and it’s mathematical sophistry to compare the combined average test scores in a state like Wisconsin (4% black, 4% Hispanic) to a state like Texas (12% black, 30% Hispanic).

But let’s ignore that mismatch and compare them anyway – broken down by racial groups. We’ll compare some 2009 standardized test scores (the latest available) for 4th and 8th grade students in the areas of math, reading, and science. A pilot program for 12thgraders is being tested, but national comparisons are not yet possible for that grade. The data supporting the following rankings are found at the Nation’s Report Card website (link below the rankings).

2009 4th Grade Math
White students: Texas 254, Wisconsin 250 (national average 248)
Black students: Texas 231, Wisconsin 217 (national 222)
Hispanic students: Texas 233, Wisconsin 228 (national 227)

2009 8th Grade Math
White students: Texas 301, Wisconsin 294 (national 294)
Black students: Texas 272, Wisconsin 254 (national 260)
Hispanic students: Texas 277, Wisconsin 268 (national 260)

2009 4th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 232, Wisconsin 227 (national 229)
Black students: Texas 213, Wisconsin 192 (national 204)
Hispanic students: Texas 210, Wisconsin 202 (national 204)

2009 8th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 273, Wisconsin 271 (national 271)
Black students: Texas 249, Wisconsin 238 (national 245)
Hispanic students: Texas 251, Wisconsin 250 (national 248)

2009 4th Grade Science
White students: Texas 168, Wisconsin 164 (national 162)
Black students: Texas 139, Wisconsin 121 (national 127)
Hispanic students: Wisconsin 138, Texas 136 (national 130)

2009 8th Grade Science
White students: Texas 167, Wisconsin 165 (national 161)
Black students: Texas 133, Wisconsin 120 (national 125)
Hispanic students: Texas 141, Wisconsin 134 (national 131)

To recap: White students in Texas perform better than white students in Wisconsin, black students in Texas perform better than black students in Wisconsin, and Hispanic students in Texas perform better than Hispanic students in Wisconsin. In 18 separate ethnicity-controlled comparisons, the only one where Wisconsin students performed better than their peers in Texas was 4th grade science for Hispanic students (statistically insignificant), and this was reversed by 8th grade.

Further, Texas students exceeded the national average for their ethnic cohorts in all 18 comparisons; Wisconsinites were below the national average in 8, above average in 8. That bears repeating: Texas fourth and eighth graders outperformed the national average scores in all categories.

Perhaps the most striking thing in these numbers is the within-state gap between white and minority students. Not only did white Texas students outperform white Wisconsin students, the gap between white students and minority students in Texas was much less than the gap between white and minority students in Wisconsin.

In other words, students perform better in Texas schools than in Wisconsin schools – especially minority students.


Sunday, December 04, 2011

Rave: A Record That Counts: Perry

I have been researching Rick Perry for two years. I was tentative at first. Then late last year I finally began to realize this was the man for the job in D.C.

Since February I've been talking about him on my wall and social circles, and since April I've been actively pushing for his candidacy as U.S. President.

Upon the eve of his announcement and within 24 hours of his spokesman Mark Milner revealing his intentions to run, I have been barraged on threads, my wall, email and elsewhere on his lack of Conservative credentials. I will address each one effectively, absolutely, and with good conscience. At least begin to...

The first erroneous claim is that he blew up the state budget as Governor from $44 billion to $95 billion, and has created a debt per capita ratio higher than California.

First, one must understand that historically, Texas hasn't bestowed much control in the Governor's hands. That has changed slowly over time, and is now becoming more significant in the last few years. But until Perry came into office, very little could be done by the Governor to rein in spending unless he has a super majority in the legislature.

That being said, he presided over incredible population growth, a HUGE influx of poor (estimated 2-3 million illegal immigrants) and ballooning union-driven costs like pension, education and health care.
But... TWICE he lowered the year over year budget expenditures. THREE TIMES he managed to lower taxes by moving the collections to different columns of revenue sources. And finally, his reforms in the legal system have created the most business friendly state in the nation.

Let's focus first in this post on the claim he "blew up the budget... what would he do in D.C.?!"

The following puts Perry's budget into perspective:

Texas State Budget:
2000 - $44.2b budget / $49b net rev
2011 - $77.6b budget / $86b net rev
75% increase, with an on the books surplus of 10.8%.

U.S. Fed Budget:
2000 - $1.79t budget / $1.55t net rev
2011 - $3.52t budget / $1.80t net rev
96% increase, with an on the books deficit of -48%.

Perry managed to keep general state expenditures at his disposal (transportation, protection, some welfare) in check, with only about 25-35% growth, relatively speaking, while the state's population grew 21%, and a major influx of poor, mexican nationals and their children flooded the schools, hospitals and welfare rolls.

Meanwhile, uncontrollable, public-union driven expenses like healthcare, pensions and education increased 90-115%!!!!!

Health care alone increased from $12.5b in 2000 to $27.6 in 2009. He has since negotiated a decrease to $25.8b.

State pensions increased from $5.0b in 2000 to $9.6b in 2010. This also was finally cut slightly in the last budget.

Education (something difficult for ANYONE to cut when you inherit a state at the bottom of the education ladder) rose from $8.9b in 2000 to $18.5b in 2009!

Here, in our State of Wisconsin we have proven that with 100% control of leadersip by Conservatives the union grasp on local governments can be scaled back! I look forward to Perry and others like him in Congress helping to rein in the out of control spending older establishment big spenders have engaged in.

I believe lost in the media circus and establishment fear has faded the true message of what the candidates really represent based on not only their own words, but their records; in fact, lost as well is the reason why we elect leaders in the first place.

We need people who see beyond the title and position and see the power to change, based on the RIGHT principles. They don't merely manage, they transform. Howard Schultz, Steve Jobs and many other iconic chairmen and CEO's of our time have succeeded by focusing their respective entities on their original principles, and creatively insipiring their people to follow them to the vision they see.

Debates are not where this inspiration happens. It occurs at a podium with a Presidential seal on it; on headlines that report the progress of the right policies; in the communities that resemble the world in which we want our kids taught, entertained and raised in; and in the bank statements that reflect an economy that helps everyone.

I see beyond the title and position and I see a President Perry giving us 8 years of the kind of change we were hoping for.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

BlogBlurb - Perry on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno: "Genuine"

In case you didn't catch the memo, Jay Leno taped a spot with Rick Perry today, and Michael Reagan was there too, even tweeted the photo back stage.


Perry and Leno exchanged experiences with bumbling or forgetting a couple of words. The laughter and the swagger that characterizes Rick Perry, as Texans have always known him was on full display. It was another great night for the ever confident Governor before millions of people curious to see if they'd witness the next news cycle drive-by. What they got was a feast of good Conservative meat with a nice dose of Texan charm for dessert.

It was a great exhange showing Perry's ability to converse quickly, humbly and effectively getting his point across. In response to questioning Perry's forgetting one of the three agencies (among hundreds of wasteful, pitiful, kicked around examples) that Perry would like to trim from the Federal budget, Perry quipped, "every now and then, I call my dogs by the wrong name". Touche.

Perry is well known for his strength at what's known as "retail politics", accessing voters on a personal level, increasing his likeability and affability with potential voters. This was no less apparent in his frequent use of people's names in the studio, including Darin, Rickie Miner, and Melissa McCreedy, the fellow guest actress on the couch next to him. Kindly patting her on the knee and saying "stay with me, I'm gonna need ya" was also a subtle, but effective way of coming across confident, lighthearted and convincing at the same time.

During the
Thanksgiving Family Forum, hosted live and moderated by Frank Luntz with TheFamilyLeader.com and CitizenLink.com earlier last month, Perry showed a very genuine side where he briefly acquainted the audience with his story of meeting his wife Anita when they were children, and off and on dating until he finally convinced her to marry him. As he found her in the audience and described his most thankful moment in life was "getting her", he appeared almost giddy with excitement.

This was again apparent tonight as he referenced them and said they were somewhere in the audience. Once the cameras found them, he said "there they are" and smiled proud. It draws a clear contrast between him and the Cain issues, and might help to reestablish some of the sanity in voters' relationship with the GOP's family values platform, both spoken and unspoken. The expectations that voters have held over the GOP have last through years of affairs, trials, expose's on the left, and even a few on the right side of the aisle. These standards of faith, family and marital love have bound the GOP and Conservatives together and would risk becoming a losing distration in a general election next year if it were not a motivating factor in one or both candidates facing off. Perry gets high marks in every category, effectively serving all Christians of various streams and doctrines who are looking for a geniune man of character. He shined like a diamond on a stage such as Leno's, usually host to much less reputable personalities.

When the issue came up of making Congress a part time legislature, he appealed very convincingly to the millions watching, "the Texas Legislature meets for 140 days every other year. We're a part time legislature; we pay our legislators $600 a month, then they're back home living under the laws that they passed. They're doctors and lawyers, retired teachers, you name it... They're a truly citizen legislature, and that's what our found fathers originally set up... a part time [Congress]. I'm going to campaign [for this], and let me tell you... it can't get no worse!"


Perry once again reaffirmed his belief that Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme, and made his case in typical Rick Perry fashion that has made him such a formidable campaigner - He turned to Melissa McCreedy next to him, and said "It's not going to be there for you. What you're paying into Social Security today, Melissa, it's not going to be there... those who are on it today, and those approaching the age, its going to be there for you... till the day you die." He then looke across stage and referred to Darin off camera, and repeated his case that we "need to have this conversation with America" and let people decide on their path. Something of a philosophy Perry holds, highlighted recently in a piece by Paulette and Brendan Miniter, "Optional Government". People connect with this. They want choices, and control. I believe he has a winning issue here.

Through issues like his 20/20 Flat Tax proposal, and his ubiquitous postcard "that even Tim Geithner could get in on time", withdrawing from Iraq, bringing home thousands of troops all over the world, Perry humbly and smoothly made his way through the 20 minute interview with class, relaxation and a strong, convincing style many voters might have not seen so far this season.

I believe this is only one of many public spotlights that will show Gov. Perry for who he truly is, and between his ground game in Iowa and his strong Evangelical ties in S.C. and Florida, you can expect that this Governor will show you it's a fool who counts out a Texan before he fully gets on his horse. We're in for a good race ahead.

Here is the video of the

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Creating New Trade Zones Could Revolutionize and Bolster National Security, and Gov. Perry has a Bold Idea

For 100 years, the United States has taken living on this planet for granted; we have been the leader in culture, economic growth and military security. That changed over the last two decades as we’ve lost our focus, our discipline and our spirit as a free people. The world that once loved to be like America has turned into an adversary of it. Something must be done at home before it can be expected abroad.

Our economic might won WWII, destroyed Communism and created the largest middle class and wealthiest upper classes in the history of mankind, lifting millions out of poverty and creating a world where even the poor have alternatives to starvation and homelessness like nowhere else. We watched for decades as the world grew eyes on the back of their heads and lived in fear, as Ireland, Southeast Asia, Israel and countless other skirmishes and civil wars battered free and oppressed people alike. Never once did we feel threatened here at home, and comfortable was the life we and our parents had built for ourselves. That changed on an infamous day we all remember too well.

Frequently, because of our historic position, we’ve been drawn into diplomatic or military interventions around the world, in allied attempts to manage a buffet of conflicts: rogue army, dictator, failing economy. This approach worked for many years but has seemingly veered off the last two decades, despite clear resolve and decisive action under the Bush administration. And now we're paying for it in more ways than one.

Paradigm Shift

Last night, at the CNN/Heritage Foundation/AEI debate, the focus was on national security and foreign policy. Many questions arose regarding how we deal with current dangers like Chinese influence, indignant Iranians and unity in Israel and productivity in Pakistan. 20 minutes and 27 seconds into the debate, Rick Perry defined a potentially HUGE foreign policy concept that should have everyone chattering today: Trade Zone Containment.

Rick Perry, in response to a question about the unnerving house of cards we’ve constructed in Pakistan and Afghanistan, he said:

“We want to engage these countries with our abilities and our companies that go in to help economically build these countries up, rather than write a blank check… to countries that are clearly not representing American best interests.”

“We’ve got Afghanistan and India working in concert right now to leverage Pakistan. I think that if we would work to create a trade zone in that part of the world where you have all of those countries working together, that may be the answer to getting Pakistan to understand that they have to work with all of the countries in that part of the world.”

Contain national security threats by focusing on what motivates us, not by what we disagree on? It’s a fundamental of diplomacy: focus on your strengths, balance your weaknesses. Condoleeza Rice brought a sense of history to her role as Secretary of State like few before her, and this helped her understand the strengths and weaknesses inherent in each culture we approach. I believe we need to expand on that, and lead from the front – we need to SHOW the world what exceptional nation building is, by doing it for ourselves.

It bends the steel in our minds, cast by past blunders and successes. It forces us to self-evaluate. What we do at home directly affects our ability to do anything abroad – a self-perpetuating conflict that is dragging us down a slippery slope. The lack of energy independence has created necessary evils we should never have needed to face. If we feel forced to choose between the lesser of two, it’s not because of our own evil nature – we are a great nation, with exceptional people – but because of neglect, collective detachment, or any number of interpretations. We really need to reevaluate our priorities, many of which are based on theory, ideology or just plain ignorance. Energy independence and responsible regulatory overhaul is necessary, immediately. When we begin to rebuild our country from the deep, dark inside out, the world will build itself in our image because freedom always wins and people will always choose freedom over oppression if given the choice.

The Status Quo Hasn’t Worked
There has been an innate tendency to drift toward a police-protectorate mentality – under both Parties, I might add – an assumption that tragedy around the world must be met with American Exceptionalism, either with the barrel of a gun, or the threat of it. Bosnia, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, take your pick. Bosnia showed American weakness when Clinton was virtually shamed into action by British Prime Minister Blair. Somalia showed our lack of focus. Iraq showed our lack of influence with the EU. Libya simply showed our complete lack of resolve on anything – “Leading from behind” is now a sure tongue-in-cheek entry into the political lexicon for years to come.

Even the Bush Doctrine, or preemptive nation-building, radical as it seemed at the time, proved to be tasty treats for both sides of the Establishment aisle, and didn’t accomplish what it intended because of a lack of worldwide support. It also gave a new life to a struggling movement among the anti-war crowd that perennially gifts Ron Paul an excuse to run hopeless campaigns. There has been something missing in our approach to world affairs, and the world doesn’t seem to listen, the same as they used to.

Well, why should they?

We are in a conundrum, as a nation: we have vital national security interests across the planet on nearly every continent that must be protected. However, a growing sentiment of frustration across the world has raised itself in contrast to our presumed “exceptional” status, and prompted many at home to question our purpose in the world, and our mission as we engage other countries economically and militarily.

Nation building has now lost its support among most in the establishment now, and never found footing among the more fringe wings of the left or the right. So, in a post-“terror war” world that is nonetheless just as dangerous, what are we as a nation to do? How do we still contain the threats and focus on domestic growth at the same time? How can we continue to assert ourselves for the purpose of protecting the future of the American supremacy which led to the safest, greatest union of free people in the history of the world?

If we do not find an answer to the first question, the first domino that has already fallen will be forgotten in the torrent of future conflict sure to follow. Foreign policy is like herding cats. Why must we be forced to pick our battles? I believe it is possible to find a way for those battles to contain themselves, while addressing security threats around the world without further inflaming the people we intend to set free. Fortunately, we have an answer that is worth trying here in the U.S. with what Governor Perry has proposed.

Follow the Money
Enemies are almost exclusively motivated by one thing: Power. And money creates power.

The Chinese learned this, and they wised up to opening their 1.3 billion individual economic engines to the world trade juuuuuust enough to spark an economic boom that now soon threatens U.S. Supremacy. Perry’s suggestion seemed to roll of his tongue so naturally, as though it was assumed Conventional Wisdom. It shouldn’t have been such a surprise to me. This is the fundamental way he’s led all his life as a public Executive in Texas. But it has rarely been tried, and never successfully as a major policy initiative. Other countries have done the same thing, to great annoyance of our own homeland.

Think about it: Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez succeeded in turning what was once a very cordial hemispheric relationship between the United States and Latin America into a noticeably stiff-necked opposition to American diplomacy. He did this by using energy sources and a trade bloc to create unity in mutual economic growth.

Second case: The EU learned to become more independent from the U.S. by unifying their economies into an almost do-or-die currency program that has created foreign policy complications for the United States for 10 years. The EU has, in turn moved toward more economic interdependency with Chinese and Japanese interests like never before.

We seem more interested in either appeasement in our security interests or flag-football war. Both accomplish nothing; both diminish our respect. Our lack of focus and self-control has led to less impact on world affairs that affect us than ever before.

Domestic Growth Creates Foreign Influence
As economic policy moves, so moves foreign policy. Case in point: The U.S. is locked into two unpopular conflicts, two more potential ones, and one that recently ended with less than congratulatory applause.What led to this stalemate? American dependency on foreign oil, and the devaluation of our dollar. We have no position of strength in dealing with Iran, Libya, Syria, Korea and perhaps most consequentially, China, when we are broke, contradictory and addicted to self-deprecation.

We must eliminate this sadistic dependency on foreign sources of energy and return our dollar to sound footing. The result will be a dramatically stronger position for our foreign policy objectives. Rick Perry’s bold suggestion has the power to completely transform the next 100 years of foreign policy and American economic dominance. Now, the only way this can work is for the following to have occurred first, before it could work.

It starts with:

  • An American energy revolution to unleash trillions of dollars in domestic activity

  • A balanced budget and flattening of the nation debt/liabilities to GDP ratio

  • Fair and competitive corporate tax rates and regulation to return investment to the U.S.

  • Federalist education reform: returning accountability and reform back to the states

  • Serious entitlement reform

When the American economy returns to its perch atop the world, we will be able to approach a region like Pakistan, Afghanistan and India with the knowledge, power, stability and respect, invest into their region and receive a solid return. It’s fascinating that the best ideas appear to be coming from an off-hand debate comment.It would hedge our threats in Iran and China simultaneously, it would create indisputably more harmony between currently feuding interests. Also, we’d gain three or more trading partners with massive potential for inflowing dollars, rather than the broken ATM we have become instead.

Leadership is Being Followed for Who You Are
Why has America stagnated from being the supreme leader in the world? We used to dominate the world stage by virtue of being followed by everyone. Are we now the beleaguered mediator between factions and “last great hope” or merely the also-ran culture that once drove the 20th century but cannot even educate its own children or pay its own bills today? Those are both undesirable positions to be in. We must return to the place of setting the standard world wide of what a God-fearing, free people can accomplish. Then, and only then can tyranny and ruthlessness be met with equal determination and winning strength.

Without independence in energy, State, not Federal-determined education and excellence (not needing H1-B visas to fill swaths of empty jobs here in the U.S.), we will never be able to exert our influence around the world again, other than simply slapping a predator drone or cruise missile up the back end of an annoying head of state.

America was lifted to the position of world power by virtue of our success, our stability, our character. We were a leader because we were followed, not because we simply took initiative. For decades, the U.N. was merely an unnecessary but feel-good cocktail circuit because the world looked to an American President for direction, strength and economic support, not a committee with competing interests. It is in our best interest as a people to be at the top of the world economic ladder; the primary LENDERS in the world, not the primary DEBTORS. This return to American Exceptionalism must occur for us to secure the future for our children, both in safety and economic security. If we put the reforms into place suggested above, sooner than later, maybe it will e
ven give OUR generation the future in time our parents had promised for us too.

Right now, the goal of the Republican base must be to nominate a candidate who not only has the ideas practically falling out of his mouth, but has the experience and the resolve to move us in the right direction. A lackluster, back-footed administration must not be tolerated at this important crossroads. We need a dynamic foreign policy fueled by American economic expansion, and it must happen NOW, in the next decade and it begins by setting ourselves free to be who we are. We are a nation of diverse culture, incalculable knowledge and limitless energy. Now it’s time to make what Americans buy, buy what Americans make and sell it to the world. If we do it right, the world will be knocking down our door to get what we’ve got. And we’ll all be safer too.

Ed Willing is a freelance writer, small business owner and political activist from suburban Racine, WI and formerly served as NW Youth Coordinator for the Buchanan for President Campaign.

Paulette Miniter was gracious in assisting with the content of this article. She is a contributing author for the Washington Times and other online publications.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Misgiving # 11: The President's Jobs Plan is Merely Dessert

"Desserts only, no spinach?. We’re still waiting for 'the rest of the story'."
- J.D. Foster

We all remember the night, September 8th, 2011, when President Obama presented a grand, inspirational-sounding message about hope and change on TV in front of millions.

No, this is not 2008.

Or 2009.

…..no its not 2010 either. Those were different.

This time he really, REALLY meant it. And less people watched it. And even his own Party couldn't pass his bill, which still sits like a cadaver fully dissected on the table, serving no purpose but his own self-aggrandizement.

The “post-Martha's-Vineyard-36-holes-of-golf-and-campaign-bus-tour-jobs-plan” is President Obama's “Stimulus 2.0” intended to jumpstart a stalling economy by increasing the activity among 6 categories of jobs:

Transportation workers
Highway workers
Small Businesses (but only if looking for a job longer than 6 months)

5 of these 6 categories are government-dependent or related jobs.

About Unemployment Insurance:
"Every place that, that money is spent has added business and that creates growth and income for businesses that leads them to decisions about jobs, more hiring. So, there are few other ways that can directly put money into the economy than applying unemployment insurance" - President Press Secretary Jay Carney

Well, then maybe Obama's American Jobs Act is really about getting us either...
1.) all on unemployment
2.) all working for the government

...or rich enough to pay the taxes to pay for both of those options, since the lower 49% of wage earners pay no fair share of the tax burden through credits and deductions.

He envisions “managed prosperity” for America. Is this really what people want? It feels good when someone hands you money or a job, but it feels different when you begin to dream and you’re told “you can’t do that, it doesn’t meet our requirements or fit our plan”. THAT is the end result of EVERY Progressive system ever tried. There are only so many ways to skin a cat, but this President is trying his best to invent new ways to label the methods. It’s NOT WORKING.

His speech sounded wonderful. It was passionate. It struck all the right cords that make us feel good: security, prosperity, family-time and kicking the Chinese’ @$$, right?

Any way you slice it, his plan is like asking the American taxpayers to take a home equity loan out on our Chinese neighbors' house to hire our cousins to build a driveway on our own property, then call THAT "economic stimulus".

If there was anything the last 10 years taught American workers and small businessmen and women is that you cannot live, build and grow solely on debt based on future income. The credit bubble was entirely built on this premise, and yet the President's vision is based entirely on this concept.

The beauty of the Free Market that Milton Freidman so often praised, and the reason it works best is because when mistakes happen - and they most assuredly do within any economic system - lessons are learned and corrected, naturally. The problem with Keynesian philosophy is that it erects institutions and spending streams that are perpetual and tasked with blindly picking winners and losers (like Obama's small business tax credit for hiring employees that meet his criteria only), which they cannot possibly accomplish fairly or accurately.

The Free Market determines winners and losers based upon ability, quality and creativity.

The Progressive Market determines who should win based upon intangibles that cannot be forced upon individuals, they must be born within.

"We can make America the greatest nation on earth!"
Please... after 2 1/2 years, let US make America great again by getting out of our way. I don't want to be made great by my Government; I'd rather make my nation great by being myself.

Everyone wants prosperity and equality… in freedom. But our system is built, and is successful upon the liberty to PURSUE happiness. There is no reasonable guarantee of happiness, simply the liberty to pursue it. So when a benevolent Government protects us from ourselves through too much regulation, then places a burden of supporting inactivity on the productivity of those who are successful, and hands that reward to those who never earned it, we become numb to the idea of cause and effect, learning from consequence or the sense of merit.

We become and entitlement generation, and a permanent voting block.

So we heard a nice speech that hit all the right chords and rang the ears of Conservative Independents and the subjects of focus groups everywhere. But at the end of the day, it was the same, tired, proven policies of failure. When everyone was yelling about Rush Limbaugh saying he wanted the President’s policies to fail, I took a more direct, less rhetorical approach: I KNOW that his policies will fail, and THAT is why I oppose them.

I’m not playing politics here, I cannot afford for this economy to sit sluggish until a new President comes along. I WANT prosperity for my country, and most of all, for the community I run my business in. But I KNOW this President believes Government can affect change from the top down, and that’s the problem.

He says “everyone must sacrifice”, but he wants to be the one to determine what that sacrifice is. I will sacrifice my sweat and my fortune to hire more people and expand my business… but not with this climate of fear that results from being managed at every turn.

It appears the only "job" created last night was an acting job. Nothing he proposed will come out in the final product, and all the rhetorical flourish his TelePrompter could muster will change the mood of America’s producers until a real leader stands up and tells his Government what to not do, instead of telling the PEOPLE what to do.

This speech also assured me of one thing: this bill guaranteed the elimination of at least one job - his own.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rave: Why I Support Gov. Rick Perry

I recently wrote a letter to a locally-based, syndicated talk show host regarding his rationalization about who will be the next nominee for the Presidency. Of course, I have my horse in the race: Gov Rick Perry. But the host's position was frustrating enough for me to write him personally with this response:


This morning, you said Mitt Romney is the more prepared candidate, making him a better one. Romney has been running for nearly 5 years, of course he's more prepared. That doesn't make him the better candidate.

You challenged listeners on what Mitt Romney has they don't like, and when you responded it was most often was "what he says..."

This is the problem Conservatives have with him. What he says changes and what he believes has evolved the same the PARTY has evolved. Which yes, is an improvement. But the GOP has evolved because of new blood, not changing principles. Romney has improved through evolution, not an epiphany.

You talk about a border fence as though that is a Conservative Principle: who decided that? I was once for a fence, then realized the unfortunate truth that a fence would still be climbed over, breached or tunnelled under, therefore requiring the same boots, technology and other volunteers watching the border that we'd need WITHOUT a fence. Perry made this argument, and I now believe the same. We could spend $8 billion on a fence, then $200 million a year maintaining it, just to need another $200 million for the technology to do what saving $8 billion could also accomplish.

Romney's stances on multiple issues over the years reveal his INSTINCTS, you were making a case only for his rhetoric:

HEALTH CARE (government management, Federal OR state/local is the problem)
GAY MARRIAGE (he once violated his own faith by embracing the right to gay marriage because it was politically expedient. Silence since then on the issue is equally complicit.
FEDERALISM - Is not a strong advocate in state matters - he is not a firm believer in federalism and believes the Feds can exact change from the top down, even well intentioned policies. This is Bush 2.0
ETHANOL - he stated 3 weeks ago he is in strong favor of subsidizing this industry, and that reveals a flawed progressive thinking that hurt the steamboat industry, the railroad industry, the early flight industry and others. Free enterprises without subsidies have always developed quicker than their sponsored counterparts. Romney favors a subsidy YOU'RE AGAINST. And this is recently.
GLOBAL WARMING - he very recently made comments in support of the concept of man made global warming and the need to enact policies that are "responsible" to that end. His campaign then leaked they were "recalibrating".

This leads me to my third point:

Romney is a MAN MADE candidate (pun intended)
Perry is a SELF MADE candidate

Real leaders sometimes take different positions on how to handle the same problem, using the same principles we share with them. No one person can define Conservative Principles as a particular law, a particular fence, a particular mandate. It is the principles that matter, not the application of them that define the philosophy.

I disagreed with Perry on the border fence, but we share the same belief in protecting borders, national security, states rights for different approaches and local control, etc. In the end, his principles of security and reformed immigration procedures match mine, but I came to understand his position that doubling up the costs of securing the border were silly outside urban areas.

But a real leader, like Reagan, can make a persuasive case to another end, and inspire people to follow his method.

Something the current occupant of the White House cannot accomplish, even within his own Party.

It is this reason that I believe Perry is the best candidate. He is almost as squeeky clean as Romney in his personal life, has just as much, if not more executive experience, has proven diplomatic skills with both sides without compromising his principles and has an ability to not flip flop, making his case and winning people over.

Screw "preparation", if we get Romney as our nominee, we get a product, made by man for the office.

If we get Perry, I am convinced we get a man, made by circumstances and proven by fire.

Perry is the anti-establishment candidate, the Teflon Conservative, the unapologetic, albeit imperfect leader that fits no mold but his own and can make a case for the positions he takes. He learns from mistakes, not focus groups, and he knows why he believes what he believes.

And THAT is why I support him.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Here we go again....

It's time to rev it back up. The latest Presidential season is about to commence, and it's time to reboot and get some fresh blood back in the White House. Conservative blood. I reckon it'll be the first time we've had trult Conservative blood since Ronald Reagan.

It's 1979 all over again... actually it's 2011, and Texas Governor Rick Perry is about to announce tomorrow his entry into the race for the Republican nomination of President of the United States. Similar and familiar bridge, but much more grave circumstances.

Let's get 'er done.

More soon.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

BlogBlurb - Why I Believe Gov. Rick Perry Will be the Next President of the United States

Since late January I've been investigating America's most successful CEO, and trying to figure out how to fix this vaccum that appeared to exist in Conservative leadership for Presidential candidates.

I determined the best candidates were unable or unwilling to run. However, because of a combination of chance, and having friends in Texas that couldn't stop bragging about their economic environment I stumbled into an initial cynical perspective on Texas Governor Rick Perry. As I explored him further, and evaluated his blemishes (any reasonably experienced politician has them), I realized that this was my horse in the race. Even though he wasn't in the race.

By early April I began posting on my FB wall his accomplishments and dropping lines in threads about how he could help lead our executive branch back from the brink of unconstitutional oligarchy and dismal failure.

Within the last few weeks, I've been elated to see the Conservative nation come around to noticing him. Does he have flaws? Yes. Do we have the liberty of purist principles at this hour? No. Are his fundamentals sound and in line with my own? Yes. But, can Obama beat this man? (that's the question...) No.

More coming....

Saturday, July 04, 2009

BlogBlurb - The Definition of a Patriotic Citizen

All the talk by political leaders, most notably President Obama, keeps emphasizing America's citizens. I hear it especially on this day of recognizing patriotism... but every time they do it seems they keep talking about the RIGHTS of citizens, the PLIGHT of citizens, the culture, spirit, blah blah blah.

What about the OBLIGATION of a citizen?

Doesn't a citizen have an obligation to their community? Well, sure, but liberal thinkers believe that's only if you're making enough money to tax you and share your discretionary income with others who have no responsibility to speak of. The sure few that face obstacles at no fault of their own are dwarfed by the massive numbers of people who milk the system for all it's worth, appearing to have needs, needs in the least created by a life of irresponsibility. And usually those needs, legitimate or not, are worsened by the system that never holds them accountable. It facilitates a life of expectation, and breeds a generation of entitled brats.

The obligation of a citizen isn't to take care of his neighbor by government-compelled charity. The obligation of a citizen is to take care of his OWN life and his OWN responsibilities and hopefully to succeed enough that he finds himself in a place to help others. ...out of the kindness of his own heart and gratitide for a community that affords them the freedom to accomplish this ability. Private charity is far more effective, accountable and mobile than government molasses.

Obama wants to see Americans RISE to the occasion to serve their neighbor. Great. Good sound bite. Then call Americans to give. But also call Americans to LIVE.

Convict them of their selfish ways... not selfish because they won't hand a buck to an addict, or a gangster who got shot and is now a quad sitting in government housing requiring 4 times-a-day nursing care...

Convict them of their selfish ways - of living life for only themselves and taking whatever the government or their neighbors give them without the impulse that says "no, I have more pride than that - no handouts for me".The President has a unique opportunity right now in this economic climate to call all Americans to the conviction of living a productive, prosperous life that will reduce their dependency on government and produce solid citizens.

Hey, Mr President, just a heads up: Prosperous people create more tax revenue... to fund the programs that can legitimately help those in need.

Hey, Mr Biden: Pay your "patriotic" taxes and shut up, let me keep mine.

Mr whoever else is in charge these days: Tell the Americans with their hands out to live the life of a responsible citizen and stop telling me to open mine.

Stop redefining "citizenry" to those who already understand it, and start encouraging those that don't understand to start doing so... or receive nothing.

The rest that remain are the ones that really need it. Let's focus on those.

Reprint with credit as desired, share the fire!Footnote: I have a friend who has a cool new blog - check it out: http://independentprinciplesapplied.blogspot.com/