Saturday, July 19, 2008

'Rig' The Election


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, July 18, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Energy: A day after House Democrats pretend to be in favor of drilling, Sen. Diane Feinstein calls offshore drilling a "distraction." Mark Sept. 30 on your calendar. It's the day Democrats have to put up or shut up.

IBD Series: Breaking The Back Of High Oil

When President Bush lifted the executive order banning exploration and drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf, two things happened almost immediately: The world price for oil started to drop and the Democrats panicked. They could no longer hide under the umbrella the order provided.

On Sept. 30, when the Interior Department's 2008 appropriations expire, the Democrats will have to reauthorize the congressional ban and explain to the voters why.

Thursday's charade on HR 6515 allegedly was about opening up the National Petroleum Reserve Area in northwest Alaska. The reality was that the Democrats added environmental restraints that virtually invited environmental groups to sue to block any further development.

The NPRA straw man was invoked to justify the "use it or lose it" part of the bill. But "use it or lose it" already is the law of the land. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., chairman of the House Resources Committee and HR 6515 floor manager, voted for it in 1992.

Under current law, energy companies already are required to utilize acquired leases within a five- to 10-year period or the interior secretary has the right to revoke the lease.

Another Democratic hoax was the claim that the bill would stop the export of Alaskan oil. The fact is, we haven't exported any oil from Prudhoe Bay since President Bush took office. GOP proposals to open ANWR guarantee all its oil will reach the lower 48 states.

Back in 1992, Rahall, who complains that the oil companies are sitting on their leases, held hearings in order "to examine the rapid oil and gas development that has taken place on our nation's public lands in recent years."

Three years later, President Clinton vetoed a bill that passed the House and Senate and which would have opened up a mere 2,000 acres of frozen tundra in ANWR that today would be delivering more than a million barrels daily.

On Rahall's Web site is his committee's agenda for 2008, a major focus of which is slowing the "rampant, nearly unfettered energy development on federal lands (which) continues despite ever-increasing evidence of the serious resource impacts caused by this activity."

In Rahall's eyes, the oil companies are damned if they do and damned if they don't.

In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times on Friday, Feinstein repeated the canard that the oil companies are sitting on 68 million acres of leases that go unexplored. If the California senator knows where they are, can she please tell House Minority Leader John Boehner and the rest of us?

On his Web site, Boehner says: "Democrats have been utterly unable to say where they came up with the claim that oil companies are sitting on 68 million acres of federal lands without drilling for oil or gas on any of it — and particularly how they arrived at the amount of oil they claim could be found on those 68 million acres."

Feinstein falsely claims that the "vast majority of the Outer Continental Shelf is already open to oil exploration." As we noted here Friday, 85% of the 1.76 billion acres of the OCS is prohibited from being developed by the congressional ban.

The senator says that "areas containing an estimated 82% of all the natural gas and 79% of the oil are today available to oil companies through existing federal leases." How does she know that, considering that 85% of the OCS is off-limits? How does she know this if the land is unexplored and the leases unused?

Feinstein calls offshore drilling a "distraction." Countries like Brazil call it energy independence. If Brazil had copied the Democrats' energy policy, it wouldn't have found its Carioca offshore field earlier this year. It may hold up to 33 billion barrels.

That followed the discovery in December of the Tupi field, estimated to contain 5 billion to 8 billon barrels of crude. Somehow the Brazilians aren't too worried about oil spoiling the pristine beaches of nearby Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro during the tourist season.

Here at home, Chevron announced in 2006 what's likely to be the biggest American oil find since Prudhoe Bay in Alaska. Discovered under 7,000 feet of water and more than 20,000 feet under the sea floor, the Wilcox formation may hold as much as 15 billion barrels of oil that will begin being delivered in 2014.

The geology is complicated, but the formation extends into the Gulf of Mexico and inland underneath Louisiana and Mississippi. The well that was drilled was 175 miles off the coast of Louisiana.

Shell is spending a good chunk of its "windfall" profit to build and deploy an oil-drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico as tall as the Eiffel Tower known as Perdido. It will be anchored to the seabed by moorings spanning an area the size of downtown Houston.

Set to begin production next year, Perdido will produce 100,000 barrels of badly needed crude a day.

The oil companies are sitting on nothing. It's the Democrats who are sitting on our energy future.

Let's vote on it in Congress this September and then cast a vote on Congress this November.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mark Sanford's Executive Masterpiece On Real ID to Homeland Security


South Carolina Rails Against Real ID, Asks Not To Be Punished

By Ryan Singel
March 31, 2008

On the last possible day to ask for an extension to pending federal identification rules, South Carolina governor Mark Sanford eschewed southern gentility and instead sent the federal government a scathing critique of Real ID, that almost parenthetically requested that the federal government not punish South Carolina citizens come May 11.

South Carolina's Republican governor asked the feds not to reject South Carolina licenses come May 11, but added three pages of anti-Real ID arguments in the letter.
AP/Mary Ann Chastain

Now the Department of Homeland Security has to decide by Tuesday whether to lose face by accepting the Republican governor's letter as proof that South Carolina has strong I.D. cards or to force a showdown by refusing to let South Carolinians without passports from entering Social Security buildings and federal courthouses starting May 11. They'd also not be allowed to use their driver's licenses to board planes and would instead have to submit to pat-downs and puffer machines to get on a plane if they didn't use a passport to fly domestically.

South Carolina, along with Montana, New Hampshire and Maine, entered March as rogue states that had not asked for extensions to the Real ID rules. Those states argued that the federal government should pay for the billions in costs and that the system will put people's personal information at risk of being used by government data-miners, snooped on by prying bureaucrats or stolen by hackers.

The rules, which originated as an amendment to a must-pass military spending bill in 2005, create a de-facto national identity card. States are free not to follow the federal government standards or not interconnect their databases with other states, but citizens of such states would not be able to use their driver's licenses to enter federal buildings or for identification at the airport.

DHS maintained that the states that were granted an extension until 2010 for compliance with the recently finalized rules had to commit to complying with Real ID.

That stance softened two weeks ago after California's DMV head wrote in to clarify that its earlier request for an extension was not a guarantee the nation's most populous state would comply with Real ID.

Then Montana governor Brian Schweitzer (D) negotiated a way to get an extension, while never actually asking for one. New Hampshire cut-and-paste Montana's letter days later, winning itself an extension as well. Maine followed suit last Wednesday, but still hasn't gotten an answer on Monday, according to a spokesman for the governor.

Today, Sanford followed suit, listing in a letter all the safety features of South Carolina's driver's licenses and asking that his citizens be treated like Montana's:

Given the way DHS has agreed to accept Montana's driver licenses after May 11th, one would reasonably expect -- and I would respectfully ask -- that DHS will be consistent and not needlessly penalize the citizens of South Carolina and allow them to travel and enter federal buildings like the citizens of other states.

That likely would have been enough to spare South Carolinians, but Sanford went on for another three and a half pages in the letter (.pdf), listing his arguments against Real ID.

Sanford railed against the lack of debate on the bill ("his sensitive subject received far less debate that steroid use in baseball"), the cost ("There is something wrong when the federal government imposes the burden of creating a national ID system on the states - but only pays for two percent of the cost") and limited government issues ("We have no assurances that at some point we won't need a Real ID to open a bank account or purchase a gun.")


Defiant South Carolina Wins Real ID Extension

By Ryan Singel
March 31, 2008

Despite blasting a defiant last day letter to the Homeland Security Department over pending federal rules Monday, South Carolina Republican governor Mark Sandford secured South Carolinians the right to use their driver's licenses to board planes without being  patted down, at least until 2010.

Despite telling the feds he would not comply with their rules, South Carolina's Republican governor successfully prevented the feds from punishing his states' residents as Homeland Security had promised to do.
AP/Mary Ann Chastain

Just hours after getting Sanford's jeremiad, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff signed the state's extension (.pdf) personally, writing that "like Montana, your letter sets forth in detail how South Carolina will in fact meet the principal security requirements of Real ID รข€“ as a matter of South Carolina's independent judgment, and not as an act  of compliance."

Like other rebellious states, South Carolina rejected Real ID mandates, saying the $4-$20 billion dollar program was an unfunded mandate that invaded citizens' privacy and put them at risk of identity theft due to massive, connected databases of sensitive information.

DHS counters that having current license holders have to get certified documents and reprove their eligibility for identification will prevent terrorism and be useful for other purposes such as curtailing illegal immigration and identity theft.

Maine remains the lone state not to have been given an extension, despite having written a letter not unlike ones from Montana and New Hampshire. All of them explained how the respective state had strong license security procedures but wouldn't comply with the Real ID mandate.

Sanford's letter was extraordinary, however, since he used most of his words explaining why he thought Real ID was invasive, unfunded and dangerous.

Chertoff replied personally and substantively, writing that "thoughtful responsible and honest concerns sthat deserve equally thoughtful responses."

By contrast, Montana and New Hampshire got terse letters from Stewart Baker, a sharp-tongued assistant policy secretary who's been accusing critics of Real ID of throwing spaghetti on the walls.

It's clear the rebel states won, according to Bill Scannell, a spokesman for the Identity Project which has been fighting against Real ID.

"Montana's letter smirked," Scannell said. "New Hampshire's was down right disrespectful and you could see the scotch tape from where they cut-and-pasted pages from their DMV handbook."

"But Sanford's five-page letter was Fort Sumter-quality," Scannell said, referring to the South Carolina military installation where the Civil War started.

That leaves Maine as the only rogue left rogue, though the state is likely to get its own extension late Monday.

Once Maine gets its letter from DHS, the department can declare victory in improving the security of the nation's driver's licenses and leave the ongoing funding and privacy problems for a new administration to deal with come January 2009.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Barry You're NO Superman - Obama says time to rid world of nuclear weapons


WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana (CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama on Wednesday said he wants to rid the world of nuclear weapons and pledged to fight emerging threats posed by biological and cyber-terrorism.

Sen. Barack Obama joins in a roundtable discussion on national security Wednesday at Purdue University.

Sen. Barack Obama joins in a roundtable discussion on national security Wednesday at Purdue University.

"It's time to send a clear message to the world: America seeks a world with no nuclear weapons," the White House hopeful said.

"As long as nuclear weapons exist, we'll retain a strong deterrent. But we'll make the goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons a central element in our nuclear policy."

The remarks, delivered at Purdue University in Indiana...

Obama And Nuclear Weapons

02 Aug 2007 05:01 pm

The first conventional Washington rule about nuclear strike policy is that you don't talk about nuclear strike policy.

The second conventional Washington rule about nuclear strike policy is that when you are forced to talk about nuclear strike policy, you respond with a variant of "All options are on the table."

Some comments of Barack Obama today reached critical mass by late afternoon. When the AP first reported that Obama had said he would never use nuclear weapons, the context was unclear. And so was his answer, which included a pause and then the addition: "involving civilians." And then he tried to scratch his entire answer. So -- was Obama announcing to the world that the United States would never use its stockpile of nuclear weapons? Unilateral disarmament? Turns out that the AP story failed to add a very important bit of context. Obama was asked about using nuclear weapons against terrorist targets Afghanistan and Pakistan; the Bush Administration has never ruled out using tactical nukes to root out underground terrorist safe havens. In this much more limited context, Obama was setting some policy: no, he would not ever consider using nuclear weapons on terrorist targets in those two countries.

Still, he violated Rule 1 and Rule 2, which drew a response from Sen. Hillary Clinton.

"Presidents should be very careful at all times in discussing the use or non-use of nuclear weapons," Clinton said. "Presidents since the Cold War have used nuclear deterrence to keep the peace. And I don't believe that any president should make any blanket statements with respect to the use or non-use of nuclear weapons."

There's no question that Obama ought to have been more careful with his words. That, when he's asked about using nuclear weapons, his mind immediately sends words to his mouth is evidence that his internal monitor developed outside Washington.

The Clinton campaign will use this story to further a narrative about Obama -- that he is too inexperienced to handle radioactive national security questions.

The Obama campaign might use this story to reinforce its own efforts to draw distinctions between the Old Ways Of Washington and the New Way Of Obama.

Guest Editorial, Rep. Duncan Hunter: The Loss of the U.S. 'Arsenal of Democracy' to China's Unfair Trade Regime Needs to Be Addressed

Targeted News Service, Jan 23, 2007

The presidential campaign of Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., issued the following statement:

When we got into World War II, our allies and our adversaries realized very quickly that America had an arsenal of democracy. We had a great industrial base. We had an industrial base in which our major automakers were able to turn immediately to making tanks and personnel carriers and all the other equipment of war.

In my own home town in San Diego, we had a facility you can still see if you drive down by the harbor that used to turn out a bomber aircraft every 60 minutes. They could have built the entire B-2 force in one day and had three hours left over.

Everywhere across this land we had a strong industrial base, which was transformed into a wartime footing. It was with the support of that industrial base that the armies of the United States moved across Europe, that the Marine Corps and the armies moved across the Pacific, and that we brought this war to a conclusion that favored the United States of America. An arsenal of democracy is pretty important to democracies.

Today, if you want to look at a big part of the arsenal of democracy, you may have to go to some other countries. One country you may have to go to is China, because China is cheating on trade and China is acquiring hundreds of billions of American dollars more than we are acquiring from them. They are using those billions of American trade dollars to buy military equipment.

That is why they are able to have some 17 submarines under production today while we have a fraction of that. That is why they are able to buy and build medium-range ballistic missiles. I predict that at some point those ballistic missiles will have an anti-ship capability that will present a major threat to the American fleet. That is why they are able to start developing a new industrial base for the development of a modern tactical aircraft program.

We see this one-way street on trade beginning to move the arsenal of democracy offshore. In the past year on the Armed Services Committee I have looked at certain critical components of the arsenal of democracy and I note that we only have one carbon fiber manufacturer left in the United States. We only have one rocket fuel manufacturer left in the United States.

As we look at more and more of the industries that are critical to national security, we realize that in many of them we only have one or two or three businesses or companies left that are capable of making particular components that are critical to America's military strength.

It is time to change and reverse this one-way-street trade policy that we have acquiesced to and restore the arsenal of democracy.

Since we are all talking football at this time of the year, when China enters a trade deal with the United States or competes against an American company they start with 74 points on the scoreboard before the opening kickoff.

They give a 17 percent refund of their VAT tax, basically a 17 percent subsidy to exporters sending products to the United States. When our products arrive at China's shores, they give us a 17 percent penalty. That is a 34-point spread. Then just to make sure that we don't throw a Hail Mary and come from behind and win that particular competition on that particular product, they devalue their currency by 40 percent, and increase the spread to 74 points.

That means that before the opening kickoff in this competition that we call world trade between the Chinese corporation and the American business and American workers, China has 74 points on the scoreboard. Then if we lose the competition, they say, what's the matter? Can't you play football?

China is cheating on trade. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board made that clear in his preliminary speech which called this manipulation of currency an illegal subsidy. That word "subsidy" was subsequently removed from the speech before it was given to the Chinese leadership, but that illegal subsidy -- that 74 points on the scoreboard -- hurts American businesses, it hurts American workers and it erodes the arsenal of democracy.

We are going to need the arsenal of democracy at some point in the future. We need to have a trade policy and new trade laws that say this: We are not going to live with the 74-point disparity any more. You can do it the easy way or the hard way. We can all start with zero points on the scoreboard, or we will put the same taxes on your goods that you put on ours, and we will both start with 74 points on the scoreboard. But we are not going to start anymore with the score being America zero, China 74.

I hope this is a year in which we pass a bill that calls the currency manipulation and devaluation by the central government of China what it is: an illegal subsidy.

Dems' Dereliction


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Energy Policy: Imagine an energy plan that does it all — from allowing more oil drilling to spending billions on alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and nuclear. Well, guess what? Been there, done that.

IBD Series: Breaking The Back Of High Oil

'Energy has enormous implications for our economy, our environment and our national security," President Bush said in proposing the plan. "We cannot let another year go by without addressing these issues together in a comprehensive and balanced package."

That was in June 2001 — more than seven years ago.

His words came just after he first proposed a comprehensive energy bill that included 105 separate steps the U.S. could take to boost its energy supplies. It was something he promised repeatedly while campaigning for the presidency in 2000. He kept his promise. His first plan included, among many other things:

• New drilling for more oil and gas and new refineries.

• Building of nuclear power plants.

• Revamping the U.S. electricity grid.

• $10 billion in tax breaks to help push energy efficiency and alternative energy.

The fact is, these are remarkably similar to the plans that economists, oil experts and energy wonks say need to be put in place today in order to end our oil crisis.

Yet, those proposals went nowhere — not approved in 2001, not in 2002, not in 2003, not ever. Bush tried repeatedly to get something through Congress. He pleaded. He tried to cut deals with Democrats. It didn't work.

A New York Times headline from August 20, 2003, sums it up: "Ambitious Bush Plan Is Undone by Energy Politics."

That's an understatement. Instead, Democrats ridiculed Vice President Cheney for meeting with oil industry representatives to craft U.S. energy policy — and for insisting on finding more oil.

They had no plan themselves, mind you — apart from massively expensive global warming initiatives that would force Americans to lower their standard of living to Third World levels by spending as much as $800 billion a year to cool Earth.

Yet, if Bush's plan had been put in place in 2001, we'd have replaced millions of barrels of oil, billions of tons of coal and untold trillions of acre feet of natural gas with clean, safe nuclear power.

We'd be pumping millions of barrels more of oil, creating thousands of American jobs, cutting prices and saving literally hundreds of billions of dollars every year —money that today goes to line the pockets of the Saudi royal family, Venezuelan petrotyrant Hugo Chavez, Libyan leader-for-life Muammar Qadhafi and Vladimir Putin's Russia.

When the Democrats took control of Congress in 2007, and oil was $50 a barrel and corn $2 a bushel, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promised an energy plan. We're still waiting for it. Today, crude oil is $134 and corn is $6.50.

It's pretty clear who's to blame: Congress. In fact, House and Senate Democrats have obstructed any progress in America's fight to regain some semblance of energy independence.

"Now is the time for Congress to move and get something done," President Bush said all the way back in August 2003. He's still waiting, and so are we.

Bush's original energy plan, derided by the Democrats and so-called progressives as a wet-kiss to Big Oil, was in fact a visionary plan. At the time, Reid joked that GOP now stood for "Gas, Oil and Plutonium." Funny, we don't hear anyone laughing now.

Such puerile shenanigans, as we've said before, endanger our security and weaken our standard of living.

Angry? You should be. Call your political representatives and tell them you want more energy, not less. If they won't do it, tell them you'll vote for someone who will.

Then maybe you'll really get change you can believe in.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Conservative Case for Duncan Hunter In 2008 by John Hawkins


Friday, February 02, 2007

If you're looking for someone who can represent the conservative wing of the Republican Party in 2008, California Congressman Duncan Hunter fills that bill far better that any of the top contenders who have already gotten into the race. Here's a short, but sweet primer that may help explain why that's the case.

He Is The "National Security Candidate."

If you're looking for a candidate with credibility on national security issues, Duncan Hunter is your guy. Hunter is a hawkish, former Vietnam veteran who "served in the 173rd Airborne and 75th Army Rangers" and earned a Bronze Star. His son also served two tours in Iraq as a Marine, so we're talking about a guy who has had "skin in the game" over in Mesopotamia. Additionally, Hunter served on the House Armed Services Committee and rose to the rank of Chairman before the Democrat takeover in 2006.

So, when it comes to foreign policy issues like Iraq, we're talking about a candidate who oozes credibility. But, has he done an about face on Iraq now that the polls are against it? No, he strongly supports the surge and he had this to say about how he views the war in Iraq when I interviewed him back in December:

"Well, the U.S. is following in the same basic pattern that we've followed for 60 years in expanding freedom around the world. (The first step is) that we stand up a free government and we've done that in Iraq.

The second step is we stand up a military capable of protecting that government and the third step is the U.S. leaves. We followed that pattern in Japan and the Philippines and Salvadore and our own hemisphere and it's been the traditional and the effective method of this country spreading freedom around the world."

In my opinion, that's probably a better, simple explanation of what we're doing than George Bush has given in the last couple of years.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Duncan Hunter has been one of the Republican House leaders in the fight against illegal immigration. Not only is Hunter the primary mover and shaker behind the San Diego border fence, he "wrote the Secure Fence Act" which George Bush signed into law in late October of last year.

Yet, Hunter has managed to avoid some of the harsh rhetoric that sometimes gets other tough-on-illegal-immigration pols in trouble. For example, in our interview last year, Hunter emphasized how important it is to get a fence up in order to prevent illegal immigrants from being killed as they cross the border:

"The first piece is that the major part of the fence is to be built between Calexico, California and Douglas, Arizona and that portion, that's 392 miles, that's the area through which most of the people come who have died of dehydration or sunstroke in the desert sun in the summer months.

So one provision that we put in there is that we have to have at least interlocking cameras...before the hot season, so there's a humanitarian dimension to this and that's something that's been missed by many of the liberals."

His Trade Position May Be a "Bug" To Republicans, But It Can Be A "Feature" To Democrats

There is one area in particular where Duncan Hunter departs from the conservative orthodoxy and that's on trade issues. He's neither a fan of free trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA, nor does he think we're getting a square deal on trade from China.

Although many Republicans will disagree with Hunter on this issue, many Democrats find themselves nodding their heads in agreement with what he has to say. In important electoral-vote-rich states like Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, Hunter's message will resonate with working class Democrats who might not otherwise vote Republican. That could be the crucial factor that swings an election in our favor in 2008.

All This And He's Socially Conservative, Too

There have been a lot of complaints that the two front-runners for the GOP nomination, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, have little to offer to social conservatives who are going to have to turn out in 2008 if the GOP has a chance to win.

On the other hand, Duncan Hunter is opposed to gay marriage, staunchly anti-abortion, and should have no problem appealing to conservative Christians. As a matter of fact, Hunter has even introduced the, "Right to Life Act (which) specifically acknowledges the personhood of the unborn." Hunter says that bill, if passed, "would allow us to have a reversal of the effects of Roe v. Wade without a constitutional amendment."

He Has Lots Of Mileage, But No Heavy Baggage

One of the things that's becoming apparent about the top contenders in the race for the Republican nomination is that all of them have some extremely heavy baggage. We've got divorces, adulterers galore, candidates whom much of the party won't support for one reason or another, a candidate who will be 72 in 2008, and another one, who, unfortunately, may lose a considerable amount of support because of his religious beliefs. Now, Hunter? He has been married once, has no significant scandals to live down, and there don't appear to be any other major minuses that will cost him a few percentage points at election time. Could he have some scandal in his closet that we know nothing about? Maybe, but that's the case with any politician. At the moment, he looks very good on this front compared to the top contenders.

Furthermore, Duncan Hunter was first elected to Congress back in 1980. In a post 9/11 world, a Vietnam vet with 25+ years of experience in government makes a nice contrast to the trio of lightweights who are fighting for the Democrat nomination (Obama, 2 years in the Senate, Edwards, 6 years in the Senate, and Clinton, 6 years in the Senate). If there were another 9/11, with whom would you feel more comfortable in the Oval Office, John Edwards, who'd probably curl up in the fetal position under his desk, or a guy like Duncan Hunter, who has been around the block a few times?

To Know Him Is To Love Him, Or At Least To Like Him Better Than McCain

When you're taking a look at a 2nd tier candidate like Duncan Hunter, who has minimal name recognition at the national level, the first thing most people will think is, "Good, bad, it doesn't matter if he can't capture the nomination." That's a fair point. But, there have been a couple of indications that Hunter has what it takes to catch on.

The first was a mid-January "straw poll of Republican precinct committeemen" in Maricopa County, Arizona. Hunter took first place. He also did surprisingly well, given his lack of name recognition, in a poll of right-of-center bloggers. In that poll, Hunter drew the fourth highest level of support and when the level of opposition to each candidate was subtracted from that person’s support, Hunter actually came in second place.

Notice that in both cases, you have two groups of extremely well informed, conservative participants, that are probably several months ahead of the general public in knowledge about the candidates and in both cases, Hunter did very well. That's a strong indication that if Hunter can get his name out there, he can compete with the top tier candidates in the race.


Granted, it's a little too early to endorse any candidate, Duncan Hunter included. After all, we don't know all the candidates that will be running yet and they haven't even had the first debate.

Moreover, there are a lot of different positions that many of the candidates have yet to take a stance on one way or the other. For example, there are 2nd Amendment issues. Hunter is "near perfect" there. A Balanced Budget Amendment? He supports it. What sort of judges would candidates appoint to the bench? Hunter would prefer someone like Scalia. Pardoning Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean? Hunter thinks that is the right thing to do. School vouchers, the missile defense shield, a 2/3 majority in Congress to raise taxes? Hunter is in favor of all of them.

Does that mean other candidates won't end up taking those same positions? No. Does it mean Hunter is perfect? No. But, when you compare Duncan Hunter to everyone else in the race right now, he looks very appealing. In the end, maybe that won't matter because Hunter won't get any traction, but I, for one, hope that conservatives will take a good, long look at Hunter before they make a decision on which candidate to support in 2008.

Opposing view: Keep the ban in place - Changing current policy on gays would undermine unit cohesion.By Rep. Duncan Hunter


March 14, 2007

Last weekend in Iraq, I watched America's soldiers and Marines undertake a difficult and dangerous mission.

The war in Iraq reflects all the circumstances of dangerous ground combat in the past: soldiers and Marines bonding in close-knit units, living in close quarters and sharing values that inspire them to risk their lives for each other and our nation.

Against the backdrop, liberals in the USA are making another attempt to force open homosexuals into America's military population. In a media question-and-answer session, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated his personal view that homosexuality was immoral.

Gen. Pace's principles reflect the strong aversion of our Marines and soldiers to homosexual conduct. These moral principles also reflect the position of the predominantly conservative families who send their young men and women to serve in the U.S. military.

These facts were also reflected in 1993 in Gen. Colin Powell's statement, "Open homosexuality in a unit setting is incompatible."

Today, in 2007, the facts have not changed.

It is not fair, nor conducive to unit cohesion, for young Americans whose moral principles reject homosexual conduct to force them to live and operate in close quarters with those who exercise such conduct, just to satisfy liberals in the U.S. political system.

Finally, America possesses the best fighting force in the world, and any proposed changes impacting the operability of our military, regardless of their social significance to liberals, must be blocked outright by Congress.

We are currently a nation at war. Our sons and daughters are serving courageously in places like Fallujah, Ramadi, Baghdad, Kabul and Khowst. To thrust this debate onto them as they are fighting and winning the war on terrorism is outrageous.

Present policy barring open homosexual conduct should be maintained.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., is the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. He is seeking the 2008 GOP presidential nomination.

McCain's Veep Options By Pat Toomey


February 8, 2008

While congratulations are still premature, with Mitt Romney dropping out of the race yesterday it is now very likely that the Republican Party will nominate Sen. John McCain for president. If that happens, the GOP will, for the first time since 1976, select a candidate at odds with a large portion of its conservative members to be the standard bearer. At the same time, the party is more estranged from independent swing voters than it has been for decades.

This will pose a twin challenge for Mr. McCain. To meet it, he will have to become the champion of the brand of economic conservatism that has won national elections for Republicans since 1980.

[John McCain]

The Republican Party spent decades building its brand as the party of small government, free enterprise and fiscal discipline. That brand put Ronald Reagan in the White House in 1980 and gave Republicans control of Congress in 1994. When it became clear two years ago that Republicans had abandoned those principles, voters swept them from power.

The path back requires re-establishing the GOP as a party of limited government and economic freedom. This is essential to Mr. McCain's political future, the fortune of his party, and the economic well-being of the nation. And the first big indication that he intends to bring back the party of Reagan will be who Mr. McCain taps as his running mate.

Some have suggested Mike Huckabee. But that's a legacy of a hard fought primary season. Moving forward, Mr. Huckabee on the ticket would be a disaster. The former governor has a record of raising taxes and increasing spending. Picking him would only make it more likely that conservatives will sit on their hands come November.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of true-blue fiscal conservatives in the GOP. Here are few who would help Mr. McCain unify his party and restore its winning brand:

[Marshal (Mark) Sanford Jr.]

- South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford: If there is a governor anywhere in America who has demonstrated a commitment to economic conservatism, it is Mr. Sanford. The mild-mannered former congressman has been willing to wage spending fights even against members of his own party. Facing an inherited $155 million deficit, Mr. Sanford vetoed 106 spending items. When the Republican legislature over-rode all but one of his vetoes, he carried two pigs into the Capitol, one named Pork the other Barrel.

Mr. Sanford also pushed through property and small-business tax cuts. As a member of Congress, Mr. Sanford was a reliable opponent of legislation expanding the size of government, and a supporter of personal accounts for Social Security before it was politically acceptable. He was also a champion of school choice.

[Jim DeMint]

- South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint: When it comes to fighting government spending in Washington, Mr. DeMint can be found on the frontlines. Mr. DeMint, a strong believer in the power of free-market solutions, has introduced a number of bills to restrict the federal government's reach. He's proposed legislation that would allow Americans to buy health insurance across state lines, opening the health-care market to greater competition. He is pushing legislation that would improve on the No Child Left Behind Act by expanding school-choice options and empowering parents and local officials. Mr. DeMint has also taken aim at the burdens Sarbanes-Oxley imposed on our public companies. He wants to repeal the death tax. And he's an ardent free trader, never wavering on the issue even when viciously attacked during his 2004 Senate race.

[Mike Pence]

- Indiana Rep. Mike Pence: Over seven years in Congress, the former chairman of the Republican Study Committee has established himself as a principled, determined conservative. An active defender of political speech, Mr. Pence voted against McCain-Feingold campaign-finance restrictions and led the fight against the ironically named Fairness Doctrine, designed to limit the speech of conservative talk radio. On taxes, Mr. Pence has been a strong proponent of tax cuts, calling the death tax "an economic growth killer." Mr. Pence opposed the Republican-backed Medicare prescription drug bill, calling it "the beginning of socialized medicine in America." Instead, he introduced the Small Business Health Insurance Act to make it easier for small businesses to purchase health insurance.

- Former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm: He is best known for the spending reduction measure that bears his name, the Gramm-Rudman law, which required automatic budget cuts if the deficit was not decreased to specified levels. But Mr. Gramm is a stellar economic conservative across the board. To quote him, he was "conservative before conservative was cool." Before retiring from the Senate in 2002, he led fights against energy price caps, the "windfall profits" tax on oil companies, President Bill Clinton's tax hikes and Hillary Clinton's health-care behemoth. And he fought for welfare reform. He has fought against big-government measures like increasing mileage standards on automakers and voted against McCain-Feingold.

- Forbes Inc. CEO Steve Forbes: While Mr. Forbes is an out-of-the-box pick, the desire for an outsider this year is huge. And with voters also worried about the economy, Mr. Forbes would be a natural complement to Mr. McCain. Given Mr. McCain's acknowledged unfamiliarity with economic issues, Mr. Forbes would provide the Arizona senator with instant credibility both with conservatives and independents who respect Mr. Forbes' business acumen. In addition, Mr. Forbes's ardent support for free trade, personal accounts for Social Security, the flat tax, school choice and less government overall has made him a darling of economic conservatives.

Despite his impressive wins Tuesday, Mr. McCain lost among self-identified conservative voters and only managed a statistical tie with Mr. Romney among self-described Republicans. To win in November, Mr. McCain needs a strong economically conservative message. Picking a vice presidential nominee who can credibly champion that message is the first and perhaps best indicator he can give voters how he will govern if he makes it to the Oval Office.

Mr. Toomey, a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, is the president of the Club for Growth.

A Conservative Conservationist? Why the Right Needs to Get Invested in the Search for Climate Change Solutions By Mark Sanford


Friday, February 23, 2007; Page A19

When George W. Bush, The Post and the insurance giant Lloyd's of London agree on something, it's obvious a new wind is blowing. The climate change debate is here to stay, and as America warms to the idea of environmental conservation on a grander scale, it's vital that conservatives change the debate before government regulation expands yet again and personal freedom is pushed closer toward extinction.

The fact is, I'm a conservative and a conservationist -- and that's okay.

For the past 20 years, I have seen the ever-so-gradual effects of rising sea levels at our farm on the South Carolina coast. I've had to watch once-thriving pine trees die in that fragile zone between uplands and salt marshes. I know the climate change debate isn't over, but I believe human activity is having a measurable effect on the environment.

The real "inconvenient truth" about climate change is that some people are losing their rights and freedoms because of the actions of others -- in either the quality of the air they breathe, the geography they hold dear, the insurance costs they bear or the future environment of the children they love.

But like a polar bear searching for solid ice, many people seem ready to dig into the first solution offered to slow or reverse climate change. Cue former vice president Al Gore -- the politician turned screen star who could take home an Academy Award this weekend and a Nobel Peace Prize later this year -- whose call for greater government intervention is resonating with administrations in this country and across the globe: California may soon ban incandescent light bulbs; France wants to force the Kyoto-less United States to pay carbon taxes on exports; and the European Union is pushing automobile emission standards that would cost carmakers such as Volvo roughly $3,200 more per vehicle.

Make no mistake, the issue of environmental conservation sits squarely on the battle line between government and liberty. From light bulbs to automobiles, government will gladly expand its regulatory reach even if the result is a hamstrung economy and curtailed individual freedoms. Yet conservatives have remained largely absent from this debate, and by pulling back from the environmental battle they have conceded the high ground to those on the far left.

I believe conservatives have a window of opportunity, but that window is closing fast.

First, conservatives must reframe the environmental discussion by replacing the political left's scare tactics with conservative principles such as responsibility and stewardship. Stewardship -- the idea that we need to take care of what we've been given -- simply makes sense. It makes dollars as well, for the simple reason that our economy is founded on natural resources, from tourism and manufacturing to real estate and agriculture. Here in South Carolina, conservation easements are springing up across the state as landowners see the dual benefit of preserving the environment and protecting their pocketbooks.

Second, conservatives must reclaim lost ground from far-left interest groups by showing how environmental conservation is as much about expanding economic opportunity as it is about saving whales or replanting rain forests. When corporations such as BP and Shell America pursue alternative energy sources, they not only cut carbon emissions but help cut our petroleum dependency on OPEC nations. When South Carolina restaurants recycle their oyster shells, they not only restore shellfish habitat but take a job off local governments' plates and ensure continuing revenue streams for local fishermen.

Third, conservatives must respond to climate change with innovation, not regulation. This means encouraging private research and implementation of more eco-friendly construction, more energy-efficient workplaces and more sustainable ways of going about life -- all of which cuts costs and protects God's creation. It means looking past the question of whether your car's exhaust melts polar ice caps and instead treating our environment as an investment our future depends on.

South Carolina is creating an advisory group that will study the effects of climate change on commerce and vice versa, with an eye toward crafting a plan that balances the needs of the business and environmental communities.

I am a conservative conservationist who worries that sea levels and government intervention may end up rising together. My earnest hope going forward is that we can find conservative solutions to the climate change problem -- ecologically responsible solutions based on free-market principles that both improve our quality of life and safeguard our freedoms.

For if conservatives cannot reframe, reclaim and respond to climate change with our principles intact, government will undoubtedly provide a solution, no matter how taxing it may be.

The writer, a Republican, is governor of South Carolina.

Answer To Energy Is 'All Of The Above'


By ADAM PUTNAM | Posted Monday, July 14, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Watching Democrat leaders in Washington respond to skyrocketing gas prices has been nothing short of a tutorial on the five stages of grief.

Weeks of conspicuous silence (denial). Lashing out at the oil companies, the White House, the markets, the oil companies again (anger). Repeated pronouncements that prices would stabilize at one point or another in the not-too-distant future (bargaining). The long faces trying to explain away their failure to pass a single energy bill that creates energy (depression).

Sen. Barack Obama topped it all off by saying he had hoped the rise in gas prices would have been a "gradual adjustment" so American families could adapt to the reality of four-buck gasoline. Acceptance.

For Obama, there is some cathartic value in paying four bucks for a gallon of gasoline. Tell that to the independent trucker paying $1,500 to fill up, or the school districts eliminating bus stops — or entire routes, for that matter. Tell that to the family that didn't have the resources to carry out its travel plans over July Fourth.

On this issue, Washington isn't just broken — it's AWOL. Roadblocks to reform efforts have been reinforced by shopworn rhetoric and retread initiatives. Real initiatives have been supplanted by a mealy-mouth hodgepodge of supposed cure-alls, one more ineffectual than the next:

• Raise taxes?

Jimmy Carter tried that. Didn't work.

• Tell energy companies to use the land they have leased for exploration or lose access to it?

Already the law of the land.

• Claim oil companies are just sitting on 68 million of the federal acres they have invested considerable capital in?

Proved false by independent scientists.

• Simply cast blame at speculators?

Liberal commentators are lining up to say that won't pass muster.

This broken status quo represents little more than government by trial and error. With each wrong turn, the pain at the pump worsens.

This is the Democrat majority's favorite mistake: say any number of actors are to blame for a particular public policy challenge, and then go around groping for one silver bullet to fix it.

Republicans are offering a clean break from the failed policies of the past in the form of an "all of the above" approach that employs cutting-edge, 21st century technologies and appeals to the same do-it-yourself ethos that brought leaders of foresight and purpose to Philadelphia 232 years ago this month.

Through this agenda, we will increase production of American-made energy — including renewable and alternative forms, next-generation oil, natural gas and clean coal — while protecting our nation's natural resources.

We will cut red tape and increase energy supplies by spurring construction of new refineries and nuclear power plants, as many European nations are doing.

And we will make America more energy efficient by offering significant conservation tax breaks to Americans who invest in green technologies for their home, car or business.

What do congressional Democrats say they are for?

Last month, one of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's fellow California Democrats said she would be "all about socializing" and "taking over" the oil companies.

Just two weeks ago, another senior House Democrat said the "government should own the refineries."

This week, one Capitol Hill Democrat declared the real Democrat energy strategy to be "driving small cars and waiting for the wind."

Socializing, nationalizing and driving small cars. It's enough to make you think they attended the Hugo Chavez School of Capitalism.

For all the discussion about a closely divided nation, the American people agree in record numbers that skyrocketing gas prices have had a profound impact on their lives. In no fewer than six separate national surveys, a clear majority has indicated support for Republican solutions to increase supply and lower prices.

Acceptance may be all well and good for Obama, but it's a nonstarter for the American people.

A sixth sense is often regarded as intangible, but in this matter it's clear what the sixth stage of grief should be: action.

Join House Republicans in demanding that Democrats who control Congress take exactly this action: hold a vote on meaningful legislation that will increase the supply of American-made energy and lower gas prices — and do it before the House adjourns in August.

Putnam represents Florida's 12th congressional district, which is in the central part of the state, and is chairman of the House Republican Conference.

Feckless To Reckless, Pelosi Should Resign


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Monday, July 14, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Leadership: With oil hitting $147, Nancy Pelosi finally admits energy is a problem. But instead of drilling for it, she's cooked up a new drain-the-reserves scheme. It's pure politics at a time of crisis. She ought to resign.

Read More: Energy

Any leader with an energy record as derelict as Speaker Pelosi's ought to step down. Where she once was just incompetent and irresponsible, she has now — with her latest scheme to fix oil prices — become dangerous.

Despite polls showing Americans in favor of drilling more oil from America's huge untapped supplies, Pelosi won't allow it. She just wants to empty our Strategic Petroleum Reserve for a short-term fix to get through Election Day.

It's an irresponsible suggestion, signaling not only an ignorance of how the economy works but also a willingness to place the nation at risk in the case of emergency.

Last Tuesday, Pelosi sent a letter to President Bush urging him to release a "small portion" of the nation's 706 million barrels of strategic-reserve oil to bring down prices. Regardless of how one feels about whether reserves should be held at all, two big problems stand out with Pelosi's tiny demand.

One, she's proposing a misappropriation of the reserves. The U.S. oil stockpile is a 58-day cushion for emergencies that today are all possible. If Israel attacks Iran, for example, and prices double again. Or if Hugo Chavez cuts off his supplies, as he threatened to do as recently as Sunday.

The reserve is there to cushion the blow of a market disruption; it's not an open-market mechanism to manipulate prices for political ends.

Two, Pelosi has finally admitted that supply matters, something that contrasts with her entire legislative record. We count 14 energy actions to suppress supply on her Web site just since 2005.

She has blocked efforts to open Alaska to drilling, denounced fossil fuels, blamed oil companies for high gasoline prices, voted for biotech boondoggles and condemned speculators.

"Our coasts need lasting protection from oil and gas drilling," she declared Dec. 6, 2006, after Democrats won control of Congress. Missing are any moves against petrotyrant regimes who drive prices skyward, or even lip service to the idea of ensuring supply through drilling.

Pelosi downplays her proposal as modest because it's a "small" portion of the reserves to spend. And look what happened in 2000, she says, when an SPR release authorized by President Clinton lowered gasoline prices nearly 20%.

But she's not fooling anyone. Then, like now, an election was coming up.

With Congress' public approval at a subterranean 9% and falling, the speaker must be starting to realize that November may not be the Democratic cakewalk that pundits predict.

President Bush, however, isn't about to be suckered into releasing the reserves just long enough for pump prices to fall by Election Day, thereby saving Democrats' skins so they can carry on their drill-nothingism for an additional two years.

The president needs to do two things with Pelosi's proposal: First, tell her "no," unless she comes up with a plan to open up more drilling. Second, expose it for what it is — a bid to paint Bush as the problem to distract from her own sorry record.

In playing politics with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the speaker has moved beyond the incompetence and irresponsibility that have characterized her leadership to date.

It borders on reckless, something we cannot tolerate in such dangerous times.

Change we should worry about By Star Parker


Scripps Howard News Service
2008-07-11 00:00:00

Are we undergoing some kind of sea change of attitudes in America today?

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne reflects such sentiment -- perhaps I should say wishful thinking -- by those on the left that indeed we are. He says capitalism is having a "reality check."

The era of big government is back, according to Dionne. Americans now want to re-regulate, re-tax, redistribute, and re-socially engineer.

I don't think so.

What we do know is that Americans are unhappy with the state of their country (almost 85 percent say they are dissatisfied) and their political leaders (more than 70 percent are unhappy with their president and 90 percent are unhappy with the Congress).

Although enthusiasm for the Republican Party is without question on the wane, there is no accompanying surge of popularity of the Democratic Party.

According to recent reporting from the Pew Research Center, favorability ratings for the Republican Party have gone from 55 percent in 1993 to 39 percent in 2007 as unfavorable ratings increased from 35 percent to 53 percent. However, over the same period, favorability ratings for the Democratic Party have also declined, although more modestly -- from the high 50s in 1993 to the low 50s in 2007. And Democratic Party unfavorable ratings went up from around 35 percent to 41 percent.

And let's not forget that both houses of Congress are controlled by Democrats where approval hovers at an all time low.

What do I think is actually going on?

First, I think it is a mistake to associate disillusionment with today's GOP with disillusionment with the principles of limited government and traditional values. It has been so long since American voters have seen the GOP led by anyone who truly carries the banner of these great American principles that they can't remember what it is like.

Under Republican leaders in the last 25 years, we've seen government grow, entitlements expand, and -- except for welfare reform in 1996, passed by a Republican congress and signed by a Democratic president -- we've seen little in the way of market-based reforms and government rollback.

Despite accusations that John McCain is simply running for George W. Bush's third term, the ease with which Sen. Barack Obama has embraced one of President Bush's signature programs -- faith-based initiatives, in which government doles out funds to religious institutions -- tells us something. And it is not that Obama is becoming more conservative.

What's going on is not an ideological crack-up but a branding crack-up. Rejection of the Republican Party today is not a rejection of limited government and traditional values. It is a rejection of what the Republican Party morphed into.

The Democratic Party, on the other hand, has remained true to its principles of big government and moral relativism. And it's not registering more enthusiasm among voters.

It just doesn't take rocket science or an expensive political consultant to appreciate that voters are, for darned good reason, unhappy. Politically, what being unhappy means is either not voting or voting for whatever the alternative is.

What also is happening is we are witnessing a phenomenon that, at least for the time being, is personal -- not ideological.

Obama is succeeding in tapping into the public's general disgust with everything and using his considerable charm and calm and reassuring persona to exploit it.

It's why he may succeed in flip-flopping all over the place and taking liberties with the details of stands he takes over time. Much of the enthusiasm he is generating is not being generated by those details. It is being generating by him.

The Pew Research Center recent report shows an incredible gap in visibility of the two candidates. They report 71 percent visibility of Obama and 11 percent for McCain. This is the "percentage of the public that has heard the most about each candidate that week."

Roger Ailes, president of Fox News, says in his book "You Are the Message" how he helped Ronald Reagan get re-elected in 1984 by getting him to stop worrying about details and just be himself. And, in fact, Reagan's campaign that year was about "morning in America."

So the 2008 election is about change. It's not ideology. It's personal. And those who care about limited government and traditional values should be worried.

(Star Parker is president of CURE, Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education ( and author of three books. She can be reached at

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Trust Committed To Me, by Mark Sanford


April 8, 2008

(Click for Amazon book review)

BOOK REVIEW by Jesse Gordon,

Our readers might wonder why Gov. Mark Sanford's book is here among the 2008 presidential books. That's because we predict that McCain will choose Sanford for Vice President. But first let's review the book.

This book is Sanford's story of his 3 terms as a South Carolina representative the the U.S. House. It was published in 2000, when Sanford was retiring from the House, and presumably was thinking ahead to running for Governor. Hence this book outlines Sanford's accomplishments in the House, and his political philosophy, in preparation for his first gubernatorial run in 2002.

The cover of this book, and its title, might make you think that it's all about Family Values or something about children. In fact, it's all about term limits, the issue around which Sanford defines his 3 terms in the U.S. House. The "trust" which was committed to Sanford in the title means "trust that Sanford would fulfill his campaign promise to limit himself to three terms in the House." Which he did, as he notes many, many times in this book. I guess the cover is just a nice photo of one of Sanford's sons on a nice South Carolina beach.

Sanford was elected to the U.S. House in the 1994 Republican takeover of the U.S. House based on newt Gingrich's "Contract With America." Sanford had not been involved with politics before -- he considers himself a "citizen-legislator" --
and he had no problem accepting the term-limit item of the Contract With America (many others in the same GOP freshman class DID have trouble with that item, including some who promised to exit and are still in the House!)

Because the Contract With America never did pass Congressional term limits, Sanford describes himself as a "self-limited" House member -- he voluntarily restricted himself to three terms. Sanford makes a compelling case that "self-limited" Congressmen really do vote differently than other Congressmen -- because they don't have to worry about getting re-elected, and don't plan to have a career in the House.

You can read the rest of the details in the excerpts below. One key aspect is that Sanford considers self-limited Congressmen to be immunized against pork-barrel spending (and to some degree, against corruption), because pork is mostly based on a desire to buy off one's re-election (and serious corruption is only possible when one has more ppwer and experience). That core value makes Sanford very compatible with McCain's core issues of reform. Even if the two men agreed on nothing else, that would be enough for a compatible ticket.

But Sanford brings four other key factors for McCain:

  1. He is young (born 1960). McCain would be the oldest president ever elected, so that's a factor, and also, if Obama wins, Sanford provides a same-age counter.
  2. He is Southern (a popular re-elected governor of South Carolina, where McCain has had a "troubled" political past). If Obama wins, the South is certainly not a sure-win for the GOP, since the Democrats can expect very high black voter turnout, and the South has several states with very high black populations.
  3. He is a governor. McCain has no "executive experience", which normally would be a big factor, but will likely be less important against another Senator. Sanford, however, is a "budget hawk" (which governors actually do something about, as part of their executive experience) -- which matters because McCain is weak on economics.
  4. He is conservative. Sanford's conservative credentials have never been questioned, as McCain's routinely are.

Readers might also note that Sanford was very briefly considered a 2008 prospect way back in December 2006. OnTheIssues, in fact, included Sanford on our watch-list of possible contenders.
So keep your eyes peeled....

-- Jesse Gordon,


Mark Sanford in The Trust Committed To Me, by Mark Sanford

On Government Reform: Cut his own staff and returned funds for staff pay annually

I was determined not to have a typical congressional office. I wanted one that was small, effective, and dedicated to my program. I also wanted to spend less money on staff that did the typical incumbent. Most congressmen spend every nickel they get.
This is hard to do since each House office receives about $1 million per year. Our goal was to treat the money as if it were my own. With this approach we returned over $200,000 to the Treasury every year I have been in office.

As part of the Contract with America, one of the first things we did as a Congress was to cut committee staff by a third. I thought it was only fitting to do the same thing with my own office. My naivet‚ stirred up a hornet's nest. I was asked why I was being so stingy with the money we were given, even though it was "just government money." We did cut committee staff in 1995. Today, were almost back where we started--with more staffers than we need, costing more than we can afford, to do work that often isn't necessary.

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 10-13 Nov 4, 2000

On Government Reform: Supported 6- year congressional term-limits

The Contract with America's tenth and most controversial item was congressional term limits. I gladly signed the pledge, but even as we gathered to sign the Contract, it was doubtful whether there would be enough votes to pass any form of term limits
amendment to the constitution.

That we could even bring term limits to the floor for a vote was something of a milestone. Since the first Congress in 1789, more than 140 term limit bills had been introduced. The debate on term limits promised to be rough, and probably unsuccessful. Members were divided into three camps: those, like me, who strongly supported a three-term limit, those who strongly favored a six- term house limit; and those who opposed any and all term limits.

Those of us who had already pledged to limit our own terms could see that the proposal to enact term limits by constitutional amendment was dead in the water. Passage would require a two-thirds majority of both House and Senate

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 14-15 Nov 4, 2000

On Budget & Economy: Incumbents spend more tax funds the longer they're in office

A well documented but little discussed study by the National Taxpayers Union showed that regardless of party, the longer a person is in office, the greater his tendency to spend the taxpayers' money. It's not that representatives become evil people--just that they're human. Basic biology teaches how remarkable adaptable human beings are to the world around us. Unfortunately, Washington is a place where large sums of money become rounding errors. Over time, congressmen become accustomed to the large sums and the inevitable rounding errors that are part and parcel of the political process. And while being in Washington may change the lawmaker's perspective, what doesn't change is how hard folks at home must work to send that same money to Capitol Hill. For me this always meant less is more when it comes to term limits. The fewer number of years in office, the less time to grow accustomed to the idea that $50 million is a rounding error.

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 17 Nov 4, 2000

On Budget & Economy: Deficit spending hurts private business & personal finances

Politicians in our nation's capitol were unable--or unwilling--to control spending. Federal borrowing to cover the deficit was competing with the capital available for the private sector, which consequently was making it tougher for me to earn a living.
The more money the politicians sunk into their schemes, the more expensive it got for the rest of us to borrow money. The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. I couldn't expand my businesses because the politicians kept expanding theirs.

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 28 Nov 4, 2000

On Government Reform: Pledged never to take any PAC money

While my GOP primary opponent Van Hipp and I saw pretty much eye-to-eye on the deficit, federal spending and other issues, we parted company over term limits and PACs. Hipp had received baskets of PAC money during the campaign. I'd taken none and pledged never to take any, if elected.

On the issue of PAC money, my general election opponent, Robert Barber, raised the point that he did not want to unilaterally disarm when it comes to fundraising. Over the last five years in Washington, I have heard his argument used by Republicans and Democrats alike. In politics we never seem to like the idea of just leading the way because we think it right or what we believe.

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 40&46 Nov 4, 2000

On Budget & Economy: Federal deficit weakens dollar against foreign currencies

In 1995 the budget debate led to a government shutdown. At the time of the debate, our nation's debt was nearly $5 trillion and growing faster than the economy. Even today, in the era of "balanced budgets," that is still the case. If we stay on our current course, we'll continue to see our dollar, and consequently, everything you and I own, fall in value.

Twenty years ago, the dollar was worth 360 yen. Today it's worth slightly more than 100 yen. In official Washington, this fact is indeed cause for alarm. But far from worrying that our currency has lost more than half its value during that time.
Government policymakers often tell us our currency is too strong--and should be weakened even further.

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 52 Nov 4, 2000

On Government Reform: 1995 government shutdown was a good thing, not a crisis

In 1995 if all you read was the Washington Post or New York Times, you'd have thought that the government shutdown was the worst crisis to hit the nation since the civil war. Once the networks joined in with pictures of idled federal workers, the pressure to cave in to Clinton escalated. But it wasn't pressure from home. In my district, some people might be upset that their passports were delayed, or that certain federal offices were closed. But these were inconveniences for the most part, not crises. In D.C. itself, those furloughed federal workers didn't form picket lines- they went shopping.

I thought the shutdown was a good thing. It didn't bother me that certain federal agencies were temporarily closed. I knew that the important ones--like the Social Security Administration, the Defense Department and the FAA, were operating normally. The republic was safe, retirees were getting their checks, and the airplanes were taking off and landing without incident.

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 54-55 Nov 4, 2000

On Free Trade: Sugar and peanut subsides make no sense

In 1996, the federal sugar price support program meant that sugar costs in America were roughly double world prices. Today, that number has grown to be 3 times world prices. Like its sister programs, supporting the price of peanuts, the sugar program is incomprehensible. If you raised the finest peanuts in the world in our backyard and then tried to sell them on the local corner, we could be arrested. It's illegal to sell non-quota peanuts. No one in my district would say that makes any sense.

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 64-65 Nov 4, 2000

On Corporations: Sugar subsidy is corporate welfare to a wealthy few

On the House floor in 1996, I said: "This vote is a gut check. It asks us who we are and what we do really believe in. As Republicans, we talk about free enterprise, we talk about open markets. Yet, the federal sugar subsidy program has a guaranteed floo
price of 23 cents. When I go to the produce store, I do not see a guaranteed floor price for tomatoes. When I go to the car shop, I do not see a guaranteed price for repairing the car. When I go to the hardware store, I do not see a guaranteed price for hammers. Yet are we going to make an exception here?

"You are looking at $1.4 billion of benefit. This subsidy flows down to one family in Palm Beach that gets millions every year. This style of profiteering does not pass the common sense test, nor doe the sugar program.

The vote to end this absurd corporate welfare program came to a disappointing result. Term limits would do much to end such patently offensive and nonsensical programs as the sugar subsidy."

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 65-67 Nov 4, 2000

On Government Reform: Require that congressional pay raises have open votes

Most folks dislike sneaky people. So given the way Congress connived to boost its pay in September of 1997, people have yet another reason to dislike and mistrust Congress as a whole and politicians as a breed. If Congress wants another pay raise, they should vote for it openly, not tuck it within another bill. It's understandable that some in Congress would want to sneak a pay hike into the first legislation that comes along.

Some of us tried to reverse the pay rise. We didn't have enough votes. One of my campaign promises had been not to take a pay raise until the budget was balanced- because if congress is serious about spending less, we ought to begin with ourselves.
Along with a handful of others I would donate the raise to charity, but once again we are losing on something I thought would easily be seen as the wrong thing to do.

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 68-69 Nov 4, 2000

On Budget & Economy: No congressional pay raise until budget is balanced

People don't go to Congress for the money. They go because it affords them the chance to affect policy. To ask for a salary level seven times higher than the national average is asking too much. In the summer of 1999, I offered an amendment to hold the president's pay at $200,000, rather than double it to $400,000. The amendment had little to do with the president's compensation package, which in total is worth several million dollars a year. It had everything to do with a glass ceiling on member pay. Members knew they could never legitimize paying Congressmen and Senators more than the president's visible wage.

All these machinations aside, the basic point was this: we did not deserve a raise. If the budget is actually balanced in five years, then Congress may want to consider a raise. I don't think it will be. One of my campaign promises had been not to take a pay raise until the budget was balanced--because if Congress is serious about spending less, we ought to begin with ourselves.

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 69-71 Nov 4, 2000

On Social Security: Off-budget accounting undermines trust in government

One house colleague talked about how we should move Social Security and its so-called Trust Funds off-budget and how John Kasich, the incoming head of the House Budget Committee, had said no. The reason? If we removed Social Security, and the mountain of money pouring onto it, from the budget, we wouldn't have been able to formally balance the budget by the target year of 2002. We needed the excess tax revenue Social Security was generating to mask the true size of the yearly budget deficit.

This creative accounting was the type of behavior that consistently undermined people's trust in government Even before we could get started on the hard work of cutting government down to a manageable size, the old bulls who publicly said they wanted to balance the budget and cut wasteful programs were already hard at work cooking the books. And they were doing it with Social Security, the one program almost everyone privately admitted was headed for trouble.

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 7-8 Nov 4, 2000

On Budget & Economy: Highway bills are congressional bribery

Young boys often receive party favors after attending another child's birthday party. Transportation Committee members got the "mother" of all party favors for attending and supporting Bud Shuster's [the committee chairman's] mark-up. Friends of the committee and House members facing tough reelection fights got $20 million to $30 million. Everybody else got around $15 million--but only if they voted for the entire bill. If a Congressman refused to vote for the bill, or was sitting on the fence, Shuster tried to bribe them.

Others were unhappy too. Self-limited members took to the house floor and voiced genuine outrage with this highway bill.

The likely result of breaking the caps for highways would be a mad rush to break the caps on every other government program. After all, how could the other House committee chairmen sit by and watch Bud Shuster get everything he wanted, and more, and not draw the conclusion that they were entitled to oodles more money, too?

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 72&75 Nov 4, 2000

On Technology: Highways are Congress' responsibility, but don't break bank

I joined with [mostly self-term-limited] Congressmen in asking the President to veto the outrageous 1998 transportation bill [which included millions in "bribes" to Districts of Congressmen who voted for it]. Providing such internal improvements is part of our responsibility as Congressmen. But we don't have to break the bank and plunge the nation further into debt to do it. When I ran for office the first time, I said I would vote against any piece of legislation--regardless of the good it had for the District--if it was bad for the country as a whole. This bill was a rotten deal for the taxpayer.

If it were approved, it would shatter the spending caps we had fought for--and nearly lost control of Congress for--back in 1997. At that time, wit
much self-congratulatory fanfare, Congress and the White House fashioned a balanced budget agreement that promised to limit all areas of government spending, including highways. This bill made hash of that agreement less than a year after it was written.

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 72&75 Nov 4, 2000

On Foreign Policy: 1997: proposed freezing State Department budget at $6.3B

International spending is about $12 billion for foreign aid and $6 billion for the State Department. My proposal only dealt with the State Department portion, and left one of Washington's sacred cows, foreign aid, untouched.

Freezing State Department funding at 1997 levels ($6.3 billion each year), as opposed to increasing it by $265 million for each of the next two years was a no-brainer to me. Every day families and businesses are asked to do more with less--was it too much to ask for the State Department to manage with what they already had?

This amendment was consistent with testimony given to the international relations committee suggesting that if we merged the two cold war programs--the US Information Agency and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency--we would see over $1 billion in savings. This bill did indeed fold the two programs into the State Department. But instead of saving $1 billion, spending at the State Department was set to rise by $265 million!

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 79 Nov 4, 2000

On Government Reform: Term-limited Congressmen do behave differently

In the large unruly band of Republicans newly elected in the election of 1994, three stand out: Matt Salmon of Mesa, Arizona; Tom Cuburn of Muskogee Oklahoma; and Mark Sanford of Charlestown, South Carolina. They vowed that they would serve only three
2-year terms and then leave the House of Representatives. Wonder of wonders, they actually kept their word, declining to run a fourth term in 2000.

Sanford's message is clear and consistent: term limits do make a difference.
Imagine how different our government would be if the entire House of Representatives were term-limited. The tiny band of self-limited Congressmen did vote differently. The explanation here by Sanford is that the self-limited house members "don't have
to preoccupy themselves with reelection and career. Reelection fever is what leads politicians to exaggerate good news and water down bad news. People want something a lot simpler: they want the truth. A lot of people in Washington seem to miss this.

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. ix-xi Nov 4, 2000

Bush lifts executive ban on offshore drilling

Bush lifts executive ban on offshore drilling

By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer
8 minutes ago

Putting pressure on congressional Democrats to back more exploration for oil, President Bush on Monday lifted an executive ban on offshore drilling that his stood since his father was president.

But the move, by itself, will do nothing unless Congress acts as well.

There are two prohibitions on offshore drilling, one imposed by Congress and another by executive order signed by the first President Bush in 1990. The current president, trying to ease market tensions and boost supply, called last month for Congress to lift its prohibition before he did so himself.

"The only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil resources is action from the U.S. Congress," Bush said in a statement in the Rose Garden. "Now the ball is squarely in Congress' court."

Bush criticized Congress for failing to lift its own ban on offshore drilling. "Failure to act is unacceptable," the president said.

"And now Americans are paying at the pump," he declared.

Congressional Democrats, joined by some GOP lawmakers from coastal states, have opposed lifting the prohibition that has barred energy companies from waters along both the East and West coasts and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. A succession of presidents, from Bush's father — George H.W. Bush — to Bill Clinton, have sided against drilling in these waters, as has Congress each year for 27 years. Their goal has to been to protect beaches and coastal states' tourism economies.

"This proposal is something you'd expect from an oil company CEO, not the president of the United States," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Environment Committee. "The president is taking special-interest government to a new level and threatening our thriving coastal economy."

Environmental groups, too, blasted Bush's move.

"President Bush has once again ignored the wise precedent set by his father and taken reckless action that has neither hope of reducing gas prices nor concern for long-term consequences," said Gene Karpinski, president of The League of Conservation Voters.

Asked if Bush's action alone will lead to more oil drilling, White House press secretary Dana Perino said, "In terms of allowing more exploration to go forward? No, it does not."

The president, in his final months of office, has turned to increased oil exploration among other options amid record gas-prices. None would have immediate impact on prices at the pump, according to White House officials, who say there is no quick fix. But starting action now would help, they say.

Bush's proposal echoes a call by Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, to open the Outer Continental Shelf for exploration. Democrat Barack Obama has opposed the idea and instead argued for helping consumers with a second economic stimulus package including energy rebates, as well as stepped up efforts to develop alternative fuels and more fuel-efficient automobiles.

"If offshore drilling would provide short-term relief at the pump or a long-term strategy for energy independence, it would be worthy of our consideration, regardless of the risks," spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement. "But most experts, even within the Bush administration, concede it would do neither. It would merely prolong the failed energy policies we have seen from Washington for thirty years."

Congressional Democrats have rejected the push to lift the drilling moratorium, accusing the president of hoping the U.S. can drill its way out a problem.

Bush says offshore drilling could yield up to 18 billion barrels of oil over time, although it would take years for production to start. Bush also says offshore drilling would take pressure off prices over time. In addition, the president has proposed opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, lifting restrictions on oil shale leasing in the Green River Basin of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming and easing the regulatory process to expand oil refining capacity.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other lawmakers have backed legislation to allow offshore exploration. Their measure would pursue other ways to expand energy sources, too.

"Now the only thing standing between consumers at the pump and the increased American energy they are demanding is the Democrat leadership in Congress," McConnell said. "We should act and act now."

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Jack of Spades Card: Mark Sanford, South Carolina Governor as McCain's Running Mate


June 26, 2008

Mark Sanford: A Different Kind of Republican

By Nachama Soloveichik

If you want to see why Mark Sanford is different from a lot of the other Republican names being bandied about for VP, take a look at what just happened in South Carolina's local elections. While other governors are shy with the veto pen or refuse to fight for conservative policies, Sanford is not the type to sit silently and let the Legislature steamroll him.

It is important to note that although South Carolina's Legislature is controlled by Republicans, these are anti-reform Republicans who like to keep government big, spending high, and their pork flowing. Some of the most powerful of these Republicans were former Democrats who switched parties when the South turned Republican (see Fred Barnes excellent article in the Weekly Standard).

After several years of tangling with his Legislature, Sanford, along with the South Carolina Club for Growth, took active steps to move the Legislature in a new direction. In other words, they targeted incumbent Republicans with pro-growth, conservative challengers.

And they were remarkably successful. In the State Senate, Governor Sanford endorsed four incumbent-challengers and won three of those races. The loss to GOP incumbent Sen. Jake Knotts might have had something to do with the fact that he was endorsed by the highest elected Democratic official in the state and Democrats came out in droves to vote for the Republican-In-Name-Only. In total, Sanford endorsed six Senate candidates, five of which won their elections.

Life would certainly be easier for Sanford if he just sat on his hands and played nice with his Republican Legislature. While you occasionally see politicians fighting for conservative principles, rarely do you see the kind of conviction and determination that you get from Gov. Sanford. It is thoroughly refreshing.