Saturday, February 22, 2014

"Jeb Bush and Rick Perry: A Tale of Two Texans"

To quote the National Review, the relationship between the Bush and Perry camps is "complicated."
Talking to the Perry camp, you will hear nothing but admiration and respect for George W., Bush the Elder and Jeb. This sentiment hasn't exactly been reciprocated.

Rewind the clock to 2010. Then Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchinson was running to upseat Perry as Governor of Texas. Although W. didn't endorse her, Dad did. So did Dick Cheney. And James Baker. Even Karen Hughes and W's Education Secretary, Margaret Spellings were there to render support. The advisor of team Hutchinson? If you guessed Karl Rove, you are correct.

Hutchinson reminded Texans "look what I've done for you in Washington." Perry's retort was simple: "These duties should be handled from Austin, not Washington."

This is the classic "Neo-Con," versus "Constitutionalist" argument!

Remembering, "No Child Left Behind," Governor Perry mused, "Yeah, that's a cool name. But it's a monsterous intrusion into our affairs.

"Look, I like George!"(W)"But that's not good public policy. That's what Kay didn't understand. She kept saying,"look what I'm doing for you. Look what Washington is doing for you. But that's not what we want!"

To Neo-Cons, Kay Bailey Hutchinson was in sinc. She believed, like so many including Karl Rove, the Bushes, Cheney, Baker and so many others, that the goal is to "advance and facilitate conservative principles through a large, Washington, D.C. based government."

Which brings us to the man who could be Perry's chief rival for the Republican nomination, Jeb Bush. Jeb did a notable job as Governor of Florida. Nobody can deny that he left office "popular."

Yet "Common core," which he supported from inception has conservatives antsy. It sounds like more "big government" at best. At worst, it sounds like something that the Democrats would devise.

"No Child Left Behind" sounded good and was inspired with the greatest of intentions. But what does the constitution say about education? Last time I checked, there was nothing in the 10th amendment that mentioned "Education!"

What lends credence to Perry's paradigm is the report card of Texas' public school students. As an Iowahawk blogger reported, "white, black and Hispanic students in Texas' allegedly ramshackled public schools outperformed their ethic-group peers in high-tax, union-run Wisconsin in 17 out of 18 NAEP measures, and bested the results of most of the so-called progressive states."

Can Jeb Bush's Florida equal that? Can any state or any Governor equal that?

A very recent discussion with a member of the Florida Mortgage Brokers association reminded me that "Jeb doesn't like Governor Perry."

Maybe there is a reason. After all, it was Karl Rove who broached then Democrat Perry about both switching parties and running against Democrat incumbant, Jim Hightower for Commissioner of Agriculture. As the story goes, Rove made his pitch to Perry with Perry seated high on a tractor on his his father's Paint Creek farm.

As all know, Perry won that election and went on to bigger and better things. What remained was the memory that it was the Bush camp that made it possible for Perry to stay in politics.

A two-term Democrat Congressman, Perry had managed Al Gore's Texas Presidential campaign in 1988.

Perry people will say today that "Al Gore changed drastically" in the coming years. What mattered to Texas Democrats was Perry's unwillingness to support the Dukakis-Benson ticket. At that time, Texas was solidly "blue." Jim Wright was the U.S. House Speaker. Ann Richards was the Governor. When Perry turned his back on Texas Democrats he was, in effect, calling it quits. Rove and Republicans resurrected him.

If there is a rift it might have opened in 1998, when Perry was locked in a photo finish for Lt. Governor. The Bush camp was coasting to re-election. They wanted to call off the dogs. It was reported that Perry had a falling out with Rove. It may have been the beginning of a rivalry between the Bush and Perry camps.

Jeb was always considered "the smart one" by his parents and the media. They had seen him as a future President.A lot of loyal party members hoped that Jeb would run in both '08 and '12. But he didn't. Perhaps it was because he saw '16 as a more winnable landscape.

Unlike his father and brother, Jeb did not attend Yale, opting for the University of Texas. There he received an undergraduate degree in Latin American Studies.

The Spanish language and the countries that spoke it always held a facination for Jeb. Born in Midland, growing up in Houston, Jeb landed his first job with Texas Commerce Bank, with help from family crony, James Baker. In 1977, he was sent to Caracas, Venezuela to open a new operation for the bank. For the next two years he was chiefly engaged in International Trade and Finance.

In 1980, Bush returned to the states to work on his father's presidential campaign. Afterward, he relocated to Miami, taking a Real Estate job for Armando Codina, a self made millionaire Cuban immigrant. In 1986, he was named Secretary of Commerce, serving two years at that post.

Jeb Bush was the only Republican Governor to serve two full terms in Florida, leaving office in 2007. On paper, his eight years as Governor were viewed as successful and productive. He initiated improvements in the economy, environment, health care and education.

The were some "bumps" in the road. He ended Florida's high speed rail initiative. It was thought that his close friendship with the CEO of Southwest Airlines may have influenced his preference. He won accolades from Environmental groups, due to the state's massive increase in public sector lands. Upon leaving office, he went to work for Lehman Brothers.

Those close to the Bush camp readily admit that Jeb is slightly more conservative than his older brother. His "One Florida" proposal effectively ended affirmative action in the state. He is an avid proponent of school vouchers and charter schools.

In all, John Ellis Bush will be remembered as a "better than average Governor." Yet, while commendable, his are no where close to Rick Perry's accomplishments in Texas!

Perry didn't grow up with the same pedigree as held by the Bush dynasty. His parents were tenant farmers in a town, that couldn't be found on a map, 60 miles north of Abilene.He attended Texas A & M University on a ROTC scholarship, getting a degree in Animal Science. Upon graduation, he received an Air Force commission. While in the Air Force, Captain Perry flew C-130's. His action included Libya and several other Middle East sorties.

Perry has the same interest in Environmental issues as Bush. Conservatives are often confused as to how Perry, a conservative, could have lead Al Gore's Presidential campaign. But when you review his Texas Environmental record, a surprise awaits!

During Perry's watch, Texas has scored a 27 percent reduction in ozone levels. They have posted a 53% drop in mono-nitrogen oxides. To top this off, Perry is suing the Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to defend the state's flexible permitting rules. His argument stems from the belief that the air improvement quality can be improved without placing unrealistic burdens on business.

As the Perry camp noted, "Al Gore believed that only through Washington's guidance and auspices" could these goals be achieved. Perry's position is "under the 10th amendment" it is a state responsibility. Besides the state can do it more effectively and efficiently.

Even more notable has been the establishment of $10,000, four-year degrees at ten Texas state universities. That's eight full time semesters for ten grand! Who would have believed it!

The Texas economy is a story in itself. True, Perry drew some criticism from interests outside the Lone Star state for his use of the "Enterprise fund" to entice business to relocate to Texas. Glenn Beck even called him a "job poacher." Yet, anywhere you go in the state, the signs of growth are impressive. From the Metro-Plex to the Gulf Coast, to the Llano Estado, the state is booming. Austin is the fastest growing city in America. The unemployment rate in Texas' capital city is 4.7%, best in the nation.

Which brings us full circle to the possible Republican choice for Hillary Clinton's opponent. Both could make their arguments. Although both men were born in Texas, their roots differ. Perry is a fifth generation Texan. His ancestors were around when Texas fought for Indepedence from Mexico. George Bush the Elder came to Texas from Connecticut.

Their brand of conservatism is likewise dissimilar.

Rick Perry believes in the 10th amendment. As in, state's rights. He believes that the Obama Administration represents a "dark period," as seen by an unprecidented federal reach into the economy, health care, the environment and every other aspect of American life. His solution: a renewed emphasis on states rights. Complicating the term "states rights" has been a stigma of "racist and segregationist" that has been around since 1865.

Per Perry,"states are real things with real interests,real rights. They are not administrative subdivisions of the federal government, even if they've been treated that way for generations." He winces over the traditional connect between states rights and Bull Connor or George Wallace.

Kentucky Senator, Rand Paul drew a distinction between Constitutional Conservatives like Rick Perry and New Conservatives, AKA "Neo-Cons." As Paul wrote in his book, "The Tea Party Goes to Washington," Neo-Cons" believe in a large, Washington, D.C. based government having an exclusive role to advance and facilitate conservative principles. Constitutional Conservatives believe in a more literal view of the Constitution.

Rick Perry is a "strict Constructionist." In essence,if the 10th amendment didn't assign a duty to the federal government, it must be reserved for the state!

Jeb Bush doesn't openly express a belief that the states should be administrative subdivisions of the federal government. But, the "Neo-Con" taint is everywhere. Beginning with his support of Common Core. Working closely with the Environmental Protection Agency drilling efforts in the Everglades were thwarted. This is quite a contrast from Perry's suing them!

Dad was a devout Keynesian. His brother gave us "No Child Left Behind." Not to mention the Department of Homeland Security and two overseas adventures. Perry, like Ronald Reagan is a "supply sider." We still aren't certain where Jeb will be but all indications suggest that he will follow suit with Dad and Dubya and take the Keynesian direction.

In a face-off, could Perry hope to beat Jeb Bush? As Perry stated, "if Jeb Bush's name was Jeb Smith, he'd be the next president of the United States."

One thing is for certain: Bush, if he chooses to run, will have the Republican Establishment firmly behind him. The Republican base, could outdistance them. But, could they throw their unified support behind Govenor Perry? If 2012 is an indication, the answer is "probably not."

Yet, what if they did?

In a perfect world, the party base would merely look at Perry's Texas track record and conclude, "why waste time with a primary? This is our candidate."

A close friend in Louisiana made it clear, "this will never happen. There are too many egos involved."

Quite true. Simply put, "what other Republican option would have the experience, not to mention resources to go the full bout with Jeb Bush?" And, assuming that some did, would all cast their lot against Bush? Not likely.

Rick Perry connects with a segment of the American population that are probably out of bounds for Jeb Bush. They are "lower middle class, largely blue collar Democrats and Independents." The best news is they can't stand Hillary Clinton. It's not that they wouldn't vote for Bush. But they gravitate to Perry. In their eye, he's one of them! This translates to turnout.

Beyond winning the election, there is the question of "direction." Would Bush be, as Perry predicted Mitt Romney would be, "Obama lite?"

Game point might be decided by asking the American people to make a choice. The three options are as follows:

(a) To do nothing. Inflate the money. Ration healthcare. Leave the problem for the next generation. This is the choice of career politicians.
(b) Simpson-Bowles plan of "Shared Sacrifice." A fifty-
cent per gallon, gasoline tax, raising the social security eligibility age. Reducing the home mortgage deduction allowance. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and George Soros love this alternative.
(c) Reducing the size, scope and cost of the federal government. This would be Perry's answer. He has proposed eliminating the Education, Energy and Commerce Departments. He has also proposed that Congress be made into a part time job, with a 50% paycut.

Would Jeb Bush be ready to second the motion? I would predict, "not entirely."

This brings us to the question that all fiscal conservatives must ask. "Are we happy to continue on as "red team versus blue team playing for the same university?" If not, we next must ask, "which Republican President would best make possible this "break" with the old way of doing things.

Smart money would say, "it wouldn't be Jeb."

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Is Jeb the Man?

The Republican Establishment would think so! In fact, a monumental sigh of relief, especially from Eastern banking interests, would be figuratively audible in Maui!

With Chris Christie's implosion, a giant void has opened. GOP alternatives, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are visiting early primary states. A revolt with the party base is brewing.

Will Jeb Bush run in 2016? Thus far, he isn't saying yes. But, he isn't saying no. It will come down to if the decision creates "joy" in his heart and if it's in "best interest" of his family. The former Florida Governor has promised to "think about it hard," later into the year.

The official Democrat line is echoed by the mainstream media. "The nation is "O.D.'d" on Bushes." Yet, in private circles, party leaders have acknowledged that even Hillary would have difficulty beating Bush in his home state. From there, an electoral problem unfolds.

John Ellis Bush is neither his father or brother. In fact, his career path is quite different. The holder of a B.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, Jeb went one step further in marrying Columba Garnica Gallo, a native of Leon, Mexico. Raised a Methodist, he converted to Roman Catholism.

While securing a noteworthy record of public service, including a successful two-term Governship, most of Jeb's adult life has been spent in the private sector. This includes but is not limited to, deep experience in International Trade and Finance.

As Governor he scored points with Environmentalists with his opposition to off shore drilling. His record on healthcare is impressive. His support and facilitation of Charter schools in Florida drew applause from both Republicans and Democrats.

Democrats recall that the issue of Charter schools split their constituency. Hillary Clinton, at the urging of the teachers union, voiced opposition. Barack Obama supported the concept. Insiders, including David Axelrod believe that this may have been the issue that ultimately swung the nomination to Obama. Worse still for Hillary, Jeb Bush was both a supporter and pioneer of Charter schools. Their success in the Sunshine state has been decisive.

Democrats are gravely concerned with Jeb Bush's history of Hispanic support. In 2003, Bush was returned to the Governor's mansion with 56% of non-Cuban Hispanic support and better than 80% of the Cuban votes. That could spell big trouble in states like Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado! Even, dare we say, California?

The recently introduced Republican alternative to Obamacare, seems "tailor made" for Jeb Bush. As 2014 unfolds, Republicans envision a meltdown in Democrat ranks, to the extent of total abandonment of the President's signature accomplishment. The opportunity will be perfect for Bush to pick up the pieces, and with it, bi-partisan support for Obamacare's "replacement."

Bush's business credentials likewise make him the most creditable of voices in support of repealing Dodd-Frank. This too, is on the top of Republicans' wish list.

In essence, "what more" could Republicans want in a 2016 nominee than Jeb Bush? The Establishment would be thrilled with his selection. The base would see him as "better than" Romney, McCain or Christie. The Tea Party might not be overjoyed! But, if it came down to a choice between Hillary or staying home, they would pull the lever for Jeb!

In short, we are talking about a unified Republican party! Could anything be more perfect? Or, are we forgetting something? Such as the fact that more Americans today are Independents than either Republicans or Democrats?

There is a growing call for the end of an increasingly intrusive federal government. While decidedly more conservative than Hillary Clinton, critics recall Jeb Bush's support of Common Core. Constitutional conservatives consider this program nothing short of "more big government."

As President, there is little doubt that Jeb Bush's court appointments would be more conservative than Hillary's. But, what would Jeb's position be on "downsizing" the Washington bureaucracy. Would he take the 10th amendment seriously? Or, would he give it lip service? Would he commit to "reducing the size, scope and cost" of the federal government? Would he bring public sector pay and benefits in line with the Americans they serve?

What about Independents? What about the 20% who were referenced in the June 2011, National Review article, "Dangerous Dissaffecteds." Hillary will be promising handouts. But these Americans want jobs, serious jobs with benefits! Ten-dollar per hour jobs aren't what they have in mind! And, least we forget, "Dissafecteds" don't trust government and are disgusted with both parties!

These are the behind the scene questions that will be leveled at Jeb Bush. While his name bears no malignancy with Republicans and likely few Americans, there is concern of his father's and brother's "Neo-con," legasy. Will Jeb follow suit? Good question.

Constitutional conservatives see a stark difference in their brand of conservativism and the "Neo-Con" version. Jeb's support for Common core lends insight into his position on other issues. Rather than return to a more 10th amendment focused America, Jeb might be satisfied with slightly modifying the status quot. His brother's watch included almost as much growth in government as Obama's. Bush the Elder was a great American Patriot. But, he was also a devout Keynesian, and a member of the Tri-Lateral Commission.

Jeb Bush would be hard to beat in a Republican primary. His father was seen as "hard to beat" in the 1980 Republican primary. Little would we have known that a former actor might take the honor.

Which brings us to the inevitable question: "Is Jeb the man?"

For the party establishment, "definitely!"

For the party base, "probably."

For the Conservative movement, "marginally."

For the Tea Party, "unfortunately."

For real reform in the federal government, it's size, scope and cost? "Unlikely."

Saturday, February 8, 2014

With Christie Done, Establishment May Turn to Romney

With Chris Christie likely dead in the water, the Republican Establishment has gone to plan "B." Who else but Mitt Romney!

Are we serious?

The Wall Street crowd is! It goes back to selecting a predictable candidate. With Hillary Clinton, they know what they will be getting. Romney is merely a different variation of the same element.

Isn't Mitt a moderate? Throughout the primaries, he tried to recreate himself as a conservative. The base didn't buy it. Then, in debate numero uno, the real Mitt emerged. Democrats were initially surprised! For a couple of weeks, they could see the election slipping away.

Barack gained the usual media help. A devastating storm briefly diverted the nations' attention. Governor Christie appeared as the man in charge, working robustly with the President to aid the Sandy victims. True, the relief effort was pretty much "botched." But the overall exposure portrayed Christie as an in touch, on the spot leader. Romney's image of an out-of-touch elitist was not impaired.

Sixteen months later, Governor Christie shows signs of having "clay feet." We recall his RNC convention speech. There is the question "why" he held the Jersey Senate race on a different day as the Governors race. Then came "traffic-gate." Hints of a rejection by the Republican base are everywhere!

In returning to "Moderate Mitt," as Bill Clinton phraised, Romney reaffirmed his trust with the Establishment. As a result, they may look to him in 2016. As with Hillary, they will know going in, what they are getting.

Is Hillary more moderate that Barack Obama? Not hardly! She represents the entrenched Establishment. There are two wings of the Democrat Party,but differences are more connected with personalities than ideology. Consistent with both is their conclusion that "big government is the best government."

While the Republican Establishment may talk about the "grave contrast," they aren't particularly dissimiliar from Democrats. Like their counterparts, they favor a "large, Washington D.C. based government." As with Democrats, they reason "we know what is best" for the people. True, there may be differences on how money is allocated. But, it still goes back to the same idea that "big government is the best government."

It is essentially an understanding of how our system works. We are in what some describe as a "global" economy. Fortune 500 companies collectively determine outcomes. It begins with an understanding of the general principle of one world government.

Conspiracy theory? Not really. Hillary, Mitt, Christie and Obama have four things in common: They are avowed Keynesians. They favor a large central government making decisions for all. They do not threaten the power structure. In short, they are safe; for those manning the ship!

What about the rest of the people? If you are talking about the poor, they will be saved by the safety net. This "net" is growing daily. Meanwhile, the Middle Class is shrinking. And the top 1%, those making $394,000 or more per year, is getting richer.

Is America done? Possibly. But there may be hope. Take a look at how many states are calling for conventions. Something is happening in America. The Establishment is keeping a wary eye on it. A lot could result from rediscovery of the 10th amendment in America. From Wall Street's prospective, this might prove costly!

Two months ago, I posted "All Roads Lead to Nashville," on this blog. It called for a Nashville convention, held first quarter 2015. A 15-plank platform would be adopted. The disposition of the Republican Party would be determined. It would accept the platform. Or, it would die, right then, right there! We're not talking "third party." We are talking "replacement party." Potentially, the modern Republican Party would go the way of the Whig Party.

A drastic outcome? Maybe. But the alternative is "a red team versus a blue team, playing for the same university."

Can this be done? Definitely. It is a matter of finding a proven leader who blends experience with insight. And, the coming together of all who seek to "reduce the size, scope and cost" of the federal government. This amounts to change. And, least we forget, not everyone wants this kind of change!While decentralization of power may benefit the majority, it will take from those who currently enjoy it!

In short, their allegiance begins with Wall Street. Their true masters are the Fortune 500 companies. They are mainly concerned with protecting and advancing their wealth, influence and power. This is the Establishment. These are the people pulling the strings. Democrat? Republican? The line grows fuzzy. The question becomes, "how long" will it be before those who hold a different American vision unite.

It won't happen with a Chris Christie or Mitt Romney, anymore than it will happen with Hillary Clinton.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Christie's Implosion Creates Quandary for Establishment

Chris Christie may be imploding to the point of no return!

Who would have ever thought that something as seemingly minor as a traffic jam could change the face of history! But it might.

As the story unfolds, pundits are scrambling to determine if it will be the end of Christie's Presidential aspirations. While the jury is still out, it would appear that the noose is closing!

With the Establishment, there is cause for concern. Some have suggested that the New Jersey Governor represented the parties' "best chance" to reclaim the White House. If memory serves me correctly, these same strategists were telling the party that it was Mitt Romney who represented Republicans "best chance" to defeat Barack Obama.

I recall the son of a former CIA operative ruefully admitting that is was all "predetermined." His analogy was food for thought.

"It's like a red team and a blue team playing for the same university." His comparison suggested that our two-party system was rigged. Really? Are we that cynical?

The 2012 Republican primary does support such thinking. Do we recall when Mitt Romney begin losing ground to Rick Santorum. For a brief instant, it looked like the former Pennsylvania Senator might actually win Michigan and with it, the primary! It was at that time that the Fortune 500 coffers opened up on behalf of Governor Romney. His campaign survived.

It was equally disquieting to note that these same sources were contributing to the Obama campaign, effectively hedging their bets! There was concern that Santorum's message hinted "protectionism." This is inconsistent with the globalist mindset.

A Christie versus Hillary campaign offers the same benefits as a Mitt versus Obama face off. True, there are some differences. In reality, however we are talking about "slightly different variations of the same ideology." Case in point: "Romney, Obama, Clinton and Christie are "Keynesians."

Losing Christie as a candidate creates a quandary for the Establishment. Who is their next best option?

Ideally it would be Jeb Bush. His father was a noted Keynesian. He knows the ropes. While more socially conservative than Christie, he is trusted by big business. Like his brother, he thinks globally. He would unite the Republican Party. But there is one major problem with the former Florida Governor: He may not be interested in the job!

Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker has been on the tongues of "blue state" Republicans. But does he have the desire to make a go in 2016? Ohio Governor, John Kasich, has likewise been mentioned. But, like Walker, he may not be ready to map a 50-state campaign.

From there, the field becomes even more murky. One liberal blog even suggested that the "big boys" secretly wished for Mitt Ronmney to make another go in 2016!

Obviously, the remaining GOP possibilities concern the Republican Establishment. It may come down to determining who is "most safe" for their interests.

Earlier in the week, Governor Mike Huckabee was listed by one poll as the leader of potential 2016 Republican Presidential contenders. Would the Establishment back him? Possibly. His television show on Fox News has introduced him to the country. He has a warm and reassuring presence. He won the Iowa primary in 2008. Like Bill Clinton, he is from Hope, Arkansas.

Governor Huckabee also knows more about the Clinton's than anyone. His soft, satirical wit would paint the former Secretary of State into the corner of "secular globalism," effectively "demonizing" her, in a nice way! This creates complications. Plus, his "fair tax" is purely a consumption tax. We're talking "major change" in the tax structure.

Governor Rick Perry is more likely to seek the office than either Mike Huckabee or Jeb Bush. While business friendly, Perry believes in the 10th amendment, as in, "states rights." He could prove unpredictable.

From there the field rapidly spirals into an oblivion of uncertainties. These power brokers do not like or want something that they can't put their finger on!

In many ways, the implosion of Governor Christie may be the best thing that could happen to the Republican Party. There is a need for something new. But the Establishment doesn't want "new." They want dependable. They like knowing the outcome, before it is upon them. Mitt Romney and Chris Christie are as close ideologically as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are.

The same thinking prevailed in 1976 when Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford were the nominees. George H.W. Bush was their preference in 1980.

In is encouraging to remember that Ronald Reagan won the nomination in 1980, proving that the system is not rigged! Keynesian Bush initially called Reagan's "supply side" economics "voodoo economics." But, he became Reagan's Vice President and served admirably.

It is probable that whomever the eventual nominee, a similar concession will be made. It comes down to money. These guys have it! Without it, a 50-state campaign in today's America is next to impossible.