Sunday, December 6, 2015

Being Grateful... a Year Around State of Being.

The following article published just for Thanksgiving was of particular interest to me because the author begins his article relating his experience being in Barcelona for Thanksgiving 24 years ago. This year, my wife and I traveled to Barcelona on Thanksgiving to spend the extended Holiday weekend with our youngest daughter, her husband, and our newest grandchild. 

Becoming empty nesters recently, we felt we could abandon our other grown children to their own Thanksgiving traditions and embark on a little adventure of our own.  We loved Barcelona and it's many sites and offerings and especially spending time with our family there.

But I also appreciated the author's explanation of the idea that gratitude as a choice.  Too many of us allow circumstances and others to determine our attitude and disposition.  But choosing to be grateful is not just some pop psychology puffery, it is real. So real in fact, that science has even documented how our choice to ACT a certain way will in fact CHANGE our disposition to be that certain way.  

I hope you enjoy the article, and most of all, I hope we can have an attitude of gratitude in all we do and say.  It can actually be contagious!  

Enjoy the wonderful season of family and friendships and giving to others.  The gift of gratitude may be one of the finest gifts we can give.  BRH

Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier.

NOV. 21, 2015  Arthur C. Brooks 

TWENTY-FOUR years ago this month, my wife and I married in Barcelona, Spain. Two weeks after our wedding, flush with international idealism, I had the bright idea of sharing a bit of American culture with my Spanish in-laws by cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner.

Easier said than done. Turkeys are not common in Barcelona. The local butcher shop had to order the bird from a specialty farm in France, and it came only partially plucked. Our tiny oven was too small for the turkey. No one had ever heard of cranberries.

Over dinner, my new family had many queries. Some were practical, such as, “What does this beast eat to be so filled with bread?” But others were philosophical: “Should you celebrate this holiday even if you don’t feel grateful?”

I stumbled over this last question. At the time, I believed one should feel grateful in order to give thanks. To do anything else seemed somehow dishonest or fake — a kind of bourgeois, saccharine insincerity that one should reject. It’s best to be emotionally authentic, right? Wrong. Building the best life does not require fealty to feelings in the name of authenticity, but rather rebelling against negative impulses and acting right even when we don’t feel like it. In a nutshell, acting grateful can actually make you grateful.

For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult. Even beyond deprivation and depression, there are many ordinary circumstances in which gratitude doesn’t come easily. This point will elicit a knowing, mirthless chuckle from readers whose Thanksgiving dinners are usually ruined by a drunk uncle who always needs to share his political views. Thanks for nothing.

Beyond rotten circumstances, some people are just naturally more grateful than others. A 2014 article in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience identified a variation in a gene (CD38) associated with gratitude. Some people simply have a heightened genetic tendency to experience, in the researchers’ words, “global relationship satisfaction, perceived partner responsiveness and positive emotions (particularly love).” That is, those relentlessly positive people you know who seem grateful all the time may simply be mutants.

But we are more than slaves to our feelings, circumstances and genes. Evidence suggests that we can actively choose to practice gratitude — and that doing so raises our happiness.

This is not just self-improvement hokum. For example, researchers in one 2003 study randomly assigned one group of study participants to keep a short weekly list of the things they were grateful for, while other groups listed hassles or neutral events. Ten weeks later, the first group enjoyed significantly greater life satisfaction than the others. Other studies have shown the same pattern and lead to the same conclusion. If you want a truly happy holiday, choose to keep the “thanks” in Thanksgiving, whether you feel like it or not.

How does all this work? One explanation is that acting happy, regardless of feelings, coaxes one’s brain into processing positive emotions. In one famous 1993 experiment, researchers asked human subjects to smile forcibly for 20 seconds while tensing facial muscles, notably the muscles around the eyes called the orbicularis oculi (which create “crow’s feet”). They found that this action stimulated brain activity associated with positive emotions.

If grinning for an uncomfortably long time like a scary lunatic isn’t your cup of tea, try expressing gratitude instead. According to research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a key part of the brain that regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (part of our “reward circuitry” that produces the sensation of pleasure).

It’s science, but also common sense: Choosing to focus on good things makes you feel better than focusing on bad things. As my teenage kids would say, “Thank you, Captain Obvious.” In the slightly more elegant language of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus, “He is a man of sense who does not grieve for what he has not, but rejoices in what he has.”

In addition to building our own happiness, choosing gratitude can also bring out the best in those around us. Researchers at the University of Southern California showed this in a 2011 study of people with high power but low emotional security (think of the worst boss you’ve ever had). The research demonstrated that when their competence was questioned, the subjects tended to lash out with aggression and personal denigration. When shown gratitude, however, they reduced the bad behavior. That is, the best way to disarm an angry interlocutor is with a warm “thank you.”

I learned this lesson 10 years ago. At the time, I was an academic social scientist toiling in professorial obscurity, writing technical articles and books that would be read by a few dozen people at most. Soon after securing tenure, however, I published a book about charitable giving that, to my utter befuddlement, gained a popular audience. Overnight, I started receiving feedback from total strangers who had seen me on television or heard me on the radio.

One afternoon, I received an unsolicited email. “Dear Professor Brooks,” it began, “You are a fraud.” That seemed pretty unpromising, but I read on anyway. My correspondent made, in brutal detail, a case against every chapter of my book. As I made my way through the long email, however, my dominant thought wasn’t resentment. It was, “He read my book!” And so I wrote him back — rebutting a few of his points, but mostly just expressing gratitude for his time and attention. I felt good writing it, and his near-immediate response came with a warm and friendly tone.

DOES expressing gratitude have any downside? Actually, it might: There is some research suggesting it could make you fat. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Psychology finds evidence that people begin to crave sweets when they are asked to express gratitude. If this finding holds up, we might call it the Pumpkin Pie Paradox.

The costs to your weight notwithstanding, the prescription for all of us is clear: Make gratitude a routine, independent of how you feel — and not just once each November, but all year long.
There are concrete strategies that each of us can adopt. First, start with “interior gratitude,” the practice of giving thanks privately. Having a job that involves giving frequent speeches — not always to friendly audiences — I have tried to adopt the mantra in my own work of being grateful to the people who come to see me.

Next, move to “exterior gratitude,” which focuses on public expression. The psychologist Martin Seligman, father of the field known as “positive psychology,” gives some practical suggestions on how to do this. In his best seller “Authentic Happiness,” he recommends that readers systematically express gratitude in letters to loved ones and colleagues. A disciplined way to put this into practice is to make it as routine as morning coffee. Write two short emails each morning to friends, family or colleagues, thanking them for what they do.

Saint Benedict would approve...

Finally, be grateful for useless things. It is relatively easy to be thankful for the most important and obvious parts of life — a happy marriage, healthy kids or living in America. But truly happy people find ways to give thanks for the little, insignificant trifles. Ponder the impractical joy in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem “Pied Beauty”:

Glory be to God for dappled things —
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced — fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

Be honest: When was the last time you were grateful for the spots on a trout? More seriously, think of the small, useless things you experience — the smell of fall in the air, the fragment of a song that reminds you of when you were a kid. Give thanks.

This Thanksgiving, don’t express gratitude only when you feel it. Give thanks especially when you don’t feel it. Rebel against the emotional “authenticity” that holds you back from your bliss. As for me, I am taking my own advice and updating my gratitude list. It includes my family, faith, friends and work. But also the dappled complexion of my bread-packed bird. And it includes you, for reading this column.

Arthur C. Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing opinion writer.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Olene Walker - Principle Centered Politician

Former Utah Gov. Olene Walker (Olene S. Walker Institute of Policy and Public Service)

Olene Walker was a great friend and an example of principle centered politics. 

The Deseret News did a fine job in the following article describing her public persona.  It is a wonderful tribute to honor her for a viewing at the Utah State Capitol this afternoon and evening.  

My personal sympathies and prayers are extended to the Walker family.  BRH    Deseret News Article Link

SALT LAKE CITY — Olene Walker, the only woman to serve as Utah's governor, died Saturday due to causes incident to age. She was 85.
In her eight years as a legislator, 11 years as the state’s second-in-command and 426 days as governor, Walker developed a reputation as a trailblazing lawmaker who led with grit and charisma.
"I honestly don't know of a single person who does not have a high regard for her," said former Gov. Mike Leavitt, who recruited her as his running mate in 1992. "That's a tribute to the tone of her personality, the genuineness of her concern — she was a friend to everybody, but especially the downtrodden."
On Saturday, Gov. Gary Herbert authorized flags to be lowered to half-staff until sunset Thursday.
"On behalf of all Utahns, we express our gratitude for the sacrifice and leadership of one of Utah's finest public servants," Herbert said in a statement.
A number of Utah political leaders also released statements about Walker on Saturday, including former governor Jon Huntsman Jr., members of Utah's congressional delegation and Utah State Senate President Wayne Niederhauser.
In a statement, Sen. Orrin Hatch said Walker "truly paved the way for women in government in Utah."
"Throughout her life she displayed great integrity, determination, strength, and wisdom," Hatch said.
Colleagues remembered Walker, who served as governor from Nov. 5, 2003 to Jan. 3, 2005, as approachable and kind and possessed of limitless energy, despite assuming office in her mid-70s — the oldest governor in the nation at the time.
While in office, she championed education and wasn't afraid of stirring up the Legislature to do so.
Walker gained the wrath of some conservatives when she vetoed an early effort at vouchers for private schools. She sparred with legislators again over an early reading program, threatening to veto the state budget proposal unless lawmakers came up with funding for it — which they did.
Her pragmatism, humility and sense of humor made her well-respected on both sides of the aisle.
“Even though I was a Democrat, it didn’t matter,” said Meghan Holbrook, the former chairwoman of the state Democratic Party. “She was strategic, she was smart, she was witty, she was tough. She did politics with grace and compassion and great good will — all in high heels.”
Walker left office with an 87 percent approval rating.
Walker assumed the role of governor after Leavitt resigned to head the Environmental Protection Agency in 2003. Prior to that she served as lieutenant governor for a decade — the longest tenure of any lieutenant governor in Utah.
Walker had a rural charm that led some colleagues in the Legislature to refer to her as "Aunt Bea," a reference to a motherly character in the 1960s "Andy Griffith" TV show.
"We had a joke, she and I," said Carol McNamara, the director of the Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics & Public Service at Weber State University. "She would tell me about someone and she would say, 'She’s a good friend of mine.’ And then she would realize that she says that all the time. And my response was always that I think it’s true — she had more good friends and she inspired so much admiration and respect across the political spectrum in Utah."
Walker was a Utah woman through and through. Raised on a farm in Weber County, the girl who grew up milking cows, thinning sugar beets and hauling hay went on to earn a master’s degree from Stanford University and a doctorate from the University of Utah.
Friends said that even as lieutenant governor, Walker was so humble she refused to use the driver offered to her. Holbrook recalled seeing Walker walking down the street toward the Little America Hotel, where she was supposed to give a speech.
“I said, ‘What are you doing, lieutenant governor?’ and she said, ‘My car has a flat tire and I didn’t want to call the highway patrol, so will you give me a ride?’” said Holbrook, laughing. "And that was so her."
Before her political career, Walker was a homemaker, a mother of seven children and a partner in her husband Myron’s successful snack food business.
Even then, she was known for being a tireless worker. As a public servant, Walker was known to work 19-hour days and joked that she dried her hair by sticking her head out of the car window on her way to work.
Despite her popularity with the public, Walker didn't win enough votes at the Utah Republican Convention in 2004 for her reelection bid, passed over in favor of Jon Huntsman Jr. and Nolan Karras. Some believed her tough stances on education and moderate politics as governor hurt her reelection bid.
As her political career ended, she told the Deseret News, “I’ll just be a grandmother, go down to St. George and play some golf.”
The former governor did more than that.
She served a mission with her husband in New York City for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for two years. At 80 years old, she was serving as Primary president in the Bloomington 7th Ward.
The Utah Debate Commission Board, which Walker co-chaired after it was formed in 2013, also released a statement about her passing.
"She will be remembered as a passionate advocate for educating citizens about their government, but also as a friend to all," read the statement from the executive committee.
In her later years, Walker turned her attention to encouraging students and women to get engaged in politics, creating the institute at Weber State University that bears her name: The Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics & Public Service.
McNamara, the director, called Walker "among the most impressive human beings with whom I have been associated." She added that Walker's involvement is what inspired her to join as director.
"She's larger than life in so many ways," said McNamara. "I think she's often the smartest person in the room."
In a statement, Jackie Biskupski — set to become Salt Lake City's second female mayor — called Walker "a trailblazing woman in Utah politics who made our state a better place by setting an example of civility and kindness that should be the hallmarks of public service."
In her final years, friends said Walker seemed to have more energy than others — serving on a dozen boards and continuing to advocate for causes such as education, affordable housing and public lands.
Leavitt said that was just like Walker: Always looking forward, not back.

“She was a person of great stature,” said Leavitt, “whose feet did not leave the ground.”

Speaker Paul Ryan - Confident about Confidence as the Message for the Future...

Full Text of Speaker Ryan's Remarks at the

Library of Congress

WASHINGTON, DC – Speaking in the Great Hall at the Library of Congress today, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) outlined his vision for a confident America at home and abroad, pledging that his top priority as Speaker in 2016 will be offering the country a bold, pro-growth agenda.

Remarks of Speaker Ryan, as prepared for delivery.
December 3, 2015

“Thank you very much. I’m delighted to be here and to see so many friends in the audience. Thank you all for coming. I also want to thank the library’s staff for their kind hospitality.

“The reason I asked you all here today is I wanted to lay out my number-one goal for the next year in the House. I became speaker just over a month ago, and I’d like to think we’ve hit the ground running. We are dealing with everything from highways to ISIS to funding the government. But before we get too far along, I want to take a moment and explain the big thing I think House Republicans need to do in 2016.

“A great frustration in our party is we have not had a real, national majority in seven years. We have controlled Congress, but not the presidency. And we need to. This country has big problems. But if we do not have a president who will work with us, we will not solve those problems—that is, while they are still solvable. And whatever the Left may say, I know my colleagues in the House Republican conference. I know why they got into politics. We are not here to be someone but to do something—to serve our country. We believe in the American Idea: The condition of your birth should not determine the outcome of your life. And we want to do our part to pass on that idea to the next generation. We do not see politics as a popularity contest. To us, it is a calling. We do not care for the tricks of the trade. What we love are ideas.

“So it is with great dismay that we have watched our president transform the country—and not for the better. And it is natural, after losing to your opponents for so long, that people start to think, maybe they are on to something. Maybe the way to win the debate is to play identity politics, never mind ideas. Maybe what you do is slice and dice the electorate: Demonize. Polarize. Turn out your voters. Hope the rest stay home. And I would just say, yes, it’s possible we could win that way—but to what end?

“I don’t think all that many people are walking away from this presidency thinking, ‘That went well.’ We still have enormous problems. But now the country is divided. And the federal government has grown arrogant, condescending, and outright paternalistic. So I’d say what we’ve seen these past seven years is the illusion of success. The Left may be good at tactics. But tactics are not solutions. They can win an election. But they can’t win a mandate. They can make you popular. But they can’t solve problems. They can help a party. But they can’t save the country. So why in the world would we want to act that way?

“If we want to save the country, then we need a mandate from the people. And if we want a mandate, then we need to offer ideas. And if we want to offer ideas, then we need to actually have ideas. And that’s where House Republicans come in. So, our number-one goal for the next year is to put together a complete alternative to the Left’s agenda. This is a work in progress, no doubt. So today I want to talk basics, fundamentals. What kind of country do we want to be? I do not presume to speak for all Republicans in all particulars. But after giving it a lot of thought, this is what I think a conservative vision looks like:

“We want America to be confident again. If you don’t have a job, we want you to be confident that you can find one—and take it. If you do have a job, we want you to be confident that that job will pay well. We want students to know that all that school—and all that debt—will be worth it. We want seniors to know that all those years of hard work—and all those years of paying taxes—will be rewarded. Medicare and Social Security will be there when you need them. We want all Americans, when they look at Washington, to see spending going down, taxes going down, debt going down. We want to see progress and have pride. We want people to believe in the future again. We want a country where no one is stuck, where no one settles, where everyone can rise.

“And on the world stage, it is no different: We want a confident America—a purposeful America. We want to know we stand for freedom and show it—not with bluster or bravado, but with calm, steady action. We want our military to command respect from our adversaries and to inspire confidence in our allies. And when they come home, we want to give our veterans the care they deserve. We want our president, whatever the party, to always keep an eye on our interests and never turn a blind eye to the truth. We want America to lead again. That is the America we need.

“And that is not the America we have now. The people are not confident. They are downright anxious. And they have every right to be. But there is reason for hope—especially for conservatives. The world is proving us right. Technology is making life more decentralized. The old, top-down formulas just won’t do. For a long time, the Left has thought that if you want to solve a problem, you get a group of highly trained experts to come up with an answer and impose it on the country. Nowadays, most of us would agree, that’s the last thing you should do. The world moves just too fast. Government is always a step behind. So oddly enough, it is the progressives who are stuck in the past.

“And this is the thing they miss: More bureaucracy means less opportunity—because big government and big business don’t fight each other so much as feed each other. This is how it works: Smart, talented people go into government thinking the only way to fix complicated problems is with complicated laws—laws that only people like themselves can understand. They make new bureaucracies. They put up red tape. And then? And then they go into the private sector and help businesses navigate the very maze they created. If the insurance industry does not understand how Obamacare works, why not hire the person who ran it? This works out great for them. But what about the rest of us? What about the people who can’t get ahead because costs are too high . . . or who don’t create jobs because the laws are so confusing? And so round and round the revolving door goes, all while the people stand on the sidelines.

“That’s how today’s experts become tomorrow’s cronies. And that’s why we don’t think government should bulk up the bureaucracy. We think it should break up problems so people can solve them themselves. Don’t hire more bureaucrats. Don’t leave it up to their discretion. Set clear, firm rules that all of us can live by—rules that tell us what’s expected and what’s off limits. And then let the people go to work. That, to me, is the conservative insight: Don’t outsource to the bureaucracy. Crowdsource.

“That kind of government would not only preserve equal opportunity. It would protect the dignity of the individual. Bad government tries to blunt what makes each of us unique. Good government defends it. Bad government tries to tie us all down. Good government frees us to be our best. And so is government important? Absolutely—it’s essential. But there’s no mistaking the field for the game. What government is supposed to do is create an environment where the individual can thrive and communities can bloom. In other words, government makes things possible, but the people make them happen.

“Only government that sends power back to the people can make America confident again. And we House Republicans will do all we can to give us that government—even if the president disagrees. Even if he won’t sign them into law, we will put out specific proposals and give the people a real choice. And I don’t mean just undo what the president has done—as if we could time-travel back to 2009. I mean show what we would do, what our ideal policy would be—looking forward to 2017 and beyond. We owe it to the country to offer a bold, pro-growth agenda. And that is what we are going to do.

“The first item on that agenda is creating jobs and raising wages. And we know what’s standing in our way. Instead of a tax code that all of us can live by, we have a tax code that none of us can understand. We all know how hard it is to keep up with the competition overseas. And where I come from, overseas means Lake Superior. Well, the Canadians are taxing their small businesses at 15 percent. But our top tax rate on successful small businesses is effectively 44.6 percent. How can working families compete like that?

“The only way to fix our broken tax code is to simplify, simplify, simplify. Close all those loopholes and use that money to cut tax rates for everybody. Take the seven tax rates we have now and collapse them to two or three. Look, I know people like many of these loopholes, and they have their reasons. But there are so many of them that now the tax code is like a to-do list—Washington’s to-do list. But Washington has no business micromanaging people’s lives—pure and simple. I also know many of these loopholes will be fiercely defended. All I can say is we will not be cowed. We are not here to smooth things over. We are here to shake things up.

“I know Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady can’t wait to get to work. And this is the point: We want a tax code that rewards good work instead of good connections. When people know they will keep more of their hard-earned money, they will work more, save more, invest more—and create more jobs for all of us. And when there is more work to go around, more people will see their wages go up.

“But there’s not much upside to getting a raise if the cost of living goes up too. There are many things to do, but most urgent is to repeal and replace Obamacare. When people ask me what’s wrong with the law, I usually say to them, how much time do you have? But if I had to point out one thing, it would be the mandates, the restrictions, all the red tape. How do I know they have failed? You notice we don’t talk about lowering premiums anymore. We’re supposed to be happy if they don’t go up by double digits.

“This is the problem: The other side thinks that to lower costs for some people you have to raise them for others. Life is a zero-sum game. They know people won’t buy pricey insurance. So their solution is, don’t give them a choice. We say lower costs for everybody by giving them that choice. Instead of forcing you to buy insurance, we should force insurance companies to compete for your business. Let people find a plan that works for them. And yes, help people pay for health insurance.

“I’ve long believed we should offer an individual tax credit to help people pay for premiums—giving more to the old and sick. There are a lot of other ideas out there, but what all conservatives can agree on is this: We think government should encourage personal responsibility, not replace it. We think prices are going up because people have too few choices, not because they have too many. And we think this problem is so urgent that, next year, we are going to unveil a plan to replace every word of Obamacare.

“Then there are the millions of people stuck in neutral: 6 million people who have no choice but to work part time, 45 million people living in poverty. Conservatives need to have an answer to this—because we do not write people off in this country. We just don’t.

“But this is what happens. The federal government says, “Look, if you’re going through a rough patch, we will pay for your food, your housing, your medicine, your heat, and on and on and on.” Add them all up, and we have something like 82 different programs to help people in need. And we’re thinking all these benefits will lift people up. But in fact they hold people back—because, under the law, the minute you start to make real money, these benefits start to disappear—and fast. Yes, you’re making more money. But you’re losing 80, 90 cents on the dollar in higher taxes and lower benefits. So say you’re a single mom with one kid. You’re making minimum wage. You’re on food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance, and other assistance. And you hear about a job that pays more. Should you really take that job? The answer, in this country, should always be yes. But can you really blame someone for thinking no? The intentions may be good. But the results are clear: We are trapping people in poverty.

“We have to make sure it always pays to work. In 1996, we created a work requirement for welfare. But that was just one program. We have to fix all the others now. I’d combine a lot of them and send that money back to the states for better poverty-fighting solutions. Require everyone who can to work. Let states and communities try different ideas. And then test the results. I have found the poorest neighborhoods often are the most creative. They are full of entrepreneurs and innovators—people who really know how to fight poverty. They don’t need to be supplanted. They need to be supported. And so this is the difference between the Left and the Right: They look at people in need and see a burden to bear, people to take care of. We look at people in need and see potential.

“Push wages up. Push the cost of living down. Get people off the sidelines. I could think of no better way to restore confidence in the American economy. And as we grow more secure at home, we will grow stronger on the world stage.

“In fact, they are directly related. If we want to create good jobs, we need to make more things in America and sell them overseas, because 96 percent of the world’s people—they don’t live in the United States. They live in other countries. And we will not sell them as much as we could if we don’t have trade agreements. Other countries will not stop taxing and blocking our exports unless we negotiate with them. Look at it this way: If you add up all the countries that do not have a trade agreement with us, we have a big manufacturing trade deficit. But if you add up all the countries that do have a trade agreement with us, we have a surplus. Now, before we sign up for any agreement, we have to make sure it is a fair deal. I’m thinking of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in particular. But we have to engage. Only an active, forward-leaning America can tear down barriers to American exports.

“And this is more than a negotiating strategy. It goes to the core of our philosophy. We believe in free enterprise. We believe, if you have a good idea, you should have a fair chance to make it happen. That means Americans should not have to pay unnecessary costs or wait and wait and wait just to get a permit. They should compete on a level playing field with everybody else. I don’t know why we would not fight for every job out there. I don’t know why we would accept—or even worse, adopt—other countries’ corporate welfare when we know our way is better. There won’t be a level playing field—there won’t be free and fair trade—unless we work for it. China is out there every day pushing for crony capitalism. So it all comes down to this question: Are we going to write the rules of the global economy—or is China?

“I would also say that uniting our friends behind good trade agreements will enhance our national security. But of course the biggest danger to our national security is more straightforward: Our adversaries don’t respect us. Too many people think a warning from the United States is the hollow protest of a has-been.

“That has to change. We need to build a 21st century military. And I don’t mean just pour more money into the Pentagon. We have to reform the Pentagon, so it can adapt to new threats. Acquire new capabilities more quickly—whether it’s advanced missile defense or directed energy weapons. And there’s no one better to lead that effort than the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Mac Thornberry.

“A strong America does not threaten the peace. A strong America is what protects the peace. Now we need to act like it. ISIS is a serious threat. We need a strategy to defeat it. Our friends in Europe and Asia and the Middle East are embattled. We need to give them support. We need to strengthen both our economy and our military to show the world that freedom works. And when we do, the world will see a confident America once again.

“This is how I see the choice. Now the country needs to see it. Today, I have laid out our principles. Now we need to turn them into policies. And we are not going to solve all the country’s problems next year. We need a new president. It’s just that simple. But even if we can’t move mountains, we can make moves in the right direction. The cautious may wait for their opportunity, but the prudent will make it. We can make progress on issues where there’s bipartisan agreement, like rebuilding our roads and bridges or bringing some certainty to the tax code. We don’t have to compromise our principles to work with the other side. Even a blind squirrel can find a nut every now and then, and hard as it might be to believe, even politicians can find common ground.

“So what it all comes down to is whether we conservatives have confidence in ourselves. Do we really believe our philosophy is true? Do we have the best ideas? If so, then I don’t see any reason why we should hold back. The truth is, the Left wants to make the debate about personalities. They want to paint us as irresponsible. That’s because we all know what the Left stands for. We all know what another progressive presidency would mean: just more of the same.
“So don’t take the bait. Don’t play their game. Don’t give them a win by default. Put together a positive agenda, and take it to the American people. Give people the choice they are yearning for. And if next year, this House can say we have done that, then we will have done our job. When the people go to the polls, they will know that a vote for us is a vote for a more prosperous, a more secure, a more confident America. And the rest? Well, the rest will be up to the people—as it should be. Thank you.”

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

One of the really good guys... Dick Richards

     When you think who are the really good guys in politics... Dick Richards' name immediately comes to mind.  Dick was one in whom you could trust.  He was honest, ethical, and personable.  Of course he was a great political mind as well.  Dick didn't brag, he didn't grandstand, and as he used to describe a very few others in politics, he was a "workhorse" not a "show horse".  He was very kind to a very young and green State Chairman; I learned a lot from him, mostly just observing him.

We who knew him will miss him.  Those of you who didn't know him, take the time to read about him below.  And know, he was one of the really good guys in politics...

Bruce R. Hough
National Committeeman, Utah

May 14, 1932 – Jan 30, 2015

Dick has fought the good fight, and is ready for new experiences. The second of nine children, he was born at the Old Dee Hospital, in Ogden, Utah, to Blaine Boyden and Violet Geneva Williams Richards on May 14, 1932. He came to earth with remarkable talents that would give him remarkable opportunities. He graduated from Weber High School in 1950, and attended Weber Junior College in 1951 until he was drafted into the Army during the Korean War. He met his wife, Annette Bott, while attending Weber College. They were married January 15, 1954 in the Salt Lake LDS Temple. He attended Officer's Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia; followed by a tour of duty in Japan as a 2nd Lieutenant.

Following his three years in the service, he worked for his dad as a sign painter while attending the University of Utah Law School, graduating in 1961. He practiced law in Ogden for twenty years, but his primary interest was politics. He had a unique sense about the political scene and it served him well. He started out at the grass roots level and served as Utah Young Republican Chairman while he was still in Law School. While practicing law, he worked on a number of congressional campaigns for Douglas Stringfellow, Henry Aldous Dixon, and Laurence Burton, Congressmen from the First District. He had a keen organizational mind that took him to Washington D.C. as both a Legislative, and then as an Administrative Assistant to Congressman Burton for two years. In his return to Utah he served two terms as Utah Republican Chairman.

Because of the success the Republican Party experienced in Utah while he was Chairman, he was invited to join the Republican National Committee as Political Director under Chairman Rogers Morton. He worked on both of Richard Nixon's campaigns; overseeing the entire Western States region with the exception of Texas and California. In 1975, he served a third term as Utah Republican Chairman, while serving on Ronald Reagan's committee during his initial run for the presidency in 1976. He continued working on the committee in preparation for Reagan's campaign in 1979-80. Extremely knowledgeable of the Western States politically, he headed up the campaign in the Western States, including California, helping to improve the Reagan campaign organization.

With the election of Ronald Reagan as President of the United States, he was asked to serve as Republican National Chairman, serving faithfully from 1980-1982. He was a Senior Advisor in President George H.W. Bush's campaigns.

As an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he served in many callings: including Teacher, High Councilman and as Bishop of the McLean, Virginia First Ward. In 1995, as a former Republican National Chairman, he was given a special Church assignment to travel throughout Australia and New Zealand, co-sponsored by the National Press Clubs of both countries and the LDS Church. There was a great interest in the U.S. political arena, but it was important to introduce the Church's "Family Proclamation" to the leaders and people of these nations. It was a successful tour and it was reported that the proclamation had been accepted and was being used. Dick and his wife also served as full-time missionaries for the Church in the Rochester New York Mission from 2000-2002.
Twenty-eight years ago, he developed some serious heart problems, yet it never stopped him from doing what he felt he needed to do. He had many open-heart surgeries over the years, but he survived because of a strong will to live, an amazing heart, and the excellent medical care he received.

Dick served on the Board of Trustees, as Chairman of the board at Weber State University, and established "The Richard Richards Institute on Ethics." Each year, scholarships are presented to senior high school students chosen from high schools in Weber, Davis, Morgan and Box Elder Counties for writing the best essays on Ethics. His concern for others and the ability to help when it was needed, were two of his greatest qualities. He never turned down anyone who needed help. Often they had problems no one else had been able to solve. He will be sorely missed.

He is survived by his wife Annette, five children, Julie Dockter (Gary), Richard A. Richards (Rita), Jan Stevenson (Tom), Amy Hartvigsen (Darren), Brian Lee Richards, one granddaughter, ten grandsons; with the seventh serving an LDS mission in Chile; fifteen great grandchildren, his brother James (Maurine), sisters, Jackie Palmer (Darrell), Diane Dillingham, Joan Richards, Michele Richards, Rachel Richards, Sally Garner (Bryce), and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Louise.

We wish to thank "Hospice for Utah" for their wonderful supportive care; and for the excellent care he has received from his doctors; Dr. Michael Diehl, Dr. Richard Hall, and Dr. Peter Forstall. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the "Richard Richards Institute of Ethics" at Weber State University.

Viewings will be held Friday, February 6th, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Myers Mortuary, 845 Washington Blvd., in Ogden, UT and prior to services at the church from 9:30-10:30am

Services will be held Saturday, February 7th at 11 a.m. at The Burch Creek 3rd Ward, 5161 S. 1300 E., South Ogden, UT.

Interment will be at Washington Heights Memorial Park.
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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Celebrating Easter... the Foundation of my Faith

(Note: to those friends of mine who are not Christian, I hope you have enjoyed your traditions, religious or otherwise, at this time of year.  Though our religious beliefs may differ, our friendship may endure under the God who made us all.  My best wishes to you and your families during this season of spring and new life.)

I love this video clip  about the significance of the Life, Atonement, and Resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ.  I hope you enjoy it.  I've also repeated my personal testimony of the Jesus the Christ below.

In this season of rebirth and renewal, as buds reappear on the trees after a long winter, and the blades of grass green, and the plants push through the once frozen soil, we are reminded of He who was dead and yet now lives, even Jesus Christ. But this wondrous event of the resurrection was necessarily preceded by the sacrifice of our Redeemer and as the hymn reflects my own thoughts,
"I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
that for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.
I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To RESCUE a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,
that he should extend his great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.
I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt:
such mercy, such love, and devotion can I forget?
No, no, I iwll praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.
Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!"
(Charles H. Gabriel 1856-1932)

Know that the promise of the Atonement, begun in Gethsemane and culminating on Golgotha, is for us all, if we will but repent of our transgressions and accept Christ's redeeming power.  Christ has felt every pain, every anguish, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.

It is Christ's suffering that satisfies the law of justice that all sins must be punished, and through his mercy, grace and love, he tempers that law for each of us. How unloving would we be if we allow Him to have suffered on our behalf, having already paid the price, and we do nothing? All he asks, is that we love Him and love our neighbor, and we do that by obeying His word and abandoning sin. By doing so we show our love for all He has done for us and we make effective in our lives His Atonement. This is the road to Eternal Life.

And now on this Easter day we celebrate the gift given to all mankind by the Savior. The Resurrection; the promise that all will live again with a body perfected and immortal.

Knowing that Christ lives is my testimony. And more, He has provided a way back to live with him and our Father in Heaven through His atoning sacrifice, for which "I Stand All Amazed!"
This hymn summarizes well my testimony:
"I know that my Redeemer lives. What comfort this sweet sentence gives! He lives, he lives, who once was dead. He lives, my ever living Head. He lives to bless me with his love. he lives to plead for me above. He lives my hungry soul to feed. He lives to bless in time of need.
He lives to grant me rich supply. He lives to guide me with his eye. He lives to comfort me when faint. He lives to hear my soul's complaint. He lives to silence all my fears. He lives to wipe away my tears. He lives to calm my troubled heart. he lives all blessings to impart.
He lives, my kind, wise heavenly Friend. He lives and loves me to the end. He lives, and while he lives, I'll sing. He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King. He lives and grants me daily breath. He lives, and I shall conquer death. He lives my mansion to prepare. He lives to bring me safely there
He lives! All glory to his name! He lives, my Savior, still the same. Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: "I know that my Redeemer lives!" He lives! All glory to his name! He lives, my Savior, still the same. Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: "I know that my Redeemer lives!"
(Text: Samuel Medley, 1738-1799; Music: Lewis D. Edwards, 1858-1921)

  May God bless you, your family and friends.  And, may we be worthy to receive His blessings.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Noah... No way!

My good friend David Bradford has a fun blog (David Bradford's Blog ) that he uses to apply lessons from life into a business setting... he was a little generous to assign any worthwhile meaning to the recent movie Noah.  So, I commented on his blog and thought I would share it with you here.

My wife had high expectations for the movie Noah.  Me, less so.  It isn't often that I am impressed with the tone and message of Hollywood's interpretation of the spiritual.  And for those attempting to create a "true" account of the biblical scriptures, the art usually tends to be lacking; Ben Hur not withstanding!
noah the story of one of the most epic biblical figures is about to ...

One of the business lessons to be learned from Noah is, don't assume that the other guy believes the same things you believe.  In business, you may be an ethical, moral capitalist, but the other guy may have no such compass to follow and may be dedicated to a win-lose proposition. 

In the case of Noah, going to a "biblical" movie, directed by an atheist, and based not on the Bible account of Noah but on Gnosticism and Kabbalah (see, ) is a perfect example of setting incorrect expectations.

The problem is, in business one is more inclined to conduct due diligence in these matters, in movie going... let's face it, we're there for an escape, buttered popcorn, and a diet coke...

The most redeeming moment of the movie was Emma Watson's character (who is clearly smarter than Russell Crowe's Noah) who lectured Noah that his "failure" was exactly who God knew him to be, one who would not take the innocent lives of babies.  Oh, and I did quite like the depiction of the Ark... seemed pretty sound to me.


Other than that, it wasn't that good of a movie.  Domestic box office was great the first week, and then word of mouth probably brought it down.  This is a movie that has been "redeemed" financially by its international release... the all-star cast certainly gave it legs overseas.

Take the time to read the link from Dr. Brian Mattson above.  Very interesting essay on the movie and its source material.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Hough Family Christmas Greeting and Card

Dear Friends,

Celebrating the holidays are always special for me because it signals a time when my family gathers together in a spirit of love and service.  During this time, many of my friends have celebrated Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, in commemoration of the rededication of the Holy Temple.  For me and my family, we celebrate the Birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  But I love the idea of rededication
This is a wonderful time for all of us to rededicate ourselves to serving God, serving our neighbors, friends, and family; and especially serving those who are less fortunate than we are. 
It is also a time to rededicate ourselves to being engaged in good causes to better our community, state, nation and the world we live in.  Many people criticize the political process, and there is often much to criticize.  But I hope as the new year emerges we will be invigorated to make a difference by choosing to be involved and by supporting those who share our convictions and beliefs. 
The phrase, "And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” has in the last two centuries been retranslated as " “[O]n earth peace to men of good will.”  This interpretation makes a good case for being men (and women) of good will.  By acting out of good will towards others we will find peace in our lives as a blessing from God.  Peace may be one of God's most precious gifts.  May we act out of good will towards others, whether we agree or disagree with them. 
May God Bless each of you in the coming year. 

All my best from my family to yours, 

Bruce R. Hough
National Committeeman, Utah


Thursday, October 17, 2013

NASDAQ weighs in on Apple Fail and Obamacare Fail Analogy

I'm not the only who gets the Apple Fail and Obamacare Fail Analogy.  This mornings NASDAQ Briefing had this commentary attached... Note that Apple spent $150,000,000 to develop the iPhone and the Federal Government is up to over $600,000,000 to setup a website to connect to insurance companies... Do you understand why it is a bad idea to continue to rely on the Federal Government to do things best left to the private sector?

Why Government Tech Is So Bad

Just before hobbled online, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, compared the federal health-care exchange to her iPad's new operating system.

If users found a few bugs in their iPads, she argued, most wouldn't consider them a complete disaster. Instead, they'd recognize that technology is complicated, that errors are common, and they'd wait for an update. Apple Inc., she added, has "a few more resources" than her department, so "hopefully [citizens will] give us the same slack they give Apple."

That argument is as clueless as it is misleading. While it's true that Apple is fantastically wealthy, its product-development costs aren't necessarily greater than those of the federal government. As Fred Vogelstein reports in his coming book, Apple spent about $150 million developing the iPhone. The health-insurance exchange--which, let's remember, is merely a website meant to connect citizens to insurance companies, something quite a bit less complex than Apple's groundbreaking miniature computer--so far has cost at least $360 million, and possibly as much as $600 million.

So how can the government spend so much more on technology and not get anywhere near equal results? That gets to the larger problem with Ms. Sebelius's iPad argument: When Apple royally screws up, the world doesn't cut it any "slack," and that's a good thing. Note what happened last fall, when Apple replaced Google Inc.'s maps app with its own half-baked version: iPhone users rebelled, the tech press went ape and, within a few days, Chief Executive Tim Cook apologized and eventually fired the company's mobile-software chief.

In consumer tech, performance matters. When things go wrong, customers balk, investors flee, and heads roll. In the government, despite several attempts at reform, few of these consequences seem to apply.

Isn't it time that changed? has been described as a failure by many experts, including supporters of the health law--is only the latest in a series of faulty, overpriced governmental tech launches during administrations of both parties.

It doesn't have to be this way. There's nothing inherent about the phrase "government technology" that should inspire a parade of incompetence; the tech needs of the feds don't have to be vastly more complicated, expensive or legally daunting than the rest of the world's. Instead, the problem is a lack of accountability. As Ms. Sebelius's comments underscore, there's an expectation, bolstered by the historical record, that the government can't do tech well, so we're all expected to forgive its glaring shortcomings.

The truth is that the government could revamp its tech house. For less money than we currently spend on IT, and with a smidgen of political will, we could remake the nation's IT infrastructure using off-the-shelf hardware and software and the best tech practices employed by the world's most admired tech companies. If we do so, dealing with the government--whether for health care, contracting, taxes, or for anything else--could really be as painless as buying a book from Amazon.

Though everything in Washington is partisan these days, this thing doesn't have to be. Both Democrats and Republicans ought to be able to get on board with tech reform; it would improve how we all interact with the government and make the whole system more efficient and affordable.

Tech companies, too, should fight for a new way. Today a small number of insiders are awarded the bulk of federal IT contracts. Reforming the way the government buys and uses tech would open up a vast market to companies such as Apple, Google, Inc., a host of upstarts that are currently revolutionizing every other corner of economic life.

When you examine the follies at the heart of, two important factors stand out, experts say. The first is personnel--like many government IT projects, this was implemented by people who don't understand IT. "There's a lack of technology leadership at the agency level, leading to an inability to execute," said Vivek Kundra, who was appointed the nation's first chief information officer by President Barack Obama in 2009 and who is now an executive at the cloud-services company Inc.

Mr. Kundra said that when he was the nation's CIO, the White House pushed a "cloud-first policy" that encouraged government agencies to avoid creating new server farms every time they had to build new websites, which is how the rest of the world works with tech. "It seems like with, a set of decisions were made at the agency level that aren't in line with how modern technology is deployed," Mr. Kundra said.

Why would the government implement the sort of tech infrastructure that no one else would consider? The answer is the mother all problems in government tech: "procurement." That's jargon for the broken process by which the government buys things.

Today, any company looking to work with the government must navigate an obstacle course of niggling, outdated regulations and arbitrary-seeming requirements. For instance, your technology must be Y2K-compliant just to get in the door. The process locks out all but a tiny handful of full-time contractors--companies who also happen to be big federal lobbyists. (Note how CGI Group Inc., which won the largest contract to build, lobbied on behalf of the health-care law.)

Clay Johnson, a former Presidential Innovation Scholar and the CEO of a reform-minded software company called Department of Better Technology, has written a seven-part manifesto on how to fix procurement, a prescription he says would go far in resolving most of the government's tech issues. His upshot: The government should strive to buy tech like the rest of the world does, opening itself up to vastly more vendors, and aligning price with performance. Logistically, none of the steps he outlines would be very difficult to accomplish. It would just require a full-court press from political leaders to make it happen.

These days, that sounds like reason enough for pessimism, though Mr. Johnson argues that government's tech issues are on the verge of reaching a tipping point that will force action.

"Long term, the government is not able to survive if it keeps using outdated technology, because the gap between last year's technology and this year's technology is always exponentially growing," he said. "You walk into the DMV and the person behind the desk has a CRT monitor and you have an iPhone--that leads to a gap to the perception of confidence. We need to fix that if we want the government to maintain some semblance of confidence, and competence."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Apple Map and Obamacare, two peas in a pod?

In the article below, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus quotes the Washington Post suggesting that if Apple Computer had the kind of failure on a new product roll out that Obamacare has had, that heads would roll. 
The reality is, Apple did launch a major new product that functioned badly… the Apple Map program which was a dismal failure at launch.  Apple did two things correctly that we should take a lesson from.  First, CEO Tim Cook immediately apologized for the flawed program and recommended other map programs for their customers to use; and second, they fired the executive and team that was in charge of this colossal failure.  Such a novel idea, serving the best interests of their customers by recommending other programs until they had fixed theirs.  
The difference is, Apple will figure it out.  They have a track record of innovation and performance.  The Federal Government has a record of performance too... Unfortunately, we just keep ignoring it.
The analogy between Apple Maps and the Federal Government's roll-out of Obamacare is astounding.  The problem is big government thinkers simply don’t get it.

It's time to fire Secretary Sebelius
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
October 15, 2013

“If Apple launched a major new product that functioned as badly as ObamaCare’s online insurance marketplace, the tech world would be calling for [CEO] Tim Cook’s head.”

That searing indictment of Obamacare didn’t come from a conservative. Those were the words of the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein — yes, liberal Ezra Klein —and Evan Soltas in a blog post on Oct. 4, just three days after the online Obamacare marketplace opened. They were right.

Now, two full weeks since its launch, the website still isn’t functioning. One CNN reporter began trying to sign up on Oct. 1. As of the morning of Oct. 14, she still hadn’t been able to. A researcher who works for the New York Times has tried and failed to sign up for Obamacare 40 times since the website launched. But the Obama administration continues making excuses for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the people who spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on a site that does not work.

How much more money will her department waste — and how much time will Americans waste on the website — before the administration admits they have a problem? In a business, someone would be held accountable for such a large-scale disaster.

When pressed on her failures, Sebelius repeats her favorite line: “We had some early glitches.” A glitch, says Merriam-Webster, is “temporary” and “minor.” For two weeks, the Obamacare website has hardly functioned. That’s not minor or temporary. That’s not a glitch; that’s a systemic failure.

HHS had over three years to build the system, and the launch date still caught them entirely off guard—though not for a lack of warning signs.

The New York Times — yes, the liberal New York Times  documented the many red flags.

ObamaCare’s “chief digital architect” worried the site would be a “third-world experience.” The firm contracted to build the site didn’t start writing code until this past spring. “As late as the last week of September, officials were still changing features of the Web site,” reports the Times. Back in February one insurance executive said he foresaw “a train wreck.” He was right.

It’s bad enough that Sebelius and company produced a terrible taxpayer-funded product. It’s even worse that they didn’t heed the warnings or spot the red flags. They put on a smile, flipped the switch, and sat by as it crashed.

Now there is a very simple way that the Obama administration could prove their critics wrong — a way to back up their claim that this really is all about a few “glitches” and that the site has worked for people. They could release the number of Americans who have enrolled for coverage. But they won’t, saying they don’t know the numbers yet and will only report them monthly.

Think about that for a second. This is not an administration that misses an opportunity to brag. They’ve even leaked sensitive national security information to burnish their image. They could release the numbers if they wanted. The truth, most likely, is that the numbers would prove their many critics right.

Then again, maybe they did such a terrible job building the system that it’s impossible even to do something as simple as count enrollees.

The website is only part of the Obamacare story. The law continues to wreck the economy and endanger the healthcare of Americans. More and more families who already have insurance are now receiving the kind of letters that many Americans dread. They’re being dropped from their current plan.

Writing for US News and World Report, Peter Roff shared an excerpt of the letter he received from his insurance company.

“Among other things, these (Affordable Care Act) requirements will cause your benefits to change to include federally-mandated Essential Health Benefits. Since your current benefit plan does not conform to these new mandates, your current health plan will cease upon your anniversary date,” it said.

Again and again and again, President Obama promised that if you like your plan you could keep it. He lied.

And now what are these families without insurance supposed to do?

Find a new plan on the exchanges.

What a train wreck. Even former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs says, “This was bungled badly,” adding “I hope they fire some people that were in charge of making sure this thing was supposed to work.”

I agree. And the first person fired should be Secretary Sebelius.

Reince Priebus is chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hope for the Republic, the House is doing what it is supposed to do, Finally!

It is hard to comprehend that the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid and an MSNBC Reporter, Thomas Roberts could be so clueless about how our Constitutional Republic is supposed to work.

First, Reid asks what give the House the right to "pick and choose" what they will fund. 

Really?  That is EXACTLY what the House is SUPPOSED TO DO!  They are finally doing it, rather than passing huge omnibus bills while most members hold their nose at the inane projects, pork barrel, and unnecessary "necessities" included within.  Click the link to see Harry make the point on why Washington just doesn't get it.

I love that the congress is finally passing funding on a "piecemeal" basis.  That means they KNOW what they are passing out of the house!  Senator Reid you asked, "What gives them the right...?"  Well, to help you out, see what the constitution says about who has the right.

This is what the Constitution defines as the "power of the purse".

“All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.”
— U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 7, clause 1

“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.”
— U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 9, clause 7

You know, that "balance of power" thing... 

Oh wait, Thomas Roberts thinks that electing the president means there is a "mandate" for whatever he wants and Congress should just rubber stamp his agenda... because after all they are only "1/3 of the power in Washington".  

Guess what, we don't care about the power in Washington, we care about our congressmen and senators doing what we elected them to do and for them to fulfill, uphold, and not abuse their constitutional responsibilities...

Good grief... Roberts can't even make a decent argument reading the White House talking points... GOP Chairman Reince Priebus utterly destroyed Roberts' logic on "majority rules"! 

I recommend that Roberts watch this exchange, apologize to Priebus and take a personal oath to go back and study Journalism before ever conducting another interview.  Hmmm, maybe he is just doing what he was taught... I wonder what liberal University taught him how to do his job.  (remember, he wasn't specifically opining or editorializing which would have carried some kind of disclaimer, he was purportedly "reporting" the news and doing a news interview.) 

All in all, I hope the Congress continues to piece meal funding legislation, until as Harry Reid as properly concluded, "only Obamacare is unfunded!" 

Monday, August 19, 2013

RNC Takes a Stand Against Media Bias

I just returned from a couple of days in Boston for the Republican National Committee summer meetings.  Thematically, we are looking ahead to 2014 and 2016 and are choosing not, as Governor Christy colorfully declared, "looking at our navels".  We do not need to litigate over and over why we lost in 2016 (though there are a lot of people who voted Democrat who are asking themselves how they got snookered into that last year...), but we do need to learn from the past and not repeat the mistakes that were made.

Mostly, we have learned that you cannot run an 8 month campaign and expect to win.  We have entered the era of the perpetual campaign.  And with that realization the RNC is doing all of the right things to produce better results.  One of those things is to not be the media's punching bag... the time of  "Never argue with someone who buys ink by the barrel” are gone.  Because today, ink is free.  At least the written word now available universally through the internet, is free... and it is now a companion, if not a replacement for the traditional mainstream media, especially newspapers.  Do you think for minute that Jeff Bezos of fame will follow anything even remotely traditional with his purchase of the Washington Post?  He is the king of on-line and believe me he knows that paper and ink are not the delivery system of the future.

And guess what, certain mainstream networks and even cable news networks are not the only choices anymore... No one has a lock on communications media, and as a party, if a network is going to be blatantly biased, there is no obligation or need to acquiesce to the assumption that they have a "right" to participate in the Party's responsibility to conduct its primary debates.  There are plenty of choices. got this right... see the article below about RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and his stand against media bias.  I was proud to vote unanimously with my colleagues to "inform" those media outlets who are blatantly using their networks to promote other candidates that they can do so without including our candidates' debates in their schedule of programming...
August 19, 2013

Priebus Hits a Home Run
Bruce Bialosky

Finally the Republicans have someone in charge that is not afraid of his own shadow. Republicans are always cowering to the mainstream press while they mutter about the corrosiveness of it. If he keeps it up, the Republicans might actually win the U.S. Senate in 2014 and the Presidency in 2016. We are referring, of course, to Reince Priebus, Chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC).

You probably have heard that two television operations announced they were doing projects about Hillary Clinton. NBC has plans to produce and air a four hour mini-series about Hillary Clinton and CNN has plans for a documentary. Diane Lane has been attached to the NBC mini-series to play Ms. Clinton which speaks to the evenhandedness of that program. That is equivalent to a film about my life story with Brad Pitt in the starring role.

In a previous world, we would not even be having this discussion. These projects would never ever have been brought forward because even my dogs know Hillary Clinton is running for president in 2016, and the appearance of a potential conflict of interest would be killed by the news divisions. But that does not happen any longer. When CBS’s Les Moonves, head of TV’s most successful network, stated while attending a Barack Obama fundraiser that “ultimately journalism has changed… partisanship is very much a part of journalism now,” why would anyone believe that NBC and CNN would be even-handed?

They have defended their respective decisions by stating that the entertainment departments were planning these programs. NBC can at least attempt this ploy since they have an entertainment division (their ratings for the past decade notwithstanding). CNN, which last time anyone checked, is solely a news network. Their argument is that CNN Films, a division of CNN Worldwide, is doing the film. One wonders if CNN Sports is next.

Fortunately Mr. Priebus saw through this charade and finally drew a line that should have been drawn years ago. Priebus must have been watching in 1992 when Carole Simpson of ABC News hosted a debate that was so slanted against President George H.W. Bush you would have thought she was on the Clinton payroll. He certainly was watching as Candy Crowley of CNN injected herself in the debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney with an absolutely wrong answer regarding what Obama said September 12, 2012, about Benghazi and terrorism, thus ending Romney’s attempt to unsettle Obama on a critical issue.

Priebus came out and stated the obvious; that if these two operations went forth with their Hillary projects the Republicans would not play ball with them during the 2016 election cycle. That means the Republican primary debates would be held on networks other than NBC, MSNBC or CNN. One has to wonder why Republicans would have debates on these networks in the first place -- as if they would be fair and even-handed. Envision Lawrence O’Donnell asking Marco Rubio why his policies encourage the starvation of young children.

When Priebus appeared on Fox News’ Special Report, he misspoke when being interviewed by Bret Baier by stating the RNC would want to approve the moderators for debates. Baier jumped on that, but Priebus is not far off. Maybe the RNC should not approve moderators, but they certainly should be able to veto moderators who they have every reason to believe would be less than fair in critical moments of debates.

Priebus appears to be on firm ground. Chuck Todd of NBC News came out and said that the proposed mini-series would be a nightmare for the news division. Andrea Mitchell followed up criticizing the project. It is nice to see that the network of Huntley, Brinkley, Chancellor and Brokaw still has a modicum of integrity. Unfortunately voices have been silent at CNN. How NBC can go forward with their political reporters in open revolt will be fascinating to watch.

Kudos to Priebus for coming forth and saying we aren’t going to take it any longer. This follows on the heels of some other common-sense decisions that sources say are coming down the pipeline. These decisions include actual full-blown outreach to minorities, moving the national convention to June and limiting the endless string of primary debates to a set number that will only protect all candidates from the supercilious situation that occurred in 2012. Next thing you know, the RNC will be establishing integrated candidate development from the grassroots through the national level – actual cooperation for all levels of the Republican Party.

If the mainstream media revamps how they operate to recognize the new reality that was clearly enunciated by CBS President Les Moonves, then Republicans need to confront that new reality and adjust how they operate. Priebus took the first step and it was a Crush Davis grand slam.
Priebus Hits a Homerun