Cleveland rocks!

To me, it was good news from the RNC: the 2016 GOP convention is slated for Cleveland. For those of us on the East Coast, it’s a city within driving distance and in my case I would have a ready-made place to stay because part of my family lives there. The “mistake on the lake” could achieve the daily double as well, since the Democrats also have their eye on Cleveland for their convention – if so, it will be the first time in 44 years both parties have held their convention in the same city, with Miami being the site of both 1972 conventions. Cleveland last hosted a national convention in 1936, when Republicans picked Alf Landon to face Franklin Roosevelt. (They also hosted the 1924 GOP convention, which nominated President Calvin Coolidge for a full term.)

But to me it’s a milestone of a city going through the pains of revitalization, A few weeks ago, on my Sausage Grinder blog, I wrote a piece reviewing a study done in Cleveland about how the city is attracting more and more young workers. Frustrated by high real estate prices on the coasts and finding good jobs in the “eds and meds” fields, Cleveland is becoming a destination of choice around the region. Yes, that Cleveland.

If the GOP wants to send a message about their vision for America, they should focus on the process Cleveland is using for its rebirth. The city is a laboratory to study mistakes made and methods which work, as it serves as a microcosm of sorts for the country at large. Built up in an era when brains and brawn were needed in equal supply to create the goods which helped a young America prosper and witness to an exodus to both its suburbs and more favorable regions which all but killed the city, Cleveland can still be a survivor. As I wrote in my piece, Cleveland is a place “where manufacturing is in the blood.” I think making things in America again is the key to a national renaissance.

Certainly Dallas and Kansas City, Cleveland’s two main opponents in the fight to be convention host, have their own stories to tell. But there’s a political factor to consider: Texas and Missouri have been fairly safe Republican territory over the last several elections, but Ohio has gone with the winning Presidential candidate a remarkable 13 elections in a row – so any Republican advantage there can be vital. On a state level, the GOP has been dominant for much of the last quarter-century, albeit with less-than-conservative politicians occupying the governor’s chair – George Voinovich, Bob Taft, and John Kasich have left a lot to be desired insofar as the conservative movement is concerned. But if Kasich secures re-election this year, he will be the fourth two-term Republican governor in a row stretching back to the days of James Rhodes, who served four non-consecutive terms beginning in 1963.

So if I’m blessed enough to get an opportunity to cover the proceedings – or even be a delegate or alternate – I think it would be fun to give the perspective of a transplanted Ohioan. It’s something I can scratch off my bucket list in fairly familiar surroundings.

Channeling our inner Harding

On Saturday, while I was at CPAC,  a new conservative weekly magazine came into being, Called – originally enough – Conservative Weekly, it featured news and commentary submitted by writers around the country.

Because I’ve been itching to get back into the syndicated column game, I inquired about something in that format there and it was accepted. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting my piece to show until week 2 so I was happy to see this posted in the debut.

Here’s how the piece begins.


In the last few months our nation has lived in fear of the sequester. Lamentations of doom arose from all quarters over the fact that we were going to cut a tiny portion of the budget, one which only represented a portion of the increased year-over-year spending Congress recently mandated through a series of continuing resolutions.

Earlier this week, Wisconsin Representative (and 2012 vice-Presidential candidate) Paul Ryan unveiled a budget plan which he claimed would bring the budget deficit to heel by 2023. Among the changes would be the defunding of President Obama’s historically large entitlement program, the Affordable Care Act. (Most of us refer to it as Obamacare.)

But this budget cutting exercise and the reaction sure to come from the liberals in Congress and the media got me to thinking about a President who ignored the caterwauling of Congress and various interest groups to instead focus on keeping the federal government in check.

Years after the fact, Warren G. Harding is regarded by historians as one of our worst Presidents. His was a tenure best known to those with a casual knowledge of American history as scandal-plagued with the largest, the Teapot Dome scandal, only becoming known after Harding’s death. But in 1920 then-Senator Harding was portrayed as a refreshing change from a nation weary of war and worried about the direction the economy was going. Sound familiar?

(continued at Conservative Weekly…)

All in all, Saturday appears to have been a pretty good day.

‘Naked, petty politics’ as usual

There’s really not a whole lot I can add to what two conservative kingpins have had to say about the decisions our government has made regarding sequestration cuts, but it’s also my job to make readers aware of them.

I wanted to begin with a quote from Maryland pro-liberty standardbearer Dan Bongino, who said in a release regarding the closing of the White House to public tours:

The President is a guest in the White House, the people of the United States are the Homeowners. Closing the White House to public tours, despite the negligible impact on the budgets of the U.S. Secret Service and the EOP (Executive Office of the President) is clearly a petty, naked gesture of pure politics rather than sound budgeting.

The White House closure reflects a continuing pattern with this administration of placing petty politics over public good. Inviting a group of multi-millionaire celebrities, and Obama campaign donors, to the White House to celebrate a family birthday, while at the same time closing the doors to America’s schoolchildren is a disgrace. During my tenure as a Secret Service agent securing the White House grounds, it was an immeasurable honor to see the excited faces of schoolchildren from all across the country as they witnessed the majesty of our White House for the first time, an experience sidelined for the sake of ‘Downtown (sic) Abbey’ political insiders and multi-millionaire celebrities.

I’m sure spellcheck nailed him on that last sentence, but the point remains.

I thought this was a nice quote from Dan, but it didn’t seem like enough to carry a post well – that is until I read Byron York’s piece on and knew I had the required yang to the yin. The money passage is as follows:

All those Obama administration officials complaining about across-the-board cuts dictated by sequestration could come up with plans to make the same amount of cuts in ways that would create fewer problems for federal workers and services. Then they could ask Congress for permission to do so. Lawmakers would say yes, and things would be fine.

But it’s not happening. And the fault is not with Congress.

In recent weeks, House Republicans have been virtually begging administration officials to ask for permission to move money around. If one program could be more easily cut than others, those Republicans say, just ask us, and we’ll let you do it.

“We sent out on Feb. 28 a letter to every Cabinet officer asking them what changes they’d like to have — pluses, subtractions and so on — to give them an opportunity to show us at least one program they would like to have cut, which would then save on sequestration,” Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said in an interview recently. “We did not receive a single answer.”

It all became clear with that revelation. If you really want to address the spending problem, you go to Congress  and say, “look, we hate to do this, but we think we can do with less and here’s how.” But if you want to play ‘naked, petty politics’ you come in with the attitude that we are going to make the cuts as painful and public as possible. No White House tours for you!

This reminded me of my Ohio days. In the Buckeye state, school districts aren’t generally countywide but normally serve a municipality, township, or group of townships – the school district I graduated from was once five smaller township-based districts which merged in the mid-1960s into one of the geographically larger districts in the state. They also have taxing authority, and money not supplied by the state or federal government comes in the form of a property tax levy, which normally has to be renewed or replaced with one at a higher rate at regular intervals of three to five years. The same is true for income tax levies, which some districts (including my home district, which has both income and property tax levies) have resorted to.

If a levy failed, which it often did, the scare tactics would begin with the second or third attempt to pass. Never did they say that they would cut administrators; instead the ominously promised cuts began with non-required bus service – not that it affected many children in our far-flung school district – then progressed to teacher layoffs, and if those didn’t work athletics were placed on the chopping block. Usually that was enough blackmail to get a levy to pass.

I’ll grant this is an imperfect and somewhat anecdotal example, but the prevailing attitude of government is rarely one of learning to do with less. With the prospect of budget cuts, agencies and departments think more about preserving turf than being public servants and stewards of taxpayer money. In this case of the federal government, we are talking about a budgetary rounding error of less than 2 percent of spending; insofar as state government goes, our governor disingenuously brags about making “cuts” on every budget yet spending somehow increases each and every year.

With all the caterwauling about a 1.5% federal budget cut in the news lately, you would think that Warren Harding had returned from the grave! But if we cut the present federal budget proportionally to what Harding did over the two years he was President before his death (granted, we were coming out of World War I so the military absorbed a significant share of these cuts) we would balance the budget without raising taxes; in fact, we could return to the Bush tax rates and still be in surplus. I think we could even get the White House tours back.

Of course, I’m certainly aware that we now have an entitlement system which was still in the dreams of progressives when Harding and his successor, Calvin Coolidge, were in office during the Roaring Twenties. That’s not only created a huge obstacle to necessary budget cuts but also given birth to an entitlement mentality among many millions – you would think they were bureaucrats who are owed a living.

But the road to sanity has to begin someplace, and the sooner we embark onto it the less painful it will be in the end.