Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Day To Be Thankful.

On behalf of both of us here at DMRightSide I would like to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and great holiday weekend.

As we all sit around a table this afternoon with friends and family, let us not forget those less fortunate and those currently away from their loved ones seeing to it that we remain safe here at home.

God Bless you all.

U.S. Grant

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Register Gets It Right... What!?

As a rule I am not a fan of the Des Moines Register. Like many of my conservative brethren, I find their editorial selection woefully biased and often unhelpful to anyone trying to “wade” through an issue. Today though is an exception to the rule.

In today’s issue (November 24, 2008) a guest writer named Andrew Moylan (government affairs manager for the National Taxpayers Union) provided a highly informative and compelling discussion of the potential tax consequences President Elect Obama’s energy policy may have for our struggling nation.

Mr. Moylan correctly identifies that the Obama plan for energy and the United States as a rehashing of the same failed ideas of the last 30 years, and plan that likely spells disaster if implemented.

In support of his disagreement with President Elect Obama, Mr. Moylan cites to the following key arguments:

1. The much discussed and hyped windfall profits tax on oil companies is only going to result in higher prices passed onto the consumer. This is compounded by the reality that oil companies pay almost twice in taxes what they reap in profits.

2. The windfall tax was already attempted in the 1980s and not only were prices raised but the amount of imported oil increased. There may also be no windfall to profit with the current bottoming out of oil prices. With the shockingly low price of oil right now, any major gains may be consumed by what is surely an abnormal drop in the price of oil.

3. As President, Obama may also restore the ban on off shore drilling. Not only does this drive the price of oil down due to supply and demand, but 50% of those who voted for him are opposed to the ban.

I knew there would be a time to sit back and say “I told you so” to those who believed Obama was actually something new, actual change; I had no idea I would get to say so before he is even sworn in! More importantly, it is not just the fringe right making this argument. The point is now coming from a published opinion piece in the Des Moines Register. If this article can make it into that heap of mediocre journalism, there has to be something to it.

The bottom line here is that not only is Mr. Moylan quite correct in his reasoning why the Obama energy plan my cost us dearly in taxes, but the back lash of this clearly ill-conceived electoral result may be felt earlier than originally suspected. This is a bitter sweet reality that I can only hope does not cost the nation too dearly and is something we learn from and remember four years from now.


U.S. Grant

Friday, November 21, 2008

Will Grassley be the Next Victim of the Democratic Wave?

This past Tuesday, David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register had a piece about potential opposition to Senator Chuck Grassley in 2010. I suppose he stole my thunder, because frankly, I’ve been wondering the same.

For those of our readers that are not from Iowa, a little background: Senator Grassley is Iowa’s Senior U.S. Senator, having held the post since 1981. Since his election to the Senate, he has faced token opposition from Democrats. He is the ranking member on the Finance Committee, and also serves on the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees. Between 2003 and 2007, when Republicans had the majority in the Senate, Grassley's role as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee made him one of the most powerful Senators.

But times are different: Democrats feel emboldened with their electoral successes in 2006 and 2008 and their voter registration advantage of 100,000. Additionally, the Senator is getting old (he’ll be 77 on election day 2010) and the word “change” all of a sudden has a credible ring to it. Furthermore, the Republican Party of Iowa is in bad shape, and some Iowa Republicans are upset with his vote to spend federal money on an indoor rainforest. So, asks Yepsen (and myself), will the Democrats put a credible candidate up against Grassley in 2010? Who would it be?

Yepsen has thrown out the following names as credible challengers to Grassley: former Governor Tom Vilsack, former First Lady Christie Vilsack, former Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson, and Congressman Bruce Braley. Odds are, none of these people will likely run for Senate.

Governor Vilsack, the ex-2008 Presidential candidate, would give Grassley the most significant challenge. The former State Senator from Mount Pleasant (home to the good folks at the Public Interest Institute) won the Governor's Race in 1998 by defeating a well-known Congressman, and was re-elected in 2002. He left office in 2007 on relatively favorable terms, with the Iowa economy flourishing (thanks in large part to a thriving national economy) and Democrats were doing well electorally.

Chances are, Governor Vilsack will not run. The ex-Presidential Candidate is currently being considered for a position in the Obama Cabinet, and has said he will “do whatever Obama asks.” Even if he doesn’t get a cabinet position, why would he run? The guy served as the State’s Chief Executive for eight years, and would not likely be thrilled to run a state-wide campaign only to be Iowa’s junior Senator, and one among 100. There are two caveats, however: recently, two of President Bush’s former cabinet secretaries are now U.S. Senators (former HUD Secretary Mel Martinez is a Senator from Florida, and former Ag Secretary Mike Johanns was recently elected to represent Nebraska). Additionally, Mark Warner, an ex-Governor and ex-Presidential candidate, was recently elected to the U.S. Senate from Virginia.

For at least the past four years, Christie Vilsack was rumored to have political ambitions. Supposedly, she had planned to wait until Jim Leach retired and run for the Southeast Iowa seat. But when Dave Loebsack upset Congressman Leach in 2006, plans changed. The Vilsacks recently relocated to Des Moines from Mount Pleasant, and chances are, Christie is probably waiting for Leonard Boswell to retire, than she is to wait for Grassley. As she and her husband learned last January while campaigning for their friend Hillary, Iowa voters don’t elect candidates to Federal offices merely because they are married to former office holders.

Former Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson ran the Iowa Democratic Party during the 2006 election cycle. While Democrats enjoyed great successes in those years, she has been literally invisible since. Odds are, she’s not interested.

Congressman Bruce Braley, who represents Northeast Iowa in Congress (a District held by Grassley during the 1970s), was mentioned as possibly seeking a Senate seat. Congressman Braley came to Congress as part of the Democratic wave of 2006, and cruised to re-election two weeks ago. While this political newcomer may have an interest in a Senate seat, chances are, he’s not interested in Grassley’s seat right now. First, he probably realizes that Iowans are not willing to give up a Senator with tons of seniority for a guy who has only served two terms. Second, unless redistricting makes his district more Republican, Braley can use the next six years to build up his congressional accomplishments, and be in good shape to replace Senator Tom Harkin when he decides to retire. Finally, Braley probably knows that 1) Iowans don’t vote out incumbents easily (unless you’er Senator Roger Jepsen who was defeated by Tom Harkin in 1984 or John Culver who lost re-election to …Chuck Grassley in 1980) and 2) Iowa Congressmen have had little success in pursuits for statewide office (ask Senators Taukee, Lightfoot and Ganske or Governors Lightfoot and Nussle). A caveat to that last point: all of the unsuccessful Congressmen who ran for the Senate and Governor were Republican.

Another candidate that is rumored to be considering a run is former State Representative, Gubernatorial Candidate and Third District Congressional Candidate Ed Fallon. Fallon is a liberal populist from Des Moines, whose pet project is getting the State to pass a clean elections law (READ: government-run campaigns). However, Fallon has been unable to raise money in the past, and he did not do well in his 2008 primary race against Congressman Leonard Boswell. Additionally, a lot of Democrats are still bitter for his public support of Ralph Nader in 2000, and they made it known during his primary race.

Any Democrat thinking about challenging Grassley in 2010 also has to consider whether the political climate will be as pro-Democratic as they are right now. Anything that goes wrong during the next two years will be blamed on the party that controls the whole government—the Democrats. Additionally, Governor Chet Culver will be up for re-election in 2010, which means that the wallets of Democratic donors will be spread among more than one candidate. Finally, while people like Tom Vilsack and Bruce Braley are popular politicians, Grassley is an institution.

By W. Sherman

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A little more on the Iowa GOP.

The week so far has been calm by comparison of late. This gives us a moment to sit back and consider some other more abstract points in need of both discussion and time. Last week my colleague W. Sherman set forth a great discussion of the “soul searching” that Iowa GOPers’ will be doing for the coming months and years. With this article, I will expand on that in one specific area, the fiscal v. social conservative argument.

This debate was reignited recently by the now famous appearance of Iowa GOP leader Doug Gross on Iowa Press a few weeks ago. Doug made the point (correctly might I add) that until the Iowa GOP moves back to the more moderate disposition, the party will continue to be in the minority on election night. This is a topic I feel quite strongly about and believe is deserving of many more rounds of commentary and discussion.

I am certain that Doug Gross’s point of view regarding the direction the Iowa GOP should take is the correct one, and the only point of view that is going to push the State Party back into the leadership limelight. The reason for this is simple, as many before me have said, Republicans are great at shaping economic policy and creating sustainable jobs. Additionally, I have always been taught that if you excel at it, don’t stop doing it. It is this sort of fiscally conservative, pro-business attitude that I believe is in line with the general needs and concerns of Iowans.

What is not in line with the state of Iowa is the scarier and arguably darker side of extreme social conservatism. It is this cause within the party that represents its greatest obstacle to victory. Yet, as it has been noted it is this more extreme wing of the party that has been the deciding factor as of late. However, there is no reason for this other than a lack of intestinal fortitude by the GOP moderates (also known as reasonable people) to simply stand up and declare no more!

We have to start thinking of our party in terms of marketing. We must consider all aspects of the product. I know that there are some key social issues that are an intrinsic part of the conservative agenda, and I do not believe anyone wants to do away with those views. At the same time one has to ask if it makes sense to pick party leaders who represent the most extreme views when we live in an increasingly “middle of the road” society. We are not going to reach the youth vote and moderates when we have these sort of extreme and brash people as our brand packaging.

Some might question if this will work. They ask “will this really get people to agree with us?” The answer to this based on the slight experimentation I have conducted suggests it will. I can think of a number of young people who in recent weeks when having asked me to explain my beliefs I have responded using this reasoning and packaged things in a grow Iowa first way. The response is overwhelming. People who may be in the middle or unsure start by first hearing how the Republican Party can lower taxes and bring prosperity and they suddenly agree. We no longer appear as a judgmental pack of moral zealots. I never backed away from my views, but I also did not use them at the first 45 seconds of the conversation. As a result I had an audience and agreement, two major steps towards winning someone over. It is basic salesmanship 101.

In closing I urge all Iowans who desire a more profitable future and one with lower taxes to get behind this approach to GOP leadership. In the coming months as we pick leaders look to see who wants change, and who seeks to keep everything the same. When we ask ourselves the infamous question “are we better off than we were four years ago?” and the answer is an obvious no there is little question a change in direction is needed.


U.S. Grant

Friday, November 14, 2008

Let the Discussion Begin ...

Last Friday, I discussed my thoughts on the “soul-searching” process within the Republican Party. Apparently, some within the party read my post. Within the last week, the following has taken place:

Buzz has been circulating about who the next RNC chair will be (the list includes former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Congressman and Iowa Gubernatorial Candidate Jim Nussle).

The Iowa Family Policy Center announced that it will be hosting an event with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal as the keynote speaker.

Mike Huckabeee, a former Arkansas Governor and Presidential candidate, will be returning to Iowa on a book tour.

Buzz is circulating about the next Iowa Republican Party Chairman.

Iowa House Republicans elected Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha as their leader.

Former Gubernatorial Candidate Doug Gross appeared on Iowa Press with National Committeeman Steve Scheffler to discuss the changes that must be made within the party. Later in the week, he hosted a select group of activists to discuss the future of the party and what needs to be done to put us back in the Governor’s Office.

Additionally, Senate Republicans are scheduled to meet on Monday to elect their leadership. Senator Paul McKinley of Chariton is vying for the spot, and Senate GOP members would be wise to elect him as leader. As one who knows Senator McKinley personally, I can vouch for his intelligence, his knowledge in the areas of education (he is currently the ranking member on the Senate Education Committee) and business (he was a small business owner) and commitment to conservative principles. He will make a great leader.

Looking ahead and putting new people in charge is a start, but we still have a long hard road ahead. An additional challenge we face is the need to build bridges between those in our own part. For example: a recent Des Moines Register editorial, written by a former candidate for the party’s gubernatorial nomination, indicates that social conservatives are feeling threatened by efforts to rebuild the party. Additionally, another blogger has been heavily critical of Mr. Gross for his efforts to help rebuild the party. That blogger accused Mr. Gross (wrongfully) of taking pot shots at Mr. Sheffler on Iowa Press. With this sort of internal dissention so openly manifested, the wrong message is sent to the people of Iowa, and road blocks to progress are created.

Coming up in the near future are two days that have the potential to unite the Iowa Republican Party. The first will take place in early January when the Legislative session begins, and the Democrats begin an ill-advised effort to impose an agenda Iowa clearly does not need. This is a golden opportunity for the State GOP to step forward and assert a sense of revitalized leadership in governing Iowa. The second day will come on January 20, when the Obama Administration takes over, and begins its efforts to raise our taxes and weaken our defense. This is again an opportunity to begin re-branding the GOP as a party that is back in action, bigger, and better than ever. We know the Obama administration is going to stumble. The GOP just needs to be ready to respond when it does to maximize the opportunity.

The bottom line is though that none of this will happen if the Republican Party can’t unite around the need to stop the further degradation of our state and our nation by the left and the fact that without a united coherent message victory is nearly impossible. Who ever is the next leader of our party at any level will have to embrace these realities and have a clear plan to address them.

BY W. Sherman

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A simple thank you.

On this special day we at DMRightSide would like to offer our thanks to the many brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces for their efforts and sacrifices made on our behalf. Without these brave individuals this Nation would not be the true blessing it is.

Our freedom really belongs to all of you, thank you for allowing us to enjoy it.

God Bless, and remain safe.

U.S. Grant
(On Behalf of DMRightSide and personally.)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Time To Re-Group

Well, the polls turned out to be right: Barack Obama defeated John McCain, and will be our 44th President. Democrats increased their margins in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as in the Iowa Legislature. It is safe to say that times are tough for the GOP.

As Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media spend the next two months eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Obama Administration in Washington, we Republicans are left wondering where we went wrong, and how to fix things. In short, we must figure out how to start winning elections again.

Two things are predictable: first, the conservative wing of the party is going attribute the losses this past Tuesday, and two years ago, to an alleged shift to the center. By contrast, the moderate wing of the party is going to allege that the party’s losses are attributable to an extreme move to the right. Second, there will be a call for new leadership within the party. Nationally, there will be at least two changes: President Bush will be leaving office, and a new chairman will be elected for the Republican National Committee. At the state level, the Republican Party of Iowa will have a new chairman, and House Republicans may have a new leader this coming session.

Discussions of the party platform and leadership shake-ups are healthy for any party. But in order for the Republican Party to become a governing party again, we have to go beyond merely being palatable to the party’s moderates and conservatives. We also have to go beyond a few leadership changes.

First, we have to show the American people that we are able to govern again. This will be challenging, but not impossible. Showing that we can govern means embracing pragmatism over ideology. Showing that we can govern means putting the people before ourselves.

Second, we have to reach out to more voters. This means moving beyond our traditional rural southern and Midwestern base. We need young people; Latinos; suburbanites; and people living in the Western part of the country. People in these demographic groups are the future of the country, and we need to work hard to bring them over from the Democratic camp.

Third, we have to change our election strategies. Regardless of whether we like the idea that people can vote early or that absentee ballots are being sent out in September, this is how the game is now being played, and thus far, the Democrats have been kicking our asses. Several State Legislative candidates won on election day, only to find out that they lost too many votes in the 24 days leading up to the election to either retain or pick up a seat.

Fourth, we have to be an aggressive and relentless opposition. Right now, the Democrats control the whole government—if anything bad happens, it is their fault. There are those within the Democratic Party that understand this, and are trying to lower expectations on Obama and company. Let’s not let them get away with it.

Finally, each of us should think about what we can do for the party. Whether it is getting involved in your local Republican party, running for a state or local office, working on a campaign, or just talking with the misguided souls that are about to regret their vote this past Tuesday when April 15 rolls around, we all can and should do our part to bring the party back to where we know it should be.

By W. Sherman

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Final 48......

It is finally here: the last 48 hours of the 2008 Presidential Election. Soon all of the world will know who will be taking over as “leader of the free world” after President George W. Bush leaves office in January 2009.

By now it is no secret to anyone that the departure of W is an eagerly anticipated event by members of both parties. It is true also that the Bush Presidency has been marked by many troubling events, with some managed better than others.

As the Nation approaches this surely historical change in command, before we allow the historians and pundits to define the truth for us, now is the time to step back and take a breath, to recollect the last eight years.

The growth and change we have seen as a nation has been vast and stunning. Under President Bush, we have evolved from the travesty of the Clinton approach to foreign policy, to a country dedicated to seeing our international commitments through to the end. (Contrast the failures of Clinton in the Balkans and Somalia to the success in helping stabilize Iraq and there is no comparison.) The bottom line is we are stronger and more effective.

Furthermore, in the last eight years the nation has come to terms with the reality that we live in a new and more dangerous world than we previously understood. We have seen what our international neighbors are truly capable of doing to us as a people. The reality that we simply cannot all be friends has become a center-stage reality. The most troubling aspect of this truth is not the fact it exists (for it surely has always been) but is the fact that even now there are those on the far left that still want to dilute this self-proving truth.

Looking to the U.S. economy, it is clear that there is a problem. Yet to associate this with President Bush or the Republican Party is a great mistake, and academically dishonest. It was the Democrats after all who helped bring about the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. This law is arguably half the source of our current housing and lending woes. This garbage law, paired with a lessening of fiscal planning and personal responsibility, created a recipe for disaster long before President Bush ever stepped near the White House.

In the next 48 hours as we prepare to vote (realizing that many of us probably already have) remember these truths about the last eight years. Think about what we have learned about the need for an honest leader with strength, wisdom, and experience. Remember all we have learned as a country in the last eight years, the next four years will surely have related incidents. After you have done all of this, when you have considered all of the facts, it is my sincere hope you realize one thing above all else; with all we know now this is the time for a leader; a leader who puts country first. The only leader that fits this mandatory set of criteria is John McCain.


U.S. Grant