For conservatives in 2014 it is the best of times, but potentially it could be a hugely disappointing time.
First, the reasons for optimism:
- Nationalization of the election at this point is a huge plus for conservatives. President Obama's approval rating continues to decline and is now at a 53% disapproval and currently is a drag on Democrats nationally.
- The enthusiasm gap: polling for months have shown Republican voters are much more excited about getting to the polls than Democrats. The numbers currently look like this: 45% GOP more enthusiastic than last cycle vs. 37% for Democrats.
- In the key races, Governor: Greg Abbott (R) vs. Wendy Davis (D) and U.S. Senate: John Cornyn (R) vs. David Alameel (D), the GOPs lead handily in the polls and barring a major faux pas, will win these races. The latest polls show Abbott at 54% and Davis at 37%, similarly Cornyn at 55% and Alameel at 38%, and in the Lt. Governor race where the Democrats plan to demonize Sen. Dan Patrick, polls show 41% with Patrick and 26% for Van de Putte. In other words, they're our races to lose.
- In the all-important money race, the GOP is either competitive or ahead in every key race.
But there are causes for concern:
Israel's Endgame In Gaza
- President Obama is not giving up and intends to continue to far exceed his executive authority, with plans to grant some form of amnesty.
- But Obama is pushing the envelope because his real goal is to get the GOP to impeach him, and we will hear from Democrats "it's all about race" in the talking points to rally Democrats to the polls in November.
- In Texas, the slime and demonization machine will go full force to try to tar and feather any Republican they can, the latest target being Ken Paxton, GOP candidate for Attorney General.
- The breakdown of the GOP in major counties: first Dallas County, and now the attacks are coming to Harris County. There are vulnerabilities seen by longtime GOP activists for Harris County. Let's see; (A) no race for the County Judge and no real race for any GOP County Commissioners, (B) a new County Chair going through transition, (C) the hiring by the county party of a new executive director with poor relations with the Republican Party of Texas leadership, (D) the county party moving its headquarters (a thought here, wait until after the election as any move will create downtime.) (E) The most visible countywide race is for District Attorney where incumbent Devon Anderson faces well financed challenger Kim Ogg. This is a race to watch where the GOP needs to work hard to retain the seat. A slip-up here could also affect traditionally tight judicial races.
- The potential referendum in the City of Houston on Mayor Parker's anti-discrimination gay rights ordinance. With a court fight coming, the big question will be resolved by August 18, the last day to order a Special Election for a measure. If on the ballot, which ticket benefits by the increased turnout? Some say GOP and some say Democrats.
- Like most races in off-year elections, if we do our work and turn out the votes, we will be successful. For the Democrats in the major counties, the formula is similar. Statewide, any Democratic win would be an upset.
By Caroline Glick
Originally published by the Jerusalem Post
The fighting is still raging in Gaza. Each day the IDF destroys more and more tunnels and other terrorist infrastructure. Each day, we discover new facets of Hamas's depravity.
The three soldiers from the Maglan commando unit who were killed on Tuesday in the southern Gaza Strip, were buried in the rubble of a UN clinic. They entered the building to seal a terror tunnel whose entry shaft was located inside the clinic.
A Hamas terrorist was inside the tunnel waiting for them. He detonated the building. Works out that Hamas had booby-trapped the structure, hiding 12 barrels with 80 kg. of explosives each, in a wall.
In a press briefing following the bombing, the commander of the Gaza Division reported that to date Hamas has used more than a thousand improvised explosive devices. Its bombs have destroyed thousands of buildings in the Gaza Strip.
OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman told reporters that with the amount of concrete Hamas used in its tunnels it could have built 100 kindergartens, two hospitals, 20 schools and 20 clinics.
Clearly Hamas's priorities do not include economic or social development projects for the residents of the area. Dual use materials will always be used first for terrorist purposes. Concern for the welfare of Gaza's citizenry is at best a distant second.
Indeed, the terror group's practice of using clinics, kindergartens, schools, hospitals and mosques as weapons storage areas, missile launching sites and command centers makes clear that the welfare of Gaza residents doesn't even rank in Hamas's list of organizational goals. As a consequence, the concept of providing "humanitarian aid" to Gaza with Hamas in power is laughable. Every smidgen of aid it receives will go to Hamas's war machine.
And this brings us to the heart of the matter.
Even in the midst of the fighting it is apparent that we are moving toward the endgame.
The question is, "What is the desired end-state? How will we know if we have won?" Certainly following America's lead is not an option. Indeed, the Obama administration is the greatest constraint Israel faces today on its road to victory.
From the actions and words of senior administration officials, it is easy to ascertain where President Barack Obama wants this conflict to end.
First, the administration wants Hamas to remain armed and in control of Gaza. This point was made clear by Lt.-Gen. Michael Flynn, who heads the US Defense Intelligence Agency. In congressional testimony Flynn told US lawmakers, "If Hamas were destroyed and gone, we would probably end up with something much worse."
This of course is absurd. Hamas wants to kill every Jew in the world. As a practical matter then, it is impossible for any successor regime to be worse. But from Israel's perspective, more important than discovering that the head of the DIA is an idiot, is Flynn's revelation that the US wishes to save Hamas from Israel.
The administration's other positions have all been aligned with this strategic goal of maintaining Hamas in power. Both the US draft cease-fire agreement that Israel rejected, and the White House readout of President Obama's telephone conversation with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday night made clear that the US wants Hamas to be able to prosper.
Secretary of State John Kerry's cease-fire proposal was explicit on this issue.
A permanent cease-fire deal, it read, must include "arrangements to secure the opening of the crossings, allow the entry of goods and people and... transfer funds to Gaza for the payment of salaries for public employees... " The last component of the administration's desired end-state of the war is to use it as a means to force Israel to concede land to the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, or at least use Israel's refusal to do so as a means for blaming Israel for continued Palestinian aggression.
Obama made this clear in his conversation with Netanyahu. As the White House's summary of the conversation reported, "The president stressed the US view that, ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza."
In other words, the Palestinians will keep shooting until Israel coughs up Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, and Obama is okay with that.
To summarize, the Obama administration wishes to end the war with Hamas armed and in charge of Gaza, enjoying open borders to the world, and rolling in the dough of international donor dollars and euros, and so in a position to replenish its arsenals and rebuild its tunnels.
The US seeks as well to use this end-state as a means of reinstating its pressure on Israel to surrender land in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to the Palestinians.
Israel's end-state is of course entirely different. Indeed, if the US gets what it wants, then Israel will have lost the war.
The question is, given that this is the US's position, what can Israel do to win? As the scandalous Federal Aviation Administration flight ban last week made clear, the administration has effectively limitless means to harm Israel. The ban served to instill massive uncertainty into Israel's export and tourism-based economy. As Israeli leaders noted, it was the greatest gift to terrorists the US had ever given. Moreover, it was unwarranted and prejudicial.
Whereas the FAA claimed that it acted out of an abundance of caution after a Hamas missile landed a mile from Ben-Gurion Airport, the fact is that such caution exists nowhere else. There is no FAA flight ban on Pakistan, where a civilian aircraft was shot down last month, or in Ukraine. There is no FAA flight ban in Afghanistan or Yemen. Clearly a double standard was used against Israel.
And predictably, when US Sen. Ted Cruz stood up to the administration and demanded an explanation of the FAA's action and its use of a double standard against Israel, the State Department accused him of lack of concern for US air carriers and passengers.
It was a testament to Cruz's moral courage that he was willing to risk being wrongly accused of reckless indifference to the safety of US airline passengers in order to decry the administration's prejudicial treatment of Israel.
And while Sen. Cruz played a central role in revoking the flight ban after 36 hours, the act itself showed how easy it is for the US to hurt Israel without openly attacking it. Other punitive actions have already been undertaken.
While the administration acts in accordance with congressional will and resupplies the IDF and increases the US investment in Iron Dome, it has stopped providing visa services to Israelis interested in traveling to the US. According to I24 News, the US Embassy in Tel Aviv is not issuing travel visas except in emergency circumstances, due to staff reductions during the war.
In light of the constraints Israel faces from the administration, certain operational goals that might otherwise have been achievable must be ruled out. Other actions that might have been reasonable, make no sense, under the circumstances.
The government has determined that the ground operation will go on until the tunnels are destroyed. Whether the operation takes days or weeks or longer, Netanyahu has made it clear that Israel will continue to operate on the ground - even in the framework of a cease-fire - to destroy Hamas's tunnels.
If we assume that Netanyahu and his ministers will continue to withstand US pressure and continue the operation until it has been completed, the question becomes, what happens then? To neutralize Hamas as a military threat in the future, Israel only needs to secure one goal: In any cease-fire arrangement, Gaza's borders must remain sealed.
Egypt must continue to prevent smuggling from Sinai to Gaza.
Israel must maintain its naval blockade.
Gaza must remain cut off from the international banking system.
Hamas is fighting to open these borders. And if it makes any gains in this area, Hamas will win. Assuming Israel destroys all or most of Hamas's offensive capabilities before the fighting ends, the only way to keep Hamas from fighting again is to prevent it from resupplying.
To achieve its goal of keeping Gaza's borders shut, Israel needs to do two things. First, it needs to complete its operations on the ground as quickly as possible. The faster the IDF removes our ground forces from Gaza the more difficult it will be for Obama to demand that Israel end its maritime blockade of the Gaza coast.
Second, Israel must avoid any cease-fire agreement that involves any international supervision or presence in Gaza. The best option for Israel would be a cease-fire in the form of a letter from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas setting out broad conditions of a cease-fire arrangement.
Any cease-fire that involves US guarantees or supervision or international guarantees or supervision will be an invitation for renewed pressure on Israel and Egypt to open the borders of Gaza and allow Hamas to rebuild its machinery of murder.
The same is the case for international peacekeepers.
Any agreement that involves the deployment of foreign forces to Gaza for any purpose is an agreement that imports human shields to Gaza. As has been Hezbollah's practice with UN forces in south Lebanon for the past four decades, foreign forces will not interfere with any Hamas operations, but through their very presence in on the ground, they will impede the IDF's capacity to fight Hamas in the event that such operations becomes necessary.
Netanyahu has stated that Israel's seeks the demilitarization of Gaza. There are only two ways to achieve that goal - through the reinstitution of Israeli military control over Gaza, and through attrition.
In light of the Obama administration's support for Hamas's war goals and actions it has already undertaken to undermine Israel's war effort, it is fairly clear that it would be unwise for Israel to reconquer Gaza at this time. The price Obama would extract for such a move would in all likelihood outweigh the benefits Israel would gain from physically damaging Hamas directly.
The other option - demilitarization through attrition - is consequently Israel's strongest option for a victorious endgame today. And attrition can only be secured if Gaza's borders remain sealed.
War is an ugly thing. War with terrorist murderers who lack a shred of human decency is a very ugly thing.
There are no guarantees that Israel will not have to fight again. And if Obama gets even some of what he is demanding, Israel will have to fight again, and soon.
Under these circumstances, Israel's best bet is to destroy the tunnels quickly and secure cease-fire terms that keep Gaza isolated to reduce to a minimum Hamas's ability to fight again.
TCR Comment: A candid assessment of the battle between Democracy (Israel) and Terrorists (Hamas) in Gaza. The truth hurts and the administration has not helped our friends which is par for the course.
Harris County GOP Judge Olsen: An Example Of Innovative Conservative Reform That Works
TCR Comment: Judge Rory Olsen has created a new program to assist mental health patients in getting needed services while reducing overall cost to save taxpayers money. This is an example of good government versus bad government. Judge Olsen presides over Harris County Probate Court No. 3.
As the administrative judge over the mental health operations of the probate courts, Judge Olsen is aware of the issues and problems that affect the patients and the mental health system.
A recurring problem is that some of the patients keep coming back into the system on a regular basis through a metaphorical revolving door, sometimes only days after their release. These patients have trouble rejoining the community, cost the taxpayers an inordinate amount of money and lead much less happy and productive lives than they would if they did not relapse.
On Friday, July 25, 2014, Probate Court No. 3, in conjunction with the Harris County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority (MHMRA) and the Harris County Psychiatric Center (HCPC), launched a pilot program known as the Assisted Outpatient Program (AOT). The AOT program will provide selected newly released mental patients with intensive support in their first days and weeks after release from HCPC. This intensive support will be intended to keep newly released patients from relapsing.
AOT programs have been implemented successfully in other places in the United States. It is the goal of the sponsoring entities that the patients in the AOT program will experience far fewer subsequent hospital admissions and will be able to integrate fully into the community in a much shorter time. If the program is successful, the plan is to expand the program to cover more newly released patients.
Obama's Master Plan
By Bruce Bialosky, Contributing Editor
One might think that when a President is reeling from a scandal (VA) that has all sides of the political spectrum screaming for heads to roll and for criminal charges against government employees, that his Administration would take a break and wait for the air to clear. But no, not when you are a true believer, and that is what Barack Obama has finally shown himself to all to be.
In one very short period, the President has tossed the Israeli government over the side, pushed for radical environmental rules that will by the EPA's own estimates lower the earth's temperature a fraction of a degree by the end of this century, gone in front of the graduating class of West Point and told them his goal is to make them superfluous, told the military he is capitulating on a war he himself stated was just and escalated in 2009, and now has released five top terrorists for what clearly is a soldier who deserted.
The mind-numbing series of events happened so quickly that no one really strung them together. It was only after the harsh response to the swap of five top Taliban terrorists for Bowe Bergdahl that people started to get clarity. The first I saw was Dana Perino (former Press Secretary to George W. Bush) who stated that the swap is the beginning of the emptying of Guantanamo Bay in order to complete an Obama promise. After these five are gone, why hold onto to the lesser beings? That was later echoed by others, but it appears they may not see the big picture. This is a full-on onslaught of "we don't care what you think; we are going to do whatever we want at this point."
We received some clarity when we were interviewing Patrick J. Michaels regarding Mr. Obama's climate initiative. Michaels is one of the leading experts on climate in the world (past president of American Association of State Climatologists). He told us that the President has decided that he does not care about winning the Senate and has written off states like West Virginia and Kentucky. Michaels believes that Obama has made a decision that he can, in effect, go it alone the next couple of years regarding environmental issues, and that his policies will be so entrenched by the 2016 election that overturning them will not be possible.
If you doubt the fact that Obama has decided on a 'go it alone' strategy, look at the reaction to some of his policies. The initiative by the EPA regarding carbon emissions has been roundly rejected by many Democrats up for election in the Senate and senatorial candidates. For example, Alison Grimes, who is running in Kentucky against Mitch McConnell for his senate seat, stated she would fight the EPA rules in the Senate. McConnell laughed that off, reminding everyone she would be voting for Harry Reid as majority leader and any attempt to overturn the rule would never come to the floor with him around. As for the Bergdahl debacle, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) complained of not receiving proper legal notification of the deal. The Obama team does not care that Ms. Feinstein's feelings were hurt or the law was broken.
The first question is why has Obama decided at this juncture to desert his party and go it alone on so many fronts? It seems on many levels that the Democrats' opportunities are thin for either retaining the Senate or capturing the House. Though the Obamas are out there suckering people to write checks for the fall campaign, they realize that their window to fundamentally change America is quickly closing. The economy continues to languish and their only line of defense is Harry Reid in the Senate. Once the Senate turns Republican, it will be even more difficult to accomplish any of the radical agenda that Obama always wanted to accomplish. He meant it when he said he was going to fundamentally change America.
The second question is what is next? There are a myriad of fronts. He could seriously advance the attempt to legalize more foreigners within our borders. He knows the Republicans will pass a bill he does not like and will be forced to sign once they have both houses. He will continue to further strangle the banking industry through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other methods, coming ever closer to nationalizing the banks. Since his Administration does not even abide by his own laws (Obamacare), the next line of attack could be almost anywhere.
It is clear now that Obama wants to create a legacy at any cost. If that runs over allies (Canada, Israel), destroys industries (energy producers), or takes functional control of industries (banks), it is all for the greater good. When you know you are right there is no wrong.
Bruce Bialosky is the founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of California and a former Presidential appointee.
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September 12: The new season begins with interviews with key Texas statewide candidates.
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About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his fifteenth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last thirteen years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 11 years, Gary has published election guides for the GOP primary, general elections and city elections, all with the purpose of assisting conservative candidates. Gary is also in his 13th year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on PBS Houston, longest running political talk show in Texas history. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.