There is an age-old adage that "silence is golden." It is an adage, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, that means that there are circumstances when "it is better to say nothing."
In politics, though, silence should never be golden; we expect our elected officials to speak out for us and to stand up for us. That is, after all, the purpose of a representative democracy like the one we have.
But more and more, our elected officials are buying into the silence is golden philosophy. And too often that silence is bought with gold at the expense of constituents who want anything but silence.
No place is that more obvious than in the office of Harris County Republican Party Chairman.
When the current Chairman ran two years ago, special interest money flowed into his campaign. That would have been understandable if the incumbent had done a bad job or if the challenger were a charismatic or well-known quantity, but none of those were true. In fact, the incumbent, Jared Woodfill, had done a great job as Chairman. He had Republican sweeps in 4 of the 6 general elections over which he presided, set a record of 405,000 straight ticket Republican votes, and raised an average of $1 million per year. Not bad.
Better yet, at least for conservatives, Woodfill was an accomplished spokesman for the party. He was fearless in defense of our principles and not afraid to call out elected officials when they deviated from the party platform. And it is perhaps those qualities that called the theretofore obscure office of Harris County Republican Party Chairman to the attention of the moderate establishment and the special interests whose money, unbridled by contribution limits, can easily sway an election.
After 18 years of outspoken, effective conservative control (6 by yours truly and 12 by Woodfill) the special interests and party moderates had had enough and set out to seize control, apparently with little regard to the price tag.
Let's take a moment to tally the investment into the current chairman. In the 2014 campaign, Simpson spent a staggering $340,115.79 to unseat the incumbent. In the 2016 primary election, Simpson spent $183,645.24 compared to his challenger's expenditure of $25,000. Let that sink in for a moment. Simpson outspent his opponent by a margin of 8:1 and came in a distant second place. Based on those numbers alone, Simpson should be booted out of office either for the astronomical scale of wasteful spending or for pure political campaign ineptitude. And this is the guy we want to trust to elect our Republican ticket in the November election?
So far in a challenging runoff election, Simpson has spent $238,279.65 in response to his opponent's blistering onslaught of...are you ready?... $48,215. Not quite as bad as the 8:1 ratio on the first round, but still outspending the underdog outsider Ramos at 6:1. Apparently, the Establishment will do anything to keep their guy in office including funding him to the point that he can (and has) spent $762,040.68... that's right, nearly three quarters of a million dollars to win and cling to an unpaid, grassroots position that makes no legislation as in the case of a state representative or state senator, and issues no contracts like a county commissioner.
Just to be clear, most of these WERE NOT grassroots donations of $25 or $50 like you would expect for a party position. These are mega-bucks donations in amounts of $10,000 and $25,000 a pop, with some contributing as much as $60,000.
So the question is, what are the big-money special interests getting for their money because we know they don't give for nothing?! We can only presume that they are buying silence.
Silence on our issues; issues like the sanctity of life and the fight against the radical LGBT agenda, on which the former chairman was clearly outspoken and as the challenger promises to be.
So let's take the fight against Annise Parker's Proposition 1, aka "Bathroom Ordinance," on last November's ballot. Simpson claims to have engaged in the fight, but there seems to be little evidence to support that claim. There were no television ads, or radio or any direct mail that I saw opposing the measure.
There were no blast text messages to fight Prop 1, like the one Simpson sent out this week to encourage voting in the primary, which helps him. But who knows, perhaps his activities were more ethereal in nature. Maybe he stuck pins in an Annise Parker Voodoo doll, or wrote messages in bottles and cast them on Lake Houston.
Maybe he sent out a strong e-mail blast condemning Prop 1 and rallying the troops? Not really, but then again not totally MIA. In the 2 months leading up to the vote on HERO, the HCRP sent out 22 e-blasts; HERO was mentioned twice. So just exactly how scathing was the criticism of the ordinance? How passionate was Simpson's appeal to fight an ordinance that would have allowed men, including pedophiles, to enter women's restrooms? You can judge for yourself from the text of his October 7th e-blast, "City elections are nonpartisan, so candidates do not run under party labels. While the Harris County Republican Party is on record opposing Mayor Parker's so-called "HERO" ordinance, the Party has not endorsed any candidates. But volunteers can have a big impact through phone banks, block walking neighborhoods, phoning voters from home using HCRP's state-of-the-art technology, and joining events and rallies to get Republicans to vote. You can make a difference!" With advocacy like that, it is shocking that Parker didn't immediately raise the white flag of surrender.
No, we stand by our opinion that the HCRP was missing in the Prop 1 fight both in speech and action.
So why the silence on an issue that was so much a "no-brainer" for conservatives? Could it be that the moderates - who would like nothing more than to see social issues erased from the platform - bought Simpson's silence? You will have to decide for yourself, but as someone who worked closely with Simpson when I was party chairman, I can tell you unequivocally that I believe that he is more than capable of selling out our party. He didn't stand on issues then, and I don't believe he does now.
The good news is that we have a superior alternative to Simpson in the form of Rick Ramos. Ramos is young, energetic, articulate and principled; all qualities that Simpson is lacking. Ramos will stand up for our values and will stand up to the liberal special interests who have bought and paid for the Harris County Republican Party and now pull its chairman's strings. Ramos can appeal to a wide variety of constituents, but most notably those we will need for the future - Hispanics and youths.
Rick Ramos and others like him are the future of this party. Those of us in the older generation need to embrace that future and work to make it a reality, before it is too late.
TCR Statewide Republican Primary
Runoff Election Endorsements
Railroad Commissioner: Gary Gates
As Gary Gates is quick to point out, "If you live in Texas, you are in the Oil and Gas business." That's because so much of our economy is tied to energy, which is the business of the Railroad Commission. And that's why Texas voters should care about this race. We like Gary Gates because he is a seasoned business owner who can take a business approach and a passion for the oil and gas business to the agency.
Gates' opponent filed for the office initially and then quit the race. But because it was too late for him to withdraw his name, he stayed on the ballot and made it to the runoff. We believe that Texans should elect a candidate, like Gary Gates, who is committed to the office of Railroad Commissioner and not one who doesn't even want the job or quits at the first sign of opposition. Texans deserve a fighter, and Gary Gates fits the bill.
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2: Judge Ray Wheless
Judge Ray Wheless has an amazing story which starts with a young Ray Wheless enlisting in the Air Force during the Vietnam era after dropping out of high school. Wheless went on to earn his undergraduate degree and a law degree before beginning a career as a successful attorney where he practiced until becoming judge, first presiding over a County Court at Law and now as District Court Judge. Ray Wheless has a breadth of experience in private practice and as a District Judge that will make him an incredible asset on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. We like that Judge Wheless has presided over both criminal and civil cases and believes that his versatility will give him a unique perspective on the CCA. We also like the fact that Wheless has been active within the Republican Party for 35 years, serving as a precinct chair and helping raise funds for the local party.
Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5: Brent Webster
Brent Webster is a conservative, exceptionally qualified candidate for the Court of Criminal Appeals. His commitment to conservative values is evidenced by the overwhelming number of conservative organizations and leaders endorsing his candidacy. Webster is a native Houstonian who earned his law degree at the University of Houston before entering public service where he has served in a variety of roles including prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney and General Counsel to the Williamson County District Attorney, where he currently serves. With his experience, there is no doubt that Webster will carry his law-and-order mindset to the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Webster's opponent is somewhat of an accidental runoff candidate. He spent virtually no money in his campaign and advanced to the runoff by virtue of his name, which is the same as a national political figure. Walker was likely propelled to the runoff on the votes of voters confused by his name. We expect that savvy and informed runoff voters will elect the right candidate, Brent Webster to the CCA.
State Representative District 128: Wayne Smith
Wayne Smith has an impressive record of achievement on conservative issues that includes: Co-authored legislation to provide $800 million in new funding for border security, co-authored legislation that would have banned sanctuary cities in Texas, co-authored $1.2 billion tax cut and supported legislation that defunded Planned Parenthood. Smith's solid record on our issues earns him our endorsement for reelection.
Smith's opponent is a likeable young man, but this is not his time. With more seasoning and experience he could be a viable candidate, but this is not his time. In the next critical session of the Legislature we need an experienced conservative representing District 128.
Harris County Republican Chairman: Rick Ramos
Rick Ramos has an inspiring story. He and his family fled a communist dictatorship in the dead of night to seek a better life in the U.S. With desire and hard work, Ramos built a successful legal practice and achieved the American Dream. Now Ramos wants to apply his grit and determination to reforming and revitalizing the local party. Ramos' youth, energy, passion and heritage make him ideally suited to lead the HCRP in the critical 2016 election. This election for the leadership of the Harris County Republican Party is about the future. Rick Ramos represents that future.
Trump Victory A Major Challenge For Republicans/Conservatives In Texas And USA
A picture can tell us what a thousand words cannot. Cry for our country. TCR has made no secret that Trump would not be good for America or conservatives, but he is the nominee. Given his incredible negatives, it's hard to see how he can win in November. It's more likely we have a defeat on the 1964 scale!
That being the case we need to plan the most aggressive down ballot campaign in history. We have for the most part a strong down ballot slate we need to protect and elect despite the anchor that Trump brings to the ticket.
This only reemphasizes the case for change in party leadership in Texas with Jared Woodfill and in Harris County with Rick Ramos because business as usual will lead to a historic setback for us in November.
Beyond our movement, Trump is a train wreck for America, and Hillary Clinton is not much better. Friend Dennis Prager details that in this issue in "A Dark Time in America."
Kinder Survey Confirms Challenge For GOP
The Kinder Survey from Rice University is out (you can see it all at this link), and it has many interesting trends and facts.
The trends we are interested in are as follows. First, party identification by adult population (not registered voters), the Democrats are at a historic high of 52%, and the GOP has declined to 30%! This difference, when it showed up in 2008 and 2012, predicted a good Democratic year in the Harris County area.
Second, the trend of demographic transformation has continued and now shows Harris County divided as follows: from 1990 to 2010, Anglos' share of the Harris County population declined from 54% to 33%, Hispanics grew from 23% to 41%, and Asians up from 4% to 8%, African-Americans declined from 19.1% to 18.4%.
These facts confirm the decline of the Harris County Republican Party under current chair Paul Simpson. As the voters decide between Rick Ramos and Simpson, they need to ask themselves who is better prepared to lead the GOP in the new era we face. TCR believes the choice is clear, Rick Ramos.
A Dark Time In America
By Dennis Prager (Townhall - May 3, 2016)
TCR Comment: Dennis Prager, talk show host on AM 1070 and a friend nails the crisis we face not just as conservatives or Republicans, but as Americans.
As of tonight, we may know if Donald Trump will be the Republican presidential candidate. And, barring unforeseeable events, it is certain that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. Those are two reasons -- of many, unfortunately -- why, other than the first years of the Civil War, when the survival of the United States as one country was in jeopardy, there has never been a darker time in American history.
The various major wars -- the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I and II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars -- were worse in terms of American lives lost.
The Great Depression was worse in economic terms.
There were more riots during the Vietnam War era.
But at no other time has there been as much pessimism -- valid pessimism, moreover -- about America's future as there is today.
Among the reasons are:
Every distinctive value on which America was founded is in jeopardy.
According to a Pew Research Center study, more and more young Americans do not believe in freedom of speech for what they deem hate speech. Forty percent of respondents ages 18 to 34 agreed that offensive statements should be outlawed.
According to a series of Harvard University polls, about 47 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 believe that food, shelter and health care "are a right that government should provide to those unable to afford them." That means that nearly half our young believe they have a legitimate claim on the labor and earnings of others for life's basic necessities.
More than half of 18- to 29-year-old Americans do not support capitalism, the source of the prosperity they enjoy, and the only economic system that has ever lifted mass numbers of people out of poverty.
When young Americans see pictures of the Founding Fathers, they do not see the great men that most Americans have seen throughout American history; they see white males who were affluent (now derisively labeled "privileged") and owned slaves.
The belief that certain fundamental rights are God-based -- a view held by every American founder and nearly all Americans throughout its history -- is reviled outside of conservative religious circles, and held by fewer and fewer Americans today.
The view that male and female are distinctive identities -- one of the few unquestioned foundational views of every society in history -- is being obliterated. Simply saying that one believes (all things being equal) a child does best starting out life with a married father and mother will ensure they'll be considered a "hater."
The ideas that America should be a melting pot, or that all Americans should identify as American, are now unutterable in educated company. In fact, many college campuses do not have an American flag on their campus because some students regard it as offensive and representational of imperialism and capitalism.
In addition, virtually every major institution is in decay or disarray.
Religious institutions, which, for most of American history, have been the most important institutions in everyday American life, are being rendered irrelevant. And a larger number of Americans, many more than ever before, do not identify with any religion.
The traditional family has become nothing more than one of many options open to Americans. For the first time in American history there are more unmarried women than married women. The number of adults age 34 and under who have never been married is nearing 50 percent. In recent years, data showed just 20 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 are wedded, compared to nearly 60 percent in 1960. Additionally, more than 40 percent of American births are to unmarried women. Among Hispanic women the percent is over 53, and among black women the rate is over 71 percent.
Universities (outside the natural sciences and mathematics), are intellectual frauds. In terms of ability to think clearly, they actually make most students dumber than before they entered college. As Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens wrote recently, "American academia is, by and large, idiotic."
National, state and city governments have no doubt largely engaged in Ponzi-scheme-like practices, racking up levels of debt that will crush the economy of the country sooner or later.
The size of the federal government, and its far-reaching meddling in and control over Americans' lives, is the very thing America was founded to avoid.
The arts are as fraudulent as academia. Artistic standards have been destroyed. In music, art and architecture, nonsense and ugliness have replaced the pursuit of meaning, edification and beauty. The scatological have replaced the noble.
And now there's Clinton and Trump. Nothing more clearly exemplifies the dark time in which we are living than this political version of Sophie's choice.
I will not end on a happy note because there isn't one; but neither will I despair.
One doesn't fight only when one is optimistic. One fights because it is the right thing to do, and because America remains, as Lincoln said, "the last best hope of earth."
Dennis Prager is one of America's most respected radio talk show hosts. His radio show can be heard on 1070 AM in Houston and other Texas outlets. Visit his website at www.dennisprager.com.
A Nation Of Immigrants
TCR Comment: On a visit recently to the LBJ library, we came across President Johnson's remarks on the signing of an Immigration Act in 1965:
"After 1924, the nation's laws limited immigration based on national origin and discriminated against immigrants from Africa and Asia. By the early 1960's, roughly 85% of all visas were given to people from northern and western Europe. The President's new bill admitted immigrants from anywhere in the world based on their skills and family ties in the United States."
"The bill that we will sign today... repair(s) a very deep and painful flaw in the fabric of American justice." - President Lyndon Johnson, his remarks on the signing of the Immigration and Nationality Act, October 1965.
Contrast that with what we have today, virtual open borders.
"TCR inadvertently reprinted a quote from Senator Paul Bettencourt which was used in the Feb, 2016 TCR edition. This quote was only authorized to use in the February, 2016 edition and not the May, 2016 runoff edition. We regret this mistake and take full responsibility for the error."
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About Your Editor
U.S. Supreme Court Rulings with Guests: Josh Blackman, South Texas College of Law; Teddy Rave, University of Houston; and Martin Levy, Texas Southern University.
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 sixteenth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last fourteen years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 13 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 14th 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.