Panhandling is the new normal in the City of Sarasota, Florida

Christian Ziegler wrote in an email, “It’s a true shame to see the City of Sarasota, at the expense of our tourism, local economy & city’s image, bow down to the ACLU in order to avoid a possible lawsuit.”

“As a person who works in and frequents downtown Sarasota on a daily basis, I have personally witnessed the spike in vagrant activity since the City Commission began taking away the tools that the local police use to fight the issue. I believe this is an issue the City Commission and local police should stand tough & work together to fight, not give-in, even if the city is being threatened by a lawsuit from the ACLU!” states Ziegler.

Ziegler has received hundreds of responses to his email, most supportive. The following are from City of Sarasota residents:

Mr. Ziegler,

I have more than just a single reason to move away from our beautiful Sarasota, and if I were younger I would stay and fight the ACLU, and get the bums out of our library. I was so turned off by the street people being allowed to wander around inside the library last summer that I began plans to move that same day. Sarasota is a beautiful city, but it needs some tough new leadership, and right now the wishy washy look the other way is not helping anybody. A shame for such an otherwise beautiful city to be headed to hell in a hand basket. I had planned to be here until I die, but now will die in Colorado instead. I am moving there into a home I just bought. 

Respectfully,

Dear Christian,

I own a small business and work downtown too. I avoid certain streets because I know they are hangout spots for vagrants. I used to walk to the post office to drop off any mailings, I don’t anymore.

I am very disappointed in our city’s commission poor decision, inability to stand up for our citizens over a counter culture that brings our city down, and they have made a mockery of our police department. I’ve watched these vagrants approach diners and ask for food or money at Cie La Vie. Okay so they have rights and freedom of speech. What about OUR rights as business owners, citizens and visitors?

There are numerous programs already in place in Sarasota where they can get assistance. These people that hangout in the parks all day do not want help. They are fine with the station they have assumed and this is their lifestyle. They know that they can now keep doing what they are doing and not get hassled. And now more will come.

I know where my vote is going March 12th and it will not be a liberal.

Thank you,

Lee Williams from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports, “The City of Sarasota and the American Civil Liberties Union have signed a consent decree that stops police from “interfering with the exercise of First Amendment rights” when dealing with the homeless. The decree, a 60-day injunction, prohibits police from interfering with panhandlers — someone standing on a sidewalk soliciting assistance — unless they impede traffic, pedestrians or create an unsafe situation.”

Panhandlers are becoming more viable and aggressive within the City of Sarasota. Citizens have complained and yet the current City Commissioners have decided that panhandling is a free speech right.

Williams reports, “The consent decree follows the arrest of Jon Hill, a homeless man who was arrested of panhandling on U.S. 301. Hill was injured during his arrest, which he and his attorneys claim was the result of officers slamming his face into a squad car. The arresting officers say he intentionally threw himself forward during a struggle, striking his head on their squad car window.”

Hill spent five days in jail, until the ACLU got him released by filing an emergency petition — a writ of habeas corpus.

This may become a wedge issue in the March 12,  2013 Sarasota City Commission election.

Watch this “Voting for Dummies” video done by Politically Personal:

RUBIO INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO EXPAND SCHOOL CHOICE

Washington, D.C. – Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced legislation today to help families pay for more school options through a new tax credit. The Educational Opportunities Act creates a federal corporate and individual tax credit to promote school choice by allowing contributions to go to Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) that will distribute scholarships to a student to be used toward private school tuition or expenses related to attending a private school.

“Education plays a central role in the 21st century knowledge economy”, said Senator Rubio. “If we want our children to thrive economically, we need to equip students and families with the tools they need to succeed and make it in the middle class and beyond. Parental school choice is a critical piece in this, which is why I introduced the Educational Opportunities Act. This bill will incentivize investment in students and empower parents and K-12 students by allowing more educational opportunities, especially in low-income households that would otherwise not be able to afford it. It’s the kind of incentive that will help improve education in America and prepare our children for the jobs of tomorrow, without additional burdens on the American taxpayer.”

The Educational Opportunities Act is the first bill Senator Rubio has introduced in the 113th Congress, and is part of an effort to help build a 21st century middle class, as discussed in his speech last December at the Jack Kemp Foundation Dinner. In order to provide tax encouragement to help parents pay for the school of their choice, the bill creates a corporate and individual federal tax credit to go toward a qualifying, non-profit 501(c)(3) Education Scholarship Organization, so that students from low income families can receive a scholarship to pay for the cost of a private education of their parents choosing.

WHAT THE EDUCATION COMMUNITY IS SAYING ABOUT THE EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES ACT:

Former Governor Jeb Bush, Chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education: “Parents across the nation are struggling now more than ever and few can afford to pay for the tuition or education services their child deserves. Choosing your child’s school is as fundamental as choosing which doctor’s office is best for your child and this legislation will help make that choice more affordable to more parents.”

Kenneth Campbell, President of the Black Alliance For Educational Options: “The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) was founded based on the belief that all children,  despite their family’s income, should have access to a quality education. We wake up every day with the knowledge that too many of our children are in crisis, therefore we fight every day to ensure that low-income and working class Black parents have both the freedom and the power to chose where and how their children are educated. The Educational Opportunities Act proposed by Senator Marco Rubio has the potential to allow tens of thousands of children across this country to access an education that would otherwise be unavailable to them. We applaud the Senator for taking this bold step and we are hopeful that our nation’s elected officials will see this bill as an opportunity to help our most vulnerable children and not allow partisan politics or ideologies to prohibit this bill from moving forward.”

Julio Fuentes, President of Hispanic Council For Reform and Educational Options: “Sen. Rubio’s bill would move the country a long way towards leveling the playing field for Hispanic students and families. We know the achievement gaps for minority students have been too heartbreakingly wide for too long. We know the expansion of parental school choice is another tool we can thoughtfully use to narrow them. A federal tax credit scholarship program will give students around the nation more options to excel regardless of their zip code or their socioeconomic background.”

Rabbi David Zwiebel, Esq., Executive Vice President of Agudath Israel of America: “Agudath Israel applauds Sen. Marco Rubio for his bold move to increase parental school choice options for low-income families nationwide. Jewish day school families, among many others, will be able to use this scholarship program to better give their children the access they deserve to a high quality education. Our children, our communities, our democracy and our nation will all be the better for it. We encourage lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, to put a bipartisan stamp on the common-sense issue that is at the heart of this bill: the ability of parents to choose the learning environment that is the best fit for their child.”

Kevin P. Chavous, former D.C. City Councilman and current Executive Counsel for the American Federation For Children: “We are grateful that Senator Rubio has introduced a bill to help children access a great education, regardless of their zip code. At a time when our nation continues to have a tragically high dropout rate and millions of kids remain trapped in traditional schools that do not work for them, we must have the courage to put all options on the table – options we know work for disadvantaged kids.  Senator Rubio understands that every child matters and we applaud his leadership and commitment to helping these kids.”

To view the bill click here.

Abner (Abbie) Schoenwetter: Poster boy for Florida’s American Law for American Courts Bill

For several years the Florida legislature has considered a bill titled American Law for American Courts (ALAC). ALAC was crafted to protect American citizens’ constitutional rights against the infiltration and incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines into American courts, including Islamic Shariah Law.

On February 7, 2013 the Florida House Civil Justice Subcommittee voted on HB 351 – Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases. Florida House Civil Justice Subcommittee voted 9-4 to approve bill which prohibits courts from considering certain provisions of international law.

While many focus on the issue of Shariah law, there is the case of a Florida businessman named Abner (Abbie) Schoenwetter who is the poster boy for why HB 351 needs to become Florida law. In August of 2011 Brian Walsh from the Heritage Foundation reported on Abbie’s case.  Abbie was charged, convicted and sent to prison by federal prosecutors because he used plastic instead of cardboard to ship lobsters, which violated a Honduran regulation.

Walsh reported:

[S]uppose you were a small-business owner, and for twelve years both U.S. Customs and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had been inspecting the shipments of seafood you were importing to sell to U.S. restaurant distributors.  Suppose that for the entirety of those twelve years you had always packaged your shipments using plastic bags rather than cardboard boxes.  Suppose that there is no U.S. law requiring you to use anything other than plastic.

It would never occur to you that you might be charged with a federal crime and sentenced to over 8 years in federal prison because a third federal agency, the National Marine Fishery Service, decided that you had violated another nation’s obscure–and invalid–regulation requiring cardboard rather than plastic.

As chronicled by this Heritage Foundation video, that is exactly what happened to Abner (Abbie) Schoenwetter.  Abbie had no criminal record whatsoever.  No one alleged that he was smuggling drugs or weapons.  He was not cheating on his taxes.  No one alleged that he used or even threatened violence.

Abbie spent six and one half years in confinement and is now under the supervision of a parole officer for three years.

VIDEO: THE QUAD the conservative news show for high school and college students launched

Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA

Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, who is only 18 years old is the new leader of the conservative youth movement. He is challenging the Liberal and Progressive hold on our youth. His charisma, his intelligence, and his amazing understanding as to how to reach the youth of the country with the conservative message is something to behold.

Turning Point USA is a student run 501 C4 Non-Profit educational group, dedicated towards educating the youth about the realities of generational theft, and educating students across the country about fiscal responsibility living within ones means, and government transparency.

An email announcing the launch of THE QUAD Kirk states, “This is a weekly program that I feel will become very popular on YouTube.”

Watch the inaugural episode of THE QUAD:

Read Kirk’s column titled “How College is Harming American Entrepreneurship: A 19 Year Old’s View of Today’s “Bumper Bowling Generation“.

Florida Catholics and Senator Rubio respond to Pope’s retirement

Catholics across the state of Florida are reacting to the unexpected announcement of Pope Benedict XVI retirement. As the world appears to devolve into godlessness as Pat Buchanan noted, the world now awaits the white smoke billowing from the Vatican.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Diocese of Venice, issued the following statement regarding resignation of the Holy Father:

The Holy Father’s announcement that he will be resigning on February 28 was a surprise for Catholics around the world. Pope Benedict XVI has been a loyal and active Shepherd for his years as Successor of St. Peter. The Holy Father cited reasons of health and age for his decision. The Diocese of Venice in Florida joins all in continued prayer for the Holy Father. It is my wish to express gratitude for Pope Benedict’s remarkable ministry as the Successor of St. Peter. It is no coincidence that the Holy Father concluded his statement assuring the Church that he will devote his remaining years to “serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.” His writings and teachings have called Catholics to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and to help those in need. Particularly during this time, I ask all Catholics in the Diocese of Venice in Florida to join me in prayer for Pope Benedict XVI and for the College of Cardinals as they prepare to convene, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to elect the next Successor of St. Peter.

Senator Marco Rubio stated, “Pope Benedict XVI displayed the qualities of an excellent leader and a true man of God by putting the interests of the Vatican and the Catholic Church over his own papacy. Since becoming Pope in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI has served the Church honorably, particularly through his work promoting charity across the globe. I wish him well in the future and, as a Catholic, I thank him for his service to God and the Church. I also look with optimism toward the future of the Catholic Church as it prepares to welcome a new leader and as it continues to spread God’s message of faith, hope and love to all the corners of the world.”

While Catholics await the announcement of a new Pope, others are attacking Pope Benedict XVI for his stand on traditional marriage. Rachel Donadio and Elisabetta Povoledo in their New York Times column write, “Saying he had examined his conscience ‘before God,’ Benedict said he felt that he was not up to the challenge of guiding the world’s one billion Catholics. That task will fall to his successor, who will have to contend not only with a Roman Catholic Church marred by the sexual abuse crisis, but also with an increasingly secular Europe and the spread of Protestant evangelical movements in the United States, Latin America and Africa.”

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Ruth Pollard in her column “Palestinian Catholics Wary Of Pope Benedict’s Resignation” reports:

He is viewed as the Pope who helped improve relations between the Vatican and Israel, while also providing open support for the recognition of a Palestinian state. As the news of Pope Benedict’s retirement spread, Palestinian Catholics expressed their shock at his decision and their fears that it may reduce the authority of the church and the next Pope.

“We want the representative of the Holy See to be supportive of the marginalised, of the downtrodden and in this case, the Palestinians who are living under a brutal Israeli occupation,” said Zoughbi Zoughbi, the director of the Wi’am Palestinian Centre for Conflict Resolution.

“Anyone who comes into this position [of pope] has the responsibility of correcting injustices in all four corners of the world,” Mr Zoughbi said as he sat with friends in a café in Bethlehem.

RUBIO’S REPUBLICAN ADDRESS TO THE NATION

Republican Address To The Nation

Remarks As Prepared For Delivery

Senator Marco Rubio

February 12, 2013

ENGLISH REMARKS AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

Good evening. I’m Marco Rubio. I’m blessed to represent Florida in the United States Senate. Let me begin by congratulating President Obama on the start of his second term. Tonight, I have the honor of responding to his State of the Union address on behalf of my fellow Republicans.  And I am especially honored to be addressing our brave men and women serving in the armed forces and in diplomatic posts around the world. You may be thousands of miles away, but you are always in our prayers.

The State of the Union address is always a reminder of how unique America is. For much of human history, most people were trapped in stagnant societies, where a tiny minority always stayed on top, and no one else even had a chance.

But America is exceptional because we believe that every life, at every stage, is precious, and that everyone everywhere has a God-given right to go as far as their talents and hard work will take them.

Like most Americans, for me this ideal is personal. My parents immigrated here in pursuit of the opportunity to improve their life and give their children the chance at an even better one. They made it to the middle class, my dad working as a bartender and my mother as a cashier and a maid. I didn’t inherit any money from them. But I inherited something far better – the real opportunity to accomplish my dreams.

This opportunity – to make it to the middle class or beyond no matter where you start out in life – it isn’t bestowed on us from Washington.  It comes from a vibrant free economy where people can risk their own money to open a business. And when they succeed, they hire more people, who in turn invest or spend the money they make, helping others start a business and create jobs.

Presidents in both parties – from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan – have known that our free enterprise economy is the source of our middle class prosperity.

But President Obama?  He believes it’s the cause of our problems.  That the economic downturn happened because our government didn’t tax enough, spend enough and control enough. And, therefore, as you heard tonight, his solution to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more and spend more.

This idea – that our problems were caused by a government that was too small – it’s just not true. In fact, a major cause of our recent downturn was a housing crisis created by reckless government policies.

And the idea that more taxes and more government spending is the best way to help hardworking middle class taxpayers – that’s an old idea that’s failed every time it’s been tried.

More government isn’t going to help you get ahead.  It’s going to hold you back.

More government isn’t going to create more opportunities.  It’s going to limit them.

And more government isn’t going to inspire new ideas, new businesses and new private sector jobs.  It’s going to create uncertainty.

Because more government breeds complicated rules and laws that a small business can’t afford to follow.

Because more government raises taxes on employers who then pass the costs on to their employees through fewer hours, lower pay and even layoffs.

And because many government programs that claim to help the middle class, often end up hurting them instead.

For example, Obamacare was supposed to help middle class Americans afford health insurance.  But now, some people are losing the health insurance they were happy with.  And because Obamacare created expensive requirements for companies with more than 50 employees, now many of these businesses aren’t hiring.  Not only that; they’re being forced to lay people off and switch from full-time employees to part-time workers.

Now does this mean there’s no role for government?  Of course not.  It plays a crucial part in keeping us safe, enforcing rules, and providing some security against the risks of modern life. But government’s role is wisely limited by the Constitution. And it can’t play its essential role when it ignores those limits.

There are valid reasons to be concerned about the President’s plan to grow our government. But any time anyone opposes the President’s agenda, he and his allies usually respond by falsely attacking their motives.

When we point out that no matter how many job-killing laws we pass, our government can’t control the weather – he accuses us of wanting dirty water and dirty air.

When we suggest we strengthen our safety net programs by giving states more flexibility to manage them – he accuses us of wanting to leave the elderly and disabled to fend for themselves.

And tonight, he even criticized us for refusing to raise taxes to delay military cuts – cuts that were his idea in the first place.

But his favorite attack of all is that those who don’t agree with him – they only care about rich people.

Mr. President, I still live in the same working class neighborhood I grew up in. My neighbors aren’t millionaires. They’re retirees who depend on Social Security and Medicare. They’re workers who have to get up early tomorrow morning and go to work to pay the bills. They’re immigrants, who came here because they were stuck in poverty in countries where the government dominated the economy.

The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle class families. It will cost them their raises. It will cost them their benefits. It may even cost some of them their jobs.

And it will hurt seniors because it does nothing to save Medicare and Social Security.

So Mr. President, I don’t oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors.

Hard-working middle class Americans who don’t need us to come up with a plan to grow the government. They want a plan to grow the middle class.

Economic growth is the best way to help the middle class.  Unfortunately, our economy actually shrank during the last three months of 2012.

But if we can get the economy to grow at just 4 percent a year, it would create millions of middle class jobs. And it could reduce our deficits by almost $4 trillion dollars over the next decade.

Tax increases can’t do this. Raising taxes won’t create private sector jobs. And there’s no realistic tax increase that could lower our deficits by almost $4 trillion. That’s why I hope the President will abandon his obsession with raising taxes and instead work with us to achieve real growth in our economy.

One of the best ways to encourage growth is through our energy industry. Of course solar and wind energy should be a part of our energy portfolio. But God also blessed America with abundant coal, oil and natural gas. Instead of wasting more taxpayer money on so-called “clean energy” companies like Solyndra, let’s open up more federal lands for safe and responsible exploration. And let’s reform our energy regulations so that they’re reasonable and based on common sense. If we can grow our energy industry, it will make us energy independent, it will create middle class jobs and it will help bring manufacturing back from places like China.

Simplifying our tax code will also help the middle class, because it will make it easier for small businesses to hire and grow.

And we agree with the President that we should lower our corporate tax rate, which is one of the highest in the world, so that companies will start bringing their money and their jobs back here from overseas.

We can also help our economy grow if we have a legal immigration system that allows us to attract and assimilate the world’s best and brightest. We need a responsible, permanent solution to the problem of those who are here illegally. But first, we must follow through on the broken promises of the past to secure our borders and enforce our laws.

Helping the middle class grow will also require an education system that gives people the skills today’s jobs entail and the knowledge that tomorrow’s world will require.

We need to incentivise local school districts to offer more advanced placement courses and more vocational and career training.

We need to give all parents, especially the parents of children with special needs, the opportunity to send their children to the school of their choice.

And because tuition costs have grown so fast, we need to change the way we pay for higher education.

I believe in federal financial aid. I couldn’t have gone to college without it. But it’s not just about spending more money on these programs; it’s also about strengthening and modernizing them.

A 21st century workforce should not be forced to accept 20th century education solutions. Today’s students aren’t only 18 year olds.  They’re returning veterans. They’re single parents who decide to get the education they need to earn a decent wage. And they’re workers who have lost jobs that are never coming back and need to be retrained.

We need student aid that does not discriminate against programs that non-traditional students rely on – like online courses, or degree programs that give you credit for work experience.

When I finished school, I owed over 100,000 dollars in student loans, a debt I paid off just a few months ago. Today, many graduates face massive student debt. We must give students more information on the costs and benefits of the student loans they’re taking out.

All these measures are key to helping the economy grow. But we won’t be able to sustain a vibrant middle class unless we solve our debt problem.

Every dollar our government borrows is money that isn’t being invested to create jobs. And the uncertainty created by the debt is one reason why many businesses aren’t hiring.

The President loves to blame the debt on President Bush. But President Obama created more debt in four years than his predecessor did in eight.

The real cause of our debt is that our government has been spending 1 trillion dollars more than it takes in every year. That’s why we need a balanced budget amendment.

The biggest obstacles to balancing the budget are programs where spending is already locked in. One of these programs, Medicare, is especially important to me. It provided my father the care he needed to battle cancer and ultimately die with dignity. And it pays for the care my mother receives now.

I would never support any changes to Medicare that would hurt seniors like my mother. But anyone who is in favor of leaving Medicare exactly the way it is right now, is in favor of bankrupting it.

Republicans have offered a detailed and credible plan that helps save Medicare without hurting today’s retirees. Instead of playing politics with Medicare, when is the President going to offer his plan to save it? Tonight would have been a good time for him to do it.

Of course, we face other challenges as well. We were all heart broken by the recent tragedy in Connecticut. We must effectively deal with the rise of violence in our country. But unconstitutionally undermining the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans is not the way to do it.

On foreign policy, America continues to be indispensable to the goal of global liberty, prosperity and safeguarding human rights. The world is a better place when America is the strongest nation on earth. But we can’t remain powerful if we don’t have an economy that can afford it.

In the short time I’ve been here in Washington, nothing has frustrated me more than false choices like the ones the President laid out tonight.

The choice isn’t just between big government or big business. What we need is an accountable, efficient and effective government that allows small and new businesses to create middle class jobs.

We don’t have to raise taxes to avoid the President’s devastating cuts to our military. Republicans have passed a plan that replaces these cuts with responsible spending reforms.

In order to balance our budget, the choice doesn’t have to be either higher taxes or dramatic benefit cuts for those in need.  Instead we should grow our economy so that we create new taxpayers, not new taxes, and so our government can afford to help those who truly cannot help themselves.

And the truth is every problem can’t be solved by government. Many are caused by the moral breakdown in our society. And the answers to those challenges lie primarily in our families and our faiths, not our politicians.

Despite our differences, I know that both Republicans and Democrats love America. I pray we can come together to solve our problems, because the choices before us could not be more important.

If we can get our economy healthy again, our children will be the most prosperous Americans ever.

And if we do not, we will forever be known as the generation responsible for America’s decline.

At a time when one showdown after another ends in short-term deals that do little or nothing about our real problems, some are starting to believe that our government leaders just can’t or won’t make the right choices anymore.

But our strength has never come from the White House or the Capitol.  It’s always come from our people. A people united by the American idea that, if you have a dream and you are willing to work hard, nothing should be impossible.

Americans have always celebrated and been inspired by those who succeed. But it’s the dreams of those who are still trying to make it that sets our nation apart.

Tonight, all across this land, parents will hold their newborn children in their arms for the first time. For many of these parents, life has not gone the way they had planned.

Maybe they were born into circumstances they’ve found difficult to escape. Maybe they’ve made some mistakes along the way. Maybe they’re young mothers, all alone, the father of their child long gone.

But tonight, when they look into the eyes of their child for the first time, their lives will change forever. Because in those eyes, they will see what my parents saw in me, and what your parents saw in you. They will see all the hopes and dreams they once had for themselves.

This dream – of a better life for their children – it’s the hope of parents everywhere. Politicians here and throughout the world have long promised that more government can make those dreams come true.

But we Americans have always known better. From our earliest days, we embraced economic liberty instead. And because we did, America remains one of the few places on earth where dreams like these even have a chance.

Each time our nation has faced great challenges, what has kept us together was our shared hope for a better life.

Now, let that hope bring us together again.  To solve the challenges of our time and write the next chapter in the amazing story of the greatest nation man has ever known.

Thank you for listening.  May God bless all of you. May God bless our President. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

SPANISH REMARKS AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

Buenas noches. Soy Marco Rubio. Me siento bendecido por servir al estado de la Florida en el Senado de los Estados Unidos. Quiero felicitar al presidente Obama por el comienzo de su segundo mandato.  Esta noche, tengo el honor de responder a su discurso sobre el Estado de la Unión en nombre de mis colegas republicanos. Me siento especialmente honrado de estar dirigiéndome a nuestros valientes hombres y mujeres que prestan servicio en las fuerzas armadas y en cargos diplomáticos alrededor del mundo. Aunque están lejos de nosotros, siempre están en nuestras oraciones.

El discurso sobre el Estado de la Unión siempre es un buen recordatorio de que lo que tenemos aquí en los Estados Unidos es especial. Durante casi toda la historia, la gente ha estado atrapada en sociedades estancadas, donde la misma gente siempre se mantiene en la cima y todos los demás nunca tuvieron una oportunidad.

Pero los Estados Unidos es excepcional porque, aquí, creemos que cada ser humano, en cada una de sus etapas, es preciosa, y que todo ser humano tiene un derecho dado por Dios a llegar tan lejos como sus talentos y trabajo les permitan.

Como para la mayoría de los estadounidenses, este ideal es personal. Mis padres emigraron aquí en búsqueda de oportunidad para mejorar sus vidas y ofrecer a sus hijos la posibilidad de una vida mejor.  Ellos lograron ser parte de la clase media, mi padre trabajando de barman y mi madre de cajera y camarera. Yo no heredé dinero de ellos. Pero heredé algo aún mejor – la oportunidad de hacer realidad mis sueños.

Esta no es sólo mi historia. Aunque los detalles son diferentes para cada persona, cada estadounidense también tiene una historia especial.  Esta es la increíble historia de los Estados Unidos.

Esta oportunidad – de ser parte de la clase media o más, sin importar donde se inició uno en la vida – no provino del gobierno. Se trata de una economía vibrante en la que la gente arriesga su propio dinero para abrir negocios. Y cuando tienen éxito, emplean a más personas, que a su vez invierten o gastan su dinero, ayudando a otros a iniciar un negocio y crear puestos de trabajo.

Presidentes en ambos partidos – desde John F. Kennedy a Ronald Reagan – han reconocido que nuestra economía de libre empresa ha sido la fuente de prosperidad para nuestra clase media.

Pero el presidente Obama cree que es la causa de nuestros problemas. Él cree que nuestra crisis económica sucedió porque nuestro gobierno no cobró más impuestos, no gastó más ni controló más. Y, como lo escucharon esta noche, su solución es darle al gobierno más dinero para gastar.

Esta idea – que el gobierno siendo demasiado pequeño es lo que creó nuestros problemas – no es cierta. De hecho, la causa de nuestros recientes problemas fue una crisis de vivienda creada por las políticas irresponsables del gobierno.

Y, la idea de que un gobierno que gaste más es la mejor forma de ayudar a la clase media es una idea que ha fracasado siempre que se ha implementado.

Más gobierno no les ayudará a salir adelante.  Les mantendrá estancados.

Más gobierno no les brindará más oportunidades.  Les limitará.

Y más gobierno no inspirará nuevas ideas, nuevos negocios y nuevos puestos de trabajo en el sector privado.  Crea más incertidumbre.

Porque el gobierno crea reglas y leyes complicadas que un pequeño negocio no tiene el dinero para cumplir con ellas.

Porque le sube los impuestos a los dueños de empresas quienes después pasan el costo a sus empleados a través de menos horas de trabajo, salarios más bajos y la eliminación de puestos de trabajos.

Y es así como muchos programas del gobierno que se pronuncian a favor de la clase media, al fin los lastiman a ustedes.

Por ejemplo, el programa Obamacare estaba supuesto ayudar a las personas de clase media a obtener seguro médico.  Pero ahora, algunos están perdiendo sus planes de salud.  Y ya que Obamacare creó costosos requisitos para empresas con más de 50 empleado, ahora muchas de estas empresas no están empleando.  Y algunas incluso están despidiendo o reemplazando empleados de tiempo completo por trabajadores de tiempo parcial.

¿Ahora, esto significa que no hay un papel legítimo para el gobierno?  Claro que no.  Sí tiene un papel crucial en protegernos, hacer cumplir las reglas y ofrecernos cierta seguridad frente los riesgos de la vida moderna.  Pero ese papel lo limita nuestra Constitución.  Y nuestro gobierno no puede cumplir su papel esencial cuándo ignora esos límites.

Hay razones válidas para estar preocupados por el plan del presidente para crecer el gobierno.  Pero cuando algunos de nosotros cuestionamos la agenda del presidente, él y sus aliados usualmente responden atacando nuestros motivos.

Si se le señala que no importa cuántas leyes aprobamos, nuestro gobierno no puede cambiar el clima, se nos acusa de querer agua sucia y aire sucio.

Si sugerimos que debemos fortalecer nuestros programas de protección social, dándole más flexibilidad a los estados para manejarlos, él nos acusa de querer dejar a las personas mayores y discapacitadas para que se cuiden por sí mismas.

Y esta noche, él hasta nos criticó por negarnos a subir los impuestos para evitar recortes a nuestras fuerzas armadas – recortes que él mismo propuso, en primer lugar.

Pero su ataque favorito es que aquellos que no apoyan su agenda – sólo están preocupados por los ricos.

Señor Presidente, yo todavía vivo en el mismo vecindario de la clase trabajadora donde crecí. Mis vecinos no son millonarios. Son jubilados que dependen del Seguro Social y Medicare. Son trabajadores que tienen que levantarse temprano en la mañana e ir a trabajar para pagar las cuentas. Son inmigrantes que vinieron aquí porque estaban permanentemente sumidos en la pobreza en los países donde el gobierno dominaba la economía.

Los impuestos y gastos de déficit que usted desea le quitarán a los trabajadores de la clase media su aumento salarial, beneficios y tal vez incluso sus puestos de trabajo. Y lastimará a las personas mayores porque no hace nada para salvar a Medicare y el Seguro Social.

Entonces señor Presidente, no me opongo a sus planes porque quiero proteger a los ricos. Me opongo a sus planes, porque quiero proteger a mis vecinos.

Y personas como ellos que no necesitan un plan que haga crecer el gobierno. Ellos quieren un plan para hacer crecer nuestra clase media.

El crecimiento económico es la única forma legítima para ayudar a crecer la clase media. Desafortunadamente, nuestra economía se contrajo durante el último trimestre de 2012.

Pero si pudiéramos hacer que la economía creciera un 4 por ciento por año, se crearían millones de empleos para la clase media.  Y esto podría reducir nuestro déficit en casi 4 trillones de dólares durante la próxima década.

No hay ningún aumento de impuestos que pueda logar eso. Aumentando los impuestos no va a crear puestos de trabajo en el sector privado.  Y no existe un aumento de impuestos realista que pueda reducir nuestra deuda por casi 4 trillones de dólares.  Esa es la razón por la cual yo espero que el presidente abandone su obsesión de aumentar los impuestos y trabaje con nosotros para lograr este tipo de crecimiento real en nuestra economía.

Una de las maneras más rápidas en que podemos promover el crecimiento es a través de nuestra industria energética. La energía solar y del viento debe ser parte de nuestra estrategia.  Pero Dios ha bendecido a nuestro país con recursos naturales, incluso carbón, petróleo y gas natural. En vez de seguir desperdiciando el dinero del contribuyente en apoyar compañías en bancarrota como Solyndra, debemos abrir las tierras federales para explorar más energía en forma segura y responsable.  También debemos reformar las regulaciones para que sean razonables y basadas en el sentido común. Eso ayudará a crear mejores empleos para la clase media en la industria energética, y traerá de nuevo la producción industrial de lugares como la China.

Simplificando nuestro código tributario también ayudará a crear oportunidades para la clase media al hacerlo más sencillo para las pequeñas empresas que buscan contratar a nuevos empleados.

Y estamos de acuerdo con el presidente de que debemos reducir nuestros impuestos corporativos – que actualmente son entre los más altos del mundo – para que nuestras compañías tengan más incentivo para traer su dinero y puestos de trabajo aquí, desde el extranjero.

También podemos ayudar a que nuestra economía crezca si tenemos un sistema de inmigración legal que nos permita atraer a los mejores y más brillantes profesionales del mundo y asimilarlos a nuestra forma de vida. Necesitamos una solución responsable y permanente para el problema de los que están aquí ilegalmente. Pero primero tenemos que cumplir con las promesas del pasado, asegurar nuestras fronteras y aplicar nuestras leyes.

Más allá de estos temas, un sistema educativo que le dé a la gente las habilidades y conocimientos que necesitan para los trabajos de la clase media de hoy y mañana – es otra forma en que podemos fomentar el crecimiento de la clase media.

Necesitamos que los distritos escolares locales ofrezcan cursos de enseñanza más avanzados y con más formación profesional y entrenamiento para carreras.

Tenemos que ofrecer a todos los padres, especialmente a los padres de niños con necesidades especiales, la oportunidad de enviar a sus hijos a la escuela pública o privada de su elección.

Y porque la matrícula universitaria ha crecido tan rápidamente, tenemos que cambiar la forma en que pagamos la educación superior.

Yo apoyo la ayuda financiera federal.  Yo nunca habría podido ir a la universidad sin esta ayuda.  Pero la cuestión de estos programas no es sólo gastar más dinero; es de mejorarlos y modernizarlos.

La fuerza laboral de este siglo no debe aceptar las soluciones educativas del siglo pasado.  Los estudiantes de hoy no son sólo de 18 años de edad. Son los veteranos que regresan de la guerra. Son los padres solteros que deciden obtener la educación que necesitan para ganar un salario decente. Y son los trabajadores que han perdido los empleos que nunca volverán y necesitan ser re-entrenados.

Necesitamos ayuda estudiantil que no discrimine contra los programas de los que dependen los estudiantes de mayor edad – como cursos en el Internet, o programas que le dan crédito por experiencia laboral.

Cuando yo terminé mis estudios, debía más de cien mil dólares, una deuda que terminé de pagar hace apenas unos meses. Hoy, muchas personas enfrentan enormes deudas de préstamos estudiantiles.  Tenemos que encontrar una forma de dar a los estudiantes más información sobre los costos y beneficios de los préstamos estudiantiles que están pidiendo.

Todas estas medidas ayudarán a que crezca nuestra economía.  Pero no podremos sostener una clase media vibrante si no resolvemos nuestra deuda nacional.

Cada dólar que el gobierno toma prestado es dinero que no está creando puestos de trabajo al ser invertido en una empresa. Y la incertidumbre causada por la deuda es una razón por la cual muchas empresas no están contratando a nuevos empleados.

Al presidente le gusta echar la culpa sobre la deuda al presidente Bush.  Pero el presidente Obama creó más deuda en cuatro años que el presidente Bush creo en ocho.

La verdadera causa de nuestra deuda es que el gobierno ha estado gastando un trillón de dólares más de lo que recibe en impuestos cada año.  Por eso necesitamos una enmienda a la Constitución que requiere un presupuesto balanceado.

Y la gran parte de nuestra deuda se debe a programas con gastos controlados por la ley.  Uno de estos, Medicare, es especialmente importante para mí. Proporcionó a mi padre el cuidado que necesitaba para combatir el cáncer y en última instancia morir con dignidad. Y paga por el cuidado que mi madre recibe hoy día.

Yo nunca apoyaría ningún cambio a Medicare que haga daño a las personas mayores como mi madre que se encuentran actualmente en el programa. Porque cualquiera que esté a favor de dejar Medicare exactamente de la forma en la que está ahora, está a favor de su bancarrota.

Los republicanos ya hemos ofrecido un plan detallado y creíble que ayuda a salvar a Medicare sin afectar a los jubilados de hoy. ¿En vez de jugar juegos políticos con Medicare, cuándo el presidente va a ofrecer su plan para salvarlo?  Esta noche hubiera sido un buen momento para ofrecerlo.

Obviamente, enfrentamos otros retos. Todos sentimos el dolor tras la reciente tragedia en Connecticut.  Necesitamos lidiar con la violencia en nuestro país.  Pero disminuyendo los derechos constitucionales de los estadounidenses bajo la Segunda Enmienda no es la manera de hacerlo.

Y en el extranjero, los Estados Unidos sigue siendo indispensable para realizar las metas de libertad, paz, prosperidad y la protección de los derechos humanos. El mundo es más estable porque los Estados Unidos es el país más poderoso.  Pero no podemos seguir siendo la nación más poderosa, si no tenemos una economía sostenible.

En los dos años que yo he estado aquí en Washington, nada me ha frustrado más que el flujo constante de falsas opciones entre las que siempre se nos pide escoger – como las que el presidente presentó esta noche.

No tenemos que escoger entre un gobierno grande o las grandes empresas. En lugar de eso, necesitamos un gobierno limitado pero eficaz que permita a las pequeñas y nuevas empresas crear empleos para la clase media.

No tenemos que subir los impuestos para evitar los devastadores recortes a nuestras fuerzas armadas.  Los republicanos hemos aprobado un plan que reemplaza estos recortes con reformas responsables.

Para balancear nuestro presupuesto, no tenemos que escoger entre impuestos más altos o negarles a las personas la ayuda que necesitan del gobierno. En lugar de eso, vamos a permitir que la economía crezca para que estemos creando nuevos contribuyentes, en vez de nuevos impuestos, y para que nuestro gobierno pueda seguir ayudando a los que realmente necesitan ayuda.

Y la verdad es que todos nuestros problemas no pueden ser solucionados por el gobierno.  Muchos son causados por la descomposición moral en nuestra sociedad. Y las respuestas a estos desafíos se encuentran principalmente en nuestras familias y nuestras creencias, no en nuestros políticos.

A pesar de nuestras diferencias, yo se que ambos los republicanos y los demócratas aman a nuestro país.  Le pido a Dios que podamos unirnos a resolver nuestros problemas, porque las opciones ante nosotros tendrán un impacto profundo.

Si podemos hacer que nuestra economía crezca nuevamente, nuestros hijos serán como nunca los estadounidenses más prósperos. Y si no lo hacemos, entonces nosotros siempre seremos conocidos como la generación responsable por dejar caer en decadencia a los Estados Unidos.

En un momento cuando nuestra política ha venido convirtiéndose en un teatro, donde un enfrentamiento tras otro termina en operaciones a corto plazo que hacen poco o nada sobre nuestros verdaderos problemas, algunos creen que no somos capaces de tomar la decisión correcta.

Pero nuestra fortaleza nunca ha venido de la Casa Blanca o del Capitolio. Ha venido siempre de nuestro pueblo. Un pueblo unido por la idea americana de que, si uno tiene un sueño y está dispuesto a trabajar duro, nada debería ser imposible.

Aquí, celebramos a quienes tienen éxito. Pero siempre han sido los sueños de los que todavía están tratando de alcanzar el éxito que nos separa del resto del mundo.

Esta noche, en toda esta tierra, hay padres que abrazarán a su hijo recién nacido por primera vez. Para muchos de ellos, la vida no ha seguido el camino que habían planeado.

Quizás han nacido en circunstancias que han encontrado difícil de escapar. Quizás han cometido algunos errores en el camino. Quizás son madres jóvenes que están solas esta noche, porque el padre de su hijo se fue hace mucho tiempo.

Pero esta noche, cuando miren a los ojos de su hijo por primera vez, su vida cambiará para siempre. Porque en esos ojos verán lo que mis padres vieron en mí y lo que sus padres vieron en usted. Verán todas las esperanzas y sueños que alguna vez tuvieron para sí mismos.

Este sueño – de una vida mejor para sus hijos – es la esperanza de padres en todas partes. Muchos políticos aquí y en todo el mundo han hecho la promesa de que un gobierno más grande puede hacer realidad esos sueños.

Pero nosotros siempre hemos sabido mejor que esto. Desde nuestra fundación, hemos confiado en la libertad económica. Y por eso, éste es uno de los pocos lugares en el mundo donde estos sueños aún tienen la oportunidad de realizarse.

Cada vez que nuestra nación ha enfrentado grandes retos, nuestra esperanza de una vida mejor nos ha unido.

Ahora, dejemos que esa esperanza nos una nuevamente – para resolver los desafíos de nuestro tiempo y escribir el próximo capítulo de la increíble historia de la nación más grande que el hombre jamás ha conocido.

Gracias por escuchar.  Que Dios los bendiga a todos ustedes. Que Dios bendiga a nuestro Presidente. Y que Dios continúe bendiciendo a los Estados Unidos de América.

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rand Paul (R-KY) will respond to the State of the Union speech

Earlier today, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) rehearsed the Republican Address to the Nation. Senator Rubio is set to deliver a live response from the Speaker’s conference room in the U.S. Capitol, immediately following the President’s State of the Union address. He will pre-record the same speech for Spanish-language networks earlier this evening. At the same time Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) will give the TEA Party Address to the Nation from the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Viewers will be able to watch Senator Paul’s speech live on the conservative website RedState.com.

Who will be the most watched: Marco or Rand?

Frank Hagler from Policy Mic reports:

For the third year in a row, two Republicans have been selected to give the GOP response to the SOTU address. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) will give the “official” GOP response and Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will give the Tea Party Express response. This unusual practice started in 2011.

After the Tea Party helped usher in a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, they began exercising their power in the party. The Tea Party Express tapped Michele Bachmann to give a response that was televised to the nation. Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer explained “The Republican Party doesn’t represent everybody in the Tea Party movement, and they certainly don’t speak for us.”

Scott Conroy from Real Clear Politics reports:

With Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul set to deliver the Tea Party’s third annual response to the State of the Union speech on Tuesday, the pressure is on for the group to prove its ongoing influence, particularly amid growing criticism from establishment Republicans who accuse it of promoting un-electable candidates at the larger GOP’s expense.

In an interview with RCP, Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer acknowledged the moment’s significance.

“I really think it’s more important than ever for us to do it this year because there have been reports of the Tea Party’s demise, but we’re absolutely still here and focused and engaged,” Kremer said. “The Republican Party doesn’t represent everybody in the Tea Party movement, and they certainly don’t speak for us.”

The TEA Party is flexing its muscles with the creation of the TEA Party Community website. Launched on February 2, 2013 the site now has over 109,000 members.

The struggle within the Republican party pits the old guard lead by Karl Rove, against the conservative faction lead by Senator Paul, Michele Bachmann and others. It was the old guard that gave Florida the likes of former Governor Charlie Crist who won the state house as a Republican, lost the race as an Independent for the US Senate seat currently held by Rubio. It is expected that now Democrat Crist will run against incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott in 2014.

Conroy notes, “Now, with Paul eager to rev up the Tea Party engine just as a new civil war against establishment Republicans appears on the horizon, the setting will look familiar.”

Perhaps now is the time for a civil war within the GOP?

What’s Next for Tea Party Community? An Interview With TPC’s Co-Founder

On Saturday, February 2, 2013 the Tea Party Community (TPC) website officially launched. Billing itself as “the conservative answer to Facebook,” TPC has grown quickly, amassing 100,000 members in its first 9 days, and earning its own article on Wikipedia.

TPC is a new online platform for citizens concerned about government waste and overreach to network and organize. Although it’s a tool designed  for a political movement, there’s a lot that citizen journalists can learn from TPC. Even if you aren’t involved with the Tea Party, the community is worth a visit if only to see how citizens are using the newest social media platforms to connect. And no matter what your views are on the movement, the Tea Party is passionate about holding government accountable–a goal that all of us at Watchdog Wire can get behind.

Watchdog Wire is hosting a tweet-up with one of TPC’s founders,  Tim Selaty, Sr., on Wednesday, February 13th from Noon to 1:00 p.m. EST. Use the hashtag #WDWTU and follow @WatchdogWire to join in! Click here to learn more about how tweet-ups work.

TPC has now become a national phenomenon, but how did it start, what challenges did it face, and where is it going? We asked these questions, and many others, in our exclusive interview with TPC co-founder Tim Selaty, Sr. Watchdog Wire’s interview with Tim–and his candid answers–is below:

WDW:  TPC sounds like a great new tool for citizens. What do you hope to accomplish through the site?

Tim Selaty Sr.: The Tea Party Community is the conservative answer to Facebook. Unlike Facebook, TPC has the goal of linking like-minded conservatives to a single, friendly platform. Many conservatives have found Facebook to be unforgiving to conservative views, and many have been banned with nowhere to go. TPC will change that. Because of the mission of TPC, we will not reach the billions of users that Facebook has, but we certainly can and will reach millions. There is no other platform bringing people together like this, and the good news is that because TPC shares a few familiar similarities with Facebook, there is little change to manage. We hope to accomplish our directives with a collective and concentrated effort to compete with mainstream social media and broadcast media.

WDW: What about people who aren’t necessarily involved with the Tea Party–can they still join TPC? Is there a vetting process to sign up?

Tim Selaty Sr.: There is no “vetting” process per say. The Tea Party Community was built by conservatives for conservatives. We definitely welcome all like minded persons or groups to join.

WDW: Registration for TPC exploded the first few days after launching. Why do you think that is? Do you think it will continue? Where is registration now?

Tim Selaty Sr.: One of the key factors the contributed to our explosive growth was an article written by Mr. Todd Starnes of Fox news and a live interview on Fox and Friends. We saw a rapid growth just prior to our official launch that can also be attributed to an article written by Mr. Starnes about “The Chicks On The Right” being locked out of their Facebook account. Our membership is currently just over 100,000 and continues to grow by a few hundred daily.

WDW: One thing TPC has in common with Watchdog Wire is a focus on states. Tell me about TPC’s state hubs. What role can citizens play at the state level?

Tim Selaty Sr.: Our state hubs are currently being developed as the main vehicle to help our members to become active at the state level and even the county level. We have a detailed strategy behind their development including a citizen journalist and broadcast network in each state. While the state hubs are still new, we are currently vetting management staff to run the online hubs, grassroots organizers, event coordinators, and fundraisers alike will work harmoniously to accomplish each state’s initiatives. Let’s say that we were to get 50 million conservatives together in one place–imagine the political implications of that! Because TPC has established “state hubs,” it’s easy for Tea Party activists and other grass roots organizations to join in their state hub and begin reaching out to their audiences.

WDW: The legacy media has really distorted the image and message of the Tea Party.In your own words, what does the Tea Party stand for?

Tim Selaty Sr.: “Taxed Enough Already” is the short answer.  The TEA Party stands as a representative body of Americans who are fed up with the direction the federal government has taken our country economically with its many extreme, out-of-control, and unaccountable spending habits. We as Americans are all required to be responsible for our financial decisions and we expect the government to be responsible with the money we are required to give to them.

WDW: We’re big on holding government accountable too. But aren’t you preaching to the choir?

Tim Selaty Sr.: We don’t believe so. There are many different factions of the Tea Party that weren’t able to come together as an effective force during the last election cycle. We believe this was because each one had a different idea of how to be effective. We are hoping to work together and focus on the issues that we do agree on while working out our different issues that we don’t agree upon.

WDW: Will using the well know brand “Tea Party” limit your audience, perhaps to people who are active in local Tea Party chapters?

Tim Selaty Sr.: We don’t believe so. Many have said in the mainstream media that “The Tea Party is Dead.” We believe the Tea Party may have been disorganized and marginalized, but it is far from being dead. Our intentions are to reorganize and mobilize in a unified fashion to be an effective force during the next and future elections.

WDW: You mentioned that TPC is intended as an alternative to Facebook. What about Facebook wasn’t meeting the needs of the Tea Party?

Tim Selaty Sr.: Facebook is a great platform for its intended purpose. We believe that it has some important limitations in the ability to network on a large scale with fellow conservatives. Facebook seems to have been censoring conservative material and accounts (whether this is mostly due to an automated report and flagging system is unclear). We know this from our own personal experiences and that of other conservative groups like Chicks On The Right,  Jan Morgan and fellow Patriots whose content or accounts have been moderated. There have been TPC members who have stated that their accounts on Facebook were either unjustly moderated, warned, suspended, and some even terminated without reason.

WDW: Why did you use a model similar to Facebook? Is there any concern about patent or copyright infringement?

Tim Selaty Sr.: We decided to provide conservatives with a type of social media platform that shared similarities and standard community features that they were already accustomed to seeing. We didn’t want our members to have a large learning curve when being introduced with a new platform.

The Social Engine platform that we have chosen (PHPFOX) has been available for sale to the public for a few years now and is used by several hundred other websites to date. Although our color scheme and layout shares a few similarities, it’s not exact. If you visit the two sites you’ll see the clear difference in design, layout, and functionality.

We are in the process of gathering funds which will enable us to continue adding staff and developers for the new unique social engine software we’re already creating (behind the scenes). The new software will be built from the ground-up and will reveal and hopefully surpass that of our competitors in the near future. We have not been contacted by Facebook with any type of cease and desist. We also clearly state this disclaimer on our home page as not to be confused with Facebook: DISCLAIMER: Tea Party Community is not associated or affiliated with Facebook© or Facebook.com.

WDW: The media likes to twist the Tea Party’s words to make its members sound extreme. Do you have a policy on what can and cannot be posted? What guided your thought process in creating this?

Tim Selaty Sr.: As with any community online there usually is, and should always be, a clear set of guidelines to protect the members of that community, and the business entity behind said community. We do believe in “Free Speech” but don’t allow what’s considered “Illegal Speech.”

Some of the main rules we ask TPC members to abide by include respect for persons of all races and religions and refraining from derogatory comments or violent language. We do not tolerate hate speech, calls for armed aggression or other violence, threats against people or groups, or obscene or indecent content. We encourage you to check out our full list of terms and conditions, which includes our speech policy, before you join.

WDW: What happened the weekend that TPC launched? There are rumors that the site was hacked, with some sources saying a high volume of traffic was coming from China that shut down the site.

Tim Selaty Sr.: TPC experienced a Denial of Service botnet attack just 35 minutes prior to our live radio/video broadcast on the Trento Vision show with special guests co-founder Ken Crow and media partner Jan Morgan of JanMorganmedia.com. While we caught the attack early, we spoke our hosting provider and was agreed to temporarily disable network access to the website through a process of “null routing” our server’s IP to prevent over saturating the network and reducing the collateral damage to other sites from the attack. As with most BotNet attacks, traffic came from all around the world but the largest amount of traffic (packets) came from Mississippi.

WDW: Who all is involved in TPC? How are you funding it? Do you hope to make this a profitable venture or is it a non-profit?

Tim Selaty Sr.: TPC was founded and created by Tim Selaty Jr., Michelle Selaty, and myself, along with Ken Crow and Kevin Jackson. Our community and the funds needed to drive the growth of the website is solely funded at this time by donations from the community. With the donations to-date, we’ve been able to add new functionality and enhance existing site features to better tailor to the needs of the community. We’ve also hired several talented individuals with different but important roles and we’re looking to continue increasing our staff including but not limited to: state hub directors, forum moderators, site feed moderators, graphic designers, petition directors, developers, database administrators, etc.

There are several for-profit models built-in into TPC (from PHPFOX’s original software) such as self-placed advertising,a  store and actions (coming soon), and featuring several different types of content for an additional cost.

We have had over one thousand volunteer applications submitted to us over the last 4 weeks and are in the process of vetting other key people in top level management, spokesman, and other various positions within our organization. TPC is currently seeking investors who share our dream and are as excited as we are about the possibilities and future to come.

Here’s what some people are saying about TPC. Not everyone sounds pleased with the idea of conservative activists networking on social media!

TEA Party Community – League of Their Own – Daily Kos

Tea Party launches Facebook-like site for conservatives – MSNBC News

Tea Party Community, an Unsocial Facebook Rival? – Technorati

Tea Party Republicans Leave Facebook, Launch Own Community – Black Enterprise

Tea Party Community Facebook alternative hit by hackers on official launch day – UK Examiner

County Republican Party passes Resolution supporting 2nd Amendment

The Sarasota County Republican Party Executive Committee (REC) met on Thursday, February 7, 2013. At the meeting a resolution was passed by the REC in support of the US Constitution and the 2nd Amendment to the Bill of Rights.

The resolution states in part:

“Whereas, said Amendment makes it clear, in it’s text, that the purpose of this right is NOT for hunting, target practice or sportsmanship, but to ensure the liberty of the people of the United States.

Whereas, the purpose of the Constitution is to strictly limit the authority of Government and to protect the “unalienable” rights of the people. Among these rights requiring protection, from all enemies foreign and domestic, are the right to life and the right to liberty. The Second Amendment provides for that through the right of the people to bear arms. Any attempt to thwart this right is illegal, unacceptable, and abhorrent to a free society.” [My emphasis]

The resolution concludes with:

“Now, therefore, the members of the Republican Executive Committee of Sarasota County petition Representative Vern Buchanan to take any and all steps necessary to prevent ANY further infringement of the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, including modern ammunition feeding devices and ammunition for those Arms.

It is, therefore, requested that Representative Vern Buchanan respond to this petition and inform the Republican Executive Committee of Sarasota County of his intentions in this matter.”

To read the full resolution click here.

According to REC member Tad MacKie, “This [resolution] will be sent to Vern Buchanan, Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson along with all of our local State Senators and Representatives. If you are a member of a civic organization and/or a political party executive committee or a concerned citizen, please feel free to use this as a template for your own letter to the editor or to use as a petition to your local, state and federal legislators.”

American Law for American Courts bill advances

The Florida Family Association issued the following report:

Florida House Civil Justice Subcommittee votes 9-4 to approve bill which prohibits courts from considering certain provisions of international laws including Islamic Sharia law.

The Florida House Civil Justice Subcommittee voted on HB 351 – Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases during the scheduled February 7, 2013 8:00 am meeting.

Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases: Clarifies that public policies expressed in act apply to violations of natural person’s fundamental liberties, rights, & privileges guaranteed by State Constitution or U.S. Constitution; provides that act does not apply to corporation, partnership, or other form of business association, except when necessary to provide effective relief in proceedings under or relating to chs. 61 & 88, F.S.; specifies public policy of this state in applying choice of foreign law, legal code, or system in proceedings brought under or relating to chs. 61 & 88, F.S., which relate to dissolution of marriage, support, time-sharing, Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act, & Uniform Interstate Family Support Act; declares that certain decisions under such laws, codes, or systems & certain choice of venue or forum provisions in contract are void; provides for construction of waiver by natural person of person’s fundamental liberties, rights, & privileges guaranteed by State Constitution or U.S. Constitution; declares that claims of forum non conveniens or related claims must be denied; limits construction of provisions in certain circumstances.

The language of this bill has been narrowed compared to the legislation offered in the 2012 session.

Florida Family Association applauds Representative Larry Metz’s sponsorship of HB 351 – Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases.

 

Unlike 2012 when this subcommittee voted 13-0 to approve the bill, all four Democrats voted against the legislation this year.   Here is how the Florida House Civil Justice Subcommittee voted:

Y  Boyd (R)                Y  Goodson (R)      Y  Oliva (R)       Y  Spano (R)
Y  Stone (R)              N  Clelland (D)       Y  Hager (R)     Y  Passidomo (R)
N  Stafford (D)          N  Waldman (D)     Y  Davis (R)      Y  Metz (R)
N  Rodríguez, J. (D)

 

Representative José Javier Rodríguez (Democrat representing part of Miami-Dade) led the charge against the legislation with a litany of questions and challenges.
Representative James W. “Jim” Waldman (Democrat representing part of Broward County) mocked Franklin Holder’s testimony in favor of the bill by laughing at his comments.

 

Perhaps Democrats gleamed from the 2012 elections that a certain constituency affected by this legislation voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama.

Sadly for all Americans, these four Democrats did not see the importance of honoring only American laws in American courts but only saw the importance of votes to keep their political longevity alive.

Click here to see the video of the February 7, 2013 meeting.  The discussion on this bill began at 10:10 am.

Here is the vote from the Florida House Civil Justice Subcommittee in 2012 where a 13-0 vote was taken on January 31, 2012:

Abruzzo Y  Gaetz Y  Kiar Y  Passidomo –  Stargel Y  Bernard Y  Hager Y  Metz Y  Plakon Y  Steinberg Y  Eisnaugle –  Harrison Y  Oliva Y  Soto Y  Weinstein

Fertility (Dis)Figure(d) – A view from an American woman in Paris

Column by Nidra Poller (February 2013) an American journalist living in Paris, France. She is reporting on the movement in France to question where it is as a culture.

Fertility (Dis)Figure(d)

Un enfant quand je veux si je veux… The battle cry of the feminists marching for freedom from fertility—“a baby when I want one if I want one”—was ringing out in the streets of Paris when I came to live here in 1972. After lagging behind the United States, where the diaphragm + spermicide had been available to married women since the 1940s and oral contraception since 1957, France caught up with The Pill in 1967 and legalized abortion in 1975, championed by Auschwitz survivor and then Health Minister Simone Veil. The process has gone forward on all fronts, with generalized use of fail-proof methods, unfettered access to abortion when fail-proof fails, reimbursement across the board including, just recently, 100% free contraceptive pills for women 15 to 18.

Contraception and abortion alone could not bring about the desired transformation of the female condition. They were the technology. The metaphysics was what has become known as “gender studies.” In the early days of Women’s Liberation it was makeshift ideology peddled in volumes of look-alike fiction and non-fiction best sellers shouting that maternity was a drag, femininity a hype, sexual differences induced by cynical manipulation, love and marriage an extension of the military industrial complex, and men were chauvinist pigs. No more pink for girls and blue for boys. Sexually marked toys were not abandoned but switched: cars and trucks for girls, dolls and tea sets for boys. Women wanted, or were told they wanted, something called equality.

The harbingers of this “sexual revolution” were, more often than not, closet lesbians. Later we not only discovered that they were lesbians telling heterosexual women to kick their men in the balls and out of their lives, they were also playing stereotypical sexual roles in private, some as simpering mistresses to others more macho than any man could be.

In the space of one generation we went from the prohibition of pre-marital sex to promiscuity for all. The stakes were high for a young woman in the 50s. Sleeping around or, oh horrors, getting pregnant killed her chances of a good marriage… only way to climb the social ladder. Unmarried women could not be fitted for a diaphragm. There was no place to make love decently. When I was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin in 1952, female students under 21 were not allowed to live off campus. We were quartered in dorms, with 10 PM curfews. The lower classes and a dissolute bohemian minority did what they wanted and dealt with the consequences as best they could. Decent women waited to discover the pleasures or disappointments of conjugal life. Twenty years later, a young man with nothing to offer and nothing to lose, would mumble his momentary itch; if the chick dared to decline, he’d toss off a whiny “what’s the matter, you got hangups?” before shuffling off to another.

Teenage girls rushed to lose their virginity before getting their first bra. The boys they slept with had a pressing need for freedom. Don’t cramp my style, don’t try to hold on to me, I’m not into commitment. A girl who, for whatever reason, didn’t solve the fertility problem by taking The Pill was too much of a bother. Women were supposed to be liberated… meaning, available 24/24 with no strings attached. Somehow Women’s Liberation turned out to be an emergency exit for men, inclined to run out on their responsibilities and give in to their more shiftless instincts.

Well- educated, professionally accomplished, financially independent women made babies with a male friend or part time lover, with the clear understanding that the woman would assume 100% of the responsibility for raising and providing for the child. Looking back, it’s almost laughable to see how feminine they were! Liberated from drudgery they voluntarily opted for impossible burdens. A woman’s work is never done. Marriage was spurned or diluted by up-front adultery. Lovers and mistresses joined the family for dinner, children’s birthday parties, and family vacations. Wives and husbands moved in and out, and it was no more dramatic than changing seasons.

None of this nullifies the undeniable improvements in the lives of women, our chances for fulfillment in love, marriage, maternity, and a wide range of professions. No longer on the outside looking in, we can see for ourselves how the working world is organized, how power is won and exercised, how many seemingly fascinating jobs are less interesting than, for instance, taking care of babies. Today, young women deserve our help in re-examining the past to reconceive the equilibrium between biology and choice. They have heard enough about what was acquired. What about the losses?

Fertility is formidable. Connecting unbridled fertility to irresistible sexual pleasure is a work of genius. Is it true that primitive people did not make the connection between making love and making babies? Everything has been arranged to make young fertile men and women forget it… until it’s too late. The consequences are enormous. Mouths to feed, and a lifetime of responsibility. Women, until just recently, could be left holding the bag… unless the man voluntarily took his share of the burden and attendant joys. At the same time, women took the blame for sterility. In the understandable wish to get beyond all of that primitive stuff we have, of course, created new problems.

While reassuring women that the advantages of oral contraception outweigh the dangers, the French Health Ministry has issued warnings about 3rd and 4th generation contraceptives after a young woman suffered a debilitating stroke. But these dramatic risks are the visible peak of a throbbing ache that has never been addressed. Women who cannot bear the changes induced by oral contraceptives may be a minority but those who are uncomfortable with the effects associated with artificial hormonal activity are probably a silent majority. How does the body regain the intelligence of reproduction when it has been silenced for years by oral contraception or IUDs?

Fertility is a daunting challenge, a stunning competitor that interferes with our short and long term plans. It should not be treated as an enemy. Granted, we need some control over this magnificent life force that doesn’t exactly go with our current lifestyle. But if we smash it, suppress it, rough it up, and fail to honor it we wake up one day with a problem that few futurists imagined: drastic population decline. Just as a family can wither away and disappear in a few generations, a nation can lose its bid for posterity. We find ourselves with advanced societies collapsing on an upended age pyramid while the under-25 majority of retrograde populations are out in the streets throwing rocks and firebombs or drugging themselves on heroin and despair.

And then there is AIDS. Super safe birth control that theoretically allows for super carefree pleasure notwithstanding, the clumsy old condom was brought back into service.

Once and for all defined as progress, women’s liberation is stubbornly entrenched. Thinking women, happy to be involved in board meetings, business travel, financial transactions, and research projects, have pocketed the progress and ignored the twisted paths that take us away from our destination. The fine arts and literature, seemingly locked into the hysterical phase, do little to help women conserve or recover the delicate skills that help us nurture the masculinity of men. Women have used more clout to get the right to drive buses, work on automobile assembly lines and now, in the US, go into combat than to improve the balance between work, maternity, and child care.

We keep getting hit with the downside of our miracle solutions. For example, the two-for-one baby boom. I am not qualified to say whether the proliferation of twins is due to post-contraception sterility, pre-menopausal maternity or new techniques of assisted procreation, but it is troubling when every third stroller you pass on the street is a double. First, contraception has to be 99.9% reliable for women at the peak of fertility, then medical genius has to compensate for damaged fertility… there is a time for everything but who knows what time it is?

Un enfant quand je veux comme je veux. The motor of Progress must not idle. Having established the religion of free love, liberated women from the disgusting femininity-maternity couplet, placed abortion on the same level of noblesse as procreation, demanded parity everywhere from floor sweepers to CEOs, purified language of the despicable undifferentiated masculine collective, the battalions of Progress are back on the front lines and their battle cry is “A child when I want how I want.” Are homosexuals the latter day saints of love marriage and procreation? The issue of same-sex marriage is currently debated in the French legislature. Debate is a euphemism for the arrogant steamroller of the left wing majority, reveling in a no holds barred shouting match against the opposition. Deaf to the outcry of a huge segment of the population, indifferent to reasoned argument, secure in the certainty that President Hollande will not put the question to a popular referendum, the majority is having a ball.

The bill, in an inimitable French lace formulation, is called “mariage pour tous [marriage for everyone]. It actually means “marriage for no one,” in that the institution will be gutted and the shell decorated with garlands of flowers. Lurking behind this mariage nouveau is a devious plan for “procreation without biological borders.” With imperial disdain, a government, elected with a modest majority is dismantling the basic building block of society. Long stretches of the proceedings at the National Assembly are broadcast live on our equivalent of C-Span. Dozens of mini-Robespierres grab the microphone as if it were a whip and lash out at the Opposition, accused of homophobia, retrogradia, and obstruction of the wheels of History. Following the lead of Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, whose corn rows are meant to be an argument in themselves, deputies alternate revolutionary thunder with cooing over kitschy homosexual weddings with all the trimmings and heartfelt pleas for the children (hundreds? thousands? who knows?) who will finally bathe in the crowning glory of marriage for their homoparents.

Indulgent media visit the happy homes of happy homosexuals with their happy broods. No complaints from these child soldiers. Daddy plus Daddy makes a house a home. And aren’t two mothers better than one? Who are the dastardly reactionaries that would deprive innocent children of the dignity of married homoparenthood? How dare they insinuate that same sex parents are not as good if not better than heterosexuals? Who are they to say that marriage is the union of a man and a woman intending to make a family? Homosexuals deserve the same rights to marry and found a family as heterosexuals!

The opposition claims “mariage pour tous” is a Trojan horse: procreation-booster rights will inevitably follow the same-sex marriage & adoption bill. In fact, MAP (medically assisted procreation) for lesbian partners, included in an earlier draft of the bill, was withdrawn due to opposition within the majority party and the French electorate. It will eventually be tacked on to a family affairs bill initially promised for March, now postponed to October, pending—but not depending on—the recommendations of the Bioethical commission. Opposition deputies predict that males will demand and obtain, on the grounds of equality, legalization of surrogate motherhood. The majority cries Foul! You don’t want same-sex marriage so you drag in unrelated issues. False, shouts the opposition, and the memorandum shows what’s up your sleeve. For some reason the Justice Minister issued a memorandum last week notifying consular officials that recourse to surrogate motherhood– a criminal offense under French law– is not in and of itself grounds for refusal to naturalize the child.

Once these fait accompli children are brought to France, the father(s) will demand official filiation. Does the wish to have children–against the implacable laws of nature–justify cheating? Other subterfuges are detailed in a chuckling article in Le Monde.1 One member of a lesbian union hides all evidence of her partner during the adoption procedure. Then the two women raise the adopted child together… until they separate. The once-hidden partner now fears her ties to the child might be broken. Karim was the odd man out when his partner Yann fertilized a Ukrainian woman, but today they live happily with their five year-old twins in a remote village where friendly neighbors are satisfied to learn that that both men are “papas d’intention” [daddies by intention] of the children born via a “maman de naissance” [birth mommy]. Yann doesn’t like the term “maman porteuse” [carrying mommy]; it sounds too industrial. He says there’s nothing inspiring about the biological bond. “The act itself is shabby– masturbating into a test tube–and the consequences are a monstrosity.” I assume he means the pregnancy.
Members of the left wing parliamentary majority, infuriated by the Trojan horse argument of the opposition, cannot in fact justify the same-sex marriage juggernaut without the hidden procreative project. Back in 1999, their predecessors promised that the PACS [contract of civil solidarity], tailored to the needs of homosexuals, was the last and final stage. No marriage, no adoption, no procreation, no filiation. Of 142,738 contracts signed in 2012, 3,680 were male-male, 3,064 female-female, and 135,994 male-female. Did homosexuals shun the PACS because it was beneath them or because they weren’t really interested in forming more perfect unions? And what if a tiny minority of a tiny minority will actually take advantage of same-sex marriage? How can that justify the slapdash, sloppy, ill-considered, unjustified dismantling of marriage and filiation?

Can the impossibility of making children without a male and a female participant be solved by same-sex marriage, MAP, and surrogate motherhood? Isn’t it a way of forcing the children born under these circumstances to perpetuate the myth of homoparenthood? Neither our respect for homosexual friends and family nor individual examples of wonderful children raised by same-sex partners can resolve this dilemma. The question is what shall society encourage, allow, condone, facilitate, tolerate, forbid or punish.

The idea that a child needs a mother and a father is suddenly labeled reactionary! One might as well burn all the world’s literature and retool humanity into heartless robots. Who can deny the suffering of a child who loses a mother or a father by illness, accident, abandonment or divorce? Proponents of mariage pour tous claim the opposition is motivated by base prejudice against equality in marriage, while they stubbornly deny the inequality imposed on the children brought into the world via this misconception. An infant doesn’t need to be cradled against a mother’s breast and held in strong male arms? The orchestration of contrasting male-female sensations–muscles, odor, voice, rhythm, mentality– is a vital need for children. It has nothing to do with socially-imposed stereotypes; it is a corollary of the ineluctable reality that reproduction is only possible when a female ovule is fertilized by male sperm.

Advocates of same-sex marriage portray homosexuals as innocent victims of discrimination; there is nothing intrinsically distressing about their biologically sterile sexuality. Evil lies in the eyes of the beholder. End the social disapproval, costume homosexuals in bridal attire, and let them get on with their normal lives. The reality is far more complex. Honest acceptance of homosexuals does not exclude a guts rejection of their sexuality. In your face lurid gay pride, smoldering hostility to heterosexuals, coteries and rainbow flag nationalism can’t be ignored. The slogan on a banner carried in a Mariage pour Tous demonstration — “Une paire de meres est mieux qu’un père de merde” [a pair of mothers is better than a shitty father]—reminds us of the 70s: “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” When homosexuality was a disgrace, many hid their shame in heterosexual marriage; when coming out was in style, homosexuality was worn as a badge of honor. Many of the children raised in same-sex households today were born of heterosexual marriages that ended when one of the partners discovered his or her homosexuality. Children should not be dragged like rag dolls into these complications.

At a time when half the children born in France are technically out of wedlock, why would homosexuals be dying to get married? Why not create an institution that is truly adapted to their difference? No. If we don’t give them our marriage and turn ourselves into fish farms to provide them with progeny, we’re selfish reactionaries. Same-sex marriage, we are promised, will subtract nothing from marriage; it is the simple addition of one unjustly excluded category of citizens to the existing cohort. Though the opposition doesn’t have the votes to defeat the mariage pour tous bill, the National Assembly debate has the merit of casting light on its hidden consequences. The “simple” addition of same-sex unions nullifies marriage, makes spaghetti of filiation, axes the patronym, betrays the biological facts of procreation by deleting their representation in law and language, and dumps centuries of continuity into muddy confusion. The nation is sterilized. Justice Minister Taubira pours an acid smile on opposition deputies who object to some 200 radiations of the words (and the concept) “father and mother” from the Code Civil. Voyons, messieurs, it’s replaced by “parents.”(“Parents” means parents or relatives.) And what’s wrong with replacing “mari” and “femme” by the unisex “époux.”

The government and its majority are now spelling opposition “o-b-s-t-r-u-c-t-i-o-n.” No one must stand in the way of the forward march of History. Or should it be called Itstory?

We have reached the endpoint of a package of social changes that began in the sixties. Instead of reexamining the premises and consequences, today’s activists want to take us over the cliff. Before we can help our homosexual citizens, we have to ask ourselves why the femininity decried in women is acceptable when parodied by men. Why men were male chauvinist pigs but macho women can simultaneously be husbands to their female partners and mothers to “their” children. Why is everything organized so that young women at the most propitious time for childbearing use overwhelming contraception while women in their forties and same sex partners resort to every possible stratagem to have children?

And how can we maintain the prohibition against incest when Johnny Appleseed donors are spreading their sperm to the winds with no return address?

ABOUT NIDRA POLLER:

Nidra Poller is an American writer and translator who has lived in Paris since 1972. She has contributed to English-language publications such as The Wall Street Journal, National Review, FrontPage Magazine, and The New York Sun.

Poller has been described as a novelist, author of illustrated books for youth, and also a translator, notably of the philosopher, Emmanuel Levinas. Her writings include observations on society and politics, including the Muhammad al-Durrah incident and the Ilan Halimi trial.

Rubio Tweets “There is only one savior, and it is not me. #Jesus”

Senator Marco Rubio took offense at the Times cover title “The Republican Savior”. In response he tweeted “There is only one savior, and it is not me. #Jesus”.

rubio time magazine cover

The TIME magazine column “Immigrant Son” by Michael Grunwald notes, “But while Rubio is a child of immigrants, he’s also a child of the conservative movement, an ambitious ideologue and former political operative who speaks partisan Republican with the fluency of a native. (Romney, by contrast, spoke it as a second language.) Like Paul Ryan, a potential 2016 rival, he’s part of a new generation of lean and hungry conservatives who grew up in the anti-government Reagan era and entered politics after the scorched-earth Gingrich revolution. Bipartisan compromise is not usually his thing.” To read the entire TIME magazine story click here.

There are questions being raised about the future of America and the role partisan politics plays in creating a country divided. At a recent TEA Party Sarasota meeting one member stated, “the political parties were merely two squads on the same team”. Big government, more regulation and higher taxes have been embraced by both Republicans and Democrats. This has led to crushing debt, unfettered spending and more government control.

Can any one politician actually make a different when the party system works against any change or reform?

We will see if Rubio will remain independent in his actions or will become part of his party’s leadership. Will political power trump his moral compass as he becomes the “new voice” of the Republican party?

Early civilizations were well aware of the danger of pride and power and knew that this could destroy kings and empires if not held in check. And thus a philosophy was developed by the very wise Greco-Roman philosophers (lovers of truth) in order to help their rulers and themselves to be vigilant about their behavior, lest they destroy themselves by pride. And thus when any great general (be it an emperor-to-be, a war general, or any victor of a great battle) was honored by a great manifestation such as a triumphal entry into his city-state, a slave (a lowly of lowlies) would ride in the chariot with him and whisper in his ear that he should remember that “he is not a god, but a mortal human being”.

A lesson that all politicians must learn?

Enterprise Florida: Economic Development or Corporate Welfare?

Today, Integrity Florida, an independent ethics watchdog group, in partnership with Americans for Prosperity – Florida, released a research report titled “Enterprise Florida: Economic Development or Corporate Welfare”.

According to co-authors Ben Wilcox and Dan Krassner, “The report illustrates Enterprise Florida’s apparent conflicts of interest, appearance of pay-to-play and its practice of picking of winners and losers in the marketplace.”

The report states:

“Floridians have entrusted Enterprise Florida, a public–private partnership focused on economic development, with significant public resources to deliver high quality job creation results, yet the organization has failed to accomplish its goals. Why has Enterprise Florida struggled as an economic development program? To better understand its operations, we take a close look at the incentive agreements executed by Enterprise Florida in the 2012 fiscal year. We selected 2012 because it presents the most recent data. It’s also a year that the Florida Secretary of Commerce has boasted of being an exemplar of success, referring to previous years’ efforts as “marginal at best.”

In addition to illustrating the failure to meet legislative expectations, this report documents Enterprise Florida’s apparent conflicts of interest, the appearance of a pay-to-play scheme for winning favorable treatment and its repeated practice of picking winners and losers in the marketplace through targeted business, favoritism, and selective incentive deals.” [My emphasis]

The report finds:

1. Enterprise Florida has failed to meet its job creation objective: In 1992, the Florida Legislature created Enterprise Florida with an initial objective of creating 200,000 high-wage jobs by 2005. After operating for twenty years and despite negotiating more than 1,600 transactions involving economic development incentive agreements worth more than $1.7 billion,iv Enterprise Florida reports that only 103,544 jobs have been delivered since 1995 – half of their original target and eight years beyond its original target date.

2. Enterprise Florida has failed to obtain its required level of private sector support: As a public-private partnership, Enterprise Florida is expected to obtain private sector support to help pay for its costs of operation. The Florida Legislature required Enterprise Florida to obtain 50% private sector contributions by Fiscal Year 2000-01. As of Fiscal Year 2010-11, more than 85% of Enterprise Florida’s funding comes from government and less than 15% comes from the private sector.

3. Enterprise Florida has the appearance of pay-to-play: Enterprise Florida, while subject to the dominion and control of the Florida Legislature,viii collects on average $50,000 each from corporate members for about half of the seats on the organization’s board of directors.ix Several Enterprise Florida board member companies received incentive agreements and vendor contracts following negotiations with Enterprise Florida staff during the 2012 fiscal year giving the appearance of pay-to-play.

4. Enterprise Florida has apparent conflicts of interest: The Enterprise Florida Board of Directors and the organization’s staff have a relationship that may be a conflict of interest. Enterprise Florida staff bonus pay of nearly $500,000 ($427,500 for staff, $70,000 for President/CEO) in 2012 was provided by Enterprise Florida board member companies that were also Enterprise Florida vendors and others that were recipients of incentive deals in the 2012 fiscal year.

5. Enterprise Florida is picking winners and losers: A number of executed agreements detailed in the 2012 Enterprise Florida Incentives Report demonstrate clear state government favoritism of some companies and industries. Enterprise Florida issues unnecessary benefits packages to entice businesses that should already be attracted Florida’s business friendly environment. These benefits are not necessarily enjoyed by competitors across an industry or all businesses moving to or expanding in Florida.

Click here to read the full report.

Media double standard fails women and democracy

By , President of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

This past election cycle, the mainstream media promoted the idea that the GOP engages in a “war on women.” Prominent women in the Democratic Party were able to take to the airways –often unchallenged – and spin the Republican positions on social issues as old-fashioned, sexist attitudes reminiscence of the 1950s. With the 2012 election a distant memory – the danger is real: sexploitation has reared its ugly head. The alleged culprit is a Democratic senator, and the legacy press couldn’t be more silent.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is embroiled in scandal. But if you read the New York Times or watch “NBC Nightly News,” you would never know it. Reports began surfacing last November from new media outlets – led by the Daily Caller – the New Jersey senator was allegedly engaging in sex with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, courtesy of the transportation and resort hospitality of a major campaign donor. The original Daily Caller investigation included an interview with two women from the Dominican Republic who told DC “they met Menendez around Easter at Casa de Campo, an expensive 7,000-acre resort in the Dominican Republic. They claimed Menendez agreed to pay them $500 for sex acts, but in the end they each received only $100.”

Given the fact that these young ladies are engaged in an activity regarded as the ultimate degradation of women – and a sitting U.S. senator has been accused of taking advantage of their circumstances – it’s safe to say the old guard press would have been all over this story if the perpetrator were a Republican – leaving no stone un-turned to find the “Dirty Laundry” – as Sen. Menendez gets whitewashed in the spin cycle.  Enter the new media outlets – turning the tide, agitating the establishment and hanging them out to dry.

The evidence against Menendez began mounting last week as it was revealed that another woman had come forward. The non-partisan government watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) received an email from another young girl from the Dominican Republic, claiming she had slept with the New Jersey Democrat. All the more troubling is that her alleged sexual encounters began when she was only sixteen years old.

Where is the outrage from women’s rights groups? Where are the demands for answers from the 16 female Democrats serving alongside Menendez in the Senate? Why do the mainstream media remain silent over the accusations?

In America one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. So when serious allegations surface, especially when they come from more than one source, the press has an obligation to investigate the matter. In a Sunday, January 27th interview on ABC’s “This Week,” not one question was asked of Menendez about the prostitutes’ allegations, despite the fact that two days earlier it had become public that the FBI was investigating the senator’s alleged misconduct. The sources are credible enough for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but apparently not for the old guard press.

Menendez’s reputed fondness for hookers is only part of the story not being covered. Last week the senator’s contributor involved in this scandal had his office raided by the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. Florida ophthalmologist   Salomon Melgen has been flying Menendez down to the Dominican Republic, providing the luxury accommodations and supposedly supplying the ladies of the night. The raid on Melgen’s office apparently jarred the memory of the New Jersey senator who ponied up nearly $59,000 to reimburse the Florida doctor for travel expenses incurred in 2009.

If the emails, FBI investigation and government raids aren’t enough red flags for the press, an investigation by the new media publication The Washington Free Beacon uncovered last November that Dr. Melgen owes over $11 million to the IRS. Melgen’s support for Menendez began during the 1990s when he was a congressman. Since Dr. Melgen’s troubles with the IRS began – his contributions to the New Jersey Democrat have dramatically increased.

Coincidence? Or a prominent political donor seeking favors? Unless the question is asked, we won’t know the answer.

Since the FBI investigation became public, a few local newspapers in New Jersey, New York and Miami have taken an interest. But a “Google search” of the scandal links only to new media outlets. The three broadcasts networks have wiped the scandal under the rug and the New York Times has apparently decided the story doesn’t fit their motto, “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

Safe to say that if Sen. Menendez had an “R” next to his name this story would lead network broadcasts and frequent the front-page of the “paper of record.” But when you are a Democrat the legacy media and women’s rights group tend to bury their head in the sand – justice and journalism doesn’t fit their agenda.

Jason Stverak is the President of Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity.

Florida Secretary of State releases voting recommendations, says nothing about voter fraud

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner released his recommendations on voting. What is most notable is that the word “fraud” appears only once on page seven of a twelve page report.

The Detzner report states, “Additionally, some Florida counties continue to operate without utilizing technological advances, such as electronic poll books, which can shorten the time it takes to do voter intake and minimize the possibility of dual voting fraud.” No other mention is made of the numerous allegations, lawsuits and documented examples of voter fraud during the 2012 election cycle.

Why does the report not deal in more detail with voter fraud and voting transparency?

Because the mandate for the report from Governor Scott was, “… making recommendations to increase the accessibility and efficiency in Florida Elections.” The mandate was not to insure all votes cast are counted once and only once.

The report states:

“Secretary Detzner and a team of Department of State employees from the department’s Office of the Secretary, Office of the General Counsel and the Division of Elections’ Bureau of Voter Registration Services and Bureau of Voting Systems Certification traveled throughout Florida to meet with county supervisors of elections and their staffs and receive their input on how to improve Florida’s election system. Secretary Detzner also sought out and received valuable input from other elected officials and knowledgeable Floridians and organizations such as the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections and the League of Women Voters. The Secretary also considered input from Florida voters, poll workers, Miami-Dade’s Election Task Force, the Miami-Dade Grand Jury report and Division of Elections’ staff.” [My emphasis]

Those consulted are those with a vested interest in, lobbyists for and those who control the voting system. The report states, “During Secretary Detzner’s fact-finding efforts, supervisors of elections and others agreed the 2012 General Election was a fair election as a whole.”

True The Vote has a different view of the St. Lucie County voting system . “This dramatic recount [in St. Lucie County] was an extraordinary example of how our elections can suffer systematic failure,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “We run the risk seeing episodes like this becoming ordinary if citizens do not demand answers and hold election officials accountable. The American people own the voting system – we have the right to ask tough questions when we witness the failure of one of America’s core functions.

St. Lucie County is not mention in the Detzner report.

Patricia Mazzei in her Miami Herald column titled “Miami-Dade grand jury: Absentee voting fraud clouds confidence in tight election results” wrote, “To prove their point, grand jurors made an astounding revelation: A county software vendor discovered that a clandestine, untraceable computer program submitted more than 2,500 fraudulent, “phantom” requests for voters who had not applied for absentee ballots in the August primary.”

“With several narrow victories in races in the 2012 Primary and General Elections, the general sentiment that undetected fraud is occurring is a major problem for this Grand Jury and the citizens of this community,’’ the jurors wrote. “Can the public have confidence in the election results of those close races? We are not certain they can.” Read more here.

The Detzner report concludes that expanded early voting is the panacea. No where is voter fraud nor ways to prevent it addressed in any detail.

To read the full twelve page report click here.