CRP Blog

Monday, April 30, 2007

Lunch with Former Spanish President Aznar -- Agenda for Freedom in Latin America

Last Friday in Philadelphia I had the pleasure of having lunch with former Spanish President Jose Maria Aznar and 700 free market think tank leaders from around the globe at the annual Resource Bank Meeting sponsored by the prestigious conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation. You may recall President Aznar led Spain in support of the United States at the time of the 9/11 attacks, and in the effort to liberate Iraq.

President Aznar outlined a bold, confident agenda for freedom in Latin America, one that stands in stark contrast to the policies of extremists like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, whose rise threatens to reverse the democratic progress the region has made in the last twenty years. Below is the complete text of President Aznar's speech.

(Philadelphia, April 27th 2007)

Today we have come together for the presentation of an intensive piece of work. This work is the result of the cooperation of many different people and institutions on both sides of the Atlantic.

People and institutions that believe, as we do, that freedom drives progress.

All of them are firmly committed to the idea of freedom and to the Western principles and values.

Why does FAES present a report on Latin America precisely now? And why do we present it in Philadelphia, with all our friends that the Heritage Foundation has gathered here? I shall try to explain it briefly.

We do believe in western values.

These are universal values, based on a specific concept of the person as a free and responsible being. His dignity and fundamental rights precede any political system. Democracy, the Rule of Law, human rights and individual freedom are the principles that underpin the West.

The West is deeply rooted in the Greco-Roman heritage; in Judeo-Christian tradition. The West has produced the Enlightenment and now prospers thanks to free market economics. The West is not a geographical expression but a system of values. Those values were born in the West. But they are universal values because they are based on human dignity.

We believe in equality before the Law. That is why we criticise affirmative action. Because we firmly believe that women have the same rights as men, we defend their dignity in every country, no matter the religion they profess. We think corruption is unacceptable in our countries. For that reason we must fight it also in Latin America, because it is one of the main reasons of poverty. We enjoy independent justice, freedom of speech and religion in Philadelphia, London or Madrid. We must defend it and promote it in Caracas and La Habana.

“Latin America, An Agenda for Freedom” is based on a single, clear premise: Latin America is a substantial part of the West.

Today, this truth is being denied by the enemies of open and free societies. There are forces that seek to banish this entire region from the world of progress and try to confront it against the rest of the free world. The western roots of Latin America are also being denied by some in Europe and the United States. A dangerous trend that we must fight.

We also believe that ideas are important. We are also convinced that ideas have consequences.

Latin America: an Agenda for Freedom offers some ideas for tackling the main problems that threaten the region and are hindering its growth.

With the power of freedom and democracy, we believe Latin America has the capacity to take its place amongst the leading democratic and free nations of the world.

If we take into account the world’s present threats, anchoring Latin America firmly in the West is crucial to the survival of our values and freedom.

This should be a shared interest and a common goal of both the United States and Europe.

The effective participation of Latin America in the West depends primarily on the will of Latin Americans themselves. However, it is also important that the main allies and partners of the Latin American region contribute to its full insertion in the group of advanced democracies.

Dear friends,

History reveals that Latin America is capable of attaining the levels of welfare and freedom that prevail in most developed countries.

Today, Latin America has to make a decission. Two roads are open and the two go in opposite directions.

One leads to openness to the world, democracy, respect for individual rights and freedoms and a solid Rule of Law. This is the road travelled by successful countries. This is the way to attract investment, create businesses, generate jobs and reduce poverty. This way offers opportunities and hope to people. In short, this road leads to success, progress, democracy and freedom.

The other road drives away from an open, free and prosperous society. We have seen enough of history to know where it leads. Those who promote this road today follow outdated ideas. Ideas that created suffering and misery in the Twentieth Century.

They want to stablish “Twenty-first century socialism”, the successor of the socialism that generated grief and oppression in the Twentieth century.

These ideas are surfacing once more in Latin America, even with the endorsement of electoral processes.

I believe that time has come for Latin America to use the power of ideas to choose the first path. The one that leads to prosperity, freedom and democracy.

Dear friends,

Latin America needs stable democracies built on stable foundations. In this it is no different to the rest of the world: the progress of free and prosperous nations relies on basic consensuses that are kept alive over time.

The guarantee of freedom and prosperity lies in a system of strong, solid institutions to which individuals have easy access. To achieve such institutions, basic consensus and clear, stable rules are needed.

Authority must be the product of the very rules that everyone has accepted, not the reverse.

Only countries that have sound institutions achieve economic growth and sustainable development over time. There is no reason why this should not be attained in Latin America too, along with a lean but strong State able to fulfil its main task: to guarantee the rights and freedoms of Latin American citizens.

Dear friends,

Poverty can effectively be fought in Latin America. There is no historical curse that condemns Latin America to a lack of wealth and income as well as injustice.

Sustained economic development requires macroeconomic discipline. Latin America enjoys this situation at present but it is only one of the requirements for prosperity.

Other equally or even more important conditions need to be fulfilled. Legislation guaranteeing property rights and respect for contracts needs to be in place.

The economies of Latin American countries need to be further open to the outside world as this generates competition, innovation and efficiency.

Judicial security is a sine qua non condition for prosperity. The property rights of all citizens and businesses should be guaranteed as should the fulfilment of any contract freely signed.

State expropriation acts as an enormous disincentive to investors. If the right kinds of guarantees are not in place people will not invest their savings in a country where their assets or those of others have been expropriated in the past. Trust is a condition for growth.

The ideal would be to undertake constitutional reforms that incorporate effective mechanisms for respecting property rights and contracts in the “magna carta” itself.

Dear friends,

The future of Latin America is without any doubt in the hands of Latin Americans themselves. And together with their friends they must work for a brighter future. This is one of the main objectives of the document that we present today.

People forget that the nation of citizens, the ideal of the democratic nation, is also the ideal of all the nations of Latin America. This is a principle that unites the entire Western World.

For this reason, I am in favour of Latin America establishing even closer links with the United States. I am also in favour of free trade between the Americas and Europe, in an Atlantic Area of Prosperity open to the rest of the world.

Trade is a wonderful tool for freedom and progress. I praise the efforts of President Bush` Administration to strengthen the commercial links with Latin America.

Free trade with Latin America is a goal worth of investing political capital. Free trade is hated both by Latin American populists and by a part of the left in the United States and Europe. But we know that free trade is a decent policy. It drives progress through freedom of choice.

The United States should be a key partner in guaranteeing the region’s economic and democratic progress. The commitment with Latin America, with freedom, democracy and free trade, should be a bipartisan policy in the United States.

Dear friends,

Successful policies should be based on succesful ideas. I do not know better political ideas than those of freedom.

Ideas that should be backed by effective policies. The policies and ideas of freedom, western values, America’s Christian roots and the fight against poverty through growth. And, above all, the determination that the model of an open, democratic society should win out against the threat of populism.

The common aim of defeating the “21st century socialism” agenda requires having a sense of responsibility. Emphasis must be placed on what brings together, rather than what sets apart.

In the same way, the political forces of Latin America that share those principles should open up to new forms of co-operation and increased integration in order to create winning democratic alternatives for government across the entire region.

Dear Friends,

If Latin America is an essential part of the West, we cannot afford the luxury of leaving the region in the hands of totalitarian regimes. We must take action and join forces against those who do not believe in the ideas that are embraced by free societies. Europeans and Americans have the moral obligation to support every initiative that brings out the best in democracy.

Colombia is an example of what is at stake in Latin America. Colombia is a democracy with a decent government. Colombian democracy is threatened both by terrorist groups and by narco guerrillas. They deserve our full support. This is a moral obligation and also in our interest if we want to preserve freedom.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Regan's dream of a transatlantic area that advocates the freedom to all humanity is still in force. This dream must encourage us not to forget about Latin America.

In the current context of constant threats and risks, being oblivious to the future of this region would be a mistake of great dimensions. It is important that we help to build a net in Latin America of political institutions, parties and individuals that regard freedom as a supreme value.
If we manage to take on this challenge, success will be guaranteed. History has proved that freedom can be achieved provided that the appropriate action is taken by the people who truly believe in it.

Latin America is denied nothing. We know that there is still a great deal of work to do and that there are no short-cuts to prosperity.

That freedom and progress are possible for all Latin America. That success will come if we persevere our work in favour of the ideas of openness, democracy and freedom.

We are convinced that this project is possible. Our proposals are contained in this small book.

FAES Foundation knows that ideas need committed individuals to carry them out and bear fruit. That is why we are determined to work alongside our friends in Latin America and outside the region, specially the Heritage Foundation, in order to ensure that the ideas of freedom, democracy and justice triumph throughout the entire American Continent.

Thank you very much.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Democrats Offering Two Choices: The Far Left, and the Really, Really Far Left

The California Democrats are gathering in San Diego this weekend, and from this morning's press coverage it looks like the party is taking such a turn to the left that in a few weeks only people in San Francisco and New York City are going to be able to recognize it.

To this end, I hope the Democrats spend LOTS of time this weekend debating impeaching the President, how many different ways Democrats will raise taxes, mandatory rooftop windmills, how many different ways to ban a light bulb, etc. Any extra time should be spent debating the NFL draft, or something.

The more time the Democrats spend pandering to the San Francisco wing of their party, the more uncomfortable those 50+ Democrat House members from districts the President won in '04 will be. And rightly so.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Democrats Highlight Their Own Defeats by Coming to San Diego

This weekend California Democrats will gather in San Diego County for their annual convention.

It's the first time in more than a decade that the state Democrats are coming to San Diego - I suppose they finally found enough rooms among the small number of unionized hotels that labor officials allowed the party to come back to our fair city. Good for them.

San Diego is not the same city it was ten years ago, however. Organized labor took control of the city council in 2000, which immediately ran the city into the financial ditch through a massive payoff to the public employee unions who elected them, in the form of a colossal pension benefits increase that has forced the city to the brink of bankruptcy.

So much for the Democrats' vision of San Diego government.

San Diego is also not the same city - or county - that it was just seven years ago either. Back then, Democrats were doing fairly well holding onto districts where they held a plurality in voter registration.

Perhaps the California Democratic Party will hold a workshop this weekend on how to lose in districts you should win. They've gotten very good at that in San Diego County. Here are some examples:

In 2002, Republican Shirley Horton won in the 78th State Assembly District, a heavily Democrat area that the Assembly Democrat majority specifically drew for themselves in the 2001 redistricting. Assemblymember Horton won her third re-election last year by her biggest margin yet, despite a 6% registration advantage for the other party.

In 2005, Republican Jerry Sanders defeated the San Diego Democrats' golden child, Councilmember Donna Frye, by 8% despite the fact that there are 30,000 more Democrats in the City than Republicans. Sanders' victory stunned the political establishment where the conventional wisdom strongly favored a Frye victory.

In early 2006, Republican Kevin Faulconer defeated union operative Lorena Gonzalez in a special election in Council District 2 -- despite the Democrats' 4% registration advantage in the district and a massive expenditure campaign by organized labor to elect another "one of their own" to the council. Later that year, Faulconer crushed a former county Democrat Party Chairman for a full term.

Democrats lost yet another mayor's office in San Diego County that same year as Republican Cheryl Cox defeated incumbent Democrat Mayor Steve Padilla in Chula Vista, the second largest city in San Diego County. Conventional wisdom used to hold that the area of San Diego County south of Interstate 8 is Democrat territory. So much for that theory.

Also in 2006, Democrats failed again to regain any seats on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, losing even in the Second Supervisorial District, which is just 23% Republican. Republican Ron Roberts won in a walk, winning about 60% of the vote.

Six key elections. Five Democrat districts. Six Democrat losses.

Given this record, I'm crossing my fingers the state Democrat Party picks up lots of habits from the failed San Diego Democrat Party, which I hope is giving many strategy sessions on how to conduct campaigns for local offices.

They're not doing any better in campaigns for federal offices either, come to think of it.
Remember the special election following Duke Cunningham's resignation? The Democrats in Washington were telling every reporter, blogger, and straggler that this was going to be their big upset victory and they would shock the world with the triumph of Democrat Francine Busby over Republican Brian Bilbray.

I don't know where Francine Busby is these days, but it's not in Congress. Bilbray won by a comfortable margin in the special election, and sailed to victory for a full term later that year.
Make that eight key elections, and eight Democrat losses.

There are many good reasons for the Democrats to be in San Diego - showcasing a model for victory just doesn't happen to be one of them.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Governor Declares Special Election for Congressional Seat

The Governor's office just announced the date for a special election to fill the vacancy in the 37th congressional district that resulted from the passing away of Representative Juanita Millender-McDonald.

The election will be Tuesday, August 21st.

Although this is a heavily Democrat district, Republicans will offer the people a choice by fielding one or more candidates in this election. Several candidates have already expressed interest. Developing...

AB 965: Assemblyman Anderson Proposes Cleanup of Elections Code

Assemblyman Joel Anderson, who happens to be my Assemblyman, has introduced AB 965 to clean up sections of the Califorina Elections Code as they relate to governance of the Republican Party.

AB 965 repeals provisions of state law concerning the internal governance of the California Republican Party -- matters the United States Supreme Court held were not subject to state regulation. (March Fong Eu v. San Francisco County Democratic Central Committee, et al., 489 U.S. 214 (1989).

The Court held that state regulation abridged the speech and free association rights of political parties and their members under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Since 1989, the California Republican Party has adopted its own governance rules, or has incorporated provisions of these laws by reference into its governing standing rules and bylaws. At this juncture, with the need to make some major amendments to the statutes to ensure basic conformance of the law to these standing rules and bylaws, the Party’s General Counsel comprehensively compared the existing law with our standing rules and bylaws and recommended the extensive revisions that comprise AB 965.

AB 965 revises the statute naming the Party (from Republican Party of California to California Republican Party); retains the basic statute that identifies the principal purpose of the Party (current Section 7385, renumbered as Section 7353); and retains without any substantive change the provision establishing superior court jurisdiction for injunctive relief actions to enforce prohibitions and limitations of the Party’s standing rules and bylaws relating to endorsement of candidates in contested partisan primary elections against county central committees that endorse in violation of those party standing rules and bylaws (current Section 7389, renumbered as Section 7354).

AB 965 adds a provision that requires the California Republican Party to maintain a current version of its standing rules and bylaws on its Internet Website, something that we have done for a number of years, in order to facilitate public access to information concerning the applicable Party rules.

This is common sense legislation that brings the California elections code in line with court decisions protecting the party's rights.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Assembly Democrats Anti-Choice

The next time you fly to Vegas for the weekend, you may want to pick up some light bulbs.

That's because the Democrats in the legislature, never missing an opportunity to demonstrate that they are for the most intrusive government imaginable, just passed out of committee a bill to dictate the kinds of light bulbs you can (legally) have in your home.

Here's what the Assembly Republican Caucus (Mike Villines, leader) had to say:

Assembly Democrats Turn Out The Lights On Consumer Choice In California
Pass intrusive measure dictating what light bulbs Californians may buy

SACRAMENTO - Assembly Republicans today criticized Democrats on the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee for passing intrusive legislation that dictates to Californians what type of light bulbs they must use in their homes.

"Encouraging Californians to make their homes more energy efficient is certainly a very worthy goal," said Utilities and Commerce Committee Vice-Chair Rick Keene, R-Chico. "But making it unlawful to sell a certain type of light bulb is ridiculous. Criminalizing the light bulbs people use in their homes should be the last concern of lawmakers right now, especially given California's serious challenges, such as our prison crisis and long-term budget problems."

Assembly Bill 722, by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, would ban the sale of non-fluorescent light bulbs in California after 2012. While fluorescent light bulbs are a responsible choice, this bill ignores the fact that they are four-times more expensive than standard light bulbs, presenting an economic hardship for some Californians.

Republicans said the measure was another example of Democrats in Sacramento trying to tell people how to live their lives. Additionally, they argued that if compact fluourecent bulbs are a better deal for consumers, as the proponents suggest, then the problem will solve itself, without the heavy hand of government.

"Californians can decide for themselves which light bulbs perform best in the lamps in their homes, which ones are environmentally responsible, and which ones are the most affordable for their family budgets," said Keene. "Lawmakers should stop dictating to people how they should live their lives and focus on the real problems facing California."

Maybe they'll put a Home Depot right on the Vegas strip.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Schwarzenegger and Poizner with Republican Women This Morning

Here at the Hyatt Regency in Sacramento Governor Schwarzenegger and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner will be the featured speakers at the California Federation of Republican Women's annual Advocacy Workshop this morning.

President Marianne Haydon informs me that the several hundred Republican women are joined by two hundred students learning about the legislative process by participating in the workshop.

The CFRW is a key volunteer group within the state party, brining thousands of Republican volunteers into the party to support candidates and put Republican ideas into action.

Vice Chairman Tom Del Beccaro spent yesterday here, providing updates on how the CRP is moving forward in strengthening our operations and programs with input from our volunteers and other stakeholders.

Learn more about the CFRW and its important work here.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Radanovich to Speak at CRP Leadership Conference in Fresno

This just in: Republican Congressman George Radanovich will be the featured lunch speaker at the CRP Leadership Conference in Fresno on May 5th.

The Conference is a full day training and briefing session for county Republican chairs, treasurers, and members of the county party leadership teams.
Congressman Radanovich represents California's 19th congressional district and is currently serving his sixth term in Congress.

National Democrats Were Right About McNerney

It's no secret that national Democrat leaders supported now-Congressman Jerry McNerney's opponent in last year's Democrat primary: McNerney was the liberal, and his Democrat opponent Steve Filson was seen as a more moderate Navy veteran who better fit the district. (Read about it in the New Republic's summary of the race here.)

The Democrats' chances of taking/holding this seat would be better, they reasoned, with a moderate Democrat who could appeal to independents and some Republicans, rather than the liberal McNerney.

Well, it turns out the Democrat leaders in DC were right about McNerney.

Since his election, McNerney has shown that he has much more in common with liberal Nancy Pelosi than voters in his district, particuarly in San Joaquin County.

McNerney is so far to the left on issues ranging from taxes to illegal immigration, voting with Nancy Pelosi 100% of the time, that the NRCC's new website tracking McNerney suffers no shortage of material.

How many swing voters in the 11th CD really think illegal aliens should be able to form unions, $400 billion in new taxes is a good idea, the death tax should be resurrected, and voting for a $124 billion spending bill "stuffed with pork" is what they sent McNerney to Washington to do?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Details on the Presidential Debate at Reagan Library May 3

MSNBC will televise the first Republican Presidential debate featuring all of the leading Republican candidates for the White House May 3rd from the Reagan Library in Simi Valley. It's a 90 minute event beginning at 5:00 PM Pacific time. Candidates participating will be: Sam Brownback, Jim Gilmore, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Tommy Thompson.

This is a great opportunity for county Republican committees and Republican clubs to host local debate-watching events, inviting donors, volunteers, elected officials, candidates and activists to watch our candidates discuss the issues and their own qualifications for the world's most important elected office. If your committee puts on such an event, be sure to let CRP know so we can feature it on our event calendar.

If you're interested in attending in person, unfortuantely tickets are not available for the general public due to limited space and security concerns. You can read the full statement from the Reagan Library here.

Interestingly, the Reagan Library will also host a second Presidential debate on January 30, 2008 -- the last debate before the February 5th primaries. Read more about that here.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Harry Reid Hoists the White Flag

Friday, April 20, 2007

The War is Lost? No, it's Harry Reid who's lost

This week's winner of the self-fulfilling prophecy award is Senate Dem Leader Harry Reid for proclaiming the war in Iraq "is lost."

Whether or not Reid knows, or cares, how destructive his comments are to the troops on the ground and to our allies within Iraq is not known. As someone who's met with our troops and allies in Baghdad (last November), here's my take.

1. The Iraqis who are working to support the new democratically elected government are all taking an enormous risk by doing so. They are routinely targeted by the enemy specifically because of their dedication to make the new government there work. The Iraqi parliament building is located just inside the green zone (a/k/a "International Zone" or IZ), and checkpoints for those working in the parliament are routinely targeted for the enemy, which hopes to make an example out of those working in the government by killing them.

2. Reid's proclaiming the war is lost directly undermines the Iraqis who are working with us. It sends the signal to the enemy that what they're doing is working, and they should keep it up. It also sends the signal to our allies that they may as well not work with the government, because we're not committed to seeing this through to victory.

3. The signal Reid's comments sends to the troops is equally troubling. It undermines morale, it erodes the confidence and sense of purpose that is vital to success while at the same time emboldening the enemy, including those countries (such as Iran) who continue to provide support to the insurgents.

On the road called Iraq, there are two gates ahead: one called Victory, and the other called Defeat. Rolling through the Defeat gate is easy -- we can do that any time. Victory is more challenging to achieve, but our future security -- and that of millions of people in the region -- demands we see this challenge through to Victory.

Democrats: PLEASE spend more time doing things like this

It's fun watching the Democrats spin their wheels on things that have absolutely nothing to do with winning elections. Actually, I prefer they spend their time this way while we build a stronger campaign organization. "YOU go argue over resolutions, WE will go win elections."

This morning the North County Times (San Diego) writes about how the county Democrat Party has "formally" opposed the private secrurity company Blackwater USA building a training facility in the county.

Whoa, stop the presses.

First, the county Board of Supervisors has exactly zero Democrats on it (thank you, Republican volunteers). Second, unless someone passed some secret legislation giving the county Democrat Party jurisdiction in land use decisions, I'm not sure what qualifies these guys to weigh in on anything related to policy.

Finally, on the merits of the issue: Blackwater is a worldwide security company that, among other things, is helping to protect Americans in Iraq. I know this first hand because when I was in Baghdad I had a Blackwater team looking out for me, and they were top notch: extremely diligent, professional, and performing incredibly important work under difficult circumstances.

Six years ago, our county Republican Party would spend a great deal of time passing useless resolutions on obscure issues too. The impact of course is to lose institutional focus and divert resources (including attention) away from the party's role as a campaign organization. The result was losing elections we should have won.

To this end, I'm pleased to see the Democrats engaged in this kind of debating society exercise, and one that will have not one scintilla of impact on the next election. This is an excellent use of their time.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Interesting information on Iraq from the Heritage Foundation

Sound information leads to sound decision-making. In Washington, the Heritage Foundation provides information and analysis on current public policy issues from a free market perspective, and delivers it in a crisp, interesting way.

Heritage is providing facts analysis on the situation in Iraq, and also on how the Democrat Congress is endangering readiness and putting our forces at risk by continuing to play games with funds for the troops. You can find this great information here.

Governor to Headline Two Events in May

Two gala fundraising events for the CRP next month will headline Governor Schwarzenegger, Steve Poizner, and the Republican leaders in the legislature. The first is May 9 in Sacramento and the second is May 22 in Los Angeles. These will be first rate events; to learn more, please call the CRP's Sacramento office.

Steve Poizner in San Diego

Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner is in San Diego today as the headline speaker for the Republican Party of San Diego County's Lincoln-Reagan Dinner at the Town and Country Hotel in Mission Valley. Other luminaries expected tonight include Michelle Steel, Mayor Gerry Sanders, and numerous members of the state legislature. Congratuations to new county chairman Tony Krvaric for hitting over 400 attendees for his first major event as County Chairman.

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