This past weekend in Orlando, Americans for Prosperity Foundation hosted a conference for grassroots activists from around the nation.
With informative breakout sessions in the mornings to highlight successes on the state and local levels, and “big tent” events in the afternoon with national conservative leaders, there was something for everyone, including ample free time to “network”.
The “malaise” that affected many of us locally after the bitter results of the 2012 Presidential election has been pretty widespread, and organizers from many locations reported falling attendance at many of their events. Hopefully, that is now starting to change. Although we are still licking our wounds, conferences like this one demonstrate that there is still life in the conservative grassroots, we have leaders in the movement that “get it” and have the fortitude to take it to the President – to lead the fight against the train wreck that is Obamacare, the endless debt and deficits, the administration that cares little for the rule of law, the separation of powers, or the role of the states in our constitutional republic.
“It’s amazing what is possible in America“, said Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, when people are free – free to make their own choices, free from the suffocating regulations of intrusive government. He talked about education as the key for the jobs of tomorrow, and the success they have had in his state in shutting down failing schools and greatly expanding the charter school system which has done a lot to improve the lot of minority children. Last week, unfortunately, Obama’s Justice Department has decided to sue Louisiana to roll back these reforms and return students to their failing schools. Judging by his fiery critique of the President and his policies, it is clear he will stand up against our rogue Attorney General and fight to retain the success they achieved.
Our own Senator Marco Rubio declared “There is nothing wrong with America – but there is something wrong with this President“. The good news, he said, is that “we still have time to save the American Dream“, by reforming the tax code and eliminating regulations. “We don’t need Common Core”, he said, and he will not vote for any budget that funds Obamacare or to increase the debt ceiling without a balanced budget amendment and specific cuts.
Unfortunately for Senator Rubio, there is still a lot of anger in the movement about his role in passing the “gang of eight” Senate immigration bill. In the hall were members of Flimen with pink shirts that said “Pink Slip Rubio”, and throughout his speech you could hear sporadic calls for “No Amnesty”. Although he avoided this issue in the speech, he did address it in a smaller group that met with him prior to the session. In a hotel suite with about 40 supporters, after answering some questions about Syria, Obamacare and other issues for which he was among friends, someone in the back asked “what about immigration”. A hush fell across the room at this point and he had no choice but to address it with a somewhat lengthy justification that amounted to “the status quo is unacceptable so we have to do something“. To me it sounded like doubling down. Not good.
Then Arthur Brooks, President of American Enterprise Institute, succinctly summed up the Obama message: “Rich people have your stuff and I’m going to get it back for you.” This shouldn’t have worked as envy is not American, but unfortunately all our side had to say to his supporters was “You’re a moocher” – no wonder we lost. The words “fairness” and “compassion” have been kidnapped by the left and we should take them back and own them, because progressive ideology is neither fair nor compassionate. As a humorous and memorable side comment illustrating our difference in values, he recalled a bumper sticker seen in San Francisco – “Your body may be a temple but mine is an amusement park”.
Next up was Governor Rick Scott, gearing up his re-election bid with a positive jobs message. Recalling his 2010 pledge to create “700,000 jobs in 7 years”, he reported us as on-track, with the likelihood of 900,000 jobs created by 2018. Scott is still popular with the Florida grassroots, although his support for Medicaid expansion had a lot of heads scratching. We do still remember that he declined to create a state Obamacare exchange, though. A few hecklers in the audience periodically shouted “No Common Core”, reflecting dissatisfaction with the direction that our education system has taken over the last few years. Scott talked about his activities as a booster of the state’s business climate and his good-natured rivalry with Texas and Governor Rick Perry who was the last major speaker of the day.
A 2012 Presidential candidate until his campaign faltered early in the primary process, he is possibly gearing up for another run in 2016. Well known as a jobs governor, the record of the Texas economy on his watch has been very impressive. As he makes the rounds of the states selling the Texas miracle, he has gained the ire of many blue state governors who do not appreciate his pointing out the shortcomings of their performance or the failings of the Progressive economics.
On another theme, “All roads lead back to the states“, said Perry. One size fits all federal programs (like Obamacare) are anathema to the founding principles of this country. A favorite target of the Obama administration, whose ideology sees the power in the states to be a roadblock to their big government agenda, Texas is now being sued by Eric Holder and the Justice Department as they try to end-run the Supreme Court and re-impose Voting Rights Act restrictions that require federal permission for such things as Voter ID laws.
On the final day of the conference, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, another possible 2016 presidential candidate and clearly the favorite of the gathering gave us reasons for optimism. With the success of Ron Paul’s filibuster on drones, and the failure of gun control initiatives after Sandy Hook, the President was forced to “listen to the people”, he said. On Syria, with Obama now going to Congress for authorization, on immigration, on common core, – the people are making their voices heard and throwing a wrench into the Obama agenda. His job as a Senator, he says, is to restore economic growth as the lack of growth is related to all of our other problems. Tax Reform (“Abolish the IRS“), and regulatory reform (“Repeal Obamacare – every single word“) are the key. He sees Obamacare as the greatest job killer of all time and sees de-funding it in the upcoming budget process as the key. In answer to skeptics that see that tactic as a political liability for Republicans, he says “You lose 100% of the fights you surrender at the outset.” Standing ovations were frequent for this speech.
All in all, the speakers reminded us that conservatism is not “in trouble” as the mainstream media may have you believe, but resurgent and full of fire. With his agenda in tatters, the Obama team sees winning back the House and holding the Senate next year as their only chance to have a legacy of anything but failure. Any thought of compromise or even dealing with a Republican House is not is the President’s wheelhouse. Although 2014 will be a harder slog than 2010 when we took them by surprise, at the end of this conference it was clear that we have depth, we have tools and we have a maturity that comes from adversity and learning from the losses of 2012. Thanks to AFP and organizations like them, the conservative grassroots will have help and structure that will amplify our effectiveness going forward.
Dennis Michael Lynch is the author of “They Come to America”.
Established 15 years ago, the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number [ITIN] is a seemingly innocuous administrative requirement that the Internal Revenue Service assigns to anyone who is employed and pays taxes. According to the IRS website, the numbers are used for federal tax reporting only. But since ITINs, as they are commonly known, are issued to wage earners regardless of immigration status, they’ve frequently been abused by the aliens who hold them.
Read the full story by Joe Guzzardi in The Federal ID that Pays Illegal Aliens Billions a Year, published at the Western Center for Journalism.
Tuesday’s meeting of South Florida 912 at the Lantana Rd branch of the PBC Library covered new ground for us and we hope to have more discussions of the kind we had on the Dream Act.
We began the meeting with a brief introduction by Doug Armstrong, co-founder who led us in a prayer, followed by Jason Shields leading the Pledge of Allegiance. Shannon Armstrong – co-founder, welcomed the many new attendees along with the long-time members and gave a brief history of the group. Since our debate was to begin later in the evening, we front-loaded announcements and other topics including:
- Candidates – Albert Key spoke about his run for the District 1 (County Commission) seat
- America Supports Israel – Mel Grossman described the difficulties and push-back the small team of involved citizens trying to pull the event together, has encountered in Palm Beach Gardens. But the March will go on, on 8/24 – and we will let South Florida 912 members know the details as soon as they are available.
- Special CC3 Project – Fred Scheibl spoke about a new phone banking and activist project which will help build skills while affecting the County Budget. For details and to volunteer go here.
- Value of the Month – Personal Responsibility – Shannon spoke to what it meant to her and tied it in to our role as activists as well.
- Shannon announced that the 9/13 meeting will be the Palm Beach County Budget Hearing – that everyone should attend and make their voices heard or submit a card but attend in any case. Those wanting something from the County will be there. We need to be the voices of the tax-payer!
We took a short break during which folks got to mingle.
Ed Fulop took the mic and described the debate rules, introduced our debaters – Austin Parris (long-time 912er and former candidate for Fl House District 85) and Francisco Rodriguez (also long-time 912er and former candidate for Fl House District 83) arguing for and against the Dream Act respectively. Ed began by giving an overview of the act. Austin went first, giving a thoughtful examination as to why he thought those who were brought into the country, when under 18, illegally by their parents, and who already are required by law to be in the public school system, should be afforded the ability to become legal residents (green card status) and ultimately, citizens, given they meet the criteria established in the Dream Act. Francisco countered with several issues – primarily constitutional (eg the Federal role in education is unconstitutional) and legal (the proposed law creates classes of people that can be given special privileges while excluding others), along with impacts to those who are citizens or who have achieved citizenship legally. After asking each other a question, the audience was then allowed to ask 5 questions, followed by a heartfelt summation by each debater. Both of these young men did an outstanding job!
Jason ran the 50:50 drawing and the meeting was closed.
We welcome suggestions for future discussions of the kind we had at this meeting – please send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment here. Additionally – what did you think of the meeting? What do you think about the Dream Act – let’s continue the discussion through comments on this post.
Pictures from Fred and Iris
The next meeting of South Florida 912 will be on Tuesday, August 9th at:
Lantana Rd. Branch of the PBC Library
4020 Lantana Road
Lake Worth, FL 33462
Click for Directions
Time: Meet and greet 6:30pm-7pm
Meeting: 7pm – 8:45pm
The Dream Act– what do you know about it? Do you have an opinion? We are fortunate to have two long-time South Florida 912 members who hold opposing positions on the proposed Act: Austin Parris has been a vocal advocate on behalf of passage of the Dream Act. Speaking in opposition will be Francisco Rodriguez.
The DREAM Act (acronym for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) is an American legislative proposal first introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001, and most recently on May 11, 2011, when the bill was re-introduced in the US Senate.
You can read the rest of the wiki article here.
Meanwhile, a few states have passed some form of Dream Act legislation. The latest is California – where Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed several versions, but Gov. Brown just signed a partial implementation last week. And President Obama, speaking to La Raza just a few days ago, once again brought up his avid support for it.
Our members have very strong opinions on this, so expect a lively debate on this once again timely subject!
Also on the agenda:
- Our Value of the Month
- Candidate announcements
- Sherry Lee on a Call for Candidates
- Mel Grossman will talk about America Supports Israel 8/24
- Fred Scheibl will be recruiting for an activist training project that will hone our skills and influence some local issues at the same time
We hope to see you there!
2) CALL THE FOLLOWING SENATORS
(EMAILS WILL NOT LIKELY BE READ BUT IF YOU BUT IF YOU DO, MAKE THE SUBJECT LINE SOMETHING LIKE “PRO-E-VERIFY”; FAXES ARE GREAT; * = MOST IMPORTANT):
SENATOR – TALLAHASSEE PHONE – DISTRICT PHONE – EMAIL – FAX
P.O. Box 667605
Pompano Beach, FL 33066
Please mark your calendar
Morgade Library – Salerno Road
5851 SE Community Drive
Stuart, Florida 34997
Wednesday – February 2, 2011
Have you had the opportunity to hear Representative Bill Snyder speak on his upcoming immigration bill?
Do you have questions about the pending immigration legislation currently under discussion in the Florida Legislature?
If you want to know more and have questions, then this is a meeting you don’t want to miss.
Representative Snyder will discuss his proposed bill in detail at this meeting.
Join us for an informative, non-partisan program at the Morgade Library, Salerno Road, 6PM, Wednesday, February 2, 2011.
In order to ensure that as many folks as possible have their questions answered, we ask that you submit your questions in writing at the beginning of the meeting if possible. We will supply you with pen and paper.
Free of charge and open to the public.
Friends and Patriots at the last debate in
Palm City we were out numbered 5 to 1.
Rep. Snyder needs our support!!
PS: The last event was standing room only.
Supporters who arrived late were left standing outside.
Please get there early so the naysayers are left outside.
Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama wrote a good synopsis of the little-known aspects of the DREAM Act (aka S.3827) last month for the Center for Individual Freedom. Calling it amnesty is a simplification. It is worse. Read the article HERE
The 10 things are:
- The DREAM Act Is NOT Limited to Children, And It Will Be Funded On the Backs Of Hard Working, Law-Abiding Americans
- The DREAM Act PROVIDES SAFE HARBOR FOR ANY ALIEN, Including Criminals, From Being Removed or Deported If They Simply Submit An Application
- Certain Criminal Aliens Will Be Eligible For Amnesty Under The DREAM Act
- Estimates Suggest That At Least 2.1 Million Illegal Aliens Will Be Eligible For the DREAM Act Amnesty. In Reality, We Have No Idea How Many Illegal Aliens Will Apply
- Illegal Aliens Will Get In-State Tuition Benefits
- The DREAM Act Does Not Require That An Illegal Alien Finish Any Type of Degree (Vocational, Two-Year, or Bachelor’s Degree) As A Condition of Amnesty
- The DREAM Act does not require that an illegal alien serve in the military as a condition for amnesty, and There is ALREADY A Legal Process In Place For Illegal Aliens to Obtain U.S. Citizenship Through Military Service
- Despite Their Current Illegal Status, DREAM Act Aliens Will Be Given All The Rights That Legal Immigrants Receive—Including The Legal Right To Sponsor Their Parents and Extended Family Members For Immigration
- Current Illegal Aliens Will Get Federal Student Loans, Federal Work Study Programs, and Other Forms of Federal Financial Aid
- DHS Is Prohibited From Using the Information Provided By Illegal Aliens Whose DREAM Act Amnesty Applications Are Denied To Initiate Their Removal Proceedings or Investigate or Prosecute Fraud in the Application Process
In deciding our “leader’s picks” for the election, we decided not to choose a candidate for CFO. Although the alternatives to Jeff Atwater are not at all acceptable, we felt that Jeff had 2 significant strikes against him: pushing through Sunrail, and bottling up immigration reform in Senate committee after HB291 passed the House with a 112-0 vote. Another candidate we do support (Ellyn Bogdanoff) was also a Sunrail proponent, but in the Atwater case it was two strikes.
Since we published our picks, Jeff reached out to us and we had a wide-ranging discussion on this and other issues. He would like to better introduce himself to the grassroots community, and we will have him as a speaker in a future 912 meeting.
Jeff also reached out to FLIMEN (FLoridians for IMmigration ENforcement), who had worked on immigration reform in the state over the last year, and faulted Senator Atwater for killing it in committee. We based our assessment on their analysis of events. Now (although he will no longer be in the Senate) Jeff is working to identify a sponsor in the next session and has indicated a desire to see e-verify legislation become law.
For a FLIMEN view of events, see The Story Behind E-Verify for Florida 2010, including the text of Jeff Atwater’s letter to FLIMEN.
The audience at the 912/RCPB town hall debate was asked to rate the responses of the candidates in each of 6 question areas based on the following scale, and leave their score sheet with us at the end of the event.
- 5 – The candidate is completely aligned with my views on the issue.
- 4 – The candidate is mostly aligned with me but there are a few areas that I’m worried about
- 3 – The candidate is mostly aligned with me but there is one MAJOR problem area
- 2 – The candidate is mostly opposed to my views on the issue
- 1 – The candidate is completely opposed to my views – it would be awful if he/she was elected
Forty nine people responded (about a quarter of the audience) and this is the result:
As you can see, in district 27, Mike Lameyer and Sharon Merchant were neck and neck with scores in the mid 4 range, while Lizbeth Benacquisto trailed the others with scores in the mid 3 range. In district 25, both candidates tracked each other closely except on immigration where Ellyn Bogdanoff had the advantage over Carl Domino. For this crowd at least, Sunrail is very unpopular and both incumbent candidates did poorly on the transportation question.