Mo Brooks Huntsville Open House

Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) will be holding an Open House in his Huntsville District Office, located at  2101 W. Clinton Avenue, Suite 302, on Friday, March 4, from 2 to 4 p.m.

“I’m looking forward to meeting with constituents from the Huntsville area and hearing their concerns,” said Brooks. “I hope a lot of people will stop by. My staff will also be on hand to answer casework questions, and help in any way they can.”

Congressman Brooks also announced plans to hold future open houses in other district offices in the Shoals and Decatur. “We’re going to have open houses at the Shoals and Decatur offices in the next few months,” said Brooks. “In addition, my staff will be visiting locations around North Alabama and setting up temporary offices so that folks who can’t visit the three main offices can meet them and ask questions.”

For more information about the Huntsville Open House, please call the Huntsville Office at (256) 551-0190 or visit brooks.house.gov.

Raby knows where the bodies are buried

Fellow Flashpoint contributor Dan and I attended the Democratic Party Rally at the Roundhouse last night.  More than 250 people attended the event, including WVNN’s Dale Jackson and Mecca Musick.  I enjoyed speaking with Madison County Democratic Party Chairman Doug Dermody.

I missed the first part of Congressional candidate Steve Raby’s speech but arrived in time to hear Raby reiterate his claim that Redstone Arsenal got “zero funding”, however unlike in his TV ad, he told the rest of the story – the zero funding was in the Military Construction account (note that “the arsenal has received $440 million since 2007 for BRAC-related building projects”).

Raby said that he expected bad things to be published about him in the papers over the next couple of weeks.  I say, it’s about time.  Raby aided in the “attempted hijacking” of a State Board of Education primary election in 2008.  Raby’s family PACs funneled money to the State Senators indicted in the current gambling scandal.  IMO Raby has a record of disregard for ethical behavior – it might be legal, but it sure ain’t right.

Much of the rest of Raby’s speech included folksy stories about growing up here and asserting that he could protect Huntsville jobs because of his political connections.

Raby said that if elected, he could hit the ground running in Washington because he “knows where the bodies are buried”…

Rising up

Brooks says Fire Pelosi

Brooks says Fire Pelosi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Republican Congressional candidate Mo Brooks spoke to more than 200 people as the “Need a Job? Fire Pelosi” bus visited Huntsville.  Brooks began his speech saying that the good turnout was a “reflection of the anxiety we all have for our country… the people are rising up… and the first step is firing Nancy Pelosi”. 

Brooks compared the economy when Pelosi and the Democrats took Congress in 2006 (4.3% unemployment) to today’s 10% unemployment.  Brooks closed by saying “if we take Nancy Pelosi out of office, we take out the entire leadership team… If we fire Nancy Pelosi, we fire Barney Frank and replace him with Alabama Representative Spencer Bachus”.

Alabama RNC Representative Paul Reynolds said “Progressive is another word for communism”.

WHNT TV19, The Huntsville Times Challen Stephens, Decatur Daily, and Huntsville Newswire reported on the Fire Pelosi event.

Eric Fleischauer of the Decatur Daily wrote “Mo Brooks calls Pelosi a socialist during RNC rally”:

“The Democrats with their failed socialist policies have given us 10 percent unemployment,” Brooks said, his voice hoarse. “Why do people in Washington want to copy an economic system that doesn’t work?

“Nancy Pelosi,” he yelled, “stop your job-killing antics!”

Brooks endorsed by Police organization

From the Mo Brooks for Congress – 5th District campaign:

Republican congressional nominee Mo Brooks has received the endorsement of the Alabama State Fraternal Order of Police.

In a letter to Brooks informing him of the endorsement, FOP President Bill Davis said the “endorsement was made after careful consideration and qualifications and experience of all of the candidates.” Davis told Brooks, “the membership felt that you are the best person to serve in the office.” The Alabama FOP has approximately 8,600 members.

Upon learning of the endorsement, Brooks said, “I am deeply honored to have the endorsement of such a well-respected organization of law enforcement professionals. Public safety is one the core functions of our government, and I stand second to no one in my strong support of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect our families and our homes. I look forward to working closely with the FOP in the years ahead to provide them the support they need to accomplish their mission as effectively as possible.”

Brooks, a Madison County Commissioner and former Alabama State Legislator, is the Republican nominee for Congress in Alabama’s 5th Congressional District. The election is November 2nd.

Northeast Alabama Tea Party Rally

WHAT:            HUNTSVILLE TEA PARTY ELECTION RALLY FOR NORTHEAST ALABAMA

WHEN:            October 26, 2010 at 5:30 p.m.

WHERE:          Parking lot at corner of Clinton Street and Woodson in (across from Clinton Street Post Office)

SPEAKERS:   
Dr. Robert Bentley, Republican Candidate for Governor
Commissioner Mo Brooks, Republican Candidate for Congress (District 5)
Mary Scott Hunter, Republican Candidate for State School Board (District 8)
Senator Paul Sanford, Republican Candidate for State Senate (District 7)
Councilman Bill Holtzclaw, Republican Candidate for State Senate (District 2)

Please mark your calendars to join us for what we hope to be a fantastic turnout to hear and/or meet some of the GOP candidates from our area the week before the election.  We will also asking that you publicize this event through your organizations or campaigns, as the case may be, once our formal release is prepared.  I wanted to go ahead and get this out so that all of you would reserve this date on your calendars.

Candidates running to represent all or parts of Madison and/or Limestone County that are in attendance will be recognized during the program by Roger Richardson.  Local elected GOP officials will be recognized as well.  We hope people will be there early to meet candidates, who will be invited to set up tables.

Please note that Dr. Bentley will speak first and, after speaking, he must IMMEDIATELY leave to go to Athens for a televised debate (so please do not try to talk to him after he speaks.  We don’t want him to be late!).  Mo will go next and then he must also leave to go to Athens, because his debate follows Dr. Bentley’s.

HASBAT Congressional Forum

The Huntsville Association of Small Businesses in Advanced Technology (HASBAT) hosted a Congressional Forum today featuring Republican Mo Brooks and Democrat Steve Raby.   The Forum was attended by more than 80 local business people and covered by the news media including Dale Jackson of WVNN,  Challen Stephens of The Huntsville Times, and Trang Do of  WAFF.  In addition, I had the pleasure of meeting ‘mooncat’ of Left in Alabama – she got the forum on video and I hope she posts it – I can’t wait to see their comments…

The following is a summary of the forum which I hope gives you, our dear readers, insight into the candidate’s position on issues.

OPENING STATEMENTS:
Brooks (R) = “facing a grave set of challenges”; “socialism versus free enterprise”; “balanced budget Constitutional Amendment”
Raby (D) = “don’t like the direction of our country… or what is going on in Washington”; “problem-solving standpoint”; “I believe in capitalism”; “reduce budget deficits”; “independent-minded”

QUESTION 1 = Jobs: what can the federal government do to create jobs in the private sector?
Brooks (R) = private sector funds government; extend Bush tax cuts; get Feds “out of the way”; “fewer taxes, less regulation”; “fair trade, not free trade” example China currency manipulation; “free the entrepreneur”
Raby (D) = we have “economic instability”; businesses are sitting on cash waiting on tax policy; Constitutional requirement for defense so “no one in this town should have to apologize for working for the government”; coordinate State / Federal economic development efforts

QUESTION 2 = Taxes: do you favor extending the Bush tax cuts and regulatory relief?
Raby (D) = most regulations are drafted with good intentions but twisted by administrators; “stabilize tax policy”
Brooks (R) = “this is a defining difference between me and my opponent”;  for extending Bush tax cuts; “you know what you’re going to get” if you vote for me

QUESTION 3 = Economy: unsustainable national debt?
Brooks (R) = “two years ago, Steve contributed $2,000 to my campaign” [each candidate praised the other - they're old friends];  “46% of operating expenses is borrowed money”;  can’t keep borrowing from children;  balanced budget except for crisis or war
Raby (D) = “I agree with Mo”; “greatest threat to our economy is continued deficit spending”; “for balanced budget amendment… except for capital projects like highways…”;  the $2000 contribution to Mo ”wasn’t the first time”; bipartisan; “I’ve given $48,000 to Republicans”; “going to take a centrist approach”

QUESTION 4 = Do you support Obamacare? 
Raby (D) = “No, I do not”; “wasn’t done in a transparent way”; hospitals say it will increase costs; Doctors won’t accept patients; “pre-existing conditions should be dealt with”; Medicare Part D doughnut hole should be dealt with; individual mandate “will not work”
Brooks (R) = “the issue is cost”; “socialized medicine is the end game for these people [Democrats]; “interstate competition”; “tort reform”; eliminate hospital Certificate of Need requirements; take legal bills out of health care costs; illegal aliens add costs; “a strong economy empowers us to pay for the health care we need”

QUESTION 5 = Defense: do you favor a “phased adaptive approach” to missile defense? [the guy who wrote the question later said he wished the question had been clearer]
Brooks (R) = overall the economy allows us to pay for defense;  “fed is taking $2.7 trillion out of capital markets, denying it to business”
Raby (D) = Constitutional requirement for defense; ”move money to R&D”; “prepare for the next war”

QUESTION 6 = Illegal immigration?
Raby (D) = “gather information”; “federal responsibility”; secure Southwest border and ports of entry;  focus on employers e-verify
Brooks (R) = “Thank Arizona”; secure borders; e-verify; make it expensive for employers to hire illegals

CLOSING STATEMENTS:
Raby (D) = “I’m on team Tennessee Valley”; “I don’t want to be grouped with these folks” [specifically trial lawyers but in the context of the Democratic team]; “the other team” pledged not to accept earmarks so Redstone Arsenal got $0 for Military Construction while Bobby Bright (D – AL02) got money for military bases in his district; “I’m not part of a political team”
Brooks (R) = politicans choose ideology (team); first vote in the House is for the Speaker of the House, it’s for a team; “bipartisan when it comes to mutual agreement”

***

Politics is a ‘team’ effort.  This is displayed by the very first vote each Representative casts for Speaker of the House.  Do you want two more years of Nancy Pelosi?

I thought that Mo Brooks did a great job.  Brooks was passionate and noted (often) that he has a record of fiscal leadership.  The only question he didn’t directly address was the missile defense question (it was too much inside baseball), but he gave a good answer.  Disclosure – Mo was a contributor here until the contested GOP primary and I have a ‘Brooks for Congress’ bumper sticker and yard sign.

I’m trying to figure out Steve Raby – I know many people who like him and I can see that.  Raby seems to be running away from the national Democratic Party (can’t fault him for that) – he said the word “independent” several times.  Raby dodged the Bush tax cut extension question, which was obvious to the crowd of small business people who will see their taxes rise on January 1.  I don’t doubt his concern for the Tennessee Valley.

I made the offer to Raby’s Finance Director that if they send us press releases, campaign event notices, or opinion pieces that we will post it.

***

Lisa Williams attended the forum with her husband State Representative Phil Williams (R – 6).   Lisa is one of my 10 year old niece’s favorite people – they met at a GOP breakfast – Lisa was very sweet and patient with her.

Thanks to HASBAT for a nice lunch and a great event!

Deepwater Horizon – Top Kill Update

Or to be more accurate – no update.

“Operations continue,” BP spokesman Jon Pack told UpstreamOnline.  “There are no further updates. It is difficult to say when there will be…it could take up to two days.”

It does not appear the drilling mud has eroded the riser or increased the flow rate so far, but in a worst-case scenario flow could increase 15%…

The Transocean semi-submersible rig Development Driller III… was continuing down hole at 11,000 feet below the drilling floor Wednesday on the first of two relief wells.  Suttles said on Friday that the rig was “slightly ahead of schedule.” 

Transocean semi-sub Development Driller II is drilling… at 8650 feet…  Both rigs spud their wells about 3000 feet from the original Macondo bore.  They will drill vertically to about 10,000 feet before directionally drilling to intercept Macondo at roughly 18,000 feet…

Once either well intercepts the Macondo bore, BP can pump cement and plug the producing zone.  Suttles said the company has no plans to ever produce from the Macondo well because it has been damaged beyond repair.

The Oil Drum has details about the Top Kill attempt complete with pictures and animations.  Read it to get a feel for the complexity of the situation and to see the tools and processes used in the procedure.

Our friends at ALFIN also make some good observations:

The range of 12,000 to 19,000 bpd is higher than the earlier USCG / NOAA estimate of 5,000 barrels per day, but is far lower than the fantastical estimates by academics from Purdue, UCB, and other universities who estimated flow rates to 100,000 barrels per day and higher. The higher spill rate would put the Deepwater Horizon spill above the Exxon Valdez in total volume spilled — although that is not taking evaporation into account.

Journalists and Obama — who are looking for “an unprecedented disaster — want to compare the spill to the Exxon Valdez in order to prove that the apocalypse has come. But the Deepwater Horizon spill is not comparable to the Exxon Valdez spill for many reasons: a deep undersea leak far offshore vs. a surface container spill close to shore; a lighter crude with high proportions of gas vs. a heavier crude; the warm fertile waters of the Gulf of Mexico vs. the frigid waters of Prince William Sound; the active Gulf Loop Current into open seas vs. the relatively closed waters of the Sound . . . and so on.

***

Obama fired (or she resigned)  Minerals and Management Service boss Elizabeth Birnbaum.  Birnbaum was a Congressional lawyer, Clinton functionary, and environmental activist before her appointment to MMS in July 2009.  Praise Obama for firing her, but he just fixed his prior error in her appointment (thank goodness it wasn’t a lifetime appointment – see Sotomayor or soon Kagan).

Our Congressman Parker Griffith (who is originally from Louisiana) sent the following email:

This morning, Elizabeth Birnbaum, the director of the Minerals Management Service agency that oversees drilling operations, was fired. She was supposed to testify as a witness this afternoon in a Energy and Commerce Committee hearing about “Combating the BP Oil Spill”. Parker will be questioning witnesses at this hearing and will propose the question to the witnesses that if the Administration has done everything correctly – as it says it has – then why are heads rolling on their end?

To watch the full committee hearing, please visit this link – http://energycommerce.house.gov/ (click the box on the right side of the page titled “Live Webcasts”)

Note – I bolded the good part.

***

BP is investigating the cause of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion:

In a statement, BP said: “The investigation team’s work thus far shows that this accident was brought about by the failure of a number of processes, systems and equipment.

“There were multiple control mechanisms – procedures and equipment – in place that should have prevented this accident or reduced the impact of the spill.”

The company also said there is much the inquiry still needs to do – as well as carrying out further interviews, full forensic examinations of the blowout preventer (BOP), wellhead, and the rig itself – all of which are still currently on the sea bed – need to be done.

BP said: “The investigation is focused on the following seven mechanisms.

1. The cement that seals the reservoir from the well;
2. The casing system, which seals the well bore;
3. The pressure tests to confirm the well is sealed;
4. The execution of procedures to detect and control hydrocarbons in the well, including the use of the BOP;
5. The BOP emergency disconnect system, which can be activated by pushing a button at multiple locations on the rig;
6. The automatic closure of the BOP after its connection is lost with the rig; and
7. Features in the BOP to allow remotely operated vehicles to close the BOP and thereby seal the well at the seabed after a blow out.”

Chief executive Tony Hayward said: “I understand people want a simple answer about why this happened and who is to blame.

“The honest truth is that this is a complex accident, caused by an unprecedented combination of failures.

So much in life is “unprecented” nowadays…  Or could it be that the term is overused?

***

Here’s a good editorial from Upstream Online Editor Erik Means:

Could there be any worse remedy to the precarious situation at Macondo than having it taken over by government?

Truth be told, Salazar and his boss President Barack Obama are under no illusion that their administration holds expansive knowledge of oilfield operations and reservoir management. But they are struggling to appear in public to be doing something assertive about a horrible spill that in reality is entirely out of their control.

On a scale of one to 10, the Macondo debacle is a 12 for BP. The stained shoreline in Gulf states is an equally huge stain on the reputation of the UK supermajor. The 11 lost lives will haunt the company for years to come.

If anyone seriously thinks that BP is not doing everything in its power to cap that rogue well and clean up the spill, then their vision has been clouded by tears of rage.

This is not to say that BP did not mess up badly in the events that led to the blow-out and blast that triggered the catastrophe. Evidence suggests increasingly that it did.

But in the given circumstances, I would have a hard time pointing to a company other than BP that I would rather have in charge of regaining control of the well. ExxonMobil, perhaps, but one would hope that those two supermajors – now respectively responsible for the two worst spills in US history – have had an open line of communication on how to deal with the out-of-control well.

***

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) is out in front on the oil spill (in what is an unfortunate but instructive test of his leadership).  From the DHIJIC:

The National Incident Commander for the BP oil spill, Admiral Thad Allen, today approved the implementation of a section of Louisiana’s barrier island project proposal that could help stop oil from coming ashore and where work could be completed the fastest—as an integrated part of the federal response to the BP oil spill.

This step will save Louisiana the cost of construction for this section by integrating it with the federal government’s ongoing oil spill response—thus paving the road for payment by BP, as a responsible party, or the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

There’s an old adage that it’s easier to get forgiveness than approval.  Governor Jindal was moving ahead with the constructi0n of ‘barrier islands’ without Army Corps of Engineers approval, so they went ahead and gave their ‘approval’:

The Army Corps of Engineers has granted partial approval for Louisiana’s barrier island project proposal, covering approximately half of the state’s original request and including six sections.

Under this permit, but without coordination with Admiral Allen and the Unified Command, Louisiana is authorized to construct the barrier islands at its own expense, so long as construction meets the terms and conditions established by the Army Corps of Engineers and any other required permits are obtained. If Louisiana moves forward, they will need to address all potential costs and environmental impacts.

Barrier islands get moved around alot and wash away (look at Dauphin Island – did you know that it used to be the biggest French colonial port in the US until a hurricane filled in the harbor).   This action is a risk for Jindal but he is well on the way to proving himself capable of handling a crisis (just in time for the 2012 Presidential election).  Compare that to Obama who uses a crisis to advance his political agenda.

Community Boathouse

Congressman Parker Griffith is running a TV ad that says:

Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer money is being wasted on pork barrel projects and, earmarks to buy votes including $100,000 for a boathouse.
MO BROOKS
Career Politician
Big Spender
Part of the Problem
I’m Parker Griffith and I approve this message.

Whatever goodwill Griffith’s previous ads may have gained him just went out the scuppers.  Maybe a casual voter will believe the ad, but anyone who’s been paying attention to local politics knows that Mo Brooks isn’t a big spender – just the opposite – he’s a bulwark against spending.

The Rocket City Rowing Club held a Press Conference today at the Boathouse on Hobb’s Island Road mentioned in Griffith’s ad.  WHNT19, The Huntsville Times, and Huntsville Newswire covered the event. 

Challen Stephens of The Huntsville Times wrote “Boathouse stirs political row”:

Brooks does indeed pass out hundreds of thousands of tax dollars each year, tax dollars he often delivers in person at PTA meetings.

But he wasn’t alone on this project.

The old boathouse had been condemned. The county paid $7,000 for the land for the new one. Commissioners Mike Gillespie and Faye Dyer combined to chip in $30,000 toward the project. Commissioner Jerry Craig provided labor.

Here are the Huntsville Newswire reports: “Griffith: Boathouse good example of out of control spending” and “Rowers to politicians: Keep us out of your campaigns”.

Since the Boathouse is owned by Madison County and Brooks is a County Commissioner, IMO it’s a valid campaign issue (even if bringing it up is bilgewater).  That said, the Boathouse is no different from ballfields, dog parks, marinas, nature trails, or other public facilities which provide quality of life improvements to segments of the population.  IMO this is an appropriate use of County taxes (would I complain if Federal taxes were used to build a boathouse in Madison County – you betcha).

***

This is what I learned about the Boathouse and the Rocket City Rowing Club…  The Boathouse opened in 2008 and replaced a condemned boat shed.  Total construction cost was about $155,ooo with $30,000 of that donated by the Rocket City Rowing Club (great deal for the County).  The Boathouse is a four bay metal building: one bay for community boats, one bay for UAH Crew, and two bays for Rocket City Rowing.  Note that the bays are rented out to these organizations (or for community / public rental).  There are about 35 boats in dry storage, some costing as much as $30,000.   The Boathouse is owned by Madison County, managed by UAH, and the grounds are maintained by RCRC.

Rocket City Rowing Club competes against teams from all over the Southeast (e.g., the Head of the Hooch in Chattanooga) and hosts the Hobb’s Island Regatta (October 16, 2010).  BTW our Boathouse is a “doghouse” compared to the Chattanooga boathouse (for those who like to compare us to Chattanooga).

RCRC noted that some kids receive scholarships for their involvement in crew – for example I heard that a Randolph HS kid earned a scholarship to MIT – for crew.

***

Along with being a beautiful day to spend by the River, today was clean up day – so there were about 50 kids and adults cleaning boats, scrubbing floors, and mowing grass.  As it should be, the kids were doing most of the work, led by their coxswains (the kid in charge of each boat).  I was pleased to meet this group of people – they contribute a lot to our community and have fun while doing it.

 

Hijacker Smithwick claims ‘selective prosecution’

Troy Smithwick (who attempted to hijack a primary election) was recently indicted for campaign finance disclosure violations and his defense is “that violations of those reporting provisions are rather common in Alabama political campaigns” and “are practically never prosecuted”.

Matt Quillen of  The Daily Home (Talledega) wrote the article “Smithwick defends allegations” reporting on a hearing in Talledega County Circuit Court.  This seems like a story that The Huntsville Times should cover since one of the people named in the story is running for Congress (Democrat Steve Raby) and another person runs a Huntsville-based PAC (Jyles Machen of  the shady TRDPAC – The Real Democrat PAC).

The second count on the indictment dealt specifically with a $100,000 contribution reported from a Huntsville-based political action committee called The Real Democrat.

Smithwick had claimed a $100,000 contribution from another Huntsville-based group, called the Tennessee Valley PAC.

Giddens said he spoke to Steve Raby and Jyles Machem of Tennessee Valley PAC and The Real Democrat PAC, respectively, about the reported contribution.

“There was a snafu with the political action committees,” Giddens said. “They have since filed some amended reports and I still don’t think they understand what happened, based on the people I talked to from the committees.”

Raby and Machem had both previously said there was not a second donation made to Smithwick’s campaign. An amended 2008 annual report from The Real Democrat, received Oct. 19, did not report any contribution to Smithwick.

Keep in mind that Smithwick was running in the Republican Primary against Stephanie Bell and that Democrat PACs gave more than $300,000 to his campaign.  This prompted Mike Hubbard, chair of the Alabama GOP to say that Democrats were trying to “hijack” the election and he warned Republicans not to vote for Smithwick.  Hubbard believes that the money was funneled through those PACs from the Alabama Education Association (a subsidiary of the Democratic Party – Paul Hubbert of the AEA teacher’s union is Vice Chair of the Democratic Party).  This case illustrates why banning PAC to PAC transfers is important.

Somehow we’re being asked to believe that TRDPAC’s Machen reported a contribution to Smithwick for $100,000 but that it didn’t really happen (what – they changed their mind after he lost)?  That a Huntsville Democrat PAC got the amount of their check and the name of a local politician from Talledega confused?  Raby and his PAC still admit to contributing $100,000 to Smithwick’s campaign.

It bothers me that Steve Raby is running for Congress - by his actions he has proven that he has no respect for Alabama voters or the election process.  I guess if you’re a Democrat, cheating is a feature, not a bug.