Wednesday, November 23, 2011

34 Things I'm Thankful for in 2011

As we celebrate Thanksgiving in homes across our great nation, I'd like to share a few things I'm thankful for today and every day.  Why 34?  It's my favorite number, so here they all are in order of how they popped into my spiky haired head.

I am thankful for ...

  1. Family

  2.  My faith

  3.  My marriage

  4.  Friends

  5.  Living in America, the greatest nation on Earth

  6.  Our United States Armed Forces

  7.  My home

  8.  Kittehs (Pinky Tuscadero and Jack Daniels Bauer)

 9.  The Constitution and Declaration of Independence

10.  Rock. And.  Roll.  \\ m //

11.  Being able to drive a standard transmission

12.  Smart Girl Politics

13.  Tortellini

14.  Jack Daniels

15.  FTR Radio

16.  Conservatism and the Tea Party

17.  Being a contributor to and Politicalistas

18.  Snow covered mountains

19.  My health

20.  My cowboy boots

21.  Twitter and the internets

22.  Having a job that helps people see and smile

23.  Hollywood kisses with handsomehub

24.  Good conversation

25.  Freedom!

26.  Cartoons

27.  Traveling across our great country and around the world

28.  Ron's Pub

29.  Texas

30.  Being called scrappy and/or feisty.

31.  The truth that is "I am the 53%"

32.  Thunderstorms

33.  The WKRP in Cincinnati "Turkey Drop" episode

34.  You!

Have a blessed and safe Thanksgiving!

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! ~ Corinthians 9:15

Monday, November 21, 2011

David Dewhurst: Do As I Say, Not As I Do ... Oh wait.

Last week, Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst was interviewed by the Texas Tribune and had a lot to say about his run for U.S. Senate, but it's important to share with all Texans, what he did not say.

What Dewhurst Said:
Dewhurst said he was strongly against calls for a personal income tax in 2003, when the state faced a budget shortfall.

  • What He Left Out:
    • While he may have been opposed to an income tax in 2003, he did float the idea of raising the state sales tax in 2002; about 24-hours later, he completely flip-flopped and was against it. (Terrence Stutz, “Sharp, Dewhurst Clash During Forum,” Dallas Morning News, 5/2/02)
    • But Dewhurst did call for an income tax in 2005. He instead called it a “wage tax” and The Wall Street Journal said it would have expanded government & amounted to a new “income tax” on Texans. (Editorial, “Deep In The Heart Of Taxes,” The Wall Street Journal, 5/10/05)

What Dewhurst Said:
“Over my dead, cold political body will [we] ever have a personal state income tax.”

  • What He Left Out:
    • Dewhurst said in 2005 of a business income tax: “What good Texan is going to have heartburn over them paying $6,000 to $8,000 a year on income of $650,000 to improve the education of our youngsters?” (Terrence Stutz, “Dewhurst Blasts Tax Plan Foes Lieutenant Governor Tells Businesses: Pay Your Share,” Dallas Morning News, 5/4/05)

What Dewhurst Said:
"I've been involved in legislation 51 times that cut spending."

  • What He Left Out:
    • The Democrats were also involved in the legislation to cut spending; however, as any capitol watcher knows, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst was considered the "weak link" among state leaders on taxes. In fact, he pushed taxes on a number of occasions:
      • ·Dewhurst was the Senate leader as the legislature considered a series of dramatic tax increases including a Wage Tax, a Car Tax, a 4% Business-Profits Tax, raising the Sales Tax, and various Sin Taxes. (Editorial, “Deep In The Heart Of Taxes,” The Wall Street Journal, 5/10/05)
      • Dewhurst told Business Groups in 2005: “It’s time to start paying your fair share.” “Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst angrily accused some top business groups of spreading false information about the Senate's tax plan Tuesday, and he issued them a stern warning: It's time to start paying your fair share.” (Terrence Stutz, “Dewhurst Blasts Tax Plan Foes Lieutenant Governor Tells Businesses: Pay Your Share,” Dallas Morning News, 5/4/05)
      • The Wall Street Journal Called Dewhurst’s Comments “The Kind Of Class-Warfare Reasoning Normally Reserved For Washington.” “[T]he Legislature is set to lift outlays for its two-year budget to $137.5 billion from $118 billion, or 12.5% a year – the biggest two-year bulge in Texas history. Mr. Dewhurst defends his plan by trotting out the kind of class-warfare reasoning normally reserved for Washington. ‘What good Texan is going to have real heartburn about paying – out of $650,000 - $6,000 to $9,000 to improve the education of youngsters?’ he asked last week.” (Editorial, “Deep In The Heart Of Taxes,” The Wall Street Journal, 5/10/05)
      • Dewhurst proposed a new tax on advertising in 2003. (Wendy Melillo, “Lieutenant Governor Proposes Texas Ad Tax,” AdWeek, 4/30/03)

What Dewhurst Said:
He called himself a problem-solver. Interviewer Evan Smith asked, if Dewhurst thought he solved school finance. Dewhurst's response? "We solved it at the time."

  • What He Left Out:
    • If solving an issue “at the time” is his standard, then Dewhurst owes Texans an apology for wasting their time as he didn’t solve problems when the Sanctuary Cities bill came up, or when the TSA Groping Bill came up. He stood aside and let the bills be killed in the Senate when he could easily have intervened.

What Dewhurst Said:
When asked if he was with anti-tax activists who pushed back against the administration, Dewhurst said, "I'm with the people of Texas."

  • What He Left Out:
    • Dewhurst has not been to a Tea Party meeting and since entering the U.S. Senate race, he has skipped 18 candidate forums, bypassing an opportunity to be with the “people of Texas.”

What Dewhurst Said:
"'I'm not conservative enough,' some say; they don't know me. When they get to know me . . . ."

  • What He Left Out:
    • Even the media recognizes Dewhurst as a middle-of-the road guy:
      • "When Dewhurst was first elected Lieutenant Governor in 2002, he was viewed as a conservative, but more moderate in his approach than then-House Speaker Tom Craddick, a Republican from Midland who was often at odds with his Senate counterpart. Even Senate Democrats praised Dewhurst in his first session.” (Terrence Stutz, “Dewhurst Seeks 3rd Term With Eye On D.C.,” Dallas Morning News, 10/16/10)
      • "Dewhurst is smart, even a bit nerdy—a good listener, everyone agrees, and a moderate at heart. But for whatever reason, he has broken with tradition and used the Senate for his own political purposes.” – Saul Elbein, “The Extra-Lite Gov” Texas Observer, 10/29/10

So there you have it.  What was said and what was not.  As the primary kicks into high gear just after the holidays, it's very important we investigate all the facts and records for anyone running for office.  

Don't simply support a name that looks most familiar to you on a ballot.  Please research all outlets for the good, the bad and the ugly facts.  Find out who has the conservative record.   Find out who gets what endorsement.  Find out who will stand for what is best for you, your family, for Texas and for America.

In the meantime, as Dewhurst avoids debates with opponents, meeting with grassroots tea party activists in Texas and even Ducking Dewhurst around Austin, one thing is for certain.  Voters will remember on election day and I'll continue to do my "fair share" to help inform Texans of what I find as well.

Send A Care Package to Our Troops for Thanksgiving TODAY!

One of my favorite organizations, is putting together care packages for our troops in time for Thanksgiving.  MAF does all the work so all you have to do is choose the size package you would like to send and they'll make sure the troops receive it.

More info below:


Despite troops starting to come home from Iraq, the war to defeat the terrorists in Afghanistan rages on, and our troops continue efforts to destroy the last pockets of Taliban resistance in Helmand and other dangerous provinces in Afghanistan.

This part of Helmand was a troubled spot for the British troops that were previously in charge of it. Our Marines took over one year ago, and they've made amazing progress by taking on a more aggressive strategy.

Our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are making huge sacrifices and their lives at great risk to keep America safe and defeat our enemies. They’re risking their lives for our sake, and for our freedoms, don’t they deserve a little thanks and support in the form of a care package filled with snacks and other items to help them get through this harrowing deployment?

When you sponsor a care package through Move America Forward's Thanksgiving program, we do all the work. We buy the products, link your package to a soldier, marine, sailor or airman currently serving, our volunteers pack and ship the care packages, and we include a special note written by you, with a message of thanks and gratitude that will warm a soldier's heart.

We send only name-brand high quality food items like Oreo cookies and Planter's trail mix.  We NEVER send cheap coffee, only high quality gourmet coffee that's sure to taste great for our troops!

Items included in the care packages are coffee, cookies, beef jerky, gatorade, trail mix, deodorant, bug repellant, wet wipes and a whole host of other items that the troops love and appreciate getting in a care package from a patriotic and grateful  American back home!



Thank you for your consideration and support ... :)

May God Bless our troops, you and yours this Thanksgiving holiday season!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

In Honor of My Dad on Veteran's Day

In 1954, on the anniversary of the ending of World War I, President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed November 11, Veteran's Day, so that we would pay special tribute to our military heroes.  As we take time this year to honor those who have served our country on 11/11/11, let us never forget that it's easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you.  Our veterans dedication and bravery ensure our nation remains the home of the free because they're our home of the brave. 

In composing my tribute to our military veterans and how we can help honor them, I had tears of pride for all our veterans and their families and for my own family history too.  My Mom's brothers, Ben and Pete Gonzales both served in the Army during World War II.  Uncle Pete in Africa and Uncle Ben under General Patton in Germany.  My Dad's brothers, Bill and Bob Merkle also served.  Uncle Billy with the Marines in Japan and Uncle Bobby with the Army in Korea.  My father-in-law Ed Lancaster served in the Coast Guard.  My brother-in-law Dave Lancaster flew Harrier Jets with the Marines over Iraq and my cousin John Merkle serves in the Army in Germany today.

And then there's my Dad, Retired Master Sergeant Kenneth Merkle.  Dad served 26 years in the United States Army as a Cryptologic Linguist, or 98G for the awesome military personnel reading this right now.  He spent some of his Army career listening and translating what the Soviets were saying over the airwaves while we were stationed in West Berlin, Germany. Yes, they were called Soviets back then and he was my own James Bond, sans tuxedo and martini.  Dad has always been more of a single-malt Scotch man.

Dad had a successful career in linguistics taking us throughout Germany to various military bases with our "home" base at the Presidio of Monterey in California.  Upon retirement from the Army, he then began a second career as a civilian spanning another almost 20 years with the Department of Defense managing data systems until he retired a couple months ago.  My dad is the most brilliant man I know and while quiet in nature, leads a life filled with big love, big joy and big laughter thanks in part to the support of my mom, Grace, who's been by his side since his graduation from Basic Training. 

Growing up the daughter of a career Army soldier, I had a most fortunate life.  Granted as a child, I didn't think I was fortunate.  I disliked moving.  Immensely. After all, as a kid, it was all about me and leaving friend after friend to move yet again was no fun.  As every military family can relate, we moved a lot.  In fact, until my sweet sixteen, we moved 9 times between military bases stateside and in Germany.  Packing, unpacking, again and again while getting settled and having new teachers at new schools and making new friends.  All of this with no cell phones, internet, reality TV or instant information.  Things took time back then, we didn't have much and I had no idea life was so damn good.

On this Veteran's Day, as you thank our military for their service, thank their families too. You can help show your support and help our troops and their families this Veteran's Day and every day by donating to any of the fantastic organizations below:

You can also send free e-greetings via Facebook pages for the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marines, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Coast Guard. Always present for our troops is the USO, so check them out at on more ways to help our troops. There's even a new U.S. Military Facebook page to bring "together resources and information to help the millions of military personnel, veterans and families stay connected and informed." And of course, there's an app for that! "A Nation Gives Thanks" app is available so we can thank active service members, veterans and their families for their service to our country too! Ch-ch-check it out!

So, thank you, Dad.  Thank you for joining the Army. Thank you for teaching me to honor faith,  family and country.  Thank you for taking me to countries with different cultures and religions and to see that life in the United States is truly the best in the world.  And thank you for teaching me to work hard, appreciate the life I have and to give back in our community.  Dad, it is your strength and honor, dedication and service, and your love that made me the woman I am today.

I am also grateful to the military for my life experiences and because of the internet, I've been able to reconnect with friends from my travels around the world.  Despite my "civilian" status today, I am and will forever be an Army brat.

Happy Veteran's Day and thank you to all who have served our great nation.

Benjamin Franklin once said "Where liberty dwells, there is my country."  My country is better because of every veteran.  Thank you and may God bless you, yours and America. Always.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy Anniversary Smart Girl Politics!

Time flies when you're having fun and boy, have we been having fun!  This week is the third anniversary for SGP Action and I've been a loud and proud member of Smart Girl Politics (SGP) since December 2008.  Back then, we were but a handful of members.  Today we have over 45,000 members across our great nation.

Some of the original Smart Girls at this years Smart Girl Summit in St. Louis

Our mission is simple.  Engage.  Educate.  Empower.

Engage: We will provide the opportunity and environment to facilitate the exchanging of ideas on a local, state, and national level.
Educate: We will educate women to understand basic political party structures and how they can get involved in their community to make a difference. We will educate women on how to register voters and identify voter fraud in their local precincts. We will assist those women who chose to move to leadership roles in their communities and provide them with the tools necessary to apply, run, and win an elected position.
Empower: We will build a community of activities who empower one another to stand up for their conservative beliefs. We will defend the right of conservative women to share their voice, their opinions, and their right to serve their country in any capacity they so chose. We will give conservative women a voice in the party system which allows their beliefs and principles to be heard.

Prior to my joining SGP, I would have never believed I could make such a difference in my community. In the past 3 years, I've written emails and made telephone calls to congressman all over our nation regarding important issues and bills. I've educated citizens on voter registration.  I've attended tea parties and have spoken in front of thousands about the importance of activism, how great our country is and what we should to do to keep her great.  I've also had the opportunity to meet Congressional and Presidential candidates.  And through it all, I've been honored to be the Texas State Coordinator too.

So, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY my Smart Girls!  My life has changed forever because of you and I am truly blessed to be a part of your organization.  Thank you!

Do you want to help make a difference in your community?  Don't leave it to someone else.  You ARE someone else!

Join us today!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cain/Gingrich Texas Showdown: To Debate or Not To Debate.

I was very fortunate to receive an invitation to attend the Cain/Gingrich Debate from Texas GOP Vote.  It was hosted in The Woodlands, Texas, not far from my home so I was especially excited to have the event so close for a change.  And how interesting that it would be in a format similar to the Lincoln-Douglas style debate where there would be more of a conversation between the candidates and the American people than the typical 30 second sound bite we’ve been told we must follow in televised debates today.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew it would be different and I was excited to be a part of it.  Here is a picture of me with my good friends Tabitha Hale of FreedomWorks and Kat McKinley of the Houston Chronicle in the blogger lounge prior to the event.  

We had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Julie Taylor, President of the Texas Patriot PAC, who was hosting this event.  She spoke to the bloggers noting how excited the voters should be that that history was being made as Cain and Gingrich were going to speak respectfully to one another on the subject of entitlements.  She informed us that each candidate would spend about 5 minutes with the bloggers with a Q&A immediately following the debate. 
A question was presented to Dr. Taylor at this time asking who requested no questions be asked of Cain about the sexual harassment accusations against him.  Note: we received information advising to guide our questions toward the $15 trillion train of total debt and honor the finest tradition of journalism by sticking to the entitlements subject matter.  Dr. Taylor stated that this event was to be “focused on entitlements and not gossip.”  Well, there you go.  A cold chill fell over the room, but it is what it is.  Oh, and apparently if you stray from the advice, which apparently the media side did, well, don't go there. Hmm.
As the room fell cold, another blogger asked why Cain and Gingrich and no other candidates?  Dr. Taylor responded that they already had a relationship with Cain as he had attended their April tea party.  Gingrich had presented interest in this type of round table event; therefore, they took him up on his offer.  Dr. Taylor noted she hoped other candidates would find interest in this participating in this type of debate and that the Texas Patriots PAC is open to possible future events with other candidates too.  This is great news and I hope the other candidates take full advantage of this format.
The moderators, neither who have endorsed a candidate, were Rep. Steve King from Iowa and Ben Streusand, Chairman of Americans For Prosperity.  They did not steer the debate and there were no gotcha moments.  I welcome this and hope it continues for future debates, although I doubt it will. 
There was solid great conservative energy in Texas for this full house of approximately 1,000.  Dr. Taylor noted earlier that they had to add seats to the event for late attendees.  I viewed the room as a variety of Americans from all walks of life.  Everyone in attendance was buzzing with excitement for the event. 
Fact:  the debate was not a debate as both Cain and Gingrich are conservatives with similar viewpoints of our country and its greatness.  It was more of a discussion of how they, as President, could help make her better with great ideas on what works and what doesn’t.  This type of format highlighted … in bold large print … how ideas with facts and specifics can overshadow generalities.
First question referred to the Ryan Plan.  Both Cain and Gingrich agree with it.  What stayed with me here was that Gingrich said we have to have a better health system before we arrive at a better affordable system while focusing on the big challenge of educating people on how to think about the changes needed.  The format then allowed Cain time to disagree with Gingrich.  He didn’t.  He instead added to it.
Cain then speaks of his time as CEO of Godfather Pizza and how it’s easier to control what is inside a company than what is happening on the outside.  He discussed how Medicare started in 1965 and how our government stated it would cost 6 billion dollars. We were then told by the government that by 1990 it was going to cost 12 billion.  "Target missed.  Then, here we are at 109 billion.  That’s a 900% miss.  How many businesses can survive missing a target like that?"   None.  Good analogy. 
The discussion went on pretty much like this with no debating and more conversation on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Gingrich giving the detailed specifics on what needs to change and how to do it in layman’s terms.  It flowed.  It was not rehearsed.  Natural.  There were a few instances where the question was first presented to Cain, but he instead passed to Gingrich for him to answer first.  This was painful to watch.  Punting is painful.  Every time it happened, the air was sucked out of the room and I heard whispers of “did that just happen?”  or “are you serious?”  Exactly.
A couple of points that Cain made that brought the most applause:  1.  We have the best healthcare in the world despite our healthcare cost problem and that we must use market driven patient centered approaches with Loser Pay Laws.  Like Governor Perry pushed and signed into law in Texas.  2.  We must go from an entitlement society to an empowerment society.  And we must support Voter ID Laws.  Also like Governor Perry pushed and signed into law in Texas.  Just sayin.
There were several times when the discussion dragged.  More so coming from when the moderators who went into excruciating detail on the entitlement questions being presented.  I noted many glazed eyes within the room, despite the wealth of information voters were receiving from Gingrich and Cain’s input.  This should be scaled down for future events.
Personal retirement accounts.  Applause.  9-9-9 mentioned only once during entire 90 minute time frame.  Applause.  Chilean model.  And not the supermodels either.  Younger workers having the choice to stay in the current plan or move to a new option.  Galveston Texas model.  Growth.  Honesty.   Repeal 0bamacare.  Applause.  Rethink Medicaid as we do not solve poverty with the liberal model of the past 50 years.  Boogie woogie.
My favorite line of the night came from Gingrich when he said “This President is about as candid and accurate about what he tells the American people as Bernie Madoff.”  Word.
I felt more “love” for Cain amongst the crowd when walking around them and in the audience, although Gingrich received the more thunderous applause.  I saw Gingrich as more engaged with the audience too.  I’ve seen him speak before and he is always brilliant and a man with big ideas that would fundamentally change America for the better.  Could he?
Cain was also engaged, but something was missing that I’ve seen before.  Yes, he’s been under tremendous pressure with the media regarding the harassment allegations circling his wagon, but a President must remain calm and carry on even in times of turmoil and surround himself with those who stay on point.  Can he?
When Gingrich asked him what he found the most surprising while running for President, Cain said he was most surprised at the nit-pickiness of the media and he did not expect them to be “down right dishonest” as it was a “disservice to the American people.”  Really?  Even my teenage son knows how the media works. 
The discussion ended with laughter just as it began as Cain asked Gingrich “If you were Vice President of the United States, what would you want the President to assign you do first?”  A roar of laughter was probably heard miles away.  Gingrich was red faced and took a bit of time to compose himself from laughing.  His response?  Not go hunting.  High five! 
Everyone left the room smiling and happy. 

Full video of the Cain/Gingrich Debate at the jump here!
I had the opportunity to video the blogger Q&A too.
Both Cain and Gingrich answered some very good questions from my fellow bloggers.  I especially loved my friend Kathleen’s question to Gingrich about his video with Pelosi on climate change and David Jennings Big Jolly Politics’ question to Cain on the Hispanic vote. Listen up.
Gingrich Bloggers Lounge Q&A:

Cain Bloggers Lounge Q&A:

This was a different kind of event with a different type of vibe to me.  I walked in with a different feeling than when I walked out.  For me, the weird vibe didn’t come from the actual 90-minute discussion, but instead from the blogger Q&A.  

I met Gingrich at CPAC and he was as personable and friendly last night as he was then.  When he answers a question, there is no doubt he is and always will be the smartest guy in the room.  I've always been impressed, but for some reason this time, I felt more at ease with him.  Could it be because we know he would mop the floor in a debate with 0bama?
I’ve also met Cain previously at CPAC, RightOnline and at the Smart Girl Summit.  This is where I felt uncomfortable change.  Like the elephant standing the middle of the room and no one saying anything about it instead tip-toeing the easy line.  Never mind “gossip,” what about the mishandling of these accusations after having 10 days notice and then turning around and blaming another campaign?  The comfort and easiness I once felt for Cain is gone.  The whole situation just makes me sad.  Le sigh.
In the end, I very much enjoyed the more detailed aspect of the round table and definitely did not miss the gotcha moments or sniping back and forth.  For me, Gingrich was the winner.  Yes, it dragged at some point, but all in all, big kudos to Texas Patriots PAC and Texas GOP Vote for all their hard work. 
I hope other candidates take advantage of getting their message out in this type of format as we desperately need to do this to our conservative base.  We need the best person, with the best record and the best ideas who surrounds themselves with the best people.  The best.  Period.  Because settling for someone with big promises, no experience and a pretty smile is why we are where we are today.  Oh and rabid government spending.
So pay attention my friends.  Do your homework on every candidate and check their records!  Experience and knowledge is key as well as surrounding yourself with other like minded individuals who believe in the greatness of America.  Don’t leave it to someone else.  You ARE someone else!