Another of those days

I believe I mentioned in an earlier post that April was a busy month for me. Today is one of those busy days. I’ve two appointments this morning and another this afternoon.

Busy, busy, busy.

See y’all tomorrow.

If you thirst for news you won’t find on the MSM, check out this piece from California. Governor Moonbean’s water dictate is unconstitutional. Well, part of it. Let’s see if the libs are crazy enough to defy the courts.

California drought: Court rules tiered water rates violate state constitution

Posted:   04/20/2015 06:35:07 PM PDT929 Comments | Updated:   about 2 hours ago

In a ruling with major implications for California’s water conservation efforts during the historic drought, a state appeals court on Monday ruled that a tiered water rate structure used by the city of San Juan Capistrano to encourage saving was unconstitutional.

The Orange County city used a rate structure that charged customers who used small amounts of water a lower rate than customers who used larger amounts.

But the 4th District Court of Appeal struck down San Juan Capistrano’s fee plan, saying it violated voter-approved Proposition 218, which prohibits government agencies from charging more for a service than it costs to provide it.

The stakes are high because at least two-thirds of California water providers, including many in the Bay Area, use some form of the tiered rate system.

Gov. Jerry Brown immediately lashed out at the decision, saying it puts “a straitjacket on local government at a time when maximum flexibility is needed. My policy is and will continue to be: Employ every method possible to ensure water is conserved across California.”

Brown added state lawyers are now reviewing the decision.

The article continues at the Mercury-Press website. The court said you cannot discriminate based on water usage. It violates the California constitution.

Survived the weekend…

It was busy! I’ve been looking forward to this last weekend for some time. I mentioned a couple of months ago that my ham radio bug has returned in full force. The connection to this last weekend was the Ararat Shrine Hambash. When I was first licensed, it seemed as if there was a Hamfest every month somewhere in the area. Now there are only three or four a year.

Be that as it may, I had a reason to go to the Hambash. I’d hoped to be able to take my Extra class test. Unfortunately, I was too late and there were too many already testing. I really didn’t expect to pass; I just wanted to see the differences in the testing process. It has been over forty years since my last Ham test.

I took my General/Advanced class tests at the Kansas City FCC office. A ham friend who was also the FCC Engineer-in-Charge, WØAT, administered the written tests. He gave me the General class written test first. Passed. Then the Advanced Class written test. Passed. Then the Extra Class written test. Passed.

The code test was next. Thirteen word-per-minutes test: passed. That made me at least an Advanced class. The Eighteen word-per-minute code test was next. Failed. Only 17wpm. In 1972, you have to get X number of consecutive letters/numbers/punctuation, correct. I was a few letters short for an Extra class ticket. Life and work then intervened and I never went back to retest the code.

I didn’t get to test Saturday. I really wasn’t prepared but I thought, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,”…and perhaps I’d get enough correct answers on the written test to pass. Technology and Ham Radio has changed in forty years. I needn’t be bothered to remember my old tube-technology on the current test.

Regardless, it was an interesting Hamfest and the hall was filled, elbow-to-elbow, with people. One vendor had come from Minnesota. I saw a lot of old ham gear of the same models I once owned and operated–Heathkits, two models of Heathkit HF amplifiers (I built one back in the ’70s,) early Kenwood transceivers, it brought back a lot of memories.

Next on my schedule was to rush home amidst driving rain like an upended bucket to get Mrs. Crucis (why does it always rain on hamfests?). We were off to our Grandson’s birthday. He was fifteen this weekend. Time must pass faster as we get older.

Friendsofthe NRA-2015-2Later in the afternoon we were off again. This time it was to the Heart of America Friends of the NRA dinner. I had been to the one in Harrisonville, MO, last year and met many personal friends there. This time my wife came along. Like the last NRA dinner, we met some personal friends and sat with them.

Other than dropping our ticket stubs into the jar for door prizes, we didn’t buy any raffle tickets. I supposed I could have afforded to drop $20 on the top item, a prized Henry lever-action in 44-40. On the other hand, being on a fixed income places restraints on our ‘disposable’ income. In other words, we spend our money carefully. I’d rather spend that disposable income with friends. (And, truth be told, renovating my ham station is not going to be cheap.)

The banquet hall was packed. I don’t know the exact count of people. There were Kansas and Missouri politicos present, a few local PD Chiefs and retired LEOs and many, many NRA members and their families.

The most welcome was the Johnson County 4-H Shooting Team. The team was a collection of boys and girls who were the Kansas state champions. The banquet was designed to be family friendly and there were many more than a few kids present with their parents. When the auction started, two of the items were designed to be for, “Kids-only.” One item was a large watergun. The other was a semi-auto nerf gun. The 4-H kids helped show the auction items throughout the evening. I think they had more fun than the older attendees.

Ted Nugent Stars and Stripes Guitar

Ted Nugent Stars and Stripes Guitar

The top auction item was a Ted Nugent, numbered and autographed, Red-White-and Blue, Stars and Stripes Gibson guitar. It sold for $2500 if I remember correctly.

It was a fun night. Mrs. Crucis won a door prize, a bouquet of flowers. I, on the other hand, won nothing. That was OK, too. Frankly, I don’t think I’d have room to mount some of the prizes.

The weekend is over. This coming weekend is busy, too. Friday is the Cass County Lincoln Day celebration. I’ll be bringing one of the silent auction items like I did last year. I’ll let you guess which it is if you come. Come and be welcome. Tickets are $30 at the door.

Cass County Lincoln Day

Friday, April 24, 2015, 6:00pm, Peculiar, MO, Lions Club.

Guest speakers: State Senator Ed Emery, Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler.

Another day getting caught up…

No post today. Family and errands have intervened.

Back to the grindstone

A week ago I was on my way to Nashville. J and I are now back. The initial flurry on our return, checking the mail, doing errands postponed from last week, recovering from a bit of physical overexertion, are over.

Like any long anticipated event, there’s a let down when it’s over. The excitement, built by anticipation over the last weeks and months, is gone.

Sole Mio Banquet Room, Nashville, TN

Sole Mio Banquet Room, Nashville, TN

Last Saturday, J and I were invited by a number of blogger friends to dinner at a small Italian place, Sole Mio, a couple of blocks from the Music City Center. I had met about half of group from the St. Louis NRAAM in 2012. Some have become good friends despite the fact we’ve only met, face-to-face, once or twice before.

As bloggers, we all have our separate interests. Some write solely about guns and gun issues. Others, like my friend, Kelly, AKA, Ambulance Driver, writes about EMS topics. Some write about their military experiences and Jim, a new writer, presented me with signed copies of his books. All of us, however, have one common topic that we all write about at one time or another: Shooting.

It was a fun night. We agreed to meet again in a year at the next NRAAM in Louisville. Mrs Crucis and I have already marked our calendars for May 20-22, 2016. They’re still counting the attendance. The Annual Meeting continued through Sunday. The attendance by Saturday night was over 78,000. When Sunday’s attendance is added, I expect that number to exceed 80,000. The question is by how much. IMO, the Music City Center was too small. I hope Louisville is larger.

Next year we hope to take a couple of local friends with us.

***

I may have escaped the political escapades in Missouri for a few days. That didn’t mean it stopped. In the Missouri Senate, the Tax ‘n Spend crowd wants to raise Missouri’s gas tax by 10¢. IIRC, it sits today at 19¢. This crowd says it must go up to 29¢ or we’ll lose some federal money.

Spend! Spend! Spend! And when the money is spent, it’s never spent on what we really need. Missouri has allocated well over a billion dollars in the last decade to fix the state’s roads and bridges. Most of that money, once it was appropriated, was re-directed to more politically sensitive projects. MODOT is a joke. Nixon won’t release funds already allocated while claiming to need more. Now the idiots want more!? No! The Missouri Senate has blocked this tax and no-spend bill. At least for the moment.

***

The ‘Pubs have three announced candidates so far, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. They all made their announcements in public, in person, and made the media rounds afterward.

On the democrat side, Hillary announced her candidacy…via social media—not in public, not in person, and no interviews with the media. Instead, she rented a Darth Vader van, went to Iowa, found a restaurant, ran out everyone who was there, filled it with hired supporters and created a media event. And, like she did in 2008, departed without leaving a tip—verified by the on-site security cameras.

What a comparison: Cruz, Paul, Rubio, real people meeting real people vs. Hillary, a fraud and a phony, a manufactured candidate. It is a pocket-sized truism of left vs. right.

Hillary believes if she can manipulate the public, she’ll win. Not even the rabid democrats believe her anymore.

From PJ Media…

86% Say No to Hillary in MSNBC Poll

by Debra Heine, April 15, 2015 – 11:02 am

According to a new Rasmussen poll, nearly six in 10 voters believe that Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the next president. But perception is not reality, as an MSNBC poll seems to indicate.

The poll, which appeared on the MSNBC website on Tuesday morning, shows that 86% of MSNBC readers who responded would not vote for Hillary Clinton in the upcoming presidential election. Only 13% responded in the affirmative and a mere 2% said “maybe.”

The poll, while not scientific, strongly suggests that progressives do not prefer to have a baggage-laden career politician as their party’s standard bearer in 2016.

***

“Missouri is no longer a presidential bellwether state. The state’s voters haven’t sided with the national victor since 2004,” so says the St. Louis Public Radio. What they really mean is that Missouri hasn’t been an Obama rubber-stamp much to the chagrin and disappointment of the St Louis liberals.  In fact, Missouri is so out-of-step, according to them, that the state’s political consultants are being chosen to lead the campaigns of Cruz, Bush, and perhaps Scott Walker.

Missouri’s position — and importance — in 2016 presidential contest up in the air

First, one thing needs to be made clear: Missouri is no longer a presidential bellwether state. The state’s voters haven’t sided with the national victor since 2004.

As a result, as more candidates announce their 2016 presidential bids, many activists in both major parties predict Missouri won’t be a battleground state this time, either.

This means, as in 2012, Missouri voters won’t see many presidential TV ads and likely won’t see much of the candidates.

Under that scenario, Democrats believe it will be too costly, too risky and unnecessary to try to carry the state. And Republicans are confident they don’t need to spend money to keep Missouri in their presidential column.

But that doesn’t mean Missouri has no role to play in the presidential contest. “We will not see presidential candidates coming here for votes, but they will be coming here for some of the talent in our state and probably more importantly, to raise funds,” said Republican consultant James Harris.

In fact, such quests already are underway. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush stopped by a couple months ago for a private money-raising event held at Hunter Engineering, the firm owned by former Ambassador Stephen Brauer and headquartered near Lambert Field.

And several major Republican players in the state already have lined up behind GOP contenders:

  • Kansas City-based consultant Jeff Roe has been assisting GOP hopeful Ted Cruz for months and recently was named his campaign manager;
  • Gregg Keller, a St. Louis-based consultant, is a senior adviser for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., also is on board with Walker, providing policy advice. Keller and Talent previously had been active in Mitt Romney’s presidential bids.
  • Prominent St. Louis lawyer Jack Oliver, former vice chairman of the Republican National Committee, has been volunteering in the state and nationally on behalf of Jeb Bush. Oliver earlier had been the campaign finance chairman for former President George W. Bush.
  • Harris, based in Jefferson City, isn’t officially aligned with any of the 2016 candidates, although he personally backs Jeb Bush. He served as a contribution “bundler’’ for Republican nominees John McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012.

Oliver, by the way, disagrees with those pundits who write off Missouri as a 2016 battleground state.  “Missouri is a very important state, and will be in the primary and in the general election,” he said.

Some fellow Republicans who privately agree with him point to the state’s top Missouri Democratic consultant, who long has been a national player:  veteran consultant/money-raiser Joyce Aboussie.

Based in St. Louis, Aboussie was the national political director for U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt, D- St. Louis, for more than a decade. She has supported and assisted Hillary Rodham Clinton for years.

The column continues on the website, you can read all if it here. Missouri’s liberals may think Missouri has nothing much to be noticed. Others, on the national political scene, believe otherwise.

No post today

I’m spending my writing time today doing some errands that I really should have done last week before Mrs. Crucis and I went off to Nashville.

Check back tomorrow. I hope to have been caught up with my procrastination by then…I hope.

You can go home again…but…

Mrs. Crucis and I decided to make some detours on our way to and from Nashville last week. The two of us are originally from Illinois. I was raised on a farm between Benton and West Frankfort, IL. She was raised in the small town of Waterloo, IL. We met when we attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL.

It had been a long time since I had gone back to Benton and the Farm, over thirty years when my sister and I sold the Farm to an elementary school friend. At the time, he said he intended to tear down the old house and build a new one next to it.

Thirty years. It’s hard to imagine the changes that takes place in that length of time. I expected change. I couldn’t imagine how it would appear.

We left Cass County at 4:30 in the morning in light rain. That rain stopped by the time we reached Columbia. Our route was simple, I-70 to Illinois, I-64 to I-57 at Mt Vernon, then south on I-57 to Franklin County. Benton is the Franklin County seat.

We left I-57 north of town to take Route 37 into Benton. Five miles north of town is the entrance of Benton Lake, the city reservoir and Benton Park. The north entrance lead to a causeway across the lake. I once swam across the lake when I was in high school.

I never saw the entrance. The last time I was on that highway, I could see the lake to the east. In thirty years, trees have grown tall. I continued to look for other landmarks. One of my high school classmates lived at the US Forestry headquarters north of town. At one time there had been a fire tower at the site. I did see a small Forestry sign when we passed the site but the house where my classmate lived was gone as was the fire tower. I really didn’t expect the fire tower to remain. They were being phased out before I left for college. I did expect to see the headquarters and the house. It was built by the CCC during the 1930s and was a local landmark.

Still the terrain had changed. New houses had been built along that state highway where pastures once lay. I remembered some of the older houses that remained but most of others had been built during my thirty year absence.

Benton has four main streets. They are named, unimaginably, North, South, East and West Mains. In the center of town is the county courthouse. Benton has changed little from the northern side of town. The Franklin County Hospital remains. The much smaller Benton Community Hospital where I was born has not. I knew approximately where it should be but saw no trace of it.

We drove around the square. The Barton and Collins furniture store was empty. The Williams Hardware store was gone too. Mrs. Williams was my first through third grade teacher. Her husband ran the hardware store. They were family friends.

On around the square we drove. The old Five ‘n Dime was now a law office, Hart and Hart. Judge Hart was my father’s lawyer and helped me register his will. In the south-east corner where the Capitol Theater once ruled was a fountain and small park. Further around the square stood the Wood building. At one time it was the tallest building in the county. It may still be. Some things still remain. The adjacent Benton Cafe, however didn’t. It is now a tattoo parlor.

We left town via South Main. The old American Legion Post is now a funeral home. The legion post had moved further south and further from the street.

South we continued, south past the Odd Fellow cemetery where my parents are buried. I thought briefly of stopping but didn’t. They are not there.

Route 37 continued south until we reached the turnoff to the Farm. We used to call the road Rabbit Ridge. The road sign now says it’s Forrest Church Road. Forrest Church is a small Missionary Baptist Church a few hundred yards from the Farm. Mom, Dad and I often walked that distance to church in the Spring and Fall when the weather permitted.

At this point I began to experience…a dissonance. It’s hard to explain the sensation. I could see the country as it appeared. But superimposed on that vision was another from my memory. Instead of the asphalt road, I saw the old gravel road I had traveled so many times. New houses had been built where once Holstein dairy cows had grazed. Hill City School where I attended grade school had disappeared among a stand of trees. The school district had dissolved while I was in college merging into the new Benton Unified School district.

Hill City School, in contrast to other school districts of the time, was rich. Ten acres had been deeded to the school early in the 20th Century, and, unlike most of the land in Franklin County, the school owned the mineral rights beneath its property—coal, gas, and oil rights. There were two producing oil wells on school owned property and the school received more revenue from the oil, coal and gas royalties than could be spent.

In the eight years I attended Hill City School, it expanded three times. In that expansion the school built a new cafeteria, a new gym, bleachers and stage. The coal furnace was replaced with an oil fired one—a radical upgrade in a county where most of the heating came from coal. A final upgrade was a ball diamond on a three acre field next to the school plus new play ground equipment. My father was a school board member and later the board president. He felt it was his duty to spend the schools income to make it one of the best schools in the county. If he didn’t succeed, it wasn’t for lack of trying.

When the Benton Superintendent of Schools, eying covetously the Hill City revenues, decided to absorb Hill City School into  Benton’s Unified District they failed to examine the deed closely. It contained a provision where the mineral rights reverted to the heirs of the original property owners if the Hill City School District was ever dissolved. Benton annexed the Hill City district but they didn’t get the money! After several failed lawsuits, they finally gave up.

We continued west. Several of the older homes were gone. Forrest Church, however, remained almost untouched in appearance. One exception was the outhouses that once stood behind the church. They were gone.

When it was our family church, the church building had no running water. No water for the kitchen, no running water for toilets. Whenever we had a church dinner, Dad brought several 10 gallon glass water bottles that he filled from our cistern.

The Farm was only a hundred yards away now. My dissonance continued. The old brick Doty house next to the church was gone. A newer home had been built further back from the road. Closer to home, Kenny Shoemaker‘s place was gone, too. Another stood to the right of his old homesite.

The Farm sat across from the road from Kenny’s old place. The pond remained as I remembered. The barn was gone. It had collapsed not long after we sold the farm. But when I arrived at the site of the Farm, I didn’t recognize it for a moment.

The house still stood. IT WAS SMALL! It was now the Hill City Water District office and was closed. If it had been open I don’t know if I’d have had the courage to stop and go inside.

Old_Watson_House-1_20150409It appeared to be scarcely larger than an old army pyramid tent. The maple trees in front and to each side of the house were gone. The sunken area on the east side of the house had been filled in. Superimposed on this ‘new’ building I could still see our TV antenna perched at the peak of the house. It had been held upright by guy-wires anchored at each corner of the roof. When I was in high school, I ran a horizontal loop SWL antenna around those guy wires and another long-wire antenna from the house to the old maple tree next to the barn. The maple on the west side of the house and the cistern under it had vanished, too.

The garage was gone and where the orchard once stood was a grove of tall, forty foot tall or more, trees. The shorter apple and pears trees had somehow been replaced with hardwood trees with a house slightly hidden among them.

The vision of this new landscape, superimposed with the old from memory was shocking. The Farm had disappeared. All the memories of growing up, of our neighbors, of the events that had occurred, were fading away as if they had never happened.  My memory of them remains the only record.

We drove slowly past the farm. John Davis’ home remained, missing only a few trees. Another house now sat further down the road in his old cornfield. Sy Malone’s house down the road remained as well. We pulled into his driveway to turnaround. Behind the house, under an open carport where once Sy conducted his welding business, lay two deer in the shade. I thought for a moment they were decoys until one flicked an ear. They watched us calmly and never moved while we backed out to turn back towards the Farm.

The old adage says you can never go home again. In a sense that’s true. The home I once knew is gone, never to return. My memory remains fresh, however, and as long as it does, the Farm exists as it once was.

NRAAM

In case you wondered why I was gone last week…Mrs. Crucis and I took off for a long weekend in Nashville. We went to the NRA Annual Meeting. This wasn’t a first attendance. We went when it was in St. Louis in 2012. This time, as in 2012, I had media credentials.  That meant J and I could get in to all the closed meetings without paying.  (Yes, I’m cheap!)

The real reason Mrs. Crucis wanted to go was the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum on Friday. If we did nothing else, the forum was her reason to come. It was worth it…the banner in the Music City Center Ballroom said it all!

Banner-3_2015-04-13Be forewarned, this will be a long post!

Unlike St. Louis, the media did not have a seating area next to the stage at the Forum. The relationship between the NRA and the MSM has deteriorated, not surprisingly. Foreign media were not credentialed, only domestic outlets. Those in the press room were mostly industry writers. Guns & Ammo had two people. Hornady had their PR people there (you could tell from the logo shirts they wore,) Sig-Saur and several others.

For a time, Mrs. Crucis and I sat across the table from Mike Vanderboegh of Sipsey Street Irregulars blog. He was being interviewed by another blogger and was pontificating over a number of topics including a diatribe against Chris Cox of the NRA-ILA. The issue was the BATFE’s regulation that could make felons of anyone owning a 12ga shotgun with a pistol grip. The BATFE has decided these are now ‘destructive devices.’ The penalty could be a fine of $250,000 and up to 10 years in the slammer for each count. Vanderboegh was accusing Cox with making a ‘deal’ with the BATFE.

Vanderboegh does have a reputation of digging out a story. He, with some others, broke the news of the BATFE’s Fast and Furious project. He also has a reputation of shooting from the hip…and of having delusions of grandeur. “A real piece of work,” he was described by another gun rights blogger.

The Leadership Forum started at 1:00pm of Friday. Anticipating the same situation I had in St Louis, I left my pistol locked away. In St. Louis, because it was an election year and several of the speakers were candidates, the Secret Service prohibited weapons in the auditorium. This year, perhaps because it was too early in the campaign season, there were no prohibitions on weapons. I felt naked. I had my lock-blade knife locked up, too.

From this point on, I will give my impressions of the speakers. Attendees were required to have tickets. Mrs Crucis and I did have them. I bought them by mistake when I registered in advance. I waved my media badge and walked in. Behind me, Mrs. Crucis had our tickets. I don’t think the attendee checked them, eying our media badges instead.

Instead of using our reserved seats, we walked down the left aisle. In St. Louis, the media had a separate section complete with tables and power outlets for laptops, tablets and cameras. This year the media was in the back, well away from the stage. No MSM cameras were allowed up close to the stage unless they had prior approval from the NRA. This did not set well with the MSM. I saw one local FOX TV station with cameras set up with long lenses. None from the MSM. The NRA stated that videos of the speakers would be made available. I found them all, except for one, on You Tube.

In St. Louis one of the MSM celebs was Michael Isikoff. I think he was assigned to cover the NRA convention as punishment. He was surrounded by a clutch of groupies and instead of listening to the speakers during the 2012 Leadership session, he spent his time with his back turned on the phone. Mrs. Crucis took delight twitting him by applauding and hooting loudly for her favorite speakers to Isikoff’s consternation. This year the MSM was notable by its absence.

We marched down the aisle to the front and found a lightly used section where we grabbed a couple of seats. I didn’t know this was a reserved section for local notables and politicians. Mrs. Crucis connected with a youngish (38 he said, and that it was his birthday) man sitting in front of us. He was a state representative from the south-eastern part of Tennessee. Many of the pols about to speak had arrived the previous day for a meet ‘n greet with local dignitaries in the Tennessee capitol. The rep showed Mrs. Crucis a photo of him and Scott Walker taken that previous day.

One ‘controversy’ arose about the speaker list. Some people were saying the Rand Paul was not invited because he preferred to work with the National Association of Gun Rights (NAGR). Many gun rights activist consider NAGR to be a FUDD organization. It was a question the NRA PR folks went to pains to answer. They provided a list of those invited to speak. If I’d been faster on my feet, I would have grabbed a copy. I did have a chance to briefly scan it. There were around 30 names on the list. Some declined because of scheduling conflicts. Rand Paul was said to be one of those. Others, like Sarah Palin, were scheduled to speak and had to withdraw. Some, like Carly Fiorina, couldn’t attend but provided a video. The bottom line was that Rand Paul had an opportunity to be on the speaker’s list and declined. There is a faction in the shooting community who prefer to spread controversy where none exists. If none can be found, they’ll create one.

The session opened with a video by Ollie North and then a speech by Chris Cox. I later heard some NRA folks praise Cox’s speech. I thought it was good but expected as the host of the forum. Wherever possible, I will provide links to You Tube videos or embed the video of the speakers.

After Chris Cox came Wayne LaPierre and Tennessee Senator Bob Croker. As the ‘pub Senator from Tennessee, Corker spoke first noting that he was one of the few speakers who wasn’t a candidate for president. I remembered that Corker’s voting record placed him firmly in the RINO ranks of the GOP.

Bobby Jindal_2015-04-13

Governor Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal was up next. Let me state that ALL of the speakers swore to uphold, respect and defend the Constitution and the 2nd Amendment. I believe all of them—except for Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham. I’ll get to them later.

Bobby Jindal was a good crowd warmer. He didn’t say anything controversial. Nor did he say anything new. Like some of the following speakers, he alluded to a possible run for prez but didn’t make any commitments.

Let me make one point clear. With the exception of Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and Lindsey Graham, I could vote for any of the candidates and possible candidates who spoke on Friday afternoon. I don’t trust Bush for a second. His brother had good initial intentions and responded well as a war-time leader following 9/11. But GW had pitiful subordinates and trusted Karl Rove too much. I voted for him twice. I don’t trust Jeb Bush at all.

Scott_Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Scott Walker was next. He hasn’t announced his candidacy…yet. It’s coming without a doubt. Bobby Jindal spoke wearing a suit and using a teleprompter. Walker walked on stage to an outstanding applause with no jacket and with his shirt sleeves rolled up. He was obviously playing to the audience as being one of them. It worked.

Walker got the crowd stirring. He made a personal connection with the audience. It was obvious from their response.

Rick Santorum_2015-04-13

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum was next. His speech was different and it was obvious that he was not running for president. His speech was on the first amendment, the freedom of religion and its free expression. It was received with strong support. The audience was aware of the LGBT activists’ use of lawfare to subvert 1st Amendment rights. Santorum made sure the issue wasn’t overlooked with all the other political fronts being fought.

Sheriff Dave Clark_2015-04-13

Milwaukee County Sheriff Dave Clark

After Santorum, Milwaukee County Sheriff Dave Clark walked on stage. He was obviously surprised by the response he received. He was self-conscious and wore his official sheriff’s uniform. He saluted the audience at the beginning and again when he walked off. He was a hit.

Rich Perry-2_2015-04-13

Three time Texas Governor, Rick Perry

Rick Perry is a candidate. He may not have announced that yet but he is one. I can’t describe it in any other way that to say he had a presence. His topic was leadership and he made it obvious that he was a leader and provided proof. Perry opened his speech with a video—shooting steel plates with an AR. The audience ate it up!

After Perry was Jeb Bush. I didn’t bother taking a photo of him. If you want to watch his talk about supporting gun rights and the Castle Doctrine, you can find it here. It was obvious he had been waiting in the wings. He tried to copy Scott Walker’s everyman look by removing his jacket. He couldn’t get away with the image. He kept his carefully knotted tied and didn’t rollup his sleeves. I guess his cuff links hindered him. Bush just couldn’t carry his image off. Compared to the previous speakers, even Dave Clark, Bush just came off as…pompous.

Ben Carson_2015-04-13

Dr. Ben Carson

Contrasting Bush’s pompousness was Dr. Ben Carson‘s humility. He followed Bush and the difference between to the was startling. Bush was pompous. Carson was…humble. Carson has had, perhaps erroneously, a reputation as being soft on the 2nd Amendment. He went to extreme pains to correct that impression. In fact, his explanation was the main theme of his speech. Towards the end, his efforts was almost embarrassing. Without doubt, Dr. Carson is a good man. As a presidential candidate, he’s out of his league. There are areas in the administration where he could excel, Surgeon General perhaps, or, as I heard suggested by others in the audience, as Secretary of HHS.

Carly Fiorina couldn’t attend. Instead she provided a video. As a potential candidate, she’s exceeds, as a potential president, Bush, Graham, Huckabee, or Christi. I would have liked to have heard her in person. Something is just lost watching a prepared video. But at least, unlike Rand Paul, she at least sent a video for the audience and made a presence with the others in the lineup. I tried to find a copy of her video and have failed. Perhaps in a few days it will surface.

Marco_Rubio_2015-04-13

Florida Senator Marco Rubio

The next speaker in the lineup was Marco Rubio. He has since officially announced his candidacy for President. He made his announcement today. My wife, throughout the list of speakers, had a running conversation with a Tennessee state rep. We can’t remember his name other than his district was in the south-eastern area of the state. When Rubio reached for his water bottle, both my wife and the state rep said, “Oh, no!” in unison. Rubio caught himself and made light of the near faux pas.

S_E_Cupp_2015-04-13

Conservative Columnist, S. E. Cupp

After Rubio,  with the the exception of S. E. Cupp, the speakers were, for the most part, wannabees…Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham who, like Joe Biden, seemed to have a shotgun fixation, and Donald Trump. They were the lead-ins to the final and most anticipated speaker in the lineup—Ted Cruz.

Let no one doubt. Ted Cruz won the day with the crowd. It was a campaign speech and it was welcomed. He was practiced and polished. Instead of standing behind the podium, he stood to one side to show he was speaking extemporaneously—no notes, no teleprompter. I don’t know if he chose to be the last speaker or it was happenstance. Regardless, he closed the forum. You can see and hear the audience’s response to him.

If the speakers to the forum were to be graded, I would have to place them with Cruz first, Walker second followed by Perry and then Rubio. I put Perry over Rubio for a reason. The difference is that Perry has…a presence, a presidential presence. Rubio lacks that and frankly he appeared at times to give the impression of a high school sophomore asking out a girl on their first date.

Don’t doubt me that if Rubio wins the nomination that I wouldn’t vote for him. I would. But, I don’t think he’ll get it—this time around. There are too many other, better candidates running this election. Cruz is the leader. Scott Walker, who hasn’t announced yet, would be a real contender and Perry, with the experience of one campaign for prez under his belt, is formidable, too. The race is in its starting stages. No one knows who will be the final choice. It’s a long time until November 2016.