Strong America Now – a movement to reduce wasteful government spending

February 23, 2011

Photo of Mike George

Mike George, author and former consultant

George is taking his message to the Internet and the Hawkeye State, the stomping ground for many presidential contenders, whom he hopes will be receptive to his ideas.

He is quoted in the Omaha World-Herald saying, ““We can reduce federal spending by $500 billion per year just by waste reduction.”

George also said he believes “Iowa is the lever by which you can move the world.”

Strong America Now, a non-profit organization, is billed as a movement dedicated to mobilizing and educating grassroots activists about the danger of America’s continuing budget deficits and ever-increasing national debt, and offers a solution to which they believe all parties can agree.

Michael L. George is a former consultant with a track record of reducing the costs associated with large corporations and the federal government. Private sector clients of the George Group, a company founded by George in 1986, included Caterpillar, Xerox, Eli Lilly, Alcan, Honeywell/Allied Signal, ITT, and United Technologies among others.

His management methodologies, known as the Lean Six Sigma process, are outlined in a series of books authored by George.

In 2004, the United States Navy selected the George Group to use the Lean Six Sigma process to reduce costs and production cycle time, while improving quality. The U.S. Army followed and currently has 5,000 waste reduction projects underway, contributing to an annual cost savings of $100 billion, according to statement made by Secretary of Defense Bob Gates.

In 2007, George retired and sold his company to Accenture, relinquishing commercial interests in Lean Six Sigma. His aim now has turned to sharing his expertise with members of Congress and groups across the county that will listen.

For more details, visit: http://strongamericanow.com

Mike George, founder of Strong America Now, was in Council Bluffs Feb. 16, touting the message that government needs to target wasteful spending, not cut programs. He thinks its a message that can help draw Republicans and Democrats together in taking steps to reign in the national deficit.

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A look back at the 2008 election and Secretary Vilsack’s role

February 23, 2011

Photo of Secretary Tom Vilsack

U.S. Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

It was exactly four years ago today, Feb. 23, 2007, that then former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) announced he was getting out of the 2008 presidential race due to monetary constraints. Vilsack had also been the first to enter the race as the Democratic Party’s nominee for President of the United States, officially filing papers with the FEC to form his presidential campaign committee Nov. 9, 2006.

Vilsack kicked off his campaign Nov. 30, 2006; considered a long-shot candidate. However, Vilsack often repeated that when it came to elections he often started as an underdog, but that he had yet to lose a race.

But after just three months, the campaign was over, never really gaining much traction. He never placed any staff on the ground in New Hampshire, the first and a key primary election state. A senior campaign official said at the time the campaign simply could not keep up with the campaign funds that rivals like Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were raising.

Shortly after ending his 2008 bid for the White House, Vilsack endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and was named the national co-chair for Clinton’s presidential campaign. Clinton placed third in the Iowa Democratic caucus to Obama and Edwards. Following the final primaries on June 3, 2008, Obama had gained enough delegates to become the presumptive nominee. In a speech before her supporters on June7, Clinton ended her campaign and endorsed Obama.

On Dec. 17, 2008, then President-Elect Barack Obama announced Vilsack’s selection to be the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Vilsack’s nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate by unanimous consent Jan. 20, 2009. Vilsack’s appointment was rumored to be part of the “deal” the Clintons had brokered when Hillary reluctantly conceded the Democratic Presidential nomination to Obama.

Vilsack served as the 40th Governor of the State of Iowa, first elected in 1998 and then re-elected to a second four-year term in 2002.

Tom Vilsack is not a native son of the state of Iowa. He was born in Pittsburgh, PA, abandoned at birth and placed in a Roman Catholic orphanage. He was adopted by Bud Vilsack, a real-estate agent and insurance salesman, and Dolly Vilsack, a homemaker.

He attended a preparatory high school in Pittsburgh, and received his Bachelor’s degree in 1972 from Hamilton College in New York, and Juris Doctor in 1975 from the Albany Law School.

Vilsack met his future wife, Ann Christine “Christie” Bell, while at college in New York. The couple were married Aug. 18, 1973, in Bell’s hometown of Mount Pleasant, Iowa. The couple moved to Mount Pleasant in 1975, where Tom Vilsack joined his father-in-law in law practice.

Vilsack was elected mayor of Mount Pleasant in 1987; and elected to the Iowa Senate in 1992.

Tom Vilsack narrowly won the 1998 gubernatorial general election; it was the first time in 30 years that a Democrat was elected Governor of Iowa. Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) preceded Vilsack, having served 16 consecutive years as governor. Governor Branstad was reelected to the post in the 2010 election.

For most of Vilsack’s tenure as governor, Republicans held majorities in the Iowa General Assembly. Following the Nov. 2, 2004, elections, the Senate was nearly evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans held a 51–49 majority in the House of Representatives.

In 2001, Vilsack served as a Chair of the Midwestern Governors Association; and he was chair of the Democratic Governors Association in 2004. In 2005, Vilsack established Heartland PAC, a political action committee aimed at electing Democratic governors. Vilsack left office in 2007; he did not seek a third term as governor.


Tea Party Patriots hold national summit this week in Phoenix

February 23, 2011

Tea Party buttonThis week, the Tea Party Patriots, a group billing itself as the movement’s largest grassroots organization, will hold its first national policy conference in Phoenix. The group claims to have more than 3,000 locally organized chapters and more than 15 million supporters nationally.

Several probable 2012 presidential contenders will be speaking at the “American Policy Summit-Pathways to Liberty,” including Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Georgia businessman Herman Cain and Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas).

The conference begins Friday, Feb. 25 and runs through Sunday, Feb. 27 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

The Tea Party is an American political movement, generally recognized as conservative and libertarian. It has sponsored protests around the country and supported political candidates since 2009. The grassroots movement was a force in the 2010 elections, toppling a number of key Democratic-held Congressional and gubernatorial seats.

Supporters endorse reduced government spending, fiscal responsibility and free markets, opposes “Obamacare,”and adheres to an originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. The name “Tea Party” is a reference to the Boston Tea Party, a protest by colonists who objected to a British tax on tea in 1773 and protested by dumping tea taken from docked British ships into the harbor. The Tea Party movement has caucuses in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

For more details, visit: www.summit11.org.


Gary Johnson places first in RLC straw poll and third in CPAC poll

February 13, 2011

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson took first place in the presidential straw poll conducted at the Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC) national convention Feb. 12, held in Arlington, VA.  Ron Paul came in second and Newt Gingrich third.

The Republican Liberty Caucus is “the small government, liberty-loving wing of the Republican Party.”

Johnson also came in third at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held this week in Washington, D.C., trailing winner Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. 

After decades of growing federal spending, Johnson believes in fixing government spending, deficit reduction and limiting the role of government, a sentiment made popular during the November election and apparently carrying forward with CPAC and RLC attendees.

Johnson also raises eyebrows wherever he goes because of his controversial advocacy for the legalization of marijuana.

Johnson was last in Iowa Feb. 10, where he visited with potential caucus-goers at an Ames coffee shop, as part of the Our America Initiative, a 501(c)4 political action committee.


New York listeners follow Iowa voters and presidential issues

February 13, 2011

On Feb. 7, one year from the 2012 Iowa Caucuses, WNYC announced that Joyce Russell, statehouse reporter for Iowa Public Radio, will join the station as It’s A Free Country launches a new collaboration with Iowa Public Radio to track voters and issues. WNYC 93.9 FM and AM 820 are New York’s flagship public radio stations, broadcasting programs from National Public Radio and Public Radio International.

Iowa Public Radio includes WOI AM and FM at Iowa State University, WSUI-AM and KSUI-FM at the University of Iowa, and KUNI-FM and KHKE-FM at the University of Northern Iowa. The operations have combined revenues of about $7 million annually and about 60 employees.


Potential GOP candidates shy away from presidential debates and Iowa caucus

February 1, 2011

Persons on the GOP candidates-to-watch list have yet to officially announce their candidacy for the 2012 presidential election; all indications are they don’t intend to until this spring or summer. At least one potential contender has said he has no plans to participate in the spring debates and another may be shying away from the Iowa caucus.

Politico and NBC News announced plans, in conjunction with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, to host the first debate on May 2. Fox News and the South Carolina Republican Party are also organizing a debate at the Peace Center in Greenville, S.C., on May 5.

The Ames Straw Poll will be held Aug. 13, 2011, and Iowa caucuses Feb. 6, 2012.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee told an audience last week he has no plans to participate in a series spring debates.

I don’t want to get suckered into taking on the schedule because it’s what the media wants us to do,” Huckabee told a group at The King’s College in New York City, according to the Christian Post. “You want to schedule a debate for March or May, knock yourselves out. If I’m not there, you can still have it. But I’m not going to be there.”

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels have both said they won’t announce plans until their legislative sessions wrap up later this spring.

Front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, may be taking a different strategy this go-around as well. According to a report by National Journal’s Reid Wilson, Romney’s team has spoken with consultants about the prospect of skipping the Iowa caucus and launching a campaign from New Hampshire. Romney spent a large share of funding in Iowa in 2008, only to finish behind Huckabee.

But could Romney or anyone else afford to skip Iowa? In modern presidential campaigns there has been no way to survive the winnowing effect if a candidate elects not to participate in either of the first two states; case in point John McCain in the 2000 election. Another example – Al Gore who bypassed both Iowa and New Hampshire to focus on the Southern states in 1988.


South Carolina nurse declares intent

January 31, 2011

Photo of Michael Adkins

Michael T. Adkins

Michael T. Adkins, a York County, South Carolina, Republican, says he’s tired of the way things are going in Washington and he plans to do something about it. Last week he declared his candidacy for President of the United States in 2012 and launched a campaign website expressing his political views. Adkins says the way things are going his children will not have the same opportunities he’s had. He says his run is not a publicity stunt and hopes to make a real change.

He told local NewsChannel 36, “We need someone who understands what it is like to have a mortgage, to have kids, and to have a paycheck that shrinks.”

Adkins is a nurse at a local community hospital and the father of two young children. He said, “I want my kids to be able to at least dream of the future I dreamed of as a child.”

Adkins admits he doesn’t know how he will raise funds for the campaign; the 2012 filing fee is yet to be determined, but it took $35,000 for candidates to be on the South Carolina GOP presidential ballot in 2008. “It is a very difficult thing,” Adkins said. “But I am in this to win this.”