By Rep. Ted Poe

Op-ed in The Daily Caller

For 10 years, thousands of American troops have fought against terrorism and for the liberation of Iraq. Many have sacrificed their lives on the altar of freedom on behalf of people in a land halfway around the world, leaving their families with the memory of their fallen heroes. Meanwhile, American taxpayers have spent billions of dollars on the military equipment used during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now, the U.S. is withdrawing from Iraq and thousands of our desert warriors will soon be enthusiastically welcomed home.

The United States is leaving behind a massive amount of military equipment deemed to be too expensive to bring home. Over the past year, 2.4 million pieces of military equipment — worth at least $250 million — have been transferred for free to the Iraqi government, and more gifts are going to be in Baghdad’s Christmas stocking. But some of the modernized pieces of military equipment are coming home to America. The Department of Defense currently facilitates the distribution of this surplus equipment through the Defense Logistics Agency. One place in serious need of security and equipment is our southern border with Mexico.

There is a war raging in Mexico that has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people since 2006. In 2010, there were more civilian deaths in the town of Ciudad Juarez (just down the road from El Paso, Texas) than in the entire country of Afghanistan. Mexico’s militarized drug cartels are a powerful army complete with narco-tanks, helicopters and a massive stockpile of dangerous weapons. The drug war has destabilized Mexico, yet the administration seems to think that the violence will not reach our citizens. The truth is it already has. Human trafficking and drugs flow north of the border every day. Money and firearms go south over our dangerous and insecure border. The narco-terrorists are fully operational in Mexico and in many major cities in the United States.

Those who say that the border is secure and the violence is contained in Mexico are living in a blissful state of denial far from reality. Case in point: Last week, three SUVs carrying Mexican Zeta cartel soldiers attempted to hijack a tractor truck rig loaded with drugs on a road in Houston and unleashed blazing gunfire. A shootout occurred with police who were tracking the truck. The truck driver was killed; a peace officer was wounded. Three Mexican nationals and another of unknown citizenship were charged with capital murder. Sadly, this brazen violence is a familiar scene on the streets of Mexico. And, now it has become a reality in the United States. The local head of the DEA, Javier Pena, said of the incident in Houston: “We are not going to tolerate these thugs using their weapons like the Wild Wild West.” Until Washington realizes that what happens in Mexico doesn’t stay in Mexico, more cartel shootouts on American streets are coming our way.

Yes, there are towns on the border that are relatively “safe.” But in the vast, wide-open, rugged and desolate regions along the border, between the safer legal ports of entry, the cartels are successfully smuggling illegals and drugs throughout the United States. The loyal local first responders of the southern border are in serious need of modern military equipment and well-trained manpower. Washington officials seem to live in a blissful state of denial about their constitutional responsibility to secure the border and protect our national sovereignty. Since the federal government refuses to give law enforcement officers in the border region the equipment and manpower they need, this equipment should be sent to local and state law enforcement to help stop the aggression against America. It’s time to quickly implement a strategy to defend against this threat to American sovereignty.

In order to respond to this dire situation, I have introduced the Send Equipment for National Defense (SEND) Act. This legislation mandates that the Secretary of Defense send 10% of eligible returning equipment from Iraq to state and local law enforcement agencies for border security purposes. Eligible equipment includes: Humvees, night-vision equipment and surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles. This would be made available to the officials who request it through an already existing DOD program.

This is not a new idea. This legislation will simply utilize an existing program, expand it and make resources more readily available to the people who really need it — local and state governments. Washington must utilize all resources to protect America.

This equipment will strengthen the effort to provide intelligence to law enforcement officers so that they can detect and intercept the people and drugs that are compromising the sovereignty of the United States. Night-vision goggles, UAVs and Humvees could be on the front lines of the southern border. Night vision would give state and local officials the ability to see at all times of day. This would greatly enhance their ability to detect unwanted visitors. UAVs have already been a proven asset to border security. Currently there are six UAVs on the southern border (two in Texas). Since 2005, UAVs have been credited with intercepting 7,500 people and over 46,000 pounds of drugs. Using more of this type of equipment could fill in the massive gaps in surveillance of the remote, rugged areas along the border where the cartels roam.

Finally, this bill makes 10% of returning Humvees available to the southern border. On the other side of the Rio Grande River, the drug cartels have well-armed vehicles. Perhaps putting military vehicles in plain sight will make the narco-terrorists think twice before they travel illegally into the United States. This equipment could be a powerful deterrent to keep the bad guys out of America. Texas border sheriffs say Humvees are better than Chevy sedans at chasing down the cartel intruders.

The American people have invested billions of dollars in equipment used to secure Iraq. Now it’s time to use that equipment to secure the United States. The Border Patrol agents are doing the best job they can, but they need help. State and local officials can work with the federal government, defending the international border with Mexico. It’s time that Washington gives them the resources they need to protect Americans from cross-border crime. Sending this equipment to the southern border would give Americans a return on their investment by enhancing our national security.

The United States spends lives and dollars to protect other nations all around the globe, but we refuse to protect our own borders with the same ferocity. Let’s equip border law enforcement officers with the tools that they need to protect the sovereignty of this nation.

Ted Poe (R) represents Texas’s 2nd congressional district.

by Rep. Ted Poe

Op-ed in Human Events

On Thanksgiving, millions of Americans will sit down to a decorated table filled with turkey and all the trimmings such as mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.  They will tell stories, laugh and enjoy conversation with their loved ones.  But there are other homes around the nation where the dining room table will be accompanied by an empty chair.  In that chair once sat a husband, father, brother, sister, son or daughter.  It sat a graduate, a friend and a United States warrior.  It is now an empty reminder of a courageous American hero who gave his or her life for this country.  Today we say a prayer for those families with the empty seat at the table, and we thank them for their sacrifice to this country.  At Thanksgiving, Americans must be thankful for the heroes—and the families that they leave behind—that volunteer to fight 365 days of the year all across the world so that the rest of us can be free.  Thanksgiving is about more than a turkey and sitting around a dinner table.  It is about giving thanks to God for all of the blessings we enjoy, including our troops and our freedom.
 
Where did Thanksgiving come from?  In 1620, the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Fleeing religious persecution, they vowed to make a better life for all in North America.  The Pilgrims, unaccustomed to the Massachusetts winter, would not have survived their first winter without the help of the Indians, who brought them food, saving them from starvation.  During the following year, the Pilgrims’ conditions improved in Massachusetts, leading to a productive harvest season.  To celebrate and give thanks to God for the harvest, the Pilgrims, invited the Indians who had helped them the previous winter, and held a three-day feast.  This feast was the birth of what is today known as Thanksgiving.
 
A common misconception about Thanksgiving is that it was annually celebrated following 1621.  Actually, for the next 150 years, the American colonists would only celebrate Thanksgiving when there was cause to do so.  In 1789, President George Washington? declared a National Day of Thanksgiving for the American colonists.  In his Presidential Proclamation, Washington stated:  “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God … to be grateful for His benefits, and to (request) his protection and favor.  I, President Washington?, recommend to the people of the United States, a day of public thanksgiving and prayer … to show the many favors of the Almighty and especially the opportunity for this form of government.”
 
President Washington’s belief in a National Day of Thanksgiving was not widely agreed upon or accepted throughout the colonies.  For the next 70 years, a day of Thanksgiving was not routinely held.  During the early 1800s, however, a female magazine editor named Sarah Josepha Hale? began a 40-year campaign to institute a National Day of Thanksgiving.  In November 1863, President Abraham Lincoln?, agreeing with Sarah Hale?, proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving for the last Thursday in November.  Thus began the tradition of Thanksgiving Day.  But, it was not until 1941, under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt?, that Thanksgiving was declared an official national holiday by Congress.
 
No matter what Thanksgiving traditions have been enacted since Thanksgiving Day was first declared in 1863, and officially recognized a national holiday in 1941, Thanksgiving has always been about giving thanks to God for what we have and thinking of others who may not have what we do.  This Thanksgiving Day, I invite this great nation to not lose sight of the true meaning of Thanksgiving and to do as the Pilgrims did before us:  Offer a prayer of thanks to God for all of the gifts that he has bestowed.
 
And that’s just the way it is.

By Rep. Ted Poe

Op-ed in The Washington Times

Mr. President, stop delaying for political gain. You have had three years to approve or deny the Keystone XL pipeline. The Nov. 1 deadline set by the House of Representatives has come and gone, blatantly ignored by the Senate, and now the administration has kicked the can down the road until first quarter 2013, conveniently right after the 2012 elections.

Immediate approval of this pipeline is the only option in the national interest of the United States. It is a golden opportunity for America. Americans are in need of a stable source of energy and they are thirsty for jobs. This project will provide both, free of cost to the taxpayers. It will enhance our national security, energy security and economic security.

The pipeline will inject energy and jobs into the United States - two things we desperately need to revive our economy. At a time when 14 million Americans are unemployed, it is inexplicable to wait any longer. It’s unforgivable to decide against job creation. It is estimated that this project would create thousands of well-paying jobs in America. It would also provide a consistent source of energy by decreasing our reliance on unstable Middle Eastern countries for oil. The United States would receive 700,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Canada through a pipeline that would end right in my congressional district in southeast Texas. This would increase the supply of oil in America. As we all learned in Economics 101, higher supply of a commodity lowers its price. In all aspects, this is a slam dunk for the American people.

Canada is one of our closest trading partners, and it is also our largest supplier of oil and natural gas. Our ally to the north is looking to expand its exports of oil sands, and it wants the United States to be its best customer. If the U.S. passes on the opportunity to grow this trading relationship, Canada will take its valuable product to other countries who are eager to increase their energy supply - like the Chinese. Canada won’t wait for U.S. political approval.

In recent weeks we have seen a rise in the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline from radical environmentalists who are against this jobs- and energy-creating project all in the name of hypothetically saving the environment. They are so blinded by their hatred of “big oil” that they overlook the facts. Their resistance to this project is perplexing; pipelines are without a doubt the most cost-effective, safest and environmentally sound way to transport oil and natural gas. The environmental advocates say that the pipeline will discharge oil sands into our water supply and harm Americans. In reality, for every barrel of oil shipped across 1,000 miles, less than one teaspoon of liquid is lost from a pipeline. Transporting goods by pipeline also has the lowest carbon footprint compared with every other mode of transportation, including barge, truck or rail. Transporting oil through a pipeline is certainly safer then transportation on an oil tanker from Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps they think it would be a better idea to transport this crude oil on trucks and railroads. Consider this: a medium-sized pipeline (150,000 barrels a day) carries as much oil as more than 750 trucks or a 75-car train. A pipeline of this size (750,000 barrels a day) would require seven times those numbers. That means an additional 5,250 trucks on the road. What kind of carbon footprint will that leave? Even the State Department concluded in its environmental impact statement, “trucking would result in substantially higher greenhouse gas emissions and a higher risk of accidents than transport by pipeline.” Energy and job creation cannot be held hostage by fear-mongering and propaganda.

If it really is the No. 1 priority of this administration to create jobs, why is it putting off a decision for so long? Refusing energy and jobs from a stable ally through a privately funded pipeline built by Americans is mind-boggling. It’s time for the president to make a choice based on what’s best for the country and not what’s best for his re-election. This country needs energy and it needs jobs. The Keystone XL pipeline would provide both. America simply cannot afford for him to delay this project. Doing so would be a conscious decision not to provide relief to people who are ready to work and unable to afford expensive energy costs. This project is truly shovel-ready. Mr. President, saddle up and ride with us now. We can’t wait until after your campaign.

Rep. Ted Poe is a Republican from Texas. His district would be the terminus for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Oped in Human Events
by  Rep. Ted Poe

The President of the United States? , chief enforcer of the law, has decided not to enforce, but instead to ignore our nation’s immigration laws.  Current federal law requires that people who come to the United States illegally be deported.  As most of us learned in the seventh grade, the Constitution mandates that the President executes the law of the land.
 
When he took office, Obama swore to uphold the Constitution, but once again, he seems to be at odds with it.  Under the guise of compassion, his administration has issued a decree with 19 categories of illegals to be taken out of the deportation pipeline and given a free pass to live in the United States.  This is nothing more than political pandering by the campaigner-in-chief, who is behaving more like an anointed king than the President of the United States.  The President has no right or authority to pick and choose what laws he wants to enforce.  His attempt to unilaterally loosen immigration enforcement is jeopardizing the sovereignty and security of an already unsecure border.
 
There are roughly 300,000 undocumented immigrants facing deportation from the United States.  The administration wants to pick and choose who is first to go, and who gets to stay.  If it had its way, only dangerous criminals would be deported, and many of the other illegals who have already committed a crime by entering this country illegally would get a free pass to stay in the United States.  This includes those who have not contributed to our system, but who have reaped all of the benefits, courtesy of the American taxpayer.
 
The President is sending a clear message to anyone who wants to enter the United States illegally:  Come on over; our back door is wide open.  The law does not apply to you—just don’t kill anyone.  This policy of selective enforcement emboldens those who want to come into this country illegally and the 11 million people who are already here.  If the federal government does not take our own laws seriously enough to enforce them, why should we expect illegals to follow them?
 
This looks a lot like backdoor amnesty to any normal citizen.  It also resembles the not-so-dreamy DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act that Congress has already considered and rejected once before.  Congress has over and over defeated attempts to “reform” immigration by granting amnesty to undocumented immigrants.  Why?  Because people should only be able to live in this country if they play by our rules.  We do have a front door.  And many great people have come through it and made this country a better place.  People who come here legally and pay taxes should all have the right to pursue the American dream, but those who defy the law of the land by sneaking in the back door do not automatically deserve the right to stay here just because they haven’t hurt anyone.
 
The blissful ignorance of the easy access to America at our southern border is costing us more than just our security.  The escalating cost of an unsecured border is a fact that we simply cannot afford to ignore anymore.  We cannot continue to allow the economic drain that illegal entry imposes on every aspect of our society.  Hospitals have become burdened with the heavy cost of accommodating illegals to the point where important services are interrupted for Americans.  When I was in Arizona recently, I learned that in Cochise County, on the border, a woman has to drive as far as 90 miles to reach a hospital with a maternity ward that will deliver her baby, because many hospitals have shut down their maternity wards due to the high cost of illegals giving birth.  Twenty-seven per cent of the inmates in U.S. prisons are not U.S. citizens, but the prisons are funded by U.S. taxpayers.  Schools are overcrowded and burdened with the extra cost—to the tune of $52 billion a year—of educating the children of illegals. Between the overcrowded classrooms and the extra supplies and attention required to accommodate more students, there is no way that the education of American children does not suffer.
 
In the month of September, for the first time since World War II, the economy had net zero jobs created for a month.  The unemployment rate is at 9.1%.  People want to see jobs going to taxpaying Americans, not people living here illegally.  Something must be done to reform immigration, but the American people have rejected amnesty in every form that it has been presented.  We cannot treat those here illegally better than our legal citizens.
 
This administration has a habit of not enforcing the laws that it doesn’t like.  The chief enforcer of the law is now the Chief ignorer of the law.  And what it comes down to is that the chief ignorer—also known as the campaigner-in-chief—is so nervous about the Hispanic vote in his reelection that he is willing to bypass Congress and the Constitution to appease his political base.  This pandering is disingenuous and disgusting.  Through the flawed policy of selective enforcement, the administration is ignoring its constitutional duty, undermining Congress and the will of the people, and endorsing backdoor amnesty.
 
President Obama was not anointed as king above the law.  His constitutional duty is to execute the law.  And the law says that those who come to this country must do so legally, through the front door.  And people who comer here illegally,are disrespecting our law, our country and our citizens.  American citizenship is an earned privilege, not a universal right that includes illegals who enter, even if with the blessing of the chief ignorer of the law.
 
Meanwhile, the administration has chosen instead to use resources to vigorously prosecute an American guitar makers for allegedly bringing in illegal wood from Madagascar.  God forbid we let illegal wood into the U.S.
 
And that’s just the way it is.

10/21/2011

The President of the United States?, chief enforcer of the law, has decided not to enforce, but instead to ignore our nation’s immigration laws.  Current federal law requires that people who come to the United States illegally be deported.  As most of us learned in the seventh grade, the Constitution mandates that the President executes the law of the land.
 
When he took office, Obama swore to uphold the Constitution, but once again, he seems to be at odds with it.  Under the guise of compassion, his administration has issued a decree with 19 categories of illegals to be taken out of the deportation pipeline and given a free pass to live in the United States.  This is nothing more than political pandering by the campaigner-in-chief, who is behaving more like an anointed king than the President of the United States.  The President has no right or authority to pick and choose what laws he wants to enforce.  His attempt to unilaterally loosen immigration enforcement is jeopardizing the sovereignty and security of an already unsecure border.
 
There are roughly 300,000 illegal immigrants facing deportation from the United States.  The administration wants to pick and choose who is first to go, and who gets to stay.  If it had its way, only dangerous criminals would be deported, and many of the other illegals who have already committed a crime by entering this country illegally would get a free pass to stay in the United States.  This includes those who have not contributed to our system, but who have reaped all of the benefits, courtesy of the American taxpayer.
 
The President is sending a clear message to anyone who wants to enter the United States illegally:  Come on over; our back door is wide open.  The law does not apply to you—just don’t kill anyone.  This policy of selective enforcement emboldens those who want to come into this country illegally and the 11 million people who are already here.  If the federal government does not take our own laws seriously enough to enforce them, why should we expect illegals to follow them?
 
This looks a lot like backdoor amnesty to any normal citizen.  It also resembles the not-so-dreamy DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act that Congress has already considered and rejected once before.  Congress has over and over defeated attempts to “reform” immigration by granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.  Why?  Because people should only be able to live in this country if they play by our rules.  We do have a front door.  And many great people have come through it and made this country a better place.  People who come here legally and pay taxes should all have the right to pursue the American dream, but those who defy the law of the land by sneaking in the back door do not automatically deserve the right to stay here just because they haven’t hurt anyone.
 
The blissful ignorance of the easy access to America at our southern border is costing us more than just our security.  The escalating cost of an unsecured border is a fact that we simply cannot afford to ignore anymore.  We cannot continue to allow the economic drain that illegal entry imposes on every aspect of our society.  Hospitals have become burdened with the heavy cost of accommodating illegals to the point where important services are interrupted for Americans.  When I was in Arizona recently, I learned that in Cochise County, on the border, a woman has to drive as far as 90 miles to reach a hospital with a maternity ward that will deliver her baby, because many hospitals have shut down their maternity wards due to the high cost of illegals giving birth.  Twenty-seven per cent of the inmates in U.S. prisons are not U.S. citizens, but the prisons are funded by U.S. taxpayers.  Schools are overcrowded and burdened with the extra cost—to the tune of $52 billion a year—of educating the children of illegals. Between the overcrowded classrooms and the extra supplies and attention required to accommodate more students, there is no way that the education of American children does not suffer.
 
In the month of September, for the first time since World War II?, the economy had net zero jobs created for a month.  The unemployment rate is at 9.1%.  People want to see jobs going to taxpaying Americans, not people living here illegally.  Something must be done to reform immigration, but the American people have rejected amnesty in every form that it has been presented.  We cannot treat those here illegally better than our legal citizens.
 
This administration has a habit of not enforcing the laws that it doesn’t like.  The chief enforcer of the law is now the Chief ignorer of the law.  And what it comes down to is that the chief ignorer—also known as the campaigner-in-chief—is so nervous about the Hispanic vote in his reelection that he is willing to bypass Congress and the Constitution to appease his political base.  This pandering is disingenuous and disgusting.  Through the flawed policy of selective enforcement, the administration is ignoring its constitutional duty, undermining Congress and the will of the people, and endorsing backdoor amnesty.
 
President Obama was not anointed as king above the law.  His constitutional duty is to execute the law.  And the law says that those who come to this country must do so legally, through the front door.  And people who comer here illegally,are disrespecting our law, our country and our citizens.  American citizenship is an earned privilege, not a universal right that includes illegals who enter, even if with the blessing of the chief ignorer of the law.
 
Meanwhile, the administration has chosen instead to use resources to vigorously prosecute an American guitar makers for allegedly bringing in illegal wood from Madagascar.  God forbid we let illegal wood into the U.S.
 
And that’s just the way it is.

By Rep. Ted Poe and former Rep. Jim Kolbe

Special to Roll Call

Oct. 19, 2011, Midnight

The United States faces myriad challenges around the globe. We are engaged in military conflicts in the Middle East and South Asia. We are pursuing terrorists in far corners of the world. We respond when other countries need help by offering humanitarian aid to cope with crises — from famine in the Horn of Africa to earthquakes in Haiti and tsunamis in Japan. At the same time, we compete with China and other emerging economies to maintain our position as an influential and powerful force in the global economy. Clearly, the need for effective U.S. global engagement is more important than ever.

Meanwhile, at home, we are confronted with a skyrocketing domestic budget deficit that places enormous pressure on all areas of the federal government’s budget. While re-evaluating how we spend American tax dollars at home, we must also closely examine how and where we spend our international assistance budget.

The basic question is this: How can the U.S. maintain leadership overseas while adjusting to the shrinking federal budget at home? We believe the answer must be through smart and strategic reforms that make foreign aid programs more efficient and effective. The bottom line is that America cannot continue to advance our political, economic and security interests abroad without serious and long-overdue reform of foreign assistance programs. We believe that the best path forward is through enhanced coordination, accountability and transparency on both sides of the assistance equation — donor and recipient.

Since the passage of the Foreign Assistance Act in 1961, foreign aid programs have spread across 12 departments, 25 agencies and almost 60 federal offices. However, according to the conclusions of an independent study commissioned by USAID, “current monitoring and evaluation of most U.S. foreign assistance is uneven across agencies, rarely assesses impact, lacks sufficient rigor, and does not produce the necessary analysis to inform strategic decision-making.”

There are encouraging examples of effective monitoring and evaluation programs to be found, such as the Millennium Challenge Corp.’s Impact Evaluations and USAID’s new Evaluation Policy, but there is no clearly defined set of standards that is applied to all foreign assistance programs that would allow policymakers to make rational choices in a world of limited resources.

What’s more, most foreign assistance programs operate in the dark. No one really knows how the money got there in the first place or where it is going. In a recent comparative study by the Brookings Institution and the Center for Global Development, the U.S. ranked 22nd out of 31 countries when it came to transparency of its foreign assistance programs.

On Jan. 11, the State Department and USAID launched the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, a public, online resource that allows users to examine foreign assistance investments in an accessible and easy-to-understand format. Although the site is a good start, by USAID’s own admission, it is incomplete — the site includes only aid programs from two of the 25 federal agencies that administer aid.

The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act gets at both of these problems. First, it requires the president to establish — and the heads of federal agencies to implement — guidelines on establishing measurable goals, performance metrics and monitoring and evaluation plans for all foreign assistance programs. Second, it codifies what is currently being done through the State Department and USAID’s Dashboard initiative. It would make foreign aid more transparent by increasing the amount of information available to the public, including country-development plans, Congressional budget justifications, actual expenditures and reports and evaluations by subjecting all agencies responsible for aid programs to exposure on the Dashboard.

There is growing bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress for other reform ideas, as well. Research has shown that the earlier a government-administered program engages the private sector, the more likely it is that the program is going to lead to sustainable economic improvement. It is also common sense to require that recipient countries take proactive measures to combat corruption and promote financial transparency so that we have some assurance our foreign assistance dollars are not being diverted or wasted. These are just a few examples of reforms that have the support of taxpayers, the administration and nongovernmental organizations.

Many of these reform proposals would enhance the efforts that the Obama administration has undertaken through two forward-looking initiatives — the President’s Policy Directive on Global Development and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. Congressional action is needed, however, to ensure that the reforms enjoy bipartisan political support and have a lasting effect by codifying them into law.

Given the challenges that our country faces domestically and around the globe, it is necessary that we modernize and reform our foreign aid system, which is a relic of the Cold War. We need a leaner system where money is spent strategically in places where it is in the national interest of the United States. There must be measureable goals and ways to monitor the success (or lack thereof) of the assistance. We must make the foreign aid process more efficient and stretch our dollar further. Making the United States’ foreign aid process more strategic and efficient will strengthen our ability to confront global problems, overcome them and help lead the world to a brighter future.

Rep. Ted Poe (R) represents Texas’ 2nd district. Former Rep. Jim Kolbe (R), a senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and co-chairman of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, represented Arizona’s 8th district from 1985 to 2007.

Originally printed in the Washington Times

Washington, Aug 24 -

If there ever was a time to get serious with China, now is the time. The recent news of fake Apple and Ikea stores is almost too absurd to be true. But in China, the rules don’t apply. Brand name and innovation mean zip. Intellectual property is free game. Anything is up for grabs, and if I were a betting man, I’d bet that the government is getting a nice cut out of it all. But that’s communism, right? It’s a system in which your ideas are my ideas, your success is my success.

As our deficit soars and the U.S. continues to borrow, borrow, borrow - as much as 43 cents on every dollar - we do not have the upper hand in this battle. China increasingly owns our securities, and thanks to its currency manipulation, our dollar continues to struggle on the world market. The U.S. faced fierce economic competition from Japan in the ‘80s, but that was far different. China represents one-fifth of the world’s population. (By comparison, Japan has less than 2 percent.) China can dominate the market and get away with its unfair theft of American goods and innovation because of its sheer size, wealth and power. But why must we tolerate the biggest robber baron of them all?

Beijing is connected to (or at least benefits from) networks of criminal thugs. Most recently, China admitted to operating the “Online Blue Army.” This is exactly what it sounds like: a military unit of hackers who operate offensively at the behest of Beijing. The U.S. has fallen victim to Beijing’s hackers at least several times over the past few years. In October 2006, the website of the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) was locked down for more than a month after repeated attacks by hackers on Chinese servers. This wasn’t just some arbitrary target. No, BIS has responsibility over U.S. exports for commercial and military applications. The State Department’s Washington and overseas systems were downed thanks to Chinese hackers. It’s intolerable that we have yet to hold communist China accountable for these cyberdeclarations of war against the U.S.

As if accessing our “secure” government networks weren’t enough, the Chinese criminal networks also exploit our financially weak position by placing harmful pharmaceuticals on the market, making defective products and ripping off consumers left and right. Since I joined the House Judiciary Committee’s intellectual property subcommittee in January, I’ve heard from dozens of American businesses that have experienced significant economic harm from Chinese counterfeits.

Take, for example, Houston-based Farouk Systems, maker of Chi hair products. Several years ago, Farouk Shami, chairman and founder of Farouk Systems, expanded the company’s operations to China to save costs. When faced with an onslaught of Chinese counterfeits, he closed the factory in China. With that move, he brought production and 1,000 jobs back to Houston and accepted higher manufacturing and salary costs without passing them along to the consumer. But also with the move, he could better protect his intellectual property and innovation.

The Chinese have become so expert in ripping off Farouk Systems‘ Chi flatiron that the detailing on each package is almost identical to that on the legitimate product, including the exact same warranty, with a picture of Farouk Shami’s face for a bit of extra “authenticity.” Farouk Systems regularly fields complaint calls about broken products, but the products are counterfeit! Fighting Chinese counterfeits has cost this company approximately $10 million. That’s $10 million that it could be using to hire more workers or expand its business operations.

I also met Jim D'Addario, CEO of D’Addario Guitar Strings, an instrument strings manufacturer based in New York. This business, family-owned since the 1600s, has spent millions to stop the manufacture of counterfeit guitar strings in China. Mr. D'Addario has watched several coordinated raids on manufacturing facilities in China that exist solely to make counterfeit copies of D'Addario, Fender, Martin and other American companies’ guitar strings. On a website, it’s hard to tell the difference between a counterfeit and a legitimate D'Addario guitar-string set. As with the Chi flatirons, the packaging looks identical, but the fake package of guitar strings contains a hologram sticker - just to trick you - and the product inside is horrendous. It is that unbelievable.

So what do we do? The bottom line is that while Beijing benefits from these criminal networks, they hurt our government and American businesses. We must take every opportunity to (1) raise public awareness of the need for intellectual property enforcement and the dire impact on American businesses of rampant IP theft, (2) insist that China adopt strict enforcement measures to protect IP rights and (3) take action when our words fail (which they will). If China does not protect our intellectual property, we should block its imports into the U.S. It’s time to play hardball with China.

The need for enforcement of intellectual property rights is more than just preventing brand dilution - or in the case of Mr. D'Addario, protecting a reputation earned over four centuries - it’s about the principle of working hard and having it taken from you in an instant by a crook. Today’s criminals are a bit smarter and more high-tech than during my former days on the bench. They sit at laptops overseas, direct online traffic to rogue websites and make a heap of cash from selling fake goods. Many times, buyers never see the product they purchased, and by that point, it’s too late. Their identity is stolen; credit cards are racked up. The problem is too prevalent for us to continue to do nothing. It’s time to get tough on China. And that’s just the way it is.

Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican, was a prosecutor and judge in Houston. He serves on the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees.

On a hot summer day in Houston, Texas, one woman prepared to bury the last of her four brothers. His final request was that he be buried in a memorial service at the local Veteran cemetery with all four of his brothers who had served in the militarytwo in World War II and the other two during the Vietnam War. On the day of the service, there were full military honors with the Patriot Guard lining the streets and the military color guard with the full 21-gun salute. Military was an important part of this family. Religion was also important to them, so their pastor was on hand to conduct a religious service. Unfortunately, in my hometown of Houston, freedom of speech and religion have recently come under attack by none other than the federal government. This authoritarian behavior and attack on the First Amendment rights of our veterans is deeply troubling.

This week I met with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, who shared other disturbing stories with me about the aggressive and hostile censorship of religion and speech that is occurring at the nations second largest cemetery for Veterans. The director of the Houston National Cemetery, Arleen Ocasio is accused of attacking the constitutional rights of our military who have fought and died for our country. The thought that someone would have the audacity to censor religion and speech anywhere in this country is despicable. Censoring the funeral services of the veterans who spent their lives protecting the First Amendment is particularly malicious and simply unforgiveable. Director Ocasio is an unelected bureaucrat, non-veteran who is clearly out of touch with our veterans and the constitution. It is unbelievable that she has been put in charge of this sacred burial ground in Houston.

Director Ocasio has acted with authoritarian zeal in her quest to remove Christianity and religion from funeral services. She has banned the words God and Jesus Christ in the burial ceremonies of deceased veterans. It is the very utterance of the word God that has Director Ocasio in a tizzy so much so that she wants to personally approve each prayer (which are subject to her censorship) in advance of a burial service. With an average of 60 burials of veterans at the Houston National Cemetery each week, thats an awful lot of systematic, bureaucratic and unconstitutional action. The list goes on. She has apparently removed the Bible and the cross from the chapel. Shortly after she arrived at the cemetery, she shut down the chapel and turned it into a meeting facility. It is not the business of the federal government to be engaged in anti-religious activity, especially at what is considered by many to be a religious ceremonythe burial of one of our veterans. The philosophy behind such policies is anti-Christian, anti-religion and anti-American. According to the Constitution, it is the job of the federal government to protect speech and religion, not assail it.

The First Amendment comes first in the Constitution because it is the most important. Our forefathers founded this nation on the belief that our rights are endowed by our creator, not by the government. The Declaration of Independence signed on July 4, 1776, was an indictment of King George III by the people for his failure to recognize these rights. From the very beginning, it has been the people of this country who have always come to the rescue when freedom is threatened. That is the same reason why the Founding Fathers included the protection of speech and religion in the First Amendment of the Constitution. These inalienable rights guaranteed to all Americans in this sacred document are what set our nation apart from other countries where people cannot speak out or openly practice their religion. The cemetery does not belong to the federal government it belongs to the veterans of America and their families.

Americans are irate about this government attack on religion. I have heard from veterans and their loved ones all over the country who are shocked that this government official has chosen to attack the constitutional rights of American veterans and their families. One man in particular stood out to me who called my office in tears because his father (a World War II veteran) was days away from death, set to be buried in Houston National Cemetery. His father does not want to be buried there anymore because he will not be able to have the funeral service that he wants and deserves. It is no wonder that so many are shocked by the actions of Director Ocasio, after all we do not live in the old Soviet Union, we live in the United States of America.

The First Amendment is sacred; funerals are sacred, and when our veterans are buried, that soil becomes sacred. If these allegations are true, the director of the Houston National Cemetery should be terminated. The Houston National Cemetery is the final resting place for thousands of veterans who fought in places all over the world. The governments attack on the very freedoms that they lived and died for is a blatant violation of the freedom of speech and free exercise of religion promised to all Americans in the Constitution.

And thats just the way it is.


Standing on the beaches of Normandy, a man found himself silent.  Like a scene ripped from the movie Saving Private Ryan, this American GI was overwhelmed with memories.  Memories so vivid, so real, that in an instant he was a soldier again in the 7th Army, surviving the Battle of the Bulge, fighting through the cities of Aachen, Stuttgart, Cologne and Bonn.  The graves before him transcended time, taking him back in history to a time when freedom was on the line.

Born in the 1920s, he grew up in the Depression of the 1930s poor, like most rural American children.  Fresh vegetables were grown in the family garden behind the small frame house.  His mother made sandwiches for school out of homemade bread.  Store-bought bread was for the rich.  He grew up belonging to the Boy Scouts, playing the trumpet in the high school band, and he went to church on most Sundays.

In 1944, this 18-year-old country boy that had never been more than 50 miles from home, found himself going through basic training in the United States Army at Camp Wolters in Texas.  After that he rode the train with hundreds of other young teenagers to New York City for the ocean trip on a cramped Liberty ship to fight in the great World War II.

No amount of training could have prepared him for what he was about to experience.  As a teenager, he, and thousands like him, put his life on the line for freedom.  He saw the concentration camps and the victims of the Nazis.  He saw incredible numbers of other teenage Americans buried in graves throughout France.  But like so many of his generation, he never really discussed the details, only saying that the real heroes were the ones buried in Europe today.

Some 60 years after the war, my hero stood before the monument at Normandy and paid tribute to his heroes.  The price of freedom was enormous.  The memories of the sacrifices made were overwhelming.  Amid the whirlwind of imagery flashing before his eyes, Dad began to recollect life after the war and what victory in Europe meant for Americans, what freedom still means today.

After Germany surrendered, he went back to Fort Hood, Texas, expecting to be re-equipped for the land invasion of Japan.  It was there he met Mom at a Wednesday night "prayer meeting'' church service.  Not too long after that, he opened a DX service station where he pumped gas, sold tires, fixed cars, and began a family.

Deciding he needed to go to college, he moved to West Texas and enrolled in a small Christian college called Abilene Christian University.  He and his wife and his two small children lived in an old converted army barracks with other such families of veterans.  He supported us by working nights at KRBC radio and climbing telephone poles for "Ma Bell .

He finished college, became an engineer and worked 40-plus years for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in Houston.  He turned down a promotion and a transfer to New York City because it wasnt Texas and he said it was "no place to raise a family.''   Mom and Dad still live near Houston, not too far from where I grew up.

After his recent trip to Normandy, he opened up a little more about the Warstill humble about his contributions, but looking back on the significance of victory through the eyes of an 85-year-old-man.  Dont get me wrong, he hasnt mellowed in his years, he still rants and raves about the East Coast media and he has a strong opinion on politics and todays fight for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He gives plenty of advice to everyone, including me.

He has two computers in his home office and e-mails with his buddies all around the world.  He still mows his own yard and can fix anything.  He flies the flag on holidays and marches with theVFW.  He goes to church on Sunday and he takes Mom out to eat almost every Friday night.

On Fathers Day we praise all fathersbut we especially should honor all who fought in the great World War II and achieved the victory in Europe.  Without the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation, America would not be the great country it is today.  My hero, my Dad, was one of those individuals.  He is the best man I ever met.  Virgil Poe: a good man, a good father.  That is plenty for one life.

And thats just the way it is.

Memorial Day 2011

May 30, 2011

Their names were George, Francis, Joseph, Madison, and Albert Sullivanbrothers all under the age of 27 years old. The Sullivan brothers left their sister and parents behind in January 1942 to enlist in the Navy during World War II under the condition that they would not be separated. They wrote: We will make a team that cant be beat. The Navy complied and they all were assigned to the doomed vessel USS Juneau. In November, the Juneau was wiped out by the Japanese.  All five of the Sullivan brothers perished in the attack leaving behind what was left of their family. There are thousands of heart-wrenching stories of Americans lost during wars throughout our history and the families they leave behind. Warriors go off to war and unfortunately, not all of them return. Many of the fallen gave up their youth so we could have a free future. We must remember these American heroes today and every day.  

For 143 years, on the last Monday of May, Americans across our country have celebrated Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a time for Americans to pause from our daily lives to remember and honor the patriots that have died protecting our freedom. Today we also pray for those who are still serving our country in Afghanistan and Iraq. The men and women that wear the uniform of the United States military are truly the finest in the world.

Memorial Day was first observed on a large scale three years after the end of the War Between the States in 1868, known then as Decoration Day.  It was a day to decorate the graves of more than 600,000 men who died in that conflict with flowers and American flags. By 1971, Congress declared the last Monday in May as Memorial Day; a national holiday to honor those who died in all American wars.

In our nations capitol there are monuments to the American Warriors of our countrys history. There is a massive cemetery on the shores of Normandy, France where more than 9,000 D-Day heroes are buried from one of our history's fiercest and most costly victories. All of these tributes are memorials to our troops that have always answered the call to serve their country. 

Today America faces a new enemy and fights a different kind of war. Our military still answers the call. It has been nearly ten years since September 11, 2001 when our world was changed forever. Since September 11th, American troops have been involved in two wars in the Middle East, including the longest war in American history in Afghanistan. We have lost over 6,000 men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq. To date, 35 brave warriors from Texas 2nd Congressional District area have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. My staff and I honor their memory every single day. We have put each of their photos on a Wall of Honor in all of my offices. Their photos serve as a constant reminder of their sacrifices to each of us.

During my time in Congress I have had the privilege to travel to Iraq and Afghanistan several times. Our military are truly the finest in the world. They operate in the hot and dusty deserts and the rough and rugged mountains of Afghanistan where the summer temperatures reach almost 120 degrees in the parched desert landscape. They track down terrorists under the worst possible conditions, but no matter what hole-or mansion-these cowards try to hide in, our military are able to hunt them down and to keep America safe. Even in the desert of the sun and the valley of the gun, our troops are not deterred.  These natural obstacles do not stop the best trained and most capable military in the history of the world.   Our brave men and women in uniform are unequaled anywhere in the world.  They are an all volunteer force, educated, tenacious, and motivated.  They bleed red, white and blue. 

So today whether you are at a backyard bar-b-que or with your family at the beach, take time to pause and think what today is really about. Thank a soldier, a marine and an airman. And thank their families for their sacrifices as well. Think of the Sullivans and the thousands of other families who have lost their loved ones. Remember the fallen, celebrate those who have served and pray for the safe return of those who are still fighting. It is important to show our appreciation not just today, but every day. Always remember the heroes who have protected our freedom in the past and continue to protect it for the future.

And thats just the way it is.