Certain of our friends on the Left are always concerned about who they might offend. They've made this frightful way of living into what amounts to a "non-offend" policy on their side of the aisle. They can't enact good policy for fear of who it might offend. They can't tolerate political realities because any statement of those realities is offensive. God forbid we mention a Higher Power, for they may not believe in Him-and if they do, It has to be gender-neutral (I think the worst example I've ever found of this is when I visited a United Church of Christ and thumbed through their hymnal only to find that they had adopted their own version of the Nicene Creed that said "I believe in One God, the Father-Mother Almighty," and replaced any mention of the Son of God with "Child of God)."
Our socio-political opposition-with a few notable exceptions-practices a neutered secular religion that reflects their largely spineless, gutless approach to the world. Not all Democrats are like this, but those that aren't usually aren't all that liberal. Those liberals who aren't spineless or gutless usually have some grain of conservatism deep in their soul somewhere-Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Robert Casey, and John F. Kennedy Jr. come to mind. The few liberal bloggers that I know who do not reflect this thoughtless approach to faith, politics, and life have me convinced that they have a secret desire to be conservative-y'all know who you are, and of course you will deny this!
The Gutless Wonders come out of the woodwork every year around this time to spoil everyone's holiday enjoyment in the name of not offending anyone-after all, we can't have public Nativity Scenes and mentions of the Incarnation in any form, since that would be acknowledging that there is a God and giving HIM a name and a face.
Leave it to some folks on Music Row to fight the power in song.
If you can tolerate the puppets, I found a version of this on Youtube after first hearing it this past week while Nicole and I were out to dinner. Brad Paisley, George Jones, Little Jimmy Dickens, and Bill Anderson really spoke to me with this song. I laughed so hard I started to cry. What makes it so funny, of course, is that this is what the holidays would be like if liberals really ran this country the way they want to. As long as there is breath in me, they won't be running my little corner of it. Just when I get discouraged, a song like this comes out and reinvigorates this Culture Warrior.
Some more militant Democrats are accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of "caving" to Republicans. I'll be the first to admit that Pelosi and her colleagues are an utter and complete failure, which is why Congress has an 11% approval rating. Pelosi-ever true to form-is blaming the minority for the fact that she, Steny Hoyer, and their entire band of merry thugs have so disgraced themselves:
"The assumption that I made...that Republicans would see the light...was an inaccurate one," she allowed.
Let me get the straight: The 2006 General Election turned on a few thousand votes in a few key precincts in marginal districts, and this woman thinks we are all supposed to play follow the leader? Apparently, Ms. Pelosi forgets what Congress' national approval rating is, and that if it remains that low in an election year she will be far less likely to retain her Speaker's chair. She also forgets that a whole lot of this country still voted Republican and sent Republicans to Congress by hefty margins of victory, yet the San Francisco Treat thinks we all owe it to her to do things her way. I did not send my Republican Congressman to Washington to see Nancy Pelosi's light, or anything else of Pelosi's to be seen.
Yet the Democrats tell us "wait till next year." Yes indeed-wait for more quisling cowardice from a woman who has done nothing for the last 12 months but disgrace the Office of Speaker of the House and the Republic itself. I am quite glad the Democrats elected this woman, for she may be the Republicans' guarantee of Congressional victory in 2008.
Did my Democratic friends really expect this woman to be a feminine version of Sam Rayburn or Tip O'Neill? She is unworthy to so much as sit in the same chair, let alone roam the same halls or breathe the same air as those great statesmen. She does have one attribute that makes her stand alone compared to those hallowed old Democratic predecessors: She is WEAK-WEAK-WEAK!
Yesterday's Republican Presidential debate in Des Moines was the last one before the January 3rd Iowa Caucus, and it was also incredibly tame. So much so, in fact, that you had to be left wondering if the candidates thought that the issues actually mattered in the debate. The things that were discussed were the kind of things you would expect at any Republican debate, and the answers were typical and sterile. For the most part they were good answers, but no one really stuck out. Perhaps the candidates were afraid of going negative, or (more likely) the continuing ice storm outside had the minds of the locals on other matters, and the tenor of the debate showed that.
The most obvious sign that Mike Huckabee appears poised to win Iowa and Mitt Romney-in spite of earlier numbers that showed him well in the lead-may finish second or lower is that Romney's camp is already trying to downplay Huckabee's good showing. When we are at a date this late before Iowans vote, that all but amounts to a concession of defeat in Iowa on Romney's part.
I have real problems with Huckabee, mostly because I don't trust him on taxes and his immigration position (terrible while Governor of Arkansas) seems to be constantly changing of late. He has to be given credit, however, for running a nearly flawless Iowa campaign up to this stage in the game. His Iowa campaign has been so good that if he does not win Iowa at this point, it will be because his campaign on the ground has fallen apart. If the numbers hold up as they are, it appears that Huckabee will win in Iowa while Mitt Romney will run away with New Hampshire.
Fred Thompson is in a tight race with Mitt Romney in South Carolina, but he still leads in several States in the Deep South, so if Fred can hang on long enough for those Primaries he still has a shot.
I have a feeling this Primary season may be a wild ride, and just maybe the nomination won't wrap up as quickly as we have all previously thought.
When Republicans think of issues that might serve as things to highlight in the coming year at the State level, the Governor's tax increases and chronic mismanagement of the State budget surplus come immediately to mind. The fact that the Republicans in the State Senate had to practically beg to get the tiniest shred of tax relief for ordinary Tennesseans while Bredesen was keen on a dramatic increase in the tobacco tax and enacting a Statewide public smoking ban that logic would dictate would cause a loss of tobacco tax revenue.
The solution of the Governor's Revenue Commissioner was to man the State's border crossings to try and determine who was buying cigarettes and bringing them into Tennessee-or at least make the threat. The Governor's plan is evidence of chronic mismanagement of both the State taxation apparatus as well as State revenue.
Tennessee House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower has his own idea of what makes an election year issue. Mumpower apparently believes that Tennessee voters believe in large numbers that the integrity of the Tennessee Education Lottery might be undermined because the lottery uses computers to draw lottery numbers instead of balls. From the day that Mumpower became House GOP Leader, he has said that his primary goal is to insure that Republicans gain a majority in the Tennessee House of Representatives. I believe Jason Mumpower is very sincere in his desire for a majority, and I base that belief upon several conversations with him, two interviews on my internet podcast, and a journey to Nashville.
What I am not certain of is that Mumpower is going to connect with the average voter with the issue of whether the lottery uses computers or balls. Yes, it gets some press-usually in papers that have shown in the past that they love nothing more than to give Republicans a bad rap. The best way to find out if this issue is important to the average voter is to ask. Perhaps my way is a bit simplistic, but I just asked around town whether folks thought it made a difference whether computers or balls were the method used to draw numbers. Most of the time I just got a chuckle or a laugh. Among those who did see a problem with the lottery using computers to draw numbers, no one thought this was a pressing State issue upon which our future as Tennesseans may depend.
It may indeed be better for the lottery to use balls instead of computers when drawing lottery numbers, but it isn't an issue of pressing importance to the people of Tennessee. This is one of those things you wait and deal with quietly when you have the majority you are seeking. As an election year issue, it is incredibly silly, and I can think of many other issues that are more deserving of Caucus time and newsprint than whether the lottery uses computers or balls.
Why Catholics might be offended at the premise of the movie THE GOLDEN COMPASS. Adam Graham pops in on the discussion. Why Congressman David Davis (R-Tennessee First District) is likely to be re-elected-it isn't because of indifference, as some more liberal folks claim.
After yesterday morning, I am secure in the knowledge that Barack Obama will never be elected President of the United States. How do I know this? A good cross-section of White Pine's community of "chronic voters" told me they won't be supporting Obama. Some readers may say sarcastically "that sounds like a real surprise in a small conservative East Tennessee town, Oatney." What made these revelations so politically convincing is that I heard these things from self-professed life long Democrats who, while living in what may be the reddest county in the reddest part of the State, take every opportunity to bash Republicans whenever they see an opportunity(whether the bashing is grounded in reality or not). The difference between these folks and the average Democratic "target voter" is that these guys will vote and they do not miss an election-I know because I have stood in line with some of them at the polling place waiting to vote.
They are the children of the Depression, of World War II, or Korea. Those who profess to be Democrats will often tell you that one or both of their parents were Dems, too. They and their families are old union people. Many served in the military, and not a few are retired from BASF/Inka, from Oak Ridge, or from the civil service. They aren't very happy with the present administration at all, and are not shy about saying so. I forget how the topic came up ( I didn't bring it up), but somehow when the discussion turned to Barack Obama yesterday morning at the Sanitary Drugstore-I think someone may have made a joke about Oprah and Obama-the reaction of the Democrats in the room turned to instant revulsion. One Democrat, someone who has never demonstrated anything to me but a heart of gold, said bluntly "I will not vote for that man, if he is the nominee I will vote Republican," he cringed. Most of the old boys have enough of a problem with Hillary, but the Dems swear they would sooner vote for her than for Obama.
Is it skin color? No...they all said it was because they were aware of his Muslim background and were simply uncomfortable having someone with a Muslim background (even though he now goes to a United Church of Christ) as President. It goes right back to whether voters have a religious test, and in today's climate you simply can't blame voters for feeling uncomfortable with a pseudo-Muslim as President.
I know that the Democratic Party places a premium on the youth vote, but at 18 kids are still relatively uninformed and unschooled in the ways of the world. Today's Democratic Party often relies on the uninformed voter to elect them-quantity over quality. Most 18-year-olds don't vote because they could care less about the future, they are invincible. Did I vote at 18? Yes, but I came from a family where civic responsibility was beat into my head at a young age, and by the time I made it to my first election, I knew what issues were important to me and just exactly why I was voting for the people that I chose. I took my responsibility seriously because I knew the future hung on the ballot I was casting, and I also knew that one day I might want to be on the ballot myself-I have never missed an election. Needless to say, I was in a minority at 18-most of my classmates didn't vote, and the ones who I knew that did also came from homes where the importance of informed voting was taught to them.
The fellows at the Sanitary not only vote reliably, they've been voting for years. They come from a couple of generations that are known for being very civic-minded and for being generations of joiners. If the Democrats among them say that they are not comfortable with Obama's background and they cannot support him because of it, then there is an awfully good chance that Barack Obama will not be the Democratic nominee.
The state came in $136 million below projections in the first quarter of the fiscal year. Bredesen said preliminary numbers for November looked better, but it won't be until January before officials know how much tax revenue the crucial holiday shopping season generated.
The Democratic governor said he has no illusions of a complete rebound.
"We will end up short this year," he said.
Bredesen said he hasn't decided where he will make cuts in the current year's spending plan, but that he hopes to have an idea by the time he outlines next year's budget plan in late January.
"We will handle it smoothly and we'll have to make little cuts here and there," he said. "We're certainly going to have to do some trimming this year."
The papers aren't saying this (and do not expect them to, most of the press in this State is on very friendly terms with the Governor) but Bredesen was warned that his new spending prerogatives in the most recent budget could end up leaving the State with a budget shortfall. He was told that his multiple new tax proposals and wasteful spending would lead to a shortfall of revenue.
Now the inevitable shortfall that he was warned would occur if he did not change course has come to pass, and Bredesen is having a boo-hoo session in front of the press. He's saying "we're going to be short this year but I'll make sure it is okay." At one point he said "I'm not breaking into a sweat or anything."
This kind of behavior seems indicative of the last two Governors of this State in their second terms-one Republican and one Democrat. Both men were enormously popular, and both won re-election by huge margins. It seems that when they get into that second term and become lame-ducks who are no longer answerable to the people, they then embark upon policy decisions which would have gotten them beaten like a pinata in a General Election. The parallels between the previous administration in Nashville and the present one are quite striking.
Will Bredesen do as Sundquist did and propose an income tax, insuring Republican victory in 2010 in the same way Sundquist insured Bredesen's victory in 2002?
If you haven't had the pleasure of reading Pope Benedict XVI's new Encyclical Spe Salve (On Christian Hope) you need to invest in the time to read and ponder on it. I believe Spe Salve may prove to be the most important statement from a Pope on the nature of Christian theology and doctrine since Humanae Vitae.
In Spe Salve, Benedict makes clear that secularism or a secular outlook is simply unacceptable for a Christian. He warns us that many well meaning people have attempted to answer mankind's burning questions by removing God from the equation. It has been most dangerous when human beings have attempted to realize the ultimate goals of the Kingdom of God (peace and an end to human suffering) without including God in the process.
Christianity did not bring a message of social revolution like that of the ill-fated Spartacus, whose struggle led to so much bloodshed. Jesus was not Spartacus, he was not engaged in a fight for political liberation like Barabbas or Bar- Kochba. Jesus, who himself died on the Cross, brought something totally different: an encounter with the Lord of all lords, an encounter with the living God and thus an encounter with a hope stronger than the sufferings of slavery, a hope which therefore transformed life and the world from within.
In saying this, the Pope condemns the notion held by some on the hard religious Left that Our Lord was preaching some sort of pseudo-Marxism or liberation theology. The liberation Christ preached was a liberation of the spirit and soul. At the same time, our understanding of God and of Christ's sacrifice goes well beyond the whole "me and Jesus" philosophy so popular in certain Protestant circles today. A personal relationship with Christ is wonderful and important, but the message of Jesus Christ was not a message merely to the individual-the Pope is clear that this teaching is false:
“Yet there can be no question but that this classical Protestant understanding is untenable.” Faith is not merely a personal reaching out towards things to come that are still totally absent: it gives us something. It gives us even now something of the reality we are waiting for, and this present reality constitutes for us a “proof” of the things that are still unseen. Faith draws the future into the present, so that it is no longer simply a “not yet”. The fact that this future exists changes the present; the present is touched by the future reality, and thus the things of the future spill over into those of the present and those of the present into those of the future.
Salvation and Christian hope are communal as well as individual. Being saved is not merely a matter of personal commitment. In rejecting this, the Holy Father asks the questions:
How could the idea have developed that Jesus's message is narrowly individualistic and aimed only at each person singly? How did we arrive at this interpretation of the “salvation of the soul” as a flight from responsibility for the whole, and how did we come to conceive the Christian project as a selfish search for salvation which rejects the idea of serving others?
The Pope proceeds to explain in great detail that this individualistic understanding of Christian salvation is relatively new in Christian thought and explains in detail why it is wrong. He goes on to tell us how this kind of thought might be an extension of secular attempts to establish the Kingdom of God without the rule of God. The roots of the secular desire for utopianism are rooted (in the modern era) in the French Revolution, and later in Marxism:
The nineteenth century held fast to its faith in progress as the new form of human hope, and it continued to consider reason and freedom as the guiding stars to be followed along the path of hope. Nevertheless, the increasingly rapid advance of technical development and the industrialization connected with it soon gave rise to an entirely new social situation: there emerged a class of industrial workers and the so-called “industrial proletariat”, whose dreadful living conditions Friedrich Engels described alarmingly in 1845. For his readers, the conclusion is clear: this cannot continue; a change is necessary. Yet the change would shake up and overturn the entire structure of bourgeois society. After the bourgeois revolution of 1789, the time had come for a new, proletarian revolution: progress could not simply continue in small, linear steps. A revolutionary leap was needed. Karl Marx took up the rallying call, and applied his incisive language and intellect to the task of launching this major new and, as he thought, definitive step in history towards salvation—towards what Kant had described as the “Kingdom of God”. Once the truth of the hereafter had been rejected, it would then be a question of establishing the truth of the here and now. The critique of Heaven is transformed into the critique of earth, the critique of theology into the critique of politics. Progress towards the better, towards the definitively good world, no longer comes simply from science but from politics—from a scientifically conceived politics that recognizes the structure of history and society and thus points out the road towards revolution, towards all-encompassing change. With great precision, albeit with a certain one-sided bias, Marx described the situation of his time, and with great analytical skill he spelled out the paths leading to revolution—and not only theoretically: by means of the Communist Party that came into being from the Communist Manifesto of 1848, he set it in motion. His promise, owing to the acuteness of his analysis and his clear indication of the means for radical change, was and still remains an endless source of fascination. Real revolution followed, in the most radical way in Russia.
Together with the victory of the revolution, though, Marx's fundamental error also became evident. He showed precisely how to overthrow the existing order, but he did not say how matters should proceed thereafter. He simply presumed that with the expropriation of the ruling class, with the fall of political power and the socialization of means of production, the new Jerusalem would be realized. Then, indeed, all contradictions would be resolved, man and the world would finally sort themselves out. Then everything would be able to proceed by itself along the right path, because everything would belong to everyone and all would desire the best for one another. Thus, having accomplished the revolution, Lenin must have realized that the writings of the master gave no indication as to how to proceed. True, Marx had spoken of the interim phase of the dictatorship of the proletariat as a necessity which in time would automatically become redundant. This “intermediate phase” we know all too well, and we also know how it then developed, not ushering in a perfect world, but leaving behind a trail of appalling destruction. Marx not only omitted to work out how this new world would be organized—which should, of course, have been unnecessary. His silence on this matter follows logically from his chosen approach. His error lay deeper. He forgot that man always remains man. He forgot man and he forgot man's freedom. He forgot that freedom always remains also freedom for evil. He thought that once the economy had been put right, everything would automatically be put right. His real error is materialism: man, in fact, is not merely the product of economic conditions, and it is not possible to redeem him purely from the outside by creating a favourable economic environment.
The point of all that is to say that man cannot be redeemed merely by doing better for himself in this world. This dangerous line of thought is really at the root of modern secularism. Perhaps now liberals who read me will better understand why I am so radically opposed to the secularism which they are so keen to proclaim. Rather than give hope to the oppressed, it undermines that hope and will ultimately lead to the oppression of others. There can be no hope or goodness without God, and ultimately the "God-shaped vacuum" within the soul of humanity can only be filled with the hope that rests in the teachings of His Son Jesus Christ.
A conservative journal of social, cultural, and ecclesiatical affairs grounded in a realistic Catholic Christian worldview. It is my hope that this site will be a reflection of Christ,the teachings of His Holy Church, and of the basic vision of a Christian social morality.