Saturday, July 19, 2008

O God Our Help In Ages Past

One of my favorite hymns has always been O God Our Help In Ages Past. It has been a source of great comfort to me in times of trouble and in times of joy.

It has been my practice in the past, when assisting with someone's election campaign, to begin the crusade on a personal level by asking for O God Our Help In Ages Past to be sung at a Sunday Mass I might be attending.

Now that I am beginning a campaign of my own, I want to continue the practice of beginning with O God Our Help In Ages Past.

This is probably the best version to be found online, by the choir at Westminster Abbey. Do forgive the glitch in the video.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Foreign Influence

Barack Obama is busy going abroad this week, taking a page from the McCain playbook that says a foreign trip will help you while your opponent has a free hand to run around the country without having to worry about contending with you. It was a rather silly mentality for the John McCain camp to have, and Barack Obama might have learned something from it. Instead, Obama is running around Europe (to be fair, he is , and will even hold a massive campaign rally in Berlin:

How vulnerable is Obama on this idea that he's campaigning overseas?
Will the Berlin event backfire? Will some be offended by the idea of holding a
campaign rally in a foreign country?

How does Obama walk this fine line of appealing to the rest of the world
without turning off American voters and appearing that he’s already won the

It could be argued that America has attempted to influence the elections of other nations (which we have), so why shouldn't foreign nations play their hand at influencing Americas elections? It is a fair question to ask, but the answer is not likely to please our friends on the other side of the world. If either the American government or an American political configuration (key Democrats working for the Labour Party in Britain in 1997 or Republicans for the Tories in 1983 and 1987 are two examples) sometimes it works and sometimes it will flop. If Americans find out that foreigners are trying to influence our election process, the American instinct is to tell them to go to Hell.

Americans generally do not care what the rest of the world thinks, because-so goes the rationale-they do not live here. Whether that is a correct mentality to have is not a matter of discussion here, but the reality is that foreign powers or groups trying to influence our election process really does tend to bite the candidates who allow for it in their political rear. Barack Obama had best tread carefully, because if Americans think that he is the candidate of foreign interests he will lose in November-regardless of what the current national polls may say.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's Time For Some Campaignin'

I think that all of us who are actually involved in one of the many election campaigns this year that will be decided on November 4th really "get" this new video by JibJab in a special way.

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The Truth About Jesse Jackson Comes Out

Jesse Jackson would be incensed if any of us used the "N-word," but according to the Associated Press, Fox News is now saying that Jackson used the most hated racial slur in American English with some level of impunity in the same conversation where the microphone was turned on and Big Jesse declared his intention to castrate Barack Obama:

The Rev. Jesse Jackson used an emotionally charged racial slur during a
break in a TV interview in which he criticized presidential candidate Barack
Obama, Fox News confirmed Wednesday.

In additional comments from that same conversation, first reported by
TVNewser, the African-American leader is reported to have said Obama was
"talking down to black people," and referred to blacks with a slur commonly
referred to as the N-word when he said Obama was telling them "how to

So Jackson, the so-called "civil rights leader" (I think the notion that he is really a leader of anyone or anything is finally being put to bed, thank God) referred to African-Americans as "n*****s," while purporting to stand for so-called equality. While we know that it has become common among African-Americans to use the Hated Word among themselves as a term of endearment or even self-description, Jackson's use of the verbal loaded gun makes him a hypocrit:

Jackson has called on the entertainment industry, including rappers, actors and
studios, to stop using the N-Word. He also urged the public to boycott
purchasing DVD copies of the TV sitcom "Seinfeld" after co-star Michael Richards
was taped using the word during a rant at a Los Angeles comedy club in 2006.

Jesse wants to censor others, but he will not bide his own tongue. The truth about Jesse Jackson is finally coming to light after all these years for the world to see-the man is not a leader, he's just an uppity busybody.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Obama's Gap With Middle America

A new poll commissioned by The New York Times confirms the reality that many people are simply uncomfortable discussing in this election-that there is a deep racial divide that isn't going away despite the fanciful dreams of some Barack Obama supporters:

Americans are sharply divided by race heading into the first election in which an African-American will be a major-party presidential nominee, with blacks and whites holding vastly different views of Senator Barack Obama, the state of race relations and how black Americans are treated by society, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

After years of growing political polarization, much of the divide in American politics is partisan. But Americans’ perceptions of the fall presidential election between Mr. Obama, Democrat of Illinois, and Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, also underlined the racial discord that the poll found. More than 80 percent of black voters said they had a favorable opinion of Mr. Obama; about 30 percent of white voters said they had a favorable opinion of him.

“I don’t like some of his policies, like on energy,” said Bob Beidelman, 69, a white Democrat from York, Pa., about Mr. Obama. “Also I don’t like statements his wife made. She seems like a spoiled brat to me.”

He added: “I’m one of those white people who clings to guns and the Bible, and those things that Barack said kind of turned me off,” he said. “This isn’t a black and white thing. If a conservative African-American like former Congressman J. C. Watts was running, I’d have bumper stickers plastered all over my car supporting him.”

After the 2008 Election is over, scholars years from now will doubtless debate, discuss, define, and redefine the roll that race and the corollary issues related to race played in this election. If Barack Obama is elected at all, it is liable to be with the lowest level of support among white voters ever recorded in an American election.

As folks in these parts are fond to point out to me from time to time, I was born in the North. I am, however, by both familial heritage and personal inclination, a Southerner (a predicament which Harry Truman also dealt with). The problem of race and race relations as it relates to this election is one that I understand in part because of the way I was raised. We cannot deceive ourselves into believing that race is not an issue here-but we can't dismiss the concerns of the white working class as mere racism, either. A lot of us younger people like to believe that our attitudes about race have changed compared to our parents and grandparents. In many ways, this is a correct perception-but we can never understand how blacks or Hispanics view us or view discrimination because we are not one of them.

Barack Obama was essentially handed his political position in Chicago. Unlike most of those who have opposed him politically either now or in former times, he did not start at the political bottom and work his way up. He seems to have come out of nowhere, and to many voters it seems as though we still don't know much about him. He comes across as a dandy, a college professor who knows little of the daily lives of the people in Middle America that he is seeking to represent. That America does not trust Obama, some do not like him, and he seems foreign to them.

If he is to win in November, he must persuade the people that he has so far been unable to win over to support him. It is for this reason that I believe that it could be possible for Senator Obama to win the popular vote, but he could lose handily in the Electoral College. If Barack Obama does manage to pull off a win in November, it will be over a nation so deeply divided that the divisions of 2000 could look like a cakewalk.

As the presidential campaign verges on the historic, Barack Obama risks either losing outright, or governing a nation which neither knows nor trusts him. The "first black president" will live in a hollow vacuum if he fails to connect with the people he so desperately will need in order to maintain political legitimacy.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

State Primary Endorsements

All of the election talk in recent days and months in the blogosphere-even here in Tennessee-has rightly centered on the Presidential Election. It is the big news everywhere, and unlike some other State Republican Parties, the Tennessee GOP is doing its job-promoting conservative values while managing to successfully give a not-so-popular Republican nominee a substantial lead here.

There are other elections going on, most notably a State Primary along with local elections for county offices in most jurisdictions throughout Tennessee scheduled for Thursday, August 7th. With early voting scheduled to begin Friday, July 18th, it is time to roll out my endorsements in primaries and local races (note: In some cases, I've chosen not to make an endorsement in an uncontested primary, but do intend to endorse a candidate for that race in November):

United States House of Representatives-First District:

David Davis (R)

It is no secret that I did not support David Davis in the 2006 primary, and if Vance Cheek Jr., Richard Venable, or perhaps Richard Roberts were running this time around, I might be inclined to give my endorsement to them (I certainly would for Vance, who I consider a friend, or Richard Venable-Roberts is a bit more iffy). Those men are intelligent, however, and they know that when someone is doing their job, you don't punish them for doing it, or engage in quixotic attempts to dislodge that person by formulating three or four-way primaries.

The only person running with a chance to win is Johnson City Mayor Dr. Phil Roe. Roe's actual platform is not substantially different from Davis, and every major conservative group from Tennessee Right to Life to the NRA has weighed in with support for Davis because Davis had a record of support for conservative causes long before he entered Congress. Indeed, it seems that Dr. Roe, while certainly well-meaning, has as his primary motivation for running that "I want to be Congressman." There is nothing inherently wrong with that at all, but public service should not be about what the candidates and elected officials want, but about the best interests of the people they are supposed to represent. Phil Roe's spiel about how he will "never" take money from lobbyists simply doesn't come across as sincere-practically speaking, once you get into Congress, it is terribly difficult to retain your seat without donations from lobbyists. His commercials lampooning Davis for taking oil lobbying money sound almost as though Roe is anti-capitalist. We know he isn't, he is just trying to use the gas crisis to gain a political advantage-he too believes in drilling for more oil.

The only thing David Davis is truly guilty of is that he almost seems as though he is taking his likely victory for granted. Phil Roe's people really appear to be working the district a lot harder than Davis' crew. If Roe upsets Davis, it will likely be because David Davis rested on his laurels.

Tennessee State Senate-4th District

Mike Faulk (R)

I know Mike is unopposed in the Primary, but I urge people to get out and show their support in substantial numbers. If Mike gets a lot of primary support for an unopposed candidate, it is liable to cause the Democrats (who are backing Mike Williams, don't be fooled) to put their money elsewhere and for the lobbyists who might be inclined to support Williams to back down if they think they are wasting their money on a loser.

On top of all of that, a large number of unopposed votes could give Faulk an unstoppable personal momentum in his race against Borat in November.

Tennessee House of Representatives-17th District

Frank Niceley (R)

The same principle which applies to Mike Faulk's race applies to Frank Niceley's. Frank isn't really facing serious opposition either now or in November, but there is an independent running against Frank in the fall, so let's seal things up for Frank so Don Quixote doesn't get any traction.

On a personal note, like most people who live around here, both Nicole and I love Frank. Every time his name is mentioned, one of us always says "ain't Frank great," or exclaims "I just love Frank." There is a real reason for this-Frank Niceley gives a damn about us and about all of his constituents. I know Democrats who will vote straight D down the ticket, but will gladly cross to vote for Frank Niceley. Even when I haven't agreed with Frank about something, he makes me want to trust his judgment about whatever it might be because I know Frank is in public life because he gives a flying flip-and yes, he also enjoys the Legislature. When someone enjoys what they do, they are far more likely to do it right.

Frank has been and is a mentor of mine. I am very proud to support him.

Tennessee House of Representatives-18th District

Stacey Campfield

There are three people who were members of the last General Assembly for whom I would gladly march through Hell if asked: Frank Niceley (see above), Bill Dunn, and Stacey Campfield.

I no longer live anywhere near the 18th District, but I will still do whatever I can to make sure that Stacey stays in elective office. He has managed to survive two terrible smear campaigns (Primary and General Election) during the last election to win re-election convincingly. Now, he has two other primary opponents and another attempt to smear his good Irish name. I was over and around Stacey's district this past Sunday, and I saw Campfield signs everywhere. This is a man who routinely begins his campaigns with no money and almost always ends them with considerably less money than his opponents, but he has won and won soundly. Why is this?

Because Stacey doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk. He doesn't just say "I am pro-life," but he has used his position in the Legislature to bring attention to the fruitless slaughter of the unborn that happens in Tennessee and all over America each and every day. He doesn't just say "I am for the Second Amendment," he lives it and breathes it. His constituents know most of all that he is the most responsive Representative in the Legislature-and that is why he has the highest personal popularity rating of any elected Republican in the House.

If you live in the 18th, please return Stacey Campfield to Nashville on August 7th (there is no opposition in November) by a massive majority.

Jefferson County Constable-3rd County District

Glen Warren

Glen is unopposed, too-but I fully support him. He is a veteran of the fire department here in White Pine, and the fact that he is willing to sacrifice his time and money to serve as our constable says a ton about the kind of person Glen is-and he has already happily gotten me out of several jams.

Jefferson County Tax Referendum

To raise the Jefferson County Sales Tax by 1/2 cent to retire school indebtedness.


Let me be perfectly clear-I am not opposed to retiring the debts of our schools-and in principle, I would have no problem supporting such a paltry tax increase to go toward that purpose.

The problem isn't the idea, it is the who (the School Board) and the very notion that there can be such a thing as a temporary tax.

The Jefferson County School Board can't be fiscally responsible with the tax money they now have, and are still paying on contracts for superintendents that they fired. How much of that money could be used for debt retirement, or putting more computers in our schools?

If the County wants this passed at some point in the future, they need first to get their own educational house in order, the school board needs to learn how to properly spend the funds they already receive, and then we can talk about this 1/2 cent increase...because we all know that like the wheel tax that was supposed to go away, this won't either.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

The Narrow Obama Victory Scenario

Today our series on the electoral college continues with a look at a second scenario-how Barack Obama would or could win in a close national election in the college:
<p><strong>><a href=''>Electoral College Prediction Map</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.</p>

Under this scenario, Barack Obama would hold his present leads in Iowa and Minnesota, and would carry New Hampshire by a narrow margin. In spite of John McCain's ability to hang on to Virginia, Missouri, and the Great Plains-and to once again carry a "Solid South" for the GOP-that won't be enough for McCain, because Barack Obama will close in on New Mexico and Colorado in the closing weeks and days of the campaign. When the electoral votes from the rest of New England and the West Coast-States which already heavily favor Obama-are factored in, this would give Senator Obama a 273-265 victory in the Electoral College, and he would win the presidency.

This would make New Hampshire the State that decides the election.

Next week: The Obama landslide scenario.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mass From 1941

Solumn High Mass in the Latin Rite on Easter Sunday, 1941-Narrated by then-Monsignor Fulton J. Sheen.

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