Saturday, November 22, 2008

Defenders of the Faith

I took no small amount of heat from certain quarters last weekend when, in the course of a post in this space about apocalyptic and end-of-days theology and a Biblical passage from I Thessalonians, I referred to Barack Obama's election as being "the greatest singular evil that has ever befallen this country." The whole of the post was not even about Obama, but that didn't stop the vultures from circling the wagons.

As it turns out, I may not be alone in that opinion:

The decline in respect for human life has had “catastrophic effects” on the unity and integrity of the United States, which are evidenced by the presidential election, says a Vatican official.

Baltimore-native Cardinal James Stafford, major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, affirmed this in a lecture last Thursday at the Catholic University of America.

“Because man is a sacred element of secular life,” the cardinal said, “[…] a person’s life cannot ultimately be controlled by government.”

"On Nov. 4, 2008, America suffered a cultural earthquake,” continued the cardinal. He pointed out that president-elect Barack Obama campaigned on an “extremist anti-life platform,” and described his agenda as “aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic.”

Now Catholics will experience the Agony of the Garden through the next few years of Obama’s presidency, the cardinal said, and will have to endure the “hot, angry tears of betrayal.” He invited people to live this time “with Jesus, sick because of love.”

Since it has been determined by certain of the anointed of the press that my words on Sunday last constituted "crap like this," and that it is "sad" that such writing has to come out of the East Tennessee blogosphere, and since we know that both the press and liberals have no double standards, can we expect to see denunciation of the See of Peter as racist for consenting to the denunciation of Barack Obama in terms that made those that I used last weekend look like a taping of Charlie Rose? Calling me racist is one thing, but Princes of the Church?

They would be wrong, of course, but might as well make it universal. After all, everyone who denounces Obama in the course of his term of office will be deemed a racist. Welcome to 1984, 24 years late.

I await the burning of the Holy Father in effigy by the disciples of the Lord Barack.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

The Reward of Loyalty

This morning, I heard from a fairly reliable source that while Frank Niceley's chances of being chosen Speaker Pro Tempore by the Tennessee House Republican Caucus look promising, that "sweetheart deals" are being made to some Middle and West Tennessee Republicans so that they will cast their vote for Steve McDaniel. What is meant by "sweetheart deal?" Very likely, it is something along the lines of "vote for McDaniel and get this committee, that chairmanship, this consideration, or that special appointment." At this point in the game, whether that is happening is officially a matter of rumor, though I have no trouble believing that the source who told me this is on to something (and no, before readers jump to conclusions, the individual who told me this is not Stacey Campfield or Frank Niceley).

Steve McDaniel doesn't have the ability to make promises like that, so who, pray tell, might be charming GOP Caucus members in such a way?

What does it say to Tennessee Republicans about the state of our House Caucus when the Leader of that Caucus does not even believe that he can get the necessary majority to be elected Speaker of the House without attempting to give away an office which by right belongs to the Caucus to determine? As the Leader, he should be able to command the votes to be elected Speaker based on the fact that he is Leader of the majority party and has been nominated by that party for Speaker. He should not have to buy the votes of members of his own party in order to claim that which should go to a Republican member by virtue of the Republican majority alone.

Instead, he must promise the number two position in the House to someone who has previously demonstrated no loyalty to the party or the Caucus in order that he might insure his own position.

That is not a majority, it is the butt of a bad joke. It is not leadership, but lust for power. It does not demonstrate unity, but division that is falsely healed by trying to buy people off or shut them up.

If what I heard earlier today has any truth at all to it, it demonstrates that Frank Niceley has a very credible candidacy for Speaker Pro Tempore, otherwise there would be little movement to try and stop him. The second thing that the rumor demonstrates (even the existance of the rumor, whether true or not) is that the Leader does not believe the Naifeh Republicans have the loyalty of a rabid dog.

Republicans should be concerned not that there is a challenge to insure that a conservative is made the Speaker Pro Tem, but that the Republican candidate for House Speaker apparently has to bribe his way to the majority that the voters decreed belonged to his party on November 4th.

In other words, it means that the new Republican Speaker will have gotten his position by playing the same games that his predicessor played with the people's House. What a glorious new day in Nashville!

For the record, Frank Niceley has informed The World that he believes that Steve McDaniel is an honorable man and will keep his word and vote for Mumpower for Speaker regardless of the outcome of the Speaker Pro Tempore vote in Caucus. Niceley says that if he loses to McDaniel, he will support McDaniel on the floor.

Frank Niceley was elected as a Republican and will vote as one when called upon to do so in a leadership vote. It isn't the fault of loyalists like Niceley that there are some so-called Republicans who can't be trusted to remember the party that supported them. Yet it is the loyalists who are being asked to shut up and put up with those who supported the old regime being put into positions of power while the people who worked for this day of majority are given the table scraps.

That is not the change Tennesseans voted for November 4th, and if you are a Republican and are represented by a Republican in the Tennessee House of Representatives, please call your local Representative and ask them to support a real conservative, Frank Niceley, for Speaker Pro Tempore of the House.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Frank Niceley for Speaker Pro Tempore

The concern among the grassroots that the new Republican Leadership in the Tennessee House of Representatives may be giving the most choice positions to people within the Caucus who have proven to be less than loyal is not, as it turns out, limited to the conservative blogosphere. A few hours after I wrote here of my concern that positions which should be the choice of those who have been loyal both the the Republican Caucus and to the conservative cause and mission may be handed over to those who have demonstrated greater loyalty to Jimmy Naifeh, I received a call-someone read what I wrote and agreed with it. As it turns out, that someone is in a position to do something about insuring that we have a conservative Speaker Pro Tempore.

I'm incredibly proud and pleased to announce the candidacy of my own Representative, The Honorable Frank Niceley of Strawberry Plains, for the position of Speaker Pro Tempore of the Tennessee House of Representatives. Niceley's conservative record stands on its own. He has been a consistent advocate for the right of Tennesseans to keep and bear arms. While other political leaders talk about Tennessee standing up to the encroachments of the federal government, Frank Niceley files bills to that effect. He has been a leader in the fight for clean water, speaking out on the effects of over-fluoridation in our drinking supply. There are few in Nashville who have spoken out for family farmers the way that Frank Niceley has.

Frank told me that in deciding to run for Speaker Pro Tempore, he didn't do it to buck the leadership of House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower. "Make sure and tell everyone," Frank told me, "that I respect Jason." Niceley also said that this isn't an attempt on his part to bring attention to himself. He says he isn't running for Speaker Pro Tempore to make anyone look bad, but instead to insure that conservatives have a voice within the Leadership of the new House.

Conservatives did not wander in the wilderness of Naifehland for years on end only to be ignored when the day finally comes that the GOP achieves its long-awaited House majority. Conservatives led the way in bringing the majority about, and conservatives should play a leading role in fashioning not only the policies of the majority, but the day-to-day running of the House.

Frank Niceley isn't just a good candidate because of his conservative credentials, he can reach across the aisle in friendship to Democrats, he isn't afraid to make a deal. The difference between Frank Niceley and some others is that Frank Niceley will not sell out his principles in the name of short-term gain. Having earned the respect of his colleagues, many of whom have been very receptive of Frank's candidacy over the last couple of days, Frank Niceley is ready to represent the people of Tennessee and the conservative movement as the Speaker Pro Tempore.

The World is proud to support Frank Niceley for Speaker Pro Tempore and urges conservatives to let our Republican Representatives know that you want a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, bona fide conservative Republican as Speaker Pro Tempore of the Tennessee House of Representatives.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Phil's Priorities

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen is forecasting dire straits, and is telling the press that the State is $800 million in the hole. To respond to this so-called budget shortfall, the Governor has declared that massive cuts are in order for some State departments:

Bredesen also told reporters Monday that it won't be possible for Tennessee to bridge what could end up an $800 million budget gap without reducing the number of employees on the payroll.

The governor says the state will accomplish some savings through a hiring freeze because an average of about 10 percent of workers leave state employment every year. But he says he's not willing to take the possibility of mandatory layoffs off the table.

While attempts to cut-yes cut-unnecessary State expenditures should be welcomed by the General Assembly, one has to believe that talk from the Administration on the nature of the budget is overblown. Governor Bredesen is speaking as though the State is $800 million in the red, but that is not the case at all. Instead, the Governor's Department of Revenue is $800 million dollars short of their anticipated revenue collections for this year. That does not mean that the State is in danger of running a massive deficit by June, but it does mean that the Administration is going to have to do with what it already has in terms of revenue.

There is money coming in, but the amount is nowhere near what the Honorable Phil Governor anticipated. As a result, the Governor is speaking of slashing State jobs in more-than-draconian fashion. The issue isn't that wasteful or unneeded expenses are being done away with, it is rather a question of timing and priorities. Little Johnny won't get much Christmas because the Honorable Phil Governor says we must sacrifice so that he and his department heads can spend more of our money, so Mama or Daddy loses their job. Meanwhile, the Honorable Phil's $13 million party bunker contines to be constructed as planned, as if that is a more important priority than funding State departments.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Liquor Lobby's War on Tennesseans' Freedom

Once again, the issue of whether or not wine should be sold in grocery stores in the State of Tennessee, and once again the great opponents are not our Baptist brethren, but the Liquor Lobby:

Thad Cox, owner of Ashes Wine and Spirits in Knoxville, testifying on behalf of other small liquor retailers in the state. "If wine goes in the grocery stores, I guarantee you, each and every (mom-and-pop liquor store) in the state will have to sit down and make a decision about their staff, who they would have to lay off, or even whether they could keep their doors open," he said.

Competition. Boo-hoo.

I suppose I have the advantage of knowing that allowing wine in grocery stores will not drive "mom-and-pop" liquor stores out of business because I have lived in a State where the sale of wine at the grocery store is not only allowed, but has been the long-standing common practice for many years. In nearly all States that allow wine in grocery stores, small liquor store operations are not only still in business, but they are still selling wine.

The reason that liquor stores will remain in business is because when people want hard liquor, the State-licensed package store is where they will have to go to get it. If the General Assembly passes legislation that allows for the sale of wine in grocery stores, we won't see anything at the grocery store with more than 21% alcohol, because that is the standard limit for grocery sales-and it is probably safe to make the assumption that in Tennessee, we aren't going to see much in the way of 42-proof booze being sold at the grocery counter, the Volunteer State just isn't culturally wet enough for that.

The real issue is that the liquor store owners who the lobbyists opposed to this legislation represent simply do not want to have to deal with the competition that will result from other outlets being able to sell wine. Grocery sales of wine will not only cause the price of wine to drop, but will very likely expand the varieties of wine, both domestic and foreign, which are available to Tennesseans. At present, if I want a really good wine, I have to wait until I take a trip to Kentucky or Ohio to get it. The wines to be found at liquor stores in Morristown, while certainly passable for taking with a meal, are not befitting a decent Christmas party-and they are entirely predictable. The sale of wine in grocery stores would likely cause liquor store owners to invest in the expansion of their wine stock or lose customers.

Obviously, the Liquor Lobby isn't interested in delivering a quality selection to their customers, merely in maintaining a monopoly on the sale of wine.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

The Speaker Pro Tempore

Perhaps the greatest test of whether the new majority Leadership in the Tennessee House is truly committed to changing the culture of the Plaza will be the people that are appointed to key Leadership positions. If anyone who is appointed to a critical position can be seen to waver on the fundamental message of conservatism, the Democrats in the General Assembly can and will use this inconsistency to their political advantage. The possibility of an inconsistent message coming from House Leadership is precisely what makes the idea that Rep. Steve McDaniel may be appointed Speaker Pro Tempore so troubling.

Representative McDaniel, it should be recalled, was a supporter of the income tax. We delude ourselves if we believe that the Democrats will be intellectually honest about their feelings regarding an income tax in this State. They collectively realize that the income tax was then and still remains the biggest political football in Tennessee, and it is one that the Democrats can try to use to defeat candidates. Their leaders remember all too well that it was the income tax fight during the Sundquist Administration and legislative candidates' support or opposition to an income tax that got many of them beaten. Nevermind that many Democrats secretly favor an income tax, but because of political considerations, they will never admit this. Had one passed during the Sundquist Administration, Democrats who like income taxes would be looking for ways to blame Republicans for it while cozying up to Tennesseans for "Fair Taxation," an organization many Democrats already patronize.

McDaniel may have changed his position on the income tax, but we can rest assured that this won't matter to the Democrats. If McDaniel becomes Speaker Pro Tempore, the Democrats will likely say "the Republicans promised change, but they have given you more of the same."

Further, Steve McDaniel has been a supporter in the past of current Democratic House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh. While it is absolutely necessary for Jason Mumpower to negotiate with the Naifeh boys in order to insure that a Republican is elected Speaker (and most likely that the Republican in question is him), the key House Leadership positions should go to Republicans who have been loyal to the Leadership and to the Party in the House.

Two years ago, when Jason Mumpower became Leader, he asked his colleagues in the House as well as those of us in the party grassroots to give him united support despite the fact that a candidate that so many of the grassroots supported, Bill Dunn, was defeated. I can't speak for his House colleagues, but I certainly gave Mumpower the support he asked for. I am and have been a loyal Republican, and I have bitten the bullet on a number of occasions in order to foster a spirit of cooperation so that, in my own small way, by not writing here every time that Mumpower did something that got my goat, I might be helping bring a majority about. Many Republican members of the House who supported Rep. Dunn also have come together in unity to fight for a majority, and their reward could be to see a man as Speaker Pro Tempore who has not shared the same loyalty to Republican Leadership in the past that was asked of many members.

A good test of Steve McDaniel's loyalty would be for someone to run against McDaniel for Speaker Pro Tempore who is a more loyal Republican, and for that person to beat McDaniel in Caucus. Will McDaniel be willing to support that person as Speaker Pro Tempore under those circumstances? If not, it says that McDaniel's loyalty is conditional. If he were to support someone who defeated him in Caucus, we can safely re-examine McDaniel's "Naifeh Republican" status.

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The Future of Conservatism


The future of the Conservative Movement in America after the 2008 General Elections. Adam Graham joins the discussion.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Thief In the Night

I Thessalonians 5:1-6:

But of the times and moments, brethren, you need not, that we should write to you; For yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord shall so come, as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, peace and security; then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as the pains upon her that is with child, and they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. For all you are the children of light, and children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do; but let us watch, and be sober.

As the Liturgical Year draws to a close, the readings for Mass as well as for the Divine Office take a very serious turn toward the end of days and the idea that the Lord will return in Glory and that all of humanity will be made to give an account before God of our individual doings in this life. In the above reading, St. Paul reminds us that the coming of the Lord will occur so suddenly that it will catch us off guard. Christ himself alludes to the reality that when He returns, we will be going about life as usual, and many will make the mistake of believing that because nothing dramatic seems to be happening, the Lord does not draw nigh.

The truth of the matter, of course, is that Catholics as a whole are uncomfortable speaking about the End Times or eschatology. Some act as though the notion that Christ will return and that there will be an end of the world as we know it is foreign to Catholic thought or theology, or that it is not Catholic doctrine. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Church does not embrace the idea that we as a people are going to be "raptured" away from tribulation, even the final tribulation. In 2,000 years, the Lord has not sealed the Church from being persecuted-largely because persecution is the greatest test of the purity of one's faith. In the early days of the Church, believers were often said to be genuine after having endured great persecutions and either lived to tell the tale or were martyred as witnesses to their faith. Those who broke under persecution were literally run through the gambit before being accepted back into the fold, because buckling to the enemies of the Church could put the Church in great danger. The false doctrine of the Rapture is a crutch for those believers who do not believe they can endure tribulation, so they place their hope in the notion that they will not be here to endure it.

No one knows the day or the hour of the Lord's return, but we do know that when that return occurs, we shall all stand before God to give an account of our life. One of the reasons that our bishops are so troubled by the outcome of the presidential election is that this country has elected a candidate whose social positions are not only opposite the Church, but whose very mentality about those issues places him at enmity with the Church herself. There is little doubt that Mr. Obama's election is the greatest singular evil that has ever befallen this country-but the die is cast.

All sin is forgivable, save blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and even the sin (and it is a sin) of voting for someone-regardless of political party-who believes it ought to be legal to murder unborn children. However, the worst judgment will fall on those who proclaim themselves believers but by their vote and actions encourage evil without repentance or regret. For just as it is a great mistake to proclaim a moral or ethical issue when there is not one, it is a far worse crime against both God and humanity to fail to confront moral and ethical issues in the public sphere when these issues do actually arise.

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