Saturday, December 20, 2008

Top Ten Least-Popular Christmas Carols

The top ten least-known and least-popular Christmas carols, courtesy of David Letterman:

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Friday, December 19, 2008

The Intolerance of the Left

Well, that didn't take long. Gay "rights" activists and other Leftist groups are angry with Barack Obama because Obama decided to invite Saddleback Church's Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inaugural ceremony. These people are angry because Warren, like most evangelical leaders, supported California's Proposition 8 and opposes so-called gay "marriage."

News flash: So do many Americans, including some who voted for Senator Obama. The President-Elect promised to reach across ideological lines and try to find ways to connect with the people who oppose him or his agenda. There is probably no better way to do that than to invite Rick Warren to pray at the swearing-in. Some pro-life and other conservative groups are equally upset that Rick Warren accepted Obama's invitation because they fear the message that such an appearance might send to the religious conservative community. Recall that Christ ate with tax collectors and sinners, and when he did so it was usually with a view to teaching them a lesson through his actions. Pastor Warren should not be asked to hide his spiritual light under a bushel merely because of the people that he will be shining his light upon.

Regardless of Leftist dilusions of some non-existant grand consensus surrounding Obama, both the county-by-county maps as well as the popular vote speak of a country that is very deeply divided, just as with the previous two elections. The primary difference is that this time, the swing States went blue. Even in those States that Obama carried that went Republican in the last two elections, one notices a clear division between urban and rural, and faithful and secular. Barack Obama must attempt to govern amidst this very stark political and social contrast, and he at least must show that while he does not agree with his opposition, he does respect those of us who were and are opposed to him.

It speaks volumes about the bigotry of some on the other side that they cannot see the wisdom behind the Warren invitation.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

PAUL WEYRICH 1942-2008

I am almost left without words, because the conservative movement has lost one of its greatest champions. All of us who fight for the conservative cause in today's political world would likely not be here were it not for Paul Weyrich.

Weyrich was the founder of the Heritage Foundation, Chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, and he was a man who was conservative before it was cool. His legacy began when he met Joe Coors (yes, that Coors family) while he was working as press secretary for former Colorado Senator Gordon Allot. Coors wanted to spend money to advance the conservative movement. It was Paul Weyrich who devised the means of that advancement.

If William F. Buckley Jr. was the father of modern conservatism, Weyrich was the political prophet of that message, sent to transform conservative thought into political action. It was Weyrich who showed and proved that people of faith can and should be involved in public life, and Weyrich who pushed the idea that the Republican Party was the vehicle through which people of faith could take an active role in government. There would have been no Moral Majority, no Christian Coalition, no 1994 without Paul Weyrich.

Everything the conservative movement is and has become in the modern era owes something to Paul Weyrich.

Eternal Rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual Light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the Faithful Departed, through the mercy of God, rest in Peace. Amen.

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A Ponzi Scheme?

It should be recalled how many times during the last four years our friends on the Left bemoaned the increasing national debt, and the number of Democrats who declared that we were spending ourselves into oblivion. These statements of concern did and do reflect a real problem, and Republicans' refusal to act like Republicans and conservatives has done more damage than anything else to sully the GOP political brand nationally. The party opposite only seems to care about deficit spending when they aren't the ones in power to do the spending.

Now that the Democrats control government at the federal level almost completely, they are ready to spend our money like they earned it themselves:

Eager to jolt a worsening economy back to life, President-elect Barack
Obama's aides are assembling a two-year stimulus package that could cost nearly
$1 trillion, dwarfing last spring's tax rebates and rivaling drastic government
actions to fight the Great Depression.

Obama is promoting a recovery plan that would feature spending on roads and
other infrastructure projects, energy-efficient government buildings, new and
renovated schools and environmentally friendly technologies.

There also would be some form of tax relief, according to the Obama
team, which is well aware of the political difficulty of pushing such a large
package through Congress, even in a time of recession. Any tax cuts would be
aimed at middle- and lower-income taxpayers, and aides have said there would be
no tax increases for wealthy Americans.

As readers know, I am all for instituting tax cuts at every level of government wherever it is possible to enact them, because I believe that lower taxes lead to economic growth. However, these numbers don't add up. You can't add $1 trillion to the federal budget out of nowhere without finding a way to pay for it, and that means that either someone's taxes will go up, or the federal deficit will balloon to unthought-of levels. It reminds me of Bill Clinton promising "I will not raise taxes on the middle class to pay for these programs," and then humming a different tune once in office after the cost of his economic plan became crystal clear. The Clinton Ponzi scheme ultimately led to a Republican Congress in 1994. Because of the sour economy, the President-Elect is hoping he gets a pass:

But the president-elect sees his plan as far more than fending off the wolf. He has said repeatedly that in crisis, he sees opportunity -- to rebuild a national infrastructure that has been neglected for decades and to make down payments on policy initiatives that would have taken years to negotiate.

Everyone agrees that we are in a real economic rut, even though we may disagree on how to fix it, and even on the cause of the Depression. However, the important thing to remember is that no nation has ever spent itself into prosperity. Despite the wishful thinking of some in the party opposite, it literally took war mobilization to get the country out of the last Depression, and we did not mobilize for war as a nation for war to be an effective economic stimulus (we have waged war without mobilizing for it as a people), and if Barack Obama remains true to his promise, we won't be on a wartime footing. Hence, we cannot fight our way out of this Depression, so the Democrats' solution is to spend our way out.

Who will pay for this, when even the wealthy cannot afford luxuries the way that they used to, and are not buying them?

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Process

By now most of my readers know that I have favorites in the contested Constitutional Officers' races before the Tennessee General Assembly-and in the contest for Treasurer I have a particular favorite. I not only show such favoritism because the person in question is a friend whose integrity and passion for Tennessee can't be questioned, but because the friend who I support is an unwavering conservative.

Yesterday, I spoke with a source up at the Capitol who flatly said that my favorite didn't have a chance, but his reasoning wasn't that the other major candidate is more qualified (he does have an extremely impressive resume), but that the other candidate has given quite a lot of money to certain candidates and to the Republican Party, and so as a result, the other major candidate is likely to be elected. It was with great sadness that an assessment of the seriousness of the process was also delivered by this source:

"Most legislators on both sides of the aisle neither know nor care what it is that these
constitutional officers actually do every day. They do know who had given them
the most money in the last election. For that reason, your candidate has very
little chance to win."

These were the kinds of practices of the previous majority, of course. Overlooking those who didn't give money or play political ball was the common practice of Jimmy Naifeh, and one would hope that the joint Caucus hearings that were just held involved something more than just a show for the press and the camera. There is also the legitimate reality that those asking the questions clearly did have an idea of the duties of these constitutional officers.

What was disturbing, however, was that this was an open hearing where Senator Norris and Representative Mumpower acknowledged the presence of other members of Caucus and even invited them to join the questioning panel-yet few if any did. Were I present and an elected member of the House, I would want to question potential officers so that I had a better idea of how to vote, and so that my constituents know that I am taking the process seriously.

We do want to take the process seriously, don't we?


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Constitutional Officer Hearings

At present I am taking the time while working to view yesterday's hearings by the joint assembly of the Tennessee House and Senate Republican Caucuses. The thing that I find most encouraging about this process is that open hearings are being held by the GOP so that people can view the qualifications of these candidates. The most important thing about this process is that if the party opposite should return to control, they will never again be able to chose Constitutional Officers under such a cloud of secrecy as was done before. The Republican leadership in the House and Senate has set a gold standard for transparency.

I thought Vance Cheek conducted himself extremely well in his interview for Treasurer. The fact that he has served on the Claims Commission as well as having helped balanced a Tennessee city budget without a tax increase. There is little doubt that Ira Brody has an impressive resume, and perhaps my biases are showing, but Brody makes me uneasy. I know Vance personally, and so I know that his only goal in applying to be State Treasurer is to be of service to the great State that we both love. If Vance loses, he will go back to Johnson City and practice law and serve the people on the Johnson City Commission. Ira Brody seems like he is trying to advance himself as a candidate for public office and that he is trying to use the Treasurer's office to achieve those ends. I don't doubt that Vance Cheek will probably seek higher public office in the future, but he has already served in public office in East Tennessee and he doesn't need to be State Treasurer to help him along.

While I thought all of the candidates for Secretary of State were good candidates, I think the top two are former State Senator Jim Bryson and former Representative Tre Hargett. Of those two, I am most impressed with Bryson because of his in-State experience. As he said, he knows Tennessee as only someone who has run for Statewide office can know it.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Blagojevich and Obama


FROM LAST NIGHT: David Oatney and Adam Graham again join together for a joint edition of THE TRUTH AND HOPE REPORT and OATNEY ON THE AIR, discussing the Blagojevich Bribery scandal in Illinois, the Obama reaction, and the President-Elect's new Middle East/Israel policy.

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Right and Wrong Reform

Jefferson County residents who read the Standard Banner with even a passing level of interest may have taken notice of the ongoing discussion among those in county government about the need for reform of the Jefferson County Commission. One solution being promoted by Jefferson County Mayor Alan Palmieri is that there should be both term limits and a reduction in the size of County Commission. Does this sound familiar?

It should be noted here that generally speaking, I like Palmieri and the way that he governs. He constantly demonstrates that he has the common sense and the political brains that some members of County Commission lack, and he has always been willing to stand up to Commission's nonsensical taxation and spending policy. He is unafraid to use the veto pen, but I am sure that it frustrates Mayor Palmieri when his often-justified vetoes are overridden, such as when he vetoed Commission's latest property tax increase to no avail.

Although Commission is in dire need of a real reforming shakeup, I do not believe that the solution to the problems of Jefferson County Government is to effectively disenfranchise people by decreasing their county legislative representation. Reducing the size of County Commission means that it will make it more expensive to run for Commission-and in Jefferson County, Commissioners don't make a salary, just a stipend (I believe it is $200 a month)-so that means that the ability to run may be restricted to all but a few. Perhaps more importantly, people will be less likely to know their leaders from seeing them in the community daily, and Commissioners will know the communities and neighborhoods they serve far less because they'll have to cover so many more people, and likely a larger geographic area.

These changes can't take place at all, however, unless Jefferson County drafts and passes a county charter. There could be some benefits to a charter for Jefferson County, provided the right provisions are in such a document. If, however, a charter government leads Jefferson County down the same road of corruption as our neighbor to the west, I am not certain that a charter is the kind of reform that Jefferson Countians would want.

If I could insert any provision into a county charter it would be that no property tax increase shall take effect that has been approved by County Commission unless that increase shall have been ratified by a free vote of the people. If the county wants more of our money and they have a good reason for taking it, let them make their case before the voters and campaign for it. Voters do pass tax increases, as Jefferson County voters passed a sales tax hike last August to retire school indebtedness. However, placing property tax increases before the voters would place those proposals under the kind of scrutiny that they most deserve, and no longer would County Commission be able to pass those proposals every time they take a notion.

No charter can become effective without the election of a Charter Commission to draft the document, and then the approval of the instrument by the people of Jefferson County in a referendum.

If Commission does indeed move to draft a charter at some point, I may seek a seat on the Charter Commission in order to help press the rights of taxpayers.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Advent Trials

This Advent has proven to be a time of immense trial for our family and home. Yet I am reminded that we have had it far worse than we do at present. The Advent of the Lord is not meant to always be a time of ease. As Americans, we tend merely to view this time as a time to get all of our shopping done. We forget-even Christians-that this period should be a time of prayer, reflection, and preparation for the coming of the Lord.

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Third Sunday of Advent

John 1:6-28:

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light. That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John beareth witness of him, and crieth out, saying: This was he of whom I spoke: He that shall come after me, is preferred before me: because he was before me.

And of his fulness we all have received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him, to ask him: Who art thou? And he confessed, and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ.

And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered: No. They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? He said: I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias. And they that were sent, were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet?

John answered them, saying: I baptize with water; but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not. The same is he that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. These things were done in Bethania, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

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