Saturday, December 27, 2008

Jefferson County Commission: The Grinch That Stole Christmas

I just received word of how much my monthly house payment will increase because of the completely unnecessary, foolhearty, shortsighted, and utterly uncreative collective governance of the Jefferson County Commission. Like many homeowners, my property taxes are figured into my monthly mortgage payment. I am utterly agog at the size of the increase, and I pray God I can afford it. How many other Jefferson Countians find themselves in this situation?

County Mayor Alan Palmieri was correct earlier this year when he said that the County Commission failed to consider options other than a tax increase. Yes, I understand that there are circumstances beyond the county's control when an increase is necessary, but a tax hike should always be a means of last resort to obtain funds. The actions of Commission over the last two years show that a tax increase has become nothing more than routine.

Not every Commissioner advocates this mentality toward the taxpayers, so I will avoid making the indictment that all Commissioners have a careless attitude toward the common resources of the people of this county. It does not show empathy or sympathy with those outside of government who work for everything they have and and are proud of their small contribution to the community to view a tax increase as the only reasonable means to balance the books every year. The Commissioners aren't worried, so why should the people be?

This latest tax hike is a precise testimony as to why it ought to be at the very least an ordinance of Jefferson County, and at most the law in the State of Tennessee, that no property tax increase can be enacted without the consent of property owners in a referendum.

The Jefferson County Commission is truly the Grinch That Stole Christmas.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Trip to the Park

Nicole and I are tentatively planning to make our annual trip to Dollywood today. We decided to make today the day because it gives us an opportunity to see the Christmas decorations at the park. I am rather curious what the crowds will be like in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge today.

We both hope and pray that all of you, my loyal readers, have had and continue to have a very Merry Christmas. Everyone should know that you are all in my prayers, even those of you who have decided that you don't care much for me.



Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Nativity of the Lord


In the 5199th year of the creation of the world, from the time when in the beginning God created heaven and earth.

From the flood, the 2957th year.

From the birth of Abraham our father, the 2015th year.

From Moses and the going-out of the people of Israel from Egypt, the 1510th year.

From the anointing of David as king, the 1032nd year.

In the 65th week according to the prophecy of Daniel.

In the 194th Olympiad.

From the founding of the city of Rome, the 752nd year.

In the 42nd year of the rule of Octavian Augustus, when the whole world was at peace.

In the sixth age of the world.

JESUS CHRIST, the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to sanctify the world by His most merciful coming, having been conceived by the Holy Ghost, and nine months having passed since His conception, was born in Bethlehem of Judah of the Virgin Mary, HAVING BECOME MAN.


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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And It Came To Pass...

Luke 2:1-20:

And it came to pass, that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David, To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.

And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear. And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:

For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will. And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath showed to us.

And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child.And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

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Remembering Christmas

Today, a lot of people will scurry about to try and get the last of their Christmas shopping done, at stores which are entirely too crowded for both man and beast. No small number of these people will be finishing Christmas lists a mile long, buying for everyone, and even for some folks they don't know all that well.

Don't get me wrong, I am no Scrooge:

I believe very much in the spirit of Christmas, and in gift giving and the thankful receiving of gifts, as well as in making provision this time of year for those less fortunate than ourselves-if there is one thing I have learned over the course of my life it is to be thankful to God for what blessings that I have, because there is always someone to be found who is less fortunate or worse off than myself or my family. However, we too easily forget when giving and receiving the reason why we do these things, and we shouldn't do them for the sake of feeling compelled.

Christmas is a time, we should be reminded, when we not only celebrate the birth of the Saviour of the world, but also when we are reminded of the facts of that birth-that his parents were left needy and out in the cold, going only to a stable cave where animals were kept. We have a romantic vision, I think, of the manger and of the scene that night...but the hardship that the Holy Family was subjected to becomes far more clear when we render the passage this way in our minds:

...And she wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a feeding trough. The Creator of the Universe stooped so low as to spend his first night in the world laying in a bin of animal feed, likely some very rough hay.

I've had some thick Christmases and some thin ones, this year being among the latter because of some very unexpected financial difficulties-we just had to replace a vehicle and Nicole recently had back surgery. However, I have never had a Christmas pass without having a very good meal, usually more than one present of some kind from various people in my life who care enough to think of me this time of year, and a lot of general good cheer, no matter the circumstances of the year just passed.

There are those in the world who will not enjoy those things today and tomorrow, and those who will wonder where their next meal is coming from, and there are people with no one to pray for them. There are people, just as was the case on that night 2,000 years ago, who have no room for them at the inn. This is what we should remember when giving and receiving at Christmas.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Twelve Days of Redneck Christmas

If, like me, a few of these Christmas gifts actually sound pretty appealing to you, you might be a Redneck

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The Blogging Treasurer

An anonymous commenter floated this rumor about the appointment process for State Treasurer as it relates to Vance Cheek, Jr. :

I heard that Vance was hit hard before he ever went in because of his blogging, this has been a contention with Stacey for some time.

Vance informs The World that his blogging was never mentioned before or after the hearing and interview process. I suspected that it may not be, since Vance's blogging was always infrequent and was pretty much a party-line blog, and from a Tennessee political point of view, it was rather innocuous.

Perhaps the most important news on the Treasurer's race is that Vance Cheek's bid appears to be gaining support. Ira Brody has been criss-crossing the State trying to drum up support, and we've heard from a pretty reliable source that Brody was in East Tennessee some days ago and ran up against "a brick wall." Brody tried to get commitments from several East Tennessee Representatives who refused to commit, and a few even let it be known that they were supporting Cheek. Rumor has it that Brody couldn't get Kent Williams to commit, of all people.

Perhaps Ira Brody will not have as easy a road as what he has been led to believe.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Mannheim Steamroller

Some beautiful light synchronization to Carol of the Bells

The Hallelujah Chorus

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Phil Needs Someone Who Knows What They Are Doing

From The Tennessean comes word from the Governor that he wants the General Assembly to appoint a State Treasurer who "knows what they're doing:"

"My only concern is that there could not be a worse time in recent history to
put someone who doesn't know what they're doing, particularly in one of these
two financial jobs, comptroller and treasurer," he said. "Please give me some
people who know what they're doing here."

The Governor wants someone who knows what they are doing. Does this mean that he wants a new Treasurer who is more intelligent than he is? Perhaps the Governor would prefer someone who is intellectually stable enough to tell him "Governor, quite frankly, sir, you are full of excrement" for proposing that it was financially sound to enact a Statewide smoking ban while also levying an increase in the tobacco tax to fund education and other State programs.

It could be that the Honorable Phil Governor wants someone who will not propose handing hundreds of thousands of State dollars to every legislator in the General Assembly to hand out like candy, primarily as a way to spend the State's $1.2 billion surplus, which thanks to the august management of the Honorable Phil Governor is-according to his projection-now a billion dollar shortfall.

The Governor also must mean that he wants a Treasurer who will tell him not to spend millions of dollars in State money on a party bunker during a mild economic Depression.

Yes, the Governor can be assured that we will send him someone who knows what they are doing.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Luke 1:26-36:

And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.

Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and
shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: Because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Here is a depiction of the Annunciation of the Lord from the great epic film about the life of Christ, Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth, a film so highly acclaimed in its day that Pope Paul VI said that it was to be seen as recommended viewing for all Catholics.

One must wonder how Mary's vision might be received in this day and age. The historians and chroniclers of the first century leave us with the strong impression that Mary was, at the time, a girl of 14 or 15 years old.

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