Sunday, November 30, 2008

NEW STUDY FINDS AMERICANS IGNORANT OF HISTORY AND ECONOMICS

Third Intercollegiate Studies Institute Report on Civic Literacy Suggests There is an Epidemic of Historical, Political and Economic Ignorance in America; Colleges Must be Main Part of Cure

Washington, D.C., November 20, 2008 – Are most people, including college graduates, civically illiterate? Do elected officials know even less than most citizens about civic topics such as history, government, and economics? The answer is yes on both counts according to a new study by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI). More than 2,500 randomly selected Americans took ISI’s basic 33question test on civic literacy and more than 1,700 people failed, with the average score 49 percent, or an “F.” Elected officials scored even lower than the general public with an average score of 44 percent and only 0.8 percent (or 21) of all surveyed earned an “A.”

Even more startling is the fact that over twice as many people know Paula Abdul was a judge on American Idol than know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Complete results from ISI’s third study on American civic literacy are being released today in a report entitled Our Fading Heritage: Americans Fail a Basic Test on Their History and Institutions. The new study follows up two previous reports from ISI’s National Civic Literacy Board that revealed a major void in civic knowledge among the nation’s college students. This report goes beyond the college crowd however, examining the civic literacy of everyday citizens,
including selfidentified elected officials. But according to ISI, the blame and solution again lie at the doorstep of the nation’s colleges.

“There is an epidemic of economic, political, and historical ignorance in our country,” says Josiah Bunting, III, Chairman of ISI’s National Civic Literacy Board. “It is disturbing enough that the general public failed ISI’s civic literacy test, but when you consider the even more dismal scores of elected officials, you have to be concerned. How can political leaders make informed decisions if they don’t understand the American experience? Colleges can, and should, play an important role in curing this national epidemic of ignorance.”

A large majority of respondents agree colleges should prepare citizen leaders by teaching America’s history, key texts and institutions. Seventy two percent of respondents with a high school diploma believe colleges should teach our heritage as do 74 percent with graduate degrees. However, the impact of college in advancing civic knowledge, as evidenced in ISI’s first two studies, is minimal. In the new study, this trend is confirmed. The average score among those who ended their formal education with a bachelor’s degree is 57 percent or an “F”, which is only 13 percentage points higher than the average score of 44 percent earned by those who hold high school diplomas. And when you hold other noncollege influences constant, the gain from a college degree drops to about 6 percent, quite consistent with past ISI findings.

Further demonstrating the minimal influence of college in advancing civic literacy, ISI discovered that the civic knowledge gained from the combination of engaging in frequent conversations about public affairs, reading about current events and history and participating in advanced civic activities is greater than the gain from an expensive bachelor’s degree alone. Conversely, talking on the phone, watching owned or rented movies and monitoring TV news broadcasts and documentaries diminish a respondent’s civic literacy.

“People may be listening to television experts talk about economic bailouts and the platforms of political candidates, but they apparently have little idea what our basic economic and political institutions are,” observes Dr. Richard Brake, ISI’s Director of University Stewardship. “Our study raises significant questions about whether citizens who voted in this year’s landmark presidential election really understand how our system of representative democracy works.”

For example, Brake points out that less than half of all Americans can name all three branches of government. And only 21 percent know the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, which President elect Barack Obama cited in his acceptance speech on Election night.

Following is a sampling of other results from several basic survey questions:
  • 30 percent of elected officials do not know that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are the inalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence; and 20 percent falsely believe that the Electoral College “was established to supervise the first presidential debates”
  • Almost 40 percent of all respondents falsely believe the president has the power to declare war
  • 40 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree do not know business profit equals revenue minus expenses
  • Only 54 percent with a bachelor’s degree correctly define free enterprise as a system in which individuals create, exchange and control goods and resources
  • 20.7 percent of Americans falsely believe that the Federal Reserve can increase or decrease government spending
“The nation’s ignorance of the kind of knowledge necessary for informed and responsible citizenship—and the failure of our nation’s colleges to effectively address and fix this problem— would certainly be unacceptable to our founding fathers, who believed that the university would create leaders to preserve liberty,” asserts Dr. Brake. “Our report demonstrates that Americans today expect no less from our colleges than our founders did.”

The report calls upon elected officials, administrators, trustees, faculty donors, taxpayers and parents to reevaluate collegiate curricula and standards for accountability. Some of the questions ISI believes need to be asked are the following:
o Do colleges require courses in American history, politics, economics and other core areas?
o Do colleges assess the civic or overall learning of their graduates?
o Do elected officials link college appropriations to real measures of civic or overall learning?

“Citizenship is a lifelong commitment,” says Bunting. “Colleges need to do their part to help young citizens keep their commitment. In the process, they will be helping to preserve the civic vitality of our nation.”

The ISI test was administered in conjunction with Dr. Kenneth Dautrich of the University of Connecticut and Braun Research, Inc. All 33 questions and ISI’s Our Fading Heritage report are
available at http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/.

About the Intercollegiate Studies Institute: The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) (www.isi.org) was founded in 1953 to further in successive generations of American college youth a better understanding of the economic, political, and ethical values that sustain a free and humane society. With ISI’s volunteer representatives at over 900 colleges, and with more than 65,000 ISI student and faculty members on virtually every campus in the country, ISI directs tens of thousands of young people each year to a wide array of educational programs that deepen their understanding of the American ideal of ordered liberty.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Perfect Thanksgiving

By Erick D. Snider (link)

A Conservative's Guide to the Perfect Thanksgiving

Pause and reflect on the first Thanksgiving, way back in 1621. The savage Indians, tragically unacquainted with God, were so grateful to the Pilgrims for bringing them the light that they prepared a feast for them. In return, the Pilgrims taught the Indians to abandon their primitive ways and embrace Christianity. And thanks to those early settlers converting or killing everyone who opposed them, America has been a Christian nation ever since!

A Liberal's Guide to the Perfect Thanksgiving

Be sure to pause for a moment and reflect on the first Thanksgiving, when America's legacy of arrogance and aggression was just beginning. Unbidden and unwelcome, our forefathers took food from passive Native Americans whose tribes had existed in complete peace and harmony for hundreds of years without a single inter-tribal conflict. In return, we introduced them to guns, deprivation, and death.

Comment
I wish I had written this. Click the above link for the complete article. It is very clever.
Happy Thanksgiving!

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Trade versus Protectionism

Walter E. Williams, Wednesday, November 26, 2008

There's a growing anti-trade sentiment in our country. Much of the dialogue is grossly misinformed. Let's try to untangle it a bit with a few questions and observations. (link)

Comment:
Since the economic downturn I also have observed the growing protectionist sentiment. Even among people who I suspect are normally conservative you hear comments about how we need to "buy American" and "stop sending jobs overseas."

Last week I attended a screening of a documentary, I.O.U.S.A. This film addressed the problem of the enormous debt burden of the US government as well as American households. About 150 people or so attended the event. Following the film there was a lively discussion that lasted about forty-five minutes. The solution offered by several participants was to buy American made products. Some, went as far as to suggest we should buy locally produced products whenever possible. Not just "buy American" but "buy Tennessee." I fear that as this economic downturn continues that we could see protectionism take on a patriotic fervor. A resort to protectionism will grantee that the current economic difficulties become a world-wide, long-lasting depression.

Protectionism is the worse possible response to the current crisis. I hope rational thought will prevail and the new administration and Congress does not give in to the rising demand for protectionist policies.

This is a good article by Walter Williams. Please read it. One argument he makes is that contrary to popular opinion, we are not losing our manufacturing base. We just make different stuff and it takes fewer people to make it. Manufacturing output is actually growing. People seem to know this in agriculture. It takes a lot fewer farm workers to produce the food we need and markets adjust, yet many people seem to think that they should be entitled to the same manufacturing jobs that their daddy had.

One argument you often here is the demand for retaliatory trade barriers. This is often the disguised as a call for "Fair Trade." Williams makes this argument:

Japanese protectionist restrictions on rice imports force Japanese consumers to
pay three or four times the world price for rice. How much sense does it make
for Congress to retaliate against Japan by imposing restrictions on their
products thereby forcing American consumers, say Lexus buyers, to pay higher
prices? Should our rule be: If one country screws its citizens we should
retaliate by screwing our citizens?
Bad times can bring out the worst in people and people often look for scapegoats. When you combine this impulse to look for places to lay the blame combined with economic ignorance, we may see a demand from the people for the government to really screw us and adopt policies that will grantee this crisis last a long, long time. I hope our representatives are a lot smarter than the people they represent.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

The God problem


Call them “values voters” or “social conservatives” or “the Christian right” or whatever term may you may wish to use to refer to them, but I believe that that faction of the Republican Party is becoming a drag on the party and it is time their influence was lessened.

Ever since about 1979 when Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority, the religious right has been an important segment of the Republican Party. The party’s victories for the last thirty years would likely not have occurred without this faction. They consistently vote, contribute and volunteer. But, I now suspect that they drive more people away than they attract. The identity of the Republican Party as the party of prudes and religious fanatics is harming the party.

Now don’t get me wrong. I oppose gay marriage, I would like to see abortion restricted, and I respect tradition; so I guess to a certain extend, that makes me a “values voters” also. However, I am just not comfortable with a lot of the religious right. I do not want creationism taught as science. I think if science can be advanced by stem cell research using embryos that are to be discarded anyway, then we should do it. While I want my local schools to acknowledge Christmas and I think it is OK if a Christmas carol is sang at school or played by a high school marching band, I think we should try to keep Christmas primarily secular in the public square and not use it as a government sponsored opportunity to proselytize.

It is more than a disagreement over specific issues that make me uncomfortable with the religious right. I am just not comfortable with people who think God is on their side. I am OK with people who talk to God; people that God talks to concern me.

The religious right often appears angry, judgmental, intolerant, and self-righteous. Also, I fear that if they had their way they would like to do more than they now do to impose their morality. I suspect that they would drape all the art that featured the nude human form, they would mandate modesty, make all TV safe for their nine year-olds to watch, lock up homosexuals, ban co-habitation of unmarried people, close stores on Sunday, and ban the sale of alcohol. I bet most of those people who pressure politicians to “clean up the city” are religious Republicans.

Also, the religious right folks are just not a lot of fun. If I was a non-political young person and could attend either the Republican Convention or the Democratic Convention, which one would I choose to attend? Somehow, I just think the Democrats would be a lot more fun.

On election night the Republicans unexpectantly won both houses of the Tennessee State legislature. At the Williamson County Republican Party election night party, those attending joined hands and had a prayer of thanksgiving. I would rather be at a party where victory calls for breaking out the Champaign.

I suspect that there are people who are, or would be, economic conservatives, and national defense conservatives, and moderate social conservatives but who are not Republicans. These are people who are essentially secular and cannot feel at home at a gathering dominated by people who take their religion so seriously. Face it, there are a lot more secularist and people who take their religion with a grain of salt than there are devout Christians. If the Republican Party becomes the Christian Party, we will loose.

I don’t like the blending of the sacred and the political. I would prefer to let the Church concern itself with man’s eternal soul and my political party concern itself with this world and the hear and now. Recently there has developed a modest movement of a more liberal branch of evangelical Christians. I think this is a welcome development. We should welcome the separating of religious faith from political affiliation. It will be good for the Party if evangelicals are not automatically assumed to be Republicans. If a Bible-believing, teetotaler, praying-in-tongues person might also be a Democrat that is a good thing.

Now the Democrats get all or the hedonist and the Republicans get all of the real Christians. Let some to the Bible-thumpers become Democrats. I will trade you one Christians liberal for two hedonists who want to cut taxes.

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Giving up on God

By Kathleen ParkerWednesday, The Washington Post, November 19, 2008; 12:00 AM

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D. (link)

Comment: This is an important article on the future of the Republican Party. My commentary on the topic will follow.

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Courage Under Fire

I watch a lot of movies but only occasionally find one I like well enough to recommend. This is one. It is one of those movies that when it ended, I didn't want to immediately do anything else. I wanted to just sit and watch the final credits play and come down from the emotional ride and contemplate what I had just watched. The movie is both heartbreaking and exhilarating.

The final scene of the movie has Colonel Serling standing before the headstone of Captain Walden in Arlington Cemetery. In the voice of Captain Walden, the letter she wrote to her parents to be read if she died in battle is recited. This may bring a lump to your throat and a tear to your eye.

Below is a synopsis of the story provided by the Blockbuster website.

A soldier discovers how elusive the truth can be in this first major film about America's role in the Gulf War. Lt. Col. Nathaniel Serling (Denzel Washington) was the commander of a unit during Operation Desert Storm who mistakenly ordered the destruction of what he believed to be an enemy tank, only to discover that it actually held U.S. soldiers, including a close friend. Since then, Serling has been an emotional wreck, drinking heavily and allowing his marriage to teeter on the brink of collapse. As a means of redeeming himself, Serling is given a new assignment by his superior, Gen. Hershberg (Michael Moriarty). Capt. Karen Walden (Meg Ryan) was a helicopter pilot who died in battle during the Iraqi conflict, and the White House has proposed that Walden be posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Serling is asked to investigate Walden's actions on the field of battle, but he quickly discovers that no two stories about her are quite the same; Ilario (Matt Damon) says Walden acted heroically and sacrificed herself to save the others in her company, while Monfriez (Lou Diamond Phillps) claims she was a coward who was attempting to surrender to enemy troops. Meanwhile, reporter Tony Gartner (Scott Glenn) is hounding Serling, trying to get the inside story on Walden and on Serling's own difficulties. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

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Friday, November 21, 2008

The shocking Sarah Palin turkey story

The folks over at Huffington Post are shocked, shocked I tell you, that Sarah Palin would be interviewed while turkeys are slaughtered in the background.

Here is the story:

Some videos you just have to see to believe. On Thursday, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin appeared in Wasilla in order to pardon a local turkey in anticipation of Thanksgiving. This proved to be a slightly absurd but ultimately unremarkable event. But what came next was positively surreal. After the pardon Palin proceeded to do an interview with a local TV station while the turkeys were being SLAUGHTERED in the background!!

Seemingly oblivious to the gruesomeness going on over her shoulder, she carries on talking for over three minutes. Watch the video below to see for yourself. Be warned, it's kind of gruesome.

They just can't believe it. It is "positively surreal". Huffington even has to put "slaughtered" in all caps. They have to use two exclamation points to make their point. It is "gruesome." OK, watch if for yourself.



I am really not grossed out. I am not shocked.

I did not grow up on a farm, but we had a couple acres and raised chickens and pigs. I never witnessed the slaughter of the pigs, but saw the dead carcasses after they had been killed and cleaned. I have eaten the sausage and bacon and ham of the pigs I fed every morning and enjoyed it. I have caught chickens and cut their heads off for my mom to cook for dinner. My classmates were farm kids and raised calves for their 4-H project. They fed them and groomed them and showed them at the county fair where they were sold at action to become meat.

I never went hunting myself; my dad was not a hunter. But, I grew up with people who regularly went hunting. The seasons of the year were rabbit season, and deer season, and dove season.

I think that Sarah Palin can give an interview in front of a man going about the business of killing turkeys and think nothing about it, is an indication of a cultural divide. I doubt people in Alaska think it is that unusual that animals are killed for food. It is probably something they take for granted. I doubt Sarah Palin has been socialized to be squeamish about it or be sensitive to the squeamishness of others. The fact that animals are killed for food is not something so strange for her or for many of us who grew up in rural areas. I know that fewer and fewer people have a connection to the food they eat, but guess what: that meat in the supermarket wrapped in cellophane and Styrofoam was once an animal. Shocking to discover, I know. I have known for a long time were meat comes from.

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Are the Good Times Really Over for Good

I wish it was Morning in America, but I keep wonderning if The Good Times are Really Over for Good. If seeing the film I.O.U.S.A doesn't depress you, then here is a theme song to go along with the movie. This ought to do it. If you would like to Just Stay Here and Drink, open a beer and sing along.

I wish a buck was still silver.
It was back when the country was strong.
Back before Elvis; before the Vietnam war came along.
Before The Beatles and "Yesterday",
When a man could still work, and still would.
Is the best of the free life behind us now?
Are the good times really over for good?

Are we rolling down hill like a snowball headed for hell?
With no kind of chance for the Flag or the Liberty bell.
Wish a Ford and a Chevy,
Could still last ten years, like they should.
Is the best of the free life behind us now?
Are the good times really over for good?

I wish coke was still cola,
And a joint was a bad place to be.
And it was back before Nixon lied to us all on TV.
Before microwave ovens,
When a girl could still cook and still would.
Is the best of the free life behind us now?
Are the good times really over for good?

Are we rolling down hill like a snowball headed for hell?
With no kind of chance for the Flag or the Liberty bell.
Wish a Ford and a Chevy,
Could still last ten years, like they should.
Is the best of the free life behind us now?
Are the good times really over for good?

Stop rolling down hill like a snowball headed for hell.
Stand up for the Flag and let's all ring the Liberty bell.
Let's make a Ford and a Chevy,
Stil last ten years, like they should.
The best of the free life is still yet to come,
The good times ain't over for good.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

I.O.U.S.A., One Nation, Under Stress, In Debt.

Last night I attended a special screening of a documentary film called I.O.U.S.A. The documentary was produced and directed by the award-winning team of Christine O'Malley and Patrick Creadon. Their most famous documentary is Wordplay which was a hit at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. It was about the editor of the New York Times crossword puzzle and was the second-highest gossing documentary of 2006 and won several awards.

The screening of I.O.U.S.A. was presented locally by Nashville Public Television and Nashville Public Library as part of the Independent Television Community Cinema. Prior to the screening was a wine and snack reception and following the showing was a group discussion led by a panel of prominent Nashvillians.

Prior to the event, I enjoyed pleasant chic-chat with interesting people along with the wine and cheese and after the showing, enjoyed the lively discussion.

This documentary examines the rapidly growing national debt and its consequences for the United States and its citizens. People interviewed in the film include Warren Buffett, Alan Greenspan, Paul O'Neill, Robert Rubin, and Paul Volcker. I already knew some of what the film presented but did not know just how gloomy of a situation we face. With charts and grafts and historical context, this film put the financial problem of the US’s debt in perspective.

The debt of United States is 8.7 Trillion dollars or about 64% of our 13.5 trillion dollar GDP. The level of debt to GDP however is not the real problem, disturbing though it may be. The real problem is the unfunded obligations for social security and Medicare, which amount to $53 trillion and getting greater all the time. Under the Bush Administration the problem was made much worse due to the passage of the Medicare drug benefit. With budget deficits and recent financial bailouts we are digging a deeper hole daily.

In addition to this enormous debt obligation of the United States, we have a huge trade deficit. Much of America’s debt, unlike in the past when American debt was held by Americans, is held by foreign nations. Also, individual American households are collectively debtors. For most of our history, American households saved money; now, Americans are deeply in debt with more and more people living beyond their means.

This film paints a disturbing picture. At the conclusion of the film you are urged to call your congressman and tell them to “do something.” If I have a criticism of the film, it is that it does not tell you what to tell your congressman to do. I think the film is very good at defining the problems but is short on providing solutions. There are no easy answers. Many politicians call for cutting waste and ending earmarks or ending the war in Iraq. If we did all of this, it would only make a very small dent in the problem. It would only slightly slow the rate at which we are digging a deeper hole; it would not stop the slide into deeper and deeper debt. Cutting current spending will not get us out of this hole.

I am not sure anyone knows what the solution may be. Raising taxes to balance the budget may be counterproductive and actually result in a slowing economy and increase the debt and American would not toleration a repudiation of the benefits promised retiring Americans. With the first of the baby boomers ready to retire starting next year, we face a severe crisis. If we inflate the money supply to meet our obligations, that will also have dire consequences.

If this film event comes to your city, I urge you to go see it. The bad news goes down easier with cheese and wine and in the company of interesting people. Below is a link to a 30-minute version of the film: I.O.U.S.A.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bailout like a bad rerun from 1970s

by Ben Cunningham, The Tennessean, November 12, 2008

Fool me twice, shame on me. In 1979, U.S. taxpayers saved Chrysler management from many years of stunningly bad judgment. (link)

Comment

This is a very good article by Ben Cunningham that was published in the Tennessean last Wednesday. Ben is a citizen activist who was the leader a couple years ago of the movement that stopped Tennessee from adopting a state income tax. I belong to an informal organization along with Ben called Right of Center Bloggers. From time to time the group meets to hear from guest speakers and to share ideas. Ben's blog is Taxing Tennessee.

In this insightful article, Ben argues that we should not prop up mediocrity by bailing out the auto industry. Obviously, I agree.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Socialism? It is already here.

In his column today, “Socialism? It is already here”, George Will makes the point that spreading the wealth is nothing new. That is what any government action does that takes money from some people and gives it to others.

George Will argues, “The supreme law of the land is the principle of concentrated benefits and dispersed costs.” He gives the example of the protectionism provided the sugar industry. “Sugar import quotas cost the American people approximately $2 billion a year,” writes Will, “ but that sum is siphoned from 300 million consumers in small, hidden increments that are not noticed. The few thousand sugar producers on whom billions are thereby conferred do notice and are grateful to the government that bilks the many for the enrichment of the few.”

It struck me as phony that the Obama’s remark about spreading the wealth was treated as if it was a major revelation revealing Obama’s socialist, if not Marxist, ideology. In my post of November 7, “If Obama is a Socialist…So was Ronald Reagan” I made a point similar to what Will makes in his article today. Spreading the wealth is not new.

Will is critical of the conservative’s attempt to pin the socialist label on Omaba. “Hyperbole is not harmless; careless language bewitches the speaker's intelligence.” And he says, “if conservatives call all such spreading by government ‘socialism’, that becomes a classification that no longer classifies: It includes almost everything, including the refundable tax credit on which McCain's health-care plan depended.”

I think Will is right.

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Bush to Declare Martial Law

Generally reading more conservative Blogs and chat groups than liberal blogs and groups, I have tended to think we on the right had a lot of nuts among us. However, in the last couple days I have been exploring the left side of the blogosphere and talk about nuts; the left may have more of the Tinfoil Hat Crowd than we do.

You would think the left would be joyous that they have won the recent election, and most lefties are; however, there is this contingency that really can’t enjoy their victory because they believe that there will be a right wing coup between now and inauguration day. They are really worried about it. They are downright gloomy. Many of them thought it would happen before the election, but now that Bush-Cheney allowed the election to occur, they think it will happen between now and inauguration day.

Type into Goggle “Bush to declare martial law” and you get 257,000 hits! There are whole websites devoted to the topic. Troops are coming home from Iraq. Good news? Nope! They are being brought home to take part in the coup.

Many think that Bush will start a war with Iran and use the unrest that would follow as an excuse to declare marshal law and prevent Obama from taking office. Others think that the excuse will be tied to the financial crisis.

Remember Naomi Wolf? She was the “third wave” feminist who a few years back gained notoriety for promoting the view that a woman’s desire to lose weight and look attractive was evidence of oppression. She is best known perhaps as the consultant to Al Gore who was paid a salary of thousands of dollars a month to tell Al how to appeal to women voters and which tie to wear. Well, Wolf is a big proponent of this view that a coup is imminent. Another person who has been warning of a coming coup is Ralph Nader. Lou Dobbs is also helping spread this fear as are web sites such as Daily Kos and the popular chat group Secular Humanist. I am not going to post a bunch of links or Youtube videos but if you doubt me, do the goggle search for yourself.

The Internet is a wonderful thing, but it does allow the nuts to get together. Those who read nothing but postings from other nuts can feel that they are the only one who possess the truth and know what is really going on. They can feel empowered, being part of what they perceive as a large movement. It can make them think that their nuttiness is normal.

Aware of all the crazies who believed that 9-11 was an inside job, I guess nothing should surprise me. It is disturbing, however, to think that so many people really expect a military coup in America. They don't just think it is possible, they expect it. There is one thing that is reassuring about this: I was concerned about the right-wingers who are stockpiling weapons in anticipation of Obama taking office, fearful that an Obama Presidency would spell the end of a free America and a revolution may be necessary. I was beginning to think the Republican party attracted a lot of nuts and maybe we were the party of stupid people. It is comforting to know that there are just as many, and maybe more, nuts on the other side.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Republicans win in Tennessee

While Republicans took a beating all across the nation and we lost the Presidency and both houses of Congress, in Tennessee, Republicans won big taking control of both houses of the State Legislature. The Republican win was unexpected. It appears that McCain’s big win in Tennessee helped Republicans running for State House and Senate seats. Primarily in rural areas of the state, Republicans defeated Democrats and picked up seats.

I am delighted my party won. The Republican win probably weakens the Governor’s push to expand education down to the pre-pre-pre-Kindergarten level and means more emphasis on K-12 education. It probably means we are safe from a state income tax for a while. It may mean those Democrats who got jobs and contracts due to party affiliation may loose their jobs and contracts and they will be given to deserving Republicans. It means we will get more buildings, bridges, and roads named after Republicans rather than Democrats. This win will help Republican lawyers. Those who seek favor from the government will fire the lobbyist with Democratic connections and hire lobbyist with Republican connections. We will probably get some meaningless symbolic legislation passed that addresses abortion and gun ownership.

I am concerned, however about one issue that is important to me. With the election of these conservative, religious, rural legislators, does this mean I can forget about being able to buy wine in the grocery store?

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Rod Williams discusses avoiding mortgage foreclosure

On Thursday November 13, I appeared live on the Tennessean's web cast "Lunch Money." I was interviewed by Tennessean Business Editor Randy McClain and discussed the mortgage crisis and how homeowners can work with their mortgage company to get a work out. I outlined the various work out options. It is a 30 minute web cast. Click here to view the program: Link

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Why Bear Stearns but not GM

I reluctantly supported the bailouts in the financial sector but oppose the proposed bailout of the auto industry. I say I “reluctantly” supported the bank bailout because I would have really liked to let those large financial institutions that created the foreclosure crisis pay the price for their greed and bad decision-making and go belly-up. Unfortunately, a financial melt down would not be contained to the financial sector. If credit dries up, the economy grinds to a halt. I think the bank bailouts were necessary but that doesn't mean I liked it.

I know the argument of those who support the proposed auto industry bail out is that if we can bail out the fat cats of Wall Street we ought to bail out the industries that keep American laborers working. If Wall Street deserves a bailout so does Detroit, they will argue. Bailing out the auto industry is keeping Americans working and the economy humming. We need to support the autoworkers and save American jobs.

The counter argument is that the Government is not a rich uncle whom we can keep going back to for more and more money every time we get in trouble. The government cannot bail out everyone. There are limits. If we bail out the auto industry, the airlines, appliance manufacturers, tractor makers, farmers, miners, commercial fishermen, and boat builders will be next in line for us to save their jobs. It has to come to stop somewhere. Stop it now.

I am persuaded by the second argument, but still feel that there is a more fundamental reason why the bail outs in the financial sector may have been proper and the bailouts in the auto industry are wrong. I think it comes down to this: Banking is a more legitimate government concern than manufacturing.

Monetary policy is a basic government function except in the minds of the most extreme market purist. Among the powers given Congress by the Constitution are the powers: “To borrow money on the credit of the United States; To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes; To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures; To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States.”

That is long way from saying it is a function of government to prop up AIG or Bear Sterns, but nevertheless it seems that “money” is a government responsibility. To ensure liquidity and prevent a collapse of the banking system appears to me to be a legitimate government function and is fundamentally different than producing goods and services.

In addition to a concern about the legitimate roll of government, it seems that funding the auto industry puts government into the business of picking winners and losers in the economy and makes the government a competitor with everyone who is not getting a government subsidy. GM is not only competing with Toyota for the consumer dollar but they are competing for that dollar against everything else in the market. To prop up GM appears counterproductive to bringing about efficiencies, innovations, and creating wealth. If, when the auto began to replace the horse and buggy, the government had moved in to protect the buggy whip makers, I suspect the government would still be subsidizing the production of buggy whips. If the Big Three cannot produce vehicles American want, why should the government prop them up?

I think ensuring a proper functioning system of money and banking is an appropriate government function; owning the means of production and making decisions about what is produced is not.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Honor all our Veterans

" Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?" ~ Colin Powell, Meet the Press, Oct. 19, 2008.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008


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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Would you like to help Veronica get her hot water heater fixed?

Greeting Friends and Family,

A couple years ago several of you contributed money to help me help other people who are in need. I have exhausted all money in this fund and have been keeping it going with my own contributions. If you contributed when I first set up this fund, I am writing to see if you would like to contribute again. If this is the first time I have asked you or if you are reading this on my blog and you feel led to help, I would appreciate it.

Right now I am trying to raise money to help Veronica H___. Every single penny of the money you contribute goes to the person who needs it. There is no administrative cost. About three years ago, I was instrumental in helping put Veronica in a home of her own. Veronica and her two lovely young daughters were living in a public housing project here in Nashville. The apartment she lived in backed up to a row of apartments where just a few weeks before she moved out a young girl was killed when a stay bullet penetrated the wall of the apartment. The young girl who was killed was not a resident of public housing but had went home from school with a class mate and was visiting. A drug deal gone bad resulted in a shoot out and the visiting young girl was killed by a stray bullet.

This was the environment that Veronica H and her daughters lived in. Veronica’s only income is SSDI. Veronica surfers from bi-polar disorder and can not work. Veronica was able to get her home through a grant provided by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati. We have had this grant program for three years and have put nine families in homes through this program. The FHLB of Cincinnati provides the money to Pinnacle Bank. My employer, The Woodbine Community Organization, is the non-profit partner with Pinnacle Bank in administering this grant.

This grant program is one of those niche grant programs and is only for people with mental illness. Under this grant, the homeowner is awarded $36,000 toward the purchase of a home. The client must qualify for a first mortgage. They must meet standard underwriting guidelines for housing affordability, debt affordability and credit. The financing must be a 30 year fixed-rate loan and the interest rate must not exceed current FHA rates. Clients enroll in a Homebuyers Club and must attend class for once a month for a year prior to being eligible for the grant.

In the Homebuyers Club the client learns improved money management skills and must repair their credit and save money to contribute at least 1% of the homes value as a down payment. During the time Veronica was a member of the Homebuyers Club, I taught the class.
Veronica would catch a bus to get to the Homebuyers Club and bring her daughters with her. The trip involved a bus transfer. By the time the class was over, the connecting bus was no longer running so I began taking her home. It was only about three miles out of my way, so I did not mind doing it. Over time I got to know Veronica and her daughters.

For those of you have never been to a housing project, it can be another world. One time, I took her home and as I pulled into her street it was like pulling into a war zone. People were running for cover and a police helicopter was circling overhead. There had been another shoot-out. Veronica was kind of nonchalant about it and said there was always something going on.

Veronica was able to qualify for a $40,000 first mortgage, the house payment equaling 32% of her monthly income. She was able to buy a three-bedroom, one-bath brick home in a modest but quite neighborhood. The home was only two blocks form a bus line and she was tingled to death. Her daughters are doing well in school and they attend a local church. Veronica has not been late on a house payment one single time since she moved in. There have been times when her phone was disconnected, but she always pays her house payment.

This grant has made all the difference in the world in Veronica’s life and the life of her children. The problem is that after she pays her house payment and utility bills, and normal living expenses, there is nothing left over for emergencies.

Veronica called me last Wednesday and told me that her hot water heater was leaking and her bathroom sink was stopped up and her washing machine had broken. She has been washing clothes by hand, and I told her she may just have to do that for a while but that I would see that we got the sink unstopped and see if I could raise the money to help her repair the water heather.

I had my friend Mark Thompson, a professional handy man, go take a look at it and see what it would cost to fix the water heater. The water heater must be replaced and will cost $550. If no one else contributes, I will pay for the water heater and Mark will provide the labor for free. However, Veronica is only one of the people that I help in this way.

I have established a fund to help people like Veronica. The fund I have created has been used on other occasions to keep families from losing their home. Those who know me know that I am frugal. I am only going to give money to those who really need it. I am not going to give money to those who are trifling. I am not going to simply subsidize one’s poor choices. I am not going to give money to a lost cause. If giving money to someone simply delays a foreclosure by a month there is no point, but if a small amount of money can keep a family form losing their home and being homeless, I try to do it. The decision of who to help is mine. If you choose to contribute, you can be assured the money will not be wasted or spent frivolously. If you would like to be part of helping Veronica get her water heater repaired and help others like Veronica who are in dire circumstance, I would welcome your contribution.

If you would like to contribute please make your check payable to “The Woodbine Community Organization”. Be sure and write on the check, “Rod Williams Fund”. Mail it to WCO, 222 Oriel Ave, Nashville, TN, 37210. On the outside of the envelope write “Attention Rod Williams.”

WCO is a 501(C) 3 organization. Any contribution you make will be tax deductible. Thank you and God bless you.
Sincerely,
Rod

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The 1% Difference


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It could have been worse

The day after the election the media talked about Obama’s landslide. Some spoke about Omaba’s “mandate.” Many are talking about this election as being a repudiation of the past and a political realignment.

In 1936, FDR beat Alf Landon and won 61% of the popular vote and 98% of the electoral vote. That was a landslide. LBJ beat Barry Goldwater, winning 61% of the popular vote and 90% of the electoral vote. That was a landslide! In the election of 1972, Richard Nixon beat George McGovern winning 61% of the popular vote and 97% of the electoral vote. In 1984 Ronald Reagan beat Walter Mondale winning 59% of the popular vote and 98% of the electoral vote. That was a landslide! Barack Obama won 52% of the popular vote and 67% of the electoral vote. That is not a landslide.

Obama won by a comfortable majority. He did not win a broad mandate from the public. Democrats increased their lead in both houses of Congress but did not win the super majority necessary to ram through a radical legislative agenda. It could have been a lot worse. Republicans must use it judiciously and rarely, but the ability to filibuster can moderate the Senate Democratic majority.

In the House, the Republicans lost seats, but the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats increased their number. Together the Republicans and Blue Dogs can block a lot of the most irresponsible Democratic spending proposals.

I do not see that there was a major ideological shift this election. I think President Bush has been such a poor President that many people simply were voting against the Republican Party as a means of showing their displeasure with Bush. The American public did not suddenly wake up and renounce all they had previously believe and vote for a far left agenda. Certainly, Obama advocated, “spreading the wealth”, but he also promised tax cuts for 95% of the public. Middle class tax cuts is hardly a left-wing agenda item. Despite Obama’s liberal voting record and radical associations, he did not present himself as a revolutionary figure. He presented himself as a steady, moderate, pragmatic, centrist. That is what the public was voting for.

Obama talked about “change” but offered no radical proposals and never defined change. Even his health care proposal is not that radical. He does not call for a single-payer system or nationalization of health care. His health care proposal is to build upon the same system we have now. He would expand health care coverage but would continue the current system of employer provided insurance. While I think he is going to take us further down the wrong road, the public was not voting for a radical departure from what we have now.

His position on the war was not that radical. He promised to be out or Iraq in sixteen months. Unless there is reversal of current trends, most American combat roles would have been completed in sixteen months anyway. The Obama position on the war is a much less radical position than what some of his Democratic primary opponents were offering. Obama did not run on a peace platform. He promised a more aggressive war in Afghanistan, has said he would violate Pakistan’s national sovereignty by pursuing Al Qaeda across the border, and has said he would not permit Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.

While part of his agenda is certainly radical, such as re-imposing the anti-free speech “fairness doctrine”, ended the secret ballot in union votes, and passing several gay agenda provisions, these issues received little prominence during the election. Most people probably did not even care about these issues and were not even aware of Obama’s position.

Given the low popularity of the sitting Republican president, an unpopular war, and the economic meltdown, it is a wonder that Obama did not win by a massive landslide. Prior to the economic collapse in Mid September, McCain was actually leading in the polls. I found that amazing. Obama ran a brilliant campaign and out-raised and out-spent McCain by almost two to one. The surprise in this election is not that Obama won, but that he did not win by the biggest majority in history.

If Obama actually governs as a centrist, I suspect that he will have a successful term in office and his popularity will remain relatively high. However, I suspect that even if he governs as a centrist, his popularity will never again be as high as the day he takes office. I also would not be surprised if Republicans do not retake one or both houses of Congress in two year or at least substantially cut into the Democratic lead.

One of the reasons Obama won by the margin that he did is because of all the newly registered Black voters and young voters. They were swept up in the enthusiasm of being part of a movement and electing the country’s first Black president. They turned out to vote for Obama in large numbers, and a Democratic Congress was elected on the strength of Obama’s coattails. Two years from now it will be difficult to get these new voters back to the polls to reelect the Democratic Congress. It will simply not be as gratifying to vote for your boring congressman as it was to make history and vote for the charismatic Barack Obama.

The other reason, I suspect that the Democratic lead will not hold is that many people voted the way they did because they blamed current office holders for the country’s economic woes and just wanted “change.” I do not think we will have a miraculous economic recovery. The country’s economic problems will not be solved in two years. The President is not Commander in Chief of the economy and the economy does not turn on a dime. I suspect things will get worse before they start getting better and in two years we will probably be in an economic recovery period. However, the public will not be satisfied by the modest improvements and will again blame current office holders. The “throw the bums out” sentiment will again be in play in 2010.

This election was certainly a defeat for Republicans and while there is little to be happy about, I think things could have been much worse. Republicans have a challenge ahead to rebuild the party but I do not think this election spells the end of the Republican Party and I do not think this election represents any kind of radical political sea change.

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Etiquette for Winners and Losers

Yesterday I removed the McCain ad from my blog, took down the McCain-Palin sign from my front yard and removed the McCain bumper sticker from my front storm door and the bumper of my car.

I think that following an election it is bad form, if you win or lose, to keep your yard sign up for more than a couple days after the election. I live in a small well-defined neighborhood of only about one hundred and fifty homes. I regularly walk the neighborhood to get a little exercise. In my whole neighborhood, there were only three McCain-Palin signs, including mine, and there must have been twenty to thirty Obama signs. I will be glad when all the signs come down.

Winners shouldn’t gloat and losers should accept defeat without bitterness. I read a lot of blogs and visit a lot of chat rooms and am seeing an awfully lot of bitter sore losers and a lot of bloating winners. I think both McCain and Obama set the right tone on election night; McCain was gracious and Obama was humble. That does not mean that one has to stop arguing issues, but one should avoid bitterness or gloating.

I think it is ill mannered for anyone to ask me, “What did you think about the election.” If they know me, they know what I thought about the election. To ask, is to just rubbing salt in the wound. It would be hard for me to answer that question without offending you.

Some people, when they win, feel that their views have been vindicated and they have been proven right. Winning an election does not prove you were right about anything; it just proves your candidate was able to persuade more people they were right. It does not prove your candidate had the better ideas; it proves he was the better salesman. Winning shows that you are in the majority, not that you are right. If you won’t gloat about the elections, I won’t have to point out to you why I think the majority made the wrong choice.

When at a family gathering it is ill mannered to voice your disgust or glee when the President Elect’s name is mentioned. I think it is in poor taste to pontificate, lecture or sermonize about the issues of the day and then take offense when an alternative view is presented. Those who agree with you may think you are brilliant; those who don’t may feel obligated to present an alternative view. If you know you are sharing the holidays with those who do not share your values, maybe you should discuss nothing more controversial than the weather.

Don't forget your manners. Can’t we all just get along?

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters to Realize How Empty Their Lives Are.

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Obamamessiah

This is creepy! Take a look. I don't know what to make of this site. I don't know if it is satire or if it is for real.
The African music video is really catchy.
Spike Lee says that from now on history will be known as before Obama and after Obama.
Is there really an Obama cult in the world? I hope what is shown on this site represents a small fringe of nut cases. I am assuming it does, but nevertheless, this is weird.
Tell me what you think.
Link here: Obamamessiah.

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If Obama is a Socialist....

..... So was Ronald Reagan.

In the last days of the McCain campaign, in an effort to win the election, an attempt was made to label Obama a Socialist. The opening for this attack was Obama replying to a question from Joe the Plumber about taxation and Obama telling Joe that he wanted to “spread the wealth around”. I think that the McCain camp was right to use this incident as an opportunity to showcase the differences between the way Democrats and Republicans think about economic issues, but they went a little overboard.

Democrats tend to think that it is the government’s job to redistribute wealth and equalize outcomes and punish success; republicans tend to think that people have a right to keep more of what they earn and that economic growth is more important than redistribution. However, we are talking about degrees of differences of opinion, not polar extremes.

You probably have seen the clip or read the report of this exchange: A Florida info babe quizzed Sen. Biden about Obama's intention to “spread the wealth” and quoted the famous Marxist principle of "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." She then asked Biden, “How is Sen. Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth?” Biden paused momentarily, grinned, then asked, “Are you joking? Is this a joke? Is this a real question?” Biden went on to defend Obama saying he hoped to spread the wealth by giving the middle class tax breaks. I could not help myself; I was rooting for Biden in that exchange. He was right to show contempt for the questioner and the info babe looked like an indeological air head.

Recently Pat Buchanan wrote in an article, “ If Barack Obama is not a socialist, he does the best imitation of one I've ever seen. Under his tax plan, the top 5 percent of wage-earners have their income tax rates raised from 35 percent to 40 percent, while the bottom 40 percent of all wage-earners, who pay no income tax, are sent federal checks. If this is not the socialist redistribution of wealth, what is it?” Buchanan then goes on also to quote the Communist Manifesto.

How can Buchanan do that with a straight face? Buchanan is not an air head. Don’t get me wrong, I favor more economic freedom; not less. I favor less economic redistribution; not more. However, why is the current 35% not socialist and 40% is socialist? What if the current rate was 36% and Obama wanted to raise it to 39%? I think I have it figured out; if you favor a marginal tax rate of below 37.5% you are not a socialist but if you favor anything above 37.5% you are socialist.

How can Republicans, like myself, who recently favored a $1 trillion bailout of Wall Street in order to prevent an economic collapse, have the right to call Obama a socialist? If you do not favor elimination of the graduated income tax, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare and the Earned Income Tax Credit, you might be a socialist.

Let us look at who is a socialist. George Bush did not cut social spending; he increased it. Who gets credit for a Medicare drug prescription plan and No Child Left Behind? Is George Bush a socialist?

John McCain supports the retention of an estate tax and he opposes the Flat Tax and he opposed Bush's 2001 tax cut arguing that it unfairly benefited the rich. I guess if Obama is a socialist, John McCain is a socialist.


Our nations largest wealth redistribution program is The Earned Income Tax Credit. Low-income people who make insufficient income to owe any income tax are given a “refund” when they file taxes. This program was first proposed by Richard Nixon and was called The Negative Income Tax. Congress failed to pass it, when the Welfare Rights Organization opposed it because they thought it should be more generous and they could get a better deal.


Congress approved the EITC in 1975 at the urging of Gerald Ford. President Carter slightly expanded the program, and Ronald Reagan greatly expanded it. Ronald Reagan heralded the EITC as "the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress." I guess that makes Ronald Reagan a socialist.

Now, back to the tax rate issue. (I lifted this from Wikipedia.)

  • In 1913 the tax rate was 1% on taxable net income above $3,000
    ($4,000 for married couples), less deductions and exemptions. It rose to a rate
    of 7% on incomes above $500,000.
  • During World War I the top rate rose to 77%; after the war, the top rate was scaled down to a low of 25%.
  • During the Great Depression and World War II, the top income tax rate rose again. In the Internal Revenue Code of 1939, the top rate was 75%. The top rate reached 94% during the war and remained at 91% until 1964.
  • In 1964 the top rate was decreased to 70% (1964 Revenue Act), then to 50% in 1981 (Economic Recovery Tax Act or ERTA).
  • The Tax Reform Act of 1986 reduced the top rate to 28%, at the same time raising the
    bottom rate from 11% to 15% (in fact 15% and 28% became the only two tax
    brackets).
  • During the 1990s the top rate rose again, standing at 39.6% by
    the end of the decade. The top rate was cut to 35% and the bottom rate was cut
    to 10% by the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001
    (EGTRRA)

Do you see this? The rate has been all over the place. The rate has often been above the magic rate of 37.5 percent, which I have calculated must be the dividing line between socialist and not socialist.

It was Ronald Reagan who greatly cut tax rates. However, tax rates do not tell the full story. Along with tax rates cuts, tax policy was simplified and many previous exemptions were eliminated. As a result of the Reagan tax policy, the rich ended up paying more in taxes than they did prior to the tax cuts. Liberals don’t want to believe it and much of the public does not know it, but the Reagan policies increased the amount of taxes paid by the rich, and decreased the amount paid by the poor.

I think we should have vigorous debate about economic and tax policy and poverty and wealth creation, except that it would put most of the public to sleep. If something doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker, it is hard for the public to grasp.

It does concern me that someone’s thought processes and values are such that they can cavalierly call for “spreading the wealth.” However, if Obama can be labeled a socialist so can Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, John McCain and anyone to the left of Ron Paul.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Maya Angelou's inaugural poem for Obama

LOL. This is very funny. David Alan Grier as Maya Angelou on Chocolate News

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Our Values Have Not Changed Based on this Election

by Robert Schwartz

Hello. I'm Bob Schwartz, founder and co-chair of Music Row 4 McCain. Talk about bad timing! I was asked to come up on stage moments after Pennsylvania and Ohio have been called for Obama. Even though I was born up north, I have to tell you that when I heard about Pennsylvania and Ohio, from deep inside I wanted to shout: "Yankees. Damn Yankees!"

Ahhh, well. First, I'd like to say that I have been honored to work as a volunteer for John McCain! You know John McCain and Sarah Palin have run an incredible campaign. They fought bravely against stunning obstacles: an unpopular war, an unpopular incumbent President, arguably the most troubled economy in fifty years and, oh did I mention?, a Democratic candidate who had nearly two thirds of a billion dollars --- and spent it.

Nonetheless, John McCain and Sarah Palin fought bravely and they fought for our core values. And, you know, despite the election results, our values and beliefs have not changed. We believe that the American people and the American experience are essentially something to be proud of. We believe that conservatism can be compassionate and creative and brave as witnessed by Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and, my hero, William F. Buckley, Jr. We believe that government should protect the weak and voiceless --- starting with the unborn. We believe that government should secure our borders. We believe that the public schools are too important to be turned over to those who would politicize students rather than teach them the fundamentals. We believe in a court system that interprets laws rather than makes them up. And we believe in a nation strong enough to be, as Joe Lieberman said, to be trusted by our friends and feared by our enemies.

No, these values have not changed based on this election. I encourage all of us to take those same values to our families and into our communities tomorrow --- as we did yesterday --- with courage, with respect and with love. Nothing should stop us from doing so! God bless America. May God bless us all.

The above remarks were delivered last night here in Nashville at the Limelight nightclub where Republicans gathered to watch the elections returns. It was nice to network and mingle with like-minded people and console each other. Despite the nights loss it was pleasant evening. Rod

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McCain's Concession Speech

by John McCain

(I was moved by McCain concession speech last night. I thought it was gracious and set the right tone. Below is a condensed version of the speech. Rod)

Thank you. Thank you, my friends. Thank you for coming here on this beautiful Arizona evening.
My friends, we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly.

A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him. To congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.

In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.

This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight. I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too.
But we both recognize that, though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.

A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters.

America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.

Let there be no reason now ... Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.

Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it, and offer him my sincere sympathy that his beloved grandmother did not live to see this day. Though our faith assures us she is at rest in the presence of her creator and so very proud of the good man she helped raise.

Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain.

These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.

I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.

Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.

It is natural, tonight, to feel some disappointment. But tomorrow, we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again.

We fought as hard as we could. And though we feel short, the failure is mine, not yours.
I am so deeply grateful to all of you for the great honor of your support and for all you have done for me. I wish the outcome had been different, my friends.

The road was a difficult one from the outset, but your support and friendship never wavered. I cannot adequately express how deeply indebted I am to you.

This campaign was and will remain the great honor of my life, and my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Senator Obama and my old friend Senator Joe Biden should have the honor of leading us for the next four years.

I would not be an American worthy of the name should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century.

Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone, and I thank the people of Arizona for it.
Tonight more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Senator Obama.

I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.

Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.

Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you all very much.

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Gracious in Defeat and Humble in Victory

Now is the time for healing. Now is the time to de-emphasizing our divisions and focus on those things that unit us. Democrat or Republicans, we are Americans first.

I am certainly disappointed, but not surprised, by the result of this election. Now, the election is over. It is time to unite. I am going to remove the John McCain yard sign from my front yard and take the John McCain bumper sticker off my car.

I am not giving up my ideas. I am going to continue to be part of the party of the loyal opposition. I will continue to critique those policies and ideas that I think are wrong or misguided. I will continue to support Republican and conservative causes and work for future victories. However, I will try to disagree without being disagreeable. I will remind myself that liberals are not evil; they are just wrong. I am going to try to put the divisiveness of the election aside. I am not going to disagree just for the sake of partisanship. I will part of the opposition, but not the angry opposition.

I join John McCain in congratulating Barack Obama. We can only have one President at a time. Barack Obama is my President too. As much as I might have wished the result were different, I am not going to dwell on the loss.

I am accepting Mr. Obama at his word that he wants to get beyond partisanship and pettiness and do what is best for the nation. It is my hope that Obama governs as the centrist he has presented himself to be.

I pray that God gives Mr. Obama the wisdom and courage to guide our country through the difficult economic times and foreign challenges that confront us and to deal with the problems that we face. While I wish it were McCain taking the helm, I am nevertheless glad that the Bush era is coming to an end. I welcome a fresh start.

Watching McCain’s gracious concession speech tonight, I was reminded again of why I like John McCain so much. He is an honorable and good person. Watching Obama, I was impressed by his humbleness and his reaching out to those who did not support him.

After a hotly contested election, both Senator McCain and Senator Obama set the right tone. I congratulate and respect McCain for the way he handled his defeat and Obama for the way he handled his victory.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Don't Bother to Vote

Tomorrow morning there will be the obligatory editorial in the paper telling you that it is your right and your duty to vote. Monday evening the local TV news will also have a little editorial and tell you same thing. These editorials will probably remind you that people fought and died in wars so we could have the right to vote. It may tell you that African Americans were beatten and jailed and lynched and had fire hoses and dogs turned on them so you could vote. If you are female, they will tell you that you are betraying all the women who fought for women’s suffrage if you don’t vote.

You will be told you have an obligation to vote. You do not; just ask Barack Obama. As a U. S. Senator he abstained from voting on very many occasions on very important issues. He simply voted “Present” time and time again. So, if Barack doesn’t bother to vote while serving in the US Senate, why should you?

The people who want you to vote are going to tell you that if you don’t vote any number of bad things might happen: your home will get foreclosed, they will take away your right to get an abortion, more jobs will go overseas, a war will continue, new wars will start, and we will all die from global warming.

If you vote the right way they will tell you that you will no longer have to worry about filling you gas tank or paying your mortgage, jobs will not leave America any longer, your taxes will be lower because only the super rich will have to pay taxes, global warming will end, and gas prices will drop.

If that is not reason enough to vote they will tell you this: This will be an historic elections and the Nation is going to elect its first Black president. You do want to be part of this historic election, do you not?

You will be told that not voting is a sign of a weak democracy and a sign that you just don’t care. Well, I am here to tell you that not voting is not a sign of a weak democracy or not caring. You could interpret not voting as a sign that things must be going so well, that people see no reason to vote. When the actions of government are so unimportant that people don’t feel compelled to vote, that is a sign that people must be pretty content and pretty certain that those who do vote will make the right decision. Not voting is a vote of confidence.

You should not let anyone shame you into voting. You should not vote unless you are real informed and confident in your decision. It is unpatriotic to cast an uninformed vote. What if you vote the wrong way and the person you vote for does something to really screw up the world? Do you want that responsibility?

Voting casually without being certain of your vote is wrong. Casting your vote should be a sober decision. Casting an unsure vote is sort of like driving drunk. So, if you don’t feel certain that you are qualified to vote or have adequately studied the issues; please don’t vote. If you get most of your news from Saturday Night Live and The Colbert Report, please do not vote.

Some people will tell you that if you don’t vote you have no right to complain. That is just not true. By not voting, you are not giving up the right to complain.

I don’t want you to vote. You see, if you don’t vote, my vote carries more weight. If only 33% of the people vote, it is like I am voting for three people; if 50% of the people vote it is like I am voting for only two people. I don’t want you to dilute my vote. Let me vote for you.

Voting is difficult. It is very complicated to figure out how to do it right. Look at all those people in Florida who left hanging chads. The new electronic machines are real difficult to figure out and anyway, with the electronic machines, how do your even know your vote is counted.

You do know that if you vote, you will probably get called to jury duty? Also, I understand that this year immigration officials will be at the voting places looking for illegal immigrants. There are always a lot of police at the voting places too. A lot of outstanding warrants are served on Election Day. Voter registration records are public records so the police know who will be voting where on Election Day so it is easy pickings to serve warrants. I have heard that officials also stake out the voting place to look for people who are behind on their child support.

So, if I were you, I wouldn’t vote.

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

What They Expect from Obama

Bless her heart; this dumb girl thinks that if she votes for Obama she will not have to worry about putting gas in her car or paying her mortgage. Does she think Obama is going to fill her tank and make her house payment? Assuming Obama is elected, there will be a lot of disappointed people.

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