Friday, January 30, 2009

Congratulations Michael Steele!

The Republican Party today chose former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele to be the next Chairman of the Republicans National Committee beating out four other candidates, including former President Bush's hand-picked GOP chief Mike Duncan. The race was hotly contested and it took six ballots before any candidate could get enough votes to win the election.

"Obviously the winds of change are blowing," said Mike Duncan as he bowed out of the race. I am very pleased that the winds of change are blowing in the Republican Party and I am pleased with the direction in which they are blowing. Mike Duncan was my least favorite candidate.

Earlier in the day Former Tennessee GOP leader Chip Saltsman withdrew his name. Saltzman had lessened his chances of being elected chairman when controversy erupted over a Paul Shanklin CD that contained the parody "Barack the Magic Negro." Saltzman had sent that CD as a Christmas gift to members of the RNC. I am glad he was forced to withdraw. The image of a Republican Party with a chairman who is racially insensitive is the last thing the party needs.

Recently I watched a debate between all of the candidates. At that time there were about eight or so people in the running. I knew I did not want Duncan or Saltsman to be selected and none of the others impressed me except for Michael Steele. I was hoping he would be elected but did not think it likely.

One of the things that I thought was revealing about that debate was that one of the questions asked of the candidates was the number of guns they owned. Some of the candidates owned small arsenals. Michael Steele was the only RNC candidate that said he did not own a gun. I was displeased that that was even a relevant question to ask. I am pleased that you do not have to be a gun owner to be elected chairman of the RNC.

I am also pleased that we selected a Black man. The Republican Party has nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to race. Clarence Thomas, J. C. Watts, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice are just a few of the prominent Black Republicans that come to mind. Since Blacks vote Democratic about 95% of the time, it is surprising we have as many prominent Black leaders as we do. However, with the country having just elected a Black person as President, we need to remind people that minorities are welcome in the Republican Party. If the party is going to win elections in the future we must attract more Black, Hispanic, and other ethnic voters. Having a Black man as leader of the party should help spread the word that we are an inclusive welcoming political party.

The party has a lot of rebuilding to do. We must reach out to those who do not now vote Republican. We cannot win elections by kicking out everyone who deviates from the most narrow of definition of what it means to be a conservative. Anyone who agrees with us more often than they agree with Democrats should be welcome to be a Republican. We need to be adding to our ranks not subtracting.

There is a segment of the party that is going to be displeased. They will accuse Steele of being a RINO, Republican in name only. “RINO” seems to be one of the worse epitaphs that one Republican can hurl at another. It is worse than “neo-con.” According to some Republicans, John McCain was a RINO. These are the same people who think George Will is a “so called conservative”. I don’t want the Rush followers or the Ron Paul followers to feel unwelcome in the Republican Party but neither should they be allowed to take it over. Those of us who think John McCain was the best candidate the party had to offer and who were actually proud of our candidate should not cower in face of those who showed only lukewarm support for the party’s candidate.

If you are going to reply to this blog post by calling me a RINO, go ahead. The winds of change are blowing in our direction. We RINO’s, like John McCain, and “so called conservatives,” like George Will, just got ourselves a good chairman for this party.

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Friends of Angelo

Countrywide's Many 'Friends'
by Daniel Golden, Conde Nast Portfolio .com Jun 12 2008

Two U.S. senators, two former Cabinet members, and a former ambassador to the United Nations received loans from Countrywide Financial through a little-known program that waived points, lender fees, and company borrowing rules for prominent people.

Senators Christopher Dodd, Democrat from Connecticut and chairman of the Banking Committee, and Kent Conrad, Democrat from North Dakota, chairman of the Budget Committee and a member of the Finance Committee, refinanced properties through Countrywide’s “V.I.P.” program in 2003 and 2004, according to company documents and emails and a former employee familiar with the loans.

While thousands of Americans got predatory loans from Countrywide Mortgage and now face the loss of their home, VIP "Friends of Angelo" were getting preferential treatment including low interest rates and waived fees. One of the most powerful Friends of Angelo was Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee Chris Dodd.

Candidate Obama promises us a more open, honest, and transparent government. How can we have any confidence in the new administration or Congress if the lead watchdog in the Senate is a Friend of Angelo who got a preferential loan from Countrywide while he was supposed to be protecting the public's interest?

President Obama,
Would you please ask Chris Dodd to release his mortgage papers as he promised to do. If he will not, please ask him to resign from the US Senate. If he does release them and he is guilty of accepting preferential treatment, please demand his resignation. Did you really mean that stuff about honest government or was that just empty campaign talk?

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Where are Chris Dodd's Mortgage Papers?

Waiting for Dodd
Where are those Countrywide papers?
JANUARY 7, 2009, The Wall Street Journal

With the opening of the 111th Congress yesterday, all of Washington is tingling with the allure of a fresh start. Not so fast. We've got some leftover business from the 110th Congress -- namely, Chris Dodd's July 2008 promise to release the details of his sweetheart loans from Countrywide Financial. (Link)

I know where my mortgage papers are. Where are Chis Dodd's mortgage papers?

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

With all due respect Mr. President, that is not true.

President Obama says that "economists from across the political spectrum agree" on the need for massive government spending to stimulate the economy. In fact, many economists disagree. Hundreds of them, including Nobel laureates and other prominent scholars, have signed a statement that the Cato Institute has placed in major newspapers across the United States. To read the text of the ad and see the list of economist who signed it, visit this link: Mr. President that is not true.

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Congressman Cooper Votes No on Stimulas Package

Jim Cooper was one of 11 House Democrats who crossed party lines and voted against the $819 Billion Economic Stimulus package.
"This bill had too many congressional pet projects and too few of President Obama's plans for jump-starting the economy," Cooper said. "I hope the next version of the bill stays closer to its purpose: helping America recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression."

Dear Congressman Cooper,

I am proud of you. Thank you sticking by your principles and having the courage to cross party lines and vote against this bill. You are my kind of Democrat.

Rod Williams

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Top 20 Facts About the House Democrats Trillion Dollor Stimulas Plan

Minority Leader John Boehner released a list of the Top 20 Fast Facts About the House Democrats' Trillion Dollar Spending Plan.

1. The $825 billion package slated for a House vote later this weekwill exceed more than $1.1 trillion when adding in the interest ($300plus billion) between 2009-2019 to pay for it.

2. The Capitol Hill Democrats' plan includes funding for contraceptives; regardless of where anyone stands on taxpayer funded contraception, there is no question that it has NOTHING to do with the economy.

3. The legislation could open billions of taxpayer dollars to left-wing groups like the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), which has been accused of voter fraud, is reportedly under federal investigation; and played a key role in the housing meltdown.

4. Here are just a few of the programs and projects that have been included in the House Democrats' proposal:· $650 million for digital TV coupons.· $600 million for new cars for the federal government.· $6 billion for colleges/universiti es – many which have billion dollar endowments.· $50 million in funding for the National Endowment of the Arts.· $44 million for repairs to U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters.· $200 million for the National Mall, including $21 million for sod.

5. The plan establishes at least 32 new government programs at a costof over $136 billion. That means more than a third of this plan'sspending provisions are dedicated to creating new government programs.

6. The plan provides spending in at least 150 different federal programs, ranging from Amtrak to the Transportation SecurityAdministration. Is this the "targeted" plan Democratic leaders promised?

7. Even though the legislation contains at least 152 separate spending proposals, the authors of the plan can only say that 34 have anychance at keeping or growing jobs.

8. Just one in seven dollars of an $18.5 billion expenditure on"energy efficiency" and "renewable energy programs" would be spent within the next 18 months.

9. The total cost of this one piece of legislation is almost as much as the annual discretionary budget for the entire federal government.

10. The House Democrats' bill will cost each and every household $6,700 in additional debt, paid for by our children and grandchildren.

11. The bill provides enough spending – $825 billion – to give everyman, woman, and child in America $2,700. $825 billion is enough togive every person in Ohio $72,000.

12. $825 billion is enough to give every person living in poverty inthe United States $22,000.

13. Although the House Democrats' proposal has been billed as a transportation and infrastructure investment package, in actuality only $30 billion of the bill – or three percent – is for road and highway spending. A recent study from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that only 25 percent of infrastructure dollars can be spent in the first year, making the one year total less than $7billion.

14. Much of the funding within the House Democrats' proposal will go to programs that already have large, unexpended balances. For example,the bill provides $1 billion for Community Development Block Grants(CDBG) – a program that already has $16 billion on hand. States also are sitting on some $9 billion in unused highway funds – funds that Congress is prepared to rescind later this year.

15. All board members of the "Accountability and Transparency Board"created by this legislation are appointees of the President; none will be appointed by Congress.

16. A scant 2.7 percent, or $22.3 billion of the overall package, is dedicated to small business tax relief.

17. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the legislation increases by seven million the number of people who get a check backfrom the IRS that exceeds what they paid in payroll and income taxes.

18. The "Making Work Pay" tax credit at the center of the plan amounts to $1.37 a day, or about the price of a cup of coffee.

19. Almost one-third of the so-called "tax relief" in the HouseDemocrats' bill is spending in disguise, meaning that true tax relief makes up only 24 percent of the total package – not the 40 percentthat President Obama had requested.

20. $825 billion is just the beginning – many Capitol Hill Democratswant to spend even more taxpayer dollars on their "stimulus" plan. Infact, the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. DavidObey (D-WI), told Roll Call earlier this month, "I would not besurprised to see us go further on some of these programs down the line."

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“This Was a Bipartisan Rejection of a Partisan Bill”

Press Release from The Office of House Republican Leader John Boehner

Washington, Jan 28 - House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement after the House advanced a trillion dollar spending bill authored solely by congressional Democratic leaders:

“This was a bipartisan rejection of a partisan bill. Families and small businesses across America are struggling, and they are counting on their leaders in Washington for ways to strengthen our economy. House Republicans want to work with congressional Democrats on legislation that fulfills the goal set by President Obama: crafting a bipartisan plan focused on job creation. Unfortunately, the trillion dollar government spending bill before the House today was not that plan, and a bipartisan coalition of Members rightfully rejected it. It is time for Capitol Hill Democrats to finally work with Republicans on a job creation package that lets families and small businesses keep more of what they earn and that is supported by the bipartisan majority that the American people expect on an issue so important.”

NOTE: No House Republicans voted for the legislation, while eleven Democrats crossed party lines to vote against it. Earlier today on the House floor, Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Ways & Means Committee Ranking Republican Dave Camp (R-MI) offered a House GOP economic recovery plan that will create 6.2 million new American jobs over the next two years, according to a methodology used by President Obama’s own nominee as Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, Dr. Christina Romer. House Democrats rejected the plan.

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Obama Stops Citigroup’s Rip-off of the Taxpayers

This is a picture of the inside of the new $50 million corporate jet Citigroup was planning to purchase with our tax dollars. Citigroup caved under pressure from President Obama and decided to abandon this planned purchase. I would normally oppose government applying that kind of pressure to influence corporate decision-making if it was only the stockholders money the company was spending. When it is public money, it is our business. I have said I would support President Obama when he deserves it. He deserves it for stopping this outrage. BadgalsRadio did a good job covering this story. To see more pics of the luxurious French-build jet Citigroup almost purchased and read more about it visit BadgalsRadio.

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Is Rush a Buffoon?

There is a good post today over at Tampa Pirate. Tampa Pirate writes that he used to be a fan of Rush but got over it. Me too.

Tampa writes, “today he defends Merrill Lynch as they beg for money on one hand while redecorating an executive office for over $2 million. I am a believer in Capitalism, but not the expense of the American taxpayer.” I could not have said it better. Read the full essay: Rush is a Buffoon.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The American Conservative Union

Dear Rod,

Tuesday the 44th President of the United States took office.

An inauguration is always a time for our nation to reflect, to gain a sense of resolve and to move forward. With all of the issues facing our nation it is easy to lose sight of the things we hold dear and the positions we know will make American safer, stronger and more prosperous in the future.

With the election and inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama it now falls to us - you and us together at the ACU - to become "the loyal opposition."

As the nation's oldest, largest and most powerful grassroots conservative organization, ACU will stand ready to support the President when appropriate and to justly oppose him when we know that it is in the best interest of the country.

President Obama comes to the office with one of the most liberal voting records from his brief time in the Senate. Since his election he has begun to soften his stances and has shown a willingness to listen and even to bend ever so slightly on the stands he took while campaigning. Now that he is in office, we will begin to have a clearer picture on exactly how he and his administration will govern.

As our work with the new Congress and this new administration begins, we need your help here now to support ACU. We must first hold the President's feet to the fire. We must be ready to fight.

While being respectful, it is going to be critical to separate the rhetoric from the reality in the new Obama administration.

Throughout his campaign, now President Barack Obama said that he would limit the influence of lobbyists. ABC News reported, "As recently as the end of 2007, Mr. Obama was pledging that no lobbyists would "work" in his White House." In a New Hampshire campaign speech in June of 2007, he said, "in the last six years, our leaders have thrown open the doors of Congress and the White House to an army of Washington lobbyists who have turned our government into a game only they can afford to play - a game played on a field that's no longer level, but rigged to always favor their own narrow agendas."

However, shortly after his election who did he turn to? He appointed John Podesta - President Bill Clinton's former Chief of Staff - as the Co-Chairman of his transition team. This is the same John Podesta who on his own biography states he co-founded one of the most powerful Democrat-leaning lobbying firms in the nation with his brother Tony. The firm, Podesta Associates, Inc., is now one of the most highly paid influence peddling firms in Washington.

His rhetoric does not match the reality.Less than two weeks ago, Obama acknowledged violating this campaign pledge by selecting a lobbyist who has worked for defense contractors to become our nation's next Deputy Secretary of Defense, a post that oversees defense contracts.

And, Vice President Joe Biden's Chief of Staff? He is Ron Klain a lobbyist for Fannie Mae until 2004. Yes, the same Fannie Mae who helped propel our nation into our current mortgage and financial crisis.

As the "Loyal Opposition" working for you, ACU wants to send a message to President Obama that we will be watching. We want to help ensure the media and the public knows when the President's rhetoric doesn't match the reality. We need your help to get it done. Please click here, now, to help with these critical efforts.

Even more disturbing than these incidences, is the string of ethical challenges the President's designated cabinet team has faced before he even took the oath of office.

In a campaign speech, President Obama said, "I will launch the most sweeping ethics reform in history to make the White House the people's house." The result:
His Democrat Governor of his home State of Illinois is the now impeached Governor Rod Blagojevich. (ABC News noted, "Sen. Obama backed Blagojevich [for Governor] even though there were serious questions at the time about Blago's hiring practices.") Who is going to be Obama's Senior White House Advisor? David Axelrod, Obama's chief campaign strategist who was previously a campaign strategist for Blagojevich.

President Obama's choice for Secretary of Commerce was New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson - a holdover from President Clinton's regime. He had his nomination withdrawn because he is facing a Federal investigation for a pay-to-play scandal over allegations he pressured officials to award state contracts to political campaign contributors.

Obama's choice for Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner has admitted that he failed to pay more than $40,000 in taxes over several years. Maybe the Obama transition team forgot that the IRS is part of the Department of Treasury. Maybe they just didn't believe that a Treasury Secretary who is supposed to oversee the IRS should understand the tax rules or pay his own taxes?

Obama's choice for Attorney General - a position that serves as one of our nation's top independent law enforcement officials - is former Clinton Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder. It was Holder who recommended the now infamous Clinton pardons of fugitive financier Marc Rich and of the Puerto Rican domestic terrorists who committed bank robbery and were linked by the FBI to more than 130 bombings and six slayings. When Holder was brought before Congress to explain his actions back then, he sidestepped the questions. Now, he is to help oversee law enforcement, including the FBI?

Additionally, his choice of Senator Clinton for Secretary of State has raised eyebrows over her husband's acceptance of large sums from foreign entities for his foundation. And, Obama's choice for Secretary of Transportation has close ties with an Illinois lobbyist who has been linked to the Blagojevich scandal.

There are only 12 cabinet positions in our nation's government. Twelve key policy posts - and five of Obama's choices have had ethical concerns raised before he even took the oath of office. Someone must watch the actions of the Obama administration and bring those actions to light.

We must be vigilant. We must fight for what is right. If we do not, America's greatness may be swept into history.

Who will stand up to make sure that Obama's decisions match his rhetoric? Who will fight for what we believe in? The ACU, with your help.

Who will fight to make sure that there is a watchful eye on Obama's decisions and policies? The ACU, with your help.

Who will be your voice to ensure the American people know what is really happening in Washington? Your ACU, with your help, here, now.

It is clearly an important time for our nation. We face enemies at home and abroad. We face uncertainty. But one thing is clear. The ACU will still be here, fighting for you, for policies that make our nation stronger - not weaker - with your help, here, now.

Please help us fight to shine the light on the Obama administration and to stand up for what is right.

Thank you for your continued support of the ACU.


David A. Keene
Chairman of the Board

Dennis E. Whitfield
Executive Vice President

P.S. Help us send a message that Obama's rhetoric on ethics and lobbyist influence should match his record. Help us hold the new Administration accountable in the days to come. Help us fight for you, here, now.

Dear David,

I am with you. I am pleased that Obama has moderated some of the positions he took during the campaign. I have been pleased with his pragmatic and moderate tone. However, I think we must wait and see how he governs.

I am disappointed that Obama could not find twelve people untainted by corruption and conflict of interest to comprise his cabinet. I was truly hopeful he would usher in a era of honest government.

I agree we need strong organizations to be vigilant and keep a watchful eye on the Obama administration.

There is much that the Obama administration wants to do that makes me fear for the future of our nation. With the administration and both houses of Congress controlled by the same party we need a strong loyal opposition now more than ever and we need strong citizen activist organizations like the ACU. I am sending $25 at this time and will continue to contribute from time to time as long as I agree with the work of the ACU. I hope the ACU will support Obama when he is right but vigorously oppose him when he is wrong. I am publishing your letter in my little blog and hope others will take this opportunity to also support the ACU. All they have to do to contribute is click one of the highlighted, underlined portion of the text in your letter and complete the form and use a credit card to contribute. It is quick and easy.

Keep up the good work.


Rod Williams

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity denounce George Will and David Brooks

Last night I was watching Sean Hannity interview Rush Limbaugh and it all became clear. The conservative movement is badly splintered. On one side you have the likes of Charles Krauthammer, George Will and David Brooks and on the other side you have the likes of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage. I will identify them as the “thinking-conservatives” and the “peasants-with-pitchforks-conservatives.” The pitchfork conservatives label this division as between “so called conservatives” and “genuine conservatives.”

I really hate that we have this division. A movement that is in the minority does not need to be split in two. I would not have wanted to verbalize this division. I would prefer to ignore it. But Limbaugh laid down the gauntlet. He apparently wants to read out of the movement anyone who is not a ditto head. Below are excepts from the Hannity-Limbaugh interview (link):

HANNITY: What about all these — these so-called conservatives that met with Obama? Were you invited to that dinner?

LIMBAUGH: No, I wasn't. I wasn't.


HANNITY: I wasn't invited either.

LIMBAUGH: No. The blueprint is there. Let me — here's what's going on in the Republican Party. And it's really not new. These people that we're talking about, the northeastern blue blood Rockefeller Country Club types, they didn't even like Reagan. They — Reagan was an embarrassment. They believe that he was the dunce, an amiable dunce.

But what it's about, Sean, is abortion. These northeastern moderate liberal Republican types all have wives. I know this is going to sound pedantic and simplistic. But I have experienced it and this is how I know it. These guys that we are talking — they are big-money people. They are contributors, donors, fundraisers, they are just embarrassed to be in the same party with people in the (sigh) of who are pro (laugh) and they go to NASCAR races and that's — that's at the heart of this.

They go to the convention, the Republican convention with these people they think are hicks and hay seeds. 24 million of them without whom they couldn't win. So it really is about that. They won't say so publicly. But it — and it's not just that. But that's a large part of it, the Obama — it's a great — if you have time for me to analyze.

HANNITY: We have plenty of time.

LIMBAUGH: Does anybody, anybody with even half a brain really believe that Barack Obama went to dinner with a bunch of conservatives to have his mind changed?

HANNITY: Good point.

LIMBAUGH: If he did, there are some genuine conservatives he could have talked to. He could have invited us. He could have gone to Human Events. He could have gone to some people at the Heritage Foundation. He doesn't want his mind changed. He is co-opting these people. He's bringing them in. He wants the establishment media inside the beltway, punditry and so- called journalism, to be afraid to criticize him. I mean if he's broken bread with them and he's made them feel good about themselves, and given them an inside view of exactly who he is, it's going to be very difficult for these people to criticize him. I don't think for a minute that he cared to have his mind changed.

Pardon me, but I am greatly offended. Brooks and Will are “so called conservatives?” They are the bright lights of the movement! As far as I can determine, both George Will and David Brooks were Reagan enthusiast. Both are pro-life. The difference is that Brooks and Will analyze issues and make rational arguments; Hannity and Limbaugh rant and play to peoples prejudices. Brooks and Will appeal to the intellect; Hannity and Limbaugh appeal to the gut.

Now, I will admit that I do see a certain class or regional division within the Republican Party as well as within American society in general. I have often felt that there is a certain segment of society that looked down their nose at those of us from the South or Middle America. I myself am not a NASCAR fan, but I know what Rush means. I am a son of the South. I am a Tennessean and proud of it. I love country music. Thank God I’m a country boy! Just because I talk slow does not mean I’m dumb.

This southern inferiority complex or regional chauvinism or class resentment however is not the basis of the division within the movement. It is not about NASCAR or accents or style. I am a southern boy with an accent who likes country music so I am not a “northeastern moderate liberal Republican.” I certainly am not a “blue blood Rockefeller Country Club” Republican. If there is a Will-Brooks vs. Hannity-Limbaugh division within the conservative movement it is not a regional or class division but a division between those who think and those who simply emote.

It this is the division that Hannity and Limbaugh want to force upon the conservative movement then I would much rather identify myself with the George Will- David Brooks branch of the conservative movement than the Hannity-Limbaugh branch of the movement. I refuse to accept their labels however. We should not let the peasants-with-pitchforks hijack the movement of Buckley, Brooks and Will and claim the mantel of Reagan. We conservatives who read and think should not accept the label of “so-called conservatives.”

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Guess who’s coming to dinner? Some "so-called conservatives."

These are the columnists who recently had dinner with Barack Omaba at the home of George Will. These are the people that Hannity and Limbaugh referred to as “so called conservatives.”

David Brooks: Brooks served as an editorial writer and film reviewer for the Washington Times, a reporter and later op-ed editor for The Wall Street Journal, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard from its inception, a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Atlantic Monthly, and a commentator on NPR. He is now a columnist for The New York Times and commentator on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

George Will: George Will is a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist and author and Washington Post columnist. Will served as an editor for the conservative magazine National Review from 1972 to 1978. He joined the Washington Post Writers Group in 1979, writing a syndicated twice-weekly column, which became widely circulated among newspapers across the country. In 1976, he became a contributing editor for Newsweek, writing a biweekly backpage column. He is a regualar panelist on This Week. He also was a teacher at Harvard University.

Charles Krauthammer: He is a Pulitzer Prize -winning syndicated columnist and, a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and The New Republic. Krauthammer appears regularly as a commentator on Fox News and as a weekly panelist on Inside Washington.

Peggy Noonan: She is an author of seven books on politics, religion and culture, a weekly columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and was a primary speech writer and Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan.

Larry Kudlow: He is a supply-side economist, television personality, and newspaper columnist. He is the host of CNBC's Kudlow & Company. As a syndicated columnist, his articles appear in numerous U.S. newspapers and web sites.

Bill Kristol: Kristol is the founder and editor of the political magazine The Weekly Standard, a regular commentator on the Fox News Channel, and a conservative op-ed columnist for the New York Times.

These educated and accomplished people are all solid conservatives. They are scholars, thinkers, theorist and are wise men and women. They are the best and the brightest the conservative movement has to offer. Although many of Rush’s listeners may not be familiar with them, every conservative who can read knows these luminaries of the conservative movement. I would trust their judgement over that of Hannity and Limbaugh any day of the week. Do you suppose Hannity and Limbaugh are simply jealous because deep down they know that are nothing but loud-mouthed entertainers and don’t deserve to be in the same room with these people? Hannity and Limbaugh are not worthy of shining the shoes of the likes of these people.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

President Obama attacks Rush Limbaugh

Yesterday President Obama warned Republicans on Capitol Hill that they needed to quit listening to Rush Limbaugh if they wanted to get along with Democrats and the new administration.

"You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package. (link to New York Post story)

I am sure this made Rush Limbaugh’s day. Rush will have a field day with this attack. It enhances his prestige and will energize his audience. Rush couldn't have paid for better advertising. I would think President Obama would be better off to simply ignore Limbaugh and relegate him to the fringe. Was this a harmless off-the-cuff remark or is there a strategy behind making Limbaugh the image of his opposition? I just got through saying I was a Will-Brooks conservative, not a Hannity-Limbaugh conservative, and now Obama is driving me back into the Limbaugh camp.

Years ago I used to make a point to listen to Rush if I was free to do so at the time he was on. I was a Rush fan. Over time, I grew tired of Rush and stopped listening. At times I found myself annoyed by him. Some his more outrageous episodes such as the attack on Michael J. Fox and his hypocritical drug use and his often-faulty logic and his mean-spirited humor caused me to loose any respect for him I may have had. I lost all desire to listen. Now, I am anxious to see how Rush responds to this attack so I will try to tune-in.

In addition to finding this attack on Rush interesting, I seem to recall something about Obama going to be the post-partisan President. Dismissing those who have legitimate questions about the proposed trillion-dollar stimulus package as followers of Rush Limbaugh does not sound like a guy who is trying to build bridges and change the way things are done in Washington. I think I am beginning to understand what Obama meant when he spoke about ending partisanship in Washington. I think he meant that if you didn’t agree with some of his policies you were to keep your mouth shut and roll over and play dead. Obama has only been President for two days and the warm and fuzzy is starting to fade.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Engish-only Fails!

Yesterday the voters of Nashville rejected the English-only charter amendment. The opponents of the proposed charter amendment won a lopsided victory by defeating the measure with almost a 10,000 vote margin. 41,752 people voted against the measure and 32,144 voted for it. That and one other proposed charter amendment were the only things on the ballot. Turn-out was considered high for an election where no candidates were running for office.

The opponents of the measure included many Nashville public figures and institutions included the Governor, the Mayor, Chamber of Commerce, prominent business leaders, nine College Presidents, religious leaders, The Tennessean and various others. The only prominent people publicly identified with the proponents of the Amendment was the sponsor, Councilman Eric Crafton and local conservative radio talk show host Phil Valentine. Despite the lopsided public opposition their was a fear that the silent majority would defeat the establishment and the measure would pass. Many proponents of the bill viewed this measure as a way to make a statement about the problem of illegal immigration. Had the measure passed, Nashville would have been the largest city to ever pass such measure.

I am relieved that Nashville defeated this proposed amendment. It was unnecessary and was bad public policy. Had the measure passed, no one knew for certain what the impact would have been. It would have saved the city of Nashville almost no money since most translation services provided to residents of the city are paid for by Federal funds and are required or are provided by bi-lingual employees who are already on the payroll. The city has recruited bi-lingual policemen. Many feared the measure would prohibit a policemen who speaks Spanish from talking to another person in Spanish. Signs at the airport in other languages may have been illegal. School official may not have been permitted to send messages home with children in the language of the parents of the child. No doubt their would have been numerous expensive legal challenges to the measure. The Chamber feared it would hinder tourism and business recruitment. I think if it had prevailed it would have presented Nashville in a very bad light. I am glad that decency and common sense prevailed and this divisive measure was defeated.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Today I am voting "No" on English-only

To learn more about the issue, contribute, or get a yard sign visit Nashville for All of Us.

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Nashville's English-Only Charter Amendment ...

is unnecessary, legally irresponsible, and bad public policy.

By Nathan Moore

The “English only” charter amendment is bad, not because the Metropolitan government doesn't need to be speaking in English (it already is), but because it is completely unnecessary. The primary advocates, many of whom I have known for years, are pursuing bad government policy with reckless abandon and it is shameful. The call for a special election, which would cost the taxpayers somewhere in the ballpark of $350,000 for an unnecessary, legally irresponsible amendment, is absurd. The money Metro would be spending could just as well go to more accessible English as a second language classes, which would go further toward solving the perceived linguistic problems of our city than this silly amendment.

As Davidson County Republican Party chairman Tom Lawless noted in The Tennessean today, “What is the great immediacy of this?”. He is certainly right - there is no immediacy, especially not in the case of this poorly contrived law.

I tend to look for the best in people, and will give most the benefit of many doubts, but I truly cannot figure out what positive is being accomplished with this amendment. The state of the law will not change. The only outcome will be that costs to Metro will go up in the form of litigation from certain constitutional challenges.

There is no language crisis in our city. Immigrants are not “holding out” on us, refusing to speak in anything but their native tongues. No one comes to America (and more specifically, Nashville), not wanting to learn English. There is not some underground society on Nolensville Road that has pledged to speak Spanish or die.

But what does need to die is the English-Only charter amendment. It is giving conservatives in Metro an awful reputation, one that many of us do not deserve and strenuously resent. I strongly oppose the English-Only charter amendment and urge its backers to rethink their reasons for supporting it. Surely we can focus on something that would actually make Metro better, leaving the coarsely developed aura of this irrational xenophobia in the gutter where it truly belongs.

Nathan Moore is a Nashville attorney, conservative activist, former Davidson County Young Republican Chairman and blogs at MoreThoughs. I had the pleasure of hearing him debate the proposed Nashville English-only charter amendment that is on the ballot to be decided January 22. Nathan debated Councilman Eric Crafton, the author of the bill, at today’s First Tuesday Group, a monthly Republican gathering. I concur with the arguments made by Nathan and the opponents of the bill.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Inauguration

The Obama inauguration speech just concluded. It was inspirational and motivational. He set the perfect tone. I did not think the speech itself was a great speech, but a good speech. He did not sugar coat the problems we face but offered hope. He recalled our past challenges and our greatness and told us that we can overcome the current problems and that there are more great days ahead. He applauded the American sprit and our achievements. Any criticism of the Bush administration was very subtle. He appeared as a practical, reassuring, strong figure who loves this nation.

I was pleased that he extended a hand of peace to our enemies but vowed that we would defeat those who practice terrorism. His comment, “We will defeat you” was worthy of a cheer. His saying that we will not apologize for our way of life was another great line. I was pleased that he said we would defend our country without compromising our values.

One of the most poignant parts of his speech was when he said that in 60 years we went from a time when his father could not be seated in a restaurant to today when a person of color is being sworn in as President. That is a reason to take pride in our nation. We have changed for the better. His election is symbolic that we have lived up to the ideas our nation has long professsed.

I thought the whole events of the day and the ceremony and the music and the prayer and the speech were reassuring and up-lifting. To see the Bushs receive the Obamas for a short receptions somehow stuck me as an ordinary event yet an important symbol of the American civility of politics. We may disagree with our political advisories but we can interact and be polite and pleasant. To witness the amiable, peaceful transfer of power is something we take for granted, but we should realize that is not the way things are done in much of the world and for much of world history. We are truly blessed to live in America.

I will have differences with the party in power and hope the Obama administration fails to achieve some of their objectives. However, Obama is my President. Today, I feel nothing but goodwill toward the new administration and I have pride in my nation. God Bless Obama and the United States of America.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

I am starting to feel warm and fuzzy.

I am watching Hardball and it was reported that tonight Barack Obama will be hosting a dinner honoring John McCain. What? Not only that, apparently when interviewing potential top tier foreign policy advisors he asked them to fill out a questionnaire and then asked John McCain to help judge the answers. Last week Obama attended a dinner at George Will’s house where David Brooks and other conservative commentators were in attendance. This is unreal. I was amassed that he selected Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State. And then, Rick Warren was selected to say the official prayer asking God’s blessing on the new administration. His economic advisors include people with whom Wall Street are comfortable. He has equivocated and backtracked on some of his campaign promises. People I respect and admire say they think Obama is pragmatic and reasonable. Maybe he really meant it when he talked about bringing a new climate of nonpartisanship to Washington. Maybe he is the right man at the right time for our nation. I am starting to feel all warm and fuzzy.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Obama's Costly Inauguration!

People are being evicted from their homes, unemployment is up, the stock market is down, we have homeless on the streets and the inauguration of President Barack Obama is going to cost $150 million!

And, I really don't care. Spend it! Party hard! Celebrate!

This money could be used to feed the homeless or fight aids and help people make their house payment. Yea, but we also need to party. Anyway most of the money is from private donors. If they were not spending it on this big party they probably wouldn't be spending it. We have no claim to the money of rich Democrats who are spending their own money.

That portion of the money that is spend by the city of D.C or the State of Virginia is an investment in tourism. Any government of a tourist destination spends public funds on safety. It is a public investment. That money spend by the Federal government I don't begrudge. We need to spend funds for ceremonial operations of government. Why do we have all of those military bands? This is their chance to play.

Anyway, this spending is an economic stimulus with a multiplier effect probably greater than the multiplier effect of the public funds that Congress will soon appropriate. Florist, hairdressers, hotels, restaurants, cab drivers, waiters, chefs, souvenir vendors, designers of ball gowns and many, many more will earn income from the event. So a big party is good economic activity.

I just want to point out that the inauguration is by far the most costly in history costing $150 million in the worst of economic times since the great depression. The Bush inauguration in 2005, by comparison, cost about $70 million which was then the most costly to date. Many Democrats were critical of the cost of the Bush inauguration. When Reagan was inaugurated, Mrs. Reagan was severely criticized for wearing a $10,000 gown to one of the balls. I promise not to criticize the cost of Michelle's gown.

If you are a Democrat, ask yourself if you would be complaining about this expensive party if the shoe was on the other foot. In today's economic hard times, if John McCain had been elected and it was the Republican team spending this kind of money on a party, what would you be saying? I know it is hard to believe, but their will be another Republican inauguration someday. So, if you are not bitching about the cost of this party, don't bitch when it is our turn.

I know it is a hopeless quest to try to get sanctimonious hypocritical liberals to see their contradictions, but I like to try.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Obama can change America

As we to prepare to witness the historical inauguration of Barack Obama as the first Black person to become President of the United States, I feel good about it. I wish him well. I do not wish him well because I agree with his policies; I hope he is not successful in implementing some of the changes he wishes for our county. On some issues, I think we should be changing in the opposite direction of the direction Obama wants to take us. On other issues, I agree with Obama and hope he follows through on his campaign promises. In general, it is not his policies that have given me high hopes for Obama. I am not hoping he can change government policy but rather I am hopeful that he can change society.

America is still a society where most White people have it pretty good and most Black people do not. You do not have to tell me that there are successful African Americans and poor White people; of course there are. But, on average the typical Black person has it much worse in this country than the average White person.

Some will point out that any remnant of discrimination has been eliminated and opportunity, even preferential treatment, has been provided to Black Americans. For the most part I agree, and yet the divide between the races is undeniable.

If you are born white, you can have reasonable expectations of growing up to be successful. Even if you are born to parents of modest means, you probably know someone who has achieved success or someone in your family may have achieved success. If you are white it is reasonable to have high expectations. The chances are pretty good that the typical White child will grow up to be productive, and middle class and prestige and wealth are within grasp for those with exceptional abilities and those who apply themselves.

What can the black child realistically look forward to? Many find a reality in this: If you are a black girl you will be pregnant by the time you are sixteen and raise a child alone as a single mother, financially struggling your entire life. If you are a black boy it is worse. You will start getting into trouble with the law by the time you are a young teenager. You will drop out of school and you will end up spending part of your life in prison. You may be killed before you reach thirty. No one has to tell me it doesn’t have to be this way; I know it doesn’t, but the picture I have painted is the likely reality. If life turns out better, then you have beaten the odds.

Why is it like this? I suspect that the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and the Great Society are all responsible for the state of the Black community. We have witnessed the destruction of the family in the Black community; the family unit is the building block of society. And poverty can be a simple math equation. For example, a mother earning $20,000 a year with one child is living in poverty. However, a family with a father earning $30,000 and a mother earning $20,000 and raising one child are doing OK. Poverty is much more than a math equation though. The absence of the father in the home is more than the absence of that income. Young men need a role model and a strong disciplinarian to keep them from running wild. Young women need a stable male figure, representing strength and fortitude and demonstrating love.

Poverty is hopelessness. Poverty is a different set of values. Poverty is a state of mind. If poverty is not to be devastating, people need the support system of the family structure. Poverty and despair and immediate gratification and low expectations and self-destructive behavior have become part of the fabric of Black society.

I think that whatever success Obama may have as President, his greatest success may be that he can change Black society. I can only imagine the pride that many Blacks must be feeling as they see a Black man achieve the ultimate success in becoming the most influential and powerful person in the world. Certainly we have had other Black role models recently. The Bush administration featured Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, yet I suspect that having a Black man at the very top of the ladder can have an impact that other Blacks in lesser positions cannot have.

Due to the historical structure of society, politics and even the entertainment industry, Blacks have had few admirable role models in the publicized realm. In modern times, the Black adults that many Black kids look up to are rappers and athletes. Many of the athletes have the persona of thugs and pimps and the rappers revel in that image. I watched the movie Ray Charles the other night. I love the music of Ray Charles and really enjoyed the movie, yet Ray Charles was not an admirable person. He was a drug addict who was openly unfaithful to his wife. If you are a Black parent, is this the kind of role model you want for your kid? I know one could also say that there are plenty of Whites who would make poor role models, but it seems poor role models are abundant in the black community and people to admire are few and far between.

It seem like even the successful blacks are often crooks and thugs or tainted by scandal or associations. Here in Tennessee we had an attractive Black candidate run for Senate a few years ago named Harold Ford, Jr. There was never any serious allegation about defects in his character, yet he comes from a powerful political Black family out of Memphis that is deeply tainted by scandal and corruption. His uncle, John Ford, was a sharp-dressing, handsome, arrogant, slick politician who had numerous run-ins with the law and who had a wife but also openly had a mistress. He openly maintained two households. He was a state senator for many years and is now in prison for corruption. From Adam Clayton Powell down through the present, it seems that there is almost an expectation that Blacks who achieve political success are corrupt.

Also, many of the civil rights leaders and religious leaders such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson seem more like demigods and shakedown artist rather than principled leaders. Certainly there are many, many good people pastoring Black churches across America and other Black leaders of stature, but the high profile Black leaders look like con artist.

My hope for America is that Blacks will aspire to look and act like Barack Obama and not the pimp on the corner, or the drug dealer, or the rapper, or the thug athlete. I hope that the image of the Obama household where a family consisting of two successful parents and two little girls living in a normal, loving, and supportive environment sinks into the psyche of every Black kid across America. I hope that Blacks see that they can achieve anything they put their mind to. I hope they learn to value education. I hope that speaking normal English and being responsible and working hard and studying and having aspirations is no longer considered “acting white.”

I hope there is never a hint of scandal on Obama. I was concerned about some of his Chicago relationships but I hope they were casual and that nothing more comes out to tie Obama to the corruptions of some of his past associates. If Obama has a girl friend on the side, I hope we never learn about it. I hope Obama is never caught taking money under the table. I hope he never shakes down contributors or is caught helping a corrupt crony get a contract or having a cheap affair with an intern.

I hope that Obama does not try to help the Black community by extending the dependency of the welfare state. That is the last thing the Black community needs. They do not need more dependency; they need self-sufficiency. Welfare reform was a step in the right direction and then it was abandoned and we backslid. For the last few years, for the most part, the problems of the Black community have been ignored. There are ways to expand opportunity without fostering dependency. The best thing Obama can do for the Black community is be a role model and use the bully pulpit to inspire Blacks to have greater aspirations and change the way they think. If Black kids want to grow up and be like Obama, that may be Obama’s most lasting legacy.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Evaporated cane juice?

Nashville has finally arrived! We have a Trader Joe's. I went to Trader Joe's recently and bought some good stuff at good prices. One of the things I purchased was Sunflower Seed Butter. The ingredients in Sunflower Seed Butter are sunflower seeds, evaporated cane juice, and salt. Evaporated cane juice? Isn't that sugar?

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dear Mike, I don't wish George W. Bush ill, I just wish him goodbye and good riddance

Dear Rod,

For the last eight years, President Bush has led our country with firm determination and a steady hand in the face of numerous challenges and crises. He restored honor and integrity to the White House and protected America from another terrorist attack.

As President and Mrs. Bush prepare to leave Washington in a few weeks to return to Texas, I know I speak for Republicans and grassroots leaders across America when I say we are all grateful for their tremendous service to our country. To show our appreciation for our Commander-in-Chief, the RNC is asking every Republican to sign an electronic card that will be presented to President Bush before he leaves office. It is the least each of us can do to show our gratitude to the leader of our country and our Party.

And if you can, Rod, I hope you will also consider giving a gift to keep our Party strong and moving forward. Your secure online contribution of $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or $25 will go a long way toward helping the RNC provide the support our Republican leaders need to fight the Democrats' liberal agenda and prepare for the vital 2009-2010 elections.

I hope you will add your name to the RNC's Thank You card to President Bush and Laura Bush today. And thank you for your continued support of our Party and our cause.

Best Wishes,

Robert M. "Mike" Duncan
Chairman, Republican National Committee

P.S. Rod, in order for your name to be included on the RNC's Thank you e-card to President and Mrs. Bush, you must reply to this e-mail by January 15th. Please click here to sign the President's Thank You card and to make a secure online gift to help strengthen our Party for the battles ahead. Thank you.

Dear Mike,

Thank you for your kind letter but I must decline the opportunity to send a donation to the RNC at this time, and I am not going to sign the e-card thanking President Bush for his service. Although I made several contributions to the McCain campaign and the RNC during the election, I am withholding future donations until I see who is elected the new chairman of the RNC. Frankly, Mike, since you represent the old guard of Bush loyalist, I will be less likely to contribute to the RNC if you are re-elected chairman.

I don’t personally know you, and you may be a good guy, but I want a clean break from the Bush years and a new beginning for the party. You see, I have been a disgruntled Republican these last few years and instead of wanting to show my appreciation to President Bush, I am sighing relief that we survived his presidency. I am certainly not celebrating that Obama is being inaugurated President, but I almost feel like celebrating that Bush is leaving office. I want to forget that Bush ever happened.

I must disagree with several things you say in your letter. First of all, you say that Bush has restored honor and integrity to the White House. I don’t quite see it that way. Sure, Bill Clinton was shady and there were allocations about questionable land deals and shake-down of contributors and association with shady characters; but, Republicans have had Jack Abramoff and other scandals, so on balance, I don’t know that Bush has a claim to any greater integrity than Clinton.

If you are referring to Bill Clinton getting a blow job in the oval office, then I always thought that was a bit overblown. I know Clinton lied about it and committed perjury and that was an embarrassment, but it didn’t put the country at risk. At most, that was a personal failing. He betrayed Hillary, not the country. Bush may have a greater claim to personal moral purity than Clinton but I would not say that Bush restored honor and integrity to the office of President. In some ways, Bush brought more dishonor to the Office. Justifying and condoning torture dishonored our nation.

Bill Clinton embarrassed us by the blow job incident; Bush embarrassed us by just being George W. Bush. I am relieved that I will not have to see anymore “Great moments in Presidential Speeches.” One of the most embarrassing times I remember about GWB is when he nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. She clearly was an unqualified person. I would have been embarrassed if our Metro Council had tried to put her on the bench as a General Sessions judge, and yet Bush wanted to put her on the Supreme Court. Bush always seemed to value loyalty over competence and if there is one word to describe his presidency it is “incompetence.”

You say that Bush has led us with “firm determination and a steady hand.” Is that just another way of saying he was bull headed and would not listen to reason? That is the way I see him.

You say that you know you speak for Republicans and grassroots leaders across America when you say we are all grateful for President Bush’s service to our country. You don’t speak for me. I am not grateful for Bush’s service. I think we would be better off if Bush had never been our president.

Don't get me wrong. I don’t hate Bush. I don’t wish him ill. Unlike many on the left, I don’t even think Bush is an evil person. But, he made some serious mistakes and shamed our nation. Maybe history will judge him more kindly than I now judge him. Two presidents who are now highly regarded, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, committed offenses to our constitution and committed grave violation of our civil liberties and yet history treats them well, so history may treat Bush well. Who knows? We will have to wait and see.

I don’t think everything Bush did was wrong. There is much about his administration with which I agree and admire. He has some accomplishments which I think deserve praise. We can be proud of the assistance we have given Africa to fight AIDS. Bush appointed two supremely qualified solid conservatives to the Supreme Court. I generally agree with “no child left behind.” I agreed with Bush’s tax policy. There are other things that Bush tried to accomplish that were the right thing to do but he simply failed to pull them off. He tried to avert the housing crisis and rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but the Democrats in Congress defeated his proposed reforms. Comprehensive immigration reform, social security reform, and health care reform were the correct policies to pursue, and I was with him. On comprehensive immigration reform, I think Bush was right but he was defeated because he could not get the support of his own party.

I fault Bush for expanding entitlements with the Medicare prescription drug benefit. I fault him for run-away spending and failure to use the veto. I think he failed to show leadership and must accept part of the blame for the Katrina response. Most of all, I fault him for leading us into an unnecessary war based on faulty and manipulated intelligence. I am ashamed of illegal wire-tapping, extraordinary rendition, torture, and Abu Ghraib.

I don’t want Bush to be indicted. I don’t want investigations. I want to look forward and not backward. However, I don’t want to honor George W. Bush. I want my country’s honor restored and I hope the Grand Ole Party can find its soul. I don’t wish George W. Bush ill; I just wish him good-bye and good riddance.


Rod Williams

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hey Barney Frank, Thanks for the Housing Crisis.

No doubt there were various factors at work that caused the mortgage crisis. Democrats and their friends in the media like to blame the Reagan-era deregulation and many conservative commentators wish to blame the Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act, while others point to other causes.

One undeniable factor, if not the primary factor, was the irresponsible practices of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac. Fannie and Freddie do not make loans of course but purchase the paper of the mortgage companies that do make the loans.

In the 1990’s, encouraged by the Clinton administration as a means of advancing homeownership, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac started buying sub prime loans. Previously there was a much smaller market for sub prime mortgages, but with Fannie and Freddie buying the paper the availability of sub prime loans skyrocketed. With time-tested lending practices out the window, these two institutions ended up controlling 90% of the secondary market for mortgages. Those within the organizations who raised objections to the irresponsible lending being encouraged by Fannie and Freddie were overruled and eased out.

Fannie and Freddy began hiring Democratic operatives as CEO’s and upper management.
At the same time, Fannie and Freddie began making huge contributors to Congress, spending millions to influence votes. While some Republicans also received financial contributions from the two institutions, most of the money went to Democrats. Top recipients of those campaign contributions were Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, the Chairmen of the Committees that should have been providing over site of the two financial giants. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were also among the top receipts of Fannie and Freddy campaign contributions.

Wall Street investors liked the new arrangement and the easy money. Democrats liked the votes they could garner by being the party that advanced homeownership and they liked the dependable source of campaign contributions. This was the “crony capitalism” that led to the crisis.

By the early part of this decade it became clear that Fannie and Freddie were advancing a market in risky loans. If these practices continued an economic meltdown was inevitable. In 2004 Fannie Mae was caught in an accounting scandal overstating their earning and their financial stability. Congress conducted dozens of hearing and Democrats defended Fannie Mae and denied that a problem existed. (See above video.)

Principled Republicans, let by John McCain, called for the reform of Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac and President Bush proposed a bill to tighten regulation of the institutions. (For a record of the Bush administrations efforts to rein in Fannie Mae see Just the Facts: The Administration's Unheeded Warnings About the Systemic Risk Posed by the GSEs)

The bill to tighten regulation over the Government Sponsored Enterprises (Fannie and Freddie) was introduced in Congress in January 2005 but Democrats blocked it. If one single person gets credit for blocking reform that could have averted the mortgage crisis it has to be Barney Frank. (See, Fannie Mae’s Patron Saint)

While there are other factors at play that led to the economic meltdown, the bulk of the blame must be laid at the feet of Congressional Democrats who turned a blind eye to what was going on, benefited from it, and blocked reform that could have averted it.

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Latest Polling on Engish-only

In a recent poll, thirty-seven percent of Nashvillians say they support the proposed English only charter amendment and fourty-two percent say they oppose it. The other 21 percent said, "No hablo ingles."

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Obama the Magic Negro

If you haven’t heard it yet, this is the song that is creating so much controversy. The lyrics of this parody are pretty much self-explanatory. The song takes it title from a March 2007 opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times that argued that Obama was the “magic Negro” and his candidacy helped white voters alleviate guilt over past racial injustices. This parody from Paul Shanklin was first aired on the Rush Limbaugh program. I am not offended by it. I find it humorous. Like a lot of humor, however, someone is bound to take offence. Mush of the media is characterizing the song as racist and as insulting to Barack Obama. I think it is a real stretch to label this as racist. The target of the parody is not even Obama but Al Sharpton and those who criticized Obama for being insufficiently “Black.”

Former Tennessee GOP leader Chip Saltsman, who was campaign manager for Mike Huckabee and is now a candidate for Chairman of the Republican National Committee, sent as a Christmas gift a Paul Shanklin CD to members of the RNC and other prominent people on his gift list. Among the 41 songs on the CD was this one. In my view it is just silly that this is an issue. I don’t think that giving a gift of a CD of political parodies should be reason to disqualify Saltsman for the position of RNC chairman. On the other hand, the world is not fair and the party needs a Chairman that can rebuild the party.
I am not concerned about this because I think Blacks will take offence and not support the GOP. Ninety-six percent of African Americans voted for Obama, which was an increase from the 90% who almost always vote for Democrats. The African American community is so tied to the Democratic Party that I doubt we will ever pry them loose. There are not enough Black votes in play to make a difference. My concern is that we will permanently loose those white voters who voted for the “magic Negro” if the Republican Party is perceived as tolerant of racist attitudes.

It is unfair I know and I hate that we have to succumb to political correctness, but now is not the time to stand up to the dominant political establishment and defend a conservative comedian. We have more important things on the agenda. We do not need this distraction. We need to choose our battles and now is not the time to battle extreme sensitivity and political correctness. Most people will never even hear the song to judge it for themselves; they will just hear that the Republican Party selected as their chairman someone who sent out a racist song that made fun of Obama.

If one has aspirations to be Chairman of the RNC, then one should send out tasteful paperweights that are a bust of Lincoln or maybe a brass elephant paperweight or a book of Ronald Regan quotations. Political humor is a landmine for a politician. Leave the promotion of political humor to Rush Limbaugh. The Party has enough problems without this. I am sympathetic to Saltsman, but we need to throw him under the bus and move on.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bush signs gay rights bill

December 24, 2008

Yesterday, Bush signed into law the Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act of 2008 (WRERA), requiring employers to allow employees to roll their retirement plans over to nonspouse partners. The Human Rights Campaign hailed the bill for allowing gay couples to share benefits. (link)


Currently if you are a married person and your employer provides you with a retirement plan with a death benefit and you die, your spouse can receive the death benefit directly deposited into an IRA in his or her name. If this rule was not in place and the surviving spouse was required to withdraw the entire benefit all at once, that would result in severe tax penalties due to early withdrawal. Also, if the surviving spouse was required to withdraw the money all at once, he or she could be bumped into a higher tax bracket.

This benefit has only been available for married people until now. The bill Bush signed into law expands this right to gay couples as long as the person with the employee benefit registers his or her partner as the beneficiary.

While extending to gay couples a benefit that married couples have, it also gives benefits to gay couples that straight people do not have. Let me explain. In my job, I often work with clients who may have multiple children together and either live together or have lived to together off-and-on but they have never gotten married. If these people had a retirement benefit like this, they could not do the same thing that now a gay couple will have the right to do. I think a better law than this one, would be a law that allows a person to pass on his or her retirement benefit to anyone he wishes without regard to familial status or special relationship or sexual orientation. I would let a son give it to his mother, or a father to his daughter or any person give it to his or her best friend. Since this is not what was in the bill however, I think Bush was correct to sign the bill into law. It addresses a real-life wrong that needed to be corrected.

While I oppose gay marriage, I think we must make accommodations to gay couples. This bill was a small step but it corrected an injustice that needed correcting. If we can address the needs of gay couples with laws such as this, then the demand for gay marriage will lessen and at the same time real problems will be resolved and injustices corrected.

I am still undecided on the issue of Civil Unions but am leaning toward acceptance of some form of it. It does not have to be called “civil unions” necessarily, although I see nothing wrong with that term. Maybe we could call this new status simply a “domestic registry.” If a union were registered, the registered couple (or more) would be eligible for a bundle of the rights now given only to married people. If a mother and her adult son wanted to be registered as a couple that would be OK by me as long as we do not call it marriage.

I am not so sure that all state sanctioned "marriage" should not be anything more than “civil unions” or a registration on a “domestic registry.” How about letting the state register the union and the church join people together in holy matrimony if that is what the couple desire and they meet that faiths requirements? Face it; marriage does not carry the same weight it used to. Many couples wait until they have their first child to get married or they live together without ever getting marriage. Marriage also is certainly not until “death do us part.” When a couple can void a marriage simply by declaring incompatibility, marriage is not such a terrible commitment or strong bond. I do think society has an interest in promoting strong families, but I am not so sure that government conferring certain benefits only on “married” couples is the vehicle for promoting strong families.

As to the politics of this issue, I am surprised that this story has not gotten more coverage. I was out of town for the holidays visiting family on the day this news occurred and I missed it. I did not read a newspaper or watch TV on that day, so I don’t know if this got much coverage or not, but I assume it did not. An Internet search does not reveal a lot of coverage by mainstream news sources covering the issue or big name commentators commenting. I read a lot blogs and chat groups and this is not big news in the blogosphere. I don’t understand it.

I do not expect liberals to say anything praiseworthy of George W. Bush, but would have thought that Bush signing a piece of pro-gay legislation would have been news. I am also very surprised that the religious right has not been all over this story. I would have expected them to nail Bush to the wall over this. Is Bush so unimportant that he is not worth criticizing? I would expect the televangelist, Focus on the Family, Phyllis Schlafly and the various pro-family organizations to be ballistic. Why are they not? I am pleased that the right has not been in an uproar over this issue. If the voice of the religious right is growing faint then I think that is a good thing for the Republican Party. I don’t think there is much benefit for Republicans to be seen as the party of gay bashing.

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