2007 Columns 

Chairman Doug Grindstaff, Executive Director Jean Barwick and other active members of the Williamson County Republican Party are regular contributors to the OpEd section of the Williamson Herald. Read their commentaries below.

1/18/2007 The good, the bad, and the ugly

01/18/2007 -

E.D.GRINDSTAFF
doug@williamsontngop.org

As we enter a new year and face the prospects of the consequences of the electoral process of last year, it is appropriate for us to evaluate the early signs of things to come.

In state government, the Democrats held on to the governorship and the majority in the House. The Republicans held on to the majority in the Senate. The big change was that a Republican, Ron Ramsey, was elected Speaker and Lt. Governor, becoming the first Republican in 140 years to hold that position.

This should have happened two years ago, but two Republicans decided to trade their votes for preferential treatment by Speaker Wilder. This term Sen. Burchett (R-Knoxville) committed early to vote for Sen. Ramsey, but the other defector, Sen. Mike Williams (R-Maynardville) refused to commit and actually abstained from voting in the caucus meetings. After all, Wilder had appointed Williams Speaker pro tem with all its privileges and offices.

Unexpectedly, Sen. Rosalind Kurita (D-Clarksville) stepped forward to make Williams vote irrelevant.  She voted for Ramsey and ended Wilder’s 36-year reign as Speaker. She said, “I voted my conscious” and by all reports there was no other incentive for her. That is more than Sen. Cooper (D-Smartt) could do. Even after promising he would not vote for Wilder, he was persuaded to stay in the fold by a smooth talking Wilder. Perhaps he has some concerns about his federal indictment in a land-fraud case that involved a loan he got from one of Wilder’s banks.

Some Democrats may see Sen. Kurita as a defector like Burchett and Williams, but I take her statement as truth and I respect a politician of either party who will stand for principle with no personal gain involved. I vote for Sen. Kurita as “The Good”.

For the rest of this term don’t expect this change of leadership to cause big changes. Life in the state capitol is still controlled by the Governor and the House, but at least you won’t need to worry about a state income tax for the next two years.

“The Bad” comes from Washington. After campaigning across the nation as the party of reconciliation and non-partisanship, the Democrats announced a total close out of the Republican minority. They will not be allowed to propose any bills or even to offer any amendments to the Democrats’ bills in the new Congress. In the 16 years of the Republican majority, this had never been done. By now we should be accustomed to “Say-Do’s” (say one thing but do another) but this reversal is so blatant that even veteran observers were amazed. Since Speaker Pelosi has now announced herself as “the most powerful woman in America” I suppose she doesn’t have to worry about changing mere campaign promises.

If that outrage only rates “The Bad” you must be wondering what could possibly be “The Ugly”? It is in fact a small, little-reported footnote of the new House, but it portends more warnings of the coming storms than even the minority exclusion.

As a part of the Contract with America 16 years ago, the Republican majority instituted a rule that a 60% super majority would be required to pass any form of a tax increase. The first vote of the Democrat majority was to rescind this rule. Does anyone really need to wonder why they would do that? When I was a kid the old-timers would say: “ the sky looks ugly”.

Unlike the state Senate change, which will not change our lives, the signs from Washington are significant and troubling. Of course one needs to understand the new vocabulary to understand what is being said.

You won’t hear about tax increases! You will hear about “pay as you go”. Of course we absolutely MUST go, so you will need to PAY! This is similar to Clinton’s calling the largest tax increase in the nation’s history “an investment”.

You also won’t hear about endless hearings and investigations to harass the administration. You will hear endlessly about the need for OVERSITE on everything the executive branch does.

And by the way, you won’t hear anything about illegal immigration. You will hear NOTHING.

This will not be a pretty year in Washington.

[Back to Top]   [Print]   [Direct Link]   [Share This]

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn Reddit Share on Twitter

2/1/2007 Personal responsibility gets an 'F' in the Duke lacrosse case

02/01/2007 -

By JEAN BARWICK
jean@williamsontngop.org

If there were ever a case of learning things the hard way, the Duke lacrosse team rape case is it. We watched with concern as rape allegations by a black stripper were made against the mostly white Duke University lacrosse team. A long standing reputation of underage drinking and bad behavior by the lacrosse team preceded the rape allegation making it all the more believable. The unfolding case, which appears now to have unravelled, exposes an alarming lack of personal responsibility that damages everyone involved personally, politically and professionally for the rest of their lives.

A narcissistic political opportunist, Mike Nifong, running for the Democratic nomination for district attorney in Durham County, capitalized on a rare political circumstance. Durham, North Carolina, home to one of the country's most elitist universities and marked by wide social, racial and class distinctions, handed Nifong a legal 'perfect storm' with arrogant, privileged white athletes, alcohol, sex, racial prejudice and damning DNA evidence on one side, and a poor, struggling black single mother on the other. In this case, as with all other cases in his charge, the district attorney was expected to manage the evidence and to be a fair and impartial minister of justice.

Nifong's political campaign immediately hit the print and broadcast media stage where he systematically pointed out that the lacrosse team's lack of personal responsibility lead to the transgressions against the accuser, or victim, as he referred to her. His public comments no doubt lead to widespread condemnation of the lacrosse team and heightened racial tensions in the community. In the days following the allegation and Nifong's public statements concerning the case, protesters converged on the campus demanding justice for the woman.

Over the past year, the case has begun to evaporate. The damning DNA evidence from the accuser that was supposed to be a slam dunk for the prosecution revealed genetic material from seven distinct males - none of which matched DNA from any member of the Duke lacrosse team. The accuser has changed her recollections of the incident a number of times since the first report. Now she's not sure a rape occurred at all.

The lacrosse case has degenerated into a travesty for everyone involved and the North Carolina Bar has finally decided to take action. Nifong has been removed from the case and has been named in a complaint brought by the Bar where he will be discussing his own lack of personal responsibility to the Disciplinary Hearing Committee.

Although most of the attention in this case has focused on Nifong's misconduct, he doesn't shoulder all of the blame for what has happened. The Duke lacrosse students and their accuser certainly bear an enormous burden for the tragic chain of events. This case dramatically illustrates the potential and very real consequences of the boy culture, arrogance and male privilege that is fostered in university athletic programs. No one expects universities to teach its athletes personal responsibility - that should be learned at home - but universities should hold their student athletes accountable for their behavior.

The very real possibility that the accuser lied about the rape looms large over the case and has all but derailed it. Although the lacrosse team is no model for good conduct and citizenship, the emotional and financial consequences of defending themselves against a lie of this magnitude will be felt by their families for decades. Failure to accept personal responsibility by the accuser in this case has longer reaching consequences for her three children. Most people accept the fact that engaging in risky behaviors will have negative consequences somewhere down the line. It's one thing to put yourself at risk but condemning your children to the same risk is unacceptable. By excusing her behavior and blaming bigotry, prejudice, sexism and closed mindedness for her lifestyle, we make her more vulnerable and put her children at greater risk. Accepting personal responsibility for one's actions is always the harder choice, and I see no victims here. Instead I see a group of adults who refused at multiple points to be the sole determinants in the choices they made. Let the chips fall where they may.

[Back to Top]   [Print]   [Direct Link]   [Share This]

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn Reddit Share on Twitter

2/15/2007 What happened to 'temporary sales tax?'

02/15/2007 -

Doug Grindstaff
doug@williamsontngop.org

Do you remember when we had the big fight over an income tax during our last economic slowdown? Do you remember when the compromise was a temporary increase in the state sales tax until the economy improved?

Seems like just yesterday. But today both the federal and most state governments are collecting record tax receipts. The U.S. gross domestic product has increased in four years by an amount larger than the total economy of China. Read that again.

In the past four years the U.S. has grown by a “China economy.” These are indeed boom times.

Our state tax growth is more difficult to read and I keep seeing differing reports, but it is undeniable that we are above average and above the federal growth rate in tax receipts. Yet every increase in tax receipts is matched by an excuse to increase spending. Just this week Gov. Bredesen proposed to spend an additional $70 million on a plan to support ethanol and an additional $372 million on education. Is this what we voted to support in the “temporary sales tax?” Why is there not an outcry to roll back the tax increase that put us in the highest sales tax bracket in the country? Did we all so soon forget?

Could it be that our government thinks that we are all stupid?

And what will we get for the millions proposed to be spent on ethanol? All the smart money in the country knows ethanol is nothing more than a new farm subsidy. It takes six gallons of petroleum to produce ten gallons of ethanol. Ethanol plants can’t run without the oil-fired distillery. When the ethanol is produced, it has 10% less energy than gasoline so mileage is cut by 10%. No one seems to report that ethanol causes more smog than gasoline. If we converted to all ethanol, we would have to shut down traffic just to control air pollution. Newsweek’s current front cover is questioning the future of ethanol.

Recently The Wall Street Journal had an article questioning whether the EPA would restrict the use of ethanol because of pollution. In the same paper, an article questioned the feasibility of ethanol since it cannot be put into pipelines but must be shipped in tankers to blending stations (which don’t exist) near the sales points. Of course we could use imported ethanol shipped to our East Coast, but we have imposed a 54 cents per gallon tariff to keep it out. One does not want cheap foreign production ruining a good farm subsidy.

But why is it that we should spend our “temporary sales tax” on local research? Any good tax and spend politician knows how to get on the buy-a-vote bandwagon.

How about the $372 million for increased funding for education? How can anyone argue against supporting our kids? This is especially true if we are only sending the money to “at risk” kids (of course it’s zero for Williamson). But is this really to help kids or is it another gift at the altar of the education unions? What have we gotten for the hundreds of millions we have added to education over the past decade? How will we measure the results of adding another four hundred million?

I have a suggestion. Let’s add the $372 million. Let’s move another $130 million of the lottery surplus to education to make an even half billion. But let’s tie the funding to an open voucher system for all students to let the market decide where education is best done. If we’re really concerned about the children, let’s give them a chance to get a better education.

And let’s roll back the “temporary sales tax!”

[Back to Top]   [Print]   [Direct Link]   [Share This]

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn Reddit Share on Twitter

2/26/2007 Hating the rich - America's second favorite pastime

02/26/2007 -

Jean Barwick
jean@williamsontngop.org

In January Nancy Pelsoi landed at the podium of the House of Representatives like she'd been shot from a cannon at a county fair. Decked out in her $7000 designer jumpsuit, the newly sworn in Speaker addressed the House and the nation with the same tired mantra we've heard for years - "the Democrats are going to take America in a new direction . . ." "eliminate tax cuts for the rich . . ." "the rich don't pay their fair share. . ." The Democrat's rhetoric is carefully charged to provoke class envy and keep the American working and non-working classes believing that their economic plight is directly attributable to tax breaks for a privileged class who has become wealthy by exploiting the poor. Democrats again feel empowered by the American proletariate to legislate a trail of disastrous social and economic policies to redistribute the wealth of the American people. Such beliefs are the hallmarks of socialism.

Aside from Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, we're not sure who the wealthy are exactly because the definition continues to change at the whim of legislators on the prowl for more money, but we know we're supposed to hate them. Much of this hatred stems from the belief that most wealthy people inherited their fortune and didn't "earn" it, and, thereby, don't "deserve" it. Politicians, many of whom are quite wealthy themselves, often exploit this misconception to garner the working class vote. As with many things, the perception is quite different from the reality. In 2000, less than 30% of wealthy Americans listed on the Forbes 400 became wealthy through inheritance.

A number of interesting qualities characterize wealthy people, particularly the first generation wealthy. Most own their own businesses. Business owners are four times more likely to become millionaires than people who are employed by others. 20% of affluent households in America are headed by retirees with the remaining 80% headed by the self employed. The wealthy are typically adept at managing assets and investments. Most first generation wealthy put a high value on education and are willing to make considerable sacrifices to achieve financial independence.

The economic freedom and mobile market in America consistently produce more wealthy individuals than any other nation. Business owners create millions of American jobs - nearly 60% of the private sector labor force. Employment and spending by the middle class and the wealthy in this country drive most of our economic activity, not to mention generating the tax revenues to support an increasingly bloated and insatiable government. Venture capital spawns new business which creates jobs, spending and tax revenues. Philanthropy by the wealthy supports countless charities, hospitals, schools and granting programs which in turn create opportunity, jobs, spending and tax revenues. And, yes, the wealthy pour billions into Democrat and Republican political coffers which creates more jobs, spending and tax revenues.

The insidious tactics to "raise revenue", the Democrats' euphemism for increasing taxes, by Speaker Pelosi and her tax addicted buddies in Congress are far too predictable. Marginalize a small, unpopular group whose vision, hard work and perseverance contribute immeasurably to America's prosperity. Never miss an opportunity to foster contempt of the wealthy by the working and non-working classes. Take their money and their property. Legislate more palliatives for the poor that have already made them fatally dependent on government handouts and destroyed their hope of ever extricating themselves and their children from the culture of poverty. Tax and legislate John Edwards' "two Americas" to the lowest common denominator creating a single hopelessly government dominated class in which incentive is not only obsolete but is punished by a tiny but privileged ruling class. Beautiful, isn't it?

[Back to Top]   [Print]   [Direct Link]   [Share This]

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn Reddit Share on Twitter

3/8/2007 America's greatest scam is pretty corny

03/08/2007 -

Doug Grindstaff
doug@williamsontngop.org

Magicians always distract your attention while they work their magic.  So also do our government and their well-paid lobbyists.  Never has this been done better than on “Ethanol.”  Corporate greed, price gouging,hurricanes, windfall profit tax, rationing, etc. are the news headlines.  The real magic is a $350 billion a year wealth transfer to the agricultural lobby.

What’s really going on?  First on energy:
• The U.S. consumes l8 BBOE (billion barrels of oil equivalent), 80% of which comes from North America.
• Of the l8 BBOE, 7 BBO is oil and 60% of that is from North America.
• Less than l BBO is from the whole Persian Gulf.
• Canada produces .4 BBO from tar sands and could easily produce 2 BBO per year for the next 900 years.
• Our western states’ oil shale has more recoverable oil than all of the OPEC nations combined.

Net:  There is and will be no shortage of oil!  We have vast amounts of oil and gas off of the Florida, California and East Coast but we leave it to China to drill fifty miles off of Key West.  In the l970’s, a dim-witted Jimmy Carter told the nation “we could use up all of the proven oil reserves in the world by the end of the next decade”.  Since then, Saudi Arabia alone has increased their known reserves from 88 BBO to 264 BBO. 

What is ethanol?  Ethanol is a form of grain alcohol (or locally known as “corn squeezings”).  A few facts: 
• Theoretically, ethanol is produced at the equivalent of $50 per barrel of oil but today sells at $4.50 per gallon versus $2.00 per gallon wholesale gas.
• Years ago, Congress mandated the use of “oxygenated” blends.  In April 2006, they refused to give liability protection to the makers of widely used MTBE causing it’s discontinuance but they did mandate the increased use of ethanol and gave it a $ .5 a gallon subsidy.  This gift has caused a $.25 a gallon increase in retail gas.
• Ethanol cannot be put in gas pipelines because it is so corrosive, but must be shipped over-land and blended at the terminal.  Only one-third of East coast terminals have blending capacity so expect further increases.
• All post-1970 U.S. cars can run 10% ethanol (E10) but have to be expensive “flex-cars” to run l5% ethanol (E85).  This is a costly slight of hand by Ford and General Motors.
• And this is truly the gift that keeps on giving:  A car getting 20 mpg on conventional gas will get 14.2 mpg on E85.  Look for the hidden    $ .85 a gallon increase in your gas mileage.

But why would our government do this?  That answer lies in the power of the agricultural lobbies and the power of the Iowa Presidential Caucus.   We have paid billions is farm subsidies for decades but not satisfied, they want a bigger slice!  Need proof?

• Archer/Daniel/Midland stock is up 80% this year. 
• Brazil can produce ethanol from sugar cane at half our cost ($25 per barrel) and have less transportation costs to our East Coast.  Other countries have standby capacity.
• To prevent competition we impose a $.59 a gallon tariff on imports and a $.5l per gallon subsidy on our ethanol.  Why would we pay $1.10 per gallon to keep Brazilian ethanol out if we really need it?
What about eliminating the use of oil?

• There is not enough land in the U.S. to grow the crops needed to replace all of the oil we use!
• If the crops were available, it still requires 0.6 gallon of fossil fuels to produce every gallon of ethanol!  If we made 7 BBOE in ethanol, we would only decrease our oil consumption by 3 BBO!

What about air quality?
• A car today pollutes less while running down the road at 65 mph than a car 30 years ago did sitting still with a full tank of gas.
• Studies by the National Academy of Sciences and the EPA’s own Blue Ribbon Panel have shown that oxygenates don’t do much to clean up hazy air.

So why would we pay $.25 per gallon to buy a product that reduces our gas mileage by 6 miles per gallon and does nothing to reduce smog?  Answer:  Because we don’t have any choice!  All we can do is vote.  Did you?

[Back to Top]   [Print]   [Direct Link]   [Share This]

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn Reddit Share on Twitter

3/15/2007 Tax-and-spend governor’s stance on sales tax masks income tax debate

03/15/2007 -

Doug Grindstaff
doug@williamsontngop.org

America is at a crossroad! We face difficult decisions. We face a growing upward pressure on wages and inflation. Oil prices are near record highs and oil company profits are astronomical. Senators are calling for windfall profit taxes and price controls. We are increasingly dependent on oil imports and Congress has appropriated huge sums for solar energy and alternative fuels. Everywhere politicians are making speeches about irreversible environmental damage and the risk to national security unless we make radical changes in our lives and culture. The president has said “world oil production can probably keep going up for only another six or eight years before demand overtakes production.” We have looming budgetary crises as a major proportion of the population is expecting ever-increasing government checks. Presidential candidates are demanding record increases in health care spending.

Sound familiar? Well if you’re over 45 years old, you may remember all this as the news in the late ’60s and ’70s. The president was Jimmy Carter and the speech was April 18, 1977.

The country responded to this forecast of doom. We created the Great Society, EPA, OSHA, and the Department of Energy. Jimmy Carter created The National Energy Plan. Individual tax rates were 70 percent and capital gains taxes were 50 percent. Inflation soared to 19 percent and unemployment stood at 9 percent. The economy had the greatest collapse since the Great Depression, which was coincidentally the previous time the country was conned into believing that more government and higher taxes could solve all our problems.

And now we are back again! Hillary Clinton says she wants to take all of Exxon’s profits and give it to the poor. All the Democrat presidential candidates are calling for universal health care. The new Democrat Congress has proposed a record increase in spending and the largest tax increase in the nation’s history. A misguided president has poured so much money into tax subsidies for ethanol that we have unconscionable price increases in meat, dairy, and cereals. Mr. Gore has convinced us that the sun is burning up the planet and that only more government can save us.

Throughout history, power-hungry rulers have created crises from which only they had the power to save the people. A thousand years ago, the Mayan priests told their people twice a year that the sun god was angry and was leaving them. But after some human sacrifices on the day of the solstice, the sun amazingly reversed direction and the sun god was happy for six more months. Now the sun has become too hot for our planet, Mr. Gore has defined a sacrifice to save us and declare himself the high priest.

We have often been faced with great decisions. In the 1930s we chose government intervention, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, restricted money supply, and a tightly regulated banking system. The result was the greatest depression in our history.

Forty years later, the majority of our voters had grown up without that experience and we again decided we needed the high priest of government to save us. We created the second greatest disaster of this century.

Now another 40 years later, the majority of voters don’t remember the crisis of the ’70s and we again hear the siren call of the new would-be high priests. Have we learned anything from history? Or are we doomed to repeat it?

[Back to Top]   [Print]   [Direct Link]   [Share This]

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn Reddit Share on Twitter

3/29/2007 Al Gore - global warming's Bigfoot

03/29/2007 -

Jean Barwick
jean@williamsontngop.org

While former Vice President Al Gore was jetting around the world promoting his global warming documentary and lecturing greenies about reducing carbon emissions, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research was quietly gathering information from public records about the Gore family's extravagant energy consumption at their Belle Meade home in Nashville. It turns out, the Gore family consumes more electricity each month than the average American family uses in an entire year.

Kalee Krider, spokeswoman for the Gore family, defended the self-annointed poster boy for the global warming movement by pointing out that the Gores use "compact fluorescent light bulbs." Light bulbs? Does anyone really believe compact fluorescents offset the energy required to heat the Gore's outdoor swimming pool?

The Gores also "work at home," continued Krider. I thought the energy required to produce home office BS was pretty low, but the 221,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) required to fuel the Gore manufacturing operation compared to a national average of just under 11,000kWh per household, proved me wrong.

Perhaps realizing that readers might view light bulbs and the home office routine as shallow justification for her employers' conspicuous energy consumption, Krider threw in a few global warming "science" buzz words, like "carbon footprint" and "carbon offsets" to make us believe the Gores are actively engaged in true conservation of the earth's renewable energy sources. The former vice president, she explained, is asking every family (that would be every family in the world) to follow his example and calculate its carbon footprint to determine how much heat its energy consumption contributes to heating our fragile earth and take steps to offset it. Krider failed to add that since the release of "An Inconvenient Truth," Gore's treatise on global warming, energy consumption of fossil-based fuels at the Gore home actually increased from 16,200kWh per month in 2005 to 18,400kWh per month in 2006.

Gore defends his energy-rich lifestyle by claiming to maintain a "carbon neutral" existence through the purchase of "carbon offsets."

According to the environmentalists' theory, these carbon offsets indirectly reduce the net carbon emissions of individuals and industries by proxies that consume less energy or reduce their carbon emission and/or increase their absorption of greenhouse gases. In other words, Gore purchases carbon credits from sources that consume less energy than he does - sources whose carbon footprint is smaller than his. They consume less so Gore buys the privilege of consuming what they don't use, similar to the practice in the Middle Ages of purchasing "Indulgences." No actual energy product is transferred from one person or business to another in this offset transaction.

Gore buys forgiveness for his sin of consumption so he can keep sinning. The less well off worldwide, of course, cannot afford the indulgence of the "carbon neutral" lifestyle enjoyed by Mr. Gore.

Frequently left out of the Gore information packet is the fact that he and other environmentalists purchase carbon offsets through Generation Investment Management, a London-based investment and hedge fund firm with offices in Washington, D.C. Al Gore is the founder and chairman of Generation Investment Management. The firm's goal is to find and invest in companies that will pay off in terms of their enlightened approaches to alternative energy sources, the environment, and social accountability.

By their own business model, Generation Investment Management invests in or buys companies uniquely poised to take advantage of global warming issues with the capability to generate billions for investors, including Gore himself. Enabled by an adoring media that steadfastly refuses to present arguments to the global warming scenario, Gore jets around the world in search of new business opportunities leaving in his wake an ever growing personal carbon footprint and assuaging his guilt by purchasing carbon offsets from himself.

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research is absolutely correct to bring the glaring inconsistencies of the Gore lifestyle to light and expose him as an environmental fraud. Gore's hypocrisy discredits serious environmental concerns and the growing reality of dwindling natural resources shared by citizens worldwide.

[Back to Top]   [Print]   [Direct Link]   [Share This]

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn Reddit Share on Twitter

4/12/2007 The Tax Man Cometh

04/12/2007 -

E.D.GRINDSTAFF
doug@williamsontngop.org

America is at a crossroad! We face difficult decisions. We face a growing upward pressure on wages and inflation. Oil prices are near record highs and oil company profits are astronomical. Senators are calling for windfall profit taxes and price controls. We are increasingly dependent on oil imports and Congress has appropriated huge sums for solar energy and alternative fuels. Everywhere politicians are making speeches about irreversible environmental damage and the risk to national security unless we make radical changes in our lives and culture. The president has said “world oil production can probably keep going up for only another six or eight years before demand overtakes production.” We have looming budgetary crises as a major proportion of the population is expecting ever-increasing government checks. Presidential candidates are demanding record increases in health care spending.

Sound familiar? Well if you’re over 45 years old, you may remember all this as the news in the late ’60s and ’70s. The president was Jimmy Carter and the speech was April 18, 1977.

The country responded to this forecast of doom. We created the Great Society, EPA, OSHA, and the Department of Energy. Jimmy Carter created The National Energy Plan. Individual tax rates were 70 percent and capital gains taxes were 50 percent. Inflation soared to 19 percent and unemployment stood at 9 percent. The economy had the greatest collapse since the Great Depression, which was coincidentally the previous time the country was conned into believing that more government and higher taxes could solve all our problems.

And now we are back again! Hillary Clinton says she wants to take all of Exxon’s profits and give it to the poor. All the Democrat presidential candidates are calling for universal health care. The new Democrat Congress has proposed a record increase in spending and the largest tax increase in the nation’s history. A misguided president has poured so much money into tax subsidies for ethanol that we have unconscionable price increases in meat, dairy, and cereals. Mr. Gore has convinced us that the sun is burning up the planet and that only more government can save us.

Throughout history, power-hungry rulers have created crises from which only they had the power to save the people. A thousand years ago, the Mayan priests told their people twice a year that the sun god was angry and was leaving them. But after some human sacrifices on the day of the solstice, the sun amazingly reversed direction and the sun god was happy for six more months. Now the sun has become too hot for our planet, Mr. Gore has defined a sacrifice to save us and declare himself the high priest.

We have often been faced with great decisions. In the 1930s we chose government intervention, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, restricted money supply, and a tightly regulated banking system. The result was the greatest depression in our history.

Forty years later, the majority of our voters had grown up without that experience and we again decided we needed the high priest of government to save us. We created the second greatest disaster of this century.

Now another 40 years later, the majority of voters don’t remember the crisis of the ’70s and we again hear the siren call of the new would-be high priests. Have we learned anything from history? Or are we doomed to repeat it?

[Back to Top]   [Print]   [Direct Link]   [Share This]

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn Reddit Share on Twitter

4/24/2007 Pelosi – read your job description – soon

04/24/2007 -

Jean Barwick
jean@williamsontngop.org

Nancy Pelosi's visit to Damascus earlier this month to open dialogue and broker a peace agreement between Syria and Israel was nothing more than a pathetic display of political theater.  The congresswoman, a San Francisco Democrat, led a congressional delegation of four Democratic committee chairmen, another Democrat who is the House's only Muslim, and one Republican.  Pelosi received reassurances from Syrian president Bashar al-Assad that he was ready to begin peace negotiations with Israel.  The Speaker delivered a message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that Israel was ready to engage in peace talks with Syria. 

The Speaker’s grandstanding for a sustained peace in the Middle East hit the wall when Olmert announced that Israel had sent no such message to Syria via Pelosi.  Olmert reiterated Israel's long-standing position not to engage in negotiations with Syria or any other state which sponsors Hamas and Islamic Jihad, supplies weapons to Hezbollah or supports terrorist activities in Iraq and Iran.

Perhaps someone should remind Pelosi that she is the Speaker of the House, not the Secretary of State.  Members of Congress typically visit areas of conflict around the world to gather facts to make informed decisions about foreign policy, not to initiate diplomacy.  Diplomacy lies within the purview of the executive branch of government, not the legislative branch.  By attempting to initiate diplomacy during her Damascus trip, botched or not, Pelosi clearly exceeded her constitutional authority.

The executive branch of government controls foreign policy and the armed forces.  Congress controls appropriations and advises and consents on appointments and promotions.  Without this constitutional separation any member of Congress could negotiate with foreign leaders with full authority of the United States.  The United States must deliver a single, unified message on foreign policy, not 538 messages, especially in regard to state-sponsored terrorism in countries like Syria and Iran.  Speaker Pelosi is not allowed to direct U.S. military operations in foreign countries, nor is she allowed to initiate diplomacy in foreign countries.

Pelosi went to great lengths to express her solidarity with President Bush against terrorism but responded to criticism of her actions from Vice President Cheney with a crack about "the poverty of ideas of this administration . . ."  Countering criticism from Republicans, a few Democrats and the media, Pelosi pointed out that several Republicans had visited Syria and met with Syrian leaders.  The difference she overlooked is that the Republicans did not initiate diplomacy talks with terrorist nations.

We are constantly hammered with the Democrats' outrage that President Bush is exceeding the authority of the executive branch of government in his execution of the war on terrorism.  Where is the outrage against Speaker Pelosi and her alternative "Democratic foreign policy?"  Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, describes the Democratic foreign policy as a beginning to restoring overseas credibility and respect for the United States.  That Speaker Pelosi would present her conciliatory "Democratic foreign policy" over the foreign policy of a sitting president is not only an outrage, it endangers every American soldier and citizen in every part of the world.

Pelosi's trip to Damascus served two purposes, neither of which embraces the cause of peace in the Middle East:  first, to belittle the United States and President Bush in the world theater; and, second, to galvanize anti-war loyalties at home.  There are reports that the Speaker and Rep. Lantos are considering another diplomacy mission to the Middle East - this time to bring Iran into the fold.  Pelosi's arrogance blinds her to the history of negotiating with implacable enemies.  Her lack of wisdom blinds her to the consequences.

[Back to Top]   [Print]   [Direct Link]   [Share This]

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn Reddit Share on Twitter

5/10/2007 Pelosi’s first 100 days

05/10/2007 -

E.D.GRINDSTAFF
doug@williamsontngop.org

Last November when the Democratic Party won enough seats to gain control of both houses of Congress I wrote an editorial predicting that we would soon see huge tax increases disguised as “pay as you go” and endless hearings disguised as “oversight” but designed to cripple the executive branch.

We are now past Speaker Pelosi’s vaunted first 100 hours and have now concluded her first 100 days. I must admit I totally underestimated what this leadership could do in just over three months. In case you’re one the millions of voters who is totally disgusted with all politics, sick of everything that ends in D.C., have declared a pox on both their houses, and have turned off the news for 2007, let me list a few of the many accomplishments of this Congress that will affect your lives for years to come.

• Ms. Speaker passed a budget resolution that gives us the largest tax increase in the history of the world. That’s right, the history of the world! It totals 392 BILLION DOLLARS over five years and exceeds the previous record brought to you by Bill Clinton. This budget will increase all tax rates, bring back the marriage penalty, increase the death tax, and most importantly to you, eliminate the deduction for state sales tax.

If you are an “average family” living in Williamson County, you can expect your taxes to increase by $4.000. Of coarse that’s only a pittance for the wealthy people here making $60,000, and you will have the comfort of knowing that the high-income-tax voters in New Jersey will not get pushed into the dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax. Oh, by the way, they got to the AMT because President Bush decreased all the tax brackets and President Clinton increased the AMT brackets.

After deducting the high state income taxes, large families are paying less than the 26 percent minimum and must pay on that basis. We can save them by raising the tax brackets so their taxes will exceed the minimum and they should be happy to pay more taxes to avoid the AMT. You, however, won’t need to worry about the AMT because not only will you move to a higher tax rate, you won’t be able to deduct the state sales tax. And the “I Want Your Money” crowd will have back their reason for asking for a state income tax.

• When not daydreaming of new ways to raise taxes, it seems every committee, sub-committee, and every ad hoc gang of two is holding a hearing to get to the bottom of yet another outrageous scandal perpetrated by the executive branch. The most loudly reported has to be the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. I shudder to defend our incompetent attorney general who can’t seem to enforce our immigration laws, but you gotta love a guy who can put both feet into his mouth on command. The even more incompetent Janet Reno fired all 93 U.S attorneys on one day and never heard a discouraging word. Alberto Gonzales fires a federal attorney who has told the Border Patrol to not arrest human smugglers unless they had more than six illegals with them or arrest drug smugglers unless they had more than 500 pounds of marijuana. He is now incapacitated with weeks of hearings about whether or not he was influenced by “politics.”

• Speaker Pelosi has made great progress in her first 100 days in rewarding her constituent groups. Last week the house passed a law extending federal hate-crime legislation to include “sexual orientation, gender, and disability.” She defeated an amendment to add seniors and the military, as they are not in her constituent group. This creeping federalism will soon move to cover the words of a preacher who thinks some sexual acts are a sin. But it gets votes and power.

• Ms. Pelosi is still working for her other constituents but is not yet successful. She was stopped from adding language to unionize the airport security workers and to require union membership to export products from the U.S under our trade agreements. She tried to expand the litigation pool to reward her trial lawyers and she even introduced language to reverse the partial birth abortion ban.

• Speaker Pelosi is now working to pass an amnesty bill for the estimated 14 million illegals and to bring their 20 million family members to join them. The code word for amnesty is “comprehensive” and it appears that our increasingly impotent President will sigh such a bill. We have a lot to look forward to in the second 100 days.

I know that there are people who will read this and think that all the past and pending accomplishments is just what this country needs. Last year 19,000 of 61,000 voters in Williamson County voted for this new majority. I respect their opinions and their right to express them. But I believe strongly in small government, in low taxes, in traditional family values, and in people obeying all our laws. If you believe in those things it is time for you to stand up for them before they’re gone.

[Back to Top]   [Print]   [Direct Link]   [Share This]

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn Reddit Share on Twitter

5/24/2007 Equality vs. liberty: Liberals just don't get it

05/24/2007 -

By JEAN BARWICK
jean@williamsongop.org

The enlightened left never fails to raise the hair on the back of my neck several times a day. Whether it's the tone of a newspaper headline or the exaggerated political pique of a legislator or Hollywood know-it-all, I find myself increasingly troubled about what they actually want. The liberal dogma of fairness and equality and their persistent romantic attachment to the socialist ideologies of minimum wages laws, sweeping immigration amnesty reform, progressive tax rates, class warfare and government-mandated largesse show that what they really want is equality of outcome. Leveling the playing field by reducing all of us to the lowest common denominator forms the emotional cornerstone of today's Democratic Party.

Most conservatives appreciate the historical and moral significance of the constitutional principle that all people are created equal under the law, but regard liberty as the highest form of equality from which all other political and social ideals evolve.

Liberty and the right of the American colonists to govern themselves ushered in the Revolutionary War, and it's not likely that a single colonist marched into that war with the hope of socialistic equality in his heart. Liberation from the British crown in 1776 brought instead the equality of opportunity. In a liberated society, the equality of opportunity is available to everyone regardless of social status, talent, ambition or physical and mental prowess. Because people are not equal in ability, ambition and effort, it's inevitable that, without government intervention, some people will excel at sports, some will become more wealthy than others, some will receive recognition in art and music. Most conservatives believe that the equality of opportunity is limited only by ambition, ability and an unwillingness to make short-term sacrifices to achieve long-term goals.

Since equality of opportunity allows individuals to achieve what they can, liberty often propagates inequality and this inequality inevitably impairs individual liberty. This consequence of liberty provides fertile ground for liberals, who believe there is a finite amount of wealth in the world, to exploit the natural emotions of resentment and envy of the non-working and working classes to achieve the desired sameness of outcome. Conservatives, of course, see the other side of the coin. How can we be equal when a small minority of citizens pays more than 40 percent of its income in taxes while the remaining 60 percent pay no income tax at all? No one with the slightest spark of rational thought can possibly call this situation equal.
Liberals' idea of equality is based on the fundamental inequality that they, rather than you, know what you are entitled to and how you should live your life. If you have more money than they think you need, they believe you are keeping it from someone else who needs it. They are fascinated with the idea that everyone should end up with the same amount of money after they redistribute the wealth, not just from the rich, but from middle class wage earners as well.

Over the last several decades, Democrats have escalated the polarizing politics of resentment and envy to the fevered pitch we enjoy today. The effect of this never-ending vitriol is the erosion of rational thought and bipartisan efforts to improve our society. Most of us remember the following words from civics class: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. These words described the redistributionist equality of communist Russia. Not a day passes that we don't hear these same words from elitist and imperious elected representatives in the United States Senate and House of Representatives.

Local Democrats who call themselves conservative liberals deny the socialist trends of the national party, but their party just passed a 2.9 trillion dollar budget bill that contains the largest tax increase in the history of the world. We all need to debate this issue honestly and if the majority votes to move this country toward socialism, so be it. The capitalist can vote to leave even as they are now doing in Venezuela. But we need to stop the subterfuge that is being used to convince entire generations of Americans that the government can make better decisions for them than they can make for themselves.

These distortions are stupefying entire generations of Americans into trading away their liberty for the shallow promise of a better life that history has taught us, will never come to pass.

[Back to Top]   [Print]   [Direct Link]   [Share This]

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn Reddit Share on Twitter

6/7/2007 The Right Stuff: The Kyl-Kennedy ‘pig’ becomes law

06/07/2007 -

By Doug Grindstaff

No matter how much lipstick one puts on a pig, it is still a pig!

By the time this is published it is likely that the Kyl-Kennedy pig granting amnesty to 12 million to l5 million illegals will have passed the Senate. Immigration proponents on both sides of the aisle are claiming that this bill is not amnesty. That’s the lipstick. Apparently if you fine someone and then let him or her keep what he or she stole, it’s not amnesty. The last amnesty bill in 1986 estimated 2.5 million illegals were in the country. There turned out to be 5 million by the time people flooded the border and bought false papers saying they were already in the country.

Perhaps the real test of amnesty is whether or not the penalty encourages others to come here illegally. Out of the 6 billion people in the world with lower living standards than ours, how many do you think would take that deal and head for the border? I think amnesty is getting an advantage in the immigration lottery by breaking the law. That’s exactly what this bill does.

Proponents have also touted that the bill strengthens the border and sets up a workplace verification requirement. That’s exactly what was said about the 1986 Amnesty Act. More lipstick! It is said that there are milestones on border security that must be reached before amnesty the path to citizenship can start. The milestone is nothing more than the head of Homeland Security saying they’ve worked on the problem. He’s the same spineless bureaucrat who last week criticized conservative opposition to this bill as endorsing “silent amnesty” by waiting for deportations that “are not going to happen.” Since he’s the person who is not enforcing the current law, I guess his prediction is accurate. I can remember a time when one got fired for refusing to do his job. More lipstick.

Proponents quote studies that show that immigrants add $l0 billion annually in net economic output.” Maybe “the studies” they read included the work of the 26 million people who have immigrated here legally as a result of education and hard work. I didn’t think that was being debated in Congress. We don’t need to restate the law to allow those immigrants to stay, but it seems we do need to restate the law to protect borders. So is an attempt to justify amnesty for illegals by saying we benefit from LEGAL immigration a fair and honest way to debate this bill?

It seems even our President has gotten this amnesty fever and has sent his disciples to preach to us about why we’re so misinformed. Mainly the argument is that there are so many illegals we can’t do anything but leave them here. The familiar quote is “I don’t know anyone who thinks we can deport 12 million people.” We go to war with 40 million people but we can’t control 12 million illegals? Well if they really don’t know anyone who thinks we can deport 12 million people, put my name down as the first. If the government announced we were enforcing work-place identification and that we were screening people around the world to take jobs here, there would be a mass exodus to the border. Would that disrupt some companies? You bet it would. But I have a hard time feeling sorry for the companies who have been making a windfall profit while we pay for the medical and education expenses of their underpaid workers.

In last Friday’s Wall Street Journal is a letter by Robert E. Rector, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He reports that a study based on census data shows that one-third of our illegal immigrant households is headed by people without a Mexican high school diploma. Based on what these illegals themselves claim as government benefits received versus what taxes they say they have paid, each low-skill immigrant household costs the taxpayers $19,588/year. This figure does not include benefits such as public education, Social Security, or Medicare. It does include welfare, food stamps, free medical care, etc. This burden to the U.S. taxpayers is $89 billion per year! Maybe getting better educated workers and screening out the criminals is worth the effort to deny amnesty and replace the illegals.

Even Mr. Bush has an editorial in the same WSJ. He says that “part of the reason why laws here been broken is because the federal government didn’t do its job…didn’t enforce the border.” “But millions of illegals are here…and it’s impossible to send them home.” And now the finale…”there are 36 million Hispanics in the country...and that’s a lot of new voters who won’t be afraid to punish politicians who are hostile to their hopes and dreams.” Whatever happened to “I would rather be right than be President?”

Well Mr. Bush, you may be right about the 2020 elections, but the legislators who pass your bill will be punished by current voters in 2008! The definition of no amnesty is that no one gets an immigration advantage over other foreign citizens for having broken our laws.

The President, John Kyl, and Ted Kennedy are just plain wrong. I hope that our senators and representatives will have the courage to vote this travesty down. Have you called them?

[Back to Top]   [Print]   [Direct Link]   [Share This]

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn Reddit Share on Twitter

6/28/2007 Is the war on poverty just a game?

06/28/2007 -

By JEAN BARWICK
jean@williamsongop.org

The annual release by the Census Bureau of the poverty and income distribution figures often stirs debate over income inequality in this country. The nation's poverty rate is based on the number of people whose incomes fall below the poverty line — about $20,000 annually in 2004 for a family of four. The poverty line is the magic number at which approximately 36 million Americans and immigrants living here become eligible for a multitude of public assistance programs.

The Census Bureau divides households into quintiles based on gross income, each representing 20 percent of all households, then measures the total income going into each quintile. Government agencies and other public policy makers use this data to allocate taxpayers' money to the poor. At first glance, the numbers show a high degree of inequality between the top and bottom groups. The 2003 census, for instance, showed a disparity of $14 to $1 between the top and bottom quintiles.

According to Robert Rector, a senior research fellow in Domestic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation, these numbers are misleading for several reasons. First, they ignore taxes. Second, they ignore the nearly $800 billion in public assistance received by low-income and elderly persons. Third, the quintiles do not contain equal numbers of people. Once adjustments are made for these factors, the gap between the highest and lowest groups narrows dramatically.

For most of us, the word poverty conjures up disturbing images of undernourished children, chronic illness, substandard housing, and little or no medical care. Although cases of severe hardship do exist in this country, according to Census Bureau's own data, the numbers of individuals and families living under these extreme conditions are low.

Data from the Census Bureau and other government reports reveal some interesting facts about people who fall within the government's classification of "poor":

• 46 percent of all poor households own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage and a porch or patio.

• 76 percent of poor households have air conditioning. This figure is significant because 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S population had air conditioning.

• Only 6 percent of poor household are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than 2 rooms per person.

• The typical poor American has more living space than the average citizen living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens and other cities throughout Europe.

• Nearly 75 percent of poor households own a car; 30 percent of these own two or more cars.

• 97 percent of poor households have color television; more than 50 percent of these households own two or more color televisions.

• 78 percent of the Census Bureau poor households have a VCR or DVD and 62 percent have cable or satellite TV.

• 73 percent have microwave ovens, more than 50 percent have a stereo, 33 percent own automatic dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers and 25 percent of poor households have cell phones.

Although there exists a wide range of living conditions among poor households, it is clear that the average household classified as poor by the Census Bureau enjoys many of the same amenities as average and higher income families. The majority of these poor families report no material hardship, temporary or sustained hunger or lack of medical care. The American taxpayer has been duped by the media, politicians and liberal activists into believing that people below the “poverty line” are destitute.

According to Rector, two factors play a key role reducing actual poverty in this country. The typical poor family with children is supported by only 800 hours of work, the equivalent of 16 hours per week, during a year. Poor families with one adult working 40 hours per week throughout the year would reduce the number of poor children by 75 percent. Two-thirds of America’s poor children, reside in single-parent households of which 1.3 million are born out of wedlock. These are the highest correlation factors to generations of welfare.

We need to spend less time in despair over the arbitrary definition of poverty and spend more time eliminating the agenda-driven political and public policy culture that propagates this government-dominated class of Americans and immigrants who receive public assistance. The current system under which the poor live continues to punish work, marriage, family planning and education, keeping generation after generation hopelessly dependent on the government.

[Back to Top]   [Print]   [Direct Link]   [Share This]

Delicious Digg Facebook LinkedIn Reddit Share on Twitter