Tom Daschle’s loss to John Thune is once again providing context for an upcoming race.
The deadline for the cutover to an all digital TV network here in the US (and South Dakota) is fast approaching. Apparently, it is approaching quickly enough that some folks are calling for the brakes to be applied:
Senator John Thune says Congress has been talking with the Federal Communications Commission about possibly extending the February 17 deadline for switching from analog to digital television.
He says he thinks many South Dakotans will be affected.
According to estimates, 33.6 million people in the United States – or about 12 percent of the population – will be affected by the switch.
Of course, I have a clear personal bias with regards the switchover. It simply does not affect me one way or the other (and I would suppose that to be the case for many people who are either receiving cable or satellite feeds or just do not have a TV to begin with).
Further, I am at a loss to understand why you and I are subsidizing the switchover by giving out coupons for the converter boxes. I realize that many people think that TV is a necessity, but can we truly the support the argument that it is as essential as food, clothing and shelter? It would simply seem that there are better (read: constitutionally supportable) thing on which our government could spend our money–and our senator could spend his time.
A long long time ago, when many of us were not yet alive (OK, it was just 1932) the royal head of Great Britain gave the first of what became the annual Christmas messages. This year’s address was given by the Queen. As is usually the case, the message includes a number of nice religious and Chrismassy things and does not tend to rely heavily on substance or policy. It is, in short, a bit of “feel good” from days gone by. Nonetheless, it is a tradition which I will gladly suffer.
While I’m on the topic of suffering, may we look at the counter-message which was broadcast by Channel 4 from that classical Scrooge of the Middle East: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? He said, among other things:
Upon the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, Son of Mary, the Word of God, the Messenger of mercy, I would like to congratulate the followers of Abrahamic faiths, especially the followers of Jesus Christ, and the people of Britain.
The Almighty created the universe for human beings and human beings for Himself.
He created every human being with the ability to reach the heights of perfection. He called on man to make every effort to live a good life in this world and to work to achieve his everlasting life.
Some are saying that this sounds pretty good, especially coming as it does from someone who at other times has spoken of wiping the homeland of Jesus, Son of Mary, off the map. And, after all, shouldn’t we be willing to listen to anyone who has a message of hope and peace at this time of year?
From a Christian perspective, however, there is still much wrong with this speech.
Let’s start with the “Son of Mary” piece. Mahmoud does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God (which makes this whole Christmas celebration thing more than a little suspect). Further, why would he congratulate the followers of Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) if one of those religions (Judaism) believes that if there was a Jesus, that he was at best a blasphemer because he claimed to be very God?
Then there is this whole issue of the “ability to reach the heights of perfection” and “work[ing] to achieve his everlasting life.” No, Mahmoud, he did not create us with the ability to reach perfection without Christ. Nor are we capable of working to achieve everlasting life (that’s why it is called “faith” to begin with).
There is much more, both to the message (which you can read at the linked location) as well as my thoughts on the same. However, I believe you understand where I’m going with all this.
For a follower of Mohamed to claim common faith with a follower of Christ is at best ignorance, but more probably dissimulation with intent to confuse and deceive those whose understanding of Christmas is about as shallow as their truly unselfish giving.
You’ve no doubt heard the meaning of “merry” in the well-known Christmas carol “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” but it bears repeating here. Merry, at the time the carol was written by an unknown author, had the meaning of “strong” or “mighty.” Hence, the stories of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Given this context, the title of the carol means something like “God keep you in strength/might.”
So it is this Chrismas, I would wish that each of you has a very merry day, in the best old-fashioned sense of the word. If there should happen to be a new .22 (or .410, or 9mm or just about anything else that goes “bang”) under the Christmas tree, then all the better.
Paul at PowerLine has a very good piece on the mentality which drives labor union leadership (which I touched on a bit with my post on Mr. Stern of the SEIU). Here’s an excerpt of the PowerLine piece, which is worth reading in its entirety:
In essence, Stern argues that a union election isn’t like the elections we have in the U.S. in which we choose, for example, the members of Congress. According to Stern, a union election is the equivalent of an election over whether we should have a Congress.
The question-begging nature of Stern’s argument is evident. Stern simply assumes that the desirability of having a particular union, no matter how thuggish or corrupt, represent a particular set of employees is as self-evident as the desirability of having Congress represent the people of the United States; therefore the issue need not be put to a proper vote. Under this absurd reasoning, it’s not clear why unions should even have to obtain authorization cards, and there’s little doubt that Stern would like them to be exempt from even this requirement.
Here in the US, unlike countries which have parliamentary systems with “shadow governments,” we do our best (well, some of us anyway) to stay away from parallel power structures. It would appear to me that Mr. Stern and others in authority within the SEIU, UAW, ETC would like to create/maintain parallel structures with existing US legal authorities. Of course, in such cases, the best we could hope for would be an oligarchy of the labor leadership, but more probably we would have a series of dictators.
I do not believe I am overstating the case here. Labor unions, broadly speaking, are well past trying to help the “little man” and well on their way towards that Western European goal of wielding quasi-governmental powers. There are a number of reasons many of us left Europe, but this is one reason I have no desire that we become Far-Western Europe.
The ill-named “Employee Free Choice Act,” about which I’ve written previously, looks as though it will be coming soon to a federal legislator near you. South Dakota’s delegation is split rather evenly on the issue (an interesting thing in itself, considering we have 3 members). By that I mean we have one for it, one against it and one who is still making up her mind:
Johnson was a co-sponsor of the bill, spokeswoman Megan Smith said, making it “pretty clear” where he stands on the issue.
Sen. John Thune opposes the measure. “The right of the secret ballot is a time-honored principle in American elections,” he said. “It’s one we ought to preserve.”
Russ Levsen, a spokesman for Herseth Sandlin, said South Dakota’s lone representative in the House continues to talk with stakeholders.
“It’s possible improvements can be made to the bill,” he said by e-mail, “but also important to bear in mind that the Employee Free Choice Act passed the House with bipartisan support because it’s a fairly straightforward idea: Workers should get a right to vote whether or not to organize a union free from pressure or fear of retribution from their employer, and that vote should be transparent and fair.”
If and when it returns, it’s likely to pass easily in the House. The Senate is a different story.
Thune thinks there are three or four Democrats that could help Republicans stall the measure again.”This time around, they are going to try, I think, to run it early,” he said. “It will be one of the first things they do as a payback to the unions.”
Go read the whole article and then get ready to email, mail or call your congresspeople. This bill is nothing more than an attempt by the labor unions to prolong their time in power. If we as a nation are truly interested in seeing a better future for all of our industries, across the board, then we would do well to ensure that (despite backing from the One) this bill fails quickly and spectacularly.
In short, let’s climb out of this crevasse before it widens.
We finally made it (and it seems it was largely in the old fashioned way, too). Full article may be found here. Of course, we’ll find out with greater accuracy after the 2010 census, but why wait to celebrate?
We are being constantly reminded to give, particularly during this time of year. Giving is a much-touted virtue, though a much-twisted one as well. Various advertisements let me know that it is just fine if I wish to give to myself, instead of others–after all, I deserve ________.
Our government is a regular giver of gifts large and small to other countries, states, cities, citizens, companies, etc. At various times, we have been told that we, as a country are more giving than just about any other country in the world. Yet, there is a problem with this giving: much of what has been given does not exist. Last year’s “stimulus” checks? They were written from debt, not wealth. That $1800 which I received will cost me and my children many times that before it is repaid.
Have you ever heard, perhaps in the context of an emotional religious service, that you need to give sacrificially–to give “until it hurts”? I’m sure that most of us have. And, while there is nothing wrong (and indeed much right) with an individual or a family depriving itself of some things in order to help others with greater need, there is a principle in play here that is often given short shrift, or ignored entirely. The principle is simply this: one cannot give that which one does not have. If one does, it either requires debt or theft–which, while they differ in degree, still result in long-term deleterious affects.
While we are all being encouraged to spend this Christmas season, thereby saving the retail establishments from ruinous declines, very few are being encouraged to save. There is a reason that wealthier people may give great sums (outside of the tax benefits conferred by our convoluted tax code, but that is another topic). They have the money in the first place. That is, they have spent less than they earned.
The first principle of giving is that one must have the wherewithal to give. This means that before I can give, I must wisely earn, budget and save. If I have fallen through the ice , I am hardly in a position to help another person who has also fallen through the ice, am I?
I realize that we are a few days from New Year’s and its attendant resolutions. Nonetheless, I would challenge you to give of what you have, do not go into debt to do so, and encourage others you may know to place themselves upon as stable a financial basis as they can. The coming months and years will be difficult for many financially. Let us learn from recent events and ensure that our charity (in all senses of the word) is entirely righteous.
One of the reasons that we enjoy the freedoms we do is that individual rights were enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Among other things, one is not to be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process. I do believe this is the heart of the Fifth Amendment. Delaware County, PA would appear to be stepping on both the Fifth and the Second Amendments:
Delaware County was hit with a federal lawsuit yesterday claiming that its policy of refusing to return confiscated firearms unless the owners obtain a court order is unconstitutional.
The civil-rights suit was filed by C. Scott Shields, a gun-rights attorney and small-town political firebrand who has been the National Rifle Association’s point man in fighting Philadelphia’s attempt to write its own gun laws.
The plaintiff, Thomas DeOrio, 21, of Glen Mills, argues that the county government, judges and Sheriff’s Department illegally retain confiscated guns – even if a crime hasn’t been committed – when the owner is entitled to retrieve them.
There is more, so read it all. Bottom line would appear to be that law enforcement officers are taking guns from owners under a legal pretext (which appears awfully thin at times) and then refusing to restore said property to the owners when the pretext has been shown to be without merit.
Let us hope that this case, and others like it, are settled clearly and quickly in favor of the citizenry.
Unsurprisingly, I’m thinking a bit about Christmas this week. And, while the theology of “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a bit misleading as regards angels, it is still one of the the best Christmas films of all time. As I recall, James Stewart’s character was a very conscientious bank manager who did what was right, regardless of its impact on him. I fear that such films (and such characters) are now in short supply:
It’s something any bank would demand to know before handing out a loan: Where’s the money going?
But after receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation’s largest banks say they either can’t track exactly how they’re spending the money or they simply refuse to discuss it.
Nearly every bank AP questioned — including Citibank and Bank of America, two of the largest recipients of bailout money — responded with generic public relations statements explaining that the money was being used to strengthen balance sheets and continue making loans to ease the credit crisis.
A few banks described company-specific programs, such as JPMorgan Chase’s plan to lend $5 billion to nonprofit and health care companies next year. Richard Becker, senior vice president of Wisconsin-based Marshall & Ilsley Corp., said the $1.75 billion in bailout money allowed the bank to temporarily stop foreclosing on homes.
But no bank provided even the most basic accounting for the federal money.
If you wait for the outrage, you will wait in vain. Is it any surprise that those who believe that they are entitled not only refuse to thank the ones who give them the entitlements, but also refuse to explain if said entitlements were used to address the stated need?
My father often gives to panhandlers. However, he does so in a manner which ensures accountability. When he is approached by someone asking for money to buy food, he invariably says “Hey, there’s a coffee shop over there. I’d be glad to buy you coffee and a doughnut. What do you say?” If the man says yes, then the food is forthcoming and my father sits and talks with the fellow. If the man says no (for whatever reason) then my father figures he is not truly hungry and will no doubt be spending the money on a bottle of Thunderbird, or the like. I’ve no doubt that in his early days, my father probably, indirectly, supported the purchase of alcohol, but that was the cost of learning.
It seems as though our federal government is fated to keep hearing the same lesson without ever learning it.