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Archive for the ‘Government’ Category


I voted for Charlie Crist reluctantly.  He opponent was even more liberal that this so-called Republican.  For some reason, he has the affections of the RNC (though perhaps this has changed with Michael Steele’s ascendency as GOP chairman today).  But Florida has suffered under his leadership.

Take this case in point-  like a good neighbor, State Farm was there.  Now they are hoping to pull out of Florida’s property insurance market after their rate hike increase was declined.  Gov. Crist’s response- “Good riddence.”

Gov. Crist must not have done his homework before making that ridiculous comment.  He is not thinking of the citizens under his  leadership.  In a tough recession, it makes no sense to kiss good jobs good-bye due to spite.

In my county alone, 1,700 people (many of them my neighbors) work at the regional office down the street from my home.  Many others are insurance agents.  People I knew are already thinking of leaving State Farm completely since they can’t bundle insurance anymore.  Agents will have to switch companies, if possible, or risk losing all their customers- and their jobs.

With job losses, their will be even more homes sitting on the market.  This will hurt those trying to sell and relocate.  Gov. Crist fails to see the ramifications of this decision.  Rather than working with State Farm to find a reasonable compromise and keep important jobs in the state, he dismisses an important part of Florida’s economy.

What Gov. Crist fails to recognize is there is also a property insurance crisis (as well as a health insurance crisis) in our state.  State Farm is not the first to find Florida a difficult place to insure homeowners.  The hurricanes earlier in the decade crippled many insurance companies.  The loser will be the homeowners who have often seen their rates double despite not making a claim.  Others have been cancelled and had to spend far more to become insured.  No big deal if you don’t have a mortgage.  Just invest the money you would have spent on insurance.  Oh, that isn’t working out well these days too.  But if you have a mortgage you must have insurance.

Rather than address any of these problems- Gov. Crist resorts to quips and spite.  Sadly, we have at least 2 more years of this ineptitude.

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Cathleen Falsani has released her complete, unedited interview with Barak Obama on his personal faith from back in 2004 (all quotes are from that article).  Nothing he says should preclude him from being President, in any way, shape or form.  But much of what he says should preclude him from being a member of any evangelical church I know.  I’ll summarize it, but my goal is not to skewer him or correct him (ok, once or twice).

He denies the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ.

So, I’m rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there’s an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived. …

I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.

I can’t imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity.

That’s just not part of my religious makeup.

Faith for him is more about living values than trusting a person (Jesus) and believing certain truths about him.  These are values that many religions have in common, rather than reflecting the character of God.

I’m a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at it’s best comes with a big dose of doubt. I’m suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding.

I think that, particularly as somebody who’s now in the public realm and is a student of what brings people together and what drives them apart, there’s an enormous amount of damage done around the world in the name of religion and certainty.

He’s pretty vague on Jesus beyond the fact that Jesus really existed.

Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he’s also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher.

And he’s also a wonderful teacher. I think it’s important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.

The guys who keep him straight probably need to be straightened out.

Well, my pastor [Jeremiah Wright] is certainly someone who I have an enormous amount of respect for.

I have a number of friends who are ministers. Reverend Meeks is a close friend and colleague of mine in the state Senate. Father Michael Pfleger is a dear friend, and somebody I interact with closely.

For a constitutional law professor he doesn’t understand the Constitution.  1st, the Non-establishment Clause means no Church of America, or state church.  2nd, the Free Exercise of Religion which guarantees both Obama and I can freely exercise our faith here in America.

Alongside my own deep personal faith, I am a follower, as well, of our civic religion. I am a big believer in the separation of church and state. I am a big believer in our constitutional structure. I mean, I’m a law professor at the University of Chicago teaching constitutional law. I am a great admirer of our founding charter, and its resolve to prevent theocracies from forming, and its resolve to prevent disruptive strains of fundamentalism from taking root ion this country.

Fox News and talk radio confuse well-meaning Americans.  They apparently invented the pro-life movement.

Like the right to choose.

I haven’t been challenged in those direct ways. And to that extent, I give the public a lot of credit. I’m always stuck by how much common sense the American people have. They get confused sometimes, watch FoxNews or listen to talk radio. That’s dangerous sometimes.

He doesn’t seem to get grace.

What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing.

Sin is …

Being out of alignment with my values.

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On the way to the office I listened briefly to talk radio- and some people see this election as a potentially a sign of the apocolypse.  Some prominent pastors are less than interested in the election- seeing no connection between the Kingdom and our nation.

Both extremes really miss the point, and ignore some significant biblical data we need to believe so it shapes us.  I want to meditate briefly on part of Ephesians 1.

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

  • Paul gives us an insight into his prayer life- his adoration, thanksgiving and petition in connection to the Ephesian church.
  • Paul wants them to know the Father better, and asks that the Father would send the Spirit to give them wisdom and revelation.  We now have all the revelation we need in the Scriptures, but we need the Spirit to illumine them for us that we might fear God and gain true wisdom.
  • Paul wants them to behold their great hope, the glorious inheritance of the saints.  This world ain’t it, folks.  It’s good, and we can enjoy it- but we look for the City whose builder and architect is God (Heb. 11).  This life is filled with ups and downs- if we have a clear sense of the hope to which we are called, those ups and downs will not overwhelm us and lead us to either forget God or despair.
  • Christ, by the powerful working of the Spirit, has been raised, exalted and seated at the right hand of the Father.  He rules, above all powers- earthly and otherwise- as the Father’s vice-regent.
  • Jesus reigns in THIS PRESENT AGE, and in the one to come.  He’s not in the throne room biding his time.  He reigns NOW.
  • He reigns now for the good of the church.  Not necessarily our nation or any other nation.  But he does rule over the affairs of this, and every other nation, for the well-being of the church.  What happens on the political scene has ramifications for the church.  In our finitude we can’t always reckon them properly.  What is good for a nation can be bad for the church; and vice versa.
  • I don’t know how this, or any, election will pan out.  We all have hopes and fears in that regard.  But, Jesus is in control of them for the GOOD of the church.
  • The visible church in America may shrink in the years to come- particularly if our “best life now” is revealed to be a false hope (which it is).  Worldly cares may cause many to leave the visible church (Matthew 13:20-22).  But I think that actually strengthens the church, and reveals the real difference between the church and the world- enabling our mission to be that much clearer and significant.
  • So, today we are called to vote (if you haven’t already and have the legal right to vote) and each of us is called to trust Jesus to do that which is right and good.

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During our pastors’ meeting to discuss Nehemiah 6, Tim Rice relayed this information from a discussion with a former CFO of Publix.  It is helpful to understand a large economy, the issues that face our nation, and therefore how to wisely choose a candidate (there are NO perfect candidates, sadly).  I am not savvy enough to reproduce the diagram, so I’ll wing it.

For Profit Business => Owners, employees & dependents => Not for Profits => NFP employees & dependents => Poor, unemployed & dependents

The foundation of an economy is For Profit Business (FPB).  Those profits support the owners, employees and their dependents.  I know in this day, the idea of making profits seems barbaric. But profits are how a business stays in business and therefore support all those dependent upon them. Those businesses and people provide the funding for NFPs, both public and private.  The government is the public NFP which is funded by taxes.  The public NFPs are churches and social agencies that are funded by donations.  The more profit generated by the FPB, the more resources that are available to the NFPs. A government that wants to see revenues increase, wants to see the NFPs do well, not stifle them. It is simply increasing the pie, so the slices of the NFPs increase as well.

There is an inverse relationship between the public and private NFPs.  The more the government takes in taxes, the less that private NFPs end up receiving.  The employees and their dependents are dependent on how well the NFPs do, which is a result of how well the economy (read For Profit Business) does.  The poor and unemployed (and their dependents) rely upon the NFPs until they work for either the FPBs or NFPs.

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One of the problems with how the “financial crisis” is being handled is the false notion that their is only one solution- one which expands the government’s involvement in ways that will create a bigger government and less personal accountability.

Financial Advisor Dave Ramsey lays out a different solution, which makes sense to those of us who want smaller government (and less corruption).  In 2004, the conservatives tried to address these problems but leading “progressives” like Barney Frank told us that “there was no evidence of financial unsoundness”, and that it was a hatchet-job on a Clinton advisor.  Why trust people like Frank to fix a problem they ignored for years?  Anyway, follow the link to Dave Ramsey’s Common Sense Fix since the WordPress editor keeps messing it up.

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Ford has developed a version of the Fiesta that seats 5 and gets 65 MPG.  Yes, 65 MPG.

But you won’t see it on the streets near you, and you won’t be able to buy it- unless you live in Europe.  Why this is so is sparking some controversy.  It would seem quite odd that a struggling automaker would not offer a car for which the U.S. market seems primed.  Isn’t this the kind of car the government says we should have?  Isn’t this the kind of car I’d be interested in buying.

The reasons, as outlined in the Business Week article, reveal the problems that hamper the U.S. economy and attempts to conserve energy.  It points out how a business not only must endure its own bad decisions, but government’s bad decisions.  And we all come out the losers, at least in the short-term.

Here they are in summary form with some editorial comments by yours truly.

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I watched a fair amount of the Presidential Nominees’ Forum hosted by Saddleback Church.  I both liked it, and didn’t like it.

What I liked was that both candidates answered the same questions, and didn’t interact with each other’s answers.  They were able to stay on task and not get caught up in attacking one another.  I also liked that the audience was well prepped.  They applauded both nominees, and did not boo them.  They were respectful.  Their reactions will be reserved for the voting booth, which is great.

What I didn’t like is the notion that they were somehow trying to win the “evangelical vote”.  I don’t care if either of them can share the right terminology to explain their understanding of Jesus.  I’m not looking for them to be my pastor, but to be our President.  That has a very different set of criteria.

Both candidates playfully pandered to Rick Warren.  I have no problem with that- it helped set people at ease and it was for show.  They knew they weren’t pulling something over on people, nor were they trying to.

For me, the big differences between two candidates was the Obama certainly came across as more personable.  But McCain’s answers (whether or not you agree with him) were more clear and decisive.  Obama sounded thoughtful, but that doesn’t help me know how he’s going to lead us as a nation.  For a candidate proposing change, the notion that Edward Kennedy will be one of his most trusted advisors is shocking.  He is the ultimate insider, and stands behind some of the most messed up moments in American politics in recent memory.  Not a good move by Barak.  Nor was hemming & hawing about abortion.  Women don’t get abortions because they have inadequate healthcare or don’t know they can easily and quickly find someone to adopt the child.

I thought McCain had a better grasp of economics.  I also thought Obama doesn’t get that people don’t mind taxes for roads and schools (unless they fail).  It’s all the entitlements and earmarks that people are frustrated with and don’t want to see their taxes raised to continue.

Obama also didn’t seem balanced his view of America, or other nations.  Yes, we are FAR from perfect.  We are not the only nation to deal with racism- it is a problem in every nation in which people of different ethnicities live.  But I’d take our track record with the poor and disadvantaged than any other nations’.  Are we jailing and murdering political dissidents?  No.  Religious people?  No.  This is, by and large, a generous nation.  Think of all the humanitarian aid we provide each year- even to nations that don’t like us.  Think of the numerous people, mostly Christians, who’ve given their time and money to rebuild New Orleans and other areas devastated by Katrina.  Just one of my pet peeves- only mentioning the bad we do, and never acknowledging or downplaying the good we’ve done.  Yes, we have some really dark marks on our record, but also some good ones.

I thought the forum was helpful, mostly.  Any thoughts?

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Even the NYT gets it, finally.  Scientific studies indicate that when you consider the process of creating the biofuels, they produce more greenhouse gases than traditional fuels.  Hah!  Congress’ great hope for not drilling anywhere in the continental U.S. and ending our foreign oil dependence has a few holes in it.

“When you take this into account, most of the biofuel that people are using or planning to use would probably increase greenhouse gasses substantially,” said Timothy Searchinger, lead author of one of the studies and a researcher in environment and economics at Princeton University. “Previously there’s been an accounting error: land use change has been left out of prior analysis.”

Of course these scientists haven’t quite figured out that temperatures are dynamic, not static, and that the models just don’t fit reality.

Then there is the “unintended consequence”. 

For instance, if vegetable oil prices go up globally, as they have because of increased demand for biofuel crops, more new land is inevitably cleared as farmers in developing countries try to get in on the profits. So crops from old plantations go to Europe for biofuels, while new fields are cleared to feed people at home.

Likewise, Dr. Fargione said that the dedication of so much cropland in the United States to growing corn for bioethanol had caused indirect land use changes far away. Previously, Midwestern farmers had alternated corn with soy in their fields, one year to the next. Now many grow only corn, meaning that soy has to be grown elsewhere.

Increasingly, that elsewhere, Dr. Fargione said, is Brazil, on land that was previously forest or savanna. “Brazilian farmers are planting more of the world’s soybeans — and they’re deforesting the Amazon to do it,” he said.

Once again we run after the elaborate, seemingly attractive solution at the expense of the simplier solutions or really understanding if there really is a problem.  So, due to the radical environmentalists and global warming alarmists have tied our hands behind our backs.  As a result of their demands, we continue to export way too much oil, which drives down the dollar, increasing the price for gas, and all the things we ship using it, shift to alternative fuels further driving up the cost of grains and all other products that rely on grains … it is a vicious cycle. 

Yes, I’m sick of the stupidity.

HT: The Institute

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The first article of the U.S. Constitution concerns the Legislative Branch.  All legislative powers are established in the Congress, and may not be delegated to others.  This means that the Executive and Judical branches may not make laws.  The Executive Branch may suggest laws, but primarily enforces laws.  The Judicial Branch interprets laws, and applies them to specific cases heard before them.

The Congress is composed of the House of Representatives and the Senate.  The number of Representatives is based on a census to be taken every 10 years, and you may have one representative in the House  for every 30,000 citizens (clause 3).  Initially, a direct tax was placed on states in proportion to the number of citizens.  The 16th Amendment eliminated this in favor of an Income Tax.

Impeachment begins in the House of Representatives which determines what is an impeachable offense, and whether grounds for impeachment exist.  The Senate tries the impeachment.  An impeached person may be removed from governmental office, and is still liable to be charged in either civil or criminal court.  2/3 of the members present must find the accused officer guilty.

The speech of Representatives and Senators during debate is protected from legal action outside of the Congress (Section 6).  Congress may discipline its members for speaking slander, for instance.  But one Senator may not take another to civil court.  This is intended to protect their rights to argue their side of the case without fear of legal action.

Section 7 covers bills.  If a law is passed by the House and Senate, it must then be approved by the President.  If vetoed, he noted objections are brought to the body that originated the Bill.  If 2/3 vote to approve said bill, it passes to the other body.  If 2/3 of that body approves the Bill, it becomes law.  This provides a check on the legislature, so bare majorities may not tyrannize the populace.  All revenue bills are to originate in the House, though the Senate may propose amendments (those dreaded earmarks).

Here are the powers of Congress:

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Maybe I’m crazy, but I suspect that most Americans either haven’t read the Constitution, or did it so long ago they can’t remember what it says.  This doesn’t matter until politicians make claims about the Constitution, or the balance of power.  If they are someone you trust, you rejoice.  If not, you don’t.  But do they properly understand the Constitution, or are they just doing some spin to score political points?

I thought it would be interesting to look at the Constitution (yes, I have read it recently).  I’m not a “constitutional scholar”.  I would be considered a more strict subscriptionist: it is not a living document, but is an expandable document due to the Amendments.  I think the Constitution wanted to protect us from a large government (seen by the lack of the power to tax income until the 20th century).

 “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

What does the Constitution set out to do?

 1. It begins with the people that make up the nation.  The people ratified the document to perform a unique (at the time function), the union of states that tried to balance the unity of the nation and the independence of the states.  The federal government was not seen as over-powering the rights of states.  But that’s another story.

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