29 September 2010

President Obama's Line Item Veto of the Creator

Our President has chosen a new path for our nation, one that should trouble each and every citizen, especially every citizen of faith.

On two separate occasions, President Obama, speaking about the inalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence, has chosen to omit the Creator from the discussion.

In so doing, the President seems to be trying to apply a line item veto on the Declaration of Independence to strike God from the public square.

How far this is from our Founding Fathers, from Jefferson’s statement that “the God who gave us life gave us liberty” to Franklin’s assessment that “God governs in the affairs of men” to Supreme Court Justice John Jay’s contention that as a Christian nation, America should choose Christian rulers. What would the Black Robe Regiment of the Revolution think of such a statement?

How far this is even from 20th century Democrat Presidents such as FDR, who proclaimed America’s entry into World War Two as a “defense of Christian civilization,” praying to Almighty God for his protection on D-Day, to allow the troops to “preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization,” and calling the nation to “a continuance of prayer.”

If there are any who doubt that our President is a Marxist, let them doubt no more. If any doubt his dedication to godlessness, take a look at his face as he reads the teleprompter (loaded with the correct text of the Declaration) and chooses to omit the Creator.

If there are any who doubt the need for spiritual awakening in our nation, look no further than this. Then heed President Roosevelt’s call to prayer for the nation. I hope you will join me in praying for spiritual awakening in our state and our nation before it is too late.

10 September 2010

9 years later: The Ballad of Johnny Heff

As we remember 9/11/2001 this weekend, I am reprising my Project 2,996 posting from 9/11/2006, memorializing one of the heroes who fell that awful day, nine years ago. Somehow, in the kerfuffle over burning the Koran or building the unthinkable "Ground Zero victory mosque," this seems more appropriate than ever.

May we never forget.


Johnny Heffernan was a guitar player, and reportedly a very good one. He played first for a band called the Psychotics, then for a New York neo-punk band known as the Bullys, wearing his trademark black t-shirt and jeans, and working with Marky Ramone on their first album: Stomposition. According to John Holmstrom, editor of Punk Magazine, The Bullys were a force in renewing the punk scene in New York, and Johnny was the true force behind the band.

If not for The Bullys, I might never have bothered with the relaunch of PUNK magazine. This band, more than anything else, convinced me that there's a real rock 'n' roll scene out there worth writing about. I wanted to bring out a new PUNK magazine so maybe we could put The Bullys on the map, just like we did for The Ramones, Blondie and the Dead Boys back in the day… Johnny had real star quality. He was good-looking, articulate (in his own way), talented, ambitious, and charismatic… I thought he was like the Jimmy Cagney of punk rock.

Johnny Heff was as rebellious as you would expect from a punk rocker, except that the occasional target of his anger was radical Islam. And sometimes, that came out in lyrical form:

"I hear the government of Afghanistan is waging a war upon women. Where da f*** is Gasghanistan? I gotta get a f***in' map for dat one. Anyway, it must be one tough m*****f***ing country to wage war against chicks, huh? Since some dude named The Taliban took power in 1996, women had to wear some s*** called the Bercha or somethin', and have been beaten and stoned in public for not wearin' the proper attire. So I guess tattoos and leather pants are out of the question, eh? ... Well, if they ever get into a war with the United States, they should know we ain't gonna just send a bunch of chicks to f*** 'em up... I'll go to fight... Anybody know where 'dis backward frickin' place is?"

So, in his own very unique way, Johnny Heff was alert to who the enemy was, years before the rest of us had necessarily figured it out.

Johnny was also a committed family man. A rebel on stage, Johnny was notoriously mellow around his wife Lori and daughter Samantha, teaching “Sammy” to swim, taking her to her first concert, even helping her do her nails. Lori described Johnny as her “soul mate” and Johnny’s friends were amazed at the way Johnny “marshmellowed out” around his wife and daughter.

Unfortunately, being the lead guitarist in a punk band rarely pays the bills, although the band was becoming very successful and hoped to start touring, so in 1993 Johnny also took a day job, one that allowed him to support his family.

Johnny became a New York City Firefighter.

Perhaps that didn’t seem that heroic at the time, but it certainly does now. You see, on a bright sunny day, five years ago this morning, Johnny Heffernan of Engine Company 28, Ladder 11 raced into a burning World Trade Center, one of the first on the scene.

Maybe Johnny had the lyrics to his song going through his head that morning, as he raced up the stairs to rescue as many people as possible. Maybe he realized exactly who was responsible for the destruction he was witnessing, and maybe he didn’t. We will never know. Nor will we know exactly how many lives he saved that day, just another FDNY firefighter “doing his job” with unparalleled heroism. What we know is that he was right, and he fought bravely to save lives that day just as he’d lyrically promised he would if given the chance.

And that they found him at Ground Zero on October 2, 2001, on his beloved Lori’s 31st birthday.

As we remember the events of that awful day, we also pause to remember and honor the lives of those who were lost that day. I never knew Johnny Heff, and I wish I could’ve met him. He sounds like a brash barrel of fun to me.

I don’t know if any members of the Heffernan family will read this. I hope that if they do, that I will have done Johnny justice (even though I know I’m probably not capable of that). I also hope if you are reading this, that you’ll be willing to add a few notes of your own to honor the fallen hero that you knew far better than any of the rest of us.

One final note. It seems that heroism runs in the Heffernan family. Johnny’s younger brother Michael is a FDNY firefighter, and youngest brother Brian is NYPD.

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
Til all success be nobleness And every gain divine!


I want to thank Dale and the folks at Project 2,996 for the opportunity to participate. It has been an honor, a humbling experience, and an emotional one.

Please take the time today to read more of the tributes to the men and women of 9/11.


To support the family of Johnny Heffernan, and others of his engine company who perished that fateful day, make your check out to:

Eng28/Lad11, WTC Relief Fund

And mail it to:

Engine Co. 28/Ladder Co. 11
222 East 2nd Street
NYC NY 10003

Sources: LGF, Legacy.com, September11victims.com, thebullys.com, Punk Magazine.

30 August 2010

Early Odds for 2012

As we’ve done in cycles past, here are the odds for the Republican nomination on the likely challengers for the Presidential ticket with 17 months to the January 2012 SC Primary. These do not reflect my desire for any particular candidate, I'm genuinely undecided on that at the moment.

TIER I: The Early Favorites (5-3 odds; 60%)

Republicans have a long history of picking last times second hat as this times winner (see Bush Sr., Dole, McCain). There are a few folks who could answer to that description this time around.

(5-1): Sarah Palin (former Gov-AK) has been building national networks and national ID (positives and negatives) and a group of primary winners since her stint as McCains VP nominee. She has as strong a pull with the NASCAR voter as anyone in the field. NAGGING QUESTION: Will voters forgive her resignation after a half term as Governor of Alaska, and can Levi Johnston please go away?

(5-1): Mitt Romney (former Gov-MA) looks the strongest of the holdovers from 2008, with a strong economic message coupled with Wall Street experience and deep pockets. The rise of Glenn Beck may help, in that it may tamp down the anti-Mormon thing. Then again, if you couldn’t beat John McCain, we may question why we should elect you now. NAGGING QUESTION: Is the author of RomneyCare the right standard bearer for a party running on the repeal of ObamaCare?

(5-1): Newt Gingrich (former Speaker-GA) has been sounding themes that could capitalize on Tea Party type momentum within the Republican rank and file. He is clearly the most intelligent (from an IQ standpoint) candidate in the field, and will be fearsome in debates. NAGGING QUESTION: What’s the expiration date on personal baggage, and will party voters look past those indiscretions as well as the failures of 1996?

TIER II: The Governors (3-1, 33%)

Presidents usually come from the Executive Branch, not the legislative. With an inexperienced Legislator-President in office, a governor burnishing solid credentials as a successful executive can make the case for challenge more readily.

(10-1): Tim Pawlenty (Gov-MN) has already started web ads on key conservative websites around the country to get the word out. NAGGING QUESTION: Does he have the charisma to get noticed in a large field and handle himself in debates with a master communicator like Barack Obama?

(10-1): Mitch Daniels (Gov-IN) is similar to Pawlenty – maybe too similar. A Governor with a solid background, low name ID, and charisma that no one would confuse with Reagan, barring a side to his personality that we simply haven’t seen yet. Still, if he can make a strong case with the experience he has, from a Midwestern state, he’s got as good a chance to catch lightning in a bottle as anyone. NAGGING QUESTION: Did his comments (which he has since backed down from in great haste) that the party needed to leave divisive social issues behind doom this Presbyterian’s chances with social conservatives?

(10-1): Haley Barbour (Gov-MS) might best be described as The One Guy in Government During Hurricane Katrina Who Knew What He Was Doing. He’s a consummate party insider as former RNC Chair, who might still be able to reach out as an outsider Southern Governor with a history of competence in office. NAGGING QUESTION: Will Northeastern (NH), Midwestern (IA), and Western (NV) states vote for a Governor from Mississippi?

(100-1): Mike Huckabee (former Gov-AR) still has major pull within the evangelical community. Unfortunately, his TV show has done little to ease the concerns of fiscal conservatives who seem to be so motivated right now. The success of the TV show, combined with what appears to be a reversal of his earlier weight loss probably precludes the run, which is why I list him here. NAGGING QUESTION: How does he distance himself from the video where he begs the Arkansas legislature for tax increases in a year where fiscal issues are king?

(100-1): Chris Christie (Gov-NJ) is having one heck of a great first year in office to be on this list already. He’s taken on union power in New Jersey, and won. That’s incredible. But it’s important for his supporters to remember that he’s only been in office for 8 months. Let’s give him time to ripen in office. NAGGING QUESTION: Is one year in executive office enough for Republican Presidential Primary voters?

(100-1) Bobby Jindal (Gov-LA) is the youngest person listed here. He’s got an extremely bright future on the national stage, has a brilliant mind and a captivating personality to match. But he’s probably too young, could use that one more term of executive experience and has the added inconvenience of having to run for reelection as Governor just 10 weeks before Iowa. As such, I think he waits four or eight more years. NAGGING QUESTION: Is the Republican Party ready to nominate a non-white for President? (Editor’s note: yes.)

TIER III: The Legislators (14-1, 7%)

The main problem for this group is that Republican Senators who run for President don’t often win, even if they get the nomination (think Dole, McCain). It’s worse for Congressmen: we haven’t elected a member of the lower House to the White House since the 1880s. That’s unlikely to change.

(33-1): Jim DeMint (Sen-SC) has been building national name ID as the leader of the Senate Conservatives. He’s clearly as ready as he’ll ever be, turning 60 just before the ’10 season begins. He’s been coy answering this question because the Tea Party movement absolutely adores him, and he’d be a natural for them. Still, his long term plans may have more to do with being the leader of the new Republican Majority rather than running for the White House in a ten candidate field. My gut is that he works that angle as well as the “king maker” angle, seeking to unify SC conservatives behind a single conservative candidate. NAGGING QUESTION: Would you rather be the leader of the Senate or a Senator running for President?

(100-1) Rick Santorum (former Sen-PA) has a lot going for him. He’s a strong conservative across the board. He’s a great communicator. He’s got “that look” and presents very well on TV. NAGGING QUESTION: Is that enough to overcome the loss of the Senate seat in 2006?

(100-1) John Thune (Sen-SD) is nationally known as “The guy who knocked off Tom Daschle,” for which we’ll all be forever grateful. Earlier this year, this was the hot pick; six months later, the energy seems to have faded. NAGGING QUESTION: Will the TARP vote haunt him as much as it did other members?

(100-1) Mike Pence (House-IN) has become known as the leader of the House conservatives for the better part of a decade. He’s a phenomenal public speaker who has made the first rounds already to solid reviews. He’s very personable on camera and in person. NAGGING QUESTION: In addition to the historic House problem, can he raise the money (probably $25M) to compete early and stay in to Super Tuesday?

(100-1) Ron Paul (House-TX) has built one of the most effective grassroots networks in the country, culminating in the “Campaign for Liberty” that has his fingerprints at the moment. In the process, he has also alienated millions of likely Republican voters with foreign policy stances and proclamations well outside the mainstream (see 9/11 quotes). In the final analysis, though, no matter how talented or well organized, time takes its toll, and Dr. Paul will be a venerable 75 when the campaign kicks off. No President has even been elected a first term older than 70. NAGGING QUESTION: If Dr. Paul decides on a third party run instead, does he doom the country to four more years of Obama?

TIER IV The Pretenders (OFF, 0%)

I keep hearing General David Petraeus mentioned as Presidential material. Yeah, he does look good in a uniform, and his recent comments about listening to Enya may qualify as soccer mom outreach, but I still don’t see him taking on the Presidency for a first foray into politics. Eisenhower was a special case as a 5-star commander of the European theater; Petraeus is not so universally loved as Ike was.

I also have heard whispered that we’ll see the return of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Puhleeease. The guy who made New York a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants and sued the federal government to stop the line item veto has ZERO chance in this electoral climate. Personally, I think he knows that, and he’s going to stick to issues like the 9/11 families and opposing the Ground Zero mosque.

Finally, the saddest case – our own Governor Mark Sanford. 16 months ago, I was at his Coosaw Encampment with 300 other conservative state leaders. One person (who I will allow to remain unnamed) was wearing a “Sanford 2012” hat. He coulda been a contender, maybe even the favorite, with the happy marriage, the four boys, and the proven record as a fiscal conservative Governor. Within a month came “Soul-gate” and all that exploded. Yet, I’ve heard in recent days that he may try to revive his political career and run for office again. I list him here because of some connections that I know the Governor has with national level conservative donors, but I don’t personally believe this is where he will end up running. More time needs to elapse before he tries that comeback.

14 August 2010

The Alien President and the Ground Zero Mosque

The radical Muslims are doing their dead level best to make trouble again. This time it’s the so-called “Cordoba Initiative” – a mosque on the edge of Ground Zero in lower Manhattan named for the center of the European caliphate in the 8th Century. Cordoba was a cathedral converted into a mosque, meant as the symbol of Muslim conquest in Christian Europe. The modern “Cordoba Initiative” laughably passes itself off as an “interfaith exchange;” the original Cordoba’s “interfaith exchange” was the tax that Muslims collected from the local Christian population. It seems, then, that the mosque idea is purely an exhibition of Muslim strength against the weakness of the West to stand up to Sharia extremism.

Muslims know this. Writing in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, two moderate Muslims called the mosque a “deliberate provocation to thumb our noses at the infidel.” They were arguing against the idea of the Ground Zero/Cordoba mosque as an act of “bad faith.”

Into this maelstrom steps what Robert Weissberg of the American Thinker has termed the “alien rule” of Barack Obama. Normally, a President could be counted on to stand up for American concepts, things like the hallowed ground of Ground Zero. But, it seems, this President is incapable of considering the concepts of “sacred” or “hallowed” ground, and yesterday, against all logic, the President came out in strong support of the Cordoba Ground Zero mosque.

In the Muslim world, this will be seen as an invitation to attack our weakness, a symbol of Muslim conquest over the weak Americans, building a mosque on the site of Islamist triumph in the United States. Building this mosque would be a greater victory for the jihadists than the destruction of the World Trade Center, in that it allows the victory to be celebrated and built upon.

This morning’s Canada Free Press terms Barack Obama as “the First Un-American President.” After last night, I fail to see how any other term fits.

11 August 2010

What should Immigration “Reform” look like?

In a recent post, I talked about what South Carolina could do (as a state and individual communities) to fight illegal immigration from non-federal levels (in the absence of any solid federal leadership on the issue through the last six administrations…)

But that begs the question: If there is to be immigration reform, which virtually everyone agrees needs to happen in some form or fashion, what should those “reforms” look like? I’ve tackled this issue in a post for SCHotline about 4 years ago, but that blog is gone now, so let’s revisit with four more years to ponder it.



I’m not saying put tanks and fighter planes on the border, or issue shoot on sight orders. I am saying build a double fence the length of the southern border with enforceable points of entry. Then staff it properly. Border enforcement is a valid use of taxpayer dollars, but one that has been badly neglected by every administration since Carter. I’d much rather spend resources protecting the country from an invasion than on stimulus packages for bureaucrats and special interests. This is an act of will that simply requires a government willing to enforce the law and a Congress willing to pay for it. This should be a no brainer, but it never gets done.


We need to take a hard look at the bureaucracies that have failed to date. I’ve heard horror stories from plenty of legitimate immigrant applications that take far too long to get approved. We need to make it harder to get here illegally, yes, but we also need to make it easier to get here legally or understand why an application has been denied. This is the carrot in the carrot and stick approach. Mandate that applications have to be dealt with in a certain amount of time, and then lets have Congressional oversight to ensure that those metrics are met.


Why have deportations gone down since Eisenhower was President? Has every President since simply not cared enough about the issue? No one is saying you can deport 20 million illegal immigrants all at once. Start by enforcing the law. The current Arizona situation proves yet again that when the laws are enforced a large number of people will self-deport. That’s a good starting point for this process.



I know this will come as a surprise to some (since I’ve been a pretty vociferous critic of our Senior Senator over the years) but Senator Graham is absolutely right on the need to tweak the definition of the automatic birthright citizenship of the 14th Amendment. You can do very little to fix to current mess without handling the Anchor Baby/Birth Tourism issue. Bob McAlister has done a great piece on this issue; The Heritage Foundation says it can be done with clarifying legislation (as opposed to another Constitutional Amendment) – and George Will agrees. What needs to be clarified is that only the children of citizens or permanent legal residents gain automatic citizenship; anyone else needs to go through the naturalization process – complete with application.


Short an overhaul of welfare reform that would stop subsidizing laziness in the general populace, we’re going to still need someone to do the jobs that are currently being done by illegals (in South Carolina, this is predominantly peach picking, chicken plucking, and construction). What we need is to be able to have these be done by people who are here legally, who will pay their fair share of taxes while they’re here, and who will go back home when they’re done. Such a program would involve employers being able to bring in workers to do specific jobs for specific time periods before returning to their home countries. Reforming the bureaucracy is a must before you do this because otherwise, no one will get to work on time. Ending automatic birthright citizenship is a must before you do this, as you want the guest workers to bring their families for maximum societal stability and economic gain without creating permanent anchors.


There are plenty of paths to citizenship now. We don’t need to create more, and more importantly, we don’t need to reward those who have come here illegally by letting them stay. If they want to work here, they’ll need to apply under the guest worker program. If they want to immigrate here, they’ll have to go back to their home country and apply from there like everyone else, going through the background checks and fulfilling the application process along the way.

As an aside, let’s define amnesty. Amnesty is defined as allowing the criminal to keep what they’ve stolen. In this case, the illegal alien has stolen a place in the country. “Amnesty” is anything that lets them keep it – even with “fines, back taxes” or whatever other artifices are attached to the process. Put me down for no amnesty; it’s a perversion of the rule of law, and it should be unacceptable to a modern society based on law.


Let’s face it, the current system invites more attacks. Until we can be certain that the jihadist threat is behind us (and it certainly isn’t yet), it behooves us to protect ourselves. This means no more student visas (like the ones used by 9/11 attackers) or permanent resident visas for those who are coming from high risk countries, unless they can certify a status worthy of asylum. This isn’t racial profiling – it’s religious profiling; it’s important to remember that our rights as a nation to survive outweigh the religious rights of non-citizens who seek our demise but want to live here in the meantime. The Constitution, after all, wasn’t a suicide pact.


Other things that I suppose could be included in an acceptable form of a “comprehensive immigration reform” might include changing the current system to more of a points based system (more points for a college degree or needed work skill, for instance). We also need to emphasize English only in our immigration system – if you want to live here, you agree to become part of our culture and that means communicating in our shared language. English proficiency (using forms printed only in English, giving tests using only English) should be mandatory for immigrating to the US and for citizenship.

Agree? Disagree? Want to discuss? Comments are open below…

03 August 2010

On Censure Resolutions

I know a thing or two about censure resolutions. For those of you who missed it in June, I was the author of the resolution by the Lexington County GOP censuring Senator Jake Knotts for the “@*#&$%! raghead” remark (though, in truth, I’m just as angry about the “@*#&$%! pro-lifers” remark Knotts made at another Senator just off the Senate floor earlier this year…).

Last night, the Greenville GOP voted 61-2 to censure Senator Lindsey Graham over a litany of ills concluding with being not enough of a Republican. You’ve heard them before, and if you’re like me, you agree that Senator Graham was wrong on most, if not all counts: Judges Haynes (no), Sotomayor and Kagan (yes), amnesty for illegals, closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, supporting TARP, cap and trade, comments about Glenn Beck, comments about earmarks, etc.

The question is do these resolutions work, and do they matter?

Clearly I think there’s a place for them, or I wouldn’t have written the Knotts censure. Were I a member of the Greenville GOP, I would likely have voted yes last night.

But it strikes me that these resolutions eventually become whistling into a tornado.

Senator Knotts reaction was one of complete contempt. If the resolution was intended to force him out of office (it wasn’t), it failed miserably. If anything, Senator Knotts is more dug in than ever. Likewise, the reaction out of the Graham camp will likely mirror his performance at the Greenville GOP convention last spring – I won, I’m your Senator for four more years, get over it.

All that said, local County Parties have a right to express their displeasure with their elected officials, especially when those officials depart from the values they expressed when getting themselves elected. Senator Graham spoke to the Lexington GOP Convention in 2007 and talked about making sure President Bush got his pro-life judges. By the end of that summer he had put the knife to the Haynes nomination over the Guantanamo issue. For those of us who are conservatives who care about judges, that knife was lodged in our backs, too. Good on Greenville for holding his feet to the fire.

There’s one more thing that makes Greenville’s censure interesting, different, and bold. The Greenville GOP added one last clause that puts some teeth into the resolution that others may wind up copying. They barred the Senator from addressing Greenville County GOP meetings in the future. That’s about as strong as a County Party can affect within the boundaries of the law. We can’t throw people out of the Party (the law defining Party membership is too vague), but we can bar folks from meetings.

What the censures will eventually turn into (it seems to me) is fodder for primary campaigns against Knotts and Graham, assuming both men decide to run for reelection as Republicans. Graham has two more years to develop his response (and for the hoopla to die down) than Knotts does, but that’s also two more years for opposition to develop a gameplan. Either way, both men can probably expect mailpieces/TV ads blaring “Rebuked by the GOP” or something similar.

Whether those efforts succeed may rise and fall on whether or not we can finally change to a voter registration by party/closed primary system that protects the First Amendment Freedom of Association rights of party members. In a closed primary, Knotts or Graham would almost surely fail. In a system that allows Democratics to vote in Republican primaries, Knotts and Graham at least have a chance to survive politically. Time will tell.

26 July 2010

Heresy for Sale: The Downfall of Rep. Mark Siljander

There once was a Member of the House of Representatives. His name was Mark Siljander. He was known as a conservative from Michigan, and he served three terms, from 1981-1987. Pretty unremarkable.

Then came the terrorist attacks of 9/11. While most of us studied up on shari’a law and woke up to the dangers of the Islamist thousand year war on Western Civilization, Siljander tried to “bridge the Muslim-Christian divide.” He took trips to the Middle East, bringing Christian leaders with him to try to “bridge the divide”. He wrote a book which claimed (to much acclaim) that the Islamic Allah and the Christian God were one and the same. The former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon wrote the foreword, and notable post-modern Christian heretic Brian McLaren joined in the praise and adoration of the book. So did Dr. Ergun Caner, who was dismissed earlier this month as the head of Liberty University’s seminary after an investigation into his own fraudulent past and claims. The book managed to put itself on the shelves of Christian bookstores around the country and right here in South Carolina.

Of course, in addition to being a brainless heresy, the whole thing was a fraud.

Siljander was indicted in federal court for money laundering, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice on behalf of the Islamic American Relief Agency, a group raided in 2004 by the FBI and referred to as “Al Qaeda in Missouri”. Their Executive Director was trying to teach shari’a in American public schools. As it turns out, Siljander had been paid $75000 under the table to represent IARA and try to improve their status with the Senate Finance Committee (who had listed them as a terrorist supporting organization.) According to the original indictment, Siljander allegedly laundered money for an Afghan warlord with ties to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Earlier this month, Siljander entered a plea deal to obstruction of justice and illegally representing IARA without filing as a lobbyist. He faces fifteen years in the federal pokey.

The website for the book is still up, and Edwin Meese, Rod Beckstrom, and Cal Thomas still have their names up there (Memo to their PR reps: you might want to get that pulled down…). The book stands as thoroughly discredited as its author, a paid shill for a terrorist faith who got his hand caught in the cookie jar.

Those who went with him to Sudan and other places around the world to promote ‘interfaith understanding’ should beware: they’ve been duped – big time. The doctrines he espoused were in direct conflict with Biblical teaching on the identity of Christ and His supremacy. Worse, they appear to have been bought and paid for by enemies of the faith and of the nation.

Next steps? Christian bookstores need to take this one off the shelves, including on college campuses. His can no longer be considered a respectable opinion with which orthodox evangelicals disagree; it’s paid hackery at its worst.

Congressmen everywhere – especially the newest class of former Congressman – should take note at the dangers of going for the quick lobbying buck after leaving office. It’s a road fraught with dangers that too often end in prison terms.

Finally, the rest of us need to keep our guard up. Creeping Shari’a has many sources, many friends in high places. Citizens continue to stay on guard for their liberty, and so we must. Our liberties need to remain protected against those who would sell us out to the Islamists for 30 pieces of silver.

19 July 2010

Freedom of Worship, Sex Education, and the Loss of Parental Rights

This may not seem political, but it is.

There has been a left-wing consortium trying to rewrite traditional Constitutional values, and they are again stepping up their attacks of late.

Exhibit A: The Obama Administration has started to refer to “freedom of worship” rather than “freedom of religion” as the guaranteed First Amendment right. Michelle Boorstein first picked this up in February in Newsweek, but it has been noticed far more within the past week by both protestant and catholic writers.

Here’s the rub: by calling it “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion”, Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are restricting the rights of believers by excluding many other things that are included in “religion” but not necessarily worship, especially the right to proselytize. “Freedom of Worship” specifically doesn’t include evangelism, which means that, more than any other religious group, Christians are the primary targets of this new policy. Taken in combination with President Obama’s “We’re not a Christian nation” speech, this is alarming, to say the least.

Money quote from Nina Shea of the Center for Religious Freedom:
"It excludes the right to raise your children in your faith; the right to have religious literature; the right to meet with co-religionists; the right to raise funds; the right to appoint or elect your religious leaders, and to carry out charitable activities, to evangelize, to have religious education or seminary training."

Exhibit B: The International Planned Parenthood Federation has a new booklet that has popped up at Girl Scout camps worldwide, known as Happy Healthy and Hot. It’s a guide for HIV positive youth who want to keep having sex. Unprotected sex. With partners who haven’t been told about the HIV status of the partner.

Don’t believe me? I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t… just check out page 3 on the booklet:

Sharing your HIV status is called disclosure. Your decision about whether to disclose may change with different people and situations. You have the right to decide if, when, and how to disclose your HIV status.

There are many reasons that people do not share their HIV status. They may not want people to know they are living with HIV because of stigma and discrimination within their community. They may worry that people will find out something else they have kept secret, like they are using injecting drugs, having sex outside of a marriage or having sex with people of the same gender. People in long-term relationships who find out they are living with HIV sometimes fear that their partner will react violently or end the relationship.

How is it even remotely appropriate to tell this to Girl Scout troops? Aren’t we just asking for a rise in the HIV/AIDS epidemic?

The answer, is yes. For political reasons. And that is simply unacceptable.

Amazingly, this is the group that, along with their partners in the Playboy empire control the sex education curriculum coming out of the South Carolina Dept. of Education. The group is known as “SIECUS”, representing the partnership of Playboy and Planned Parenthood to intentionally oversex our school kids. In Playboy’s case, this means more magazine sales. In Planned Parenthood’s case, it means more abortions in their baby-killing plants. For normal parents, it’s just a nightmare.

Exhibit C:
To complicate that problem just one touch further, it appears that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is pushing this agenda as well. As reported by the World Congress of Families, a UNFPA official declared the breakdown of the traditional family to be a “triumph” of “human rights” against “patriarchy.” Well, now they're pushing “International Guidelines on Sexuality Education” which seeks to promote “sexual pleasure” among five year olds.

Folks, our “freedom of religion” does guarantee us the right to teach our children what we want to, not have the sexualization of our children dictated to us by the UN and their Planned Parenthood and Playboy allies through programs like SIECUS. SIECUS bragged last year that their “allies in the SC Department of Education” would help them abolish abstinence based education in South Carolina.

Well, we’re not going to let that happen. Time to fight back.

Mick Zais and Frank Holleman are the leading candidates for Superintendent of Education. Mick and Frank – will you pledge to stand up for abstinence-until-marriage education, as mandated by South Carolina state law, or will you kowtow to the liberal agenda to undermine our parents and put our children at risk for sexually transmitted diseases?

This is an issue too important; we will be staying on this story in the coming months.

08 July 2010

Immigration Reform, South Carolina style

You would think the federal government would appreciate a little help on the immigration issue right now.

Budget cuts being what they are, and an out of control border causing havoc and mayhem to the local citizenry, you’d think the feds would tell Arizona “Thanks for the help! Let us know who we can pick up.”

And of course, you’d be spectacularly wrong. Under the Obama Regime, the federal government has no interest in fixing the immigration problem with anything other than blanket amnesty (which of course only worsens the problem in the long term, as we have already seen post-1987). To the Obama Regime, this isn’t a problem to be fixed, but a Rahm Emanuelesque crisis to be taken advantage of.

So you get the insane situation where rather than enforce its own laws and its own borders, the federal government instead puts up signs warning the locals to stay out of portions of their own country due to rampant lawlessness (above).

Let me point to Beaufort County, South Carolina as evidence that the Arizona approach should be preferred to the federal government approach. Beaufort County, fed up with the federal government’s non-intervention into immigration enforcement, decided to do its own ordinance to cut back on illegal aliens, including fines for businesses that employ illegals.

On the other end of the state, York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant has his deputies trained under section 287(g) to handle immigration cases on their own. Beaufort County is also doing this. This will result in a drop to the crime rate in both of those communities.

And yes, South Carolina’s own immigration reform act has finally come completely into fruition this month, though the Obama Regime’s likely move there is to shut down the e-Verify system that the state relies on for businesses to verify workers and the law to be enforced.

So, it seems to me that there are three things that South Carolina and her communities can do on this immigration issue to clamp down, and tell the feds “Yes, we can.”

First, in addition to the previously passed bill, South Carolina needs to pass the Arizona law. This will accomplish two things: it will put us in a position to protect ourselves, and it will give Arizona (and other states contemplating similar actions) some cover to do the same. The feds can pick on one state far more easily than they can pick on 30. Let’s get other states passing Arizona’s immigration law. I know it will be difficult, but the State also needs to pass enough funding for SLED to enforce the law. This will pay for itself in the long run with reduced costs to our Medicaid and social welfare spending.

Second, South Carolina counties should immediately begin discussing how to bring the Beaufort County immigration ordinance to their county. I have a copy, if you need one – look me up. I’ll be sending copies to the Lexington County Council to see if we can get this law passed here. If every county raised moneys similar to the Beaufort tally, you’d see far less clamoring for state dollars. Sooner or later, businesses are going to figure out that hiring illegals isn’t the money making operation they hoped it was, and you’ll start to see a drop in citizen unemployment rates as well.

Finally, every county Sheriff in South Carolina should follow Sheriff Bryant’s lead and get their deputies trained under ICE’s 287(g) program to handle these cases. The problem of criminal illegal aliens is a serious one, and 287(g) is a serious response while it lasts. (I have no faith that the Obama regime won’t pull the plug on this eventually.)

This would be a serious three-tiered approach to stopping the illegal immigration influx into South Carolina, and an effective way to address unemployment, crime, and the looming budget crisis in our state. I hope our leaders will listen.

02 July 2010

Reprint: On Conservatism and Race

This didn't make the blog last year, but it should have, and so it will. This was originally posted as a Facebook note on July 14, 2009, in the wake of the disastrous election of Audra Shay as YRNF Chair. A year later, living as I do in Senator Jake Knotts district, it seems just as fresh today.

OK, so I hate having to write this at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, but it is what it is. For a kid who grew up in a house with a Biblical worldview (and thus without so much as a hint of racism), this issue is nearly alien to me. Yet I am confronted with it, and find I need to write it out.

Within the past two months, we have witnessed a meltdown within the Republican Party on the issue of race. I have multiple friends and acquaintances who have made unfortunate Facebook comments that have found their way into the media. Always there was some underlying excuse – look at the political climate, or there was some other subcontext for the comments, whether the left’s hateful treatment of Sarah Palin, the Obama Administration’s policies on spending and taxes, those on the evolution side of the creation debate, or Walmart’s decision to unionize. Whatever excuses are made, the underlying racial nature of the comments made remains inexcusable.

Folks, if we are going to reclaim the mantle of leadership in this nation, there is no room for this sort of behavior. “Conservative” does not refer to bringing some sort of single-ethnicity rule, or the exclusion of those who look different from us; rather, it refers to “conserving” the intent of our Founding Fathers when they wrote:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

All are created equal – by Almighty God, and given rights that we today still work to secure. Governments should, Conservatives believe, exist to protect those rights and our citizen’s lives – and do little else. Liberty flourishes when government power is constrained. Economies flourish when governments tax little and spend little and Liberty is allowed to grow. Free peoples prosper; enslaved peoples do not.

And yet I read this morning about the “permanence of racism in the American experience.” I’ve seen racism come from both sides of the American ideological divide, from the left-wing attacks on Michelle Malkin's Asian ethnicity, to the anti-Semitism found on the fringes of the right and left, to the unhinged remarks of Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright, to what J.C. Watts condemned as the “race-baiting poverty pimps,” to what President Bush termed the “soft bigotry of low expectations,” to the Facebook comments so many of us have had to deal with in the last three months.

My friends, let this not remain. If we are to continue to build a civil society on the principles our Founders laid out – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, rights from God, to all, protected by government – we must stop the ethnic divisiveness and hatred that plagues so much of the rest of our world.

The Apostle Paul makes plain in his epistles that the Christ-follower must have no place for racism or ethnic hatred. Those who in the past have abused Scripture to excuse racism miss the plain words of his letters to Galatia or Ephesus: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female: you are all one in Christ Jesus… One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and in you all.” Not divisiveness, unity. If indeed “Christ is in us, the hope of glory,” we have no room for divisions on such trivial matters as the place of our birth or the tone of our skin.

I hope that we Republicans will remember this and learn from the mistakes of the first half of this year. We cannot capture the attentions of the public, nor convince the public that we are deserving of a return to national leadership, if we cannot also get past the racism of yesteryear that has rightly and strongly been rejected by the vast majority of the American public. Our message of limited government, liberty, and personal responsibility cannot be heard if it is drowned out by controversy over who should be allowed to enjoy those blessings of liberty.

I hope you will join me in this endeavor; I hope that you will take these words to heart and to work in your own community; I hope that you will share this with others.

And I hope that God will richly bless each and every one of you as you seek to follow His heart and do His will.

01 July 2010

Putting the Band Back Together

So... it's been a long time.

I haven't written for the blog in... what, 16 months?

At some point, I'll write about the campaign here. Lessons learned, friendships made, folks I just can't trust any more... It was a 95% positive experience, and that's where I'll focus the most. In that time I wound up helping start the Tea Party movement (and then see it go through some serious adolescent growing pains). I'm certain to keep commenting on that as things move forward.

And, as y'all know, I'm pretty opinionated. I'm not about to stop telling you what I think (and let the discussions begin). I've been saving up some things that I'll be writing about over the summer, on all the usual topics that long time readers will remember.

Thanks for coming back. I look forward to moving the debate forward for the sake of conservatism everywhere.

01 February 2009

What $1T looks like

With gratitude to Suitably Flip (click for larger)

29 January 2009

Martin/Harrell - Tort Reform Returns

The US Chamber of Commerce recently ranked the fifty states on a series of tort and liability issues in terms of their business friendliness.

The results? South Carolina’s ranking dropped in 2008 from 37th to 43rd, despite the tort reform and workers compensation reforms passed earlier in the decade?

Why are we ranked so low? The data points we took the most grief from included non-economic damages, the competence of our judges, and our treatment of scientific evidence. Class action lawsuits got a particular nod as well.

Here’s where that rubber meets the road – every frivolous lawsuit in South Carolina costs roughly $30K to defend. Since the median wage in the state is now hovering around $29K, this means that every single lawsuit against business costs the state roughly one job. So, the fact that we’re in the bottom ten in business friendly litigation and unemployment (currently 49th at a whopping 9.5%) at the same time makes some sense.

One other note on what’s wrong, before we get to the fix. The other problem that needs fixing relates to bad judges. In the recent Colleton Prep v. Hoover case, the SC Supreme Court, in a ruling handed down by Justice Don Beatty, found that a construction contractor was liable not for the damage that was done, but for the damage that could have been done when a roof partially collapsed. (That’s jurisprudential malfeasance, and it happens when legislators pick judges without regard to their judicial philosophy, but rather on who is scratching whose back, or comes from whose home county. But I digress…)

Into this mess steps Senator Larry Martin (along with 12 Senate co-sponsors and a probable House counterpart to be introduced next week by Speaker Harrell) with a tort reform bill S.350 that can have a solid positive impact on the business-friendly nature of our legal system.

“Martin/Harrell” – S.350 is modeled after the tort reform proposal of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and seeks to put our state on more of a nationally normed footing. That includes improvements to the way our state handles class actions, punitive damages, and admissibility of certain types of evidence. The bill includes a paragraph modeled after SC’s medical malpractice statute, giving businesses the same protective caps on non-economic damages that our doctors currently enjoy. The bill includes language worked out by Attorney General Henry McMaster to provide standards and accountability for the hiring of outside legal counsel. And, yes, the bill reverses the definitions of two bad SC Supreme Court decisions, including the “could have been” Economic Loss Rule provisions from the regrettable Colleton Prep case.

Senator Martin and Speaker Harrell should be applauded for bringing this bill to the Legislature, especially at a time when our economy needs a boost. The best kind of boost we can give is to ease the tort burdens on business that allow them to hire more workers. The House and Senate should work to pass this bill this year. We’ll be watching to make sure they do.

28 January 2009

In Praise of Senator Jim DeMint

There has been a lot going on in the past couple of months, and it seems to me that with all of the good things we’re trying to do and all of the bad things the liberals are trying to do, there’s one great guy with us in the trenches these last two months – Senator Jim DeMint.

Stopping Hillary Clinton from turning the State Department into her own private social engineering lab? Didn’t work, but Senator DeMint voted against her confirmation - one of only two Senators to stand up and do the right thing.

Stopping a tax cheat from becoming Secretary of the Treasury (and thus, nominal head of the IRS)? Didn’t work, but Senator DeMint voted against the confirmation of Timothy Geithner, even as ten of his Republican colleagues buckled.

Stopping the ill-advised TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) that the Bush Administration was shoving down Congress’ throat? Didn’t work, but Senator DeMint was the only one to consistently stand up against the bailout.

Fighting against the Obama administrations policy to allow federal tax dollars to go for overseas abortions? Didn’t work, but Senator DeMint was the elected South Carolinian who brought the amendment to the Senate floor to strip the funding. (seriously, how does a country like ours, with a trillion dollar deficit, whose economy is in the toilet, even begin to consider paying for other countries to kill babies? I just don’t understand this concept – at all. But I digress.)

Now Senator DeMint is fighting against the $1T debt-funded Obama/Pelosi/Reid “stimulus” package (and twittering about it along the way.) I don’t expect we’ll win this one either, in the short run, but with Senator DeMint taking the right stands, we can hope it at least gets somewhat stripped down.

Keep up the good work, Senator. We may be losing these fights right now, but we absolutely appreciate having you in the trenches fighting for us. History will show that you continued to do the right things, even as all those around you lost their minds for socialist Big Government programs and bailouts.

20 January 2009

More Government jobs than Manufacturing?

graph courtesy Contrary Investor, HT: Jawa Report
The Jawas are pointing out that government employment has now surpassed manufacturing and construction sectors.
As they also point out:

What is the government's product? How well is it selling? What tax revenue does government generate (not collect)? What is the profit margin for government, and when will it begin paying for itself? What tangible good or service is the rapidly-growing government producing? Why is there a recession if government is the answer? If government is trying to compete with manufacturing as a big-time employer, then why doesn't it start generating its own income rather than taking it from productive people?

Reagan was right - the tendency for government is to grow into the closest thing to eternal life that we'll ever know on this planet. Are we better off for it? The only time government payrolls noticably decreased for any real length of time was under the Reagan Administration (blips under the others), so this is a systemic problem that crosses party lines (the two lines crossed during Bush's term, highlighting the 'success' of "compassionate conservatism").

19 January 2009

Better Late Than Never: Ramos, Compean freed

Word is breaking this afternoon that President Bush has commuted the sentences of Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who had become a cause celebre for those of us in the "border hawk" camp. Inexplicably, Fox News is reporting that the sentences are commuted not to time served, apparently, but to March 20, so they still have two months to serve. Still, commuting these sentences (if not an outright pardon) was the right thing to do, and politically all the easier with the bipartisan support these two law enforcement officers have received from across the country, especially from the entirety of the Texas House contingent.

While I don't understand the two month delay, I'm grateful that these two will get out sooner rather than later. They faced 10 year sentences if the President hadn't acted.

15 January 2009

Random thoughts on the State of the State

Had a fun evening last night. The Lexington Young Republicans (of which I am Treasurer) hosted a party last night in honor of the State of the State - it was a pre- and post- party, though most of the folks came to the pre. Now, Will likes to refer to the YRs as the "land of 1000 virgins." I hate to break it to him, but a fairly large number of the YRs in Lexington and Richland (and around the state for that matter) are married couples and young professionals. So, you can pop that perception.

We had about 45 people come through last night, including a handful of legislators (the entire Lexington House delegation plus a few others) and our esteemed Attorney General and his lovely wife. It was also great to see County Councilman John Carrigg there with his wife Beth.

We went over for the speech around 6:30. I was somewhat surprised at the number of empty seats and the ease of getting one. By the time the speech started, there were still around 50 empty seats out of the roughly 200 in the House gallery. I suppose there is less interest in a Governor's 7th State of the State, but I was still surprised.

I thought Governor Sanford did better this time around. Most of the stumbles were gone, Thomas Friedman was nowhere to be found, and he laid out a simple 5-point plan for where he wanted the state to go this year. He invoked the Obama factor with references to "Yes, we can" without naming the new presidency, which was interesting. He thanked my Representative Nikki Haley and Nathan Ballentine for their terrific work (against tremendous opposition) on getting roll call voting through the House (which passed 115-0 yesterday; still wonder who those 9 holdouts were...). As a result, he got more applause this year (well, that and there were two rows of YRs in the stands... heh.)

I did find it a bit different that Governor Sanford recognized his Cabinet, but not the Constitutional officers in the stands. Sitting on the front row (two rows in front of me) were Attorney General McMaster, Comptroller General Eckstrom, Treasurer Chellis, Secretary of State Hammond, and Agriculture Commissioner Weathers. I didn't see Adjutant General Spears, and I didn't see Education Super Rex, though he was clearly there for the cameras afterwards. Of course, Lt. Governor Bauer was in front, gavelling the chamber to order in the purple robes of the evening. (Bauer and Speaker Harrell really did look like two guys from the Heavens Gate cult in those robes. Very scary. Now that indigo is the state color, perhaps it's time to change the robes from purple to blue... But, I digress.)

The post-party was very interesting. The usual crowd of the restaurant/bar we were at had filtered in, mostly USC students, from the look of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Mattheus Mei of Leonardo's Notebook, and we talked Evangelical/Catholic theology for the better part of an hour. (Matt - it was a pleasure meeting you.) I also had the chance to chat with Wes Wolfe, the one-time freelance writer for the Columbia City Paper and two-time "anonymous blogger" who managed to get his identity outed both times. (In the process, I hopefully have disabused him of some of his more conspiratorial notions involving me.) Wes - it was a pleasure.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how the legislature reacts to the overall tone of the speech itself. The applause line of the night may have been "let bygones be bygones." Hopefully, in an economic crisis like the one we're facing now, the Governor and Legislature will be able to put their heads together to figure out how the state can best move forward with the least negativbe impact to the citizenry.

Oh - and thanks to Cam and Jay-dub for noticing that I was shown on TV from the gallery last night. Hopefully I looked attentive...

07 January 2009

EPA proposes... a Federal Livestock Tax?

News this week that the Environmental Protection Agency, in its usual tizzy over thoroughly discredited global warming hysteria, has proposed a revolutionary new tool in the fight against a problem that doesn't exist.

A Federal Cow Tax.

Because, y'know, it's not like we're in a recession or anything.

Nothing like taxing the food off of the table of the poor to make the economy go hummmmm.

In its worse-than-usual brilliance, the EPA is suggesting a $175 tax on cows, an $87.50 tax on bulls, and a $20 tax on hogs. (Say, is it sexist to tax female bovines at twice the price? I'd call them sexist pigs, but the pigs got taxed, too. But I digress...)

If that's not enough, the EPA wants to force Title V (Clean Air Act) licensing on any farm with more than, say, 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle, or 200 hogs. If this goes through, say goodbye to the family farm. We'll all be buying our beef from Brazil and Argentina. You think hormonal milk is bad now - how do you propose to control that if we're importing it all?

The good news is that the government is hardly unified on this point. The Department of Agriculture warned the EPA about the licensing provisions and the costs involved to consumers and farmers, and the Farm Bureaus seem to be awakened to the danger.

Still, the idiot bureaucrats responsible for this one need to be fired, and within the next ten days or so, before the next batch of global warming hysterists take charge of the agency. (For those of you who still believe the Bush Administration was "right-wing", this should pretty well prove otherwise. Again.)

For those of you who ask "what do you have against conservation" (a non-sequitur, by the way) in response to my dissection of the global warming agenda, a quick response. I have nothing against conservation. I believe personal responsibility extends to our usage of resources - and I try to live like it. But, conservation has NOTHING AT ALL to do with the hoax that is global warming. If you want to sell me on clean air or clean water or the beauty of Yosemite, do those things for their own sake, as I've argued previously. When you link your cause to something that is so clearly and dramatically a fraud, you do yourself a disservice.

05 January 2009

Time for a real National Championship

OK, so let's go non-political for a minute (well, maybe not entirely non-political, since I agree with the President-Elect on this one.)

It's time for a real national championship in college football.

We can still market it as a "Bowl Championship Series" if we want to - but it has to be a real championship, not just one game masquerading as a championship like we have now.

The bowl system we have now is failing. Just look at all of the empty seats at games in the last month - they were hard to miss in any of the wide-shots or blimp views. With the exceptions of the big major bowls, sellouts were few and far between.

Part of this is the death of the tradition of the bowls themselves. The Cotton Bowl played it's last game in the Cotton Bowl this year; they move to the new Cowboys stadium next year. The Orange and Sugar Bowls haven't been played in stadiums with those names in years. This will leave only the Rose Bowl as being played in the stadium of the same name.

Instead we're treated to a cornucopia of television induced corporate names - the papajohns.com bowl, the insight.com bowl, the Eagle Bank Bowl. Look I like Papa John's as much as anyone (had their pizza this weekend while I watched games), but that's not why I watch football.

The "traditional" New Years bowl games are now spread across a full week to maximize television viewership and eliminate competition between networks. Today is January 5 - the Fiesta Bowl is tonight. It features a Texas team that beat the Oklahoma team in the BCS Bowl against an Ohio State team that lost to both Rose Bowl participants. Yippie.

Did you know that Division I-A football is the only NCAA sport (at any division level) without a championship tournament? Any other sport, played by either gender, at any other level, and they decide the thing on the field. Just not Division I-A (now called the "FBS" - no kidding), which gets voted on by reporters. Of the 119 FBS schools, 68 got into the record 34 bowls this year. That's not a "commitment to excellence", it's a commitment to mediocrity.

If you watched the Sugar or Rose Bowls this year, you watched two teams with legitimate claims to the mythical "national championship" - the USC Trojans and the Utah Utes. Personally, though I am a Trojan fan, I think Utah has the stronger case, having beaten 6 bowl teams en route to an unbeaten season as Sugar Bowl champs. SEC fans - how many times have you lamented (rightly!) that your conference champion who went on to win the Sugar Bowl was jobbed out of a shot at the title? Utah is in exactly that position this year - unbeaten, with a stifling defense and a superlative offense, knocking off TCU, BYU, Oregon State (who beat USC), Air Force, Colorado State, and finally Alabama in that Sugar Bowl. Oh, and in case you think they were scheduling weaklings, they started the season by beating Michigan - in Ann Arbor. (granted, a bad year for Michigan, but Utah couldn't have known that when they scheduled them.)

I'm not saying we eliminate the bowls - those cities have been hosting games for the better part of a century in some cases. Rather, I'm saying use fifteen of them as the sites for a 16-team national championship tournament.

Now, when choosing sites, you have to go with the most bang for your buck. 5 Bowl sites have chosen "national champions" in the past - the Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton, and Fiesta. I would propose rotating the national championship final between those five sites, as is mostly done now, but as the end of the real tournament, much like the Final Four sites in basketball. The other four bowls would still host games every year - two of them would host semi-finals, and two quarter-finals.

That leaves ten more sites to choose, who would each host one quarterfinal every 5 years, and first round games in the other four years. How do we choose 10 sites from the remaining 29 bowls? Well, it's not that hard, once you think about it. Some of these sites host 2 games on one fiels a week apart - that knocks us down to about twenty sites. Then take out the obviously bad choices - the atrocity of a blue field in Boise, the possibility of a game in Toronto, and the awful seams in the field of the Alamo Dome, for example. With a small nod to the history of some of these games, as well as the warm weather factor (for fans and local tourism, this just makes more sense to draw people in) it's then easy to pick ten:

Atlanta (Peach)
Charlotte (Meineke)
El Paso, TX (Sun)
Houston, TX (Texas)
Jacksonville (Gator)
Memphis (Liberty)
Nashville (Music City)
Orlando (Capital One)
San Diego (Holiday Bowl)
Tampa (Outback)

Honorable mention: Shreveport, LA, home of the Independence Bowl

Personally, I schedule it out basing the four quarterfinal games on New Years Day. move ten to fourteen days back for the first round games (giving a Christmas break), then one week to ten days later for the semifinals (avoiding the NFL playoffs), and another week after that for the championship final. It adds only one week to the full schedule. I would also take out one regular season non-conference game to make up for it.

As for the rest of the bowls - still have your games. Still have the Poulan Weedeater Bowl, the insight.com bowl, or the GMAC bowl, featuring the usual two mediocre teams that usually wouldn't play in a bowl game (except for this year's Credit Union Poinsettia thriller between Boise State and TCU). We'll just treat them like College Football's version of the NIT - consolation prizes for the teams that just weren't good enough to make the Big Dance.


So who would make up the sixteen teams to play for the title? Any decision making organism would need to take into account a few things - the human polls and the computer rankings (as the BCS does now), the conference championships (with special deference to the conferences that have championship games), as well as the win-loss records, and possibly a "strength of schedule" component.

I would propose that each of the eleven conference champions would get in. This year that would mean:

Virginia Tech (ACC)
Oklahoma (Big 12)
Cincinnati (Big East)
Penn State (Big 10)
East Carolina (Conference USA)
Buffalo (MAC)
Utah (Mountain West)
USC (Pac-10)
Florida (SEC)
Troy (Sun Belt)
Boise State (WAC)

That would leave five teams for the BCS formula to determine - not to arbitrarily pick a champion, but to pick the next best 5 teams to get wild card slots.

Using the something like the current formula - percentage of the human polls plus the percentage of the computer rankings plus win-loss percentage, I pick five wildcards: Texas, Alabama, Texas Tech, Ohio State, and TCU.

Then you rank the sixteen teams, using the same formula to determine seeding... and Voila! you have a bracket.

So... Which would you rather see - that tournament or South Florida vs. Memphis in the Magicjack bowl in a half-empty dome?

Yeah, me too.


There is, of course, another option - adding a "conference champion" component to the system - 1.0 points for any winner of a conference championship game, 0.5 points for any other conference champ. Then rank the teams, and pick the top 16, regardless of who won their conference. That would encourage more conference championship games the first week of December - and more "play-in" games. It would also eliminate the most questionable of the conference champs while leaving the possibility that smaller conference champs could still get a shot.

This year, that would replace East Carolina, Buffalo, and Troy with Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, and BYU. Just for fun, that bracket looks like this:

Your thoughts?

30 December 2008

Picture of the Year


Sign seen at anti-Israeli protest in Manhattan yesterday. (or, perhaps, against the prune industry? who knows...)
(H/T: LGF, who accurately pins it as "numb-skulled hatred")

Possibly related: Mark Steyn reports in National Review that 75% of Pakistani Muslims in Britain are married to their own first cousins...

Happy New Year, everybody.

29 December 2008

London Daily Telegraph: 2008 to be remembered as the year Man-made Global Warming was disproved

Great piece by Chris Booker in yesterday's Telegraph:

Looking back over my columns of the past 12 months, one of their major themes was neatly encapsulated by two recent items from The Daily Telegraph.

The first, on May 21, headed "Climate change threat to Alpine ski resorts" , reported that the entire Alpine "winter sports industry" could soon "grind to a halt for lack of snow". The second, on December 19, headed "The Alps have best snow conditions in a generation" , reported that this winter's Alpine snowfalls "look set to beat all records by New Year's Day".

Easily one of the most important stories of 2008 has been all the evidence suggesting that this may be looked back on as the year when there was a turning point in the great worldwide panic over man-made global warming. Just when politicians in Europe and America have been adopting the most costly and damaging measures politicians have ever proposed, to combat this supposed menace, the tide has turned in three significant respects.

First, all over the world, temperatures have been dropping in a way wholly unpredicted by all those computer models which have been used as the main drivers of the scare. Last winter, as temperatures plummeted, many parts of the world had snowfalls on a scale not seen for decades. This winter, with the whole of Canada and half the US under snow, looks likely to be even worse. After several years flatlining, global temperatures have dropped sharply enough to cancel out much of their net rise in the 20th century.

Ever shriller and more frantic has become the insistence of the warmists, cheered on by their army of media groupies such as the BBC, that the last 10 years have been the "hottest in history" and that the North Pole would soon be ice-free – as the poles remain defiantly icebound and those polar bears fail to drown. All those hysterical predictions that we are seeing more droughts and hurricanes than ever before have infuriatingly failed to materialise.

Even the more cautious scientific acolytes of the official orthodoxy now admit that, thanks to "natural factors" such as ocean currents, temperatures have failed to rise as predicted (although they plaintively assure us that this cooling effect is merely "masking the underlying warming trend", and that the temperature rise will resume worse than ever by the middle of the next decade).

Secondly, 2008 was the year when any pretence that there was a "scientific consensus" in favour of man-made global warming collapsed. At long last, as in the Manhattan Declaration last March, hundreds of proper scientists, including many of the world's most eminent climate experts, have been rallying to pour scorn on that "consensus" which was only a politically engineered artefact, based on ever more blatantly manipulated data and computer models programmed to produce no more than convenient fictions.

Thirdly, as banks collapsed and the global economy plunged into its worst recession for decades, harsh reality at last began to break in on those self-deluding dreams which have for so long possessed almost every politician in the western world. As we saw in this month's Poznan conference, when 10,000 politicians, officials and "environmentalists" gathered to plan next year's "son of Kyoto" treaty in Copenhagen, panicking politicians are waking up to the fact that the world can no longer afford all those quixotic schemes for "combating climate change" with which they were so happy to indulge themselves in more comfortable times.

Suddenly it has become rather less appealing that we should divert trillions of dollars, pounds and euros into the fantasy that we could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 80 per cent. All those grandiose projects for "emissions trading", "carbon capture", building tens of thousands more useless wind turbines, switching vast areas of farmland from producing food to "biofuels", are being exposed as no more than enormously damaging and futile gestures, costing astronomic sums we no longer possess.

As 2009 dawns, it is time we in Britain faced up to the genuine crisis now fast approaching from the fact that – unless we get on very soon with building enough proper power stations to fill our looming "energy gap" - within a few years our lights will go out and what remains of our economy will judder to a halt. After years of infantile displacement activity, it is high time our politicians – along with those of the EU and President Obama's US – were brought back with a mighty jolt into contact with the real world.