683 Days until Election Day
December 20, 2008
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong."
– Gov. Rod Blagojevich (oops, they have him on tape…trying to sell a Senate seat)
ILLINOIS U.S. SENATE SEAT…in order to bring back credibility and trust in the process, the state of Illinois should hold a special election and allow the citizens (not back room political deals) choose a replacement for President -Elect Obama’s Senate seat. The only folks stopping this common sense approach are partisan Democrats. Shame!
CHRISTMAS…what is the meaning of Christmas to you. The North Dakota State Chairman Gary Emineth shared his thoughts with his membership, and I wanted to share them with you below. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
CHRISTMAS BREAK FOR COMMENTARY & ARTICLES…there will be NO commentary or articles from December 23 until January 3rd. Enjoy the holiday with your family and friends.
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THE REST OF THE STORY;
What does Christmas mean to you? I go through the process of searching for the answer to this question every year as I struggle to keep the tree from falling out of the tree stand, juggle my schedule to make time for yet another "Holiday Program" at school or even just to light the advent wreath and read a quick devotional at mealtime with my kids. Not to mention trying to figure out how I’m going to afford gifts to make this a "Christmas to Remember."
One of my favorite Christmas songs is on an old Barbara Mandrell CD entitled, "Christmas at our House." Every time I hear her mellow alto voice painting the picture of her childhood Christmas, something in me feels a pang of longing for that perfect atmosphere replete with all the sights and sounds that spell "Christmas."
She goes one step further, though, and I know that’s why I’ve never tired of hearing it after all these years. She sings, "We knew Jesus as our Savior, Christmas at our house still does." Internally I always do an, "Oh yeah…" whenever I hear it and it makes me stop, look around and remember why we still go through all of this preparation and tradition this time of year.
Nobody knows exactly when Jesus Christ-the founder of the Christian faith was actually born. There were no "Christmas" trees or carols or candlelight church services 2000 some odd years ago. Just a quiet stable filled with hay. Animals and an exhausted young couple dealing with a brand new experience together. And you know, I believe it actually happened the way the Bible says it did.
To me, Christmas is about faith. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:1, "Faith is the substance of what we hope for, the evidence of things not seen." To me, all that spells "Christmas" around us this time of year-every year–speaks of the fact that for the most part, Americans have faith in something beyond what they can see, feel and touch. Don’t get me wrong, I get fed up with department stores stocked and decorated before the Thanksgiving turkey is even purchased just like you do, but I can’t help but be very thankful that we haven’t given up hope.
We are anticipating the celebration of event that changed history forever. When Jesus Christ came to earth, God was keeping a promise he had made from the day all of this started.
So, as Christmas approaches, I invite you to sit back, listen to the words of your favorite Christmas song, and think about what Christmas means at your house. Do you have a sense of hope? Are you thankful for your family? Are you looking forward to God’s provision for you? These are some of the things, which have earned America the title of a "Christian" nation.
Her founders were men and women with a profound sense of the Divine Providence, which had been such a driving force in the lives of those who risked everything they knew to travel here and start over. And after they had experienced this unprecedented freedom to own property, to worship as they pleased, to pursue their dreams and make their own decisions, they stood up against the threat of tyranny from those who threatened to take it away. Throughout the short history of this amazing experiment, we as citizens have extended this gift of freedom-endowed by God-to many other people across the globe.
And there you have it. The Spirit of Christmas is the Spirit of America. When we have received gifts as priceless and as precious as we have been given by the God of the Universe and by our grateful and honorable predecessors, what choice do we have but to continue the tradition.
Spread the Good News about Faith, Freedom, and Hope. And don’t forget to stop and thank the generous and gracious Giver.
May God give you a sense of His goodness this year.
TODAY’S TOP STORIES
The following stories and more are available at my Articles of Interest online.
December 19, 2008
I was surprised, and happily so, to learn when I came in from moving a whole lot of snow this morning that President George W. Bush had OK’d a survival plan for the U.S. auto industry. I had feared worse, especially after Thursday’s talk from the White House about managing an "orderly bankruptcy" or two instead of just lending GM and Chrysler enough money to stay afloat. While you can manage them, bankruptcies are inherently disorderly, if not at the top then for somebody down the food chain.
But I figured the Bush administration, with its focus on the troubled financial sector over failing manufacturers, was willing to let that happen. Besides, why make things any easier for Democrat Barack Obama, who takes office Jan. 20? Bush and Obama have been markedly cordial about their transition, but "politics ain’t beanbag" as editorial writer Finley Peter Dunne put it 75 years ago. And Republicans have got to be thinking already about how they can beat Obama in 2012 – when "change" will be their mantra.
Instead, Bush just flat out did the right thing – not the politic thing, not the conservative-economist thing, not the laissez-faire thing. This president — although last time I saw him at his Texas ranch, he was driving a GMC pickup — has never shown much affinity for the domestic auto industry or Detroit. He never carried Michigan in an election, even lost the GOP presidential primary here in ’00. In eight years in office, he had only one meeting with the heads of the Big Three. Michigan has had a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators for most of his time in office. So there was little reason to expect more than token assistance, if that.
By MICHELINE MAYNARD
December 19, 2008
DETROIT – With a lifeline from the White House, General Motors and Chrysler will survive for the next few months while they revamp.
But will they thrive again?
The plans from the car companies offer little in terms of fresh ideas. Instead, they are focused more on slow-selling models, persuading G.M.’s debt holders to accept stock and getting union wages more in line with those paid by foreign brands in the United States.
Such moves are certainly necessary in the short term, but no company can keep cutting its way to prosperity. Even President-elect Barack Obama said Friday that Detroit automakers should not "squander the chance" to change their management practices.
The Bush administration’s decision to provide up to $17.4 billion in short-term loans to the auto industry under stringent conditions is a clear recognition that there is a need for a viable U.S. auto industry and that a precipitous bankruptcy of GM and Chrysler would have severe adverse effects on the economy.
Now Congress needs to pass legislation that gives the federal government more effective and powerful tools to implement the prompt restructuring of the auto industry. The president’s plan requires that the auto companies cut their massive indebtedness by two-thirds, modify their retirement and healthcare obligations and labor contracts, and achieve a positive net worth by March 31. The auto companies will have huge difficulty in achieving these requirements by the deadline on a purely consensual basis.
There is an urgent need to enact an auto industry restructuring law that will provide additional carrots and sticks to force a restructuring to occur as quickly as the president’s plan requires and in a fair manner.
BY ZACHARY GORCHOW
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS
December 20, 2008
A modernized, expanded Cobo Center that is large enough to maintain Detroit’s signature annual event — the North American International Auto Show — at last appears to be on the cusp of reality.
In the predawn hours Friday, the state Legislature, with Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s support, passed a plan to transfer ownership and operation of Cobo from the City of Detroit to a new regional authority and provide the funding to pay for Cobo’s expansion.
Overjoyed leaders of the auto show said the package would allow the upgrades necessary to keep Cobo, and the show, viable. Several automakers have pulled out of the show, in some cases because of space complaints.
Those pushing for a workplace ban may pursue more legislation or consider a ballot drive.
Jennifer Mrozowski / The Detroit News
LANSING — Another year, another crushing disappointment for anti-smoking advocates, who are vowing to rekindle their fight to ban workplace smoking after state lawmakers failed to reach a compromise Friday.
Despite early hopes, the anti-smoking legislation collapsed when lawmakers in the House and Senate failed to find common ground. The House wanted an exception for casinos, racetracks and cigar bars, while the Senate supported a ban in all workplaces. The collapse was a painful blow to those who fought for Michigan to become the 35th state with such a ban.Gov. Jennifer Granholm said during a news conference in Lansing that failure to pass the workplace smoking ban was her biggest disappointment on the final legislative session day. She said she believes the Legislature will conform to "overwhelming" public sentiment next year and pass the ban. But if not, a petition drive is possible.
"If it doesn’t get done in the next go-round, there will be an opportunity to put it on the ballot and let the citizens decide," she said.
By SUSAN SAULNY and MONICA DAVEY
Published: December 19, 2008
CHICAGO – Striking a tone that was unapologetic and defiant, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich broke his public silence on Friday, denying any criminal wrongdoing and vowing to fight what he called "false accusations and a political lynch mob."
"I’m here to tell you right off the bat that I am not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing," Mr. Blagojevich said in a brief appearance before reporters at his downtown office. "I intend to stay on the job, and I will fight this thing every step of the way. I will fight. I will fight. I will fight, until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong."
Mr. Blagojevich, a second-term Democrat, bounded out of the room when he was finished, taking no questions and without addressing the specific accusations leveled against him last week in a federal criminal complaint, or in an impeachment inquiry by lawmakers under way in Springfield.
Embattled Ill. governor ignores calls from both parties to step aside, says he’s done nothing wrong.
Deanna Bellandi and Mike Robinson / Associated Press
CHICAGO — A combative Gov. Rod Blagojevich served notice Friday that he has no intention of quitting over his corruption arrest, declaring: "I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong."
The forceful three-minute speech marked the first time Blagojevich directly addressed the allegations since his arrest 10 days earlier. With it, he made it clear that removing him could be uglier and more drawn out than anyone imagined just a week ago, when the governor’s career appeared to be in its final hours and nearly the entire political establishment seemed to be holding a death watch.
"I’m not going to quit a job the people hired me to do because of false accusations and a political lynch mob," a composed and deliberate-sounding Blagojevich said at his downtown Chicago office building. He took no questions from reporters.
From Rev. Wright to Rev. Warren.
by William Kristol
12/29/2008, Volume 014, Issue 15
Until last week, the most important and most famous man of the cloth with whom Barack Obama was associated was the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, his longtime pastor from Chicago’s South Side. Today, that distinction belongs to the Reverend Rick Warren, best-selling evangelical author (The Purpose Driven Life) and pastor of Saddleback Church, thanks to Obama’s inviting him to deliver the invocation at the Inauguration. Talk about growing in office! Obama’s growing even before he assumes office.
Is this smart politics on Obama’s part? Sure. Does it mean Obama has studied the mistakes of his predecessors, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton? Probably. Obama may have learned from their examples that, even though everyone says the economic crisis has put social issues on a far back burner, mishandling those issues can severely damage one’s presidency: Recall gays in the military under Clinton and the IRS ruling on Christian schools under Carter.
If Obama’s selection of Warren is smart politics, it’s of a piece with four years of smart politics. In his 2004 Democratic Convention speech, with his statement that "We worship an awesome God in the blue states," Obama tried to reassure red-state awesome-God-worshipers about the Democratic party. Indeed, he has generally gone out of his way not to disparage social conservatives. He knows–better than many Republicans–that social conservatism is the strongest political force on the right.
By Mitt Romney
What is Washington waiting for? The inauguration is less than five weeks away: At the rate we’ve been going, another 500,000 jobs will be lost by then. The downward spiral is deepening and accelerating: Congress and the president must act now.
American families have lost about $11 trillion in net worth as securities and home values have plummeted. This translates into about $400 billion less annual consumer spending, net of government safety-net funding. Exports won’t grow to make this up, as the dollar has strengthened with investors worldwide clamoring for its relative security. Investments won’t make up the gap either, as bank loans and secondary-market financing have shrunk and as fresh equity is virtually non-existent.
Now that Caroline Kennedy has announced her interest in filling New York’s expected Senate vacancy, professional Kennedy-watchers are bickering over whether her background qualifies her for such high office.
"Kennedy is a well-spoken, pleasant woman who is indistinguishable from many other rich folks who would never be considered for a seat in the nation’s highest elected body," Steve Chapman writes in the Chicago Tribune. "Indistinguishable, that is, except for her name, which in some minds confers magical powers denied to ordinary mortals."
Nicholas Kristof praises the daughter of President John F. Kennedy as "a very impressive woman with all the right priorities, such as education."