Thursday, September 30, 2010
Roy Barnes is a Mableton native and a life-long resident of Cobb County, where his family owned and operated a general store. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia law school. He became the youngest member of the Georgia state senate at 26 years old when he was elected in 1974. He served eight terms in the senate, before leaving to run for governor in 1990. He was defeated by Zell Miller in the Democratic primary.
In 1992, he returned to politics when he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. He served there until 1998, when he ran again for governor. This time he was elected.
A major achievement of Barnes’ term as governor was the removal of the Confederate battle emblem from Georgia’s state flag. In 2001, the flag was changed to a field of blue with a large state seal in the center, above five flags representing Georgia’s history and the words “In God We Trust.” This was an unpopular move that many believe was instrumental in his re-election defeat. Nevertheless, the move earned him a Profile in Courage award from the John F. Kennedy Library in 2003.
Education reform was also a hallmark of Barnes' tenure as governor. His administration resulted in more centralized control of Georgia schools. He also ended tenure for new teachers and required students to pass a graduation test to advance to the next grade, effectively ending social promotion. His website also notes that he reduced classroom sizes and increased pay for teachers. Many of these reforms were also unpopular.
Additionally, Barnes passed tax cuts for family farms and homes. He also created a sales tax holiday for Georgia. Additionally, he passed patient’s rights and anti-predatory lending laws. While he was governor, Barnes was known as “King Roy.”
After losing his re-election bid in 2002, Barnes devoted six months to pro-bono legal work for the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. He also established a consumer rights website, before founding a new family law firm, Barnes Legal Group.
More recently, Barnes argued before the Georgia Supreme Court against Georgia’s voter ID law. The law, passed in 2005, required that Georgia voters show a photo ID to vote. Barnes claimed the law was unconstitutional because some voters did not have driver’s licenses and paying for an ID would cause a burden on the poor. The case was dismissed by Georgia’s Supreme Court since the only plaintiff in the case had a photo ID and therefore had no standing to sue. The United States Supreme Court upheld the law in 2008 (http://www.answers.com/topic/roy-barnes#Governor_of_Georgia ).
Also, Barnes was recently appointed co-chairman of a nonpartisan commission on No Child Left Behind. The commission, sponsored by the Aspen Institute, is designed to seek improvements in federal education policy.
Since winning the Democratic primary, Republican opponents have accused Barnes of making an apology tour (http://politifact.com/georgia/statements/2010/sep/15/republican-governors-association/barnes-and-obama-sorry-gop-says/). He has apologized for not valuing and listening to teachers during his previous administration as well as for not explaining why he made some “hard decisions” as governor. Additionally, he also says that he has learned that he should listen more.
Some of Gov. Barnes’ stances on key issues are noted below:
Jobs: Barnes would issue an executive order to retrofit state and public buildings for energy efficiency. He would also create incentives for medical research in Georgia. Barnes believes that agriculture remains an important part of Georgia’s future and wants to increase the number of finished agricultural products, as opposed to raw materials, that Georgia exports. He believes that Georgia’s agriculture could make the state a leader in green jobs and the production of biofuels.
Taxes: Barnes supports property tax relief.
Education: Barnes is critical of recent cuts in the education budget, cuts in teacher salaries, and teacher furloughs. He would focus on math, science, language and special education and work to reduce class size. Barnes would have two classroom teachers on his staff as governor to ensure that all policy discussions stay grounded in classroom reality. He would also convene teacher panels provide communications between teachers and policymakers. Barnes wants to minimize the number of class days devoted to standardized testing. Finally, he would like to integrate Georgia’s high schools and technical colleges to promote more vocational training.
Transportation: Barnes would like to implement an elevated light-rail system to move commuters from Atlanta to outlying suburbs, much farther than the existing MARTA system. He would also connect Georgia’s major cities with light-rail systems, while working to improve Georgia’s roads.
Life: Barnes’ website makes no mention of his position on life or abortion.
Gun Rights: Barnes’ website makes no mention of his position on second amendment rights.
Immigration: Barnes indicated recently that he would sign legislation similar to the controversial Arizona law. Opponent Nathan Deal accuses Barnes of previously supporting citizenship and driver’s licenses for illegal aliens.
My Two Cents: There are no more conservative Democrats. Mr. Barnes previous administration was somewhat similar to President Obama’s administration. Gov. Barnes pushed forward with initiatives, such as the centralization of the educational system, that were very unpopular with the people of Georgia, and, as a result, helped to elect the first Republican governor in Georgia since Civil War reconstruction.
Now many of his proposals echo President Obama’s failed federal policies. Barnes wants to spend money that the state does not have on projects designed to stimulate the economy. I have attempted to contact the Barnes campaign on several occasions to find out where the money to pay for these projects will come from. I am still waiting for a response. Barnes’ statement that one of his first priorities would be to install low flow toilets in all schools and state buildings reflects just how far out of touch Barnes is.
A Barnes administration would take Georgia where we don’t want to go. His policies would lead to more government interference in the marketplace and ultimately higher taxes. His policies would drive more businesses away from our state and cost jobs. We have seen how his policies work on the federal level and we don’t need them in Georgia.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I am looking forward to November 2 in a way that I have never looked forward to an election before. I have been voting for twenty years now, and the groundswell of voter anger is something that I have never seen. Much of what is wrong with the Obama Administration can be seen through the story of his health care reform law.
The health care struggle took approximately a year. For most of that time, public opinion was strongly against the president’s version of reform. Members of Congress faced a series of angry town hall meetings with their constituents who opposed the law in the summer of 2009, yet the bill continued to wind its way through the legislative process. Finally, on March 20, 2010, against strong public opposition, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law.
Before passage of the law, President Obama told Americans that the reform would reduce costs (http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/03/obama_you_will_see_premiums_fa.html). Obama also told Americans that the individual mandate to purchase health insurance (which he had opposed in the campaign) was not a tax (http://blogs.abcnews.com/george/2009/09/obama-mandate-is-not-a-tax.html).
Now, six months after the passage of the law and just over a month prior to the election, the truth is coming out. First, in order to defend the individual mandate against charges that it is unconstitutional, the Obama Administration changed its story and began saying that the mandate was a legal under the government’s constitutional power to tax (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/18/health/policy/18health.html). Either Obama was lying then or his staff is lying now.
Almost immediately after the law passed, reports began coming in that it would actually increase the cost of health insurance. There were numerous mandates in the law, such as requiring “free” preventive care, requiring that insurers cover dependent up to age 26, and eliminating maximum benefit limits. These mandates make it more costly for insurers to provide coverage. Now millions of Americans are finding that their health insurance premiums are being increased (http://www.jsonline.com/business/103861279.html). The alternative is for insurers to go bankrupt.
More recently, one of the first aspects of Obamacare to go into effect was the requirement that insurers start accepting children with pre-existing conditions by September 23 (even though Congress forgot to put this in the law). In response to this mandate, many insurance companies have chosen to stop selling child-only policies (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/20/AR2010092006665.html ). Because the law made it impossible for insurers to sell these policies without losing money, they were forced to stop selling the policies at all in order to remain solvent. Perhaps Congress should have included a corporate mandate that required insurance companies to keep selling policies. This would work until they went out of business.
Obamacare, as well as the failures of Obama’s other economic initiatives, reflects the utter inability of government to control the economy. Believing that the government can control the economy is akin to believing that it can control the wind or the tides. Government can create mandates or incentives for favored programs, but these create unintended – and often negative – consequences elsewhere.
Opposition to the policies of Obama and the Democrats led to the creation of Tea Party protests mere months after Obama’s inauguration (http://www.examiner.com/conservative-in-atlanta/the-truth-about-the-tea-party-revolution). The Tea Party began as a protest to the wasteful and ineffective stimulus bill that spent almost a trillion dollars with no appreciable effect on the economy. They quickly grew as the giveaway programs, bailouts and government takeovers increased.
A new poll shows that the Tea Party is now more powerful and influential than President Obama himself (http://www.examiner.com/conservative-in-atlanta/the-truth-about-the-tea-party-revolution). As more Americans realize that Democratic rule means less freedom, more taxes, and more expensive products the Tea Party will continue to grow larger.
That is why I look forward to November 2. I want to vote to restore fiscal discipline to government and free markets to the economy. Cutting spending and keeping taxes low will help to spur the economy and create real jobs. It will also prevent an even larger looming economic disaster.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
John Nathan Deal is a native of Millen, Georgia. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Mercer University in Macon, before joining the US Army. He served as a Democratic Georgia state senator from 1981 to 1993, before being elected to the US House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1992.
After the landslide Republican victory in 1994, Deal says that he became uncomfortable being the most conservative Democrat in the Georgia congressional delegation. In April 1995, four months after beginning his second congressional term, Deal changed parties and became a Republican. He served continually as a congressional Republican until he resigned to run for governor. Deal announced his resignation on March 1, 2010, but delayed leaving office in order to vote against President Obama’s health care reform bill.
At the time of his resignation, Deal was under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for using his influence as a congressman to preserve a no-bid contract for his salvage business. Deal was accused of using his congressional email account to discuss personal business with officials of the Georgia senate and Department of Revenue. Deal was concerned with changes that Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham had proposed to a program that earned Deal’s company an estimated $300,000 per year. Deal’s company had worked with the state for twenty years (http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/Scandal-surrounding-Rep-Nathan-Deal-R-Ga-79319837.html ). After his resignation, the Office of Congressional Ethics released a report that said Deal may have exceeded congressional limits on outside income and used his US House office and staff to preserve a private stream of money coming from a no bid state contract (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0310/35154.html).
Deal has placed his complete side of the story on his campaign website. You can read his version of events here: http://www.dealforgovernor.com/the_real_story.php.
Deal has said that the deal was not improper and that he had reported it each year to the House Ethics Committee. Deal also says that the report is incomplete because neither Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle nor Revenue Commissioner Graham cooperated with investigators. Cagle refused to cooperate and Graham said that he could not provide the information requested by the investigators without a subpoena. Since Deal resigned, the matter never went to the next level, which would have been the House’s Committee on Standards. Deal is also facing a state ethics investigation over the use of campaign funds to pay some of his legal fees from his federal ethics investigation (http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/nation/ethics-commission-investigating-deal-complaint-95978069.html).
More recently, Deal also came under fire for failing to report $2.85 million in business loans on state election disclosure forms (http://www.ajc.com/news/deal-failed-to-disclose-615412.html). He also took out loans to invest in his daughter’s sporting goods business, which went out of business in 2009. Deal and his wife owe $2.3 million, which is greater than the current market value of their home. There is a possibility that Deal will have to file bankruptcy, but he has vowed to avoid that step.
Here are some of Deal’s positions on prominent issues:
Life: Deal is endorsed by Georgia Right to Life. He is rated 100% by National Right to Life and 0% by NARAL. He also earned a 93% rating from the Christian Coalition.
Gun Rights: Deal has an A rating from the National Rifle Association.
Jobs and Economy: Deal is rated 93% by the US Chamber of Commerce. This indicates a pro-business voting record. His rating by the AFL-CIO was 20%. He would like to fuel growth in biotech and medical services through private lending and state capital investment company. He would also like the UGA’s Small Business Development Centers to offer technical and advisory assistance to complement venture capital investment. Deal wants to eliminate wasteful items from the budget and focus on education, transportation, public safety, and healthcare.
Education: Deal is rated 17% by the NEA. This indicates a voting record against the education establishment. He would develop charter schools to focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and fund universal pre-k and the Hope Scholarship. Deal would like to give local school districts more flexibility, while holding them accountable for results. He wants to eliminate forced teacher furloughs, while giving teachers the opportunity to help solve the education crisis. He would like students to be able to move on when ready, rather than having allotted times that must be fulfilled.
Taxes: Deal was rated 69% by the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), which they consider a satisfactory rating. He would like to cut Georgia’s corporate tax rate, the corporate “net worth” tax, and allow exemptions for business inventory. He would also exempt businesses from taxes in their first ten years. For individuals, Deal would enact a 6% flat tax, exempting those who earn $7,000 or less. He would also eliminate the marriage penalty. Deal supports the federal Fair Tax and is endorsed by John Linder. Finally, Deal has signed the Americans for Tax Reform’s pledge to not raise taxes.
Immigration: Deal has said that he would work to pass legislation in Georgia similar to Arizona’s immigration law. On the federal level, Deal would like to close the “anchor baby” loophole, in which children born in the US are automatically granted citizenship, even if they are here illegally.
Transportation: Deal supports a regional approach that allows communities to prioritize and fund their own transportation needs. He wants to find alternative east-west routes to relieve congestion in Atlanta.
Healthcare: Deal supports medical malpractice reform and will continue to oppose Obamacare.
My Two Cents: Deal may be a crook… then again he might not be. It’s hard to tell what the truth is with both sides so willing to lie and misrepresent the issues. At the very least, he is guilty of bad judgment and not paying close enough attention to his filings. That is not a good thing in a candidate for governor.
Regardless, Deal’s platform most closely resembles my own beliefs. He proclaims a belief in small government, individual liberty, free markets, and low taxes. What’s more, his congressional voting record backs up his claims.
His website contains the most comprehensive plans for his administration of any of the three gubernatorial candidates. Most of his ideas are good ones that reflect conservative principles. Beyond the attack ads, this election is going to be about whether Georgians will have free markets or centralized planning and government stimulus on the state level.
Corruption in elected officials is never good. Deal was not my first (or second choice) in the primary. Nevertheless, corrupt officials can still be effective administrators. I don’t like voting for someone whose record is as questionable as Deal, but given the alternative, I think that he is the best choice for the state.
Years from now, when the history of the Obama Administration is written, we will see that one of President Obama’s most enduring contributions to American history was to inspire the Tea Party movement. Japanese Admiral Yamamoto is rumored to have said after the attack on Pearl Harbor, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve” (http://bit.ly/arfK87). A more colorful version of the quote has him saying, “Gentlemen, we have just kicked a rabid dog” (http://bit.ly/arfK87). It is easy to imagine President Obama saying something similar, or even more colorful, about the Tea Parties.
The Tea Parties are a grass roots organization made up of ordinary people. Many of these people have long been critical of government spending and encroachment into the lives of liberties of individual Americans. Some are moderates who have grown alarmed at the orgy of government spending that has taken place since President Obama took office. They became even more alarmed at the lack of response from the government to the massive outcry against many of the centerpieces of the Democratic legislative agenda, particularly Obamacare.
Many newer sympathizers to the Tea Party are moderates that supported President Obama in 2008. Obama ran on a faux conservative platform and promised to usher the country into a new post-partisan era. After taking office, Obama veered sharply to the left and the political climate in Washington became even more sharply partisan than before. With heavy majorities in both houses of Congress, the Democrats apparently saw no reason to reach across the aisle to the Republicans. After all, the Republican minority was so small that they couldn’t even mount an effective filibuster.
The Tea Parties originally began as a protest against the President Bush’s TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) bailout of banks and President Obama’s stimulus program. The idea reportedly began on January 19, 2009 with Graham Makohoniuk, a trader who posted an invitation on internet forums to mail tea bags to members of Congress who had voted for the bills (http://bit.ly/8X65Hc). The idea was spread by a forum moderator who was also director of FedUpUSA, a group formed as a response to the March 2008 bailout of Bear Stearns.
The Tea Parties went viral after a televised rant on CNBC by Rick Santelli from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on February 19, 2009. Santelli railed against the stimulus and mortgage bailouts to the delight of the traders looking on. When he ridiculed the Democratic notion that “you can buy your way into prosperity” (http://bit.ly/c9fwOY) the rant went viral and Santelli’s “silent majority” responded. They were silent no longer.
Shortly after, Tea Party rallies were held around the country on April 15 to oppose the bailout mentality, the expansion of government, and the looming tax increases to pay for it all. I attended one of these rallies with my five-year-old son at the Georgia state capitol in Atlanta. As Santelli had guessed, we found a cross section of America. There were people of all races, creeds, and colors. The common denominator is that they all opposed where Obama and the Democrats were trying to take the country. (Well, not all. There was a small group of about a half-dozen pro-Obama counterdemonstrators.)
Conservatives and moderates don’t usually demonstrate. We have lives. We have jobs to go to, families to feed, and things to do. When hundreds of thousands of conservatives and moderates started coming out to protest Obama’s policies, it should have been a sign for him to slow down, reach out to his opponents, and find common ground. Instead, the Democrats knew that they would likely never have such large majorities again and proceeded to ram their agenda down the throats of an increasingly angry electorate.
Throughout the summer of 2009, the movement grew. There were more rallies on Independence Day. When members of Congress went home on summer recess, they faced angry constituents at town hall meetings. On September 12, 2009, the Tea Parties marched on Washington in what may have been the largest conservative protest ever held in Washington, DC.
Tempers continued to flare throughout the winter as the Democrats continued to push Obamacare through Congress by any means necessary. One way to steamroll opposition was by belittling the Tea Parties. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the “we call it Astroturf; it’s not really a grass roots movement. It’s Astroturf by some of the wealthiest people in America….” (http://bit.ly/aqGDto).
As liberals are wont to do, when it doubt, they cried “racism.” Representatives Emanuel Cleaver, John Lewis, and Andre Carson claimed that they were spit upon and subjected to racial epithets by opponents to Obamacare outside a House office building (http://bit.ly/8X65Hc). Congressman Barney Frank claims that he was subjected to a gay slur. In spite of numerous television cameras, as well as a reward offered by blogger Andrew Breitbart for evidence of the claims, there has never been a confirmation of the claims.
After the passage of Obamacare on March 20, 2010 (a date which will live in infamy), Tea Party protests continued and became a stop on the campaign trail for many candidates. A Tea Party held in Douglasville, Georgia (http://exm.nr/c5qNLD) was emceed by talk show host Herman Cain (who, as a black man, was probably somewhat surprised to learn that he was hosting a racist event according to the news media!). The Tea Party featured numerous Republican, Libertarian, and even a few Democratic candidates.
Ironically, the first victims of the Tea Party were Republicans. As primary season rolled into full swing, moderate Republican incumbents began to fall to insurgent Tea Party challengers proving that the Tea Partiers were not controlled by the Republican establishment. In contrast, they were almost as angry at Republicans who enabled the Democrat’s big government agenda as they were at the Democrats themselves. One of the first to fall was Bob Bennett of Utah, a four term Republican senator who had voted for TARP and had crafted a compromise health care bill that fell flat (http://bit.ly/9QNRjn). In Kentucky, Rand Paul, son of libertarian Republican Rep. Ron Paul, won the Republican primary over a candidate favored by the party establishment. Next came Lisa Murkowski, senator from Alaska who was upset by Tea Party favorite, Joe Miller. Most recently, in Delaware Christine O’Donnell defeated establishment Republican Mike Castle. Tea Parties are making inroads into state politics as well. In New York, Carl Palodino defeated perennial loser Rick Lazio for the Republican nomination for governor and is very close to Democratic establishment candidate Andrew Cuomo in the polls. The next test for the Tea Parties will come on November 2 when the Tea Party Republicans face off against the Democrats.
Many are still uncertain who the Tea Partiers are and what they want. Far from being out of the mainstream, a Gallup poll shows that the makeup of the Tea Parties reflects the demographics of the nation itself (http://bit.ly/dxiVvl). In almost all categories listed, the Tea Party mirrors the demographic makeup of the nation almost exactly. Three notable exceptions are “Democrats” (8% Tea Party vs. 32% US), “Less than $30,000 annual income” (19% Tea Party vs. 25% US), and “Non-Hispanic Blacks” (6% Tea Party vs. 11% US). These three groups have a vested interest in preserving Democratic rule for partisan reasons, to preserve entitlements, and for racial solidarity.
The agenda of the Tea Partiers is simple. They want to stop out-of-control government spending. They want to keep taxes low. They want to keep government at a minimal level in accordance with the Constitution. They believe that as government grows freedom declines. They want to preserve freedom. Tea Partiers are patriots. They believe that America is a great nation and doesn’t need to be apologized for. They believe, as Lincoln did, that America is the “last, best hope of Earth.”
The story of the Tea Parties is the remarkable story of the meteoric rise of a grass roots movement, which resulted in a hostile takeover of the Republican Party. It has fired the imaginations and anger of the country as people realize that they can fight back against Washington and win. Two years ago the Tea Party did not exist, but now a quarter of Americans claim membership in its ranks (http://bit.ly/asnTay). Further, 46% of Americans believe that the Tea Party is good for the country, while only 31% disagree (http://bit.ly/aQeQq9).
Thanks to the Tea Party (and the arrogance of the Democrats) the Republicans will win big in November. However, the true test of the Tea Party will be long term. Will the Tea Party activists be able to maintain control of the Republican Party and avoid a slide back into the corruption and meandering that led to the Democratic victories of 2006? Or will Tea Party Republicans succumb to the temptations of power and abandon their principles to maintain it? If the Tea Parties ultimately fail, the entire nation will pay the price in the form of high unemployment, high taxes, a sluggish economy, and disappearing freedoms.
Villa Rica GA
September 25, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Former governor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes has a plan to put Georgia back to work. One of his highest priorities in implementing that plan, which he believes will solve the job and revenue crisis in Georgia, is… low flow toilets.
According to his campaign website (www.roy2010.com), Barnes says, “One of my first orders of business will be to retrofit every state building and public school in Georgia for clean, efficient energy consumption – this includes the use of low-flow toilets and the expansion of our sewer systems where necessary. These projects will reduce the state’s energy and water costs in the long run, while putting Georgians back to work right now.”
Barnes doesn’t say where the cash-strapped state government will get the money to fund these massive renovation projects. Currently our state is so short of money that we have already had to furlough teachers, close state parks and cut government services to the bone.
The installation of the toilets will certainly be expensive. To get some idea how expensive it would be, I looked at the price of a low flow toilet on HomeDepot.com. Admittedly, the State of Georgia can probably bargain a better price than Home Depot retail, but it gives us a place to start. Next, I found that there are 2,487 public schools in Georgia (http://georgia.educationbug.org/public-schools/). If we assume that there is an average of twenty toilets to be replaced in each school, which is probably a low estimate, we find that the cost of the toilets – not including installation – would exceed 12.3 million dollars. This figure also doesn’t include Barnes’ other sewer projects and assorted potty paraphernalia.
My first thought at that point was “that’s a lot of crap!” In the current economic climate, couldn’t we find a better use for 12 million dollars? For example, in Georgia the average teacher’s salary is $48,300 (http://teacherportal.com/salary/Georgia-teacher-salary). Transferring that money to the schools would save 255 teacher jobs. New teachers in Georgia make $34,442. That same amount of money could hire 358 new teachers. That is more than two teachers per county!
In choosing to attack the problem of water conservation, Barnes is tackling an issue that was at the forefront of every Georgians mind… two years ago. Since then we’ve had lots of rain and even record floods. Granted, water rights and conservation are topics that Georgia and its neighbors need to deal with, but Georgians don’t feel the urgency that we did two years ago when the lakes were going dry.
Today, the issue on everyone’s mind is the economy. In July 2010, Georgia had an unemployment rate of 9.9% (http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm). That is a ranking of 39 out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. People are worried about keeping their jobs or finding a new one.
Barnes makes the point that these renovations will save the state money in the long run. However the high up-front costs mean that the new potties will not pay for themselves for many years. The $248 invested per toilet might save a few dollars per year on each buildings water bill.
Barnes would probably also say that by the state could help stimulate the economy by buying toilets and hiring workers to install them. The problem with this view is that while the costs to the state are great, the impact is small and temporary. No exact figures are available, but I would guess that around 99.9999% of Georgians are employed in non-potty related industries.
The flip side is that, unlike the federal government, Georgia can’t print money to pay its debts. When the potty bill comes due, the state government will either have to start paying interest on the debt or raise taxes on those of us who still have jobs, businesses, and houses. This will further slow economic growth.
The ultimate effect will be similar to President Obama’s federal stimulus programs. It will cost enormous sums of money to employ a small number of people while siphoning money away from private businesses that can create real jobs. The stimulus money may as well have been flushed down a massive federal potty.
To paraphrase an old saying, “there is no such thing as a free potty.”
Please feel free to comment as long you don’t have a potty mouth.
Villa Rica GA
September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Georgia’s gubernatorial race is quickly devolving into a mudslinging contest between former House member Nathan Deal and former Governor Roy Barnes. It seems unlikely that neither party’s primary voters could have found a better standard bearer for their party.
Deal had a strong conservative voting record in his years in Congress, but faced ethics charges for state contracts that his company received. Deal resigned to run for governor before the investigation could be completed, but now the state Ethics Commission is investigating allegations that Deal improperly used campaign funds to pay legal fees associated with the federal probe. Deal maintains that he did nothing wrong and fully disclosed his business dealings each year.
Deal’s problems have been compounded by recent revelations about his personal finances. It was recently revealed that Deal has $2.3 million in business loans coming due in February (http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-politics-elections/deal-says-bankruptcy-not-614486.html). The loans, which stem from business loans to Deal’s daughter for a failed sporting goods business in Macon, may force Deal into bankruptcy or lead to the foreclosure of his home.
For his part, Roy Barnes has no ethical challenges against him, but is offering little that is new. For instance, on his website, Barnes said that one of his first actions would be to retrofit government buildings and schools with energy and water efficient technology. In his Peach State version of the stimulus, Barnes believes that government spending is the way to restart the faltering Georgia economy. A question left unanswered is where the money would come from to pay for these construction and renovation projects. Two likely answers are more debt or increased taxes and fees on Georgians.
Barnes, who has already served one term as governor but failed to win re-election. His education programs which angered teachers and his removal of the Confederate emblem from the Georgia state flag contributed to his defeat. In fact, Barnes has spent much time on the campaign trail apologizing for his past performance as governor (http://politifact.com/georgia/statements/2010/sep/15/republican-governors-association/barnes-and-obama-sorry-gop-says/).
One thing that both candidates agree on is the need for tax reform. Barnes would like to enact reform to stem the rising tide of property taxes in the wake of the large numbers of foreclosures over the past few years. Deal’s economic plan focuses on tax relief to businesses to foster economic growth. Deal also supports the Fair Tax.
National politics will also play a role in Georgia’s elections this year. In what promises to be a big year for Republicans, it will take hard work from Deal to buck the tide the Democratic losses. Around the country, conservative and moderate voters are energized to come to polls to oppose the Obama agenda. Republican state candidates will likely benefit from the opposition to Washington. Nevertheless, Deal seems to be struggling mightily to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Further, a victory for Roy Barnes would likely mean that Georgia will pull out of the state lawsuit against Obamacare. This might not affect the ultimate outcome of the lawsuit since many other states will keep it moving forward, but it might mean that Georgia would abide by federal law rather than seeking a way to escape federal mandates.
So Georgians face a Hobson’s choice this year for governor. On one hand, Nathan Deal has solid conservative principles that would normally be popular in a year in which voters seem prepared to soundly reject the Democrats’ Big Government philosophies. On the other hand, Roy Barnes, known as “King Roy” during his first term has a history of ignoring the voter’s wishes and is pushing programs similar to President Obama’s unpopular and failed stimulus. It boils down to a choice between questionable ethics and judgment on one side and incompetence and bad ideas on the other.
You can find more information on both candidates by visiting their websites and viewing the candidate profile pages below.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
And bring thou near unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons
Ex 28:1 (ASV)
A few years ago, Dr. Karl Skorecki, a nephrologist and researcher at the University of Toronto and Israel’s Rambam-Technion Medical Center had an interesting thought. He speculated that the Kohanim, a family line that descends from Aaron, the brother of Moses, according to Jewish tradition, might be genetically distinct from other Jews and gentiles. Skorecki reasoned that if the Kohanim, the Cohens, were descended from one man, Aaron, as the Bible asserts then they would have common genetic markers. The Cohens are mentioned in the Bible as far back as 2nd Kings 17:27-28. In fact, the term “kohanim” or “cohanim” often seems used interchangeably with the word “priests” in Jewish sources.
Fathers pass Y-chromosomes to their sons. The Y-chromosome does accumulate mutations, but is otherwise the same as a man’s ancient male ancestors. These combinations of mutations are known as haplotypes.
The study showed that over 98% of Cohen Jews possessed a particular genetic marker (YAP). Non-Cohen Jews possessed the marker in significantly lower percentages. A second study confirmed the results and showed that over 91% of Cohens possess six chromosomal markers now known as the Cohen Modal Haplotype (CMH) (http://www.cohen-levi.org/jewish_genes_and_genealogy/the_dna_chain_of_tradition.htm). The CMH is common in both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews and indicates a common ancestor for both European and Mediterranean Jews. By counting the mutations in the Y-chromosome, researchers calculate that the Cohen line goes back approximately 106 generations or roughly 3,300 years. This is the approximate time of the Exodus from Egypt.
Ultimately, the research showed that over 80% of Cohens share the genetic markers (http://www.cohen-levi.org/jewish_genes_and_genealogy/the_dna_chain_of_tradition.htm). Researchers believe that the differences are accounted for by the fact that Jewishness is not determined genetically. Additional chromosomes can enter as people convert to Judaism or intermarriage with non-Jews. Jewish ethnicity is determined by the mother, but Jewish tribal membership is determined by the father.
Further, the research showed that the Levites, the tribe from which Aaron came, are not as genetically distinct as the Cohens. Jewish scholars believe that this is due to the fact that many Levites never returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile. This resulted in the loss of their family line into history.
It should be noted that the CMH genetic group does appear in non-Jews as well. Matches of five of the six markers are common in the Middle East. However, possession of all six genetic markers occurs at a much higher rate in Jews than in non-Jews. Researchers point out that the genetic testing is for the extended Cohen family line rather than individuals. No one is qualified or disqualified for any office based on their status as a Cohen.
The most recent study in 2009 confirmed the findings of the earlier study. The extended Cohen Modal Haplotype was found to be virtually absent from non-Jews, while making up approximately 30 percent of Kohanim Y-chromosomes (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/165282.php). The study traced the gene’s likely source to a common ancestor in the Near East who lived approximately 3,200 years ago.
Similar genetics are found in several other groups around the world. One is the Lemba, a tribe of Southern Africa. Interestingly enough, the Lemba have an oral tradition of Jewish ancestry and keep many traditions and rituals that are similar to those of Judaism. The Buba are considered to be the priestly clan of the Lemba and carry most of the CMH markers.
Samaritans are also relatives of the Jews. A Samaritan community survives as a minority in the Middle East and has genealogical records going back about 400 years. The Samaritan priestly class originally claimed to be descended from the son of Aaron, but this line ended around 1623. The office of high priest was then transferred to a Levite line, which as we have seen, is no longer genetically distinct.
The preservation of the Cohen line matters for a couple of reasons. First, it offers support for the Bible’s version of Jewish history. The fact that the Cohens have preserved their family line since the days of Aaron speaks to the importance placed on preserving the priestly line.
Second, it makes a feasible a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy that a new Temple will be built (Ezekiel 40-44, Daniel 9:27, Haggai 2:9, Zechariah 8). The difficulty with the fulfillment of the prophecy is that the Dome of the Rock mosque is widely believed to be built upon the site of the Jewish Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70 (http://www.templemount.org/theories.html).
In its heyday, the Temple was the center of Jewish religious life. The role of the priests was described and set forth in Exodus and Leviticus even though the Temple was not built until the time of Solomon. The Temple contained the Altar of Sacrifice upon which the priests made sacrifices to atone for the sins of the people and the nation. It also contained a sacred room called the Holy of Holies in which resided the Ark of the Covenant, a vessel containing the original tablets of the Ten Commandments. The Ark disappeared as the first (Solomon’s) Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC and its present location is unknown. A second Temple was built seventy years later by Ezra and Jews returning from exile. This Temple, called Herod’s Temple because Herod the Great renovated and restored it, was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.
To clarify some of the background Jewish history, I spoke with a rabbi at one of Atlanta’s largest synagogues. The rabbi, who prefers to remain anonymous, told me that the Jewish genealogies had been passed down through family tradition after the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. He told me that there is no link between the Cohens and modern rabbis, which are totally different from the Levitical-Aaronic priests. When I asked him about the possibility of a new Temple and a new priesthood, he demurred, saying that there were people who wanted to build a new Temple, but that it was far from certain and that there was no way to know the basis for the new priesthood.
Further investigation on the internet revealed that there are two Israeli groups that are dedicated to restoring the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple Mount Faithful (http://www.templemountfaithful.org/) has crafted cornerstones for the new Temple and makes regular trips to the Temple Mount where they are always turned away by Israeli authorities. The Temple Institute (http://templeinstitute.org/) has crafted new vessels, tables, and musical instruments for use in the next Temple. Additionally the Temple Institute has also had priestly garments made for a new cadre of Temple priests (http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/126721). One item that cannot be recreated is the Ark of the Covenant. The Temple Institute believes that the Ark is hidden in the catacombs beneath the Temple Mount.
The remaining obstacle, and it is a large one, is the fact that the Muslims still maintain control of the Temple Mount, even though the Israelis have controlled Jerusalem since 1967. The mount, called the Noble Sanctuary by the Muslims, is home to the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqua mosques. These mosques would have to be removed in order for the Jewish Temple to be restored. Doing so would undoubtedly trigger a war. In 2000, the mere presence of Ariel Sharon on the Temple Mount set off the Second Intifada.
One possible scenario for the removal of the mosques involves yet another prophecy, the War of Gog and Maggot. Ezekiel (ch. 38-39) foretold of a military alliance against Israel led by Russia and Iran that would be destroyed by divine intervention (http://captainkudzu.blogspot.com/2008/11/who-is-gog-of-magog.html). It may be that this war will destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount and pave the way for the reconstruction of the Temple which Ezekiel describes in chapters 40-48.
If and when the Temple is rebuilt, will the priests resume sacrifices as well? I believe so. In fact, the Temple Mount Faithful website contains photos (http://www.templemountfaithful.org/pics-1998.htm) of the sacrifice of a lamb for Pesach (Passover). Since the Jewish religion subscribes to the Torah (Old Testament) in which sacrifices are required, it is logical to assume that once the Temple is restored, sacrifices will continue. Further, Daniel 9:27 refers to a latter-day leader who will stop sacrifices. In order to one day be stopped, sacrifices first have to resume.
It appears that regardless of whether the Cohen genetic information is used to screen rabbis for the new Temple priesthood that the family line of Aaron is intact. This verifies the authenticity of Biblical claims that the Aaronic line was distinct within the Jewish nation. Additionally, it provides a means through which prophecies of a restored Temple and priesthood can one day be fulfilled.
The Temple vessels: http://www.templeinstitute.org/treasures-vessels.htm
The Temple cornerstones: http://www.templemountfaithful.org/img/2006/jerusalemday/1127.jpg
The priestly garments: http://www.templeinstitute.org/treasures-garments.htm
The Temple: http://www.templeinstitute.org/treasures-models.htm
September 9, 2010
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