Two Wrongs ≠ A Right

gop-extinct ObamaIt pains me to criticize Republicans acting aggressively on their own behalf, because lately it’s been rare. Sometimes it appears national GOP leadership would be content to emulate the panda and sit contentedly munching bamboo shoots in a special preserve where one is protected from predators and challengers alike.

There is some indignity involved when the media pokes and prods you with questions regarding your sex life. And it is disquieting knowing the Chinese own you body and soul. But in its entirety the situation would not be all that different from that of the debt–ridden USA.

Besides, once a species is practically extinct trend–setters put your face on cool coffee mugs and fashionable people throw parties on your behalf. Unfortunately, we already have the panda so there is little room for Republicans in the National Zoo. Still our “leadership” continues this death–wish behavior.

But consistency and intellectual honesty compel me to take aggressive Virginia Senate Republicans to task for the redistricting ambush they sprang on Democrats last week.

You may recall the Virginia Senate is evenly split: 20 Republican members and 20 Spendacrats, with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling there to break any ties. A minor GOP House redistricting bill had been languishing in committee for some time. Although not exactly in a persistent vegetative state, the bill wasn’t at the top of anyone’s legislative agenda. But that was before Sen. Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R–The Re–Animator) went to work.

The bill metamorphosed from an innocuous housekeeping bill into a Pearl Harbor equivalent all out attack on Senate Dems.

The bill concentrates minority voters in a new Southside district and alters almost all other Senate district lines. According to Dems interviewed by the WaPost, the new lines would make eight districts distinctly more Republican — and since six of the seats are currently held by Dems — the new lines have the potential to result in significant GOP gains in November’s election.

As an added bonus, the bill puts two incumbents — R. Creigh Deeds (D–Lost My Race for Gov) and Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R–Who Did I Anger?) in the same district where only one will survive.

Norment knew he could not depend on Bolling to break a tie on the new bill, because the Big Bill has been acting squishy lately. So the majority leader had the legislation waiting in the weeds until Sen. Henry L Marsh III (D–I was 3 before RGIII) left Richmond to attend the Dear Leader’s celebration.

With Marsh absent, the bill passed 20 to 19.

WaPost editorialists set their vituperators on ‘stun’ and described the event thusly, “The Republican move was executed in the style of a putsch, arising from a conspiracy and with no warning, public input or debate. “ Which sounds suspiciously like the regulation writing process at EPA and is reason enough to oppose the effort.

They continued, “Unlike the GOP dominated House of Delegates, the Senate has been in Democratic (sic) hands or closely divided since 2007. The Republican gerrymander, which could deliver several seats to the GOP, would change that at a stroke.”

What the WaPost doesn’t say is the former redistricting bill, authored by Dems, is also grossly gerrymandered and designed to protect Dem incumbents. For example, Prince William County — where I live — in the words of County Executive Corey Stewart, is “carved up like a Christmas Turkey.” The third most populous county in the state doesn’t even have its own senator. Instead it is split between five different Senate districts, which only serves to dilute PWC influence.

Needless to say, Dems are outraged and they have a point. Using a temporary political advantage to ram an extremely controversial bill through a legislative body is bad long–term policy. It was bad when Obama rammed Obamacare through a lame duck Senate before Republican Scott Brown was sworn in. It will be bad policy if US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–Prevaricate) violates established Senate rules to change the filibuster procedure and punish Republicans.

And it’s bad policy in Richmond.

What’s more, the repercussions threaten to put a Saslaw–sized Jersey barrier in front of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s transportation plan. After the redistricting bill was passed, Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw (D–Hoppin’ Mad) said the governor’s transportation bill was dead and so was any hope of cooperation from Senate Dems.

And here is the trilemma: if McDonnell vetoes the bill it makes Senate Dems happy, while at the same time offending Senate Republican leadership. If the governor could depend on every GOP Senator to vote for his transportation bill, he could hold his nose and sign the redistricting bill. But unanimous GOP support is not a given. On the other hand, vetoing the bill could mean his transportation plan never gets out of committee in the Senate.

There is a third way that doesn’t put the governor on the spot and still gives the redistricting bill a decent Christian burial. Saslaw and Speaker Bill Howell (R–In the Driver’s Seat) could work out a behind–the–scenes deal where the bill is killed in the House in return for Saslaw guaranteeing Senate Dem votes for the transportation plan that Howell is sponsoring in the House. But then again, if the House kills the Senate’s bill, angry GOP senators may take revenge by killing pet projects of House members.

I won’t shed any tears for the demise of the governor’s transportation plan for reasons outlined here, but the Commonwealth is in need of a good transportation program. The Senate’s redistricting bill is an unnecessary complication that may thwart that goal and makes Republicans look unethical.

It’s times like these that the governor should be glad Virginia is still in the liquor business.

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Conservative Pacifists in the Culture War Part 2

The Obama Inauguration Committee features a new "Heretics Only" water fountain policy.

The Obama Inauguration Committee features a new “Heretics Only” water fountain policy.

Christ was no doubt on to something when He limited His public ministry to three years. Any longer and a mere human may forget what he said before or, even worse, lose enthusiasm for an earlier message as the culture changes.

Which is evidently what happened to the Rev. Louie Giglio. Until recently he was scheduled to give the benediction at Obama’s second inauguration. Giglio — founder of the “Passion Conferences” that are marketed to college–age Christians — had lately been in the news for his work against human trafficking and had said grace, so to speak, over the Easter Prayer Breakfast in the White House.

But then an aggressively homosexual lobbying group dug up a sermon Giglio delivered in the mid–90’s and accused him of being an orthodox Christian that believes in the Bible. Well, that was that and Giglio lost no time beating a hasty retreat from the inauguration.

Giglio might have made a better decision if he’d listened to his own sermon before deciding to run up the white flag.

In it the reverend is addressing the homosexual onslaught that traditional culture was just beginning to experience. Giglio wisely pointed out, “We must lovingly but firmly respond to the aggressive agenda of not all, but many in the homosexual community. Underneath this issue is a very powerful and aggressive movement. That movement is not a benevolent movement, it is a movement to seize by any means necessary the feeling and the mood of the day, to the point where the homosexual lifestyle becomes accepted as a norm in our society and is given full standing as any other lifestyle, as it relates to the family.”

That was not only wise, it was prophetic. Then Giglio mentions what both the Old and New Testament have to say regarding homosexual practices and concludes, “…homosexuality is not an alternative lifestyle…homosexuality is not just a sexual preference, homosexuality is not gay, but homosexuality is sin. It is sin in the eyes of God, and it is sin according to the world of God…That’s God’s voice. If you want to hear God’s voice, that is his voice to the issue of homosexuality. It is not ambiguous and unclear. It is very clear.”

Again, there is nothing that a plain reading of Scripture does not tell one. Giglio was not embellishing and he was certainly not personally condemning homosexuals. He just stated the obvious at it applies to the Bible and observant Christians.

Homosexual practices are not a lifestyle. The practice is a rebellion against God at the most fundamental level. God created woman for man and blessed the union. Any other arrangement is a perversion of God’s plan and God’s intent. And it remains a perversion in spite of the fact the only perversions elite culture recognizes today are smoking, obesity and magazines with a capacity larger than 10 rounds.

Giglio also said, “We must not sit quietly by and stick our heads in the sand and let whatever happens happen in our country. We’ve got to respond to the world we live in. That is the mandate that comes to us as people of God. And this issue is coming more and more to the forefront every day.”

Unfortunately, that is exactly what Giglio did not do. Instead he issued a weak statement that reads, “Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15 to 20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer that I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration.

“Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past 15 years. Instead, my aim is meant to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.”

This reads like it was written by the same people covering up the massacre at our consulate in Libya. And “ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ” means exactly what?

Christ is significant with or without Giglio’s help. What He needs are teachers who will engage the culture. My fellow conservatives are off the mark when they view this incident as another instance of a politically correct culture that hostile to Christianity.

The culture has always been hostile to Christianity. Good grief, Herod murdered all the male children in Bethlehem aged two or under in an effort to end Christ’s ministry before it began. You can’t get much more hostile than that.

What Giglio has done is acquiesce in the disparagement of the truth of the Bible. What kind of message does this send to the young Christians that Giglio is supposed to be leading? Does Giglio hope the culture will be at least as accepting of him as it is of tobacco executives?

Does it mean Christianity has some vaguely disreputable beliefs that we only share privately with our friends, but the philosophy is not something we want to identify with in public?

How, exactly, does that differ from a meeting of the Klan?

We are losing the culture war because Christians are lead by pacifists, as I wrote about earlier. Giglio has “evolved” from confronting the culture to surfing cultural waves. His current cause is “human trafficking,” which has a number of advantages for a timid Christian. One, all the right organizations are against human trafficking. Two, you get to hobnob with celebrities. And three the chances of offending someone in the congregation are infinitesimal.

Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, asked the Washington Post: “Are all Orthodox clergy now to be banished from civic life if they openly affirm their faith’s teaching about marriage and sexual ethics?” “Are only clergy from declining liberal denominations now acceptable according to hyper–political correctness? Will the same standard also apply to Muslims and members of other faiths who don’t subscribe to the views of Western secular elites?”

Giglio evidently thinks refusing to confront the administration’s “Heretics Only” drinking fountain policy is being polite. But the message it sends the flock is one of weakness and vacillation when it comes to the plain language of the tougher parts of the New and Old Testament.

And it really compares poorly with the Catholic bishop who is preparing to go to jail rather than comply with the Obamacare abortion mandate.

Lou Giglio is building a ministry designed to attract the young in Atlanta. Up until now the name was “Passion City.” In light of his failure to affirm his own message, I suggest Giglio might want to consider changing the name to “Mildly Enthusiastic (But Not to the Point Where We Would Offend Anyone) City.”

Gov. McDonnell Suffering from Legacy Fever

VA Gov. Bob McDonnell does not see any reason why a comprehensive transportation package should not include corduroy roads.

VA Gov. Bob McDonnell does not see any reason why a comprehensive transportation package should not include corduroy roads.

Judging from Gov. Bob McDonnell preoccupation with liquids one would almost think he’s a naval man, rather than an Army reservist. First he tried to free demon rum from state control by privatizing Virginia’s liquor stores.

ABC privatization was DOA even with a Republican House of Delegates for reasons outlined here. Now Gov Bob is intent on reinforcing failure with his latest proposal to free gasoline from Virginia’s fuel tax.

Doesn’t the governor realize that as far as legacies go drinking and driving don’t mix?

Initiatives like these are the result of a severe case of legacy fever — a condition characterized by a politician’s feverish attempt to pass a law voters will remember after their term ends. Symptoms include policy delirium, proposal vomiting and head–count headaches.

Legacy fever doesn’t confine its damage to the infected politician. Visible scars include Obamacare, No Child Left Behind and The Great Society.

This is the last session of the legislature for McDonnell. And unless he wants to be smeared as “Gov. Ultrasound” for all time, he must convince the House and Senate to pass a major legislative proposal.

McDonnell wants his legacy to be a major transportation package that will inject $3.2 billion into Virginia’s transportation fund and give the Commonwealth enough money to both build and repair roads — a twofer that’s been missing in recent years.

The governor’s proposal eliminates the tax on gasoline, increases vehicle registration fees by $15, raises the sales tax by 0.8 percent, increases the portion of sales tax revenue dedicated to transportation by 50 percent and slaps a $100 fee on pretentious alternative fuel vehicles that burn French fry oil mixed with taxpayer subsidies.

In addition, Gov Bob is hoping for some kindness from strangers in DC. Part of the money comes from a tax he hopes Congress will authorize on internet sales, meaning those lazy shop–at–homers (who by the way aren’t cluttering up the roads) will be paying sales tax AND shipping on their purchases.

Unless additional money is found the fund for new construction will be completely empty by 2017 as every last penny goes to maintenance on roads already built.

Fortunately there is a simple solution to this problem. First index the state’s gas tax to inflation, since it has not been increased in 27 years. Then the increase from the gas tax should be offset by a decrease in the income tax making the result revenue neutral.

This also has the advantage of being the responsible conservative solution since people who buy gas tend to burn it on highways, in effect making it a user tax paid by those using the roads.

Unfortunately, we have a legislature dominated by irresponsible conservatives that refuse to raise any tax, regardless of need or justification. Grover Norquist speaks for them when he issued a fatwa against raising the gas tax ruling that voting in favor of indexing violates the No Tax Pledge.

Instead, Norquist says plenty of money for roads can be found by cutting spending in other areas of the budget. This is the policy equivalent of saying, “God bless you” after a sneeze. It does nothing to prevent the spread of germs but gives the speaker a benevolent glow without spending any time in theology school.

If it were possible to cut spending elsewhere to fund roads, it would have been done before now. The potholes you dodge and the gridlock you endure proves this is easier said than done.

McDonnell is obviously appreciates the value of a revenue neutral bill, but removing the tax from gasoline is a ham–handed attempt and profoundly unconservative. It means out of state drivers — which constitute 30 percent of the traffic on Virginia roads — pay nothing for the use of Virginia roads. In effect Virginia taxpayers will be subsidizing the beach traffic jamming our highways on summer weekends.

Transportation is a core government function, and if Gov Bob was certain Republicans would be in charge of government from now on, funding roads from the general fund might be marginally acceptable. But there is no guarantee Virginia voters won’t lose their mind and put Democrats back in charge.

Once you mingle transportation money with the rest of the general fund, it means that money is no longer earmarked for roads. Democrats have no problem raiding the transportation trust fund to spend on their social justice priorities, and they have done it in the past. Tinkering with the percentage of the sales tax that goes to roads will be child’s play for them.

On the other hand, when Republicans want to reverse the process and use general fund money on roads, the likes of Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D–Spending) will accuse you of wanting to boil school children in asphalt.

My suggestion is the GOP leadership put a cold compress on the governor’s forehead and urge him to lie down in a darkened caucus room. Meanwhile, they can put all their efforts behind a transportation solution like mine that has the twin virtues of being both simple and conservative.

House Republicans Have More Than Two Options

fiscal-cliff-boehner

There were a few anxious moments in the White House last night and early Thursday morning. For a brief moment it looked liked John Boehner’s re–election as Speaker might be in trouble. This would have been a disaster for the Obama administration — equivalent to the French hiring Gen. George S. Patton as their commander–in–chief in the fall of 1938.

It’s quite possible that Boehner is the favorite Republican of Oval Office denizens. He’s never won a showdown with Obama. He huffs and he puffs and he blows his own House down. Cong. Boehner is the Ambrose Burnside of GOP strategists. He’s always a pontoon or two short of victory.

Which is why his three–vote margin was uncomfortably close for the Obama administration.

Speaker Boehner — and admittedly much of the Republican brain trust both in and out of elective office — is trapped in a binary, tactical battle with the White House. A battle he manages to re–fight and re–lose on a regular basis. The fiscal cliff confrontation was simply not a choice between passing Obama’s tax and spending increases or plunging headlong off the cliff.

A truly strategic thinker would have seen there was a third option. An option that was difficult in the short run, but promised a lasting victory in the long run.

I outlined that strategy here in mid–December. I contend that Obama has a legitimate mandate to raise taxes, so let him raise taxes to his heart’s content. Instead of fighting and losing, House Republicans step aside and let the Democrats pass a bill that gives the public a mandate right upside their head.

Only the Democrats do it without a single Republican vote.

Instead, Boehner states very plainly the GOP believes this bill is wrong and raising taxes will damage the economy. Unfortunately, the people have spoken, so the GOP will abstain on this vote. Making the 2014 off–year election a referendum on the Obama plan.

A referendum Republicans will win in a landslide, if we are correct. If we are wrong, and the voters actually want big, bigger and biggest government, then it doesn’t matter anyway.

Using a political rope–a–dope strategy means Republicans can’t be blamed for pushing the country over the fiscal cliff, nor can they be blamed for the recession redux that follows passage of Obama’s Christmas list.

Instead, binary, short–term, tactical thinking has saddled the nation with a terrible deal: $41 in new spending for every $1 in elusive spending cuts. And what’s worse, because the House GOP leadership helped pass the bill, Republicans now have part ownership of the blame for Obama’s failure!

Ss long as Boehner is speaker, this willing participation in mutually assured economic destruction undercuts responsible conservatives in the future.

On the other hand, Republican governors, when presented with an almost identical situation, made just the type of choice I’m advocating.

GOP governors loathe Obamacare. They believe it to be bad policy, bad medicine and bad government. Now Obamacare is the law of the land and the next step is implementation on a state–by–state basis. In any potentially chancy political situation Democrats can be certain to monopolize all the credit and outsource the blame if things go wrong.

Acting on this principle, Democrats established a system where each state is supposed to create a health insurance exchange, which insulates national Democrats from blame. When Obamacare goes horribly wrong, state governors will be in the line of fire, since they created the exchange.

If Boehner had been governor of say Virginia, he would have fallen right into the trap and worked to create an exchange that implemented Obamacare and dispensed blame to Republicans.

Fortunately Bob McDonnell is governor and he — along with other wise Republicans at the state level — refused to create an exchange. Leaving Obamacare a Democrat sole proprietorship, since the exchange will be run by the feds. Obama owns the law and he owns the outcome, because Republicans refused to participate.

Looking ahead, our next defeat will be the vote on increasing the debt limit. Sure Boehner has pledged that he won’t negotiate with Obama in the future, but I fail to see where being buffaloed by Harry Reid is an improvement.

Unfortunately for conservatives, Boehner is an excellent strategist when it comes to protecting his career. As Virginia Del. Rich Anderson (R–VA) points out, back in 2009 Boehner was a strong supporter of a secret ballot for union elections.

Boehner declared that a public vote with union organizers watching would “actually would strip workers of free choice in union organizing elections…. Instead, it would leave them open to coercion and intimidation — from either union officials or company management — to sign or not sign a card expressing their desire to join a union.”

Which makes the 12 Republican members of the House who voted against Boehner on Thursday all the more noble. Since he was watching teamster–like as each one of them voted against him.

Voting as a conservative in the Boehner House is not conducive to career advancement. As the four freshmen Congressmen who lost their committee assignments last month, in retaliation for failing to toe the company line, will be happy to tell you.