Who Said It?

Dear Howard:

This letter is to ask for your help and support, and that of your colleagues, in the passage of an increase in the limit on the public debt.

As Secretary Regan has told you, the Treasury’s cash balances have reached a dangerously low point. Henceforth, the Treasury Department cannot guarantee that the Federal Government will have sufficient cash on any one day to meet all of its mandated expenses, and thus the United States could be forced to default on its obligations for the first time in its history.

This country now possesses the strongest credit in the world. The full consequences of a default or even the serious prospect of default by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and on the value of the dollar in exchange markets. The Nation can ill afford to allow such a result. The risks, the cost, the disruptions, and the incalculable damage lead me to but one conclusion: the Senate must pass this legislation before the Congress adjourns.

I want to thank you for your immediate attention to this urgent problem and for your assistance in passing an extension of the debt ceiling.


Ronald Reagan
This is an actual letter that Mr. Conservative himself sent to then-Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker in 1983. Fast forward to 2011, and some House Democrats have passed it around to their Republican colleagues.

President Obama also mentioned on Friday that Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 times.

No wonder we haven't heard much about Reagan since his 100th birthday this year - tea partiers are against what he stood for, because darn it, he was too liberal!


Hoekstra flip-flops, will run for Senate after all

From WOOD TV8 comes news that Congressman-turned-lobbyist, 2010 gubernatorial candidate, Twitter aficionado, and breacher of security Pete Hoekstra has flip-flopped on running for US Senate against Debbie Stabenow.

The Associated Press has learned that former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra plans to run for the seat held by Democratic Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

Two Republicans with knowledge of his decision say the Holland Republican has changed his mind about staying out of the race and plans an announcement soon.

Both spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been made public.


Earlier this year, Hoekstra became a senior adviser at Dickstein Shapiro LLP, a law and lobbying firm in Washington, D.C.

Hoekstra would enter the race as the most viable of the Republican candidates - and almost certainly the initial frontrunner in the Republican primary - thanks in part to his 18 years in Congress and his unsuccessful 2010 bid for Governor, in which he finished second behind Rick Snyder.

However, will Hoekstra get through the Republican Senate primary? Will tea partiers accept someone who voted to raise the debt limit on five different occasions during the Bush era? Or will he suffer the same fate as Rob Simmons, Mike Castle, Scott McInnis, and other Republicans who got teabagged in their Senate runs in 2010?

Oh, and will he get Right to Life's endorsement? He blamed his 2010 loss on Right to Life, which endorsed then-Attorney General Mike Cox instead of Hoekstra - likely helping to split the teabagger vote and enabling the relatively 'moderate' Snyder to win with 37% of the vote. (Seems odd to think Snyder was/is believed to be relatively moderate, but that's today's Republican Party.) In Michigan, ticking off Right to Life is the Republican equivalent of a Democrat ticking off labor - not a good idea, to say the least.

For now - ten months before the filing deadline and more than a year before the primary - Hoekstra is the fourth Republican to enter the race, the other three being Oakland County Drain Commissioner John McCulloch, former probate judge Randy Hekman, and businessman Peter Konetchy. Of those three, I had only previously heard of McCulloch - and I've been following politics closely for 11 years. I wouldn't be surprised to see one, two, or all three of them bow out with Hoekstra now in the race - but then again, as I alluded to earlier, Hoekstra's ripe for a tea party challenge, and it's possible one of those three (or someone else) could jump in.

Democrats have a lot that we can hang around Hoekstra's neck. First is the obvious - he decided not to run, then he decided to run, raising questions about his ability to make a decision and stick to it. He also has 18 years of Congressional votes to answer for, many of which indicate how out-of-touch he is, while others (such as the aforementioned debt limit increases) could show hypocrisy on his part (provided he opposes raising the debt ceiling - which he will probably have to if he wants to win the Republican primary).

Of course, Stabenow also has a lot going FOR her. For one thing, Michigan leans Democratic. Yes, we had a really rough time of it here in 2010, primarily owing to appallingly low turnout - but 2012 should see better turnout with a Presidential race at the top of the ticket. In addition, Democrats have won 11 of the last 12 US Senate races in Michigan.

Michigan's first female Senator, Stabenow was one of the first three women to defeat incumbent US Senators (along with Carol Moseley Braun in the 1992 Democratic primary and Maria Cantwell, also in the 2000 general election). She served four years on the Ingham County Commission, twelve in the state House, four in the state Senate, and four in the US House before upsetting Spence Abraham in 2000. She was the first woman to preside over the State House, so she's quite the trailblazer when it comes to women in Michigan politics.

While Carl Levin has done so much in the areas of US foreign policy and defense, Stabenow, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has been a tireless, 'behind-the-scenes' leader among Senate Democrats when it comes to domestic policy, particularly regarding healthcare and the environment. Stabenow has also done a lot to help reduce the inflow of Canadian trash into Michigan. Drilling for oil in the Great Lakes? That's illegal thanks to a law Stabenow sponsored.

Stabenow is used to facing close election contests - and winning. She was elected to the House by 25,000 votes and the US Senate by 43,000 votes, both times beating Republican incumbents. She has $4 million in the bank for 2012 - which puts her at a solid advantage.

Countless Republicans - including all of Michigan's current congressional delegation - had decided against challenging her, and until yesterday, Stabenow was drawing rather weak opposition. My feeling is that they'd rather sit out 2012 and wait until 2014, when Carl Levin (then 80 years old and finishing his 6th term) would likely retire (he was expected to retire in 2008 but decided instead to run).

Now comes a more formidable challenger for Stabenow - one with name recognition and a lot of respect within establishment Republican circles. But is it too little, too late? Would the people of Michigan really turn down a trailblazing incumbent they've twice supported in favor of a controversial lawmaker-turned-lobbyist?

Whatever the case, it's gonna be a tough challenge for Hoekstra to get elected to the Senate in a Presidential year in Democratic-leaning Michigan. But anything is possible, so stay tuned.


Planting a vegetable garden? You're under arrest!

Don’t even think about planting organic vegetables in your front yard if you live in Oak Park, Michigan!

When Julie Bass planted a vegetable garden in her front yard, the last thing she expected was to be visited by city enforcement officers, ticketed for a code violation then charged with a misdemeanor and facing jail time for refusing to remove the plants.

Yes. Jail time. For planting a frickin’ VEGETABLE GARDEN.

The Bass story began in the spring with the replacement of a sewage pipe in front of the home owned by Jason and Julie Bass in Oak Park, Michigan. Instead of replanting grass Julie decided to grow a vegetable garden to be able to feed her family quality organic vegetables while giving the neighborhood children something interesting to look at instead of a grassy lawn.

"We checked with the city, we checked with the neighbors, and we planted a garden. That’s it. We now find ourselves in a storm of controversy worthy of some high level mischief, seriously? It’s a garden, it’s not a high crime or treason or murder," said Bass. "It's vegetables."

(Emphasis mine.)

So even if it is YOUR property, and even if you paid for the property and pay taxes on the property, that’s still not enough for somebody at Oak Park City Hall.

Here's a local news report that includes pictures of the suspicious garden:

The Oak Park ordinance requires that the front yard contain “suitable" live plant material. Asked if she thought it was suitable live plant material, Bass said:

It’s definitely live, it’s definitely plant, it’s definitely material.

An official from the City of Oak Park said that according to Webster’s Dictionary, the word ‘suitable’ means ‘common.’ Apparently squash and beans aren't that common - who knew?

But as the anchor of the above story asked:

Is Julie’s vegetable garden really worth the city’s time and money?

The Bass family has supporters all around the world. This petition to the Oak Park Planning Director has more than surpassed its goal (and you can still add your name to it). This Facebook page is one of the busiest I've seen lately, with some of its 13,000+ fans posting their words of support for the Bass family literally every hour. As someone in Texas said:

If a garden can be established on the lawn of the White House, why not in an average neighborhood?

And from Australia:

we can plant anywhere in our own yard here in Australia ... sounds rediculous to me that she is being charged ... and why is the reason that vegetable gardens are not suitable anyway???? Weird way to revenue raise and damage a family.

Someone even sent her a ballad that she posted on her blog:

The scofflaw, Julie Bass,
Rejected trees and grass,
And took to life of crime
With parsley, sage and thyme.

Her crime is avant garde:
The beds in her front yard
Contain illegal greens,
Like peppers, peas and beans.

Be sure to add your name to the petition and check out the Facebook page and blog dedicated to the cause. With your help, we can send the message that planting a vegetable garden is a good thing and that the Bass family should not be bullied for making such a healthy, eco-friendly choice!


Is the US a Christian nation?

(Cross-posted at Daily Kos)

Well, are we a Christian nation?

Sure, more than 75% of us call ourselves Christian.

Sure, most of the Founding Fathers professed some belief in Christianity.

But are we a Christian nation?

Oftentimes we hear certain people claim that America is a Christian nation - then use that claim to justify intolerance toward non-Christians, or GLBT, or everything else.

Then we also hear people accusing America of kicking God out of our schools, insulting God, ignoring our "Christian heritage" and even persecuting Christianity. (What an insult to those Christians, especially Catholics, who have faced real discrimination. But I digress.)

And heaven help anybody who dares speak out in favor of the Constitutional separation of church and state! ("Religion and government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together," said James Madison, Father of the Constitution.)

I am a Christian. I am one of the 75% of Americans who call ourselves Christians. And you know what? Sometimes I really wonder of America is the Christian nation some people claim it is.


Isaiah 61:1

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners.


"I have never seen a budget so badly skewed that has gotten so far past either house of Congress," said Greenstein, who lived through the Reagan tax cuts and budget wars of the '80s. "The bottom line is the House budget is a huge Robin Hood in reverse and its own form of class warfare. In terms of a budget that has actually passed any chamber, I think this is probably - by a substantial margin - the harshest to people at the bottom."


Matthew 5:9

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.



Matthew 19:23-24

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."



John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.


In the public schools today, homosexual immorality is as accepted as any rebellious life, launching young people into a pattern of unfaithfulness, depression, and instability that will follow them throughout their lives, if not for repentance through Christ and change.


We must reject the forces of Islam, the government of Islam. If we do not do this, these three forces threaten our very existence and the greatness of America.

I'm not saying America is or isn't a Christian nation.

But we do need to beware those who say that we are a Christian nation while at the same time acting in very un-Christian ways.

And we need to challenge their assertion.

Would Jesus be pleased by what is being done in this country?