Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Duncans!

While wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, I stop and think about what Christmas means...what I truly believe:

We are celebrating the birth of our Savior....the only perfect man to ever walk the earth....the Son that God sent to tell man about His love.....to show His love by allowing His own Son to be sacrificed so that we shall not have to spend eternity separated from Him - that separation is the true Hell.....Thank You God for loving me, a sinner who is unworthy of the tremendous Grace you show me.....

A celebration of this birth......WOW....and that is why we give gifts, because God gave us the gift of His Son, but also the gift of his Grace!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2008

What is UnConstitutional about it?

I Believe!

I also believe in the Constitution. After our Forefathers wrote the second greatest document of all time governing our lives (of course the Bible is No. 1), they decided to address some things that were left out - they did this through the Amendment process - which had to also be ratified by the member States. The First Ten Amendments became known as the Bill of Rights.

As I have stated before, I could poll the nation, asking what people thought of when they heard "First Amendment Rights." The answers, based on the smaller polls I have done in person, would be "Freedom of Speech." But the first thing our Forefathers addressed was Freedom of Religion. The First Amendment reads at it's beginning:

"Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof......" then it goes on to mention freedom of speech, of the press, of the right of the people to peacefully assemble and to petition the government for grievances which they may have with government.

It doesn't say anything about the member states not being able to post the Ten Commandments in their Statehouses or creating a license plate stating "I Believe" or even "I Don't Believe" should they choose to do so. In fact, the Constitution goes on to state that any power not specifically spelled out in that document as a power of the Federal Government is reserved for the States or the people.

I use the term "member states" because what we have in America is a Republic - a union of states who freely joined the union for a lot of common good. The states themselves voted on the Constitution and the Amendments.

So I return to the basic question in this post: What is UnConstitutional about the State of South Carolina producing a license plate which its citizens can freely purchase or not purchase? You could argue, I guess, that the highways are built and maintained with Federal Highway Funds. But those funds stem from gasoline tax, collected here in the State, sent to Washington where a portion is siphoned off, and returned to our State. It was our money to begin with, eh?

The right of South Carolina to offer to it's citizens an "I Believe" tag is no different than the state of Washington allowing a non-religious symbol to be placed next to a Christian symbol inside the capital building. Is that UnConstitutional as well? We are off kilter in this country and we need to make some changes. I am providing the article about the Judge's ruling on the "I Believe" tag for your information.

Judge Keeps SC "I Believe" Plates Off The Roads
Catherine M. Welch

WILMINGTON, NC (2008-12-11) A federal judge in South Carolina has put the brakes on production of a Christian license plate featuring the words "I Believe" next a cross and stained glass window.

The judge issued a temporary injunction halting producing of the "I Believe" license plate after a lawsuit filed this summer claimed the plates were unconstitutional.

South Carolina's Lt. Governor Andre Bauer says drivers requesting the Christian plate should be able to share the road with those already displaying the state's secular plate displaying "In Reason We Trust."

"You know, it's amazing to me that atheists and non-believers can purchase a secular license plate that they requested, but that same first amendment right given to them they now deny to others who want to purchase a different type of license plate."

Americans United for Separation of Church and State sued the state claiming the plate favors Christianity. Its Director Barry Lind says the judge's order will keep religion off the roads.

"I think it makes it clear that the "I Believe" license plates are very unlikely to ever see the light of day in South Carolina."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Duncan Elected Chairman of House Ag Committee

On Wednesday, December 3rd, I was elected Chairman of the House Agriculture, Natural Resources & Environmental Affairs Committee - one of six standing Committees in the South Carolina House of Representatives.

This is quite an honor for me to serve my State in this capacity. There are some mighty big shoes to fill following my friend Chairman Billy Witherspoon who retired in June. I hope I can show similar leadership that Billy had during his tenure.

I believe that there will be a lot of critical issues facing our State this Session. I have been assigned a great team of Committee members from all across the state, all with diverse backgrounds. I will post the members on this blog in a late post.

I am currently tasked with assigning these members to the appropriate sub-committees of: Agriculture Sub-Committee; Wildlife Sub-committee; Environmental I and Environmental II Sub-Committees. In addition, I am mulling over the Sub-Committee Chairmen - not an easy task since I want to make sure I have the right Leaders on each.

Thanks to everyone on the Committee for this opportunity and I look forward to serving with you. - Jeff

Thursday, November 27, 2008

In Case You Missed It.....More on Energy

Breaking imported oil addiction must be top priority

By Rep. Jeff Duncan • November 24, 2008


Here in the Southeast, we recently saw severe gas shortages because of Hurricane Ike. All along the I-85 corridor, you couldn't find stations with gas, and when you did, you paid a steep premium for it. It was reminiscent of the 1970s oil crisis. The problem is despite the falling gas prices today, we are still going to be in a modern day oil crisis.
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During this election, you undoubtedly saw the ads featuring Texas wildcat oilman Boone Pickens talking about our nation's addiction to foreign oil. He does a very good job in laying out the problem. And unlike most elected officials in Washington, he has a plan to solve the problem: Use America's abundance of wind and natural gas to break us of our addition to foreign oil.

Today we import some 70 percent of the oil we consume and we pay approximately $700 billion per year for it. As a country, we spend as much as the Wall Street bailout is projected to cost every year on imported oil. And forecasts show that we will continue to import more going forward unless we do something to change it.

In Washington, the solution of the day is "drill here, drill now." While that may make a good bumper sticker slogan, I think it's shortsighted and misses the mark. Drilling is good, but we need a lot more than that.

We need to take advantage of every resource we have here at home to provide energy. This does include more drilling, but also needs to include using clean coal, increased use of natural gas for transportation, looking at nuclear and investing in renewable resources.

The Pickens Plan uses power generated with wind to replace power generated from natural gas. The natural gas that wouldn't be needed for power generation could then be used to fuel large truck and fleet vehicles like city buses, municipal trash trucks and even some big city taxi fleets. This will cut down on the amount of oil consumed and lower the amount we spend on importing oil.

What I like most about the Pickens Plan is that instead of continuing to send $700 billion per year overseas for oil, we can start to invest some of the savings the United States. By investing in wind, natural gas, solar, cellulosic ethanol and a whole host of other renewable technologies here in the United States, we are investing in our economy, our jobs and our future.

Here in South Carolina, we could reap the benefits of those new technologies and new jobs.

That's one reason I have signed the Pickens Energy Independence Pledge and urge my fellow elected officials at all levels of government to do the same at www.pickensplan.com. As elected officials we have to show true leadership on this issue if we are going to break our addiction to imported oil.

Pickens has been asked several times why someone at his age -- he's 80 years old, by the way -- would be spending as much time and money as he is on this. His answer is simple. It's not for him, it's for our children and grandchildren. If we don't do something to tackle this problem now, their standard of living is at risk.

I have children of my own, and completely understand his answer.

Op-Ed on Conservatism with Senator Kevin Bryant

Bryant/Duncan: Republicans must return to conservative roots

By KEVIN BRYANT and JEFF DUNCAN - Guest Columnists

Two years ago, following the first Republican bloodletting, our colleague Sen. Danny Verdin wrote that the election “turned not on the voters’ embrace of ideas offered by Democrats but the voters’ rejection of Republicans who abandoned them.” Today, following further losses in Congress and the loss of the White House, Sen. Verdin’s diagnosis stands out in bold. Republicans can blame no one but themselves for their exile.

Two years ago federal spending had increased 69 percent since 1994, and 49 percent since 2001 alone. It never stopped growing, and now the Heritage Foundation reports that it is 57 percent higher than 2001.

Republicans hoped two years ago that Randy Cunningham, Jack Abramoff and Mark Foley would be exceptions that prove the rule. However, corruption continues unabated. Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens is a convicted felon, and of course there’s Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig.

The primary reason Republicans fell like a stone this year is that they have the sense of a box of rocks. A good friend of ours likes to say there’s no education in the second kick of the mule. The only hope therefore is that the second kick just received will rid of us of the folks who don’t seem to get the fact that the American public is tired of broken promises, hypocrisy and outright lies.

What the public does want is conservative leadership. Sen. Verdin pointed out two years ago that “The evidence clearly proves that conservative issues and candidates win.” Voters affirmed that fact again this year as they approved conservative measures and candidates from coast to coast.

Arizona approved a marriage amendment by 12 percentage points and increases in penalties on illegal hiring by 18 points. Arkansas passed a ban on adoptions by same-sex couples by 13 points. California voted for Obama by a 24 point margin, but it also preserved traditional marriage by 4 points. Florida went for Obama by 3 points and also preserved traditional marriage by 24.

San Francisco, the pit of despair for most conservatives, actually rejected the legalization of prostitution, a ban of Junior ROTC from high school campuses and the renaming of the sewer treatment plant for President Bush. Talk about hope for change.

Conservative candidates also won in Obama states. Obama carried Indiana, but so did the conservative governor, Mitch Daniels, by 18 points.

The 2008 election indicates that when voters in most places are given a chance to vote for conservatives or conservative positions, they do.

The majority of voters chose not, of course, to vote for John McCain. Sen. McCain would have earned more votes if he had presented more voters with a conservative choice.

We wish Sen. McCain had explained that the difference between a tax credit and “spreading the wealth” is that the former is when you keep your own money and the latter is when government takes your money and gives it to someone else.

We wish Senator McCain had not said that, “you don’t raise taxes in a bad economy” and instead said: “We have enough revenue in Washington. We don’t need to raise taxes at all.”

We really, really wish Sen. McCain had said in answer to Jim Lehrer’s question on whether he would support the bailout that not only would he not support it but also that he would lie down in the Senate floor before politicians stuck taxpayers with a $700 billion bill for a problem that politicians created in the first place. We really wish he had said that instead of, “oh of course I’ll vote for it.”

He did not, however, and therefore conservatives were left wondering whether Sen. McCain really believed in the same things they do. The majority of the Republican Party currently suffers from the same disease as Democrats before them and, for that matter, the same disease as Wall Street bankers. They simply believe that government is a good thing and more government must, by definition, be an even better thing.

Meanwhile, a recent survey indicates that while only 9 percent of voters believe that the Republican Party is too conservative, more than 60 percent believe it has either “lost its way” or become “incompetent.”

The voters get it. If Republicans ever want to regain the mandate of the voters, they need to take the hint: Do what you promise you’ll do, not what Democrats do.

Republicans do not need to search their souls. They need simply to revisit their principles. And this time, they need to stick to them.

Mr. Bryant represents Anderson County in the S.C. Senate. Mr. Duncan represents Laurens and Newberry counties in the S.C. House.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Op-

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Real Economic Stimulus...Cheap Gas!

From UPI.com

Crude oil prices down as demand falters

Today's Price of Crude Oil
55.75 - (0.00% )
Quotes delayed at least 20 mins.
NEW YORK, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Lower gas consumption and a gloomy economy conspired to lower crude oil prices Wednesday.

Crude oil prices fell $3.23 to $55.65 per barrel Wednesday on reports that China's imports had declined in October and U.S. gasoline consumption was behind last year's consumption level for the 29th consecutive week.

"With the global macro situation looking pretty lousy, we probably shouldn't be looking for a material rebound in oil prices until some time in 2009," Bart Melek, a global commodity strategist at BMO Capital Markets told The Wall Street Journal.

Heating oil prices also fell Wednesday, down 0.0991 cents to $1.825 per gallon. Reformulated blendstock gasoline fell 0.06 cents to $1.24 per gallon. Natural gas prices also fell, down 0.358 cents to $6.349 per million British thermal units.

At the pump, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $2.202 Wednesday, down 0.018 cents from Tuesday's $2.22 a gallon, AAA said.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama on Firearms

This letter came to me from a friend in Illinois:

October 10, 2008

Fellow Sportsman,

Hello, my name is Rich Pearson and I have been active in the firearm rights movement for over 40 years. For the past 15 years, I have served in the Illinois state capitol as the chief lobbyist for the Illinois State Rifle Association.

I lobbied Barack Obama extensively while he was an Illinois State Senator. As a result of that experience, I know Obama’s attitudes toward guns and gun owners better than anyone. The truth be told, in all my years in the Capitol I have never met a legislator who harbors more contempt for the law-abiding firearm owner than Barack Obama.

Although Obama claims to be an advocate for the 2nd Amendment, his voting record in the Illinois Senate paints a very different picture. While a state senator, Obama voted for a bill that would ban nearly every hunting rifle, shotgun and target rifle owned by Illinois citizens. That same bill would authorize the state police to raid homes of gun owners and forcibly confiscate banned guns. Obama supported a bill that would shut down law-abiding firearm manufacturers including Springfield Armory, Armalite, Rock River Arms and Les Baer.

Obama also voted for a bill that would prohibit law-abiding citizens from purchasing more than one gun per month. Without a doubt, Barack Obama has proven himself to be an enemy of the law abiding firearm owner. At the same time, Obama has proven himself to be a friend to the hardened criminal. While a state senator, Obama voted 4 times against legislation that would allow a homeowner to use a firearm in defense of home and family.

Does Barack Obama still sound to you like a “friend” of the law-abiding gun owner?

And speaking of friends, you can always tell a person by the company they keep. Obama counts among his friends the Rev. Michael Pfleger - a renegade Chicago priest who has openly called for the murder of gun shop owners and pro-gun legislators. Then there is his buddy Richard Daley, the mayor of Chicago who has declared that if it were up to him, nobody would be allowed to own a gun. And let’s not forget Obama’s pal George Soros - the guy who has pumped millions of dollars into the UN’s international effort to disarm law-abiding citizens.

Obama has shown that he is more than willing to use other people’s money to fund his campaign to take your guns away from you. While a board member of the leftist Joyce Foundation, Barack Obama wrote checks for tens of millions of dollars to extremist gun control organizations such as the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and the Violence Policy Center.

Does Barack Obama still sound to you like a “friend” of the law-abiding gun owner?

By now, I’m sure that many of you have received mailings from an organization called “American Hunters and Shooters Association(AHSA)” talking about what a swell fellow Obama is and how he honors the 2nd Amendment and how you will never have to worry about Obama coming to take your guns. Let me make it perfectly clear - everything the AHSA says about Obama is pure hogwash. The AHSA is headed by a group of left-wing elitists who subscribe to the British view of hunting and shooting. That is, a state of affairs where hunting and shooting are reserved for the wealthy upper-crust who can afford guided hunts on exclusive private reserves. The AHSA is not your friend, never will be.

In closing, I’d like to remind you that I’m a guy who has actually gone nose to nose with Obama on gun rights issues. The Obama I know cannot even begin to identify with this nation’s outdoor traditions. The Obama I know sees you, the law abiding gun owner, as nothing but a low-class lummox who is easily swayed by the flash of a smile and a ration of rosy rhetoric. The Obama I know is a stony-faced liar who has honed his skill at getting what he wants - so long as people are willing to give it to him.

That’s the Barack Obama I know.

Sincerely,
(original signed)
Richard A. Pearson
Executive Director
Illinois State Rifle Association

Illinois State Rifle Association
420 E. Locust, P.O. Box 637, Chatsworth, IL 60921
Phone: (815) 635-3198 or (815) 635-3166 Fax: (815) 635-3723 Website: www.isra.org

Dedicated to education, safety training and support
of Illinois firearm owners

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Agriculture is BIG in South Carolina!

Study: Agribusiness is a $34 billion economic engine in state

Agriculture, forestry eclipse manufacturing and toursim as S.C.'s cash cow

A study conducted by the South Carolina Agribusiness Council and the South Carolina Forestry Association shows agriculture and forestry have eclipsed manufacturing and tourism as the state’s largest economic segment.

Harry Miley of Miley Gallo and Associates, a Greenville-based economic consulting firm, estimated that South Carolina’s agribusiness, which includes all aspects of farming and forestry, annually contributes $33.9 billion to the South Carolina economy and employs an estimated 200,000 residents.

“The bottom line is that South Carolina’s oldest industry has entered the 21st century with great promise in the emerging economy,” Miley said in a statement.

And, while technology and manufacturing remain at the forefront of many state and county economic initiatives, the role of agribusiness and the need to encourage local agricultural production and consumer awareness should not be underestimated, he said.

“South Carolina’s agribusiness is so much larger than most people realize,” said Evin Evans, co-owner of Split Creek Dairy Farm in Anderson. “Producing, packaging and transporting food is an enormous industry and contributes a great deal to the state economy in terms of tax revenue and job creation.”

Evans said that “agribusiness, which is everything from growing food to raising cattle to insuring farm equipment or selling supplies, is the jewel in South Carolina’s own backyard.”

Edgar Woods of the Palmetto Agribusiness Council echoed Evans’ sentiment.

“The industry that provides consumers with food is one of the dominant economic forces in our state and the challenge remains for our leaders to continue encouraging the development of new technologies and methods in support of that industry,” Woods said.

Besides the economic impact, another less obvious benefit is derived from the consumption of locally grown food — economic independence and security.

“Just like foreign oil, we can ill afford to become dependent on foreign food,” Evans said. “It is harder to inspect products for contamination when they are grown in foreign soil. It also costs a great deal more in terms of logistics, and the only ones who gain are the multinational food distribution companies.”

Jim Smith, founding director of South Carolina’s Upstate School of Sustainable Agriculture, said consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the origins of their food, from where it is grown to how it is fertilized and stored.

“The demand from restaurant owners and consumers for locally grown, organic food is outstripping supply,” Smith said.

He cited a variety of factors are contributing to the increased demand, including a desire many consumers have to buy local, organic produce rather than what is shipped in from outside sources.

Forestry officials said emerging technologies for alternative fuels will help the agribusiness sector grow even faster.

“This is just the beginning compared to what we are likely to see in the coming decades,” said Bob Scott, president of the S.C. Forestry Association, in a statement. “Whether its carbon credits or biofuels, South Carolina will be on the cutting edge.”

State Rep. Jeff Duncan, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, called on members of the state legislature to look closely at the results of the Miley study.

“Agriculture should not be seen as what our state used to be,” Duncan said in a statement. “It’s the backbone of our economy.

“As elected officials, we have a responsibility to do all we can to support growth in the agribusiness sector,” he said. “Our future depends on it.”

To learn more about “agribusiness” in South Carolina, go to www.carolinafarmsteward.org.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Justice Clarence Thomas is Right on the Money

From the Wall Street Journal - Monday, October 20, 2008
How to Read the Constitution

The following is an excerpt from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's Wriston Lecture to the Manhattan Institute last Thursday:

When John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address, "Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country," we heard his words with ears that had been conditioned to receive this message and hearts that did not resist it. We heard it surrounded by fellow citizens who had known lives of sacrifice and hardships from war, the Great Depression and segregation. All around us seemed to ingest and echo his sentiment and his words. Our country and our principles were more important than our individual wants, and by discharging our responsibilities as citizens, neighbors, and students we would make our country better. It all made sense.

Today, we live in a far different environment. My generation, the self-indulgent "me" generation, has had a profound effect on much around us. Rarely do we hear a message of sacrifice -- unless it is a justification for more taxation and transfers of wealth to others. Nor do we hear from leaders or politicians the message that there is something larger and more important than the government providing for all of our needs and wants -- large and small. The message today seems more like: Ask not what you can do for yourselves or your country, but what your country must do for you.

This brings to mind the question that seems more explicit in informed discussions about political theory and implicit in shallow political speeches. What is the role of government? Or more to the point, what is the role of our government? Interestingly, this is the question that our framers answered more than 200 years ago when they declared our independence and adopted our written Constitution. They established the form of government that they trusted would be best to preserve liberty and allow a free people to prosper. And that it has done for over two centuries. Of course, there were major flaws such as the issue of slavery, which would eventually lead to a civil war and casualties of fellow citizens that dwarf those of any of the wars that our country has since been involved in.

Though we have amended the Constitution, we have not changed its structure or the core of the document itself. So what has changed? That is the question that I have asked myself and my law clerks countless times during my 17 years on the court.

As I have traveled across the country, I have been astounded just how many of our fellow citizens feel strongly about their constitutional rights but have no idea what they are, or for that matter, what the Constitution says. I am not suggesting that they become Constitutional scholars -- whatever that means. I am suggesting, however, that if one feels strongly about his or her rights, it does make sense to know generally what the Constitution says about them. It is at least as easy to understand as a cell phone contract -- and vastly more important.

The Declaration of Independence sets out the basic underlying principle of our Constitution. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . . ."

The framers structured the Constitution to assure that our national government be by the consent of the people. To do this, they limited its powers. The national government was to be strong enough to protect us from each other and from foreign enemies, but not so strong as to tyrannize us. So, the framers structured the Constitution to limit the powers of the national government. Its powers were specifically enumerated; it was divided into three co-equal branches; and the powers not given to the national government remained with the states and the people. The relationship between the two political branches (the executive and the legislative) was to be somewhat contentious providing checks and balances, while frequent elections would assure some measure of accountability. And, the often divergent interests of the states and the national government provided further protection of liberty behind the shield of federalism. The third branch, and least dangerous branch, was not similarly constrained or hobbled.

Since Marbury v. Madison the federal judiciary has assumed the role of the interpreter and, now, final arbiter of our Constitution. But, what rules must judges follow in doing so? What informs, guides and limits our interpretation of the admittedly broad provisions of the Constitution? And, more directly, what restrains us from imposing our personal views and policy preferences on our fellow citizens under the guise of Constitutional interpretation?

To assure the independence of federal judges, the framers provided us with life tenure and an irreducible salary -- though inflation has found a way around the latter. This independence, in turn, was to assure our neutrality and impartiality, which are at the very core of judging -- and being a judge. Yet, this independence can also insulate a judge from accountability for venturing beyond the proper role of a judge. But, what exactly is the proper role of a judge? We must understand that before we can praise or criticize a judge. In every endeavor from economics to games there is some way to measure performance.

As important as our Constitution is, there is no one accepted way of interpreting it. Indeed, for some commentators, it seems that if they like or prefer a particular policy or conduct, then it must be constitutional; while the policies that they do not prefer or like are unconstitutional. Obviously, this approach cannot be right. But, it certainly is at the center of the process of selecting judges. It goes something like this. If a judge does not think that abortion is best as a matter of policy or personal opinion, then the thought is that he or she will find it unconstitutional; while the judge who thinks it is good policy will find it constitutional. Those who think this way often seem to believe that since this is the way they themselves think, everyone must be doing the same thing. In this sense, legal realism morphs into legal cynicism. Certainly this is no way to run a railroad, not to mention interpret the Constitution. . . .

Let me put it this way; there are really only two ways to interpret the Constitution -- try to discern as best we can what the framers intended or make it up. No matter how ingenious, imaginative or artfully put, unless interpretive methodologies are tied to the original intent of the framers, they have no more basis in the Constitution than the latest football scores. To be sure, even the most conscientious effort to adhere to the original intent of the framers of our Constitution is flawed, as all methodologies and human institutions are; but at least originalism has the advantage of being legitimate and, I might add, impartial.

Right-on, Justice Thomas, Right-on!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Southern States Energy Board

I was honored to receive from the Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell an appointment, effective November 10th, to the Southern States Energy Board.

According to the Code Section 13-7-420, this Board is charged with the power to, among other things:

a) Ascertain and analyze on a continuing basis the position of the South with respect to energy, energy-related industries and environmental concerns.

b) Encourage the development, conservation and responsible use of energy and energy-related facilities, installations and products as part of a balanced economy and healthy environment.

I am excited about this appointment and look forward to serving the State of South Carolina in this capacity as we continue to meet our energy needs for today and the future.

Thoughts on "Going Back"

With the General Assembly being called back into an "Emergency Session" to take up the State's shrinking budget, I start to think about what sort of shenanigans we might be faced with. Here are some thoughts that I have:

1. Well, here is an opportunity to put Nikki Haley's transparency bill to the test by requesting roll-call voting on all of this.

2. Don't propose any tax increase. Not even a repeal of the grocery tax. At times like these, we need to cinch up our belt, every agency pitch-in and we will get through this down-turn. We are not unique in this situation - every state is facing similar circumstances. I know Rex Rice will probably propose a cigarette tax increase to give the government more funding. I just don't think that you raise taxes in a situation like this - you cut expenses. That is what most South Carolina families do.

3. Don't raid the Trust Funds and Reserve Funds. We may not be at the "bottom" in this economy and we may need those funds later. Let's attempt to make targeted cuts first.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

SC Club for Growth Scorecard - A+!

The South Carolina Club for Growth released its 2007/2008 Legislative Scorecard today. I am proud that I received an A+ rating by this Conservative group.

You can view the House Scorecard here: SC Club for Growth

Congratulations to Eric Bedingfield and Mick Mulvaney for their Stellar A+ ratings, too!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why It Is Important

There is a lot of talk concerning the importance of the Bill Ayers connection with Presidential hopeful Barack Obama, whose campaign consistently brushes off and changes the subject.

The reason it is so important - and where the McCain campaign is falling short - is that, when this connection is considered along with other questionable connections for Obama, it clearly points to a disturbing lack of judgement on his part.

Barack Obama has not been truthful in his disclosure of his relationship with Bill Ayers. His campaign's statements of:
"Bill Ayers lives in his neighborhood. Their kids attend the same school. They're certainly friendly, they know each other, as anyone whose kids go to school together."
- just don't hold water.

Obama launched his campaign for the Illinois Legislature in Ayers home, in addition to Obama serving on the Board of Directors for a non-profit organization that Ayers started and ran. Furthermore, Ayers' children are in their late 20's or early 30's and Obama's kids are in gradeschool.

But the Obama campaign wants to dismiss the Ayers connection.....OK......let's do that and focus on his other questional judgements. The Obama campaign wants to focus on the economy. Ok, let's look at the players.

The economy is at this point in history due to the under-regulation of the Federal Government sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. During the growth of these quasai-agencies, when they were guaranteeing billions in low documentation/no documentation mortgages, as well as dealing in securities that are backed by these low doc/no doc mortgages and which were traded on Wall Street and around the world, purchased by the likes of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, the guys at the helm were none other than Franklin Raines, Chairman of the Board & CEO; Tim Howard, Chief Financial Officer at Fannie Mae; Jim Johnson, a former executive at Lehman Brothers who was later forced from his position as CEO at Fannie Mae.

Obama's judgement, and his campaign's ties to the recent economic problems, lie with these three men. And this is where the McCain camp needs to get busy:

Franklin Raines: Chief Economic Adviser to the Obama Campaign.
Tim Howard: Also a Chief Economic Adviser to the Obama Campaign.
Jim Johnson: Hired as a Senior Economic Adviser to the Obama Campaign and selected to head the Vice Presidential search committee.

McCain also needs to look to the numbers: Obama, in a very short, less than one-term US Senate career, has amassed campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to rank his only second in the most donations received to long-time Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee which oversees the likes of Fannie and Freddie.

If we dislike nothing else about Obama, and there is more to question, let's at least call him out on his judgement and his ties to individuals who were at the root of the economic meltdown. That is why it is so important.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Historic Perspective on the "Bailout"


Whether it is called a "Bailout" or a "Economic Rescue," I have some fundamental problems with Congress passing this bill. Was it necessary? Maybe. Will it work? The jury is still out - we'll see how the market responds.

The question that I have is: Was it Constitutional? Under what Constitutional authority does Congress have to raise taxes on citizens of the United States, giving the money to the U. S. Treasury to buy private mortgages (good or bad) or securities or even to hold these types of real estate assets in the event of a foreclosure? Maybe they do under a broad interpretation of the Interstate Commerce provision - coincidentally used by the Roosevelt Administration to implement the social agenda called the New Deal in the 1930's or under the General Welfare clause of Article I.

So, in thinking about the bailout - let me share some quotes from the Founding Fathers and historical figures about the role of government as well as cautions from them:

George Washington once said: "The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon."


"The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it." James Wilson, Of the Study of Law in the United States, c. 1790

"On every question of construction carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed." Thomas Jefferson, June 12, 1823

".....
Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given to them. {The Constitution} was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers, and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect." Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, Feb. 15, 1791

"The legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex." James Madison, Federalist No. 48, Feb. 1, 1788

"It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and, as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please." Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, Feb. 15, 1791

"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." James Madison, letter Jan. 21, 1792

"No nation was ever ruined by trade, even seemingly the most disadvantageous." Benjamin Franklin, Principles of Trade, 1774

"I think all the world would gain by setting commerce at perfect liberty." Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, July 7, 1785

"I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious." Thomas Jefferson, letter Sept. 6, 1788

"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." Thomas Jefferson, letter May 28, 1816.

"The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys." Thomas Jefferson, letter June 19, 1808

"Excessive taxation.....will carry reason & reflection to every man's door, and particularly in the hour of election." Thomas Jefferson, letter Nov. 26, 1798

"To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and their fruits acquired by it." Thomas Jefferson, letter April 6, 1816

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined."
James Madison, Federalist No. 45

"One hundred and seventy-three(the number of Congressmen at the time) despots would surely be as oppressive as one." James Madison, Federalist No. 48, Feb. 1, 1788

"A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury." Alexander Tyler, 1787

I am fearful that this expansion of the power of the Federal Government will further erode our Republic. It, too, is obvious that the failures of past Congresses to regulate the mortgage industry, especially relating to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac despite warnings in the Spring of 2001 (Bush Administration) and later in 2004(Bush Administration and Congressional Hearings) and 2005 (Congressional Hearings and McCain speech/Legislation Introduced), played a huge part in this economic meltdown. Both Republicans and Democrats are to blame and there are numerous YouTube videos of the hearings to satisfy your appetite as to these facts.

Remember ENRON? It seems that the guys from Freddie and Fannie (Franklin Raines and James Johnson) should be investigated and brought up on charges (for "cooking the books" that led to huge bonuses for them) the same as the ENRON officers. Maybe they will. But allowing this Congress, with the likes of Chris Dodd and Barney Franks, to investigate is like sending the burglar to investigate the burglary.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Selling in the Capital



This past Tuesday evening, I conducted a fundraiser auction for the Congressional Sportsmens' Foundation on Capital Hill. A crowd of around 1,000 people participated in this event geared toward raising the funds necessary for CSF to continue to fight for the sportsmen and women in this country.

Lyman Bostock

I just watched a story on ESPN "Outside the Lines" about a baseball player who was killed in 1978. His name was Lyman Bostock and he finished his career through an untimely death. He wasn't your ordinary ballplayer. Let me explain:

When Bostock traded from the Twins (where he was making $20,000/year) to the California Angels - he was awarded one of the highest sports contracts in history - $2.25 million. He hit .336 in 1977 but was obscured by well known teammate Rod Carew.

Moving to the Angels, Bostock - with one of the best batting averages in major league baseball - fell into a slump - batting just .147.

Here is where it gets interesting: Bostock did not want his salary until he starting performing again. He wanted to feel that he earned his paycheck. When the club refused to stop his paycheck, Bostock gave almost all of the $36,000 to charity. From the story: "Though Bostock certainly craved the financial security that came with a high-priced deal, he knew what it was to live poor, knew he could be equally happy with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as he was with filet mignon. As Twins teammates overspent on fancy homes and luxury boats and snazzy automobiles, Lyman and Youvene lived in a simple one-bedroom apartment" Bostock's agent said.

Wow.

His sports agent said "He wasn't after the most lucrative contract -- just the happiest lifestyle."

If you can, I recommend the ESPN article (or you can watch the video) at this website:

ESPN - "Fifth & Jackson"


I have added a new name to my list of heroes. Thanks ESPN for sharing this with me.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Continuing the Rememberance.......


Let me first say that I was appalled by the terrorist threat that someone put on the 9/11 blog post of mine below. I hope the authorities tract that down.

As part of my travels over the past week or so, beginning on 9/11, I paid a visit to the new 9/11 Pentagon Memorial. It opened to the public last Thursday (9/11/08) and it is very moving.





The tragic terrorist act at the Pentagon took the lives (184) of not just those on board the airplane, but a significant number of people serving our great country inside the Pentagon.

The memorial is made up of benches, inscribed on the edge with the victims name. Benches with the end facing the Pentagon signifies a victim on the airplane. Ends facing away from the Pentagon signify those lost inside.

The monument is new - but I believe it will mature into something truly wonderful in the Nation's Capital......

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering


It is September 11, 2008.
It is 5:25 AM.
I am sitting in an airport, watching people as they get ready to board airplanes traveling to different destinations.
I am nervous to be traveling today.
I am thinking about those people who did this very same thing in 2001.
I pray for their families, the families of the victims in the towers in NYC, the families of those lost in the Pentagon........the heroes through it all.......the heroes fighting the war on terror today in far corners of the earth.
May you be blessed.
Thank you for protecting me and my family.

May God Bless America......Jeff

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Global Effects!

I am taking this from Mike's America blog - because it is so necessary for as many people to read this and try to understand this! Thanks to Mike for his work!

From Mike's America:

No Sun Spots Means Bigger Problem: Global Cooling, NOT Global Warming

Another nail in the globaloney coffin!

What could be worse than Al Gore's apocalyptic scaremongering on global warming? A new ice age brought on not by man's emission of CO2 but the Sun taking a holiday.

It's a definite possibility especially with this latest news:

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No spots means no warming and might mean rapid cooling.

Sun Makes History: First Spotless Month in a Century
By Michael Asher
Daily Tech
September 1, 2008

Drop in solar activity has potential effect for climate on earth.

The sun has reached a milestone not seen for nearly 100 years: an entire month has passed without a single visible sunspot being noted.

The event is significant as many climatologists now believe solar magnetic activity – which determines the number of sunspots -- is an influencing factor for climate on earth.

According to data from Mount Wilson Observatory, UCLA, more than an entire month has passed without a spot. The last time such an event occurred was June of 1913. Sunspot data has been collected since 1749.

When the sun is active, it's not uncommon to see sunspot numbers of 100 or more in a single month. Every 11 years, activity slows, and numbers briefly drop to near-zero. Normally sunspots return very quickly, as a new cycle begins.

But this year -- which corresponds to the start of Solar Cycle 24 -- has been extraordinarily long and quiet, with the first seven months averaging a sunspot number of only 3. August followed with none at all. The astonishing rapid drop of the past year has defied predictions, and caught nearly all astronomers by surprise.
...
In the past 1000 years, three previous such events -- the Dalton, Maunder, and Spörer Minimums, have all led to rapid cooling. One was large enough to be called a "mini ice age". For a society dependent on agriculture, cold is more damaging than heat. The growing season shortens, yields drop, and the occurrence of crop-destroying frosts increases.

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Sunspot activity of the past decade. Over the past year, SIDC has continually revised its predictions downward (Source: Solar Influences Data Center)

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A chart of sunspot activity showing two prior solar minima, along with heightened activity during the 20th century (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

And lest you think a new ice age would be better than global warming, think again. Famine, disease, death and political chaos worldwide would likely be the result.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Played on the Peninsula


We were played.

In February and April 2007, North Korea agreed to "abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning, at an early date, to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] safeguards."

Supposedly, "this significant achievement commits all six parties to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and will lead to a more stable and secure Northeast Asia."

For doing this, North Korea received as it "complies with its commitment to declare all its nuclear programs and to disable all existing nuclear facilities (including reactors and processing plants), further shipments of economic, energy and humanitarian assistance equivalent to 950,000 tons of heavy fuel oil will be delivered in line with the principle of "action for action."" (Source: US Dept. of State Website)

Well, they're baaaaaccccckkkkk! The picture above is the Yongbyon facility. IAEA seals are broken and it more than appears that North Korea is re-starting its nuclear programs. Sources say that it could produce plutonium within two months!

They agreed to the deal long enough to get their hands on the fuel oil and other incentives. Furthermore, I believe that China influenced North Korea to go along with the deal until after the Olympics in order to placate the rest of the world, and then crank up their weapons program once the Games were over. Well, it seems the Games have just begun!

What are we going to give them to stop for a little while this time??

Let's do the math: I found that there are 7 barrels of petroleum per metric ton. 950,000 tons X 7 barrels = 6,650,000 multiplied by the going rate for crude oil (I know, they sent fuel oil, but for calculations sake - let's just use this, OK?) $105/barrel today (9/5/2008) = $698,250,000.

Go figure.........

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I am a FAN!


My favorite lines from Gov. Palin's speech:

"In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change," she said.

"What exactly is our opponent's plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer is to make the government bigger and take more of your money."

"This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting and never use the word 'victory' except when he's talking about his own campaign.

WOW! What a great "Hockey Mom!"

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What is Wrong with This Picture

I was in line dropping the boys off at school last week and saw this bumper sticker. Now - I am going to leave the question open, waiting to see what you see as wrong with the bumper sticker:

Friday, August 29, 2008

Left out of the debate.......

We tend to forget the side-benefit of our involvement in Iraq - and that is the drastic reduction of terrorist activity in Israel.

Since the fall of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein, the terrorist activity in Israel has almost ceased. Maybe this is due to the end of payments to the families of the suicide bombers by the Hussein regime, the presence of the US military in Iraq or the terrorists' focus being redirected toward the US troops in Iraq, the beneficiaries would seem to be, in some measure, the state of Israel.

Think about the last time you saw or heard a news report about a terrorist act - marketplace or bus suicide bombing - since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Before the US went into Iraq, it seemed like a weekly, if not a daily, occurrence.

If you have not read Victor David Hanson's article, I recommend it: What happened to Iraq?

Monday, August 25, 2008

McCain Housing Crisis? Please......


Recently Senator John McCain was asked by a reporter how many houses he owned. This was definitely a loaded question designed to put McCain in a box and paint him as an elitist. As it turns out, he has seven houses worth approximately $14 million (based on what I have read).

So what?

Now, McCain is being painted in the light that he "doesn't know how many houses he owns...." - which is not what he said. He never said "I don't know how many houses I own......" He clearly was uncomfortable in discussing the subject and did not want to answer the question.

Probably because some of their houses are investment properties and some may be in the name of his wife, or in partnerships or holding companies.....I think he wanted his staff to accurately and completely answer the question.

As I thought about his answer, I began to add up the houses that I own.

I am a real estate investor and I own several rental properties. I own them in my name; my wife and I own some together; I have partners and I have some property in a corporate name. Let's see: my primary residence (1); three rentals in my name (3); one in Mel's name (1); two with partners (2); one in a corporation (1) - that totals eight (8). If you count a duplex that I own with a partner, then add another one to the total.

I deal with these properties every week. I am in the business. But think about answering a question like that on the spot - (heck I had to give it some thought).

John McCain has been on the campaign trail running for President for over two years! What if Cindy McCain had sold some of their properties or purchased others (given the real estate market - it could have been either).

If you are in the real estate business, think about it: How many houses do you own? Quickly, now. The world is watching........

Thursday, August 14, 2008

If there can be an upside.....


The BEAR is back. The Russian BEAR that is.

I have always been interested in geography. One of my college professors instructed that geography is more than just knowing where countries and geological features are in the world, but also is the study of those region's natural resources, climates and even political make-up to some degree.

Russia (during my college years it was the Soviet Union) has tremendous natural resources - primarily oil, natural gas, gold and timber. There are bountiful others but these are the biggies for this debate.

The Soviet Union was inefficient at tapping these resources primarily due to their inept government structure. After the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of market driven capitalism, there was incentive for, not only the new government but also private businesses, to invest in exploring and utilizing these resources. Russia isn't reliant on foreign sources of energy.

During the time since the fall of the Soviet empire, the United States has seen a reversal of sorts take place that, when juxtaposed against the NEW Russia, is daunting. Let me explain:

While Russia was experiencing capitalism, low taxes (they have a flat rate income tax of 13%) and a positive business climate, the US has seen a tremendous growth in government. We have created a huge entitlement state and have proceeded to limit free-market driven investments in energy resources. From the moratorium on oil and natural gas exploration to the moratorium on new nuclear reactors to the moratorium against recycling nuclear fuel to the increased regulations on business and industry that is growing everyday due to the global warming alarmism - we are like the inept Soviet state.

Neutered, if you will, by "Political Correctness" and by a small but vocal minority in America that is calling for carbon tax & trade, no nuclear expansion and don't even think about drilling in ANWR or off our coasts!

This latest Russian move is a power-play. The Russian leaders and the proud Russian people desire to once again be a major global force as they were under the old Marxist empire. This time, however, they are building their might, not through fear as during the Cold War era, but through cagey capitalistic approaches to wealth creation and energy independence.

If there can be an upside for the U. S. in the unforgivable Russian aggression towards Georgia it would be in how Americans begin looking at our own country again. With the Russian Bear gaining in global power once more, maybe - just maybe - the vocal liberal minority and environmentalists who have stymied progressive approaches to energy independence will gain some American pride again.

If we are to solve this energy crisis, deal with a weak economy and the dramatic reduction in American manufacturing, we need an increasing sense in American pride. This applies, too, to our struggles against Islamic terrorists and pride in our military.

If we don't wake up quickly here in America to what is happening, we may soon find ourselves a good ways down the list in world power and influence rankings.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Clock is Ticking for Energy Independence

ENERGY!

I posted this back in May but wanted to re-post it, as it is probably more important today in light of the world events surrounding Russia's power play in Georgia. Russia gets it - we get it but are impotent to act: We must begin securing our energy future by tapping our American natural resources, reducing our reliance on foreign sources of energy! Will we be able to "drill our way out of this crisis?" - No. But it is a big part of the Solution - utilize American natural resources, more nuclear energy for electricity production (which, by the way frees up a ton of natural gas and reduces reliance on coal for electricity), continued support for research into alternative fuels for transportation, continued investment in renewable sources such as wind & solar, energy conservation and conservation education.

Here is a re-post:

Energy


In the 1967 movie "The Graduate," Dustin Hoffman's character, Ben, is given the following career advice:

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you - just one word.
Ben: Yes sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Ben: Yes I am.
Mr. McGuire: 'Plastics.'
Ben: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Ben: Yes I will.
Mr. McGuire: Shh! Enough said. That's a deal.


If the movie were filmed today - or if the book were written today, the "WORD" would not be plastics - it would be "ENERGY." The demand for energy in the future, this issues surrounding how we will acquire sources of energy and how we balance our impact on the environment will be crucial. Energy.............Energy.........