Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Soapbox

Check out this link! The best answer by a conservative Christian about the Word of God! Go Huck!

One of the Greatest answers on the Christian posiiton on pro-life and the death penalty!

A great answer about immigration, and Huck shows why he is a leader!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Soapbox

The Sky Is Falling, the Sky Is Falling”
By Joe Shehan

In the age old story and now major animated film, Chicken Little is the spritely chick who proclaims to the world that the sky is falling. Much like the Boy Who Cried Wolf, Chicken Little’s community and family begin to not believe his proclaimations. Well, now we have the Democratic Party, and their cohorts the news media, helping to perpetuate another claim of celestial decent. But this time it is not the “sky”, but the economy that is doomed.

In 1992, then Governor Bill Clinton was able to orchestrate a come-from-behind win of the presidency with one simple motto, “It’s the Economy, Stupid!” This motto, along with the media’s depiction of an economy in recession and a third party challenger led to the defeat of President George H.W. Bush (#41 for the politically illiterate). Now, the Democratic Party is hoping to pull off yet another such victory for yet another Clinton, and also a victory for House and Senate Democrats. Frustrated with the political stalemate that exists in the current make-up of Congress, the Democrats, under the leadership of Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Illinois), are already seeking a new strategy for this next year’s Congressional campaigns, and it is going to involve the economy.

Fueled by the recent dramatic drop in the Dow, the ever present housing crisis, and let’s not forget skyrocketing energy costs, the Democrats, according to The Hill, are devising a way to take political advantage of the declining consumer confidence index. Rep. Emanuel was quoted as saying, “The executive branch gets credit for a good economy and a bad economy. That’s how it works.”

Well, if the words of the distinguished “gentleman” from Illinois are true, then this president deserves the praise for one of the best economies on record. According to the Government Accounting Office (GAO) October 2007 marks the 50th straight month of job growth, with 8.31 million jobs created since August 2003. This is the single greatest creation of jobs in our county's history. Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at strong 3.9 percent in the third quarter of 2007. After-tax personal income rose per capita by 12.7 percent, at an average of over $3,800 per person since 2001. Wages grew 1.2 percent over the last 12 months. Despite the rise in energy costs and the falling housing market, consumers still were able to increase the nation’s economy by 3.9%. With numbers like these you have to wonder where the media and the Democrats are getting this idea of a recession, and a downward economy.

Looking back at the 1992 Presidential Race, political science professors at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas did a study of the impact of the media on the election. Their data revealed a wealth of information on how that the media, by controlling the perception of the economy, were able to subvert the efforts of then President Bush to proclaim an actual robust economy. Sound familiar? Many of the numbers for the economy in 1992 are the same as today’s numbers, and yet the media perpetuated the myth that the economy was in a free fall.

The Dallas Morning News is no different in its attempts to forward this myth, yet did a fairly decent job in portraying both sides today. In an article titled, “Holiday shoppers plan to spend despite economy”, the DMN reported the superficial and temporary woes of the economy, but offset it with the fact that shoppers are going to do their job to help the economy. So, if the economy was in such dire straights, how then could consumers still afford to buy gifts? According to the article, the consumers can afford to spend because of good old fashioned budgeting and scrimping. Yet, it also bears notice that many of these people who are adversely effected by the increase in energy costs and the housing woes, were also the recipient of a robust economy where higher costs are offset by hire earnings (despite what you might hear on Lou Dobbs)

Now, I am not ignoring the fact that there are some very negative aspects of our economy today, but many of these problems can be fixed by better, more comprehensive energy policies and more restraint by the mortgage companies to not give mortgages to individuals who cannot afford them. In philosophy 101 you learn that perception is not reality, but this is not necessarily true in politics. If the Democrats want to give the perception that our economy is bad and they have the answer, then those who are not informed will believe them, and the media will be happy to feed the story. But it is up to those of us who know different to get the message out there before they have a chance.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Soapbox

Pimps and Hoes: All A Candidate Needs
By Joe Shehan

On November 26, 2007, the owner of the Moonlight Bunny Ranch of Reno, Nevada, Dennis Hof announced that he and the employees of the “Bunny Ranch” will help raise money for the dark horse candidate from Texas, Rep. Ron Paul. This is great, because it places Ron Paul right where he needs to be: Jokesville.

There used to be a time when a political candidate shied away from the seedier side of life. However, Rep. Ron Paul has chosen to stand by his Libertarian roots, and accept the Bunny Ranch endorsement. Now this could be a good thing, because members of the oldest profession will be funding his campaign, and they are always good for some cash. I can only imagine what the next fundraising mailer will look like.

Watching the Paul campaign and Rep. Paul as well, one can determine the man is not all there. Even from my meetings with his staff, I have learned that the questions of his sanity are not just limited to the outer circles. But, the 2008 campaign is not the first time a crazy person has run for office and gotten attention, and it will not be the last.

What is so shocking about all of this is the way Ron Paul has made a mockery of the campaign process. Now don’t get me wrong. I believe a lot of these candidates need to be taken down a few pegs, but when you seek the office of the President of the United States, you need to have a little more respect for yourself and the government you hope to lead.

I can only imagine Rep. Paul wished the endorsement had not come from the “Bunny Ranch” but the “Chicken Ranch”, but that is a whole different musical.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Soapbox

Hey everybody!

Lil Miss Abigayle is under the weather so today's Soapbox will have to be postponed. I hope everyone has a blessed day, and keep Abby in your prayers.

The Texas Watchman

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Soapbox

Containing the Flood
By Joe Shehan

Growing up as a kid, I was often told the story of the lil Dutch boy trying to save his town from the ensuing flood by plugging holes in the dyke with his fingers. That image has a lot of weight in today’s world, especially in regards to immigration. We should not consider it a curse that millions of people from all over the world try to come to this country. If anything, we should see it as the compliment that it is, however, we should seek to remedy the problem faced by people disregarding those laws either for life or profit. This is the real root of the debate.

Much of the immigration debate, like many of the debates in this country, is divided down the ideological line. If you believe that the government has infinite resources, and should take care of anyone who asks, then you would not see the difference in a legal immigrant and an illegal immigrant, and you would use the term “undocumented” to describe the later. That being said, if you recognize that the “infinite” resources of the federal government already come from an overtaxed populace, then you tend to have a more “black and white” viewpoint towards this issue. Yet, no matter your ideological viewpoint, this country still faces a very real situation of porous borders and illegal immigrants. So, what is the best course of action?

Much of the problem lies in three areas: 1. Porous Borders, 2. Unscrupulous Employers and 3. Impossible Visa Application Program. Each one of these three issues creates problems both logistically and politically for Members of Congress. Yet, doing nothing creates even more problems.

In the 1980s, President Reagan granted a sweeping amnesty to illegal immigrants that were in the country at the time, with the belief that the federal government would do its job of curbing the tide. That as we have come to learn did not happen, and almost 20 years later we are facing the same crisis. We must do something, and to begin the process we should look at the three main problems.

Closing the Borders

History shows that countries without well secure borders are doomed to fall to the outside world’s dangers and influence. Past presidents have even acknowledged this fact. Yet, today our borders are porous, and it is becoming increasingly easer to cross into this country. Even with improvements in technology and executive orders enforced through the Department of Homeland Security, the borders are still being violated.

We need to reestablish the border by forcefully enforcing it. Placing the National Guard on the borders, and putting virtually impassible walls and fences in places too remote to patrol could help facilitate eliminating access points to this country.

Though closing the borders would create a logistical nightmare for many of the Border States, it could provide some temporary relief while we try to get a hold of the problem.

Take Away the Incentive

Many of the people to who come to this country illegally are in search of a better life for themselves and their families. If there were no jobs for them to have here in this country, there would be no reason to break our laws. Now, I am not advocating killing our economy, but what I am advocating is enforcing the existing employment laws and going after the business who hire illegal or undocumented workers.

Local cities, like Irving and Farmers Branch have enacted such laws, and they have seen much of their illegal population dissipate. Now, there are those in the community who are worried that will hurt the local economy, but as of right now things seem to be looking fine. Only time will tell.

Irving and Farmers Branch are not the only cities who have seen such phenomena. Other towns in Nevada and Arizona have seen such results.

Fix the Immigration Service

One reason many illegals find it necessary to break our laws, is because the process to become a documented worker and even a citizen takes an astronomically long time. To simply get a green card to work here can take up to 10 years. During that time anything can happen, and if the family is truly destitute they could be ruined by that time. For some illegal immigrants, they believe it is better to ask forgiveness later then wait.

We live in a time of unparalleled technology, and the ability to share information is far better than anytime in history. Because of these advancements in technology, one has to ask, “Why does it take so long?”

National Security is important and doing background checks on people who seek to live in this country is necessary, but to take 10 years to do so is ridiculous. If this country is ever going to be able to fix the immigration problem, we need to be able to process applications for work visas and citizenship much faster.

As the grandson of an immigrant I am sensitive to the plight of immigrants. My family still feels the pains of signs that read, “No Irish Need Apply.” That being said, I do believe in the necessity of laws, and that if we do not honor our own laws all for the sake of scoring some cheap political points, then we do a dishonor to the millions of immigrants who come here legally every year. Immigrants are the life blood of our society, and our acceptance of all peoples is what makes America great. But, we need to make sure that it is those who wish to come here to be American that comes into our country and not those who wish to destroy everything that is American.

“There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t and American at all…we have room for but one sole loyalty, and that is a loyalty to the American people.” – Theodore Roosevelt, 1919

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Soapbox

Taking It in the Tank
By Joe Shehan

Today the Dallas Morning News reported that gas prices reached an all time high for November prices. According to AAA, “this is the first time AAA Texas has seen gas prices topping more than $3 a gallon in November.”

I can remember, when my wife and I started dating about twelve years ago, that I could fill my tank (I had an SUV) for about $10, and still have enough money to buy a couple of videos at Blockbuster. Now, it costs me almost the price of a nice date (dinner, movie and dessert) to fill my car. How did gas prices rise over 400% in the last 10 years?

One answer is that OPEC regulates oil flow, and since the resent insecurity in the Middle East has made oil production more dangerous, they have decided to decrease the amount of oil being produced.

Another answer is that American oil reserves are being depleted because of natural disasters like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which destroyed close to 1/3 of America’s refining capabilities.

Yet, another answer is that the oil industries continue to raise oil prices in order to cut a fat check.

These above answers are not the only options to choose from, but they are the most commonly heard. No matter what you believe is the answer there still remains one problem, and that is that oil prices are getting higher and gas is getting more expensive.

For years now, Republicans have been advocating the exploration of more oil. Yet, at every turn they are thwarted by environmentalists who accuse them of being greedy and evil because they wish to drill in ANWAR or off the cost of California. However, many Republicans are extremely environmentally conscious, but they also know how free markets work, and realize that the complete switch over to renewable fuels will take time, and until that point we need affordable fuels to keep going. This would require finding new sources of oil and natural gas.

The dream of renewable energy is a great dream, and can be accomplished. Renewable Energy would make America safer, and would benefit all Americans with its reduction of greenhouse gases, and the reduction of energy costs. Yet, until that day comes, we need to be pragmatic and find a way to fix the problem now. People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake.

As we complain about the cost of gas for our cars, there are families in the north and northeast portions of our country that have to make the decision to have Thanksgiving dinner, or freeze for the winter. This is ridiculous! I would much rather lose a couple of Porcupine caribou, and then have to tell a family they can’t warm their house for the winter. I am not as concerned with the California skyline, as I am with a Carpenter being able to get to and from his worksite, or a single mother being able to get her kids to school and herself to work. These should be the ultimate priorities, not whether or not a natural gas company is making too much noise in a rural neighborhood.

I believe that we must do a better job in taking care of this earth, but I am also pro-human and look for ways to do both the right environmental thing and the right humanitarian thing.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Pulpit

By Pastor Troy Brewer, Open Door Ministries

The smell of Coffee in the morning puts the Brewer in a good mood. I love the smell of coffee. I like the smell of lots of things. Leather, the Sunday pork roast, a brand new car.Smell is a big deal. It’s the only sense you have that extends into your brain directly. It’s a key component to our moods, memory and appetite.

Your nose is a truly remarkable structure. When a nose functions the right way, it can help us detect as many as 2,000 different scents. It also conditions the air we breathe. We inhale about 17,000 times a day, moving some 300 cubic feet of air through our nostrils every 24 hours.That’s a lot of nose business.

That snout of yours has to clean, humidify and in a fraction of a second, warm or cool the air you breathe to match your body temperature.A scent, fragrance, or aroma also have a powerful effect on our emotions that help transform the way we feel. Specific smells suppress appetite, reduce stress, revitalize and energize, even promote physical attractiveness. I know I certainly become much better looking when I throw on some Old Spice.

The thing about smell is that it can do the opposite as well. A bad smell can put you in a bad mood or flat wear you out.

King James

You might know the name King James because of the famous English translation of the Bible. What you might not know is that he was a character that didn’t care to live a life reflecting the Bible he had commissioned. His very interesting life as King of England is something worth looking at.

Though a promiscuous homosexual, he married Anne of Denmark and had seven children who survived beyond birth. He himself survived the Guy Fawks gunpowder plot, but none of those things are really what King James was famous for.

King James suffered from a terrible fear called aquaphobia and he never took a single bath his entire life. Those around him suffered the smell of a King who refused to put water on his body. He was a presence to be reckoned with, and when he came into a room every one knew it.There’s nothing worse than somebody that reeks from a major malfunction of personal hygiene.

The Stink in Big BendBig Bend National Park is an amazing place and that area was the last frontier for the lower forty-eight. When people in the rest of the United States were voting for Roosevelt and driving the Model T, Texans in the Big Bend were enduring Apache Indian raids on ranches and dealing with bandits robbing their banks. Extremely eccentric places tend to attract eclectic characters.

Bobcat Carter lived at the Permission Gap entrance to the National Park. He devoutly preached to all that, "Cleanliness is next to Godliness. A true gentleman should bathe at least once every seven years. I do!" People say you could smell him a mile away.

He ate skunk stew, drank from a pregnant horses utter and poisoned prairie dog villages for a living. He would turn back flips along the road just to stop visitors for a chat. After more than a hundred years old, he was taken to a hospital in Alpine. In terrible protest they removed his filthy rags and scrubbed his nasty body. “Don’t let them kill me!” He cried, as black water splashed across his elderly form.Three days latter Bobcat Carter died, apparently the victim of pneumonia. The bath had actually killed him.

The Smell of Success

When you can’t see something or feel something, you can still identify it if you can smell it. The sense of smell is all about discernment. I think if there is anything Christianity needs today is a strong sense of spiritual discernment. A lot of things feel right and look right, but you can just tell their not because of your spiritual “knower”, or the ability to be able to identify what is God and what is not.

What is life and what’s not something that brings life?

Furthermore the people around us should be able to sense something different about Christians. We ought to be so full of life that people around us can smell it on us. The Christian church is metaphorically called the body of Christ. This body is really attractive when we are properly joined with Christ the head.

I think one of the reasons why Christianity is so unattractive to so many people is because too many of us are bodies that have become unattached to Christ as our head. After it’s all said and done, a headless body is good for nothing but lying around and stinking up the place.

Philippians 4:18b"…the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God."
Pastor Troy Brewer is pastor and foudner of Open Door Ministries in Joshua, Texas. He is also Author of Fresh From the Brewer, an opinion column and blog for the local newspapers.

The Soapbox

Giving Defeat a Chance
By Joe Shehan

I feel I am becoming a broken record when it comes to the Iraq War, and the Democratic efforts to end the war. But, I would be remissed if I allowed yet another cowardly episode on the floor of the House to go unchallenged.

On the night of November 14, 2007, the House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 4156, the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act. The final tally of the vote was 218 for, and 203 against. Not enough to sustain a veto, if H.R. 4156 should get out of the Senate and on to the Presidents desk (which is not likely). To many Conservatives who are working on the Hill, this attempt to tie war funding to withdrawal was yet another attempt by the Democratic Majority to play politics with our troops lives and score some cheap points with their base.

Now many of you out there would say that their base is pretty large when it comes to the war, and with that claim I would say you only have half of the truth. According to the most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 55% of Americans want most troops withdrawn from Iraq by the beginning of 2009. Well, if many people were paying attention they would know that the President, at the urging of General Patraeus, announced two days ago he will begin to draw down troop levels this year. If the President follows Gen. Patraeus’ recommendations, we could have close to 25,000 troops home by July of next year. However, the Democrats wanting to steal some of the credit from President Bush pushed their legislation through.

Still, there are those out there who believe the Congress should take command from the President because 68% of the American people do not agree with how the President is running the war. Well, I am sure there are more people than that who don’t agree how Bill Belicheck or Wade Phillips coached the previous night’s game, but the owners of the New England Patriots or Dallas Cowboys don’t take away their command of their team.

The real motivation behind these moves is a cowardice that is informing the leadership that they are losing and therefore must tuck tail and run. This cowardice is so prevalent that it is affecting the way many in the Democratic leadership are thinking. Their thoughts are completely upside down. Point in case is a quote in CQ Today where a spokesman for Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D- Maryland) said,

“We will not leave here until we have seen whether Senate Republicans are once again going to obstruct a majority of the Senate from passing a bill that provides funding for our troops as well as a strategy for success.”

Let’s take a close look at this statement. First the spokesman accuses the Republicans of “obstruction”. This is a charge that every Republican should take pride in. When faulty and poor legislation is brought to the floor we should everything in our power to prevent it from becoming law. The line about “funding for troops” is especially rich, because if they were genuinely interested in this they would pass a bill for funding with out any caveats for withdrawal. Lastly (and this where is gets upside down), they are calling their strategy of retreat a “strategy for success”. I am sure that the Generals and Admirals at the War College would agree that the only way to win a war is to retreat, especially when you are seeing tangible success. As long as the Democratic Majority of the House and Senate continue to think in these terms, they will continue to see the lowest approval rating in the history of Congress.

It is important that those of us out there realize that the Majority of the 110th Congress is not operating in our best interest, but in the best interest of their campaign war chests. Completely entrenched in survival mode they are doing everything in their power to placate to their base, and to show the American people they have a purpose. But as long as their legislation continues to be vetoed, they will have to work harder to find the real “middle ground” if they want to avoid being the most insignificant Congress in American history.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Soapbox

T-Sippers Need More Cake
By Joe Shehan

The Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday that the University of Texas was going to be increasing tuition by as much as 22% over the next two years. In a day and age where it is getting less expensive to own a home than it is to send your kids to college for four years, I am surprised that an institution of higher learning would seek to make it more difficult for students to afford classes.

Since 2003 (the year they de-regulated college cost in Texas), the cost of higher education has risen almost 100%. When I first attended college in 1998, the University of Texas (then and still the most expensive state school in Texas) cost approximately $11,000 a year. Today, the proposed cost increase will lead the cost of a state education at UT to be $22,000 a year. For many already at risk of not being able to go to college, this creates one more hurdle to overcome. But do schools like UT need to raise their costs? Let’s see.

The University of Texas shares a universal college endowment called the Permanent University Fund (PUF) which has over $11.6 Billion (4th largest in the country), of which 30% is the University of Texas’ share ($3.4B). In 2005, they received over $446 million in funding for research, $417 awards and grants, $5 million in licensing revenue from patents owned by UT, and they received $2 Billion in private endowments. The University of Texas has 2,271 faculty and staff, of which 1,000 positions are privately funded. They also have 40, $1 million (Privately funded) chairs. In total, UT receives approximately $6.4 Billion dollars in endowment and private funding each year. This does not include revenue brought in through student fees and tuition, which equals approximately $1.1 Billion a year.

Now looking at the total amount of money the UT system has at its disposal, one has to ask, what do they need to raise tuition for? I do not know all of UT’s overhead, but surely it doesn’t exceed $6.4Billion, especially if you take into consideration that the students should be paying for their costs and then some. So, why is UT raising their tuition? According to Kevin Hegarty, UT’s CFO, the price hikes are “directly related to the lack of adequate state funding for basic needs.” I guess $6.4 Billion in private funding, $1.1 Billion in tuition, and the lion’s share of a $2.5 Billion dollar Texas State School Budget is just not enough for the University to get by. Perhaps the problem is not in the lack of funding, but perhaps in Mr. Hagerty doing his job to ensure that the University is using their money wisely.

College is expensive, and it should be. It should be expensive to keep those who do not take education seriously out of the halls of learning; however, it should not be so expensive that only the elite and privileged in this country can afford to go. I do not believe the answer to curbing college costs is re-regulation, but neither is de-regulation an excuse to drive up the cost.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Soapbox

First Principles
By Joe Shehan

Times are getting exciting! We are moving towards another electric campaign season where both parties are ready to do battle for our votes. Already some very interesting developments are coming out of both parties. Candidates that were thought as inevitable are now showing signs of weakness, and candidates that everyone thought were hopeless are gaining in the polls. Yet, what brings me to put pen to paper (or rather skin to keys) is the disturbing compromises of first principles being committed by many in the Conservative movement. Many Conservative leaders have in the opinion of this author compromised their beliefs for the sake of political expediency, and this is not right!

Two Conservative leaders that deserve much of our ire are Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Evangelical leader Pat Robertson. Both men have made many decision based on “first principles” and have stood by these principles under extreme persecution. Yet, when faced by the real chance of another Clinton presidency, both men put their support behind the candidate that right now shows he could beat Senator Clinton.

Several months ago, I wrote a column decrying the quick support of any candidate for political expediency. In the column I mentioned that until the primaries, caucuses and conventions are over we will not know for sure who the Democratic and Republican candidates will be. Because of this uncertainty, sticking to first principles is the only way to ensure that the candidate of our party is the best candidate for the job. Throwing our support behind a candidate too soon without doing the appropriate research could be dangerous for the country and our party.

So, what exactly are the “first principles” of the Conservative movement? Some of them are as follows:
1. A consistent pro-life stance where every life, born and unborn, is considered valuable
2. The government that governs least, governs best.
3. Taxes are a weight around the neck of our economy.
4. The family is the most important resource we have in this country, and it must be protected.
5. The governed must have the right to protect their life and property.
6. Immigration is important to the survival of a country, but only when it is legal.
7. Healthcare is important and should be kept functioning at the private level.
8. Defense is the government’s primary responsibility.

The support of anyone who does not have a consistent record of supporting these and others of our first principles is tough to swallow.

Pat Robertson’s support of Rudy Giuliani is confusing and frustrating at the same time. I am not saying the Rudy Giuliani is not a good candidate, or that he would make an awful president, but to see one of the leaders of the Conservative Christian movement back a candidate that is on record as being pro-choice and pro-civil unions, is disturbing. Now, I have not been one of Pat Robertson’s biggest fans, and I have often question many of his motives, but when it comes to the two aforementioned issues the Christian viewpoint is resolute. But in Rev. Robertson’s view, I guess they are a little more flexible when it comes to politics.

Governor Rick Perry is not any different. Again, in all honesty, I am not a huge fan of Governor Perry, but I do expect a man to be a man of convictions especially if he seeks to be my governor. Gov. Perry’s endorsement of Mayor Giuliani brings into question Gov. Perry’s views on Abortion, Gay Marriage, and Gun Rights.

To most Texans, gun ownership is a proud tradition handed down from father to son. Yet, Mayor Giuliani has shown some flexibility towards government regulations on handguns. In state who has now enacted the “Castle Law” (Your home is your castle and you can defend it at all costs) and a “No Retreat” law (You no longer have to attempt retreat, before brandishing your weapon in self defense) it helps to have a Governor who believes in protecting these right, and yet, it appears these principles are flexible for Gov. Perry when it comes to beating Senator Clinton.

I am all for rallying behind the candidate you believe best represents your positions, but when you begin to compromise your principles in order to “vote for a winner” you walk into a very dangerous area. Elected office is too important to vote for someone who will win. If you cast your vote behind a person for that reason, don’t get angry if that person passes laws you find morally repugnant.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Pulpit

The Will To Live
by Pastor Troy Brewer

Maxine’s Madness
Have you seen the cartoon character Maxine? She’s the Hallmark cartoon caricature of a cranky old lady that holds a coffee cup proclaiming, “I love my bad attitude.” She suffers hot flashes and lives on Crabby Lane in a little trailer with pink flamingos. She always wears bunny slippers, a bathrobe and a pair of sunglasses.

My grandmother collects Maxine paraphernalia. Like many of her peers, Nana believes Maxine to be her personal prophet and irritable voice of one crying out in the wilderness.

Maxine answers the phone by saying things like, “I’m busy right now. Can I ignore you later?” She lays on her worn out couch as she says, "If each day is a gift, I'd like to know where to return Mondays." She has a website for you to send complaints. Its

There’s no end to Maxine’s musings and complaints. She prides herself in telling it like it is and as she sees it. Just recently I got a funny e-mail that stated Maxine’s living will. A living will is the instructions you leave in the event you are totally incapacitated. Here’s what she said….

“I, MAXINE , being of sound mind and body, do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means. Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of pinhead politicians who couldn't pass ninth-grade biology if their lives depended on it, or lawyers/ doctors interested in simply running up the bills. If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to ask for at least one of the following: A Glass of wine. Chocolate. Chicken fried steak and cream gravy. Chocolate. Mexican food. French fries. Chocolate. Pizza. Chocolate. Ice cream. A cup of tea or coffee. Chocolate. Sex, and finally Chocolate. It should be presumed that I won't ever get better.When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my appointed person and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes, let the "fat lady sing” . . .and call it a day!”

Life and the Pursuit Of
Lots of people have pulled the plug on their dreams and settled down into a life of apathy.The will to live is not just about wanting to survive. There are people all around us in a healthy body who don’t have the will to live past where they are.

The Brewer herby encourages you to be a dreamer, so sip on this.

Some Christians know the story about Lots wife and how her look back got her killed. But what most people don’t realize is it is just as deadly to stay where you are as it is to look back. Life has something better to offer you. Get up and get after it.

God does not make the distinction between sacred and secular. He is the God of “better” and “all” things. In Mark 9:23 Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

So it is absolutely ok with God for you to dream big dreams that don’t have anything to do with traditional church. It makes God just as happy when you accomplish a goal for your family, like an awesome vacation for instance, as it does when a guy like me builds a food bank warehouse to feed the poor.

Dream a big dream and do something cool. Move off of Crabby Lane and refuse to pull the plug on hoping for better things.

Psalms 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Pastor Troy Brewer is pastor of Open Door Ministries in Joshua, TX and author of the weekly column Fresh From The Brewer.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Soapbox

Recognizing the Truth, part 3
By Joe Shehan

Lie #3: 110th Congress Has Done More Under Democratic Leadership Than Any Congress!

Promising the world is one way to win an election, and the Democrats were the kings and queens of making promises for the 2006 elections. It came as no surprise to anyone who was active in the Republican Party before the 2006 election, that the GOP was going to take a hit, and boy did we take a hit! So, on January 4, 2007 the Democratic majority had the opportunity to deliver on its promises. Did they? Lets see.

Promise #1: We will have five day work weeks, and do more work than any other Congress!

The Democrats could not even wait one week to break this promise. Within the first week Congress was recessed for the BCS championship game. Then shortly after that all but a few weeks have actually been five days in length. Much of the time the members arrive around 3 to 5 pm on Monday and work until 6p on Thursday. The only time we seem to have a five day week, is if that weeks falls before a long scheduled holiday.

As far as doing more work, I would call naming post offices hardly the pressing business of this country. Yet, with the majority of votes cast on bills that are hardly important, the Democratic majority can claim the passing more legislation then any Congress in history.

Promise #2: We have 6 initiatives that we will pass within the first 100 hours!

Well if you only count the hours that Congress was in session, then the Democratic Congress was able to do this. However, if you are like the rest of us, 100 hours is 100 hours, not 1,000 which it actually took. But, let’s really look at these bills to see if they “passed”.

Minimum wage – passed and was signed into law by President Bush.
Stem Cells – passed, but was vetoed by President Bush and sustained by Congress.
Ending the war in Iraq – passed twice by the Congress, ad vetoed and sustained twice.
Student Loans – passed and signed into law.
Energy independence – Still waiting for an Energy bill.
Retirement Security – Still waiting on that too.

So as far as the “6 for ‘06” goes, it looks like they 2 for 6, and that is not really accomplishing their goals. Now many in the Democratic camp could tell me that they did their job they passed it in the House. Well, that’s all well and good, but it does nothing for the American people if it is not made into law. Symbolic measures will never put bread on the table, or keep this country safe.

The broken promises from the Democrats are too numerous to count, and to discuss them all in detail would take too long.

It is important as a society, that we look into the promises and accusation made by our elected officials, and as it says in the Bible “sort through the wheat and the chaff”. Benjamin Franklin said that “vigilance is the cost of liberty”, and we all must be vigilant if we are going to ensure this country lasts for generations to come. It is our job as the people of a democratic republic to be informed, and active in the process. We need to be able to sort through all the rhetoric and gleam the truth. The truth is usually found in the actions of the individual making the claim, or in intellectual, academic research. It’s not going to be easy, but we can all make a difference if we start recognizing the truth.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Soapbox

Recognizing the Truth, part 2
By Joe Shehan

Lie #2: SCHIP is For Poor Kids!

Much of the contentious debate that surrounds the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program known as CHIP, or more recently dubbed “SCHIP” is rooted in the claim that SCHIP is for poor children. This claim is true to a point, but it gets lost in the demagoguery of the left, and gets replaced with hyperbole and sensationalism.

Seeing that they would have very little political success with the twelve upcoming appropriations or “spending” bills, the Democrats chose to use children’s healthcare as a political football to batter beaten and bruised Republicans before the rapidly approaching Presidential and Congressional primary season. The evidence for this accusation is found in the process story of the current legislation.

The first SCHIP bill was introduced to the House with out even once going through the committee markup process (which would enabled Republicans to add amendments), and created many fiscal and policy quandaries for the GOP, and thus forcing them to vote against it. Many of the problems surrounded increasing the eligibility to families who make 300% over poverty (Approx. $63,000) with out ensuring that 90% of the children whose families make less than 200% (original eligibility level) are covered. Another problem was the age limit for coverage was increased from 21 years to 25 years of age, essentially making this a program for adults as well as children. These problems, mixed with inadiquate funding modalities forced the GOP to vote against it, the President to veto it, and the Democrats got their twisted political victory.

Next came the second attempt by the Majority to pass , yet again, a “bipartisan” bill that did not include any of the measures the minority clearly stated were deal breakers. The “changes to the bill” were weak efforts to bring compromise to the bill. The Majority did lower the age requirement back to 21, but they allowed adults older than 21 to stay on the program for one year, they slightly removed immigration requirements, but did nothing to provide citizenship verification, and the cigarette tax (which is a regressive tax) was still left in the bill. All of these “compromises” were still not enough, and rightly so, to bring the Republicans to vote for SCHIP.

Now we are faced with the SCHIP reauthorization being returned to the President for another veto, and another sustainment of the veto. So, Democrats and Republicans are now at the negotiating table, and they are working to find middle ground. Yet, after two days they are no where closer to an agreement. So, what about the kids during all this?

Unlike what is being reported and advertised the children covered under the previous CHIP bill are still being covered through Continuing Resolutions (CR). They are not at risk of losing their health coverage, and no one believes that Speaker Pelosi or the Republican leadership will let them be without coverage. So, if we do not have an agreement by the new cut-off date of November 16th, we are all confident that the Majority and Minority will pass another CR to take us into next year. No one wants that to happen, everyone wants to reauthorize the program, unlike Democratic accusations, but ultimately, the GOP wants a bill that covers those who deserve to be covered, and a bill that is able to pay for itself with out increasing the tax burden on anyone.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Soapbox

Recognizing the Truth, part 1
By Joe Shehan

There are many people out there who would say that the below is not the truth, but more lies coming from my side. Yet, I challenge those who would say that to try to pick a part the actual statements made by this author. I firmly believe that those on the left who are claiming to stand on the side of truth, or that they are speaking truth to power, could not recognize truth if they tried. Not because they are incapable of knowing the truth, but because they have allowed themselves to be deceived. I hope to shed the proverbial light on a few of the topics where I believe their “truth” is nothing more than fabrication.

Lie #1: Bush and Cheney Lied!

On November 6, 2007, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) went to the floor in order to argue the merits of H.R. 333, the Impeachment of Vice President of the United States Richard Cheney, and to force a vote. Listening to his argument for impeachment began to once again reveal the inaccuracies in this overall accusation.

By claiming, without any proof, that the V.P. cherry picked data in order to convince the American people and Congress to go to war with Iraq is both in accurate, but disingenuous. By placing the blame solely on the shoulders of the President and Vice President, it removes the responsibility of every Congressman and Senator who campaigned nationally and within the halls of Congress for the war. However, it over looks several facts about the build up for the war.

On such fact is that 6 different intelligence communities, including our own, reported every piece of information the V.P. and the President used as facts, and that those members of the Select House Intelligence Committee signed off on their findings. To then accuse the President and V.P. of lying after it is shown that these findings were incorrect, is both intellectually dishonest, but also reeks of opportunism in a time of great national turmoil. Let us also not forget that President Clinton just one year before he left office, proclaimed almost the same accusations against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Before we begin to start the impeachment trials of two of our leaders, let’s try to take a legitimate and unemotional look of the real situation. Yes, the nuclear weapons program was much smaller than we realized, but we still discovered thousands of canisters of biological agents which would be classified as WMDs.

I believe if looked at carefully, one would rationally determine that the decision to go into Iraq, though ill advised, was based on the best intelligence we had at the time, and that the intelligence and not the President or V.P. should be blamed for this mistake.

What is the Texas Watchtower?

by Joe Shehan, Founder of The Texas Watchtower

In the not too recent past, Weblogs or simply “blogs” have become a very effective tool to reach what those in the political world call “the grassroots”. By placing political opinion on the World Wide Web many political pundits can influence the way the ordinary, everyday person views particular issues. Yet, for too long now in North Texas the “blogosphere” or the world of NorthTexas blogs has leaned in one direction. It is time for that to change, and thus enters the Texas Watchtower.

The Texas Watchtower seeks to combine both politics and Christian ministry together. It is not an advocate for theocracy, but a platform for Christians and Conservatives to come together, and discuss today’s issues.

The Watchtower will be divided into three sections of interests, and they are the Podium, the Pulpit, and the Soapbox. The Podium is reserved for elected officials who wish to relay their take on what is going on at the local, state and national level. The Pulpit will be reserved for those ministers who wish to discuss the role of Christians in today’s society, and what we can all do to try to better our communities. Lastly, the Soapbox is open to all who are active in their community (i.e. Local Conservative leaders, Political Activists or Community Organizers.) It is the hopes of the North Texas Watchtower to provide a conservative alternative to the liberal blogs that seem to dominate the local blogosphere.

Ultimately, the Texas Watchtower is based on Habakkuk 2:1, which says,

“I will stand my guard post, and station myself in the rampart [watchtower]; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved.”

Those who write for the Texas Watchtower will seek to look out for the voters and people of North Texas, Texas and the Nation, so that they will know the truth separate from the lies. Much of what is called “truth” out there is a distortion of the truth, and it is up to the Texas Watchtower to keep a vigilant eye to ensure that the people remain informed and motivated to better their community, state and country.