Unexpected Christmas Store!

check out what we (Ridge) are up to this Christmas!

Do For One from Ridge Church on Vimeo.

pretty awesome & i can't wait for the next couple weekends of blessing these families! let me know if you want to help in some way.

Understanding Newt Gingrich’s 21st Century Contract with America (pt 3)

For the last few days we’ve been discussing Newt Gingrich’s 21st Century Contract with America.  Today we’re continuing our discussion of Speaker Gingrich’s plan.

Reforming the Unemployment Compensation System

The best way to repair our broken unemployment compensation system is to make the problem of perennially high unemployment obsolete through robust economic growth. But in the meantime, 25 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. They depend on a system that is costly but does not actually help them get a job. It is a system in dire need of reform. Ninety-nine weeks is too long for any American to be dependent on the government.

Agreed.  The fact that people are able to stay on unemployment for nearly two years is a major problem.  First of all, our system is not setup to fund unemployment for that long. Secondly, many people simply do not look for work while they have government checks coming.  I will never forget a moment when I was briefly unemployed in 2009 where I attended a required seminar on tools available for unemployed people and hearing one of the other people in the seminar saying, loudly to anyone who could hear, "I'm just here so I can get some free money for a while."  I wanted to deck that guy, I really did. 

It is fundamentally wrong to give people money for 99 weeks for doing nothing. That's why we undertook and passed welfare reform when I was Speaker. It is also why I will introduce a training requirement for extended federal unemployment benefits. We can better help these Americans by requiring them to participate in real training programs in private companies, in exchange for temporary unemployment aid.

Our goal is to convert the time and money now lost to a maintenance unemployment program into a human capital investment program that increases the competitiveness of the American worker in the world market in a time of dramatic scientific and technological change.

Translation: Let's make unemployment something that is temporary, while you search for work, and not a lifestyle as it's become for so many people. When 99 weeks is available, it becomes a lifestyle.  Period.

This program should be delegated to the 50 states so each can experiment with the best way to use unemployment compensation as a job training program.

Agreed.  The states are the laboratories of innovation.  A one size fits all solution rarely works, but giving 50 states the chance to create their own system will lead to finding far better solutions because, at least at first, there will be 50 of them.  The best ideas will be adopted by the other states. 

Unleash America’s full energy production potential in oil, natural gas, coal, biofuels, wind, nuclear oil shale and more, creating jobs, stimulating a sustainable manufacturing boom, lowering gasoline and other energy prices, increasing government revenues, strengthening the dollar, and bolstering
national security.

The United States has more energy resources than any other country in the world – more than Russia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, or Brazil. Expanding the development of these resources could create up to 1.1 million new jobs and deliver $127 billion in new government revenues by 2020, according to a recent Wood Mackenzie study. With the right regulatory policies, the United States could be the largest oil producer in the world by 2017.

Yet we pay nearly $4 per gallon for gasoline and continue to import nearly half of our oil from foreign countries, many of which have governments hostile to the United States. Meanwhile, millions of Americans in energy-rich regions of the country remain unemployed.

It is time to harness the immense natural energy resources our country has, get Americans back to work, and lower gas, diesel, and other energy prices for every American.

Absolutely right.  We have more than enough supply available if we'll just go get it.  Right now, the liberal mentality is, although we have cupboards and refrigerators full of food and we're hungry, we shouldn't go get it and prepare it, we should go buy more food elsewhere that costs more than simply using what we have.  Based on supply and demand, gas prices shouldn't be $4 a gallon (or $3.50 now...the contract was written a few months ago) it should be under $2. Unfortunately government regulations are keeping supply low artificially. 

It's also hurting the economy.  Canada, our friendly neighbor to the north, got out of their recession back in 2009 by drilling for oil.  They harnessed their vast natural resources and created jobs and turned their economy around.  Yet here in America we're dreaming about "Green Jobs" that are a waste of time and money. 

We have the energy, we should go get it.  Plain and simple.  Real energy, you know the sort that works.  Not these “green energies” that just don’t work. Oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, these solutions work. 

Save Medicare and Social Security by giving Americans more choices and tools to live longer, healthier lives with greater financial independence.


First, stop paying the crooks. An estimated $70 to $120 billion a year is paid to crooks by Medicare and Medicaid. This is the best place to save money at no cost to honest people. My proposed legislation will offer seniors new choices in Medicare, as well. It will give them the option to choose, on a voluntary basis, either to remain on the existing program, or to transition to a more personalized system in the private sector with greater options for better care. If they select the personalized system, beneficiaries would receive support to cover their private sector premiums. Giving all seniors the option to choose their insurance provider will improve price competition and help lower costs for the program.

Waste and fraud is the obvious part.  But also releasing private sector, free market solutions is also a great idea. There are only a  handful of things government can do better than the private sector (and most of them fall under a banner that rhymes with "Befense" or "Bilitary.")  Voucher systems will open up competition instead of just giving the care to one or two organizations approved by Medicare. 
Social Security

Americans work their entire lives to pay for their hard-earned retirement benefits, and as Americans now enjoy longer and healthier lives than ever, these benefits must be protected and made even stronger.

I reject the idea that we can solve our budget and debt crisis by some combination of cutting benefits and raising taxes within the current framework of these two programs. Instead, we need to think outside the box with fundamental, structural reforms that would transform and modernize these two programs, changing how they work to achieve their goals. Any American who wants to enter or remain in the existing Medicare and Social Security programs will be able to do so, but we will also introduce optional alternatives that give Americans more control over their health and retirement.

Agreed.  Liberals say we have to raise taxes, pretending as always the problem is revenue, and while I'm inclined to agree we have to adjust the system, I don't know if cutting benefits is the solution either.  We need to explore third options.

As president, I will act to strengthen Social Security. My administration will never hold Social Security payments hostage as a bargaining chip against political opponents, as President Obama did in the summer of 2011.

As more Americans live longer and healthier lives, strengthening Social Security also means creating new options for younger Americans. We must therefore consider a voluntary option for younger Americans to put a portion of their Social Security contributions into personal Social Security savings accounts. Other countries, such as Chile, have found that this model creates vast savings while giving beneficiaries more control over when and how they plan to retire. There are many exciting solutions that will both strengthen Social Security and Medicare while tapping the private sector to save costs, and I look forward to discussing these with Americans over the next year.

I've said many times that I don't expect to ever see a penny of my Social Security that I've been paying in since I was a teenager.  By replacing it with an individual retirement account, I would trust that I do have a retirement plan waiting for me.

Balance the federal budget by freeing job-creators to grow the economy, reforming entitlements, and implementing productivity improvement systems, such as Lean Six Sigma, to eliminate waste and fraud. Pass a balanced budget amendment to keep it balanced.

Getting to a balanced budget is absolutely vital. When there is a permanent budget deficit there is no reason for any politician to say no to any interest group. That is, in fact, how we ended up with the current, absurdly bloated, undisciplined federal government. If deficits do not matter and spending is open-ended, the most rational strategy for every bureaucracy is simply to ask for more money.

If, however, there is a commitment to balancing the budget, then each agency has to find better ways to do things and more innovative ways to get things done. If you want innovation, better outcomes at lower costs, greater productivity, and a spirit of entrepreneurial public management, the balanced budget creates much more pressure for real innovation.

Over time, the requirement to balance the budget leads to smaller government. Politicians who have to face the voters because they are raising taxes have a much harder sell to make than politicians who can bring home "free" goodies with only some distant deficit to explain.

You mean only spend the money you actually have?  Not 50% more?  That’s crazy!  Crazy like a fox, I mean.  Look, I live on a balanced budget.  Yes, I have a couple reasonable loans which I am paying down, specifically my college loan and my car.  Both have set timetables for repair, and both are budgeted for repayment directly.  I am not borrowing 50% of my income because I cannot afford to repay it.  My total loans are at 14% of my income, and I have the ability to pay 100% of them off as they are due.  I am also not choosing to irresponsibly continue to accrue 50% of my income each year. Many economists expect us to have our debt payments to surpass our tax receipts.  (For those of you from Palm Beach County, FL that means the amount of money we have would be exceeded by the debt payments.)  That’s a problem.  We can either fix it now or be royally screwed in a few years.  These are our options. 

Understanding Newt Gingrich's 21st Century Contract w/ America (Pt 2)

Yesterday, we began our exploration of Newt Gingrich’s 21st Century Contract with America by delving into his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.  Today, we’re going to talk about his pan to grow our economy by reducing burdensome regulation and lowering taxes.
Government does not create jobs. The American people create jobs.


Ronald Reagan understood this truth. His bold series of tax cuts and deregulatory measures upon taking office ended the economic stagnation of the 1970s for good by freeing American businesses to create nearly 20 million new jobs in less than a decade. In
September 1983 alone the Reagan recovery led the American people to create 1,100,000 new jobs, more jobs than the first eight months of 2011 combined.

We understood these principles when we won the first Republican majority in the House in 40 years in 1994. Balanced budgets, streamlined government and the biggest capital gains tax cut in history led to unemployment falling to under 4% by 2000.

My administration will build on this time-tested model: A profound restructuring and reduction of the tax and regulatory burden on Americans, with the very achievable goal of 4% unemployment and millions of new jobs within only a few years.

Newt’s plan is to go back to what works:  Get the heck out of the way of business and let them do what they do best, create products and services that people want or need by solving a problem or providing a better product to serve our desires and sell it, creating jobs in the process.  Yes, my friends, it’s time for some good old tried and true Supply Side Economics!
First, I pledge to veto any tax increase. American families and businesses deserve certainty and predictability, and I will work to make permanent all current rates of taxation that would otherwise increase automatically in 2013.

Businesses don’t know what their cost of doing business will be after 2013 when the current tax rates expire and taxes are raised on all Americans.  Make the rates that have now stood for eleven years permanent, and that uncertainty disappears.  Along with the repeal of Obamacare, this alone would do wonders to get Americans back to work. 

My Jobs and Prosperity plan will then make four major tax cuts:

-          Reduce the Corporate Tax to 12.5%.

As it sits now, our corporate tax rate is the second highest in the world.  For those of you who honestly believe that the corporations pay those taxes, they don’t.  They roll that cost into every item we buy.  It’s a cost of doing business.  It goes into the price.  I’d prefer 0%, but 12.5% is very reasonable.  It will reduce the incentive for businesses to take their production overseas and reduce the cost of the products we buy. 

-          Abolish the Capital Gains Tax

Capital Gains is one of the most ridiculous taxes in America.  We pay taxes on money that was wisely invested.  It’s a tax on successful investment.  A tax on money that has already been taxed, essentially, when you received it as income.  It disincentivises investment.  People don’t want to invest if they’re going to lose 15% of their gain if they succeed.  Those investments create jobs. 

-          Abolish the Death Tax

President George W. Bush used to say that it was wrong to tax the same money twice.  It was taxed as income each time that person received a paycheck.  Now the government has the nerve to tax it again at death?  It’s immoral.

-          100% Expensing

Essentially this means giving businesses a write-off each year for every new equipment purchase they make.  Buy a new drill press?  Write it off.  Buy a new company car?  Write it off.  It makes investment in new equipment more affordable for businesses.  It’s a smaller thing but still helpful.


My legislation will also include an optional flat tax. All tax filers would be given the option to pay their income taxes subject to current income tax provisions or to pay under a lower single rate of taxation with limited deductions. A revenue neutral flat tax reform would save hundreds of billions of dollars in compliance costs each year and would eliminate the need for taxes on savings, dividends, and capital gains.

This optional flat tax system will create a new personal deduction of $12,000 for every American. This deduction is well above the current poverty level, ensuring that this new system does not unfairly target the poor. The current $1,000 tax credit for each child aged sixteen or younger would also apply, as would the current earned income tax credit

An optional flat tax reform will be simple: tax returns can be done on one sheet of paper. Subtract from income a standard deduction and deductions for charity and home ownership, multiply the result by the fixed single rate of taxation of at most 15%, and the process is over.

I loved the Flat Tax as Rick Perry proposed it.  I love it here as well.  It’s a little different…Newt’s deduction per person is a little less and the child credits work out differently but his Flat Tax rate is 5% lower as well.  I’ll give a detailed breakdown of it in the future, but it’s a good plan.  As I said when breaking down Perry’s Plan (need link), an American family with two parents and two children with an average mortgage deduction and 5% charitable donations would be paying $5841.39 in taxes annually.  Under Newt’s Flat Tax they would be paying $4041.38 in taxes.  It’s a full $1800 less in taxes each year than the current system.  It’s a great tax cut to each American.  That’s $150 more dollars monthly in their budgets.  It’s huge. 


To empower job-creators, we must get rid of regulations that prevent them from growing and hiring. This means taking decision-making power away from bureaucrats who don’t understand how job creation works.

Regardless of what liberals want to tell you, workers were plenty safe and the environment was well protected before Obama and the Democrats came along and decided to fix what wasn’t broken. 

My Jobs and Prosperity package would repeal the Dodd-Frank legislation, a 2,300-page law passed in 2010 that mandates 400 new regulations written by unelected bureaucrats. Dodd-Frank is paralyzing lending to entrepreneurs, killing small banks, crippling small businesses, driving down the value of housing, and creating corrupting Washington controls over the biggest banks.

Regardless of what you’re being told by liberals when they blast Bank of America and other companies, it’s regulations like Dodd-Frank that even caused the $5 Debit Card fee that was so maligned by creating new costs of doing business.  Getting rid of it will create jobs and lower prices.

Repeal the Sarbanes-Oxley law, which has crippled American start-ups with burdensome compliance costs, driven publicly-traded companies private, and forced American companies overseas.

See Dodd-Frank.

Replace the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) which is harassing job creators. When businesses are targeted unfairly by government for creating jobs in different states, businesses simply won’t create jobs in any states. We need to stop this unaccountable, activist bureaucratic agency from harassing job-creating companies. The NLRB is currently harassing Boeing, our country’s biggest exporter, because it decided to build a new factory and create hundreds of new jobs in the right-to-work state of South Carolina instead of the forced-unionization state of Washington. We need a new commonsense organization for labor-management relations to replace the NLRB. Later in this Contract, I outline ideas for pro-market, pro-growth, pro-consumer reforms to the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Having a government bureaucracy that stops American companies from opening a new plant on American soil because it would be in a state that disallows forced union membership is not a government agency we need.  Unions have enough protections.  Get rid of NLRB and replace it and more jobs will come. 

Next, we’ll talk more about Speaker Gingrich’s plans for saving Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and a Balanced Budget.  Until then, thanks for reading!

all i want for Christmas (& my birthday)

Since 2008 i've joined up with Advent Conspiracy and leveraged my birthday & Christmas to provide clean water to villages who don't have it. the only presents i asked for was water for them & now we've been a part of building 3 wells in 3 different villages!
you can read my explanation of it HERE or just search "Advent Conspiracy" on my blog.

i'll probably do Advent Conspiracy or something like it for my birthday and Christmas the rest of my life. i have everything i'll ever need so no need to ask for presents.

BUT this year i'm doing something different.  
"In lieu of" presents for me, i would simply love donations for my Mom's DOUBLE LUNG TRANSPLANT. you can read more about that HERE, but simply put - my Mom is about to have a Double Lung Transplant that will cost over $1 Million! her part to pay will be around $100,000 so we need all the help we can get!

if you were thinking of buying me a gift for my birthday at the end of the week (December 3rd) or for Christmas PLEASE just take that money you would have spent and donate it to my Mom's transplant!

you can donate by by contacting me OR click HERE. from my Mom's page on the National Foundation for Transplants you can click "Donate Today" and then fill out the info, but BE SURE to click the bubble that says "My gift is in honor of the following NFT patient's fundraising campaign" and then write EDITH MITCHELL in the blank.

that's my b-day & Christmas wish. thanks!

Understanding Newt Gingrich’s 21st Century Contract with America (Pt 1)

As many of you have probably noticed, I’ve recently changed my leanings on my 2012 preference for Republican nominee to Newt Gingrich.  (I say leaning because I still haven’t 100% made up my mind.  There’s still room for Rick Perry to gain my vote or Herman Cain to move back into my top spot.  As it sits now, those are my choices.)  One of the questions that has been repeatedly posed to me has been “can you please explain the 21st Century Contract with America?”  My response, until now, has been “sure, but it’s going to take some time.”  Unlike the 9-9-9 Plan or Rick Perry’s Flat Tax, it will take more than just a few calculations against the median income to break down this plan…the Contract is twenty-six pages long and covers ten different legislative plans. 
If I were to attempt to deal with the entire thing in one post, the entirety of it would result in the longest post I’ve ever written, including the overall thesis I wrote and refined for the blog over many months.  Rather, I decided it would be better to break it down into a series of posts, ideally over one week but I don’t expect that ideal to be achieved.  Please note that throughout this series, all quotes, unless otherwise noted, are directly from Gingrich’s plan.
So today, let’s take a look at the first two items in the Contract:
1. Repeal Obamacare and pass a replacement that saves lives and money by
empowering patients and doctors, not bureaucrats and politicians.
The Obamacare law is unconstitutional, unaffordable, unworkable, and stunningly unfair.  Its so-called "individual mandate" is blatantly unconstitutional and an unprecedented expansion of federal power. If the federal government can coerce individuals—by threat of fines—to buy health insurance, there is no stopping the federal government from forcing Americans to buy any good or service.

Boy does Newt nails the problem with Obamacare on the head.  I don’t care what the beloved, “nonpartisan” Congressional Budget Office is telling us…Obamacare is an absolute financial fire pit.  It creates 1932 new federal expenditures and creates 192 new boards and federal agencies which will make decisions that belong to doctors and patients.  It’s a fiscal mess and an absolute attack on our fundamental liberty to choose what we buy. 

Secondly, and just as importantly, the Federal government has no authority to mandate a purchase.  Unlike auto insurance, which is mandated only if one wants to use the public roads, this is a mandate for all people in order to exist in America.  The government has no more right to mandate that we buy insurance than it does to mandate that we eat our vegetables to solve the national obesity problem or buy houses to solve the problem of homelessness.  The entire premise is preposterous.  Newt is absolutely correct in saying “We must either limit government or we will have government limit us.”

Thirdly, the requirement to provide insurance to all employees has cost jobs.  It raises the cost of hiring employees to small businesses and other companies, making the cost of a new employee higher and causing companies to choose to do without a new hire.  It also has cost more than a few people their Sickness and Accident coverage that so many companies like McDonalds, Burger King, and others, had previously offered to all their employees (full and part time) which covered their doctor visits when they were ill and accidents (broken limbs, hospital care, etc.) because the new requirements of Obamacare have raised their costs of doing business. 


As I carry the banner in fighting for the repeal of Obamacare, I will advocate for specific replacement health policies that will create a free market framework for healthcare, provide affordable, portable, and reliable healthcare coverage, and establish a healthcare safety net focused on those in need. This system will assure healthcare for all with no individual mandate or employer mandate of any kind.

This alternative to Obamacare begins with patient power and localism and the many
common sense ideas developed over the past eight years at the Center for Health

Replacement legislation must build on these strengths. It must include provisions to make health insurance more affordable and portable by allowing Americans to purchase insurance across state lines. It must increase price competition in healthcare. It must improve patient safety and decrease overhead costs by digitizing all medical records, and it must introduce lawsuit reform to stop the frivolous lawsuits that drive up the cost of medicine.

Portable healthcare is the most important part of this solution.  Current regulations stops individuals from buying medical insurance polices across state lines.  For those of you from Palm Beach County, FL, that means if you live in say, Florida, you can’t buy an insurance policy in Georgia, no matter how much less expensive it may be.  This is going to open up competition and create lower prices across the marketplace.  That competition is going to cause prices to drop. 

It will cause prices to drop for those who work for small companies by allowing them to buy the cheapest policies as a group available anywhere in the nation, not just in their own state.  It will also allow individuals who buy their own insurance to buy the most affordable individual policy available anywhere in the nation.  Finally, it’s going to allow major companies with locations across the country, like the media company which I work for, to buy insurance for the entire company and not state by state, raising the total number of policies being bought and thus lower the price.  My company, for example, based on current regulations, buys it’s insurance for just the two markets in New York.  Now when you buy insurance for over 100 people, you’re still looking at a great rate.  But if the company could buy for all 23 markets across the nation, those very affordable rates would go down even more. 

Another great free market solution would be removing the regulatory burdens that don’t allow small businesses to group together and buy insurance for their employees at the lower rate.  As I mentioned, my company, which purchases insurance for about 100 from the two groups of radio stations we own in two cities in New York State.  Now a small business of ten employees is going to pay ten times for their insurance.  I know.  My last job was for a company with only about 30 employees.  Although I had the same salary at both jobs, it was like I received a sizable raise just by going to a larger company and paying far less for insurance.  Yet if ten small businesses of ten employees each could combine together to pay the same rate as one company of 100 employees, how much would that save each employee and the company at large?  The answer is a great deal.

Furthermore, repealing the frivolous lawsuits that drive up the cost of insurance for individual doctors, of group practices, of hospitals, raises the cost of medicine for all.  That’s the reason why your medical bills charge $100 for a band-aid and $150 for a dose of Extra Strength Tylenol.  It’s covering the cost of those high insurance premiums and lawsuits.  Remove the frivolous lawsuits and enact Loser Pays requirements wherein an individual who files a frivolous lawsuit and loses would be required to pay for the defendant’s legal bills.  That means medical practices won’t decide to settle frivolous out of court rather than fight them because the cost of fighting it would be more than the cost to settle out of court.  So they settle. If the loser was required to pay, all of a sudden you’ll see less frivolous suits and practitioners willing to fight those suits.

Instead of an individual mandate penalty for not buying government approved health
insurance, the federal tax code should be reformed to provide every American the choice of a generous tax credit or the ability to deduct the value of their health insurance up to a certain amount. The federal tax code should provide the same tax relief for the individual buying his own insurance as the employer providing health insurance to its employees.

It is a well known adage that if you want to discourage an activity, you tax it.  This aspect of the Contract turns that adage on its ear by applying a positive incentive instead.  This is taking an activity that most people are doing anyway, and making it more affordable by giving a tax credit for that purchase or a tax deduction, whichever is ultimately more affordable for that individual or family, just like mortgage deductions often make buying a home more affordable.

Repealing Obamacare is a cornerstone of every single Republican candidate.  Newt has further explained the why as well as the common sense solutions to replace it in the 21st Century Contract with America.  Tomorrow, we’ll deal with Newt’s tax plans and reforms to bring about robust growth in the economy.

personal spiritual momentum

(This was originally posted to renown on November 17, 2009.)

Yesterday was Catalyst One Day in Baltimore. Actually it was like the 5th Catalyst One Day this year with Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel all around the country. I actually mentioned it before the 1st one here. It's basically 2 awesome talks from Andy, 2 awesome talks from Craig and then a Q&A time with both of them.
I didn't get to go in Baltimore yesterday, but I did listen to the entire conference audio from the one at North Point in ATL. It was awesome!

I just want to share a few things I walked away with from one of Craig Groeschel's talks at Catlayst One Day '09 = Creating and Sustaining Personal Spiritual Momentum

I felt like the talk was directly for me. I'm one of the peeps Craig talked about who = "So often (and with pure motives because we love Jesus) we try to do MORE than we were designed to do!"
*And stemming from that reality check this next "nifty" statement was the biggest thing I needed to hear. It's my main takeaway...

"Do today what I can do today to enable me to do tomorrow what I can't do today."

Man, I so need to hear that on a regular basis. I am a futurist and can see the end goal & just wanna get there all in 1 day. It's like my wife - when she gets in "cleaning/house work mode" she wants to do a whole year's worth of stuff in 1 Saturday... and I'm like, "baby, we can only do 1 thing at a time..." I need to take my own advice sometimes.

So what can I do today (if I can't do it all)? Craig gave us all 4 suggestions:
1.   Do something to defeat my dark side

2.   Create Artificial Ministry Deadlines - this is a biggie for me, bkuz my dark side is working too much... I have to work hard to not let myself work all the time! Craig sharing his practices were so freeing for me... to hear that he makes himself stop working on a talk after a certain day. It's just done... no matter what.

3.   Delegate what someone else can do - ***And "delegate authority not responsibility!"
"Delegating responsibility creates followers, but delegating authority creates leaders."
"You will not create or retain great leaders by telling them what to do/delegating responsibility."

4.   Do something only you can do - like take time off, be a husband to my wife, and remain broken before God.

**This was awesome stuff for me! I hope it was beneficial for some of you leaders out there too!

How do YOU create & sustain personal spiritual momentum?

Obama Again Blames Someone Else for Debt Deal

Please click the link above before reading this post:

On Tuesday, the Congressional Super Committee announced that it had failed to come to a deal to avoid automatic cuts in Entitlement and Defense spending as part of this summer's Debt Ceiling deal.  Tuesday evening, President Obama took to television and blamed...you guessed it...Republicans!  Yes it's the Republicans fault for not letting Democrats raise taxes!

It's like dealing with a spoiled child, my friends.  They won't do anything unless they're allowed to raise taxes and pretend that the problem is lack of revenue.  The Democrats want the borrow and spend game to continue so they can keep buying votes.  They know for a fact that raising taxes 5% on "millionaires and billionaires" won't be but a drop in the bucket, as would raising taxes to 60% on those top 1% (which, by the way, the floor isn't $1 Million, it's actually just over $300k in annual income). 

It's just another example of the tin ears of these Democrats...one has to ask "What part of CUT SPENDING was so difficult for you to understand???  The problem isn't revenue...you cannot raise taxes enough to cover the over $1.6 Trillion in deficits we have.  The problem is we spend too much.  Period.

But Obama wants to blame Democrats.  Democrats had no offer except "raise taxes."  Republicans offered "new revenue" solutions by repealing loopholes in exchange for lowering overall rates, a plan that historically works.  So now Obama blames the GOP...it's all their fault for not allowing the Democrats to do more damage...life is just not fair.  That's like complaining that the kid being bullied won't let the bully hit him...they won't compromise with the bully...the bully was willing to compromise and give the kid a juice box after he punched him after all! 

Sorry, Mr. Obama, the blame for this is on the Democrats.  The GOP should not have compromised and let you do damage in a bad economy by raising taxes on job creators.  There is more than enough revenue.  What we have is a spending problem.  Now fix it or get out of the way. 

i'm thankful for... (off the top of my head)

today (and every day) i'm thankful for...

a God Who is the greatest Thing in the universe & loves me and has invited me into the greatest mission and story imaginable.

an amazing wife who i don't deserve but who sticks by me no matter what & who is more beautiful than i ever imagined a girl being. the perfect mate. ("you complete me... kitchen matey")

a brand new baby daughter who has completely captured everything inside of me and has introduced me to new joys and spaces in my heart that i never even knew existed!

a Mom & Dad who are the greatest parents in the world. God knew what i needed when He hooked me up to be raised by them.

1 grandmother who is still alive and gets to meet her 1st great granddaughter tomorrow.

some really awesome friends who are almost like family in many ways - who care so much about me and love on me, cheer for me, stick with me

blessings and blessings like crazy. Somebody backed up the blessing truck and has been dumping them on me for 28 years.

the responsibility to BE a blessing with the blessings i've been given. the joy of blessing others.

this amazing creation all around me that overwhelms me with awe every time i look up... created for no other reason than for us to say "wow, that's beautiful. Whoever made that is pretty awesome."

some pretty darn cool in-laws who are now grandparents that love us like crazy.

limbs and sight and hearing and a voice (that can't sing well at all)

the ability to run, jump, play after a doctor said 8 years ago that i wouldn't do that stuff again

a job that i LOVE. it's a privilege to be a part of a movement that's so much bigger than me or anyone else and the fact that i get to do something i love every single day and actually get paid to do it. doesn't seem fair.

sabbath - when i get to take a break from that work i love. that act of just being/resting

all the really cool accents in the world

the Gospels

generous people

the team of people i get to work with. they are awesome. so much better than working with a team of people that aren't awesome.

2 cars that run. are you kidding me? how freaking rich are we?

a house and neighborhood and neighbors that are all really nice.

a God who is bringing this revolution that we and all of creation longs for.

the unstoppable vision birthed in my soul to launch a movement that will change the world & the vision that keeps coming and coming for how to create the beginnings

bloomin' onion sauce

the Psalms


Ridge Church - my church, this community of people on mission together in Charlotte.


a space like renown where i can flesh out my thoughts and try to make sense of what's inside my head

the BEAUTIFUL game


wise people

good stories

teams of amazing volunteers that i get to serve on mission with



passionate people

music (except country)



great t-shirts

the oceans



different cultures



the ability to express worship

things that are funny


the ability to learn

revolutionaries - past & present

hugs from my wife


comfy chairs

the technology for double lung transplants

the ability to pass through a day without it passing me by


...and the fact that it always wins

renown, the only thing that really matters. the only renown that can satisfy. the only true unending fame.

The True Story of Thanksgiving by Rush Limbaugh

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is lsitening to the "True Story of Thanksgiving" as read by Rush Limbaugh, from his book "See I Told You So" on his program on the day before Thanksgiving.  So today I'd like to post this story for your reading pleasure to understand the true story of Thanksgiving, the one they don't tell you in history books!

It's time for the traditional true story of Thanksgiving, as written by me in my second best seller of 2.5 million copies in hardback: See, I Told You So. "Chapter 6, Dead White Guys, or What the History Books Never Told You: The True Story of Thanksgiving -- The story of the Pilgrims begins in the early part of the seventeenth century ... The Church of England under King James I was persecuting anyone and everyone who did not recognize its absolute civil and spiritual authority. Those who challenged ecclesiastical authority and those who believed strongly in freedom of worship were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs. A group of separatists first fled to Holland and established a community.

"After eleven years, about forty of them agreed to make a perilous journey to the New World, where they would certainly face hardships, but could live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible. The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example.

"And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work. But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found, according to Bradford's detailed journal, a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them, he wrote. There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves. And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims – including Bradford's own wife – died of either starvation, sickness or exposure. When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats.

"Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper! This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than as a devout expression of gratitude grounded in the tradition of both the Old and New Testaments. Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well. They were going to distribute it equally. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well.

"Nobody owned anything. They just had a share in it. It was a commune, folks. It was the forerunner to the communes we saw in the '60s and '70s out in California – and it was complete with organic vegetables, by the way." There's no question they were organic vegetables. "Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives. He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. That's right. Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened? It didn't work!" They nearly starved!

"It never has worked! What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation! But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years – trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it – the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently. What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild's history lesson. If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering in the future," such as that we're enduring now.

"The experience that we had in this common course and condition...'" this is Bradford. "'The experience that we had in this common course and condition tried sundry years...that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God,' Bradford wrote.

"For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense,'" without being paid for it, "'that was thought injustice.' Why should you work for other people when you can't work for yourself?" That's what he was saying. " The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. So what did Bradford's community try next? They unharnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the undergirding capitalistic principle of private property.

"Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products. And what was the result? 'This had very good success,' wrote Bradford, 'for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.' ... Is it possible that supply-side economics could have existed before the 1980s? Yes. Read the story of Joseph and Pharaoh in Genesis 41. Following Joseph's suggestion (Gen 41:34), Pharaoh reduced the tax on Egyptians to 20% during the 'seven years of plenty' and the 'Earth brought forth in heaps.' (Gen. 41:47) In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves.

"Now, this is where it gets really good, folks, if you're laboring under the misconception that I was, as I was taught in school. So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. And the success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the 'Great Puritan Migration.' But this story stops when the Indians taught the newly arrived suffering-in-socialism Pilgrims how to plant corn and fish for cod. That's where the original Thanksgiving story stops, and the story basically doesn't even begin there. The real story of Thanksgiving is William Bradford giving thanks to God for the guidance and the inspiration to set up a thriving colony. The bounty was shared with the Indians." They did sit down" and they did have free-range turkey and organic vegetables, "but it was not the Indians who saved the day. It was capitalism and Scripture which saved the day," as acknowledged by George Washington in his first Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789.

(1) The True Story of Thanksgiving

2 new lungs for my mom

There are people in life who never have many health problems. They live their whole lives without cancer or life-altering (or ending) diseases. they occasionally get sick, but nothing to speak of.

There are others who aren't so fortunate. Their lives are so affected by sickness and disease that those of us in the 1st category can't really imagine.

My Mom falls into the 2nd category. Since i have been alive she has been affected by pretty serious (and uncommon) lung diseases. i guess i didn't know much different as a kid because that's just the way it was.
Plus i don't think i have ever once heard my Mom complain. she just goes on living life and enjoying life to the fullest. which is awesome and i have crazy respect for her.

My Mom has been an awesome Mom too. She was full of love for me and helped raise me to be what i am today (which some may debate whether that's good or bad, but she only gets credit for the good). Her focus was always on being an awesome and loving Mom, not on being sick... so i guess i just always saw her as an awesome Mom.

i was probably at the end of high school or starting college before i realized that her lung diseases took an extra severe toll on her life. she was in the hospital a lot. i learned later that the specialist doctors were saying she shouldn't have been alive this long. (and that was 10 years ago.)
i'm thankful that God has been so good because i can't imagine life without my Mom.

but i can remember praying constantly from the time i was 3-4 years old that God would heal my Mom. that He would heal her disease so she could live a "normal" life. i prayed every single day before i think i even understood what it was to pray to God. (or maybe i understood even better back then than i do today?)

as i got older i can remember starting to pray for a miracle. a miraculous, supernatural healing because that's what the expert doctors said it would require. They said there was nothing they could ever do to make her better. her lungs were at something like a 20% capacity. they basically started saying she was on "borrowed time."

so i would pray that God would heal her. miraculously. That He would override nature & make her well. let her enjoy life without these diseases that make it almost impossible for her to breathe.
i think it's what all of us would want for someone we love. Especially for your Mom who has poured so much love and influence into you.

the idea of lung transplants had come up before but double lung transplants weren't even opitions back then. they weren't possible. the technology hadn't been developed yet.
but a few years ago they did start doing double lung transplants.
my Mom became a candidate.
she's gone through years and years of prep and tests, etc...

Back in the summer she and my Dad packed up and moved to Durham, NC to live next to Duke hospital to do months of pre-therapy to prepare for the double lung transplant.
3 weeks ago she was put on the double lung TRANSPLANT LIST.

wow. what a journey. for her a crazy journey that i'm sure she could tell you tons of stories about.

but the journey from my perspective:
from a little kid praying that God would do a miracle to heal my Mom... i never dreamed that science and medicine developing to this point would be the avenue God could use to heal my mom.
she can actually get NEW LUNGS. that's crazy to me!

on Monday we got the call that 2 lungs were on the way to Duke for my Mom! Crystal and i hustled to Duke hospital as fast as we could to see my Mom. it turned out the lungs weren't good for my Mom, so she's back to waiting now.
but literally any day she could get the call again and go in for this amazing transplant. just waiting now...

it's still in God's hands like it was the 1st day i ever prayed for a miracle 25 years ago.

*if you would like to donate to my Mom's transplant you can leave a comment and i will contact you or you can click HERE to donate to her campaign through the National Foundation for Transplants. (the double lung transplant costs over $1 million and her expenses will be $100,000.) You can also ask to join the "2 lungs for Edith" fan page on Facebook.

i'm crazy thankful for my Mom. i'm thankful i've experienced her love and joy and positive outlook on life.

Reactions to the CNN – Heritage Foundation Debate

Last night the Republican candidates met for a debate on National Security in our nation's capital. First and foremost, I'm going to give props to a network that I usually lambast: CNN did a good job of moderating a very fair and balanced debate. They did a nice job of spreading out the questions to all candidates and they didn't play "gotcha." As many questions came from members of the Heritage Foundation and other conservative groups were asked as questions from Wolf Blitzer. Also, although Blitzer tends to lean left, that's better than falling directly to their left side like most in the Drive-By Media. Also, Blitzer reminds me a combination of my favorite college professor, the late Dr. Billy Reed (a teacher who I remember very fondly) and Mr. Feeney from Boy Meets World. Oh, and also he reminds me of the guy in the Men's Warehouse commercials (you're going to like the way you look…I guarantee it.)

So let's play a round of everyone's favorite post-debate analysis game: Buy, Hold, Sell, or Sell All.

Michelle Bachmann – Sell (Sell):

Bachmann had a great debate. She said some great things. For example, "President Obama is letting the ACLU to run the CIA." That being said, it's going to take an awful lot for Congresswoman Bachmann to get back into this race at this point.

Again, Congresswoman Bachmann had some great moments. She had a great exchange with Governor Rick Perry on the subject of Pakistan. Her debate performances keep going up…but her poll numbers don't. I think Congresswoman Bachmann might be a good Vice Presidential nominee, I also think if, as expected, Speaker of the House John Boehner faces a Tea Party primary challenge, and if he loses, Bachmann would make a fine Speaker of the House. But right now I do not see her rebounding.

Herman Cain – Hold (Buy):

Herman Cain is still hanging in there. He's winning most national polls still and, despite the Drive-By Media's best efforts, this sexual harassment scandal is not forcing Cain out of the race, even given the stories that the Drive-Bys are ignoring (more on that later this week). This debate was out of Cain's wheelhouse, at least on paper. His strength is in the area of jobs and the economy. Yet he came off as more knowledgeable than I expected. Clearly Cain has done his homework and has good people advising him on the subject, because it's not as important to be knowledgeable on your own but rather to surround yourself with knowledgeable people. Cain did get tripped up some on the "torture" question. However, I do trust him to surround himself with the right people, and ultimately, that's what matters. As my good friend and fellow blogger the JC Freak said to me after the debate, Cain's strategy is to "not be Hitler and assume that he is a military genius who micromanage everything, but instead listen to his generals."

Foreign Policy is not Cain's strong suit. He spent a whole lot of time obfuscating in this debate. He gave a lot of safe answers that didn't have a lot of substance. He's also dropped to 3rd place in many polls.

Now to give you a shocker: I don't think it has a whole lot to do with the Drive-By Media hit job with the unfounded claims of sexual harassment. I think why Cain is dropping is due to the very issue last night's debate handled: National Security. Conservatives, including yours truly, is becoming concerned about Cain's ability to be Commander-in-Chief and his lack of knowledge on National Security. He had one great line, "Enforce the laws we already have…we don't need new laws!" I couldn't agree more. The laws we have are enough, now enforce them! Great moments aside, though, I have serious doubts that Mr. Cain is ready to be the Commander in Chief.

Now I can tell you what a great job to learn those issues would be for Mr. Cain: Vice President of the United States. Seriously….as the #2 man behind Newt Gingrich or (sigh) Mitt Romney, Cain would get the experience he needs and have the opportunity to step up to the proverbial big chair in eight years.

Newt Gingrich – Buy (Sell):

Newt has now pulled into a 2nd place tie with Mitt Romney and within the margin of error of frontrunner Herman Cain. He's for real in this race. I said for a long time that if Gingrich showed me he could win, I'd love to back him. Well here we are…and I'm leaning toward backing him.
What I love about Gingrich most of all is the looks that he gives the moderators when they ask really stupid questions…a look that says "are you REALLY that stupid?" before he answers it. He nailed it agreeing with Rick Perry about starting at $0 in foreign aid and then requiring them to prove why we should support them with foreign aid.

 Newt had so many great lines, however my favorites included:

 "There are a number of ways to be smart about Iran and there are relatively few ways to be dumb, and the (Obama) Administration skipped all the ways to be smart."

 And when asked if he wanted to comment on his statement that Mitt Romney was a "competent manager" but not able to make real changes in Washington, Newt simply said "No," then proceeded to reiterate that ANY of the people on this stage would be better than Barrack Obama, which is so very true.

 Gingrich again showed that he is, in my opinion, the single most knowledgeable candidate on pretty much every issue in these debates. He understands reality and understands how to solve problems. (Yes, I'm becoming a Newt man, if you didn't pick that up.) He understands that developing our domestic energy supplies, namely oil, will solve a whole lot of problems in our national security by removing our dependence on many foreign nations for those supplies. And yes, Newt is right, if we are serious, we can change the face of the oil market by drilling for our own oil in a serious manner.

Newt did a good job, although I do think he was hurt by CNN spreading out the questions evenly because, by other debates have given the frontrunner more questions, and that frontrunner, friends, is Newt Gingrich.

 Jon Huntsman – Not In Attendance (Sold):

 Rather than wasting time talking about Jon Huntsman and his magenta tie, I've decided to provide a link to a video of Abbott and Costello doing their classic routine "Who's On First."

Well, a pig flew by tonight because I agreed with Huntsman on one statement: We do need term limits for Congress. Then he proceeded to drive me so crazy through the debate that I felt I couldn't just make a fun joke about Governor Huntsman. I've seen pieces of wet one-ply toilet paper with more tensile strength than John Huntsman's spine. He's a wimp, and we've already got a wimp in the White House.

Ron Paul - Sold (Sold):

You know that 15% of policies where I completely disagree with Ron Paul? This debate highlighted those differences. (For example, I still do not believe that Saddam Hussein didn't have weapons of mass destruction based on simple logic, specifically that dictators don't give up easily. I do agree that President's shouldn't go to war without a declaration of war from Congress.)

Ron Paul's issue on foreign policy is that he lives with his Magic Imagination Hat on where every ideal can be realized. I, on the other hand, live in the Real World.

When Paul talked about our spending problems, I stood up and cheered. Yes, I agree that our spending problem is one of our biggest national security issues. That being said, in a few places, Paul also showed a whole lot of the reasons why I can't support him…on the subject of National Security, Congressman Paul sleeps with his Happy Imagination Hat on. I, on the other hand, live in the Real World. Honestly, I do not believe that we can just play the isolationist game in this modern world…we just can't. I'm sorry, but that's the reality. To paraphrase a favorite television show, there's a time and a place for everything, including idealism and it's called college. It's not called the White House.

Overall, however, Paul focused on the 85% of issues I agree with, and stayed away from a lot of the issues where I do agree with Cain, starting with really dealing with our real problem, which again is not revenue, it's spending.

Congressman Paul really fascinates me, because he has a condo up the street from me in the Real World that he lives in 11 months a year, but then decides to take out his Happy Imagination Hat and live at his time share in Happy Imagination Land when it comes to foreign policy. I just don't get it. How can one man be so realistic when it comes to the economy and so unrealistic when it comes to foreign policy?

Rick Perry – Hold (Hold):     

Perry got better this time. Again, he has gotten stronger in the debates. He's learning to communicate his message more effectively. I think perhaps he's doing debate prep and practicing. I say it all the time, real conservatism wins whenever it's effectively communicated. Perry's issue is not being a real conservative, thus far it's been effectively communicating it. I think it was very wise for Perry to join the joke and laugh at his own gaffe in the last debate. Self-deprecating humor was one of the things that made his former boss and our former President, George W. Bush, so approachable and why Bush won two elections against people who were, on paper, stronger debaters.

 My favorite Perry quote was "The foreign budget for any nation in my administration will start at $0," and then we would consider increasing it if a nation proves they are supporting us.

Perry is giving me hope that he might rebound. As I've said, on paper, he's the candidate that best represents my values. I think Perry could be someone who ends up being a frontrunner someday, but not this election. I think being a 2nd time Presidential candidate in eight years could be a big difference for Perry, much like Mitt Romney is much improved since 2008.

Perry maintained his gains from the last debate. He's begun to pick up a few points in the polls. I really like his plans, I like his Flat Tax, I like his Balanced Budget Amendment, I especially like the idea of making Congress part-time. That being said, I don't really think he's going to rebound THIS ELECTION. I do think you could see Perry be a very strong candidate in eight years as a second time Presidential candidate. So many candidates are better the second time around. Look at Mitt Romney. Also, look at Ronald Reagan. I'm not writing Perry off yet, because his numbers are climbing, but I don't know if there's enough time to climb back to the top.

I also want to give a quick reality check to Governor Perry: Just because you were able to work with Democrats in Texas, doesn't mean you can work together in the same manner with Democrats in the United States Congress. The man Governor Perry served under as Lieutenant Governor of Texas, former President George W. Bush had the same expectation and it didn't pan out…and that's because a Democrat in Texas is often more conservative by a fair margin than a Republican in say, Connecticut or New York.
I think Perry did well tonight, just based on debate performance. I think he stood strong and did pretty well.

Mitt Romney – Buy (Buy):

 Foreign policy is a good topic for Mitt. I have my issues with him on domestic policy because I question whether or not he's conservative ENOUGH on taxes, on the economy, etc. But like I said for eight years under George W. Bush, I do trust him to keep us safe.

 I thought Mitt came out strong at several times, including his clear statement against Barrack Obama for believing that his personal charisma would make the difference in a world filled with evil people (I'm paraphrasing here) and that the President thinks of this country as just another nation. I agree with Mitt, America is not just another nation. America is the great, shining city on a hill.
 Tonight's debate gave me reasons that, if Romney is our nominee, I could get behind Mitt and support him. I still hope for better, but I will get behind him if I need to in the general election.

 "What you have is a President who has a priority of spending us into bankruptcy, but he's not just spending us into bankruptcy, he's spending the money foolishly." Amen, Mitt, amen. Once again, foreign policy is a good place for Mitt. I genuinely would trust him to keep ups safe if he became President, just like I trusted George W. Bush to keep us safe. That's the big reason why I could live with Mitt as President. I still want better, though.

Rick Santorum - Sold (Sold):

 Santorum bumbled a lot on Saturday. When he said "Pakistan MUST be our friend" to me was a stupid statement. Yes, Pakistan is a nuclear power. So is North Korea. The idea that because someone is a bully that it's better to befriend the bully out of fear that the bully might attack us next, even though we KNOW we would clean said bully's clock in a fight. The better thing to do is to let the bully know that we will take the bully out if they try to pick on any of the other kids.

 Honestly, I'm getting annoyed with Santorum. He's so busy showing he can play the same lame compromise game (I promise I wasn't trying to do a Dr. Seuss impression) that has caused the problems we have in Washington. Democrats want Republicans to compromise when the GOP is in power, and then tells us "elections have consequences, and we won" when Democrats are in power. We do not need to compromise with Democrats. We need to defeat them. Santorum wants to play the same Washington insider game, and we don't have time for that game.

Debate Winner(s): Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul

Please note: My debate winners have zero to do with chances to win the Republican Nomination.

As it sits now, the race for my personal vote looks like this:
  1. Newt Gingrich
  2. Rick Perry
  3. Herman Cain
How about you? Let me know in the comment section, on Twitter (@UpstateMetFan) or on the Biblical Conservatism Fan Page on Facebook!