Saturday, July 29, 2006

The LuLac Edition #45, July 29th, 2006

GOOD MORNING AMERICA SNUBS SNEDECKER…..Good Morning America snubbed local weathercaster Joe Snedecker on the Friday edition of their program from New York City. The popular weather guy who makes an annual bike trek for the St. Joseph’s Festival had an expectation that he was going to be given a short interview on nationwide TV to talk about the center and his annual effort. WNEP management had made arrangements with the staff of GMA and judging from the content of the show, there was time to accommodate Snedecker. But instead, producers ignored him, relegating him to a back row as a cooking demonstration on ribs droned on and on. A few local residents have said area TV viewers should boycott GMA. I have a better idea. Let WNEP get a new network. It’s been done in Philadelphia and truthfully WNEP is much stronger locally than any network group. WNEP has dominated the local news ratings by over 55% the last 30 years. GMA and ABC dumped Joe, WNEP TV/New York Times should dump ABC.

L.A. TARONE SHOW DEBUTS………….The L.A. Tarone Show debuted this week on WLYN Channel 35. L.A. was fabulous. Look for his show Thursdays at 530PM on Service Electric Channel 21 in Wilkes Barre.

PENNSYLVANIA BUDGET………..On L.A. Tarone’s inaugural show, he mentioned that Governor Ed Rendell raised spending in his first term by about 26%. Here is a consensus on where that money will go and what will be the long term ramifications of this year’s budget. (Source: ISSUES: PA. Pa. Economy League) .

Pennsylvania’s new budget features a larger-than-average and higher-than-inflation increase in spending. What does this mean in terms of spending this year – and budgeting next year?
(July 2006) Pennsylvania’s 2006-07 budget was late by Constitution standards, yet on time for practical purposes. And it seems few are complaining about the finished product. Noteworthy is Pennsylvania’s larger-than-average and higher-than-inflation 5.9% spending increase, but it’s still balanced without any tax increases. This allows legislators running for re-election to boast new money for their districts without the black cloud of a tax increase. At the same time, this combination raises concerns for next year’s and future budgets. IssuesPA examined this new budget and what it might portend for the future. What is the revenue picture? Much better than expected. It begins with a one-time infusion of funds left over from 2005-06. In February, the Governor predicted an excess of $363.7 million in revenue collections compared to his original estimate a year ago. This number grew steadily. By June 30, the state Department of Revenue reported collections of $864.4 million more than anticipated. A required contribution to the Rainy Day Fund ($171.4 million), required tax refunds, and the need to pay some of last year’s unanticipated bills ($342.4 million) reduced the amount that could be applied to the new budget to $514 million – still a sizable amount. Similarly, revenue receipt estimates for 2006-07 have improved. Governor Ed Rendell’s proposed budget estimated $25.4 billion. The budget as passed predicts $26.8 billion in taxes and other revenues. The difference, added to last year’s surplus, provided significant elbow room to meet various spending priorities during the negotiating process. Revenue estimates for 2006-07 would have been even higher without tax cuts passed as part of the budget. The following table summarizes those cuts:

Tax Source
Tax Change
Amount of Cut
Primary Beneficiary
Capital Stock and Franchise Tax
Accelerate existing phase out of tax by 0.1 mill
Exempt certain small businesses
Raise the exemption for all businesses to $150,000
$21.7 million
$7.2 million
$1.6 million
Most businesses
Single-member Restricted Prof. Cos.
Most businesses
Corporate Net Income Tax (CNI)
Increase the Sales Factor for CNI apportionment to 70%
Increase the per business cap for Net Operating Loss Carry-Forward by $1 million to $3 million or 12.5% of taxable income
$14.1 million
$21 million

In-state companies that pay the CNI
Companies that lose money in their first few years, e.g. technology companies and other large companies that lose money

All Business Taxes
Increase the R & D tax credit limit to $40 million
$10 million
Business with approved R and D spending
All Business Taxes
Education Improvement Tax Credit
$10 million
Support for education programs by business
Personal Income Tax
Exempting contributions to qualified tuition accounts
$25 million
Parents and others saving for children's higher education
Personal Income Tax
Health Savings Accounts
$4 million
People with health savings accounts
The business tax cuts take effect January 1, 2007, lessening the impact on revenues in the current budget. In addition to tax reductions enumerated in the table, the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax rate will be reduced one mill in January 2007 as the next step of a previously-approved schedule to phase-out the tax by 2010. The combined scheduled rate reduction and the additional changes approved as part of the budget total $279 million in business tax reductions. What about spending? The $1.4 billion spending increase meant good news for a variety of those receiving state money and services. Here’s what happened. Education. The headliner is the increase allotted to the state Department of Education. Not only does the Department (and, therefore, local school districts and higher education institutions) benefit from the largest dollar increase of any major department, it also received a larger-than- average percentage increase. The budget for the Department of Education devotes the bulk of the overall $736.8 million increase to supporting public schools. The $574 million or 7.4% increase will be used to support a variety of ongoing and new education initiatives. [Click here for more details] Most higher education institutions received healthy increases (4-5%), even though the growth rates are below those for the education and overall General Fund budgets. Community and economic development. Overall, the state Department of Community and Economic Development will see a 29.2% increase in its budget. Much of the extra $150 million shows up as significant increases in a number of existing flexible grant programs administered by the Department. The budget cuts the Community Revitalization program, the traditional home of many legislatively-designated initiatives, $12.5 million or 22%. In addition, a new World Trade PA program is established with $15 million to expand and promote current trade and foreign investment in Pennsylvania activities. Public welfare. For once, the health care cost driven programs of the Department of Public Welfare aren’t the center of attention. While the numbers remain big, an increase of $235 million – or 2.6% – appears to be acceptable to many affected interest groups. State debt. General obligation debt service increased again this year. The $136 million or 19% increase is the result of new debt already incurred. The upward trend likely will continue into the future as capital projects and programs already authorized move through the borrowing stage. Long-term implications?
Many questions remain unanswered. Here are several:
Can Pennsylvania’s economy, and therefore its tax system, sustain adequate growth rates to maintain this level of spending, especially considering slower revenue growth than this past year, a less than $500 million in expected surplus, and the absorption of the full-year cost of business tax cuts?
How much will rising health care costs, which aren’t front and center in this budget, influence future budget decisions?
Will the higher levels of support for public education continue to grow and, if not, will the recently-passed property tax reduction and referendum provisions play a bigger role in local school taxes than many now anticipate?
Will the rising cost of debt service become more of a concern than the occasional mention it gets now?
Has Pennsylvania found a new way to disguise legislative initiatives by loading up flexible grant programs with new money?
The answers will have to wait until this budget and the upcoming November general elections run their course.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The LuLac Edition #44, July 26th, 2006

THE RIZZO FACTOR...............This past week saw the 15th anniversary of the death of former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo. Rizzo served as Mayor from 1972 to 1980 in the city of Brotherly love. Rizzo ran many times as a candidate for Mayor of that city, 5 times in fact. Twice as a Democrat, and 3 times as a Republican. The last time was in 1991 when he won the Republican primary against two very formidable candidates, Sam Katz and District Attorney Ron Castille. His success was attributed to constituent service but also from a strong undercurrent of supporters who flew under the radar. In every election, Rizzo had a group of people who either never told the truth to the exit poll people or never expressed their outward support for the Mayor. This was dubbed the Rizzo factor. You might be seeing that same thing happening in the Pennsylvania Senate race. While the latest poll has Senator Rick Santorum trailing State Treasurer Robert Casey by 11 points, many political pros are cautioning that (1) Those numbers will tighten up and (2) That voters should consider the "Rizzo Factor" in people who are being polled on the Senate race and might not be telling the truth. As the campaign progresses for the U.S. Senate race, we will watch those polls carefully.

CONGRESSIONAL RACE NEWS..............Did you notice that Chris Carney sign for Congress in Wilkes Barre in front of the Murray Complex on Penna. Blvd the last few weeks? Chris Carney is a candidate for Congress in the 10th District running as a Democrat against GOP incumbent Don Sherwood. His signs, huge ones, are in the wrong district. (Now as a matter of full disclosure when I worked in broadcast advertising, I once put a sign up in my yard for a District Magistrate candidate not in my voting area. I can only attribute that to the pressure of trying to make my advertising goal in that cut throat business. ) The signs are big and well placed and most likely there to gain attention to all the Wilkes Barre workers who live in the 10th. (If there are that many). Anyway, attempts to reach the good people at Murray's were not successful but we'll keep trying.
But as a recap, so there's no confusion, here the Congressional line up for this fall.
11th District/Wilkes Barre/Luzerne County, city of Scranton/
DEMOCRAT/Paul Kanjorski
REPUBLICAN/Dr. Joseph Leonardi.
10th District/Wyoming, part of Luzerne, Lackawanna, Susquehanna and Bradford Counties/
DEMOCRAT/Chris Carney.
REPUBLICAN/Don Sherwood.

THE LEONARDI CAMPAIGN......................Speaking of Dr. Joseph Leonardi, he is running very hard in the 11th Congressional race. His website address is chock full of campaign photos and position issues and papers. His picture is featured on this edition with Lt. Governor candidate Jim Matthews running on the Republican slate. You can go to his web address at Leonardi recently wrote a letter regarding the immigration issue in Hazleton. Here is a copy of that letter in its entirety.

Dear Editor, I would like to take this opportunity to applaud Hazelton Mayor, Lou Barletta, for stepping up to the plate on the illegal immigration issue. He has taken the initiative at a time when others have ignored blatant violations of U.S. law, specifically those who enter this country illegally and those Americans who hire illegal aliens. Most recently, the mayor stepped up to the plate again, ensuring that Hazletons police department will have additional training to properly enforce the city's new ordinance as certified immigration enforcement agents. A section of Hazelton's new ordinance requires city business to be conducted in English only, it has provoked some critics of Mayor Barletta to use insulting and inflammatory terminology in an unjust effort to degrade his character. Their efforts, I feel, are intended to bolster their own political agenda. There is a side benefit arising from the English only provision these same critics have failed to mention--- a benefit that will directly affect those that have legally entered our country. At a town meeting in Hazleton, as reported in one of the local newspapers Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak said English classes would be made available for everyone. It seems that Mayor Barletta'scourage has sparked Luzerne County to take positive action for our hard working, deserving, legal immigrant community. I have always been concerned about people who enter this country then choose not to learn the English language. My father, at the age of 30, in 1963, immigrated to this country from Italy. Over time, he learned his new country's language. While his proficiency wasn't such that he could have written the great American novel,
he ably functioned in society, and eventually earned his U.S. citizenship. The fact that government documents were not translated into my Dad's native tongue did not hamper his ability to earn a living, raise a family, develop his own business and exercise his right to vote. Violation of our borders is a genuine cause for concern. It is a problem that has not been adequately addressed at any governmental level. Consequently, mayors are being forced to protect their citizens from criminal violations that compromise U.S. Sovereignty. For this reason, since announcing my candidacy for the U.S. House last August, I am extremely outspoken on strengthening all of our borders, not just our southern border. The problems that accompany illegal immigration demand re-enforced border security. I pledge that I am, and will remain, wholeheartedly committed to this cause. I am a strong believer in legal immigration into the United States. Obviously, had it not been for legal immigration I would not be in the position I am in now--- running for the office of U.S. Representative to represent all citizens in the Pennsylvania 11th district.
Dr. Joseph F. LeonardiCandidate U.S. House of RepresentativePA-11

MEDIA WATCH..............Dr. Leonardi will be on the Sue Henry Show on WILK NewsRadio Thursday July 27th in the 11AM hour. Rob Nyehard hosts while the radio goddess is on vacation.........................Best birthday wishes to pal Rusty Fender from Entercom Communications on the occasion of his 50th birthday. Having reached that milestone a few years back, all I can say is, "it's really downhill, rapid downhill, after your 50th!!!"..............L.A. Tarone's TV show on WLYN TV 35 debuts Thursday on Channel 21 in Wilkes Barre at 530PM on the Service Electric Channel. L.A. is a long time Hazleton area reporter for the Standard Speaker, various radio stations in that city, a panelist on PCN's "Journlists Roundtable", an editorialist (remember them????) on WLYN News and the author of "We Were Once Here", a history of Hazleton. I, for one, hope Service Electric airs this show frequently and wish him the best of luck.

DRAFT GORE LINK...............A reminder, here's that very important link and letter. Remember, 2008 is a short time away.

Dear Friends: After a two-year hiatus, Draft Gore is returning to the political fray. Please join us as we renew our effort to draft Al Gore for president by being one the first people to sign this national online petition asking him to be our candidate in 2008. recent months we have witnessed a groundswell of public opinion in favor of a Gore candidacy. Let’s build on this movement with the largest petition of its kind.Draft Gore ( was founded in 2002 by grassroots Democrats from across the country who believe Al Gore is the true voice of our party and the only visionary leader and statesman who can return the White House back to the American people. We still believe that’s true –- now more than ever. Please sign this petition and encourage your friends to do the same. If you post on any blogs, lists, boards, or otherwise know of any ways to promote this petition, please help us get the word out today. Together we can make a difference!
Thank you,
Draft Gore

PERSONAL NOTE: We've been a little dark for a while due to computer issues, the good old summertime laziness, and blood transfusions due to impending and current health issues. But we'll try to keep you posted on issues of political import.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The LuLac Edition #43, July 16th, 2006

HAZLETON ORDINANCE PASSES………….As expected, the city of Hazleton passed the Immigration ordinance on Thursday. The wall to wall coverage was provided by Hazleton’s own WLYN channel 35. National outlets also covered the meeting like CNN and Fox News. It will be interesting to see how various aspects of this thing plays out. Questions abound like, 1. Will this have a negative effect or positive one on Mayor Barletta? 2. Will this change the dynamics of any major races like the U.S. Senate race pitting Rick Santorum vs Bob Casey, Jr.? 3. Can it spur on Hispanic residents in Hazleton to register to vote and possibly field a slate of candidates in future Hazelton elections? 4. If Barletta succeeds in proving that there are illegal aliens causing the crime, (a recent drug bust in Hazleton on Friday night reflected that) will the heat on him simmer down? 5. Or if Barletta fails in proving his point, how much money in legal fees will Hazleton be shelling out? These are all legitimate questions with answers that will certainly make the future of Hazleton interesting and compelling.

CASEY SANTORUM MONEY RACE HEATS UP. Democrat Robert P. Casey raised $2.8 million in the last three months as he narrowed the money gap with U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum in the U.S. Senate election.Casey reported t having $5.17 million in the bank as of June 30. Santorum raised $3.6 million during the same period and had $9.5 million in the bank. Santorum has enjoyed a 2-1 cash advantage but Casey has led in the polls by nearly 18 points.This campaign is set to be the costliest Senate race in Pennsylvania history.

Swann: $285,356.70
Rendell: $2.36 million

MEDIA WATCH...........Kudos to Service Electric Cable for airing the entire coverage of the Hazleton Council meeting on Thursday night. The meeting was aired over WLYN TV Channel 35. Service Electric airs select WLYN programs on Channel 21 in the Wilkes Barre service area.
PCN (Pennsylvania Cable Network) doing an all day tribute Sunday July 16th to the late Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo in a series of interviews entitled RIZZO REMEMERED. The shows start at 3PM and continues until well past midnight.

During the last few years, there has been much debate about the issue of gay marriage, civil unions and the constitutionality of all. The most succinct and commonsense comments to me anyway came from Senator Vince Fumo on the Senate floor on July 21, 2006. Here they are in their entirety:
Senator FUMO. Madam President, I just have a few simple comments. I do not want to belabor the debate either. This amendment does, as Senator Mellow said, exactly what the reversion. Does. You can get up here all you want and say you are not against taking away anyone’s benefit, but you want to make sure that they do not get them, and then cite a case that has been decided under the Constitution of Pennsylvania, without this amendment. If this amendment goes in, as in the fashion of the Gordner amendment, then you would be taking away benefits. I am not even going to talk about lesbians and gay men, and all that. I am talking about senior citizens who live together because they choose to do so, because if they got married they would lose Social Security benefits. This would harm them as well. If you are really worried, and I do not know why you would be, but if you are really worried about the Supreme Court saying that marriage is something other than one man and one woman, therefore overturning the statute that was passed in this General Assembly, then this constitutional amendment, in its current form does that. But if your real agenda is discrimination, if your real agenda is to set up two categories of people, then you do not want what is in this amendment. I heard a lot of talk in the House debate, and thank God, I have not heard much of it in here yet, except for Senator Regola, about the, quote, "sanctity of marriage." If we are concerned about the sanctity of marriage, I do not know how it hurts a marriage, anyone's marriage in this Chamber, if some gay couple in Philadelphia is living together. If your marriage is in that bad of shape that you cannot withstand that challenge, then I question your marriage. Who are we kidding here? Mind your own business. Stay out of the bedroom. You know, the great conservative Republican philosophy was get government off our back. I never heard the extra phrase, and into your bedroom, You live your life in your house, you live your life in your bedroom, and let other people live their lives in their bedrooms. That is what America is about, and as far as the Majority wanting to do something like this, our Founding Fathers feared the tyranny of the majority. Our Bill of Rights wag not designed for the majority, it was designed to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority, and that is what Constitutions are about. That is why you have them, because they defend everybody's rights, whether you agree with them or not. If it was a legislative decision, we would still have slavery in the South, maybe even in Pennsylvania. If it were a legislative decision, and not a court decision, we would still have segregation in schools. That is not what this country is about. This country, on a conservative level, is about minding your own business and not worrying about your neighbor's business. This kind of legislation and this kind of constitutional debate says, oh no, I want to worry about your business because it is going to affect my business, When I hear about the sanctity of marriage, why do we not pass a constitutional amendment that says you cannot get a divorce in Pennsylvania? Now that would hurt me twice, and it would hurt some others once or twice, and there are a lot of people in here, when we talk about the sanctity of marriage, who could not live under that. It would be a lot less expensive, I have to admit. If you want to talk about statistics, let us talk about the statistics of marriage in America, where I believe at last count one in every two marriages ends in divorce. That is not because of some gay couple in Philadelphia. In fact, I submit to you that from everything I have seen, homosexual relationships last a lot longer. If we would let them get married, our national statistics would go up. We would look like a better country. When you talk about the sanctity of marriage, worry about your own marriage, and if your marriage is in trouble because a gay couple in Philadelphia lives together and they love each other and they have lived together for a long time, and if your wife or husband is going to leave you because of that, then you have deeper problems than this amendment is ever going to solve. Madam President, I ask my colleagues to vote "no" on this amendment. If you are really about what you say you are about, the language is in here. We want to prevent activist courts, the ones that gave us Brown vs. Board of Education, even the one that gave us George Bush as President. That was an activist court, but if we are worried about that, then just leave it the way it is. It says clearly to our Supreme Court that marriage is between one man and one woman. That is enough. But if you are really about discrimination, if you are really about going after people who you may not like or whose lifestyle you may not like, or if you are about putting religion into the Constitution, something our forefathers feared, then do all this other nonsense. You know, a long time ago, and I believe Thomas Jefferson and James Madison have been quoted, but I want to read something to you from Alexis de Tocgueville, who in the 1830 ~ wrote a treatise called Democracy in America, and it has been cited many, many times, and I quote from that. "If ever freedom is lost in America, it will be due to the omnipotence of the majority driving minorities into desperation, forcing them to appeal to physical force. We may then see anarchy, but it will come as a result of despotism. "The big fear was, all in all, and many times over in the Federalist Pagers of our Founding fathers, the tyranny of the majority. The majority, and yes, we are a country that gives the majority power and gives them certain authority, but we are also a country unique in the world with the Bill of Rights that says the majority cannot discriminate or hurt the minority, simply because there are fewer of them. We recognize certain human rights in this country. We do not use a constitution or an amendment process to discriminate against anyone. We use it to protect everyone's rights. So, Madam President, I do not even support the bill as it is, and I will be honest about that , and I will have more to say about that later, but let us not kid ourselves about this amendment. This amendment does the same thing as the reversion, and do not cite to me Supreme Court cases that have already been decided, because you cannot use them as precedent if, in fact, you pass this constitutional amendment. The whole ball game changes. So if you are saying that you are not against taking benefits away from people, then leave them alone. Do not take a pound of flesh, take what you are afraid of, a marriage is between one man and one woman, and if you are really about the sanctity of the preservation of marriage, let one of the righteous people on that side of the aisle, more than me, because I am not qualified on this, but somebody over there should offer an amendment making it unconstitutional in this State to dissolve a marriage contract once it is entered into. That will get you the sanctity of marriage. Thank you, Madam President.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The LuLac Edition #42, July 9th, 2006

WHY THE STATE BUDGET WAS LATE. It seems like every year of the Rendell administration brings us a late budget. Lawmakers worked into the late hours of Sunday July second until they passed the budget which was due on June 30th. The reason for the late date was because the Senate Democrats temporarily withdrew their support for the negotiated $26 billion budget package Saturday night in an attempt to force changes to the 2-year-old slots law.
Governor Rendell intervened in the process and asked his old friend, Senator Vince Fumo to push back his proposals so the budget could pass without further incident. The Senator was promised a future effort with the senator to exclude the state's casinos from local zoning processes, which gambling proponents fear could prompt long legal challenges and delay revenue to support property tax cuts.
In an 11th hour proposal, Fumo wanted to exempt casinos in Philadelphia from a newly passed ban on most indoor smoking in the city and extend the startup period of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
The amendment also would have prohibited the board from awarding a slots license for a casino proposed near Gettysburg.
So the thing that prolonged the budget was an issue that was supposedly settled in the year 2004.

AN ELECTION YEAR BUDGET………………This election year budget was one where the surplus was essentially blown through and various programs were restored to their former funding levels, expanded and grown or new programs were put in place. Lawmakers are already telling constituents to “enjoy” this year’s budget because come next year, when all the incumbents are safe at home (including the governor) cuts in the same programs restored, grown or proposed will be made in order to meet the budget proposals for 2007. This of course puts programming and agency heads in a predictable dilemma which they seem used to, not necessarily thrilled about but used to.
MEDIA WATCH…………….Scranton School Director Todd O’Malley, long time crony of ex Mayor Jim McNulty kicking off a new show on FOX TV this week entitled “You Be The Judge”. The show will feature O’Malley’s law firm as prime sponsor. O’Malley is already visible as a major player in Scranton politics as well as the annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Scranton. (His law firm regularly produces an elaborate float that wins first prize). It is interesting to see whether O’Malley’s program will give him added prestige. Let’s not forget that Atty. Tom Munley parlayed his Legal segment on WYOU TV into a Lackawanna County Judgeship.
Word from Hazleton tells us that Hazleton Standard Speaker columnist and current Editorialist on WLYN, L.A. Tarrone will be hosting a talk show on that outlet. More details on that program forthcoming.
Geena Davis nominated from the Emmy's (TV awards) for her role in "Commander In Chief" as well as Alan Alda, Martin Sheen and Allison Janney for "The West Wing".

The recent announcement that Steve Barrouk will retire from the Wilkes Barre Chamber of Commerce has political implications. Former Pittston Mayor Michael Lombardo will head the Chamber on an interim basis. Would the search committee pick a former Mayor? And when Lombardo took the Chamber job, did he have an inkling Barrouk would step down? And what if the Search Committee were to seek out a current County Commissioner and well seasoned former Chamber employee? Would he stay or would he go? Questions, questions, questions.

Rockin' the Right-----The 50 greatest conservative rock songs. By John J. Miller
EDITOR’S NOTE: This week on NRO, we’ve been rolling out the first five and now all 50 songs from a list John J. Miller compiled that appears in the June 5 issue of National Review . Here’s a look at #1 and get the whole list—complete with purchasing links—here.
On first glance, rock ’n’ roll music isn’t very conservative. It doesn’t fare much better on second or third glance (or listen), either. Neil Young has a new song called “Let’s Impeach the President.” Last year, the Rolling Stones made news with “Sweet Neo Con,” another anti-Bush ditty. For conservatives who enjoy rock, it isn’t hard to agree with the opinion Johnny Cash expressed in “The One on the Right Is on the Left”: “Don’t go mixin’ politics with the folk songs of our land / Just work on harmony and diction / Play your banjo well / And if you have political convictions, keep them to yourself.” In other words: Shut up and sing.
But some rock songs really are conservative — and there are more of them than you might think. Last year, I asked readers of National Review Online to nominate conservative rock songs. Hundreds of suggestions poured in. I’ve sifted through them all, downloaded scores of mp3s, and puzzled over a lot of lyrics. What follows is a list of the 50 greatest conservative rock songs of all time, as determined by me and a few others. The result is of course arbitrary, though we did apply a handful of criteria.What makes a great conservative rock song? The lyrics must convey a conservative idea or sentiment, such as skepticism of government or support for traditional values. And, to be sure, it must be a great rock song. We’re biased in favor of songs that are already popular, but have tossed in a few little-known gems. In several cases, the musicians are outspoken liberals. Others are notorious libertines. For the purposes of this list, however, we don’t hold any of this against them. Finally, it would have been easy to include half a dozen songs by both the Kinks and Rush, but we’ve made an effort to cast a wide net. Who ever said diversity isn’t a conservative principle?So here are NR’s top 50 conservative rock songs of all time. Go ahead and quibble with the rankings, complain about what we put on, and send us outraged letters and e-mails about what we left off. In the end, though, we hope you’ll admit that it’s a pretty cool playlist for your iPod.
1. “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” by The Who. ; buy CD on Amazon.comThe conservative movement is full of disillusioned revolutionaries; this could be their theme song, an oath that swears off naïve idealism once and for all. “There’s nothing in the streets / Looks any different to me / And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye. . . . Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss.” The instantly recognizable synthesizer intro, Pete Townshend’s ringing guitar, Keith Moon’s pounding drums, and Roger Daltrey’s wailing vocals make this one of the most explosive rock anthems ever recorded — the best number by a big band, and a classic for conservatives.
2. “Taxman,” by The Beatles. buy CD on Amazon.comA George Harrison masterpiece with a famous guitar riff (which was actually played by Paul McCartney): “If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street / If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat / If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat / If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.” The song closes with a humorous jab at death taxes: “Now my advice for those who die / Declare the pennies on your eyes.”
3. “Sympathy for the Devil,” by The Rolling Stones. ; buy CD on Amazon.comDon’t be misled by the title; this song is The Screwtape Letters of rock. The devil is a tempter who leans hard on moral relativism — he will try to make you think that “every cop is a criminal / And all the sinners saints.” What’s more, he is the sinister inspiration for the cruelties of Bolshevism: “I stuck around St. Petersburg / When I saw it was a time for a change / Killed the czar and his ministers / Anastasia screamed in vain.”
4. “Sweet Home Alabama,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. ; buy CD on Amazon.comA tribute to the region of America that liberals love to loathe, taking a shot at Neil Young’s Canadian arrogance along the way: “A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow.”
5. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” by The Beach Boys. ; buy CD on Amazon.comPro-abstinence and pro-marriage: “Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true / Baby then there wouldn’t be a single thing we couldn’t do / We could be married / And then we’d be happy.”
6. “Gloria,” by U2. ; buy CD on Amazon.comJust because a rock song is about faith doesn’t mean that it’s conservative. But what about a rock song that’s about faith and whose chorus is in Latin? That’s beautifully reactionary: “Gloria / In te domine / Gloria / Exultate.”
7. “Revolution,” by The Beatles. buy CD on“You say you want a revolution / Well you know / We all want to change the world . . . Don’t you know you can count me out?” What’s more, Communism isn’t even cool: “If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao / You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow.” (Someone tell the Che Guevara crowd.)
8. “Bodies,” by The Sex Pistols. ; buy CD on Amazon.comViolent and vulgar, but also a searing anti-abortion anthem by the quintessential punk band: “It’s not an animal / It’s an abortion.”
9. “Don’t Tread on Me,” by Metallica. buy CD on Amazon.comA head-banging tribute to the doctrine of peace through strength, written in response to the first Gulf War: “So be it / Threaten no more / To secure peace is to prepare for war.”
10. “20th Century Man,” by The Kinks. ; buy CD on“You keep all your smart modern writers / Give me William Shakespeare / You keep all your smart modern painters / I’ll take Rembrandt, Titian, da Vinci, and Gainsborough. . . . I was born in a welfare state / Ruled by bureaucracy / Controlled by civil servants / And people dressed in grey / Got no privacy got no liberty / ’Cause the 20th-century people / Took it all away from me.”
11. “The Trees,” by Rush. ; buy CD on Amazon.comBefore there was Rush Limbaugh, there was Rush, a Canadian band whose lyrics are often libertarian. What happens in a forest when equal rights become equal outcomes? “The trees are all kept equal / By hatchet, axe, and saw.”
12. “Neighborhood Bully,” by Bob Dylan. ; buy CD on A pro-Israel song released in 1983, two years after the bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor, this ironic number could be a theme song for the Bush Doctrine: “He destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad / The bombs were meant for him / He was supposed to feel bad / He’s the neighborhood bully.”
13. “My City Was Gone,” by The Pretenders. ; buy CD on Amazon.comVirtually every conservative knows the bass line, which supplies the theme music for Limbaugh’s radio show. But the lyrics also display a Jane Jacobs sensibility against central planning and a conservative’s dissatisfaction with rapid change: “I went back to Ohio / But my pretty countryside / Had been paved down the middle / By a government that had no pride.”
14. “Right Here, Right Now,” by Jesus Jones. buy CD on Amazon.comThe words are vague, but they’re also about the fall of Communism and the end of the Cold War: “I was alive and I waited for this. . . . Watching the world wake up from history.”
15. “I Fought the Law,” by The Crickets. ; buy CD on Amazon.comThe original law-and-order classic, made famous in 1965 by The Bobby Fuller Four and covered by just about everyone since then.
16. “Get Over It,” by The Eagles. ; buy CD on Amazon.comAgainst the culture of grievance: “The big, bad world doesn’t owe you a thing.” There’s also this nice line: “I’d like to find your inner child and kick its little ass.”
17. “Stay Together for the Kids,” by Blink 182. ; buy CD on Amazon.comA eulogy for family values by an alt-rock band whose members were raised in a generation without enough of them: “So here’s your holiday / Hope you enjoy it this time / You gave it all away. . . . It’s not right.”
18. “Cult of Personality,” by Living Colour. ; buy CD on Amazon.comA hard-rocking critique of state power, whacking Mussolini, Stalin, and even JFK: “I exploit you, still you love me / I tell you one and one makes three / I’m the cult of personality.”
19. “Kicks,” by Paul Revere and the Raiders. ; buy CD on Amazon.comAn anti-drug song that is also anti-utopian: “Well, you think you’re gonna find yourself a little piece of paradise / But it ain’t happened yet, so girl you better think twice.”
20. “Rock the Casbah,” by The Clash. ; buy CD on Amazon.comAfter 9/11, American radio stations were urged not to play this 1982 song, one of the biggest hits by a seminal punk band, because it was seen as too provocative. Meanwhile, British Forces Broadcasting Service (the radio station for British troops serving in Iraq) has said that this is one of its most requested tunes.
21. “Heroes,” by David Bowie. ; buy CD on Amazon.comA Cold War love song about a man and a woman divided by the Berlin Wall. No moral equivalence here: “I can remember / Standing / By the wall / And the guns / Shot above our heads / And we kissed / As though nothing could fall / And the shame / Was on the other side / Oh we can beat them / For ever and ever.”
22. “Red Barchetta,” by Rush. ; buy CD on Amazon.comIn a time of “the Motor Law,” presumably legislated by green extremists, the singer describes family reunion and the thrill of driving a fast car — an act that is his “weekly crime.”
23. “Brick,” by Ben Folds Five. ; buy CD on Amazon.comWritten from the perspective of a man who takes his young girlfriend to an abortion clinic, this song describes the emotional scars of “reproductive freedom”: “Now she’s feeling more alone / Than she ever has before. . . . As weeks went by / It showed that she was not fine.”
24. “Der Kommissar,” by After the Fire. buy CD on Amazon.comOn the misery of East German life: “Don’t turn around, uh-oh / Der Kommissar’s in town, uh-oh / He’s got the power / And you’re so weak / And your frustration / Will not let you speak.” Also a hit song for Falco, who wrote it.
25. “The Battle of Evermore,” by Led Zeppelin. ; buy CD on Amazon.comThe lyrics are straight out of Robert Plant’s Middle Earth period — there are lines about “ring wraiths” and “magic runes” — but for a song released in 1971, it’s hard to miss the Cold War metaphor: “The tyrant’s face is red.”
26. “Capitalism,” by Oingo Boingo. ; buy CD on“There’s nothing wrong with Capitalism / There’s nothing wrong with free enterprise. . . . You’re just a middle class, socialist brat / From a suburban family and you never really had to work.”
27. “Obvious Song,” by Joe Jackson. buy CD on Amazon.comFor property rights and economic development, and against liberal hypocrisy: “There was a man in the jungle / Trying to make ends meet / Found himself one day with an axe in his hand / When a voice said ‘Buddy can you spare that tree / We gotta save the world — starting with your land’ / It was a rock ’n’ roll millionaire from the USA / Doing three to the gallon in a big white car / And he sang and he sang ’til he polluted the air / And he blew a lot of smoke from a Cuban cigar.”
28. “Janie’s Got a Gun,” by Aerosmith. ; buy CD on Amazon.comHow the right to bear arms can protect women from sexual predators: “What did her daddy do? / It’s Janie’s last I.O.U. / She had to take him down easy / And put a bullet in his brain / She said ’cause nobody believes me / The man was such a sleaze / He ain’t never gonna be the same.”
29. “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Iron Maiden. ; buy CD on Amazon.comA heavy-metal classic inspired by a literary classic. How many other rock songs quote directly from Samuel Taylor Coleridge?
30. “You Can’t Be Too Strong,” by Graham Parker. ; buy CD on Amazon.comAlthough it’s not explicitly pro-life, this tune describes the horror of abortion with bracing honesty: “Did they tear it out with talons of steel, and give you a shot so that you wouldn’t feel?”
31. “Small Town,” by John Mellencamp. ; buy CD on Amazon.comA Burkean rocker: “No, I cannot forget where it is that I come from / I cannot forget the people who love me.”
32. “Keep Your Hands to Yourself,” by The Georgia Satellites. ; buy CD on Amazon.comAn outstanding vocal performance, with lyrics that affirm old-time sexual mores: “She said no huggy, no kissy until I get a wedding vow.”
33. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” by The Rolling Stones. ; buy CD on Amazon.comYou can “[go] down to the demonstration” and vent your frustration, but you must understand that there’s no such thing as a perfect society — there are merely decent and free ones.
34. “Godzilla,” by Blue öyster Cult. ; buy CD on Amazon.comA 1977 classic about a big green monster — and more: “History shows again and again / How nature points up the folly of men.”
35. “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. ; buy CD on Amazon.comWritten as an anti–Vietnam War song, this tune nevertheless is pessimistic about activism and takes a dim view of both Communism and liberalism: “Five-year plans and new deals, wrapped in golden chains . . .”
36. “Government Cheese,” by The Rainmakers. buy CD on Amazon.comA protest song against the welfare state by a Kansas City band that deserved more success than it got. The first line: “Give a man a free house and he’ll bust out the windows.”
37. “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” by The Band. ; buy CD on Amazon.comDespite its sins, the American South always has been about more than racism — this song captures its pride and tradition.
38. “I Can’t Drive 55,” by Sammy Hagar. ; buy CD on Amazon.comA rocker’s objection to the nanny state. (See also Hagar’s pro-America song “VOA.”)
39. “Property Line,” by The Marshall Tucker Band. ; buy CD on Amazon.comThe secret to happiness, according to these southern-rock heavyweights, is life, liberty, and property: “Well my idea of a good time / Is walkin’ my property line / And knowin’ the mud on my boots is mine.”
40. “Wake Up Little Susie,” by The Everly Brothers. ; buy CD on Amazon.comA smash hit in 1957, back when high-school social pressures were rather different from what they have become: “We fell asleep, our goose is cooked, our reputation is shot.”
41. “The Icicle Melts,” by The Cranberries. ; buy CD on Amazon.comA pro-life tune sung by Irish warbler Dolores O’Riordan: “I don’t know what’s happening to people today / When a child, he was taken away . . . ’Cause nine months is too long.”
42. “Everybody’s a Victim,” by The Proclaimers. ; buy CD on Amazon.comBest known for their smash hit “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” this Scottish band also recorded a catchy song about the problem of suspending moral judgment: “It doesn’t matter what I do / You have to say it’s all right . . . Everybody’s a victim / We’re becoming like the USA.”
43. “Wonderful,” by Everclear. ; buy CD on Amazon.comA child’s take on divorce: “I don’t wanna hear you say / That I will understand someday / No, no, no, no / I don’t wanna hear you say / You both have grown in a different way / No, no, no, no / I don’t wanna meet your friends / And I don’t wanna start over again / I just want my life to be the same / Just like it used to be.”
44. “Two Sisters,” by The Kinks. buy CD on Amazon.comWhy the “drudgery of being wed” is more rewarding than bohemian life.
45. “Taxman, Mr. Thief,” by Cheap Trick. ; buy CD on Amazon.comAn anti-tax protest song: “You work hard, you went hungry / Now the taxman is out to get you. . . . He hates you, he loves money.”
46. “Wind of Change,” by The Scorpions. ; buy CD on Amazon.comA German hard-rock group’s optimistic power ballad about the end of the Cold War and national reunification: “The world is closing in / Did you ever think / That we could be so close, like brothers / The future’s in the air / I can feel it everywhere / Blowing with the wind of change.”
47. “One,” by Creed. ; buy CD on Against racial preferences: “Society blind by color / Why hold down one to raise another / Discrimination now on both sides / Seeds of hate blossom further.”
48. “Why Don’t You Get a Job,” by The Offspring. ; buy CD on Amazon.comThe lyrics aren’t exactly Shakespearean, but they’re refreshingly blunt and they capture a motive force behind welfare reform.
49. “Abortion,” by Kid Rock. buy CD on Amazon.comA plaintive song sung by a man who confronts his unborn child’s abortion: “I know your brothers and your sister and your mother too / Man I wish you could see them too.”
50. “Stand By Your Man,” by Tammy Wynette. ; buy CD on Amazon.comHillary trashed it — isn’t that enough? If you’re worried that Wynette’s original is too country, then check out the cover version by Motörhead.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

The LuLac Edition #41, July 8th, 2006

NOTE: The special fourth of July edition of LuLac Edition #40 is listed after LuLac Edition #39. You must scroll down to see the Fourth of July post.