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Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas

               Merry Christmas

Most of us have very fond memories of the Christmas season—families that arrived from far away, snow storms, decorating the Christmas Tree, Christmas eve services, caroling, baking, presents, and so much more. 

The reason for Christmas is, of course, the birth of Jesus, God’s only son.  Imagine God coming to earth from heaven.  Who would want to leave perfection and come to this world full of problems and troubles?  But God did come.  Jesus was born as a baby to a virgin.  Humans may scoff and say that is impossible.  Yes, it is impossible for humans, but then again Jesus was also God.  And, all we have to know is that God makes the rules—rules like gravity, and magnetic attraction, and mathematics, etc.  So he doesn’t have to abide by his own rules.

But just coming to earth wasn’t that important.  It’s what Jesus did after he got here that counts.  Boy does it count!  Without Jesus you and I would have no chance, no hope of salvation.  None.  Zip.  Nada.

Jesus came to that little town in Bethlehem for one purpose, to fulfill the prophecy of the scriptures that a baby would be born in Bethlehem of Judah who would save his people from their sins.

Jesus was the long (thousands of years) promised Messiah.  The same one promised to Adam and Eve when they were driven out of the Garden of Eden.  The same one promised to Abraham and Sarah.  The same one promised to King David.  The same one foretold by countless Old Testament prophets.  He was (and is) the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords.

We celebrate Christmas with great joy and great enthusiasm because God fulfilled his promise (as he fulfills all promises) to send a Savior.  Jesus lived that perfect life we couldn’t live, and then gave himself up on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins.  And best of all, he rose triumphant from the grave, giving us total and complete assurance that we too will live again if we but trust in him.

I wish you a very joyous Christmas celebration and a wonderful, happy, and peace filled New Year rich with God’s blessings.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Essential Church?

               Essential Church?

I just finished reading Essential Church? by Thom and Sam Rainer III (2008, B&H Publishing Group), which deals with young people, 18 to 22, leaving the church.  While this book primarily targets pastors and other church workers, it is valuable reading material for lay men and women who are active in church leadership.  I not only read Essential Church, but also underlined it extensively because I viewed it as a working reference.

Thom Rainer (the father) has written many books on the health of the church and I have read several of them and always have found them to be logical, practical, and biblical in their approach.  I was especially interested in Essential Church because I know a number of young people who were very active in their churches and could clearly articulate their faith, but left the church.  The fact is that some 70% of those between the ages of 18 and 22 drop out of church.  This troubles me, and it troubles many Christians.

Why is it that people, especially young people, are leaving the church?  That is exactly what the Rainers explore in Essential Church and their conclusion is that many young people of today no long find the church essential to their life.  They just don’t see a reason to continue going to church.  Lots of reasons are given by those who leave the church, but essentially it boils down to their conclusion that going to church is just not essential to their life.

With that information in hand, Thom and Sam examine churches that are not suffering this tremendous back-door outflow to determine if there is anything in common with these churches.  While they do not find a formula for stemming the outgoing tide, they do find these churches have four general principles in common, regardless of the denomination, size, or geographic location.  These principles are:

Simplify.  Each of these churches has simplified their structure and process for making disciples.  That does not mean they have made it easier to become a member, but they have crystallized their discipleship process.  Incidentally, repeated references are made in the book to Simple Church, another book by Thom Rainer that preceded Essential Church.  It’s next on my reading list.

Deepen.  These churches provide strong biblical teaching and preaching.  In other words, these churches don’t compromise the Word.  In fact, these churches have a strong commitment to biblical truth and to quality teaching and preaching.

Expect.  They all expect a lot from their members.  You can’t be a casual member of any of these churches.  If you join one of these churches you are expected to not only attend regularly, but also participate in meaningful projects and programs.

Multiply.  There is a strong outward focus in each of these churches, expecting and encouraging their members to reach others with the Gospel.  These churches expect members to “stretch” beyond their comfort zone, participating in evangelism efforts and even going on foreign mission trips.  They want their members to take ownership of the church and make it essential to their lives.

It’s not a formula, it’s an understanding that gimmicks are not the solution, Bible-based approaches and teachings are.  Thom and Sam stress repeatedly that there is no cookie-cutter approach.  Each church is different and must understand their community as well as their mission in order to become an essential church to the young people of today.

By utilizing these general principles and developing their own, unique approach, each one of these churches has stopped the outflow.  They have made it easy to understand their mission and their process, while providing strong and faithful Bible instruction.  In addition, they expect much from their members (including those who are 18 to 22 and beyond), and they are outwardly focused.  Of course, while this is easy to understand, it is not necessarily easy to execute.

While these four principles provide the framework around which the book is built, there are many nuggets that deserve attention.  Things like creating a simple, understandable mission, then aligning all of your various Church projects and programs with your mission.  Or making sure your church offers strong, great preaching.  This study and the one upon which Thom’s previous book, Effective Evangelistic Churches, was written, reach the same conclusion about preaching—it must be strong, powerful, and Bible-based.

There’s lots more in Essential Church worth reading.  Thom and Sam Ranier have provided valuable assistance to church leaders who seek to keep young people in their church.  It’s my hope that this book will be widely read.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Designer God

               A Designer God

Women love designer clothes, men like well-tailored good fitting suits, and many people apparently seek a designer God.  Just like telling the tailor to “take a little off here” and “add a little here,” we want God to be of our design.  After all, we know what’s right and wrong and we don’t need God to tell us what’s right and wrong.

That has been the error of man (and woman) from the beginning of time—we seek to be gods and goddesses.  We are not content to have a loving God who gave His own Son up for our sins, we want to be, and we demand to be God!  It’s silly, but we all do it.  We want to make the rules, not God.  We want to be on top, not God.  We want to decide for ourselves, not God.

Why are there so many religions in the world?  Quite simply, man seeks to be God, to define God.  He wants to choose what’s right and what’s wrong, and to decide how to get to heaven, or even if there is a heaven.

So we reject God.  But we do it in a subtle way.  Someone may ask me what I think about some moral issue such as lying, or jealousy or hatred or murder or adultery or the like.  Who am I to say what is right or wrong?  Am I God?  It doesn’t matter what I think about abortion or adultery or lying or hatred.  It just doesn’t matter.  Whether I think something is good or bad is not relevant.  What God says is the only thing that matters.

The other evening Kathi and I watched a show on television that certainly promoted a designer God.  A man had a sex transplant, abandoned his wife and son, and is now a pastor with Bible in hand “preaching” to his flock a politically correct message of right and wrong according his own notions.  Like giving directions to a tailor, he has decided that his Bible should have “a little taken out here” and “a little added in here.”

God is God.  Who are we to sit in judgment of the great “I am”?  Are we all-powerful?  God is.  Do we fill the universe?  God does.  Can we listen to and answer prayers from all around the globe at one time?  God can.  Are we perfect?  God is.

You can’t have it both ways.  Either there is a God or there is no God.  And by His very definition, God does not conform to human standards.  He is above nature.  His dimensions and power and authority are not defined by man.  He is God.

There are no designer Gods.  There are false gods and then there is God. 

Jesus wasn’t just a good teacher.  If you believe that, then you also must believe that Jesus was a liar.  After all, He proclaimed himself as God. “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20).  You can’t have all authority in heaven and earth and be an ordinary human.

How could Jesus be born of a virgin?  Ridiculous!  How could Jesus walk on water?  Preposterous!  How could Jesus turn water into wine?  Impossible!  How could Jesus live a perfect life?  Absurd!

Yes, all this is ridiculous, preposterous, impossible and absurd if you are a simple human.  It could only be true if Jesus is God.

The Bible is given to us as a special privilege.  Through the Bible we hear directly from God.  We are blessed to know exactly what God says and thinks and what He wants us to do.  How do we get to heaven?  God tells us in a straightforward, unequivocal way in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Is there any other way to get to heaven?  Not so, according to Jesus.  Listen to what He says in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

If you want to believe in another god or no god, that’s your choice.  But please, let’s not distort what the Bible says.  His words and teachings are clear.  You have a right to reject the Bible as false, but when you pick and choose and turn God into a designer God who meets your preconceptions and has your values, he is no longer the God of the Bible.

Undoubtedly God’s teachings are hard teachings.  That’s exactly what His hand-picked disciples said in John 6:60.  We don’t want to believe God.  We want a designer God.  One who thinks the way we do.  But it doesn’t work that way.  That, indeed, is a hard teaching, but one that is meant for our good.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Coming Crackup of the Democratic Party?

      The Coming Crackup of the Democratic Party?

No, I haven’t been drinking and as far as I can tell, I haven’t lost my mind (perhaps I’m not a good judge of that).  Yes, I know the Democrats are just coming off a huge election victory.  Nevertheless, I believe the Democratic Party is as unstable as Ozone.  You remember high school chemistry, don’t you?  Oxygen (O2) is stable, but Ozone (O3) is unstable and tends to break down into Oxygen. 

The Democratic Party is constructed differently than the Republican Party.  It is a party of special interest coalitions—unions, blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals, prairie radicals (the anti-war crowd), feminists, enviro-crazies, and assorted die-hard Democrats that haven’t noticed that their party is no longer the party of Harry Truman.  Their route to political success is satisfying the gimmie, gimmie, gimmie demands of these often conflicting constituencies.

The Republican Party, on the other hand, is focused on the individual and has a common philosophy of limited government, a strong national defense, maximum individual freedom, and a moral America.  (No, I’m not saying that all Democrats are immoral—but they do have a different standard of morals from the Ten Commandments.)  Yes, there are groups in the GOP who are more interested in one aspect of this vision than the other parts, but when led by a true conservative, they not only rally behind that individual, but work in a semblance of harmony together as they did when Ronald Reagan was President.

Accordingly, Ronald Reagan ran as a conservative and governed as a conservative and won twice with overwhelming majorities.  This is the Republican Party’s formula for victory and it works because it appeals to a majority of Americans, regardless of their race, education, financial status, age, or other unimportant characteristics.  It’s about a common philosophy, not about what one group or another can get out of government.  Conservatives believe in American exceptionalism and preserving the nation as the beacon of freedom and the land of opportunity.  It is an inherently stable political formula.

The truth is that the Democrats have always had trouble holding together their coalitions.  In 1948, George McGovern bolted the Democratic Party to work for and vote for Norman Thomas who ran for President on the Socialist Party ticket.  By the way, Thomas dissolved the Socialist Party after he recognized that all the planks of his Socialist platform had been adopted by the Democratic Party.  In fact, he said, "The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism, they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened."  In this one case, I have to agree with Norman Thomas, but I’m getting off the topic.

In 1948, the Roosevelt coalition not only split to the left with George McGovern, but it also broke off to the right with Strom Thurmond heading up the Dixicrat Party ticket.  In 1968, the Democratic Party imploded with the anti-war prairie radicals attacking the Democratic President, Lyndon Johnson.

OK, so that’s old history.  What does it have to do with today?  Here’s the problem with being a far-left candidate for President supported by a patchwork quilt of weirdos and lefties:  You have to run to the right promising tax cuts, a strong national defense and strong support for the Second Amendment to win the election.  However, if you don’t govern far to the left, your coalition not only breaks up, it turns on you.  The far-left will tolerate running to the right and advocating tax cuts and a strong national defense in order to get their guy elected, but they won’t tolerate for a minute his failing to fulfill every wild, left-wing wish on their list.

If Obama goes far-left, he will run into opposition from within his own party (the so-called “blue dog” Democrats) and he will lose millions of Americans who will conclude they have been duped.  However, if he doesn’t govern far-left, his various special interest groups will turn on him.  What a pickle! 

If Obama doesn’t immediately pull out of Iraq—Whammo!  He will get pounded by the far-left.  If he does pull out of Iraq and undercut our victory there, he will lose the confidence of the majority of the American people.

If he doesn’t immediately close down Guantanamo—Whammo!  He will get slammed by the left!  If he does shut “Gitmo” down and terrorists are set free, he will get slammed by the American people.
If he doesn’t silence talk radio by re-imposing the inappropriately called “Fairness Doctrine,” he will get slammed again.  If he does shut down talk radio, he will lose more support.

If he doesn’t sign anti-gun legislation into law, he will be condemned by the left.  If he does sign anti-gun rights legislation, he will lose a critical element of his die-hard Democrat base.

If the economic plight of minorities doesn’t quickly improve under President Obama, he’ll be labeled a turncoat and worse.  If the general economy slides into a deep recession or a depression, he will own it.  This is not 1932.  The guy in office will carry the blame.

If he doesn’t sign protectionist legislation the unions want, they will abandon him.  If he does sign protectionist legislation similar to the disastrous Smoot-Hawley bill signed by Hoover, he will send the nation into a depression.

Here’s another small observation.  Big victories like Johnson in 1964 and Nixon in 1972 typically lead to overreaching and thus to political disaster.  Can a Chicago machine politician really run a scandal free administration?  Not likely.

For these reasons and others, I think the Obama Administration has big problems ahead.  Yes, they will tax and tax and spend and spend, but that will only drive the economy downward and alienate more of the folks who voted for him.  Yes, the Dems will probably pass some form of socialized medicine.  But there will be a heavy price to pay in four years, maybe even in two years.  In fact, don’t be surprised if the GOP does well in Virginia’s 2009 off-year election.

The Republicans may have their problems, but at least they have shining stars on the horizon who have a coherent conservative philosophy.  These stars include Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, among others. 

It will certainly be interesting to watch.  Getting elected President and being adored by the mainstream media is the easy part.  Now comes the hard part—governing.  President-elect Obama and all elected officials certainly need and deserve our prayers.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good Decisions vs. Bad Decisions

            Good Decisions vs. Bad Decisions

Let me get this straight.  A bunch of bankers made bad decisions (encouraged by liberal Democrat politicians) to give loans to people who couldn’t afford them.  Now you and I (who apparently did not make bad decisions) are supposed to bail them out with our hard earned dollars so they can make more bad decisions.  In other words, those who made good decisions are supposed to bail out those who made bad decisions.

Do you and I need any more reason not to put our trust in government?  The marketplace makes very good (not perfect) decisions in regard to the allocation of resources and in regard to what products and services consumers want and need.  The government (at all levels) inevitably makes bad decisions because they are driven by politics, not the marketplace.

What you and I need is less, not more, government (which also translates into more, not less, individual freedom).  We don’t need liberal politicians using the power of government to mandate loans to individuals who can’t afford them.  When someone or some company makes wrong decisions they should go out of business.

I have a little sympathy for US auto makers (just a little) because it was the government that created scarcity in the supply of oil by not drilling and thus drove up the price of fuel.  Our domestic manufacturers were making good money selling SUVs and now, because of government interference, they are going bankrupt.  You can argue that they should have seen the handwriting on the wall, but they didn’t.

Sorry, no bail out for the auto companies or steel or whoever else has their hand out.  Government interference in the marketplace, including so-called “stimulus packages,” only drive the economy further downhill.

Jack Kemp has said, “If you subsidize something you get more of it.  If you tax something, you get less of it.”  The inclination to tax producing Americans more and successful businesses more will simply result in a worse economy.  Or to put it more simply, if you tax success, you get less of it.

What will happen?  Who knows?

Higher taxes will surely make the economy worse.  Just how foolish or how wise will the new Congress and the new Administration be?  Hold on to your hat (or should I say wallet), it’s going to be a wild ride!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

John McCain

                            John McCain

There’s no doubt about it, John McCain is an American hero.  He was faithful and loyal to his country even under the most awful and difficult circumstances.  He loves the United States of America and has proven that he would be willing to lay down his life for his country. 

Perhaps, however, his decision to enter into politics was not the right one for him.  He certainly has good intentions, but the erratic political positions he has taken during his time in Congress present a picture of a man with little or no political philosophy.  His rudderless performance inclines me to believe that he is not well-read.  He clearly has no coherent political philosophy.  It has been said that Ronald Reagan could “govern from inside a closet.”  Why?  Because he had a well-formed philosophy of life and understood history and human nature.

It must be very confusing to be in office and not have any understanding of the foundations of a free society.  “What position should I take on an issue?”  John McCain, like liberal Republicans before him—Dewey, Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Dole, Bush 1 & 2—confuse intelligence for understanding.  The last smart, intelligent, articulate counselor in the room holds sway and determines their course of action. 

Those few liberal Republicans who win not only fail as Presidents, but also set the stage for the decline of the Republican Party as we witnessed in the most recent election.  In 1952, liberal Republicans stole the nomination from Robert Taft and instead selected the war hero, Dwight Eisenhower.  Ike, a likeable fellow, proceeded to expand government dramatically.  Nixon, an early hero of the right, turned out to be a cardboard hero, who was fortunately defeated by John F. Kennedy, a rare tax-cutting Democrat.  When Nixon was eventually elected President, he once again expanded government far beyond that of Kennedy and took foreign policy initiatives that Hubert Humphrey could never have gotten by with.  Ford was absolutely lost in office and didn’t even know that Poland was a part of the Warsaw Pact.  Bush ’41 abandoned the successful policies of Ronald Reagan to return to the failed policies of raising taxes.  Dole provided further evidence of moderate Republican failure at the polls.  Bush ’43 was successful in being elected by waltzing in the shadow of Ronald Reagan, but then allowed government to grow exponentially under his failed administration.

Could John McCain have won if he wasn’t an advocate of amnesty for illegal aliens?  Could he have won if he had not participated in the obstruction of the nomination of conservative judges?  Could he have won if he wasn’t on the anti-intellectual side of the global warming debate?  Could he have won if he had not opposed tax cuts?  Could he have won if he had advocated drilling in ANWR?  Could he have won if he did not have a track record of expanding government?  Could he have won if he had attacked Jeremiah Wright?  Could he have won if he had opposed the bail out?  Could he have won if he had presented a choice, not an echo, to the American people?

We will never know.

But we do know this—liberal Republicans from Dewey to Nixon to Ford to Bush ’41 to Dole to McCain lose elections.  The voters aren’t stupid.  Why vote for an imitation liberal when you can have the real thing from the Democratic Party?  Even when liberal Republicans win, the country loses, just not as much as it does when a Democrat wins.

If the Republican Party is to have a future, it must nominate candidates from the courthouse to the White House who believe in limited government and present a choice to the voters.  What good does an endorsement from The Washington Post or The New York Times do in the primary, when you know you will be savaged by them in the general election?

We must quit listening to counsel from those who do not have the best interest of the Republican Party at heart.  Our rallying cry must be, “No more liberal Republican losers!” 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President-Elect Barack Obama

   President-Elect Barack Obama

Congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama on his huge election triumph.  And congratulations on a victory speech which focused on bringing America together. 

It is now evident from the results that the Obama campaign had a wonderful “ground game” in getting out their vote, that they had an incredible fund raising machine, and we know, of course, that Barack Obama is indeed an articulate and moving spokesman.

The results show something else.  America is clearly not a racist nation as has been portrayed by news commentators and by Senator Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright.  America is truly a wonderful land peopled by citizens who are imperfect, yet have a long history of optimism and good will.  Politically speaking, it is now clear that being an African-American was actually a benefit to Obama being elected President.  Yes, there is a tiny minority of people in our land that engage in hatred, for that is what racism is all about.  While such racism is to be deplored, the reality is that no government can eradicate sin.  In the 1930s, Stalin boasted of the “New Soviet Man” who would be devoid of the evils of human nature, but we all know that effort failed and resulted in one of the worst tyrannies in the history of the world.  Those who seek utopia always create a living hell on earth.

A victory of the size achieved by Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress will call up the word “mandate,” but a mandate for what is the question.

It was certainly a mandate for change, but what change?

President-Elect Obama does not have a mandate for many things that are the goals of his leftish allies in Congress or those of his past friends like David Ayres and Bernadine Dorn. 

He does not have a mandate to raise taxes.

He does not have a mandate to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.

He does not have a mandate to abandon our valiant troops in Iraq or Afghanistan.

He does not have a mandate to curtail free speech by re-imposing the un-“Fairness Doctrine.”

He does not have a mandate to undermine the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.

He does not have a mandate to block domestic drilling.
How do I know this?  In his words and writing, Barack Obama said he would not raise taxes, not abridge the Second Amendment, not abandon our troops, not curtail free speech by driving talk radio off the air and said he would support offshore drilling.

The fact is that Obama ran to the right in order to get elected.  He was aided and abetted in his election by an ineffective Republican nominee who ran to the left, rather down the road to victory followed by Ronald Reagan.

If Barack Obama is to unify our nation and not end up as a one-term, failed administration like that of Jimmy Carter, he must abandon his radical views of the past.  He must move to the real center of our nation—a God-fearing people who believe in America’s promise and a government of laws under the United States Constitution.  His prayer at the Wailing Wall gives some small hope that this young man will govern wisely.  Here are his words:

“Lord, protect my family and me.  Forgive me my sins and help me guard against pride and despair.  Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just.  And make me an instrument of Your will.”
If he can put behind his radical past, the Obama Administration can be a successful one.  Yes, this is hard to imagine, but we must hope and pray that this will be true.

In Romans 13:1, I am admonished by Paul to do the following:

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

I plan give my new president the respect he deserves as the duly elected leader of our nation and I intend to pray for him—for his health, his safety, and for Godly wisdom so that America may remain the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

9 Reasons to Vote for McCain-Palin

           9 Reasons to Vote for McCain-Palin

It’s not about the heroism of John McCain.  Heroism doesn’t qualify you to be President of the United States, although it does display character. 

It’s not about the struggle of a young black man to overcome poverty and abandonment by his father to graduate from Harvard and be nominated for President, although overcoming such disadvantages does show character.

It’s not about experience or lack thereof.  A bad track record is worse than no track record.

It’s not about age or youth.

It’s not about leadership or change.  Leaders can lead in the wrong direction and change can be worse, not better.

It’s not about George Bush ’43.  That race already took place. 

And it’s certainly not about what region of the country you come from, the color of your skin, or who your running mate is.

No, there are real reasons to vote for the McCain-Palin ticket and here are mine:

    1.     GI Joes & Janes.  More than 4,000 young men and women
            have given their lives to defeat Islamic radicals who are sworn
            to destroy our nation.  More than 3,000 innocent Americans
            died on 9-11 and it’s only because we have stood strong and
            vigilant that no other attacks have occurred.  Setting a
            timetable for pulling out, as Barak Obama says he will do, is a
            betrayal to those who died on 9-11 and to those young men
            and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  We are
            winning the war in Iraq and the argument as to whether we
            should have gone into Iraq is moot.  Appeasement always
            encourages our enemies and leads to bigger and more costly

    2.    Ronald Reagan.  Ronald Reagan was elected after four
            disastrous years of Jimmy Carter.  Barak Obama is Jimmy
            Carter on steroids.  Taxes, socialized medicine, and the
            nationalization of medical services will only serve to drive this
            nation into a severe recession, if not a depression.  Senator
            Obama is committed to not only letting the Bush tax cuts
            expire, but also to vastly increase spending and further tax
            hikes.  John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan proved that tax
            cuts spur economic growth and restore prosperity.  Tax hikes
            do the opposite.

    3.    Smoot-Hawley.  Senator Obama is now suggesting the
            institution of tariffs on foreign imports.  He hasn’t learned from
            history.  It was the passage of the Smoot-Hawley Act which
            Herbert Hoover signed into law that precipitated the Great
            Depression.  Free trade expands the economy, tariffs constrict

    4.    Rush Limbaugh.  Although Barak Obama says he has no plan to
            re-institute the “Fairness Doctrine,” with a bullet proof
            Democrat Congress hell bent on doing so, he won’t be able to
            resist.  Good bye talk radio.  Good bye free speech.

    5.    Barry Goldwater.  Goldwater, like all our American Founders,
           understood the danger of government.  He said, “A
           government that is big enough to give you all you want is big
           enough to take it all away.”  Obama wants to dramatically
           expand government because he believes that government
           bureaucrats are smarter than you are.  Bigger government
           means less freedom.  Nationalizing health care, which is
           the goal of big government politicians like Obama, will destroy
           quality health care.  Government cannot create anything, it can
           only regulate scarcity.  If it is the government’s responsibility
           to provide for your health care, why not your transportation,
           your home, your food? 

    6.    Andrew Kyle Livingstone.  Andrew is my newest grandchild.  He
            has wonderful parents, but what kind of an America will he
            grow up in?  Will it be the land of opportunity or the land of
            entitlement?  When anyone uses the words “economic justice”
            and “redistribution of income,” the goal is government control
            of our economy and our lives.  Both of these terms are Marxist
            in origin and their application means the end of America as we
            have known it.

    7.    Sarah Palin.  John McCain’s choice of Governor Palin has
            brought America a new star in the mold of Ronald Reagan. 
            Sarah Palin has the political philosophy of our Founders—
            limited government, strong national defense, greater individual
            freedom.  She is the future of the Republican Party and of our

    8.    Barak Obama.  We should choose a President because he
            understands the foundation of a free society is freedom for its
            people to succeed or fail without interference from
            government.  It’s not government’s responsibility to care for
            us, but to provide for the common defense, and maintain
            internal order through the administration of equal justice. 
            Barak Obama doesn’t understand the foundation of a free
            society.  He is well-intentioned, but his philosophy is contrary
            to that which expands freedom.  He doesn’t understand that
            individual freedom cannot exist without economic freedom. 
            The change he advocates is not change for the better.

    9.    Harry Truman.  The good news is that, as Harry Truman proved
            in 1948, the polls are not always right.  The only poll that
            counts is on Election Day, November 4, 2008.  President Barak
            Obama with a Republican Congress would be one thing, but
            President Obama with a leftwing Democratic Congress would
            be a disaster of unimagined proportions.  So consider the
            consequences and get out and vote!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

American Exceptionalism as Seen by de Tocqueville

American Exceptionalism as Seen by de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville traveled from France to the United States of America in 1831 to see and understand what a great republic was like and how it functioned.  The book he subsequently wrote, Democracy in America, is considered by many as the best book ever written on democracy and its application in the United States of America.  During his travels, de Tocqueville investigated and made observations on virtually every aspect of life in America.  He concluded that, “America is great because she is good.  If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” 

In fact, de Tocqueville was amazed by the consensus of good that existed in this new land and the willingness of those of both meager and extravagant means to band together in “associations” to address and solve common problems.  He summed it up this way, “Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions constantly form associations…religious, moral, serious, futile, general or restricted, enormous or diminutive.  The Americans make associations to give entertainments, found seminaries, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they found hospitals, prisons, and schools.  If it is proposed to inculcate some truth, or to foster some feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form a society.”

In no sense was de Tocqueville naïve.  As an observer from France, he had a perspective that was distinct and unique from that of Americans themselves.  In regard to our shortcomings he said, “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”  He saw religion and morality as the keystone of democracy and freedom.  Consider his words, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith,” and these, “Despotism can do without faith, but freedom cannot.”  He wrote of America at that time, “The Americans combine the notions of religion and liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive of one without the other.”  And finally on the topic of Christianity he said, “America is…still the place in the world where the Christian religion has most preserved genuine powers over souls; and nothing shows better how useful and natural to man it is in our day, since the country in which it exercises the greatest empire is at the same time the most enlightened and most free.”

Perhaps it’s not surprising that, as a Frenchman, he made the following observation on marriage in America, “Of the world’s countries, America is surely the one where the bond of marriage is most respected and where they have conceived the highest and most just idea of conjugal happiness.”

Even in 1831, de Tocqueville understood the danger of big, powerful government.  He wrote, “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money,” and “Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality.  But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”

The United States of America, as de Tocqueville observed, has always been an exceptional nation.  The question is, will it remain so in our lifetime, and for future generations of Americans yet unborn?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008



I was blessed with really great parents and I hope you were too.  I thought this Grace Moment from Time of Grace ( really hit the mark.  I hope you are enjoying these daily words of encouragement from Pastor Mark Jeske as much as I am—

“Yeah, I know. Not everybody has great parents. Some people don’t have any parents at all. As with God’s distribution of other gifts, not everybody gets every gift. But there are plenty of good to great parents who get taken for granted, as though they were pieces of furniture or machines.

Were your parents OK? Good? Great? They are precious gifts of God to you, blessings to make your life better. Parents are God’s stand-ins, providing security, food, guidance, and discipline. Parents help us fathom and navigate the complex ways of modern society. Proverbs 23:22 says, Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.

The greatest parents are those who share their faith in Christ with their children. Did you learn about your Savior from a parent? You are blessed indeed. Are they still living? Perhaps you could call and thank them. God is good. Parents are good.”

If you need a little uplift to start your day, then I encourage you to click on and sign up to receive Mark’s pithy take on our world from Jesus’ perspective.  It’s even better than orange juice or that first cup of coffee.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

21st Century Book Burners

      21st Century Book Burners
The other day I received an e-mail which included a link to a YouTube™ video that was titled “Burning Down the House.”  I pasted in the link and watched the video which had to do with how liberals in Congress caused the current financial crisis by mandating loans to individuals at subprime rates who really had no chance of repaying the loans.  It was a well-documented, compelling video.  But the quality, or even the correctness, of the video is not the point of this blog.

I thought the argument made by the video was sufficiently informative and so I forwarded it along to a number of friends.  However, before they had a chance to see the video, YouTube™ had taken it down.  Why?  Because if you are a member of YouTube™, which is owned by Google™, you can complain that a video is “offensive” and if enough others complain, the video is flagged.  The intent is to stop pornography and videos that violate patent rights from being put on YouTube™, but the left has now organized to issue complaints against any conservative video as being “offensive.”  The result is that any pro-life or pro-free market video or any video calling for victory in the war on terrorism or even promoting a conservative movie is “flagged” as being offensive.  Apparently, once a number of complaints are received a video is automatically taken down.  The appeal process to get it back up is lengthy enough to make timely videos such as “Burning Down the House” unavailable when they could have had an impact.

I was shocked when I read about this in a piece written by Matthew Sheffield in the October 2, 2008 issue of The Washington Times.  But I should not have been.
We live in the age of book burners.  The liberals already control the mainstream media—CBS, ABC, NBC, Newsweek, Time, US News, and nearly all of the major newspapers.  The far-left teachers’ union controls public classrooms.  They write the history textbooks.  They want to use the power of government to force conservative ideas off the air through re-implementation of the ironically called “Fairness Doctrine.”  

Liberals must have absolutely no confidence whatsoever in their ideas or in the American people to make free choices wisely.  What intellectual bankruptcy!  When their ideas do not prevail, they use the power of government or organize into bands of electronic vandals to censor conservative ideas.  They shout down and throw pies at conservative speakers on campus.  They steal conservative alternative campus newspapers.  They blacklist conservative actors and actresses.

Apparently their ideas are so weak and flimsy that they can’t even stand up to the slightest bit of scrutiny or analysis by conservative critics on the radio, in Hollywood, over YouTube™, at FOX News or in any other public square.  How sad for anyone that their confidence in their own ideas is so low that they cannot allow them to be questioned.  Instead the power of government, theft, blacklisting, and vandalism are their only recourse.

Liberalism was once a voice for freedom of speech, but that voice has apparently been silenced.  Is intellectual honesty dead among liberals in America?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Of Bad Law, Bad Choices & Ignored Warnings

     Of Bad Law, Bad Choices & Ignored Warnings

The current economic crisis is a direct result of bad law, bad choices and ignored warnings.  Let’s talk about bad law.

Bad law often originates from well-intentioned people and that’s what happened in the case of our current economic crisis. 

As far back as 1977, the Carter Administration pushed for and the Democratic Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act which gave incentives to low-income families to obtain mortgages to purchase a home… A great and worthy goal that achieved some success.

But in 1995, Bill Clinton (with the help of Senator Chris Dodd and Representative Barney Frank) pushed through changes to the Community Reinvestment Act.  These changes authorized subprime loans.  Under pressure from lawsuits by community activist groups like ACORN, Freddie Mac orchestrated more than $1 trillion of these dangerous loans to folks who would not otherwise have been able to obtain a loan due to low income, no credit, or bad credit.

Until the advent of subprime loans the housing prices had been tracking at the rate of inflation (which was very low), but all of the sudden the new demand for housing, thanks to easy money, made the price of houses skyrocket.  It all worked well as long as interest rates were low, but they didn’t stay low.

Higher rates plus an artificial spike in fuel prices caused by our nation’s failure to access the Alaskan offshore and other known oil reserves put out of reach by the Federal government, put a tremendous economic squeeze on low-income house buyers, many of whom simply quit making their mortgage payments.


Back in 1995 and all the way through 2003, there were warnings that there was an impending crisis at Freddie Mac.  There were numerous articles in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.  In fact, at the time of the Enron collapse, the Wall Street Journal warned that the situation at Freddie Mac was even worse than Enron.  But no one paid attention.  No one wanted to listen, especially those in Congress who instituted the change to subprime loans.

When the Bush administration proposed major changes to avert the crisis we are experiencing today, both Senator Dodd and Representative Frank said Freddie Mac was sound and that no change or additional oversight was needed.  John McCain was a co-sponsor of the proposed legislation, but you would never know it from mainstream media coverage.  Meanwhile Senator Dodd, Representative Frank, and newly minted Senator Barak Obama were receiving huge checks from the executives at Freddie Mac as a payoff for their continued support.

What about bad choices?  Yes, the folks who took the subprime loans made bad choices.  But, it was awfully hard to resist.  A beautiful home in the suburbs with better schools and less crime was very enticing.  And if the interest rate would only stay low…  But the interest rates shot up, the housing prices dropped and disaster occurred.  It’s a sad situation, but you and I know that it’s not good to bail out our children when they get in trouble.  There is no lesson learned when we do so.  We should have compassion, but a bail out would not be beneficial in the long run.  We are all better off, even if bruised, when we are forced to live with the consequences of our actions.

Now we face a huge crisis, but there is another one looming on the horizon that is much, much larger than the current one, yet the liberals like Dodd and Frank have once again assured us there is no problem.  I’m talking about Social Security which is just as busted and broken as Freddie Mac.  Again the Bush administration has tried to make changes to return this program to solvency, but the opposition is in denial, just like they were on the subprime crisis.  The result is sure to be the same.

Will the Dodd’s and Frank’s of this world ever learn?  Apparently not!  Senator Dodd, Representative Frank, and Senator Obama now claim that the current crisis is a result of “deregulation” when, in fact, it is their bad judgment and bad legislation that have gotten us to where we are today.  It was mandatory regulations stipulating that subprime loans be made to individuals with no capacity to repay them that caused this crisis.

Dodd and Frank and Obama are afraid the truth will get out.  This time they are right.  It will.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Taxes & Democrats

                                   Taxes & Democrats 

“I’m only going to raise taxes on the ‘rich’ and I’ll give tax cuts to the middle class.”  It is indeed the “silly season” when candidates make boasts and claims that would make a drunken sailor blush.  But the idea that a Democrat candidate for President of the United States is going to cut taxes is as believable as the idea that the moon is made out of cheese.

Democrats raise taxes.  The only exception among Democrats since 1932 - 76 years ago - was John F. Kennedy who famously said, “A rising tide lifts all boats,” and proceeded to lower income tax ratesacross the board and thereby ushered in an era of prosperity.  JFK was indeed an exception to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton.

Republicans cut taxes.  Yes, there are Republican exceptions when clueless Presidents like Bush 41 raised taxes, who then got his just reward by being defeated for a second term.

As a practical rule of thumb, if you like lower taxes at the local level, you should vote for the Republican candidate for Mayor.  If you like lower taxes at the state level, you should vote for the Republican candidate for Governor.  And if you like lower taxes at the national level, you should vote for the Republican candidate for President.  The exceptions are few and far between.

Of course, taxes are important for many reasons, but primarily in regard to individual freedom and in regard to prosperity.

On the micro level, every one of your dollars collected in taxes reduces your individual freedom.  Instead of you choosing how and where to spend your dollar, some elected official, who considers himself or herself wiser and smarter than you are, decides how to spend your dollar.  And on the macro level, the more of your dollars that are taken by government in the form of taxes, the bigger and bigger government grows and threatens the very fabric of freedom in our society.  Large, powerful, centralized government always trends toward tyranny.  It is the sole cause of the loss of freedom whether its name is Fascism, Nazism, Communism, or Socialism.  

All human institutions, government included, are corrupted by frail, corrupt humans.  We are all sinful and everything we touch becomes corrupted as time runs on.  We are imperfect and the institutions we create are imperfect.  There is no such thing as a powerful, centralized government that is benign.  There is no such thing as individual freedom within a nation that is controlled by unrestrained politicians.  That’s the most important reason to oppose taxes - higher and higher taxes provide the foundation for the creation of bigger and bigger government.

Prosperity is similarly affected by high taxes.  You and I are more prosperous when we spend money as we choose.  Top down, command economies do not work.  No government, no matter how smart the leaders, can anticipate supply and demand.  It is the magic of a free society that creates jobs, that creates new products and services, that innovates, that develops cures for diseases, and inexorably leads to scientific and engineering progress. 

Socialist economies simply regulate scarcity.  There is no innovation except in building bigger weapons and more powerful delivery systems.  Citizens suffer at the whims of government and any consumer innovation that seeps into such a society is stolen or copied from free societies. 
The dysfunctional Trabant automobile built by the former East German government is as an apt symbol of socialism, as is the Volkswagen an apt symbol of freedom in the West.  There’s nothing progressive, or innovative, or creative, or free about a top down, command economy.  

Taxes not only mean less freedom for you and me, they also mean bigger, more controlling government, and less prosperity for all Americans.  

Liberal Democrats may be well-meaning in raising taxes and in their intent to do more for you and me, but the road of higher and higher taxes only leads to less freedom and less prosperity.  

You and I have a choice in November when we vote for politicians running for local, state, and national office.  What will your choice be—less freedom and a lower standard of living or more freedom and prosperity?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How Do You Want to be Remembered?

         How Do You Want to be Remembered?

Maybe it’s because I’m approaching my 65th birthday and I’m feeling my own mortality, or more likely it’s because I saw a silly plaque among flowers at a golf course. Whatever the reason, I’ve thought about what people might think of me when I’m gone (I’m not planning on leaving soon, but that’s in the Lord’s hands).

My conclusion after a recent family reunion is that it’s just like David said, "As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more."[1] Time flies and when we are gone we may be remembered by our immediate family for a little while, but soon they too will join us and we will be remembered no more. That’s the way life is.

About that silly plaque, I’ve actually seen several of them and they always make me chuckle. They are usually near the club house and are located among a small flower garden. The typical plaque says something like, "In memory of John Smith, long time member of such-and-such country club." I know we’re not here to be remembered, but I know I certainly don’t want to be remembered like that. 

Let’s see. I can just imagine the small talk. "John was a nice fellow. Always showed up on time for his tee time. He had a slice in his swing, but he could really tell a good story."
I once asked my good friend, Bill, if he could retire and play golf all the time. He said, "Sure, all the time for about two weeks." Isn’t it the truth! I love the game of golf, but I would be bored shortly if that was the sole purpose of my life.

The mother of Barry Goldwater, Sr. told him that he should leave the earth a better place. That’s sounds like pretty good advice, but it really misses the point if you take Jesus’ word seriously.
Sounds good to leave the world a better place, but is that command of Jesus’ Great Commission? He doesn’t want us to just leave the world a better place, even though that’s a good thing. No, He wants us to help others leave this world and join Him in Heaven. In the Great Commission Jesus told His disciples to be His "…witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."[2]  His commission to me might sound something like, "Be my witness in Vienna, in Virginia, across the United States, and around the globe."

My first response is always, "That’s impossible. I can’t witness across Virginia, much less across the US and around the world." Of course, my response conveniently fails to take into account my responsibility for witnessing to neighbors, friends, acquaintances, and all the others I bump into on a daily basis. It’s easier to find an excuse.

But, of course, I don’t even have an excuse when it comes to sharing the Good News across Virginia, the United States, and around the Globe. There are lots of avenues for me to not only share the Good News first hand in my local community, but also support effective mission programs in my state, across the nation, and throughout the world. So what’s my excuse? If I’m honest, I don’t have one.

That’s why I’m personally so excited about Time of Grace Ministry (, a national and international media outreach that has been blessed with phenomenal success in reaching those who don’t yet trust in Jesus as the long promised Messiah, their personal Savior.
If you are a follower of Jesus, what will you do today to gently tell someone you know about Jesus? What are you doing with the blessings God has given to you to share the Good News across your state, across our nation, and around the globe?

[1] Psalm 103:15-16, excerpted from Compton's Interactive Bible NIV. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved
[2] Acts 1:8, excerpted from Compton's Interactive Bible NIV. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 12, 2008

Our Failure

                                                    Our Failure
Recently, I received the 2007 numbers from Giving USA™, which is the statistical authority on to what, to whom, and how much Americans contribute each year.

I have always been amazed by the amount donated by Americans to nonprofits ($306.39 billion), and especially by the amount donated to religious causes (this includes all religions, but the vast portion goes to Christian groups, probably 80% or more). According to Giving USA™ the amount given to religious groups in 2007 was $102.32 billion. Yes, that number is $102,320,000,000 and, adjusted for inflation, that was a 1.8% increase over the amount given in 2006. The total given to religious activities is more than any other segment and amounts to 33.4% of all funds donated to various nonprofit organizations in the United States (of which there are more than 1.1 million groups). 
Incidentally, the group closest to religion is education, which received $43.32 billion in 2007, a distant second to the amount contributed to religion.

The $102.32 billion contributed to religious activities is a lot of money, but my question is: If we are donating so much more to religious causes than ever before, why aren’t we seeing an impact from such giving?

Let’s say that just 60% of all this giving goes to Christian groups. That would be more than $60 billion dollars. If that’s the case, why isn’t Christianity flourishing? Why isn’t it growing rapidly? Why isn’t Christianity having a powerful impact on our culture? Why isn’t the USA becoming a more civil, kinder country with each passing year?

Why aren’t there more people in church each Sunday, less foul language, fewer abortions, less pornography, less divorce, fewer broken homes, less crime, etc.?

I think I know the answer. Christianity has become an institution, not a cause. It’s become inwardly focused. It has become, as Reggie McNeal says, a "club" with its own rituals and buzz words, but its impact on society as a whole is negligible.

From the perspective of a donor who wants to see his dollar have an impact, Christianity circa 2008 is a flop. It is understandably not written up in the book, Forces for Good, as an effective cause.

Whoa, my Christian friends are going to say, that’s not fair. We need churches, we need staff, we need to take care of the elderly, and we need fellowship, etc. And my answer is, yes, but $60 billion should still allow plenty of funds for sharing the Good News.

Whoa, they will say again. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to change hearts and convert souls.
And I would respond that yes, it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to change hearts, but we have been commanded to bring the Good News to those who do not yet trust in Jesus so that the Holy Spirit has the opportunity to change hearts.

Is Christendom in America taking the Good News outside our churches to the hurting? If that is a legitimate question, then I’d say we are getting a poor return on our $60 billion or whatever the actual number is. 

We are exhorted to exercise good stewardship with our dollars and our talents. Spending $60 billion per year without any significant return seems like poor stewardship to me.
It’s not a shortage of dollars that is holding back spiritual renewal in America. It’s not the Holy Spirit. What else can it be but a lack of focus on outreach that is restraining the Good News from spreading far and wide?

If you are a believer, where’s your focus? Are you satisfied with the impact your donated dollars are having? Before it is too late, shouldn’t we start thinking of Christianity as a cause, rather than an institution?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Why So Mean and Nasty?

  Why So Mean and Nasty?

You’d have to live on Mars to believe that the mainstream media, i.e. Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, New York Times, CBS, ABC, and NBC isn’t biased to the left. But generally, they are smart enough to keep their bias within the bounds of reason and common decency. That being the case, why did they react so intensely and unreasonably against the selection of Governor Sarah Palin to be John McCain’s running mate? Their attacks were not only irrational, they were downright mean and nasty. What gives?

Some laid it off to the media being caught by surprise, but the mainstream media has been caught by surprise before and hasn’t reacted with such venom. Others said it was the Governor’s lack of experience, but at minimum, Sarah Palin has as much experience as Barak Obama. Still others said it was John McCain’s failure to conduct proper vetting, but after all she is a sitting Governor and it turns out that the vetting process was actually quite lengthy. 

So the attacks began... "She’s too inexperienced." Or, "She has five children, one with special needs which precludes her from having enough time to handle the responsibilities as Vice President." In their panic to gain traction with any attack, they tried every possible approach.

Why the gutter level attacks?

It’s not about experience. It’s not about her being distracted by her family. It’s not because she was not properly vetted. It’s not because she is a woman (although it does rankle them that the first woman President might not be named Hilary, but Sarah). It’s not because her daughter is pregnant out of wedlock.

So why have the attacks on Governor Palin and her family been so vicious?

The answer is that the mainstream media is still living in the 1940’s and 1950’s when the Eastern liberal establishment was able to control the selection of both political parties. It’s the same reason their attacks on Barry Goldwater were so outrageous and over the top. The Goldwater campaign put the Republican Party firmly in the hands of conservatives and because of that, Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States.

Just a couple of weeks ago the liberal news media thought they were back in the driver’s seat. It was 1950 again and they were serving as "king maker" in choosing the Republican nominee. They had already gotten their pick for the head of the ticket, John McCain, and they thought that they had secured the second spot for liberal Democrat, Joe Lieberman.
It was Nirvana! At the top of the Democratic ticket was a US Senator with a very liberal voting record and a personal background complete with radical leftists. In the second spot, they had another reliable liberal Senator. 

Perfect! No matter who would win the White House, they would have been successful in driving those hated Reagan conservatives from power. Even better, there would be no conservative star on the horizon.

But their plan to act as "king makers" of the Republican Party failed and they are outraged. Not only is it now possible that the Republicans will triumph in November, but worse yet, a Reagan conservative is waiting in the wings (win or lose)! How could John McCain be so stupid? 

Clearly Governor Palin had to be driven off the McCain ticket. She and her family had to be destroyed. And that’s exactly what they tried to do for a few furious days.

It was a high risk gambit, because to fail would be to lose further credibility with regard to any semblance of objectivity. Throwing caution and common sense to the wind, they went all out, but they forgot several things.

First, Americans cherish fairness above almost anything else and their low level attacks were anything but even handed and fair.
Second, it’s not the 1940’s, 1950’s or even the 1970’s anymore. The Eastern liberal establishment no longer has the power to act as "king maker" when it comes to choosing the nominee of the Republican Party. The mainstream news media no longer has a stranglehold on the news. That monopoly was broken long ago by talk radio, by the Internet, by FOX News, and by independent minded newspapers like The Washington Times. The mainstream media no longer has the ability to limit the American public to hearing only one side of the story.

So they lost. They lost big time. As a result their readership will continue to decline, viewer numbers will continue to drop, and their influence will continue to wane. The power of the so-called "mainstream media" has hit the skids.

Their anti-Sarah Palin gambit backfired. Ironically, their unfair attacks have offended fair-minded Americans and unified the Republican Party, thus boosting the chances of the McCain-Palin ticket winning in November.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Obama Nomination: An American Triumph

    The Obama Nomination: An American Triumph

The nomination of Barak Obama was indeed an American triumph, a triumph over racism as a collective ill of our society. And, yes, it was a special triumph for the Democratic Party who took the lead in fighting for equal rights for all Americans, regardless of their race, in the 1940s. I can’t imagine that it will be too long before a talented and qualified African-American becomes the Presidential nominee of the Republican Party. We are indeed blessed to have two parties, both Republicans and Democrats, who oppose and detest racism in America. The Republicans may be late to the cause, but today they are just as ardent, from the precinct to the White House, in their rejection of racism. The fact is that over the past 30 years, both have led the way by nominating qualified candidates to major political positions, from the Secretary of State to the Supreme Court Justices. While the parties advocate different solutions to the major issues of our day, including those that affect minorities and black Americans in particular, racism is simply not tolerated within either party.

Senator Barak Obama became the Democratic nominee because he was the first choice of Democrats, black and white, on the issues they support, because of "Clinton fatigue," and not, one would hope, because he was black. I include the latter because to oppose or support someone simply on the basis of race is the very definition of racism.

Now, let us also hope that those in the news media will not dishonor Senator Obama by suggesting that opposition to the Senator is based on racism. To portray those who oppose the election of Barak Obama because they disagree with him on the issues or are concerned about his character or background, epitomizes the racism that America needs to put behind us. In fact, using race in any way to gain political advantage is not only cynical, but detestable, and detrimental to our nation.

Senator Obama is an American and to treat him fairly and honestly, as I believe the Democrats did in their primary process, his positions, his record, and his choice of confidants become fair game, just as they are for John McCain.

What is racism? It is, of course, hatred or dislike of another person, simply on the basis of race. It is also affection or support for anyone on the basis of race. Has racism been eliminated from our society? That is, of course, an uninformed question, to put it gently. Racism is a sin, just like stealing, jealousy, dishonoring your parents, adultery, lying, putting other things before God, or any of the other sins enumerated in the Ten Commandments. 

Are you a sinner? Am I a sinner? Of course, it is the nature of the human condition. Only a fool would assert that he or she is without sin. As it says in the Bible, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8). Accordingly, hatred (racism), or lying, or stealing, or jealousy, or dishonoring God will never be eliminated as long as the sun comes up in the morning. Those who endeavor to create perfect societies, like the Communists do, are always doomed to create earthly hells.

Racism will regrettably continue to exist in isolated pockets and among individuals in our land (and throughout the world), but thankfully, it has long since ceased to exist as a consensus among any large number of Americans. This is the 21st century, not the 1940s, or 50s, or 60s, or even 70s. The Robert Byrd’s of our society have seen the error of their ways, as have the noblesse oblige Republicans like George Bush ’41 who practiced "soft" racism with his paternalistic approach to African-Americans. Apparently the senior Bush had his epiphany as Vice-President under Ronald Reagan, from whom he learned to honor and respect African-Americans as equals, not as a group of Americans who were inferior in any respect. 

Ronald Reagan was absolutely uncompromising in his intolerance of intolerance. As a young man, Ronald Reagan considered his African-American friends as equals. When Reagan was participating in sports and local hotels wouldn’t take in African-Americans, he refused to stay at the hotel himself. This was consistent with his support of the critical civil rights struggles of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Throughout his life, Ronald Reagan displayed his total commitment to equal rights and equal respect for all Americans, and this served as an inspiration to all around him to do the same, including George Bush ’41.
So, yes, the nomination of Barak Obama was indeed a triumph for the Democratic Party and for all Americans. Three cheers for the United States! Hip, hip, hooray! Well done, Uncle Sam!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Governor Sarah Palin—A Great Choice

Governor Sarah Palin—A Great Choice
Congratulations to John McCain on making a truly great choice for his Vice-Presidential running mate. A great choice not because Sarah Palin is a woman, but because she brings something to the race that none of the other three candidates, Obama, Biden, or McCain brings—an understanding of the proper role of government in a free society. That understanding is why millions of conservatives across our land have now gotten on board the McCain campaign. Without their support, their enthusiasm, and their dollars, the McCain campaign was almost certainly doomed to failure—as were the campaigns of liberal Republicans like Dewey, Ford, and Bush ’41. Because Governor Sarah Palin is on the ticket, the Republicans now have an excellent opportunity to win the White House in 2008.

I do believe that life experience is important for the person who serves as President of the United States. It is a serious weakness of Barak Obama. And while I might wish that Sarah Palin had more experience, it is accurate and fair to point out that she has more political executive experience than Obama, Biden, and McCain combined! And remember, Sarah Palin is number two on the GOP ticket, not number one like Senator Obama.

The fact is that the US Senate is not a good training ground for serving as President of the United States. It is a debating society. There are no executive decisions made as a Senator or state representative. With all due respect, Senator Biden is a 36-year incumbent and a Washington insider nonpareil. Senator Obama’s background is as a junior legislator with a far left voting record and questionable relationships with radicals and corrupt machine politicians in Chicago. Senator McCain is a war hero, but his record as a Congressman and Senator provide no confidence that he has any deep understanding of the foundations of a free society.

What are those foundations that Sarah Palin has such a good grasp on? It is the same understanding that our founders had when they carefully formed a new kind of government, one that is to serve the people, not rule over them. They understood the frail, imperfect nature of the human state. As observers of history, they saw that whenever a government became powerful, it always trampled on the rights of its citizens to the sole benefit of those in power. They understood that our republic would survive as a free society only if we were a government of laws, not of men. 

They wrote the Constitution to protect American citizens from government abuse, not to create a government that would do everything for its citizens. They knew that the path of big, powerful government always leads to despotism. Through the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, they tried to limit government’s responsibilities to provide for the common defense, provide equal justice, and maintain internal order. Their goal was that future generations of Americans would live in freedom.
It is important to note that the founders failed miserably in regard to slavery. It was not, however, a failure to correctly understand the danger of a big, powerful government, but rather their tragic failure to recognize African-Americans as human beings, as citizens. Thomas Jefferson reputedly called slavery the fatal flaw of the Constitution. If he said that, he was absolutely right. Slavery is the worst human condition. It happened then and continues today because of the power of unfettered and all-powerful government to advance misguided and unjust causes when there is no consensus of virtue among its citizenry.

The founders understood that in order to keep our country as a free society, virtue had to exist as a consensus of its citizens. They did not want a state church to exist, but they did want to encourage a respect for Judeo-Christian virtues among the citizens of our land. They encouraged attendance at Christian churches and Jewish synagogues. They knew that laws alone would not keep our land from deteriorating into chaos if virtue did not exist as a common attribute of our citizens.

It is this understanding that Governor Sarah Palin brings to the 2008 race for the White House. She has a sound, Constitutional philosophy of government that was heretofore absent among the candidates for President and Vice-President. That is not to say that the candidates are not well-intended, but rather that they do not have a sound, coherent philosophy based on an accurate understanding of human nature and the intent of our founders as expressed in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Of course, Governor Palin also brings great personal character—kindness, toughness, respect, honesty, decision making ability, and great personal integrity to the McCain ticket. Imagine a woman who fought and overcame the "old boy" network in her own party by beating the incumbent Republican Governor and then going on to victory over a strong Democratic candidate for Governor. Imagine a crusader who rooted out corruption in her own party against tremendous opposition. Imagine the love and kindness of a mother who welcomed a Down syndrome child into her life and home as a blessing from God. Imagine a competitor who not only was runner-up for Miss Alaska, but also a member of a high school basketball team that won their state championship. Imagine a Mayor and a Governor who vetoed multiple tax increases. Imagine a Governor who returned excess revenues to the taxpayers instead of spending it on unnecessary projects and programs. Imagine an incumbent Governor who has an 80% approval rating from the citizens of her state. Imagine a Vice-Presidential candidate that truly understands the foundations of a free society. 

If you can imagine all of this you can begin to understand why Governor Sarah Palin is such a great choice to serve as John McCain’s running mate!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Oh, Obama!

Oh, Obama!

Oh, Obama! You looked so good when you first came on the scene. Almost every American wished you well. Just like a beautiful girl that we met one summer, you’ve broken our heart. She looked so nice and talked so proper, and was so much fun we were enchanted. How disappointed we were when we found out that she wasn’t what we thought she was. She kept the wrong company, and she had a reputation that turned out to be true.

Oh, Obama, what a disappointment. The other fellow is nothing to rave about and in any other election year he would have never made it past the first primary, but you make him look good. 

Obama, you had so much potential. You could truly have been a unifier, but instead you turned out to be a left-wing cad with one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate. You could have wowed them in Peoria, but instead your friends are so angry, and even anti-American. A man is indeed known by the company he keeps, and yours does not speak well of you. Even your wife is scary.

85 to 90 percent of all Americans would love to have an African-American elected President of the United States as a gesture of good will, but of course, character, principle and values must come first. You could have won overwhelmingly, but now you’re only still in the race because your opponent is so weak.

You’re smart, well-educated, and yet so shallow. You call yourself a man of the center, a man of compromise, but sadly your voting record puts you closer to the far left than it does to any middle ground. You wobble back and forth on the issues and seem more at home as a Chicago machine politician than your do in the role of a statesman.

You might still pull it off, but what could have been a triumph for Black Americans, may well turn into a debacle, even if you are elected. 

Your policies might best be described as those of Jimmy Carter—on steroids. America will survive if you should be elected, but it will almost certainly be a disaster for America and for your own Democratic Party.

What dismal choices we have been presented with in this election year. Can anyone truthfully say that either you or the other fellow is the best choice to serve as President of our nation?

Clearly the nomination process is broken. Ronald Reagan would never have been nominated under the rules for nomination we follow today. John F. Kennedy wouldn’t have made it either. We need to get back to conventions, where informed delegates, rather than voters driven solely by emotion, vote in primaries It’s the only way we will ever choose candidates who have the character, ability, experience, and philosophy necessary to govern our nation in these dangerous times.

My Personal Hero

                My Personal Hero
My personal hero is not a hero at all. She’s a heroine. In fact, yesterday, August 25, 2008, marked 35 years that I’ve been married to this beautiful lady. Kathi is beautiful in many ways. She turned my head when I first saw her at church more than three decades ago and she is still a beauty. 

But much more than outward looks, Kathi has a beauty of character which begins with kindness toward others. She is sensitive, smart, and a wiz at financial numbers. She’s been a great wife, a wonderful mother, and a great friend. Kathi is also a person of deep faith.

All of these characteristics do not, however, explain why she is my hero. I’ll try to explain it, though I doubt my words will be sufficient to describe why she is my hero.

About ten years ago Kathi was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis—MS as it is known. It was a shock, needless to say. She woke up on the day before Christmas and felt numbness in her legs. It took a while for the diagnosis, but the doctors concluded that she had MS, or more precisely, relapsing-remitting MS. It’s a disease that strikes young women the most, but it can be devastating to anyone who has it. Nearly 50% of all of those diagnosed with MS proceed into secondary-progressive MS, which can cripple both mentally and physically, and even lead to death.

Although MS is considered an "Orphan" disease, the numbers of those struck by it is growing rapidly. Thankfully, drug companies (with the incentive of longer patent rights) have come up with a number of drugs. While these drugs do not cure MS, they do delay, ameliorate, and otherwise impede the progression of it. They are indeed a blessing.

But I am getting off my topic. What do you do when you have MS fatigue? What do you do when you have balance problems? What do you do when you have double vision? Or what do you do when you have other problems such as optic neuritis?

And what kind of an attitude do you then take toward multiple weekly injections that are not only very painful, but also cause site reactions and become more difficult with each passing year? It would be easy to have a very bad attitude.
You could hide out at home. Be mad at the world. Give up on life. Or you could take out your unhappiness on others. I suppose some people might do that.

But not Kathi. She does not choose to let MS run her life. She, instead, chooses to live her life to the fullest. Those of you who know her well know that she’s not a complainer. She’s energetic when she doesn’t feel like being energetic. She’s hard working when she may not feel like getting out of bed in the morning. She’s more concerned about the health of others than most and rarely talks about her own challenges.

She babysits. She dances. She goes boating. She attends baseball games. She travels. She volunteers. She handles our finances. She is the "general contractor" for all our home remodeling and repairs. She’s my wife and I love her dearly.
Happy 35th Anniversary, Kathi.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Content of Our Character

The Content of Our Character

The Content of Our Character is the title of a book written by Shelby Steele, the noted author and Hoover Institute Fellow. It was first published in hardback by St. Martin’s Press in 1990 and is available today in paperback thanks to Harper Perennial. 

Although this book is clearly written primarily for African Americans as a part of an ongoing debate within that community, it offers great insight into the timely issue of friction between the black and white races in America. As with all of Mr. Steele’s books, it is a thoughtful and intellectually provoking book. It will help white Americans better understand the journey being made by black Americans from their treatment as second class citizens, to full-fledged participants in the rough and tumble landscape of a free, democratic society.

It gave me a greater understanding of the insecurity both races have with a fully integrated, fair, and yet competitive society. White guilt, the title of another Steele book, along with the fear of individual failure can lead to new anxieties and frictions.

The great debate now going on in the African American community, i.e. Jesse Jackson vs. Bill Cosby, has to do with leadership. Should the leadership of the black community lead by blaming white Americans for all the ills of their race, or should the primary responsibility for success be focused on the individual? Can any group really get ahead when they envision themselves as victims, even if they are a victim? That’s the real question posed by Shelby Steele in this book.

It’s the collective vs. the individual. To be authentically black, according to Steele, you must identify with the publicly identified position of the black community as victims of white oppression, past, present, and future. But, to succeed you must put aside the idea that you are a victim and take full personal responsibility for your success or failure. You must be willing to compete in all areas of our society.

As Steele pointed out in White Guilt, young black men expect to excel in basketball. They would never tolerate a player in a pick-up game that can’t dribble, fake, pass, and shoot at a high level. In fact, African Americans have re-defined the great game of basketball through intense competition and hard work. Yet these same young men, according to Steele, will avoid doing well in school for fear that they will be labeled as "acting white."
This book is worth reading. It deals with an issue that must be solved in the 21st Century if America is to advance and prosper.