December 30, 2008

And now, for this...

This blog is about to be improved, courtesy of a Christmas gift.

I've never had a real camera. I have had an Advantix widescreen point-and-shoot, a digital point-and-shoot, a rather infamous Polaroid and several disposables (which shouldn't even be in the same category). But until this year I have not used a manual camera of any kind.

That is, until N. gifted me with a lovely Canon S5 is.

It's little, it's powerful and the pictures so far are beautiful!

Of course I lament not having it in the summer- wistfully imagining macro close-ups of budding plants and herbs- but alas, it will have to cover much ground until spring.

I took it out for a test run this afternoon when the sun was still fairly high in the sky. It was a balmy 36 degrees. Scattered clouds.

I took 134 shots; about 50 made it past the cutting room floor. The best of the best is below, with a twist! It's a photo caption contest, folks. Any genre, any caption. I will pick the best in approximately one week's time. Submit as often as you like!

N's suggestion is to use this image for greeting cards. Perhaps another small business is in the making?

Now try not to laugh too hard...

December 14, 2008

I can do better...really!

And just to prove how I'm not just on the up about Hannah Montana, here are some relatively unknown Obama-related links.

The first is a video about the HYPE documentary, which I am going to get ahold of pretty soon. I will be happy to loan it out when I have it in possession.



The second is "Obama Watch," a blog-ish site devoted to keeping watch on what Obama has, is and will probably do. He's got some great clips, as well as links to another worthy news site, PRESS TV. Among other topics, I've been reading about the Mumbai attack on PRESS TV.

Barack Obama Watch


PRESS TV

The election's over, that doesn't mean your work is done. Keep an eye out.

Enjoy!

December 13, 2008

This is not the life

This is a very strange post for a Saturday evening; it's about "Hannah Montana."

I did not grow up with the Disney Channel, but my cousins did. We watched it over family vacations every now and then, and I vaguely remember thinking it was a little weird, but not knowing why.

At our house, we had Mtv. So of course Disney, with its non-sexual content and hippy-dippy shows about kids who loved their parents seemed a very far cry from our after-school programming of Madonna and Michael Jackson.

But I never thought much about Disney channel since I was a kid- except for one night when Nic recalled a favorite singer of his (Martika) from the station and made us watch videos of hers- until recently when, after dismissing this whole "Hannah Montana" craze for another Debbie Gibson episode, realized she is a global presence.

And that is a very scary thing.

I have obviously underestimated the little studio crooner. She recently made yet another top 25 stars under 25 list featured on Yahoo (my sad replacement search engine for Google which I despise.. but I nixed Google after finding out that they support the gay rights agenda). Then I noticed my coworkers going on and on about what to buy their little girls this year, how it's Hannah Montana crap again.

Apparently she does indeed have the "best of both worlds:" she's the apple of every little girl's eye and thus her face is practically on every bill in the parent's wallet. (The "best" comment was a little inside joke for you HM fans who read my blog...)

So what's my beef with the staged phenom? Three things: her making out with a fellow character on her t.v. show; her "Jesus is my homeboy" profession of Christianity; the content of her music.

The first two are self-explanatory, so I'll just give you this video as an explanation of the third. To a Christian, should the life Miley Cyrus leads be "the life?" It's a place of decadence and superficial relationships, fleeting fame and devoid of serious contemplation of who God wants her to be.

Is this the life God wants us to lead?

December 10, 2008

Fitzgerald is 2008's Elliot Ness

United States Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald is the new Elliot Ness, I'm sure of it.

In the world of Chicago politics, swathed in mob mentality (as in, organized crime), Fitzgerald has rooted out one of the most indecent politicians in recent memory, Gov. Blagojevich.

Just like Elliot Ness systematically shut down the mob in Chicago and Cleveland, who all but ran the cities throughout the 1930s, Fitzgerald has successfully unearthed evidence leading to the prosecution, and conviction, of Illinois Governor George Ryan and also assisted in the prosecution of Mafia figure John Gambino in 1993. His office led the charges against several aides to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley in 2005.

Fitzgerald also served the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel, where he brought an indictment for 5 counts of false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice against Dick Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby.

On the terrorism front, Fitzgerald led prosecution against Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and others charged in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Fitzgerald also served as chief counsel in prosecutions related to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania (these attacks were performed by al Qaeda).

Let's honor this principled man for doing his appointed job, with adherence to and respect of our laws.

Here's a great quote from Atty Fitzgerald, from a press conference following Scooter LIbby's indictment:

"Fitzgerald was asked about comments by Republicans such as Kay Bailey Hutchison, who said 'I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality...' Fitzgerald responded, 'That talking point won't fly... The truth is the engine of our judicial system. If you compromise the truth, the whole process is lost . . . if we were to walk away from this, we might as well hand in our jobs.'

(source for all: Wikipedia)

Update on abortion post information

This is the link for the video I posted, "Happy Birthday," in conjunction with the Planned Parenthood post awhile back.

Someone had requested it and I thought I'd re-post the video with the link on YouTube.
The artist is Flipsyde.

here is the link to the video on YouTube

and below is the video again:


December 9, 2008

Cutest Blog on the Block is making Christmas cards!

I love this site for their backgrounds, but they are now making Christmas card templates available at a nominal fee ($15 per design).

If you sign up for a free photo-hosting site (photobucket, kodak, etc.) they are offering your first 20-50 photos printed for free! So if you combine the two offers you could get your customized Christmas cards (up to 50) for $15.

IL Governor Blagojevich Arrested on Corruption Charges

Just when I was getting used to a new failing governor (Granholm)...

IL Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been arrested on charges of conspiracy to induce bribery, "allegedly conspired to sell U.S. Senate appointment, engaged in pay-to-play schemes and threatened to withhold state assistance to Tribune Company for Wrigley Field to induce (the) purge of newspaper editorial writers" (quoted, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Grant).

Blagojevich's administration, which replaced the former Gov. Ryan's and his history of corrupt politics, was expected to usher in a new age of morally-upheld government officiating.

So much for that.

"They (Atty Fitzgerald's office) also allege Blagojevich is heard on tape demanding a corporate board seat for his wife worth as much as $150,000 a year; promises of campaign funds, including cash up front; and the post of secretary of health and human services or an ambassadorship for himself in the Obama administration."

At least we can give Mr. Blagojevich a round of applause for his audacity. And hey, that's something the Obama camp loves, right? Maybe Blagojevich would've been a good fit after all.

What appalls me about this story is the last charge, that Mr. Blagojevich and a staff member conspired to force the Chicago Tribune to fire dissenting, or at least concerned, editorial staff members.

Which brings me to my conclusion, one that comes after the holiday but is still just as pertinant an item to be thankful for: our nation's founders' recognizing the longevity and importance of the first amendment!

Without it, those Tribune writers wouldn't have been able to criticize at all. Without it, I wouldn't be able to write this blog. Thanks, founders!


December 7, 2008

One More Way to Support Christmas

Focus on the Family is working hard to promote the importance of Christmas in retailers' ads.

Please go to the following link to sign petitions and check mark the stores you most often shop at (these statistics help FOTF to know where to best combine their efforts).

Christmas-Friendly Shopping, pt. II

Focus on the Family has generously gathered info on more Christmas-friendly stores (those who use Christmas in their ads and throughout the store, not "holidays" or "seasons" alone).

I am adding Ace Hardware to that list. I heard a commercial on the radio which said something to the effect of, "We know finding Christmas gifts can be difficult..." So, if you are in the market to buy any kind of electrical device, tools, paint supplies or anything of the like, please consider Ace Hardware. You'll notice I am not endorsing either Lowe's or Home Depot.

Here's Focus on the Family's list:

"Christmas-friendly" retailers — prominent acknowledgment of "Christmas"

Bass Pro Shops*
Bed, Bath & Beyond
Best Buy
Cabela's
Circuit City
Crate&Barrel
Dillard's
Eddie Bauer
JCPenney
Kohl's
L.L.Bean
Lands' End
Linens 'n Things
Lowe's
Macy's
Neiman Marcus
Nordstrom
Pier 1 Imports
Sears
The Home Depot
Target
Toys "R" Us
Wal-Mart


"Christmas-negligent" retailers — marginalized use of "Christmas"

Barnes & Noble
Borders
Dick's Sporting Goods
GAP
KB Toys
Kmart


"Christmas-offensive" retailers — apparent abandonment of "Christmas"

American Eagle
Banana Republic
Bloomingdale's
Lane Bryant
Old Navy



* National retailers that recently learned of our campaign and contacted us to display their support for Christmas.

December 4, 2008

The Sexualization of Our Children and Beyond

Here's a link to an interview with a 9-year-old boy who just wrote the book, "How to Talk to Girls."

It might interest you to know he began writing it when he was eight, after seeing lots of his schoolyard friends having "trouble getting girls." Perceiving the need for a primer that they could understand, the boy wrote it and later had it sold at a school book fair.

Shouldn't I be as proud of this boy (and he is still a boy, at least until he "finds the right girl"), as his school is, that he has successfully written a book that "helps" his little friends?

Shouldn't I find it cute that he has already developed an interest in little girls? (I do recognize here that God instills in us the desire for the opposite sex at birth, but that is no promotion for his behavior.)

Shouldn't I shrug this off as just another little kid having his fifteen minutes of fame for saying "the darndest things?"

As a Christian, as a potential mom, as a lover of all children and fighter for their childhood preservation, I can't help but see this for what it is: the indoctrination of our kids, teaching them that sex is something to be "explored" and "questioned" as early as possible.

Liberal voters freaked out when conservatives suggested Obama's push for sex ed in elementary school meant teaching kindergartners how to put condoms on bananas. But if this story is any indication, we might be headed in that direction already.

This is how fascism works, folks: The leaders and media get people used to the idea of something (sexual exploration, for one; liberal political bent, for another) slowly, gradually and with plenty of kitsch value (incorporating children as much as possible; see: the elementary school singing an Obama anthem and a related post) until we don't even notice the changes anymore.

Pretty soon they can pass the Fairness Doctrine, give mandatory birth control pills to girls ages 9 and up, add-on Muslim prayer rooms to public schools, remove books that are considered "too controversial" (meaning, too conservative) from libraries or make only certain rights available to certain people who sympathize with the government (no matter what) without so much as a frown of disapproval from the masses.*

Before you cry "conspiracy theorist!" at me, take another look at the items I just mentioned and recall if you've seen any of them in the news lately.

Then again, if the government-darling liberal media is doing its job, you wouldn't have.



(*Check the "Headlines and Links" portion of the sidebar here for more info.)

Christmas- Friendly Shopping, pt. I


As a HUGE proponant of companies that openly promote Christmas (and not the blasphemous "xmas," or Muslim Eid, or solstice, or kwanzaa or other non-holy "holidays"), I will be compiling a list of these places for your shopping convenience.

There are also non-tangible gifts, if you are the kind who likes to give in the form of charity, or just doesn't like guessing what someone wants. Please consider, if you are buying us gifts this year, choosing something off these sites, where the money generated from sales is used for the promotion of God's glory through education throughout the year.
Below is the beginning of the list. Please see upcoming posts for more. Recommended items are featured, too.
**********************************

World Net Daily (http://www.wnd.com/) : books, magnetic bumper stickers, conservative t-shirts

* Recommended: "Scam, How Black Leadership Exploits Black America,"


by Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson

(Rev. Peterson is the founder of BOND- see sidebar)
also, check out WND's Christmas store (click here for link)

Westminster Bookstore online (http://www.wts.com/) : Reformed books, apologetics, applied Christianity, study Bibles and more

Recommended: "Reasons of the Heart," by William Edgar

This is a great beginning apologetics book. How better to glorify God and celebrate Christmas by learning how to defend the faith? (Nic gave it to me for Christmas last year.)



Also recommended:
"Christless Christianity," by Dr. Michael Horton

This is a primer of all the current "alternative gospels" being offered in the American church. Extensive research has yielded insight about the prosperity gospel, new age and mystical practices, the watering-down and outright betrayal of the great commission.

From Rob Bell to Charles Finney and everyone in between (Pagitt, McClaren, Warren, Osteen, Jakes...).

World Vision (www.worldvision.org) : Here you will find intangible (in the sense that you will never see them) gifts of animals, education supplies, Bibles, food, shelter, water and clothing

Check out their gift catalog (found at this link) for many gifts under $30, or to donate a share of the larger-cost gifts. Please consider sponsoring a child, too; it costs $35 a month and provides so much. It's a great way to spread the real Gospel by personal letters and contact you have with your sponsored child.

Recommended: American Families Assistance Fund (click here to go to the page)

Why not help out in our own nation? Thousands of children and adults here need our help and to know the Gospel, too. This fund works with churches in the U.S. to provide critical supplies like clothing, food and water. In addition, these families find shelter in churches where they can be told the Good News about Christ, our Savior.

Also recommended: Donate Bibles, Youth Bible curriculum or Christian education to students around the world. Click on the items to go to the page and donate today!

December 3, 2008

Impending Disappointment

I'm going to make a prediction about Obama's presidency:

it's going to be incredibly boring due to his complete lack of conviction and masculinity.

And by masculinity I mean, well, balls.


You heard it here first.

Michael Savage editorial for today

I don't want to upstage my own post, but... this editorial is really good.

High Self-Esteem, Low Character



"American teenagers lie, steal and cheat more at "alarming rates," a study of nearly 30,000 high school students concluded Monday.

The attitudes and conduct of some 29,760 high school students across the United States "doesn't bode well for the future when these youngsters become the next generation's politicians and parents, cops and corporate executives, and journalists and generals," the non-profit Josephson Institute said.

In its 2008 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth the Los Angeles-based organization said the teenagers' responses to questions about lying, stealing and cheating "reveals entrenched habits of dishonesty for the workforce of the future."

Boys were found to lie and steal more than girls.

Overall, 30 percent of students admitted to stealing from a store within the past year, a two percent rise from 2006. More than one third of boys (35 percent) said they had stolen goods, compared to 26 percent of girls.

An overwhelming majority, 83 percent, of public school and private religious school students admitted to lying to their parents about something significant, compared to 78 percent for those attending independent non-religious schools.

"Cheating in school continues to be rampant and it's getting worse," the study found. Amongst those surveyed, 64 percent said they had cheated on a test, compared to 60 percent in 2006. And 38 percent said they had done so two or more times.

Despite no significant gender differences on exam cheating, students from non-religious independent schools had the lowest cheating rate, 47 percent, compared to 63 percent of students attending religious schools.

"As bad as these numbers are, it appears they understate the level of dishonesty exhibited by "America's youth," the study warned, noting than more than a fourth of the students (26 percent) admitted they had lied on at least one or two of the survey questions.

"Despite these high levels of dishonesty, these same kids have a high self-image when it comes to ethics."

Some 93 percent of students indicated satisfaction with their own character and ethics, with 77 percent saying that "when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know."


Tax Code Fairness and other Myths

(text quoted is generously lifted from yahoofinance.com; emphasis mine)

"
Tax cuts are "part and parcel of what we need when it comes to stimulus," Obama said last week.

"We're going to be putting money in people's pockets so that they can spend on buying a new computer for their kid's school, so that they can, you know, make sure that they are able to deal with heat and groceries and all the other strains on the family budget," he added.

The long-term benefit, in his view: It would create more fairness in the tax code.
"
*******************************************

There are so many things wrong with Obama's statement above. They are, from least to most important: the idea of fairness, what people are spending money on, who will get those tax cuts/Obama's naivete, redistribution of wealth, whether this is good for our economy and anticipated objections.

1. The idea of fairness.

Tax cuts seem like a good thing, don't they? Taking less money from those who don't have much to begin with- it seems nice and, a favorite liberal word (used above by Obama), fair.

But I ask you to consider whether giving money to people at the lowest income levels- the people who are least likely to have worked the most (hence their low income status); the very same people whose unpaid loans largely contributed to the mortgage crisis; the people most likely to depend on the government for welfare assistance, social security checks and free health care services- is fair, or is the complete opposite?

You there, middle-class American citizen: do you work to pay your family's bills, housing and food costs? Do you pay taxes which provide gas, electric, garbage removal, clean water services, recycling in your city? Do you depend on health insurance from your employer or a private company for your family's well-being?

If so, you are doing what could be called unfair; you are paying taxes into a pool of local and national government services that provide for someone else. (In fact, a lot of somebody elses.)
But you know why you pay taxes- you believe that for your use of these services you should pay for them. It would be stealing otherwise, right?

2. What people are spending their money on.

I was going to write "hard-earned" money, but then remembered I'm including everyone here!
Obama seems to think that people who will receive the biggest tax cut will spend that economic stimulus money on things like "a new computer for their kid's school."

Aw, that's sort of sweet in a totally naive way. But I doubt it's the first thing people will think to spend that money on. I'm thinking more like a flat-screen t.v. or a Wii (or a second one) will occupy people's minds in early 2009. Did you know that many stores offered no fee to cash stimulus checks last year in exchange for a gift card in the amount that could be used only at that store. Wal-Mart was one of them; they might want to reconsider that this time, in lieu of recent events. Extra savings might prove extra deadly.

I digress. What do people at the low-income level spend money on? If living amongst them and actually seeing them go about their business is any indication, money is spent on clothing, entertainment, cars, gas, pets, food and drink. After all, if you didn't have to pay for most of your groceries, your rent, health care, baby supplies and food, or education, what would you be spending on?

3. Who will get these tax cuts/Obama's naivete/redistribution.

See #2. In addition, let's talk a bit more about who will get these "tax cuts."

You see, Obama and the liberal left are always talking about how people who are the "most disadvantaged" are "most deserving" of a break. The fact is people at the lowest income level are already receiving a lot of breaks from the government, and a tax cut is just another one.

More importantly, 80% of taxes are paid by people at the highest 50% of income level. People in the lowest 20% income bracket only pay 5% of all taxes paid. The fact behind these statistics is that people in the lowest income bracket do not, for the most part, pay any taxes at all. So to give them a "tax cut" really means to cut them a check for absolutely nothing.

This is that "redistribution of wealth" thing you're not hearing about anymore.

Here's a simpler way of putting it: when the government writes everyone a check, where does that money come from? Could it be from taxes? If not, where? Don't say "the budget," because that's just pushing the question back one step (what money is the budget comprised of?).

If some people are paying no taxes and others are paying most taxes... who do you think is paying for this stimulus package?

4. Will a tax cut/stimulus package be good for our economy?

Personally I loved that economic stimulus package from President Bush; it was some extra money I could pay bills off with (yes, that's what I did with it). But studies have shown that our economy was no better off following the bundles of money poured back into it from the checks being spent.

It is a typical Democratic response (which demonstrates Bush's segue from conservative ideals) when a problem arises in an area to throw money at it (See: $700 billion big bank bailout, proposed auto industry bailout). Government has been doing it with the public education system for decades and schools are worse than ever, with humanism running rampant and self-esteem bankrupting kids of learning useful skills.

So, is one more "throw-money-at-it" solution going to help?


5. Anticipated objections to my argument.

Personally, I think the low income class has too much slack which may be why they have become so dependent; if your essential needs were already provided by someone else, how motivated would you be to get up early every day to look for a job, and work hard enough to keep it?

Furthermore, it's a misnomer to call these people "disadvantaged." They have just as many opportunities to work as anyone else. Your objection, "But Victoria, people like this are disabled, or can't work, or are prejudiced against by people who don't want to give them jobs!"

Really? I've worked with kids with serious mental and physical disabilities, and their parents. I've also worked in homeless shelters and with other people so-called "unfit" for the work environment. And it's true, some of them couldn't work because of severe physical impairment, but most often it was because they "didn't feel like it" (a response I heard often from parents of kids with an SSI check every month that covered the bills).

In fact most of the "disadvantaged" people I've known - including a homeless man and a woman with the mental development of a ten-year-old - had jobs of some kind and, though they didn't pay well, earned them pride and satisfaction in their work, as well as the respect of their able-minded and -bodied coworkers.

All this made them want to keep working... See the difference?

If we are considering the bigger picture here, we have to admit that there are all kinds of jobs available to anyone who wants them. For instance if you don't believe that there are "some jobs Americans don't want to do" that illegal immigrants snatch up, you should have no problem accepting that people with no job at all could/should accept a job picking fruit or cleaning hotel rooms.

December 2, 2008

2 For Our Side

Oh, Obama. How you are able to institute "change," and so quickly!

Changing his mind, I mean. His appointments of James Jones (National Security Advisor) and Robert Gates (to continue as Defense Secretary) are truly statements of change that Obama voters may not join him in cheering for.

But I will. Why? Because they're nothing like Obama, or his supporters. And that's a good thing.

James Jones is a former Marine general and NATO commander. He knows the world we live in, has faced the enemies of our country head-on and will provide some back bone to the upcoming administration.

Robert Gates is the current Defense Secretary and has become a powerful proponant of both the surge in Iraq and the war in general. Gates has been to Iraq, know what is working there and what won't (i.e. a set end date in 16 months). His contribution will continue to be (I hope) the support of fighting the war in a measured way.

Hilary Clinton's appointment (foreign policy advisor) is obviously controversial and not one I can immediately endorse. But even she might be good for the administration, providing some much-needed deflating of the Obama hope balloon. She's an opportunist, to say the least, and perhaps that spirit of competition will light a fire under the President-elect to make some bold moves (not just bold speeches).


*Update: Yesterday Gates said it is imperative we "find out who" committed the terrorist atrocities in Mumbai over the weekend. Why did he sidestep the fact we KNOW who did it, we have one of them in custody and he has confessed? Am I wrong about this guy?

December 1, 2008

Many Massacred by Muslims: What's to Understand?

It may be a bad time to start this ad campaign by CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), which promotes Islam and the need to "understand it."

How well do you think the average person understands the mass slaughter of over 200 people in Mumbai, India over the weekend? The intentional, year-long planned massacre of bystanders in a train station and hostages in the Taj Hotel?

CAIR's busside ads encourage me to dialogue with them, telling me I can "get answers" on their website. I went to their website to find out if the answers to my burning questions were really found there.

If I found anything, it was only a bit more confusion.

Here's a question: what kind of Muslims are the creators of CAIR?

I see photos of young Muslim girls wrapping up scarves and sweaters to "clothe the homeless," concerned Muslim faces below the caption "Not in the name of Islam" (a public service announcement campaign), as well as videos and articles decrying terrorism done against "innocent civilians," including the victims of the September 11th attack. I also read that CAIR has taken out newspaper ads, conducted open house forums and in other ways aggresively sought to "disseminate the peaceful teachings of Islam."

So, they are peace-loving Muslims? Those who simply wish to "coexist" and be able to practice their religion just like everyone else?

That sounds nice- it's pluralistic and modern and non offensively "religion-lite"- but is it really what they want? Can they hold to Islamic doctrine and deny/decry the violent nature of Islam as a religion in practice? In other words, is it true?

For a change, I'm not going to spout off in my usual hothead way, leaving some wondering if I have an ounce of patient discipline for self-educating anymore. Instead, I'm going to leave this open until I read the Koran and find out what Allah requires of his followers.

I happen to have a copy at home, in fact.

To be continued...

November 24, 2008

Check The Shelf Before You Wreck Yourself

As consumers seek bargains on gifts instead, gift card sales are expected to decline this year by 5.6 percent, according to the National Retail Federation.

Besides tightening their budgets, shoppers are increasingly aware that tough economic times could lead to more retail bankruptcies.

Among the stores that have filed bankruptcy this year - Sharper Image, Circuit City and Linens 'N Things.

Earlier this year, consumers with Sharper Image gift cards were informed that they could no longer use them when the retailer filed for bankruptcy. At that time, an estimated $20 million remained unused on Sharper Image gift cards, and even more on related promotional cards.
Bankruptcy courts treat unused gift card funds as debt and determine whether the retailer must pay it, but it's up to the retailer to petition the court to allow it to continue to accept its gift cards.
If the retailer doesn't make such a request or if the court denies it, customers are left with one, often-unsatisfactory option: to file a claim, as an unsecured creditor, with the pertinent bankruptcy court.

Sharper Image later petitioned the court to allow it to accept their own gift cards if consumers spent twice the value of the gift card on a single transaction.

Consumers should pay attention to retailers’ fiscal health before purchasing gift cards. Even if a bankrupt retailer honors its outstanding gift cards, it may be for picked-over merchandise, with fewer outlets or for a fraction of the value.

November 21, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things

It being Friday, many folks' favorite day of the week, I'd like to contribute with some of my favorite things found on the web.

Many of these items can be found on my sidebar, but with a personal recommendation you might be more inclined to visit their sites. So, without further ado...


"Carrying on the tradition of the early reformers," the White Horse Inn is a group of pastors and theologians dedicated to discussing current issues of our society from a strict Biblical perspective.

Mike Horton is the J. Gresham Mechen professor of systematic theology and apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary; Ken Jones is Pastor at Greater Union Baptist Church in Compton, CA; Kim Riddlebarger is senior pastor of Christ Reformed Church (URCNA) in Anaheim, CA; and Rod Rosenbladt is professor of theology at Concordia University in Irvine, CA.

Recent broadcasts include: "Quitting Church," "What is a True Church," "Creed or Chaos," "Getting Stupid," and "The Courage to be Protestant," as well as a multi-week series produced in conjunction with Horton's recently published book titled, "Christless Christianity."

The White Horse Inn broadcasts on many radio stations nationwide, but they are edited down for time. You can find full shows at http://www.whitehorseinn.org/ and http://www.oneplace.com/ (search for White Horse Inn).

The WHI website is also a great resource for books, articles and links to related issues of the Church today.


I love listening to talk radio while I make dinner. It's become almost a daily practice and I look forward to it throughout the day!

Crosstalk America is another radio broadcast dedicated to seeing current events from a Biblical worldview, but they tend to focus on politics. Broadcasting daily, CT covers all kinds of interesting topics, discuss with guests and then open the lines for listeners to call in with their own comments and concerns. The hosts are beyond gracious in their demeanor, and many times just let the guest talk without interruption (recently, Paul Washer was given the opportunity to share the gospel for his entire segment).

Recent topics include: "Obama's Youth Army Plans" (today's show), "Bailout Madness," "Epic Media Bias," "Black Preachers are Worshipping the Wrong Messiah," and "Science and the Future of Democracy." They frequently speak with guests about the state of the church, especially in relation to the so-called "emergent" movement.

Crosstalk America's hosts rotate between Vic Eliason, Ingrid Schleuter and Jim Schneider. It can be heard daily on radio stations across America, or by visiting http://www.crosstalkamerica.com/.


This would simply not be a "favorites" post without my all-time favorite columnist, Charles Krauthammer. Appropriately, his column comes out every Friday!

He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer (I'd call him a journalist, but that would be to categorize him with a lot of crummy reporters), now syndicated in over 150 newspapers and linked on several news sites, such as National Review and World Net Daily.

The man is trenchant. His writing is inspired and large in scope, so much that you might wonder if all he does is read all week in preparation for his Friday publication. Which, if you ask me, is precisely what columnists who claim to have a finger on the pulse of the nation should do.

Krauthammer's insight bowls me over time and time again. For instance, he recently told Laura Ingraham that Sarah Palin's decision to keep her Down Syndrome child, even after she found out he had the condition, revealed a courage in her that exposes the bitter, unfeeling opposite, yet true feelings of "feminists" who champion abortion rights.

You can find a list of Mr. Krauthammer's recent postings here on the Washington Post website. I think he is currently on vacation or something after the election, so his column is currently not being published. I don't blame him; after this election I feel like I need a vacation, too!
(P.S. If the website asks you to sign in, just use velcrotkachuk@gmail for the e-mail and artkid80 as the password. But don't post any nasty comments under my name!)


Alpha and Omega Ministries is the website and resource center created by Dr. James White, a Christian apologist and theologian. I recently posted a video of his that came as a response to the recent election. Dr. White is a dedicated apologist, a true defender of the faith. You can learn so much about how to give a "reason" for your faith by listening to his debates.


Dr. White is the author of several books and articles, as well as the host of, "The Dividing Line," a bi-weekly webcast show dealing with issues of spirituality and the modern church.


Dr. White is a top-notch apologist and Bible exegesist, a reformed pastor and debator of Muslim apologetics. He is particularly dangerous (to his opponents) in the latter category; you can search for these videos on YouTube on his channel (DrOakley)

You will find articles, blogs and announcements of upcoming debates at http://www.aomin.org/.

Sermon Audio is still the number 1 place on the web for finding sermons, searching the Bible (they link to BibleGateway) and reading transcripts of pastors long since passed away.

My favorites on the site are Paul Washer (who has sermons in both English and Spanish in many cases- great to pass on to a hispanic friend), all the class lectures from Dr. Cornelius Van Til (the best teacher on apologetics, hands down; this man sees the whole picture) and my former pastor, Douglas VanderMeulen.

That's all for now. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do! Have a great Friday!

November 20, 2008

The Emergent Church "Leaders" in a Snapshot

Tony Jones, former head of Emergent Village:

"...in that way, I'm agnostic. Because every day, I don't know [if God is true]."

EV recently decided to forgo its non-profit status and "emerge" as more of a "social-networking organization," according to their press release.

Here he is being interviewed about being "born again," a concept he sees fit to mock.




Doug Pagitt, director of Solomon's Porch

In this click commercial for his new book, Pagitt implores us to seek a "new Christianity," one "free" from the obligation to "find validation in things of the past."

He also states that the answers of "the past," those found in the Bible which address the issues of the day, are no longer relevant, and should not be taken as authoritative.



Rob Bell, (beta male) leader of Mars Hill in Grand Rapids

In this preview from his onstage performance (under no circumstances will I say this is a sermon) entitled, "The Gods Aren't Angry," Bell speaks of the "primal life force" in each one of us at birth. Though, frankly, the title of the "piece" should be enough to show his heresy; in several portions of this performance he speaks of both gods and goddesses. No where will he say there is one God.



More to come...

An epiphany about the auto bailout

On one hand, liberal members of Congress claim we must bail out the auto industry, or it will go bankrupt, killing millions of jobs for American workers and causing a shortage in car production that would be detrimental to the economy.

On the other hand, liberal members of Congress and the House tell us that we must shrink our so-called "carbon footprint," and one of the best ways is to invest in a hybrid or alternative fuel car that will release less carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

Consider three facts:

One, the major reason why the auto industry is failing is because after the government created new regulations restricting car emissions, the auto industries were forced to produce more "fuel efficient" and "green" cars.

Two, the sales of these green cars is pitiful precisely because people do not want to buy them. It's simple economics: if the demand is not there, you needn't supply so much.

Three, another government tried to mandate exactly what kind of car people could drive. They succeeded in only producing one type of car, as well as limiting the number of people who could own it. That country? The Soviet Union.

My conclusion?

Let the auto industry fail. This will do a couple of things: First, it will force smaller auto companies to pick up the slack, competing for the buyers' dollars. Similar jobs will be created at these companies, as the demand on them will be increased. Capitalism in action! Shouldn't our elected leaders, whose economy (like mine) is founded and thrives on capitalism, be happy about that?

Secondly, the amount of cars produced will decrease. Smaller companies may not, at first, be able to keep up with the demand, so some people will have to wait to buy a second or third car. But shouldn't liberal Congress and House members be happy about that, too? After all, it would mean they would not have to create more carbon emission regulations, because the problem would take car of itself. Less cars = less carbon emissions.

Any takers?

November 19, 2008

James White: Post election thoughts

His thoughts really do echo mine and perhaps yours, too.

Review of "Hollywood Vs. America" by Michael Medved

Medved makes a strong argument in several areas (not all, but several) that "popular culture" are the product of anti-religious, anti-tradition Hollywood insiders, bent on destroying our time-honored institutions of marriage, family and decent behavior. He goes on to assert that, though some artists, musicians and filmmakers are trying to stem the tide of vulgarity flowing from Hollywood, they are outnumbered and outshouted at almost every turn.

Now let's examine the arguments against his view:

1. "If you don't like it, turn it off. No one is forcing you..."

As Medved himself points out, there is literally no way to shield oneself (or one's children) from the pervasive aspect of music, movies and advertising found in his day (1992). I think we could say as much- if not more fervently so- today. I can assure you I am bombarded by insinuations toward sex, drugs, infidelity, early sexualization of children, and worse, while utilizing neither a tv nor radio, not even a cell phone. I cannot "shut off" the world around me no more than I can pledge never to speak to another person.

2. "Medved is a conservative lunatic who thinks we should censor everyone!"

Medved makes the case that it isn’t merely the media itself (movies, songs, pictures) that he is wary of; the culture that feeds on such "entertainment" has absorbed its values. THIS is what Medved decries. In fact, he goes so far as to say censorship of the movies and music he loathes is NOT a reasonable answer! The author stresses not taking away the rights of those moviemakers, etc., but encouraging them to consider the responsibility not to produce it for the masses.

3. "Medved says Hollywood should stop making this kind of "filth," but this is what is popular today. The people are asking for this kind of entertainment."

Surely this is the weakest argument against Medved's case. In its day, the Coliseum sat thousands who cheered on the public raping of women by animals and ritualistic citizen butchery. It was extremely popular; would anyone like to make an argument that that entertainment is good for the whole of society?

Secondly, there is a sense in which it seems that the types of movies and music Medved is so skeptical of are popular. After all, Amazon.com makes a living selling cds and movies. But Medved sights several cases in which regular people spoke out against movies and music they found threatening, vitriolic or downright disgusting only to find Hollywood bigwigs laughing back in their faces and continuing to show/produce those products in question.

I ask you, is that not the act of a group with nothing to gain and everything to lose by adhering to a strong moral ethic?

Hollywood's "golden age" saw the industry's height in popularity (in numbers and in economic pull) simultaneously alongside its lack of on-screen vulgarity, debasement of traditional values and violent themes.

Is this, too, a coincidence?

"The Right to Win Wrong," by Thomas Sowell



November 19, 2008

National Review.com

Among the many new “rights” being conjured out of thin air, a new one seems to be a “right” to win.

Americans have long had the right to put their candidates and their ideas to a vote. Now there seems to be a sense that your rights have been trampled on if you don’t win.

Hillary Clinton’s supporters were not merely disappointed, but outraged, when she lost the Democrats’ nomination to Barack Obama. Some took it as a sign that, while racial barriers had come down, the “glass ceiling” holding down women was still in place.

Apparently, if you don’t win, somebody has put up a barrier or a ceiling. The more obvious explanation of the nomination outcome was that Obama ran a better campaign than Hillary. There is not the slightest reason to doubt that she would have been the nominee if the votes in the primaries had come out her way.

As the election approached, pundits warned that, if Obama lost, there would be riots in the ghetto. We will never know. But since when does any candidate have a right to win any office, much less the White House?

The worst of all the reactions from people who act as if they have a right to win have come from gay activists in the wake of voter rejection of so-called “gay marriage,” which is to say, redefining what marriage has meant for centuries.

Blacks and Mormons have been the main targets of the gay activists’ anger. Seventy percent of blacks voted against gay marriage in California, so racial epithets were hurled at blacks in Los Angeles — not in black neighborhoods, by the way.

Blacks who just happened to be driving through Westwood, near UCLA, were accosted in their cars and, in addition to being denounced, were warned, “You better watch your back.”Even blacks who were carrying signs in favor of gay marriage were denounced with racial epithets.

In Michigan, an evangelical-church service was invaded and disrupted by gay activists, who also set off a fire alarm, because evangelicals had dared to exercise their right to express their opinions at the polls.

In Oakland, California, a mob gathered outside a Mormon temple in such numbers that officials shut down a nearby freeway exit for more than three hours. In their midst was a San Francisco Supervisor who said “The Mormon church has had to rely on our tolerance in the past, to be able to express their beliefs.” He added, “This is a huge mistake for them. It looks like they’ve forgotten some lessons.”Apparently Mormons don’t have the same rights as other Americans, at least not if they don’t vote the way gay activists want them to vote.

There was another gay activist mob gathered outside a Mormon temple in Orange County, California.In the past, gay activists have disrupted Catholic services and their “gay pride” parades in San Francisco have crudely mocked nuns.

While demanding tolerance from others, gay activists apparently feel no need to show any themselves.

How did we get to this kind of situation?

With all the various groups who act as if they have a right to win, we got to the present situation over the years, going back to the 1960s, where the idea started gaining acceptance that people who felt aggrieved don’t have to follow the rules or even the law.

“No justice, no peace!” was a slogan that found resonance.

Like so many slogans, it sounds good if you don’t stop and think — and awful if you do.

Almost by definition, everybody thinks their cause is just. Does that mean that nobody has to obey the rules? That is called anarchy. Nobody is in favor of anarchy. But some people want everybody else to obey the rules, while they don’t have to.

What they want is not decisive, however. It is what other people are willing to tolerate that determines how far any group can go. When the majority of the people become like sheep, who will tolerate intolerance rather than make a fuss, then there is no limit to how far any group will go.

© 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

November 18, 2008

It's not "man" and "wife," it's man and wife

This post is in relation to the headline I just posted about the pregnant "man" and his "wife," recently interviewed by Larry King.

The couple made headlines doing what the sensationalist media loves best, completely de-moralizing Christian terms and traditions.

As a wife I'm particularly bothered by the "wife" in the story. I can almost say I'm ok with the "husband," at least in a general way. Of course I'm not ok with her being a biological woman and yet calling herself a man. But I can see that she's completely deluded about herself, her body and her sexuality.

But the other woman? She doesn't consider herself to be gay, even though she is "married" to a woman. And she is quoted as saying that 'Thomas,' her partner, is "all man to [her]." Except for (1) her not having male reproductive organs and genetalia and (2) she is pregnant with their second child! A child that Nancy helped produce by injecting donated sperm into Thomas's uterus. That's right- "his" uterus!

This is very tricky and very troubling. Nancy had had a hysterectomy so she is lacking the internal female organs. And Thomas, though externally looks somewhat male, has all female reproductive organs, internally and externally. These facts may lead you to ask, "Who's the 'real woman' of the two?"

The answer: they are both woman. They were born that way, as God intended them to be. Isn't it nice to have some real, logical answers?

Yet, I cannot help but think of their two children, one yet in utero. What will they tell their children about what makes a little boy a little boy and a little girl a little girl? If reproductive organs, genetalia, wombs, eggs, sperm, external characteristics cannot lead one to believe someone is male or female.. what exactly is the criteria for being male or female?

Without either parent having an idea of gender identity that is conclusive, what will these children grow up to believe they themselves are?

*Update*

I thought I'd add my comment here for clarification and a few more thoughts about the issue.

"The thing is, 'Thomas' has had breast reduction surgery and hormone "therapy" (they shouldn't call it that), which has made her grow facial hair. But as far as the p. issue, she doesn't have one. There is not, in fact, any surgery to create one for a woman who would rather be a man. Thomas does claim, however, that the hormones make her cl. swell so that she can "make love like a man."

I hate the flippant attitude that Barbara and her ilk have about topics like this; "we just need to rethink our ideas of ______." As if it is that simple. The liberal media wave away these profound issues with such a superficial wand. Here's the problem I am going to chastise you into accepting today, but you'll never hear me talk about it again!

Newsanchors like Barbara should be annually evaluated like everyone else on their performance."

November 17, 2008

A Stuart Neighborhood Bedtime Tale

'Twas the night before Monday and all through the flat
Not a creature was stirring (especially not the cat).

As Nic typed away on a 32 page paper,
His counterpart chipped away at the great PhD caper.

When suddenly her ears pricked up and she heard
What sounded like the musical equivolent of a turd.

It didn't take long to see how this had started-
The roofers left the radio on when they departed!

Nic sprang from his seat in the cozy living room
To try and bring down the offending boombox with a broom.

Alas, the radio sat atop the chimney, so high.
Only an airborne attack could cause it to fly.

So, Nic tried and he tried to lasso the device
While perched on a rickety ladder covered in ice.

Unable to grab it, he descended the ladder
While "The Scorpians Live" played, just making us madder.

Trudging home in defeat, and covered in mud,
We clomped up the stairs- thud, thud, thud.

Climbing into bed, with that music on yet,
I put in my earplugs and made myself a bet:

If those roofers come back when Nic is around
He'll have some choice words for them, then smash the radio on the ground!


*Poem is inspired by a real life event in our wacky neighboorhood.

November 15, 2008

Still Not the Gospel (AKA Emergents in a Snapshot)

If you've never had the (mis) fortune of hearing Rob Bell speak, this will be a great introduction for you. Pirate Christian Radio's Fighting for the Faith program just did a 'sermon review' of Rob Bell's Saturday "life talk" service on October 18th, 2008.

Bell begins by citing a chapter and verse in Philippians and goes just about everywhere with it except to talk about sin, redemption, substitutionary atonement, or anything else that makes Christianity, well, Christian.

Wait, back up a second. I should say that Bell begins with a "centering" prayer. Throughout his talk he squeezes in some psychology, some humanism, some global citizen talk; you know, just a spoonful of relativity makes the heresy go down.

Here's a quote from about halfway through (when he really gets to his point):

"Sometimes when people say 'the Gospel' what they're really talking about is tribal identity."

I don't imagine you'll get more than 10 minutes in without your skin crawling. But that is far enough to know that this man is not "preaching" at all, let alone giving people the Gospel (that man is desperately wicked and in need of the Savior who, by His grace alone, paid the penalty for and broke us from the bondage of our sin for all time and who, furthermore, creates in us a new heart and identity in Him by which we can once again commune with our Creator, our loving Father in heaven.)

There, I managed to squeeze in a little Good News there myself. And it didn't take me an hour to tell you, neither.

November 14, 2008

Somebody Done Mixed the Messages

Two articles for you, both from MSNBC (these are the types of stories they consider "religious"):

First, a Catholic priest urging his parishioners who voted for Obama to abstain from taking communion, citing Obama's support of abortion and other liberal politics. But, in offense against an absurd argument, these things being true about Obama shouldn't say anything necessarily about one's relationship with Christ, should it?

You will find that article at this link


Secondly, a "progressive" pastor strongly encouraging his married parishioners to have sex for seven days in a row in an attempt to "rekindle their intimacy and committment to one another." Makes sense, because everyone knows the key to a good marriage is, first and foremost, having great sex, and often, right? And we all know that sex = intimacy, too. Because no one has ever had sex- in or out of marriage- just because they wanted to, while at the same time being really mad at their spouse?! Let's put it out there, people..

You will find article number two at the same link, it is a video


Hollar at your girl.

November 13, 2008

Separation and Division

(This post is inspired by a woman that I work with. She is a "minister," though it's not clear in what capacity she means that.)

Deanna* is a self-proclaimed Christian and unabashedly speaks about Christ and God's kingdom while at work. One of her comments this morning was that she "doesn't allow people to drink in front of [her]." Her reason? People need to see a separation between what they themselves do (drink) and what she does (not drink). This is in order that they might see how she is a person "separated unto God."

What do you think: should we go where people drink, gamble or otherwise do questionable things and evangelize to them there, or should we make moves to literally separate ourselves from those places and minister to people at times and in places where there attention is all yours?

The broader question is how much do we separate ourselves from unbelievers in particular and the world in general? We are, we believe, already made separate in spirit by God Himself, so do we need to restrict ourselves from certain people, places or situations that might compromise us, or our "separateness?"

Is choosing to set ourselves aside actually creating a division between us and the world that shouldn't be there?

Well, what do you think? Please comment.


*Name has been changed

November 12, 2008

I know I shouldn't, but...

I'm going to post it anyway. Enjoy!

Intolerant Tolerance Demanders Attack Elderly Woman

Nope, I'm not making that headline up. A recent protest against Proposition 8 in California (that defines and restricts marriage to a union between a man and a woman only) turned ugly when an elderly woman demonstrated her support for the Prop by carrying a large cross into the crowd.

As you will see in the video, the cross is struck down from her hand and trampled on the ground while several violently aggressive homosexual men swarm her, shout in her face, forcibly moving her away from news camera view while thrusting "No on 8" signs in her face.

The reporter tried to interview her following the event, but was shouted at and told "Get out of here!" at every attempt.


Once again, a demand for "tolerance" turns into a demonstration of ugly, hateful attempted silence of the other side's view. Also, the female anchorwoman says at the end of the video, "There's obviously a lot of hate on both sides." I ask you kindly to view the video and and make that judgment yourself.

Update: Gov. Schwarzenegger plans to assist the ACLU in overturning the Prop 8 decision. So much for the people's democracy...

On the positive side, let's take a cue from this brave woman! Don't be afraid. It's your Constitutional right just as much as theirs to protest.

November 11, 2008

Thank you, Veterans


Thank you,
brave soldiers who fought in
Korea
Germany
Vietnam
Bosnia
Russia
Iraq
Afghanistan

and every other small deployment
whose end kept us
secure at home.
Thank you
and God bless you and your families.

Keeping Watch

It's been a couple of days since the election. Are we all feeling better now about America's presidential choice?

To be honest, I wasn't until yesterday when I read a great article on National Review about Obama and his pal, the U.N.

Obama being a huge fan of the United Nations, it's only to be expected he will be strongly encouraged to pursue their unique brand of "dialogue" with terrorist nations. It was then that I remembered that what I love the most about American politics: my Constitutional right to watch what's going on and voice my opinion about it all.

So, what do we need to keep a close watch on in the first term of Mr. Obama? Here are a few tips:

1. The so-called Fairness Doctrine.

What will be affected by it's implementation? Conservative talk radio, of course, as well as Conservative news websites that do not have enough "Democratic" balance in their repoting. When it was first brought to Congressional vote - in 1993!- the Fairness Doctrine worked against Conservative radio programs by essentially using scare tactics; when frightened by the possibility of losing sponsorship or licensing because of "unbalanced" coverage of major events, many stations opted not to cover controversial events at all. But, ironically, the more "fair" news and radio programs were not covering these events either!

The same is true today; which stations covered the Bill Ayers connection to Obama, the Barney Frank shirking of responsibility for the mortgage mess, or the Democrat's law suit against Obama involving U.S. citizenship proof? "Unfair" conservative talk radio and Fox news. And which stations did not even report on these stories, giving Obama a free pass on these erratic behaviors and associations? MSNBC, ABC, CNN, NBC; the "fair" ones.


Congress will most likely make a major push to resurrect this legislation as soon as possible. Be prepared to write to your congressmen and women in opposition, unless of course you've enjoyed the biased coverage of the election!

2. Retreat from Iraq.

Obama supported the war. Then he opposed it. Then he supported the surge. Later, when it was working the best, he denied its effectiveness. Toward the end of the campaigns, he was just plain vague. You can expect the same kind of waffling when determining an "exit strategy."

A few things to remember: the surge IS working. Iraqis desirous of the freedom they have tasted a little of are committed to working with American troops to succeed in their democracy. They even voted in their first ever democratic election.

Salon.com joked in April that Obama's position on the Iraq war is: "The factions in Iraq that show little sign of reconciling five years into the war will somehow reconcile if lots of U.S. troops leave. In other words, start pulling out now -- the Iraqis won't step up until we do, and we can no longer afford to stay."

Funny, sort of... except that Obama will be in charge of this war come January. And with his proposed government expansion program, we really won't have the money to support the troops in Iraq. But, is it realistic to think that suddenly, under their own supervision, Iraq factions will choose to get along?

Salon concluded: "They [Obama and Clinton] consistently vow to withdraw U.S. troops - with little discussion about exactly what would be an acceptable outcome in Iraq or how it would be achieved." So, even if you're growing weary of talking about it, keep your eye on Iraq and what's working there. The war is a financial burdon, but is fighting it now any less important than it was when we went in the first place?

3. Israel and the blame game

The U.N. favors giving most of the Strip to Palestine. They strongly oppose the state of Israel's counters against outside forces that seek to demolish it. What can we expect with an Obama presidency? The blame placed squarely on Israel once and for all, in hopes that will solve all the problems they're perceived to cause.

Oddly enough, the U.N. website itself provides a glimpse at its favorable leanings toward Palestine over Israel; just check out their "Question of Palestine" section and, specifically, their chronology of events surrounding the "question." You'll notice a trend in their reports: Palestineans were just minding their business when Israeli soldiers forcibly arrested or attacked them for no good reason. Mean old Israel.

Now, I'm not saying that you should blindly support Israel and think they can do no wrong, either. But, if this issue has particular significance to you, keep yourself informed on what both sides- Palestinean and Israeli- are doing.

4. The mainstream media

Lastly, the question is "how am I to be best informed" is an issue in and of itself. Remember those liberally-slanted news stations mentioned previously (ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC)? Chances are they won't be making a return to balanced, objective reporting any time soon, if ever. They have a conflict of interest now: how do we point out any flaws in Obama's tactics when it was our biased coverage that helped him into office?

My advice is the same to you now as it was to McCain during the campaign: ignore these "news" stations. Accept that, if you are on the conservative side, they are not going to report without skewing the facts such that liberal policy ends up on top. If you can't beat 'em, leave 'em.

November 7, 2008

Until Further Notice, Holding My Horses

Please don't hate me for what I'm about to say:
Obama is our President, and everyone needs to relax.

He hasn't made any binding decisions, written any laws or implemented any measures. He hasn't forced talk radio off the air or made mandatory recruits for his socialist army. Obama has not proven he can or can't do any of what he's been claiming all these months.

Conservatives and republicans, this should comfort you.

No one is telling you to accept Obama as your number one guy. No one is telling you not to call him out on bad policy decisions, or if he does try to ban talk radio, or if he does start recruiting. In those cases you have a responsibility to call attention to those bad policies and try to stop them, especially because many people who elected Obama won't. Keep writing to your congressmen and reps, keep signing petitions and following politics as closely as you can stand. Keep defending our Constitution as best you can.

What I am asking is that you accept that he was elected democratically. Even if he was elected by people either too caught up in "making history," or fooled by race-baiting, or willing to overlook all of Obama's associations just because he told them to, or just too darn uninformed to know better- all of which is true- there were more of those people than us, and the sheer number of them insured an Obama victory.

That SUCKS, but it is how our democracy works.

Don't get me wrong- I WANT YOU TO HOLD OBAMA ACCOUNTABLE FOR HIS POOR ACTIONS. But just give the guy a chance to make some before you nay-say.

I'm not getting onto the "McCain wasn't so great" bandwagon either, as many Republicans have as of late. No, he wasn't perfect, but the distance between Obama and perfect is about ten miles wide. McCain would have figured out an exit strategy for the Iraq war, and he would have created jobs by not taxing people to death. I would have felt MUCH safer (not sure I'm feeling safe at all right now) with a McCain Presidency.

And it was a crock of ship how the media handled his runningmate, too, and how they handed the torch to Obama after the primaries. Absolutely disgraceful. I plan to keep a hawkish watch on them especially as they try to go back to being "fair and balanced;" best of wishes with recovering your credibility (with centrists) from the deep hole you've thrown it into.

Now, for liberals...

Obama has not proven he can or can't do any of what he's been talking about all these months. So QUIT GLOATING.

Newsflash! ANYONE elected would make history as the next President of the United States. It's the most important office in the world.

I'm tempted to say it's wonderful that our country elected a black President. But at the same time, does it have any real significance? It certainly doesn't mean racism is gone in America; don't fool yourselves. On the flipside, Obama's being black doesn't make him any more qualified, necessarily, for holding this office. Jeremiah Wright said, "Obama knows what it's like to be a black man" in our nation. Ok. But, can one man's experience really speak for all black people? If you believe that, you're on a slippery slope toward a bad racial stereotype.

I personally don't think it's a big deal at all that he's black. It would have been a bigger deal if Hilary had won.

The point is, liberals, he hasn't done anything yet. He hasn't turned back the tides, healed the nation or reversed global warming. He's STILL not our Savior. He's a fallible human being with questionable relationships and socialist tendencies. For your own good, don't presume Obama will hold up to your idealistic view of him.

So, everybody, take the new Pres with a grain of salt. A HUGE grain of salt. But don't throw away your integrity as an American by saying he's "Not [your] President," like I did.

November 6, 2008

Editorial: Obama's Post-Racial Promise

When somebody says it better than I could, I just give the floor to them.
Shelby Steele nails the racial factor in this election. Yes, it IS a huge factor. In fact, it probably was the key to Obama's success.

Reprinted from the LA Times, November 5th, 2008.
***************************************

Obama's Post-Racial Promise
*Barack Obama seduced whites with a vision of their racial innocence precisely to coerce them into acting out of a racial motivation.


For the first time in human history, a largely white nation has elected a black man to be its paramount leader. And the cultural meaning of this unprecedented convergence of dark skin and ultimate power will likely become -- at least for a time -- a national obsession. In fact, the Obama presidency will always be read as an allegory. Already we are as curious about the cultural significance of his victory as we are about its political significance.

Does his victory mean that America is now officially beyond racism? Does it finally complete the work of the civil rights movement so that racism is at last dismissible as an explanation of black difficulty? Can the good Revs. Jackson and Sharpton now safely retire to the seashore? Will the Obama victory dispel the twin stigmas that have tormented black and white Americans for so long -- that blacks are inherently inferior and whites inherently racist? Doesn't a black in the Oval Office put the lie to both black inferiority and white racism? Doesn't it imply a "post-racial" America? And shouldn't those of us -- white and black -- who did not vote for Mr. Obama take pride in what his victory says about our culture even as we mourn our political loss?

Answering no to such questions is like saying no to any idealism; it seems callow. How could a decent person not hope for all these possibilities, or not give America credit for electing its first black president? And yet an element of Barack Obama's success was always his use of the idealism implied in these questions as political muscle. His talent was to project an idealized vision of a post-racial America -- and then to have that vision define political decency. Thus, a failure to support Obama politically implied a failure of decency.

Obama's special charisma -- since his famous 2004 convention speech -- always came much more from the racial idealism he embodied than from his political ideas. In fact, this was his only true political originality. On the level of public policy, he was quite unremarkable. His economics were the redistributive axioms of old-fashioned Keynesianism; his social thought was recycled Great Society. But all this policy boilerplate was freshened up -- given an air of "change" -- by the dreamy post-racial and post-ideological kitsch he dressed it in.

This worked politically for Obama because it tapped into a deep longing in American life -- the longing on the part of whites to escape the stigma of racism. In running for the presidency -- and presenting himself to a majority white nation -- Obama knew intuitively that he was dealing with a stigmatized people. He knew whites were stigmatized as being prejudiced, and that they hated this situation and literally longed for ways to disprove the stigma.

Obama is what I have called a "bargainer" -- a black who says to whites, "I will never presume that you are racist if you will not hold my race against me." Whites become enthralled with bargainers out of gratitude for the presumption of innocence they offer. Bargainers relieve their anxiety about being white and, for this gift of trust, bargainers are often rewarded with a kind of halo.

Obama's post-racial idealism told whites the one thing they most wanted to hear: America had essentially contained the evil of racism to the point at which it was no longer a serious barrier to black advancement. Thus, whites became enchanted enough with Obama to become his political base. It was Iowa -- 95% white -- that made him a contender. Blacks came his way only after he won enough white voters to be a plausible candidate.

Of course, it is true that white America has made great progress in curbing racism over the last 40 years. I believe, for example, that Colin Powell might well have been elected president in 1996 had he run against a then rather weak Bill Clinton. It is exactly because America has made such dramatic racial progress that whites today chafe so under the racist stigma. So I don't think whites really want change from Obama as much as they want documentation of change that has already occurred. They want him in the White House first of all as evidence, certification and recognition.

But there is an inherent contradiction in all this. When whites -- especially today's younger generation -- proudly support Obama for his post-racialism, they unwittingly embrace race as their primary motivation. They think and act racially, not post-racially. The point is that a post-racial society is a bargainer's ploy: It seduces whites with a vision of their racial innocence precisely to coerce them into acting out of a racial motivation. A real post-racialist could not be bargained with and would not care about displaying or documenting his racial innocence. Such a person would evaluate Obama politically rather than culturally.

Certainly things other than bargaining account for Obama's victory. He was a talented campaigner. He was reassuringly articulate on many issues -- a quality that Americans now long for in a president. And, in these last weeks, he was clearly pushed over the top by the economic terrors that beset the nation. But it was the peculiar cultural manipulation of racial bargaining that brought him to the political dance. It inflated him as a candidate, and it may well inflate him as a president.

There is nothing to suggest that Obama will lead America into true post-racialism. His campaign style revealed a tweaker of the status quo, not a revolutionary. Culturally and racially, he is likely to leave America pretty much where he found her.

But what about black Americans? Won't an Obama presidency at last lead us across a centuries-old gulf of alienation into the recognition that America really is our country? Might this milestone not infuse black America with a new American nationalism? And wouldn't this be revolutionary in itself? Like most Americans, I would love to see an Obama presidency nudge things in this direction. But the larger reality is the profound disparity between black and white Americans that will persist even under the glow of an Obama presidency. The black illegitimacy rate remains at 70%. Blacks did worse on the SAT in 2000 than in 1990. Fifty-five percent of all federal prisoners are black, though we are only 13% of the population. The academic achievement gap between blacks and whites persists even for the black middle class. All this disparity will continue to accuse blacks of inferiority and whites of racism -- thus refueling our racial politics -- despite the level of melanin in the president's skin.

The torture of racial conflict in America periodically spits up a new faith that idealism can help us "overcome" -- America's favorite racial word. If we can just have the right inspiration, a heroic role model, a symbolism of hope, a new sense of possibility. It is an American cultural habit to endure our racial tensions by periodically alighting on little islands of fresh hope and idealism. But true reform, like the civil rights victories of the '60s, never happens until people become exhausted with their suffering. Then they don't care who the president is. Presidents follow the culture; they don't lead it. I hope for a competent president.


Shelby Steele is an author, columnist and senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. Original article appears here on the LA Times website.

November 5, 2008

Nat'l Review: Let's Accept Defeat with Grace

"Our country has had an election. Our side got trounced. We’ve strayed far from our principles. We’ve too often failed to make our case even when it was right there for the making. If the best we have to offer America is Democrat-lite, Americans can’t be blamed for deciding they’d just as soon have the real thing. If we operate in stealth and incoherence, abdicating our duty to convince our fellow citizens of the rightness of measures taken for our security, they can’t be blamed for suspecting we are in the wrong. It is on us to fix these things."

National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy

Click here for the full article, "The Possibilities of Pres. Obama"

Assorted post-election thoughts...

I'm a hothead, certifiably so. But I've tried to collect myself a little and produce something a bit more measured. Continues below...


My coworker Courtney, who is black, told me other black employees are smiling and winking as they walk by him: "I know why they're doing it," he says, "But, do they know I voted for McCain?"


The proximity of Halloween to the election: When the sugar high wears off, and the transparency of nodding in agreement to each other is finally noticed, when Obama can't possibly deliver all that he has promised... will voters turn against the "candidate for change?"


Related quote: "Do not bite the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it." There is a hook with Obama for sure. Most people just haven't realized it yet. As Laura Ingraham said to the media, don't come crying to me when he can't hold up to his campaign promises.


People are willing to sacrifice the care and security of our nation to take part in "history being made." Are we still supposed to believe that race was not a factor in this election?


My plan: to reclaim all the anti-Bush slogans of the recent past and apply them to Obama. Oddly, most of them fit without any change. Call that irony at its finest, and a new slogan at that: "No change is change?" See sidebar for graphics.


Lastly,
Simulated hype:

November 2, 2008

Laugh break before the election!

Take a deep breath...then exhale profusely. It will all be over soon. Video: Clinton and Obama duke it out over each others' records as lawyers, flip-floppers and just downright slimeballs. Their tone, not mine this time! Enjoy.

PS. It gets pretty good toward the middle, if you want to skip ahead. Sorry for not including this info sooner.

October 30, 2008

Sarah Palin delivers speech on special needs

National Review editors have posted a nice piece - perhaps the only piece in widely-read media that will be written - highlighting Sarah Palin's recent speech on special needs child education and the school voucher idea that might save it.

Palin, and John McCain alike, support granting school vouchers to parents so that the government education money is tied to the child, not the school. This frees parents up to find a school - sometimes specialized, like an art, religious, occupational or special needs-oriented - that will best address the education they want for their kids. Privately-owned institutions would also have more freedom to address problems with individual students, as the class and school sizes would stay low (unlike a public school that all types of kids from all jursdictions attend, where the general populations are higher).

Palin's three-fold plan includes mandating "federal funding for IDEA [the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act], which requires state and local public-school systems to make full provision for children with special needs." Palin also emphasized that a personal approach is necessary for making any real progress in the area of education as a whole; as opposed to simply throwing more money into public schools, more choices need to be given to parents so that, much like the health insurance industry, government red-tape is eliminated and federal guidelines do not prevent children from getting the individualized education they need.


Please read the article by clicking this link.

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