November 24, 2008
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
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
"...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...
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.
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.
November 19, 2008
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?
Among the many new “rights” being conjured out of thin air, a new one seems to be a “right” to win.
November 18, 2008
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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...
November 11, 2008
and every other small deployment
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
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
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
National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy
Click here for the full article, "The Possibilities of Pres. Obama"
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.
November 2, 2008
PS. It gets pretty good toward the middle, if you want to skip ahead. Sorry for not including this info sooner.