Thursday, November 29, 2007

Character Still Counts

During the 2004 election, I wrote (here and here) that a candidate's character should be a key factor in deciding who to vote for in an election. Four years later it's still true: a candidate's character should be carefully examined before deciding who to vote for.

Character is exactly why Hillary Clinton's support is crumbling among Democrats and why Mike Huckabee's support is rising among Republicans.

If you look at the positions of the candidates of each party, it's easy to see they are fairly similar within their respective parties. Policies and voting records are certainly important to consider, but when it comes down to the final decision, it's a candidate's character that will matter most. When voters fail to consider a candidate's character, they do so at their own (and ultimately) the country's peril.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

DVD Review: Andrew Jackson - Man of the People

He's one of the most recognizable of the presidents. Show anyone a $20 bill and they are sure to recognize Andrew Jackson's portrait. But most people don't know much about the man behind the portrait or the tremendous impact his election as President would have on the United States and the office that he held.

In A&E's Biography Andrew Jackson: Man of the People, we get the inside story into one of the most colorful men to ever occupy the Oval Office. Orphaned at age 15 by the British troops during the American Revolution, Jackson developed a long-standing grudge against the aristocracy. He worked hard to educate himself becoming a lawyer in Tennessee before achieving his greatest fame in the military.

In 1815, Jackson would distinguish himself at the Battle of New Orleans and would solidify his reputation for toughness that was embodied in his nickname, "Old Hickory". He would then move onto a successful career as a lawyer and judge before going back into politics. He would finally win election as President in 1828.

As this film points out, Jackson was a common man of modest means. He was the first common man to serve as President. During his eight years in office he would reduce the national debt, dissolve the Bank of the United States, and enact controversial programs in dealing with American Indians.

The film also shows that Jackson was a strong a forceful personality. In fact, many of his political vitories were achieved by virtue of his sheer will in getting his programs enacted.

Jackson also had a fairly colorful personal life that included more than one duel. Jackson was one of the last presidents to be involved in duels and the first to survive an assasination attempt.

This DVD is a great insight into the nation's seventh president. In viewing this film, you will gain not only a better understanding of who Andrew Jackson was but how he changed the presidency and how we view the role of government forever.

Andrew Jackson: Man of the People is available from the A&E Store.

Hillary Clinton: Not So Inevitable

Critical articles of Senator and Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are nothing new. On any given day, you can find a number of columns outlining all the reasons she is unfit to be President. I couldn't agree more. But I don't normally pay attention to such articles. I realize that most conservatives like myself have no intention of voting for her. But this article at Blogcritics caught my attention mostly because it came from one of her own supporters. I wonder if there are many of her other supporters who are now rethinking their position especially in light of these new polls?

My question to liberal voters is this: in light of her recent debate performance and the issues raised in this article are you still willing to support her in the upcoming election? I have the feeling that the nomination that was thought to be hers may not be so easy to obtain as the media has made it out to be.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Looking Toward the 2008 Election

Over the course of a 162 game baseball season, the best teams will lose about a third of the games they play. The Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians both had the best overall records during the regular season and both lost 66 games apiece. The worst teams will also manage to win about a third of their games. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays had the worst overall record in the major leagues this year and finished 30 games out of first place in their division and yet still managed to win 66 games. The key difference between being a World Series Champion and finishing in the basement is how the team does in the other third of their games.

Presidential politics is similar in that both the Republicans and Democrats manage to each get about 40-45% of the overall votes in a given election. Unless there is a viable third party candidate capable of siphoning off large amounts of votes from one or both parties (think Ross Perot in 1992) or someone who can alter the outcome in a key state or two (Ralph Nader in Florida in 2000) someone has to be able to capture the majority of the 10 to 20% of the votes that are routinely up for grabs. These are the so-called independent or "swing" votes because they do not consistently vote for a single party regardless of the candidate that party has put forward.

Already we see the dynamic of party politics at work. For many Democrats, it doesn't matter who their nominee is as long as the Republicans are defeated. By the same token, the priority for Republicans is holding onto the White House and has less (at least at this stage) about who the nominee will be. When the Republican candidates started focusing on Hillary Clinton as the target of criticism rather than their fellow Republicans, it was clear that this dynamic was at work.

This begs the question of what it will take to win the 2008 election. What will be the issues that will decide who is victorious next November? In reviewing all the issues that have been discussed so far (and as Michael Barone points out a debate about issues has definitely been lacking to date) it seems to me that this election will boil down to three major areas of concern.

1. The Global War on Terror
According to the Democrats, the 2006 Congressional election was about changing the direction (i.e., withdrawing) in Iraq. But after no fewer than 40 attempts to cut off funding the war, Democrats have failed to change the course. Instead, the President changed the military strategy and as a result the situation is improving. But other threats such as Iran loom on the horizon. Americans seem to have a better understandng that this war is unlike any other that we have previously fought. In order to remain safe, we have to continue to remain on the offensive. Therefore, any President is going to have to have a coherent strategy for continuing to prosecute the war on terror beyond the stabilization of Iraq.

2. Immigration
As Hillary Clinton learned the hard way, immigration is a big issue. It goes hand-in-hand with the war on terrorism as we need to know who is in the country and why. It's also a thorny issue as voters are becoming touchy about whether to offer government benefits and services to immigrants especially if they are here illegally. Neither party has fully developed a comprehensive position on immigration and this is one area where there is tremendous opportunity to appeal to swing voters.

3. The Role and Size of Government
This has been an area where the two parties have traditionally been able to stake out differences. But recent big spending by President Bush and the Republican Congress (when they were in charge 2000 to 2006) has made Republicans as much the party of big government as Democrats. But there are still a wide range of issues (taxes, climate change regulation and government role in health insurance, to name a few) that the parties have an opportunity to stake out positions on that will provide a sense of choice for voters. With the recent debates within Republican circles over federalism it is clear that they are still trying to map out a coherent vision of what the role of government should be.

It may not be until after the nominations are sown up that we start to see a real debate over issues. But don't be surprised if these issues aren't at the top of the candidates' agendas by next summer.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cleaning Up the Blogroll

It's been long overdue but I've finally gotten around to cleaning up the blogrolls in the sidebar. The reciprocal link roll is already done and I'll be working on the recommended blogs roll here soon. If you would like for your blog to be linked here, all you have to do is either leave a comment or send me an e-mail once you have added the blog to your blogroll and I will do the same. (Links on aggregate blogrolls such as the Church Directory or Homespun Bloggers doesn't count).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Holiday Sale at The History Channel Shop

Need a perfect gift for the history buff in your life? Check out the big holiday sale going on now through November 26th at the History Channel Shop. You can get up to 50% off selected items in their holiday finder. Click here to find out what's on sale.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Hidden Talents of Hugh Laurie

Most people know Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House from Fox's House, M.D. We recently discovered his comic talents in the wonderful series Jeeves and Wooster. But he also is a talented singer and pianist as this video clip shows. Check it out because it is hilarious.

Friday, November 16, 2007

An Interview with Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

My kids tell me that I have a really cool avocation. It's hard to disagree especially when I get to review all sorts of free stuff and interview authors. Recently, I had the great privilege of sitting down to chat with Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, authors of the three Peter Pan prequels. The final installment of the trilogy, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon, has just been published and we had a chance to talk about the book, the writing process, and lots of other stuff. Check out the interview at Blogcritics.

UPDATE and bump: Dave Barry links to the interview.

Book Review: The Gospel and Personal Evangelism

If you ask the average Christian what it means to evangelize, who should evangelize or even why evangelize, you're likely to get a wide range of answers that may or may not line up with what Scripture has to say. it's a safe bet that many Christians don't fully understand what evangelism is or what role they play in spreading the Gospel.

Thankfully, there is a terrific new resource available that will help churches, pastors, and individual Christians better understand what evangelism is all about. It is a new book by Mark Dever called The Gospel and Personal Evangelism.

In this slender volume, Dr. Mark Dever seeks to answer the most basic questions about evangelism that most Christians are likely to ask. His answers are clear, concise, and, most importantly, based on Scripture.

As I was reading this book I was both challenged and convicted as I realized that many of the assumptions I had made about evangelism were false. I also realized that my past efforts at evangelism simply didn't match up to what Scripture requires. Dr. Dever methodically addresses our misconceptions and points us to the New Testament truths that will help us develop a lifestyle of evangelism.

The Gospel and Personal Evangelism is a tremendous resource. If you are a church leader or simply someone who wants to have a better grasp of what Scripture requires of you in evangelism, be sure to pick up this book.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

World Series DVD Now On Sale

It's the perfect gift for any Boston Red Sox fan: The 2007 World Series DVD is now on sale from A&E. All of the dramatic moments are captured in this 9 disc set. This will be the perfect gift for any Red Sox fan. Check it out today.