Monday, December 29, 2008

A Look Back at 2008

2008 is drawing to an end and was a long, strange year. Dave Barry takes a humorous look back on the year that was. Read and enjoy.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Prayer, Politics, and Rick Warren

Much has been written about Pastor Rick Warren's invitation to give the invocation at President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration in just a few weeks. Many on the left have been upset about the selection of Pastor Warren because of his stance against homosexual marriage. Some on the right are suggesting that he may be compromising the gospel for the sake of political influence.

Pastor Warren is symbolic of what's happened to evangelicals over the past 30 or so years. The church has forsaken the gospel in favor of gaining political and cultural influence. As a result, principles have been compromised.

If Pastor Warren truly wants to be effective, then he should take Cal Thomas' advice and be more like the prophet Nathan:

If Obama plans on having Warren as a presence in his presidency, Warren should seek to model himself more after Nathan the prophet. Nathan confronted King David over his affair with Bathsheba, whose husband, Uriah the Hittite, David sent to the front lines to ensure he would be killed so that David could have his wife. God sent Nathan to David. Nathan told David a story about a rich man who stole a poor man's lamb rather than take one from his own flock to feed a visitor. Nathan asked David what should happen to such a man. David replied, "that man should surely die." To which Nathan replied, "You are the man." (2 Samuel 12) Blockquote

Nathan's confrontation led to David's repentance and one of the most beautiful Psalms ever written (Psalm 51). The point is that Nathan did not compromise Truth, but confronted David with what he had done wrong. How many modern preachers would confront a president like that? Probably not many if they wanted to maintain access.

Former Governor Mike Huckabee wrote this in his book Do The Right Thing quoting his mentor James Robison:

The prophets of old were rarely invited back for a return engagement. In fact, most of them were never invited the first time. They came to speak truth to power regardless of the consequences.
Governor Huckabee goes on to note that one can be a politician or a prophet but never both. My hope is that Pastor Warren will take this opportunity to be a prophet and not worry about being invited by President Obama for another speaking engagement.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The True Meaning of Christmas

Before any gifts are opened this morning, we'll pause and read together this passage from the Bible on the ultimate gift that God has given each one of us:

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:1-20)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Christmas Playlist

Many years ago I worked as a disc jockey for several different radio stations. One holiday season I worked both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day playing nothing but Christmas songs.

It was during those two shifts that I realized a couple of truths. First, there are only a limited number of Christmas songs but dozens of versions of each song. If you don't believe me, just put the name of a popular Christmas song in the search box on ITunes and see how many different versions pop up. It's staggering. My guess is that you really haven't made it as a musician until you've had a chance to record a few Christmas songs.

Second, I realized there is a lot of really bad Christmas music floating around out there. I don't mean that the songs themselves are bad but that some renditions really shouldn't have been recorded. I don't understand why artists have a need to record songs that have been done over and over again by other performers. You certainly wouldn't see that with other types of popular songs, would you?

Those two shifts at the radio station instilled in me a strong dislike for Christmas music. Because so much of it can be really cheesy it's difficult sometimes for me to bear it. But there are some things I do enjoy listening to during the holiday season.

First, I can listen to just about anything recorded by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. When you think of holiday music those are the first two folks to come to mind.

Next, I will listen to the soundtrack from A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio over and over again. I never get tired of this holiday classic. It's also my favorite holiday TV special.

Apart from that, here is a list of my other favorite Christmas songs in no particular order.

Please Come Home For Christmas - The Eagles
I'll Be Home For Christmas - The Beach Boys
Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
White Christmas - The Drifters
Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms
Run, Run Rudolph - Chuck Berry
The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Diana Krall
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Monday, December 22, 2008

Those Who Serve

It's easy sometimes to forget that there are men and women who are laying down their lives so that those of us who are comfortable at home here in America can enjoy freedom. Kevin McCullough shares about one friend of his and the hardships that his friend will willingly endure for the sake of our freedom. It's very humbling to read.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"This Generation's Bob Hope"

That's Andrew Breitbart's description of actor Gary Sinise and the comparison is very appropriate. While the media doesn't pay a whole lot of attention to Sinise's work for the USO, President George W. Bush awarded the Presidential Citizen's Medal. Be sure to read Breitbart's entire column about this true American patriot.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reclaiming Hymns

One of the constant challenges I face as a worship leader is figuring out how to incorporate hymns into our regular worship times. I'm at a disadvantage since I came to faith about the time that contemporary worship music started to take off. So I'm more at home singing more modern worship songs than old hymns. But there's a lot to be treasured in old songs. That's why I'm really excited to stumble across a hymn memorization project from Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD. Not only are they making an effort to memorize a new hymn every month but a group of folks from the church recorded the hymns. Click on the widget below to find out how you can get a download of the songs.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Revamping History

After being closed to the public for more than two years, The National Museum of American History has reopened after an extensive renovation. The Weekly Standard's Andrew Ferguson has a detailed account of how the renovation came about and how the curators view history. It sounds like from his account that the new version of the museum is a vast improvement over the old with a lot of work still to be done. If you're ever in Washington, a few hours at the museum would be a worthwhile endeavor.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Hall of Fame Class of 2014

The announcement over the weekend that Greg Maddux was retiring after recording 355 career victories reminded me of an article I ran across not long ago that looked ahead to the potential Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2014 (which will be Maddux's first year of eligibility). The Hall of Fame rookies for that year could be as follows (assuming that a couple of guys decide to retire before next year):

Tom Glavine*
Randy Johnson*
Ken Griffey, Jr.*
Trevor Hoffman*
Jeff Kent
Greg Maddux
Pedro Martinez*
Mike Mussina
John Smoltz
Frank Thomas*

* indicates player is still active

With Maddux retiring, it would seem fitting for Tom Glavine and John Smoltz to both retire so they could all be inducted into the Hall the same year. Glavine is certainly a lock with 305 wins. One could argue that Smoltz is not as automatic but no one has won over 200 games and notched more than 150 saves.

Even if Randy Johnson retires I think 295 wins is enough to warrant enshrinement. And it's hard for me to see how we're going to see another closer who will earn as many saves as Trevor Hoffman.

Among the sluggers, Griffey is definitely in no matter when he decides to retire. I think Thomas gets in by virtue of his career homer numbers. Jeff Kent also seems to me to be a lock. So that's eight guys in this class that all have career stats that are worthy of the Hall.

The only debateable selections are Mussina and Martinez. Even though neither one hit one of the magic numbers (such as 300 wins) I think they both have had good enough careers to get in at some point. Given the strength of the rookie class it may not be until their second or third year of eligibility that they get in.

Depending on what happens the next couple of months 2014 could shape up as the best Hall of Fame ballot to come along in years. I don't envy the baseball writers who would have determine from that class who would be worthy of selection.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

I'm Going to Miss Him Come Spring

Mark it down: Greg Maddux will make it to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. All you have to do is look back over his many accomplishments to see why. He will truly be missed. He's one of the real class acts of baseball. When he makes his retirement announcement on Monday many will mourn his leaving the game. However, I think it's only a matter of time before he's back in uniform as a pitching coach. Let's hope so.

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Walk Worth Remembering

D. J. Gregory accomplished something remarkable this year. He walked every hole of every round of every PGA tournament this year. That is in and of itself remarkable. But until you learn his entire story do you realize how truly amazing this accomplishment is. D. J. Gregory is one amazing man. The word "can't" certainly doesn't exist in his vocabulary.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Some Unlikely Good Samaritans

That's the title of my new column up at BP Sports. Check it out.

While you're there, also check out Joshua Cooley's tribute to the retiring Mike Mussina. I've always admired Mussina as he is one of the truly classy guys in baseball.

Michelle Obama: Mommy

Personally, I find it reassuring that Michelle Obama says her first priority upon getting to Washington will be taking care of her children. Needless to say that statement has rankled a number of feminists as Dr. Albert Mohler explains.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Gift Certificate of Death?

Apparently that's what Planned Parenthood of Indiana has in mind offering gift certificates for their services including abortions. (hat tip: LaShawn Barber)

The Washington Times rightly points out that Planned Parenthood has reached a new low. Offering these so-called gift certificates is nothing more than a political ploy:

Women do not need Planned Parenthood for their basic health care. And the vouchers are not lifesaving, they are political instruments of the pro-choice movement. More importantly, contraception and abortion are not forms of "health care": They are lifestyle choices with life-altering consequences.

This just makes me sick.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Ten Trends Evangelicalism Could Do Without

Joe Carter of Culture11 and formerly of The Evangelical Outpost has compiled a list of the Ten Deadly Trappings of Evangelicalism. These are ten trends that Joe has identified that evangelicalism could just as well do without. All I can say is a hearty "Amen" to Joe's remarks. Take time to read through each post as there is a lot of great food for thought.

#1 The Sinner's Prayer and #2 Making Converts

#3 "Do You Know Jesus As...."

#4 Tribulationism and #5 Testimonies

#6 The Altar Call

#7 Witnessing and #8 Protestant Prayers

#9 The Church Growth Movement and #10 Chick Tracts

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Thanksgiving Television Classic

It still ranks as one of the funniest Thanksgiving episodes ever made. It's the WKRP in Cinncinati "Turkey Drop" episode.

Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

One More Reason to Hate Global Warming.....

After reading this rant, all I can say is I couldn't agree more.

Hat tip: Jonathan

"I'll trust in Him that I'll make the most of it"

That's the attitude of Liberty University kicker Ben Shipps talking about overcoming his physical deformities to be able to play college football (hat tip: Tim Ellsworth):

Liberty University quarterback Brock Smith admits he was taken aback the first time Ben Shipps approached him.

Shipps, a prospective student, walked up to Smith in his Liberty University dorm last year and asked who he needed to talk to about trying out for the football team.

Smith looked at Shipps and noticed he had had a wisp of flesh and bone for a left arm, and a right arm that ended at the elbow.

Be sure to read the entire article to find out Shipps' amazing story. Also don't miss the video linked at the end of the article. As Philippians 4:13 states, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Book Review: The Moon Shines Down

When my kids were younger, we used to read them books such as Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown. There was something special about those stories. Their charm was in their simplicity and Ms. Brown’s ability to say so much with so few words. We’d read them so often that pretty soon we’d have the entire book memorized. No matter how many times we read them, our girls never got tired of them.

Fans of Ms. Brown’s work will be thrilled to learn that over fifty years after her untimely death, a once lost manuscript has now been published. The Moon Shines Down is based on the New England sampler prayer “God Bless the Moon and God Bless Me” and evokes memories of her earlier works. Reading the book for the first time, I was reminded of the many times that I had read her other books to my children. The cadence of the rhymes brought back memories similar to reuniting with a long lost friend.

Adding to the story’s charm are the wonderful illustrations by Linda Bleck. Like previous illustrators of Ms. Brown’s books (especially Clement Hurd, who illustrated both Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny), Ms. Bleck weaves into her illustrations numerous elements from the story which add to the impact of the text. The illustrations are bold and use bright colors which are sure to be of tremendous appeal to younger readers.

Any parent who either grew up with or has had children grow up with Ms. Brown’s books will be sure to be charmed by The Moon Shines Down. I am sure that it will soon be seen on bookshelves everywhere perched right next to her other classic bedtime stories.

312993: The Moon Shines DownThe Moon Shines Down

By Margaret Wise Brown / Thomas Nelson

The Moon Shines Down is a new bedtime picture book by renowned children's author Margaret Wise Brown. Based on the classic New England Sampler prayer, God Bless the Moon and God Bless Me, it uses poetic verses to follow a child praying for God's blessing on children in different parts of the world and themselves as the moon shines down on them all. Originally written many years ago, the manuscript was lost. When it was found, it was incomplete, but matching Margaret Wise Brown's distinctive writing style, it is now a complete bedtime picture book with a classical feel similar to the bestselling book Goodnight Moon. Recommended for ages 3 to 8.

The Story Behind the Lost Manuscript

The Moon Shines Down
from Margaret Wise Brown,
the Author of Goodnight Moon

The Moon Shines Down is being published for the first time fifty-six years after the death of the beloved children's author Margaret Wise Brown.

Amazingly, this unpublished manuscript lay forgotten in a cedar trunk in a Vermont barn. When it was discovered, the onionskin paper had yellowed and the paperclips that held the pages together had rusted.

Based on the New England sampler prayer, "God Bless the Moon and God Bless Me," this soon-to-be bedtime classic is a prayer for God's blessing on all the world's children. However, the manuscript was incomplete, too short for a standard size picture book. Children's book publisher, Laura Minchew, a longtime fan of Brown, took on the challenge to complete the work. Laura was able to match Margaret Wise Brown's writing style, capturing Brown's unique rhythms and rhyme schemes.

The wonderful result introduces a timeless Margaret Wise Brown book to delight a new generation of children the world over.

A Display of Integrity

That's the title of my first column for BP Sports. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Behind the Scenes with Third Day

Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with Third Day and their road pastor, Nigel James, while they were on tour. My article about the band and their pastor was published this morning in the Bristol Herald Courier. Check out the article and leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Recommended resource:

068489: Lesson From The Road: Devotions With Third DayLesson From The Road: Devotions With Third Day

By Nigel James / Authentic Books

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Conversation with Peter Kreeft

834800: Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis & Aldous HuxleyBetween Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley

By Peter Kreeft / Inter-varsity Press

Back when I was in college, Peter Kreeft's book Between Heaven and Hell was essential reading for anyone interested in apologetics. Now the book has been reissued in an expanded format. National Review's John J. Miller has a fascinating conversation with the author on his book, how it was written, and why it's just as revelevant today as when he first wrote it. Check it out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Never Allow A Crisis To Go To Waste"

The top issue on President-Elect Barack Obama's agenda on January 20 will no doubt be the economy. Over the weekend, Mr. Obama gave a hint of who he was looking for as a role model in an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes:

(CBS) Kroft: Have you been reading anything about the Depression? Anything about FDR?

Mr. Obama: You know, I have actually. There's a new book out about FDR's first 100 days and what you see in FDR that I hope my team can--emulate, is not always getting it right, but projecting a sense of confidence, and a willingness to try things. And experiment in order to get people working again.

The problem is that such experimenting that Mr. Obama is referring to could very well be rehashing old liberal ideas. Ironically, FDR did the same thing according to Amity Shlaes:

The trouble with new financial crises is that they provide pretexts for implementing old social agendas. As the president-elect's new chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said recently, "never allow a crisis to go to waste."

Consider President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, which President-elect Barack Obama invokes when he talks of "a defining moment." Like Obama today, FDR was inaugurated into trouble. He wisely addressed the financial crisis through the steps that we learned about in school. He signed deposit insurance into law, reassuring savers. He created the Securities and Exchange Commission, making the stock market more transparent and consistent. He soothed our grandparents via his radio Fireside Chats. This was the FDR we love.

But FDR also used the crisis mood to push through an unprecedented program of reforms that progressives had been hoping to put in place for years. Sen. George Norris of Nebraska, for example, had for decades argued that utilities should be in the public, not the private, sector. As far back as the early '20s, Norris wanted to build a big power project on Tennessee River. He wanted the government - and not the Ford Motor Company, which was drawing up such plans - to be in charge. FDR made Norris' progressive dream a reality by creating the publicly owned Tennessee Valley Authority. Washington won out, but it wasn't clear its power served the South down the decades.

Miss Shlaes goes on in the column to document other spectacular failures of experimentation in the New Deal including the NRA. The entire column is, of course, worth reading.

I've just started reading Miss Shlaes' book The Forgotten Man: A New History of The Great Depression. Perhaps Mr. Obama would be well served to also read it before he takes office. While some of FDR's experiments were huge successes, many were not. President-Elect Obama should be careful to not experiment with solutions simply for the sake of experimentation. Yes, voters asked for change but more importantly they want governmeent to deliver solutions and not create more problems. FDR's legacy was one of creating as many economic problems as he did solutions. Perhaps Obama can avoid repeating that legacy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Free Stuff From Trivium Pursuit

Just received this message from the good folks at Trivium Pursuit. They have tons of great resources for classical homeschoolers. We can also highly recommend the material from Christian Logic (see the link to The Fallacy Detective in the sidebar):

Special Offer from Trivium Pursuit and Christian Logic

Our readers have the opportunity to receive two free ebooks from Trivium Pursuit.

1.The 73 page ebook of the entire text of Chapter Twelve: Ten Things to Do With Children Ages Ten Through Twelve from the book Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn

2.The new 94 page ebook Ancient Literature: Significant Excerpts from the Books of Classical Authors Which You Can Use to Supplement Your History Curriculum - Volume Two: Alexander the Great.

You will receive both of these ebooks when you subscribe to the Homeschooling with the Trivium newsletter. This offer is only for new subscribers to Homeschooling with the Trivium and is good only through November 30. Go here to subscribe.

In addition, if you subscribe to Christian Logic's Fallacy Detective News you will receive two lessons from the logic textbook The Thinking Toolbox by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn (Lessons 12 and 13, along with exercises and answer key). This offer is only for new subscribers to The Fallacy Detective News and is good only through November 30. Go here to subscribe.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Another New Deal? Let's Hope Not

President-elect Barack Obama frequently referred to the state of the economy as the worst since the Great Depression during the most recent campaign. But adopting New Deal policies like those imposed by Franklin Roosevelt would be a mistake according to author Amity Shlaes (The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression):

The historical model that the Democrats are choosing to hold up as they ponder our financial crisis isn't Harry Truman's Fair Deal or Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. It is Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. At least three economic reforms under discussion now were also central in the New Deal package. Trouble is, these reforms didn't necessarily work well when they were first tried - and some failed outright.

Roosevelt tried a stimulus package and investment in infrastructure both of which are being considered under the incoming Obama administration. But Roosevelt's leadership style was also a huge liability:

Even more than specific New Deal projects, Obama and his fellow Democrats are evoking Roosevelt's leadership style. In school, we learned that it was FDR's personality that pulled the country through the Depression. If only, the suggestion is, we can have a strong enough leader, Americans will also find recovery again. We need some "bold persistent experimentation" of the Roosevelt variety.

There is evidence, however, that FDR's very strength was a negative, because he used it to give himself a license to do true experimenting. In his second inaugural address, FDR said that he sought "an instrument of unimagined power for the establishment of a morally better world."

No one knew what it meant, and markets were terrified. Everyone feared FDR would regulate or prosecute them next. Businesses refused to invest. The 1930s' second half proved frustrating for the country: The economy was always recovering but never quite recovered. The Dow didn't get back to its 1929 level until the mid-'50s.
President-elect Obama will be under tremendous pressure come Inauguration Day to do something to fix the economy if it isn't already back on track by then. If history is any guide, repeating the failed policies of FDR is not the answer that America needs.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Is Joe Biden Looking Forward To His New Job?

A thought occurred to me: does Joe Biden know what the duties of the Vice President are? The vice president is supposed to preside over the Senate (though normally they are not involved in the day-to-day activities). The other main duty is to cast tiebreaking votes.

When the Vice-President is in the Senate he is the Presiding Officer of the Senate but is not allowed to participate in debate. John Adams, our second President and first Vice-President and a man known to enjoy a boisterous debate, once remarked that "My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived."

Given how much Joe Biden seems to enjoy hearing himself talk something tells me he won't be spending any more time in the Senate as Vice-President than absolutely necessary.

Sliming Sarah Palin

So now McCain staffers are going around making all sorts of allegations about how Governor Palin essentially sabotaged the campaign. You can read the article for yourself if you want to as it is just one example of the garbage that is being circulated by the media (and I'm being polite).

None of these staffers are mentioned by name which means the media can perform one last hit job on the Governor using people that don't have the guts to come forward with their allegations and engage in character assasination.

Michelle Malkin calls out these sleazy people for what they are and has set up a petition that you can sign and include a message to the Governor. Here is what I wrote:

Thank you, Governor for your willingness to serve your country. You have inspired my daughters to dream big dreams and they admire the way that you handled yourself during this campaign. There is no question that you have been unfairly attacked not only by the media but by people within your own campaign that are supposed to be helping you win an election. It's a shame that they don't have the guts to come forward and identify themselves. You did everything you could to help Senator McCain win and there is no doubt that if you hadn't been on the ticket he would not have done as well as he did on election day.

Our family will be praying for you and your family. Thank you again for your service.

Red State is going to be investigating to find out who is behind this nonsense. These people need to be called out.

UPDATE: Via Hot Air, CNN's Campbell Brown gets it right. The staffers are the ones who are at fault, not Governor Palin.

UPDATE #2: Red State is now posting this petition to help show your support and to sign up for updates on their work to root out the leakers.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

One More Reason to Homeschool

As if I needed any more reasons to feel good that my kids are homeschooled. Via Hot Air, a Finnish documentary exposes indoctrination for the President-elect in an Fayetteville, NC elementary school. The first few seconds of the clip won't make any sense. The relevant portion starts at the 0:15 mark:

Perhaps the most absurd part of the whole clip is this quote from the teacher, Diantha Harris:

Now I can support whomever I want to support, as long as I don’t browbeat another person for the candidate that they supported. Like I have some students that support John McCain, and when they told me that, I said ah … “that’s good"
and I just moved on. So, I think that everybody is entitled to their own personal opinion.

Sure, everyone is entitled to their own opinion in her classroom as long as it's the same as her own.

By the way, there is absolutely no excuse for her berating that young girl whose father is in the military to the point that she was in tears. That alone is enough reason for that woman to be fired.


UPDATE: In the original version of the post I incorrectly stated that Ms. Harris was a teacher in Asheville, NC. The post has since been corrected.

Here is the contact information for the school:

Diantha Harris
Mary Mcarthur Elementary School
Principal Lola Williams
3809 Village Drive Fayetteville, NC 28304
Superintendent William C. Harrison

ANOTHER UPDATE: My wife, a.k.a. Mommypundit, ran across this article and wonders how this can be the same woman? Based on an article in the Asheville Citizen-Times about the controversy it appears she's the same person. Notice how the paper tries to downplay Ms. Harris' outrageous behavior.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Historic Election

After many, many months of grueling campaigning this election is over. Congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama. He ran a spectacular campaign from beginning to end. It's been said many other places but let me add that this is proud moment for America. Even though I didn't vote for him, I do take pride in the fact that my country has elected an African-American as its president. It's an accomplishment that we can all take pride in as Americans even if we didn't all vote for him.

A few other random thoughts about this election:

Senator John McCain ran a fine campaign. Sure, there will be plenty of Monday morning quarterbacking from the pundit class about things he should have done or not done. But the fact is that this was going to be a difficult year for Republicans and I seriously doubt that having anyone else at the top of the ticket could have done any better than he did. America would have been just as blessed to have such a patriot serving us as Commander in Chief.

McCain's choice of Governor Sarah Palin was a brilliant move. She energized the Republican base and in the process sealed a bright future for herself in the Republican party. No other Vice-Presidential nominee would have energized the base the way she did. It's a safe bet that the Republican ticket did as well as it did in large part because of what Governor Palin brought to the ticket.

While we are on the subject of the Governor, I don't think she should be in any hurry to run for national office. She would probably be better served to return to Alaska, run for re-election in 2 years and then consider her options.

President-elect Obama is our first post-modern president. By that I mean that he successfully tapped into people's emotions and won over people's hearts more so than their minds.

This was an election about style over substance. Obama has a tremendous presence and is an incredibly gifted speaker. But there was very little meat in terms of policy proposals in his campaign. Thus, it's not clear how he will govern.

Democrats will feel emboldened to enact a liberal legislative agenda. But the fact remains that America is still a center-right country. Obama himself understood this and positioned himself as a center-right candidate.

One of his first challenges will be how to rein in the excesses of a Congress controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Obama positioned himself as a centrist in the campaign even though he clearly holds very liberal views. Will he govern according to ideology or more pragmatically? Will he be able to find areas of agreement with Republicans?

He's also got the problem of extremely high expectations. People want change. They are worried about problems that the country faces. He's going to have to have some quick successes or the honeymoon may be over before it starts.

Even though I have opposed him during this campaign, my duty is to respect the person and the office. In addition, as a Christian, I need to pray for him. President-elect Obama has willingly taken on what is arguably the hardest and most thankless job in the world. Sure, we have our differences but I should still be praying for him and that God would grant him the wisdom each day to make the decisions that are best for the country.

Two issues from this election that warrant further investigation but likely won't get any attention: voter registration fraud (especially concerning ACORN) and campaign finance irregularities. Both are serious issues that need to be researched thoroughly not to blame anyone or try to indict either campaign but rather to determine what steps need to be taken to be sure the same problems don't arise in the future. The problem with election fraud is that it's a problem that doesn't get dealt with unless an election is perilously close (think Florida in 2000). Even the people who are supposed to be fixing the problem don't. Elections and the right to vote are important. We need to be doing more to make sure that elections are conducted in a fair manner.

A word to my fellow conservatives and Republicans: for eight years we have watched our President be viciously attacked like no other President before him. We need to be better than the opposition has been to us. Let's support President Obama where we agree. Let's disagree in a civil but enthusiastic manner on issues that we disagree on. Let's also choose carefully those issues we are willing to go to the mattresses on rather than reflexively opposing him. But most of all, let us remember that he is our President and worthy of the honor and respect of his position even if we don't feel he's qualified to be there. He's doing a difficult job and deserves our respect.

Finally, a word to the Obama supporters. Be careful about your expectations. At some point, he will likely disappoint you. Perhaps not at first. Perhaps not for some time. But at some point he will make a decision or do something that will disappoint you. It's only natural. After all, he is not a messiah. He is human being trying to do a very difficult job to the best of his ability. Be prepared to cut him a little slack.

The people are looking to the government to solve their problems. The fact is that government often is the problem rather than the solution. No one person is going to be able to make all of your problems magically go away. We still face great challenges. Our newly elected President will have to learn on the job because there is no other job that adequately prepares you to be Commander in Chief. He will no doubt make mistakes. Be willing to cut him some slack.

Now is a time for all of us to take a deep breath. Americans can be proud of their country. This is a historic election. There will be plenty of time to argue over policy and politics at a later date. But for now, I'm taking a break from politics. I'll be praying for our new president and our country. They both will need it in the days and weeks ahead.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What If The Polls Are Wrong?

Polling has been conducted at an unprecedented level during this election cycle. As of today, margins between the two presidential candidates are anywhere from two to sixteen points depending on which survey you read. But what if we're heading for another election where the polls are totally wrong? I'm not referring to 2000 or 2004 where there were most famously problems with the exit polls. I'm talking about 1980.

Time Magazine conducted a lengthy analysis of the opinion polls following Ronald Reagan's landslide victory over President Jimmy Carter. (Hat tip: The Corner) Two trends jump out from this analysis. First, there were estimates that many voters changed their minds in the last 48 hours. These voters broke towards Reagan because they were unsure about how the Iranian hostage crisis was being handled. As a result, they changed their minds late and affected the outcome of the election.

The other trend they noted then is one that certainly seems to fit today: pollsters oversampled Democrats. My guess is that's exactly what's happening now as pollsters have been guessing that turnout will be higher among Democrats but fail to take into account other factors that can affect how they vote.

Making matters worse is that current polls have had a tendency to overstate support for Senator Obama. This is because he draws a lot of younger voters but they tend to be notoriously unreliable in showing up at the polls on Election Day. Also, blue collar voters that make up substantial portions of the electorate in key states are very difficult to poll because they don't respond to pollsters.

The bottom line is this: go out and vote today. Don't let the pollsters or the media or anyone else tell you that this election is over. We could have a long night ahead of us and some very surprising results in the end.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Obama In His Own Words

As Jim Geraghty says, "All Barack Obama Statements Come With an Expiration Date. All Of Them." Mary Katherine Ham, who is without a doubt one of the most talented bloggers in the center-right blogosphere, pulled together the video clips and compiled them into the video below. Hat tip: The Corner

Ask yourself this question: can we really trust anything Senator Obama says?

I don't think so.

Never Give In

As we near the end of this marathon election campaign, some folks are feeling a bit discouraged. Perhaps they've been reading too many polls or paying too close attention to news stories that are trying to coronate Senator Obama before votes have been cast.

I am quite optimistic about the outcome of the election tomorrow. I expect by the time the day is over there will be a number of unexpected surprises.

As Election Day has drawn closer I have been thinking a lot about a famous speech given by Sir Winston Churchill. Part of it will be no doubt familiar but it is worth quoting at length. The speech was given on October 29, 1941 at Harlow School, a prominent prep school in England. Remember that Britain was already at war with Germany but the United States had not yet been brought into the conflict. This paragraph is probably at least somewhat familiar:

You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination. But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period - I am addressing myself to the School - surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

It's an amazing statement given the almost insurmountable odds that the British faced at that point in the war. They had no idea that America would soon join the fight. It looked at that time as if the situation was utterly hopeless. But it is the close of the speech that is perhaps the best part:

Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days - the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.

Tomorrow we will make history regardless of which ticket is elected to the highest office in the land. My hope and prayer is that Senator McCain and Governor Palin will emerge victorious. It's now up to each one of us to go out and vote tomorrow and make sure that happens.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Who's Selfish?

Let me get this straight. Cindy McCain pays for a house for her aunt and gets rakes over the coals about how many houses she owns. But Barack Obama has an aunt living in the U. S. illegally and in public housing and he does nothing to help her?

Who's really selfish?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dispelling The Obama Donor Record Myth

One of the underreported stories of the campaign season revolves around the acceptance of small donations by the Obama campaign. The campaign says that releasing the records would be just too cumbersome. But the folks at Slate say otherwise:

Barack Obama refuses to release the names of the 2 million-plus people who have given his campaign less than $200. According to campaign officials, it would be too difficult and time-consuming to extract this information from its database.

So how come we were able to do it in a couple hours? Not literally—we don't have access to the campaign's list of donors—but we created a database of similar size and format in a Web-ready file and posted it online. (You can view a sample text version of it here. The full version is 824 MB.)

Senator Obama would be wise to release the names to show that his record-shattering fund raising wasn't built on fraudulent donations as some have suspected. This wouldn't be too much to expect from the candidate who promises to be a new kind of politician, would it?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Barack Obama Test

While surfing around on a few sites tonight I ran across an ad for the Barack Obama Test. The premise of this test is to help you determine how your views match up on key issues with Senator Obama.

It didn't surprise me all that much that I disagreed with Senator Obama on every single issue. I'm a conservative and the Senator is extremely liberal.

But what surprised me more was what else I learned from the results. After you answer all 48 questions you not only get to see how your answers match up with Senator Obama but you also get to see how other Americans responded to the same questions. The poll questions were pulled together from several issues-oriented opinion polls that have been conducted throughout the campaign. On every single question, more respondents took a contrary view on the issue to Senator Obama's.

I've long thought that this election was more about personality than about issues. Voters seem to like Senator Obama more even though ideologically they don't line up with him.

Take the test for yourself and see. Just click the button below.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Media Bandwagon

One of the ongoing story lines in this election season is the preponderance of positive media stories for Senator Barack Obama. The latest example was Time's Joe Klein gleefully speculating what an Obama presidency might look like. (Hat tip: Newsbusters)

Articles such as these should be seen by readers as what they really are: propaganda for Obama. To be more precise, the media are engaging in a technique known as the bandwagon:

Bandwagon is one of the most common techniques in both wartime and peacetime and plays an important part in modern advertising. Bandwagon is also one of the seven main propaganda techniques identified by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis in 1938. Bandwagon is an appeal to the subject to follow the crowd, to join in because others are doing so as well. Bandwagon propaganda is, essentially, trying to convince the subject that one side is the winning side, because more people have joined it. The subject is meant to believe that since so many people have joined, that victory is inevitable and defeat impossible. Since the average person always wants to be on the winning side, he or she is compelled to join in. However, in modern propaganda, bandwagon has taken a new twist. The subject is to be convinced by the propaganda that since everyone else is doing it, they will be left out if they do not. This is, effectively, the opposite of the other type of bandwagon, but usually provokes the same results. Subjects of bandwagon are compelled to join in because everyone else is doing so as well. When confronted with bandwagon propaganda, we should weigh the pros and cons of joining in independently from the amount of people who have already joined, and, as with most types of propaganda, we should seek more information.

(Emphasis mine)

Various media outlets will point to that unshakeable gospel of public opinion, the polls, as proof that their candidate, Senator Obama, has an insurmountable lead and Senator McCain should just go ahead and save everybody time and effort and concede the race now even though the voting doesn't take place until November 4. Even Senator Obama can't help himself from thinking ahead until after the election. (Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt) Perhaps that's why he is charging admission to the media for his big victory party on Election night.

The fatal flaw in this logic is that polls are far from perfect. In fact, there is growing evidence that they are totally unreliable. Even though some media outlets will use an average of polls as a truer barometer of public opinion if each one of the polls that is figured into that average is, in and of itself, imperfect then the average of those polls is also imperfect. You can at least be certain of this much: journalists probably aren't asking any questions to determine the validity of the poll results.

At least signs point to voters realizing by an overwhelming margin that journalists want Senator Obama to win. (Hat tip: Newsbusters) Maybe voters are a whole lot smarter than the media thinks.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sarah Palin's Wardrobe

We have serious issues to deal with in this campaign, yet the media seems it's more important to do front page stories on Sarah Palin's wardrobe. Ed Morrissey asks whether the media has been sexist in focusing so much on the $150,000 the RNC spent on her clothes. Here's my response to that question, with help from Ace. Take a look at the picture below and you decide:

Instead of addressing serious issues, the media treats us to borderline pornographic photographs of Sarah Palin's shoes. Pretty much answers Ed's question, doesn't it?

The Content Of Their Character

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "I Have A Dream"

Dr. King was absolutely right to suggest that the content of a person's character is much more important that the color of their skin. With that thought in mind, go read this essay on presidential character and then decide which candidate has the qualities necessary to make a good President of the United States.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Loose Lips Sink Ships

Senator Barack Obama was meeting in Richmond, Virginia today with his national security advisors. In the press conference following the Senator's meeting, he was asked about his running mate's comments over the weekend about challenges Obama would face if elected President. Senator Obama's response was “You know I think that Joe sometimes engages in rhetorical flourishes.”
Now, I don't have any idea what Senator Obama meant by "rhetorical flourishes" but this much is clear: his running mate has a propensity to put his foot in his mouth. The campaign seems to finally realize this is the case and that's why he hasn't spoken to the press in about six weeks.
Senator Biden should remember the old wartime adage that "loose lips sink ships." In fact, he should review the guidelines given to soldiers about writing home. Notice rule #6 which says "Don't mention plans and forecasts or orders for future operations, whether known or just your guess. "
The senator, in speaking the truth about the actions our enemies are likely to take if Senator Obama is elected may have sunk their chances of winning on November 4.
UPDATE: My lovely bride reminded me that Senator Biden has been receiving intelligence briefings (he would have received some given his position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee). This makes the Senator's gaffe even more colossal as he was probably thinking about specific intelligence he has received on possible terrorist threats when he made his remarks. We can't afford to elect a Vice President who doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut.

Grandiose Joe Gives A History Lesson

Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden caused quite a stir last weekend when he had this to say about the challenges his running mate will face early on in his administration if elected:

"Mark my words," the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."

For those who are not familiar with their history, Senator Biden was referring to how Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev treated President John F. Kennedy during the initial months of Kennedy's administration. Two major crises: the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missle Crisis arose following a disasterous (for Kennedy) summit meeting in June 1961 in Vienna. As this article published in the New York Times in May of this year pointed out, Kruschev correctly perceived Kennedy as weak and used that to his advantage:

Kennedy’s aides convinced the press at the time that behind closed doors the president was performing well, but American diplomats in attendance, including the ambassador to the Soviet Union, later said they were shocked that Kennedy had taken so much abuse. Paul Nitze, the assistant secretary of defense, said the meeting was “just a disaster.” Khrushchev’s aide, after the first day, said the American president seemed “very inexperienced, even immature.” Khrushchev agreed, noting that the youthful Kennedy was “too intelligent and too weak.” The Soviet leader left Vienna elated — and with a very low opinion of the leader of the free world.

Kennedy’s assessment of his own performance was no less severe. Only a few minutes after parting with Khrushchev, Kennedy, a World War II veteran, told
James Reston of The New York Times that the summit meeting had been the roughest thing in my life.” Kennedy went on: “He just beat the hell out of me. I’ve got a terrible problem if he thinks I’m inexperienced and have no guts. Until we remove those ideas we won’t get anywhere with him.”

A little more than two months later, Khrushchev gave the go-ahead to begin erecting what would become the Berlin Wall. Kennedy had resigned himself to it, telling his aides in private that “a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.” The following spring, Khrushchev made plans to “throw a hedgehog at Uncle Sam’s pants”: nuclear missiles in Cuba. And while there were many factors that led to the missile crisis, it is no exaggeration to say that the impression Khrushchev formed at Vienna — of Kennedy as ineffective — was among them.

The article also goes on to note that Kennedy went forward with the Vienna summit without first setting out preconditions for negotiations over the objections of his aides and his own Secretary of State Dean Rusk.

Senator Biden, who has boasted that he has "forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know" has made a revealing admission by making the comparison to Kennedy: Barack Obama is not equipped to be President of the United States.

I'd be willing to wager that if Putin, Ahmadinejad, Chavez, or Castro were to sit down at a summit across the table from a President Obama they are likely to come away with the same impression that Kruschev had of Kennedy: too intelligent and too weak.

We live in dangerous times and we face numerous threats as a nation. The Democratic presidential ticket has told us that if we elect them we are inviting more attacks from those who are bent on destroying us. That is a risk that America can't afford to take.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Taking the Media (and Democrats) to Task

Orson Scott Card, who is a best-selling author and a newspaper columnist (and, incidentally, a Democrat) takes the media to task in his latest column for their collective failure to fully investigate the housing crisis (hat tip: Hot Air):

This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.

It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans.

What is a risky loan? It's a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay.

This is the kind of story that should have received extensive coverage in newspapers all across the country. He goes on to reveal the crux of the story:

This was completely foreseeable and in fact many people did foresee it. One political party, in Congress and in the executive branch, tried repeatedly to tighten up the rules. The other party blocked every such attempt and tried to loosen them.

Any guesses who tried to fix the problem and who stopped those who wanted to fix it? Don't take my word for it. Mr. Card nails it:

Isn't there a story here? Doesn't journalism require that you who produce our daily paper tell the truth about who brought us to a position where the only way to keep confidence in our economy was a $700 billion bailout? Aren't you supposed to follow the money and see which politicians were benefiting personally from the deregulation of mortgage lending?

I have no doubt that if these facts had pointed to the Republican Party or to John McCain as the guilty parties, you would be treating it as a vast scandal. "Housing-gate," no doubt. Or "Fannie-gate."

Instead, it was Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, both Democrats, who denied that there were any problems, who refused Bush administration requests to set up a regulatory agency to watch over Fannie Mae
and Freddie Mac, and who were still pushing for these agencies to go even
further in promoting sub-prime mortgage loans almost up to the minute they

And then Mr. Card turns his attention to the media:

Your job, as journalists, is to tell the truth. That's what you claim you do, when you accept people's money to buy or subscribe to your paper.

But right now, you are consenting to or actively promoting a big fat lie — that the housing crisis should somehow be blamed on Bush, McCain, and the Republicans. You have trained the American people to blame everything bad — even bad weather — on Bush, and they are responding as you have taught them to.

If you had any personal honor, each reporter and editor would be insisting on telling the truth — even if it hurts the election chances of your favorite candidate.

Because that's what honorable people do. Honest people tell the truth even when they don't like the probable consequences. That's what honesty means . That's how trust is earned.

Take the time to read the entire thing. There's a reason that people don't trust the media anymore. A very good reason.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Papers, Please

Byron York has a fascinating account of a weekend rally for Senator John McCain and the outrage that has been directed at the media thanks to their sliming of Joe the Plumber. But the most striking moment was an encounter with one of those working-class Americans and what it says about the future of our country:

In the audience Saturday, there were plenty of people who were mad about it. There was real anger at this rally, but it wasn’t, as some erroneous press reports from other McCain rallies have suggested, aimed at Obama. It was aimed at the press. And that’s where Tito Munoz came in.

After McCain left, as the crowd filed out, Munoz made his way to an area near some loudspeakers. He attracted a few reporters when he started talking loudly, in heavily-accented English, about media mistreatment of Wurzelbacher. (It was clear that Spanish was Munoz’s native language, and he later told me he was born in Colombia.) When I first made my way over to him, Munoz thought I was there to give him the third degree.

“Are you going to check my license, too?” he asked me. “Are you going to check my immigration status? I’m ready, I have everything here. Whatever you want, I have it. I have my green card, I have my passport — “

I was a little surprised. Did Munoz really bring his papers with him to a McCain rally? I asked.

“Yeah, I have my papers right here,” he said. “I’m an American citizen. Right here, right here.” With that, he produced a U.S. passport, turned it to the page with his picture on it, and thrust it about an inch from my nose. “Right here,” he said. “In your face.”

This is what it has come to in this country. The fact that Mr. Munoz found it necessary to bring along his papers to prove his citizenship shows there are real reasons to worry about what an Obama administration will look like. Will the change it promises to bring be positive or more like other countries that hungered for the type of "change" that is big on promises but lacks specifics?

Americans have every right to be afraid of what will happen to their rights to free speech should Senator Obama win the election. If the Obama administration doesn't use their power to suppress dissenting speech then they will just sic their media lapdogs on citizens to destroy them. Just ask Joe Wurzelbacher.

Baseball Quote of the Week

This ain't football. We do this every day.

- Earl Weaver

Friday, October 17, 2008

Quick Takes - Weekend Edition

Been on the road all week and back home for a brief breather before hitting the road again on Sunday. It's been a little bit of a crazy month so far but still managed to round up a few links for weekend reading enjoyment:

Change the world? He's not referring to the Eric Clapton song. Every time I see a story like this I see shades of Nicolae Carpathia...and I'm not alone!

Has Joe the Plumber become Obama's macaca moment? Sure seems that way given how the press has gone after the guy. Senator McCain, however, shows a little class. And another Joe the Plumber weighs in.

Good move: Glenn Beck joins Fox News.

Doing the math on the Obama tax cut plan. It just doesn't add up.

From the "Stating the Obvious" Department: Evangelicals not represented in newsrooms.

What we can believe is that the change that could be coming is not what we want to see.

More evidence of elitism.

Pausing for a few laughs. Be sure to watch the video.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

Why Isn't Obama Winning Big?

The storyline throughout this election has been that this is a big year for Democrats and that they would win big in the Presidential as well as Congressional elections. That may still come to pass, but judging by the polls one has to wonder whether we're going to have a different outcome (similar to 1948 when Harry Truman upset the heavily favored Thomas Dewey).

Examining the state of the election with less than a month to go, Senator Barack Obama should be leading by a double-digit margin. Yet, the Real Clear Politics poll average hovers around 6 points (5.6 to be precise as of this writing).

Some pundits suggest that the Bradley effect is coming into play and that Senator Obama's support in the polls is overstated. I don't necessarily subscribe to that theory. Polls are not an accurate barometer of public opinion due to their wide variances in poll methodology. In fact, at the state level, they can be wildly inaccurate.

But assuming for a moment that these polls are somewhere close to a realistic snapshot of the race, why isn't Senator Obama leading by a wider margin? We've been told that voters are ready for a change after eight years of President George W. Bush in the White House. The economy, we are told, is melting down and voters favor Democrats on economic issues. Senator Obama, as the first African-American Presidential nominee has a chance to make history if he is elected. Voters are theoretically flocking to Obama as a result. So why isn't he farther ahead?

If I had to venture a guess it would be this: voters who haven't already decided who they are going to support are conflicted on whether to vote at all. Neither candidate has been able to solidfy significant support outside of their own party's base and so the support for each candidate is relatively soft.

Perhaps there is more to this decision dynamic. Perhaps voters see on one hand a candidate in Senator Obama who they believe embodies the change that they desire to see and yet lacks the experience and the judgement to deal with a crisis. Senator Obama said it himself during the last debate: "But, look, the nature of the challenges that we're going to face are immense and one of the things that we know about the presidency is that it's never the challenges that you expect. It's the challenges that you don't that end up consuming most of your time." Voters look to someone who can handle that type of crisis. Perhaps that is what they see as lacking in Senator Obama and why he can't seem to pull away from Senator McCain in the polls.

On the other hand, voters look at Senator McCain and see someone who fits the mold of a steady hand in the midst of a crisis. But they aren't sure that he has the answers to their problems especially when it comes to the current economic crisis. If we were facing a major foreign policy challenge (and we are facing many of them even though the news seems to be myopically focused on the economy), Senator McCain would be the man I think voters would be more comfortable with. But because he can't adequately address the voters' appetite for change especially with the current disgust with Congress over the recent financial bailouts he continues to trail in the polls.

There are other factors at work, too, that have a direct bearing on the outcome of the election. Democrats squandered part of the advantage they had going into November when they recessed earlier this summer without dealing with the energy crisis and in effect handed a key issue over the Republicans. They didn't help themselves when they couldn't get a financial bailout passed without loading it up with pork to help fence-sitters vote in support of it. In fact, during the entire negotiation process they acted more as the minority party than the majority party in large part because Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid couldn't get their respective caucuses to fall in line on the bailout. It's no wonder given the Democrats' legislative ineptitude that a recent opinion poll showed 59% of voters would vote to replace the entire Congress. Again, it's an opinion poll so we do have to take it with a grain of salt. But there is certainly a mood that suggests voters are ready to "throw the bums out". Given that the system overwhelmingly favors incumbents it's not likely to happen unless there is an all out voter revolt.

The bottom line is that this is likely to be the most unpredictable election in recent memory. With a little less than four weeks to go I am willing to venture this much of a guess: November 4 may be a very long night for political geeks like me. We may not know until early the next morning if not several days or weeks later who has ultimately won. Anyone who says they know for certain what's going to happen don't really know anything. This election is far from over and it's still an eternity until Election Day.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Keen Insight Into the Campaigns

Senator Barack Obama has often said that running his campaign has given him executive experience to be President. However, this account from inside both campaigns gives reason to pause and consider what his management style is really like:

Obama's campaign schedule is fuller, more hectic and seemingly improvisational. The Obama aides who deal with the national reporters on the campaign plane are often overwhelmed, overworked and un-informed about where, when, why or how the candidate is moving about. Baggage calls are preposterously early with the explanation that it's all for security reasons.

If so, I would love to have someone from Obama's campaign explain why the entire press corps, the Secret Service, and the local police idled for two hours in a Miami hotel parking lot recently because there was nothing to do and nowhere to go. It was not an isolated case.

The national headquarters in Chicago airily dismisses complaints from journalists wondering why a schedule cannot be printed up or at least e-mailed in time to make coverage plans. Nor is there much sympathy for those of us who report for a newscast that airs in the early evening hours. Our shows place a premium on live reporting from the scene of campaign events. But this campaign can often be found in the air and flying around at the time the "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric" is broadcast. I suspect there is a feeling within the Obama campaign that the broadcast networks are less influential in the age of the internet and thus needn't be accomodated as in the days of yore. Even if it's true, they are only hurting themselves by dissing audiences that run in the tens of millions every night.

Keep in mind this is from a mainstream media reporter and they are, by all accounts, in the tank for the Democratic senator. But check out what he has to say next about Senator McCain's campaign:

The McCain folks are more helpful and generally friendly. The schedules are printed on actual books you can hold in your hand, read, and then plan accordingly. The press aides are more knowledgeable and useful to us in the news media. The events are designed with a better eye, and for the simple needs of the press corps. When he is available, John McCain is friendly and loquacious. Obama holds news conferences, but seldom banters with the reporters who've been following him for thousands of miles around the country. Go figure.

The McCain campaign plane is better than Obama's, which is cramped, uncomfortable and smells terrible most of the time. Somehow the McCain folks
manage to keep their charter clean, even where the press is seated.

The other day in Albuquerque, N.M., the reporters were given almost no time to file their reports after McCain spoke. It was an important, aggressive speech, lambasting Obama's past associations. When we asked for more time to write up his remarks and prepare our reports, the campaign readily agreed to it. They understood.

Senator McCain has plenty of reason to not be very friendly towards reports given the reprehensible treatment he and his running mate have received from some media outlets. Yet his staff is far more courteous and attentive to reporters' needs.

Little details like this can make a huge impression. Successful organizations understand the importance of making sure everything works well. How these two men choose to treat the press speaks volumes about what kind of executives each of these men will be.

As the Bible says, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much." (Luke 16:10)

Book Review: Forsaken

Denouce Christ or your daughter dies. That is the choice faced by televangelist Simon Mason in the brand new thriller Forsaken by James David Jordan. When terrorists kidnap his daughter, Mason turns to Taylor Pasbury, a beautiful ex-Secret Service agent for help. But Taylor is a troubled young woman and her relationship with Simon becomes a "quirky love story wrapped in an action thriller" according to the author.

"I wanted to write books that were great stories first and had a spiritual message second because I wanted to try to reach people who ordinarily wouldn't pick up that kind of novel," said Mr. Jordan in a recent interview.

It's safe to say that Mr. Jordan accomplished his mission with Forsaken. I started the book and could not put it down. And I'm not prone to read much Christian fiction.

My problem with most Christian novels is the temptation to make the characters too perfect which is an issue Mr. Jordan has as well.

"I am totally opposed to writing Christian fiction that revolves around religious superheroes.," said Mr. Jordan. "They (Simon and Taylor) make mistakes just like the rest of us."

The fact that the two main characters are flawed is precisely what makes the book so compelling. Simon has made his share of mistakes and some of those, if they became known, would destroy his life and ministry.

Taylor, on the other hand, is a woman of nominal faith and has been wounded by a mother who abandoned her and a father who was brutally murdered. She also has a lousy track record when it comes to relationships. She hides behind her tough veneer but deep down is someone who cares deeply for others. It's clear as her relationship develops with Simon she finds something attractive about him. But she is also intrigued by his faith and the struggles he works through as he wrestles with his decision whether to renounce his faith or save his daughter. It's a struggle grounded in Matthew 10:37-38 and a question that any Christian would find difficult to answer.

Forsaken strikes the balance between a compelling plot and a fascinating character in Taylor Pasbury. Mr. Jordan already has a second novel completed that will be published next year and will pick up on the loose ends left at the end of this book including details of her backstory.

Hats off to Mr. Jordan for constructing a terrific story that is also rich with Christian themes that will cause the reader to think about the practical workings of faith in real-life situations. Having met Taylor Pasbury through Forsaken, I can't wait to read the next chapter in her story. She's a character I could get used to reading about for a long time. I suspect Mr. Jordan wouldn't mind writing about her for years to come. If you haven't read a good thriller in a while, go pick up Forsaken. You'll be glad you did.

Click here to listen to the interview with James David Jordan.

Hate Speech From Democrats

The video below contains audio of Democratic Senate candidate (and former Virginia governor) Mark Warner. If you are a Christian, a homeschooler, a Republican, or a gun owner, you've every right to be offended:

It's simply outrageous. If a Republican made statements like this there would be outrage everywhere. But because Mr. Warner is a Democrat, he'll get a pass. Pass this on to everyone you know. This is what is at stake in this election.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

One Brave Guy

Via Gateway Pundit (and a tip of the hat to Paula), Retired Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, Republican candidate for Congress in Florida's 22nd congressional district, came to the defense of Governor Sarah Palin over allegations she's racist:

Lt. Col. Allen West Stands With Gov. Palin: Sen. Obama Is "Not One of Us"
Oct 8th, 2008
(Boca Raton, FL.) In response to the inflammatory racial statements made by Congressmen Meeks D-NY, Towns D-NY, and Jackson D-Ill. in the Jason Horowitz New York Observer article, "Black Congressmen Declare Racism in Palin's Rhetoric," (Ret.) Lt. Col. Allen West, congressional candidate for Florida's district 22, wrote the following:

"I have just finished reading an article written by Jason Horowitz in the New York Observer, "Black Congressmen Declare Racism in Palin's Rhetoric," and I am absolutely appalled. I refute the inflammatory comments of Rep. Meeks, Towns, and Jackson and I challenge them to debate me on the issue of race. Yes, I am a black conservative congressional candidate from district 22 in South Florida. This is a congressional district that is approximately 92% white. The tremendous support I've received in district 22, and throughout the country, doesn't jibe with Rep. Towns' claim that, “racism is alive and well in this country."

With that said, I reiterate the comment made by Governor Palin: Senator Obama is "not one of us". We are freedom loving Americans that believe in the Constitution, and shun marxist/socialist dogma. Sen. Obama's political and social allegiance with William Ayers proves he is, "not one of us." Let me bring to mind a simple maxim that my mom and dad taught me growing up in Georgia, "folks will know you by the company you keep." And as a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel I shall share a simple point: because of Senator Obama's associations, he would not be able to pass a background investigation in order to receive a security clearance. Yet, he seeks to be the Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces?

It has become apparent that any person taking a stand against Sen. Obama's campaign will face the "Brown Shirt" intimidation tactics of individuals seeking to stoke racial fires.

I am sick and tired of the 21st century version of plantation overseers that pass themselves off as black leaders but only keep the black community hostage. When I win this congressional race it will be interesting to see if the Congressional Black Caucus will open their doors to me. I suggest that the door be opened, but then again, would they be racist for not allowing me membership?"

Best Regards,
Lieutenant Colonel
Allen B West (US Army, Retired) Candidate, Florida's US Congressional District

What a brave guy. I'd vote for him in a heartbeat if I lived in his district.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Why We Love Sarah

Last night in Boca Raton, Florida, Sarah Palin held a fundraiser that included a very special guest:

A last minute guest at the fundraiser was 11-year-old Rachel Petersen of Deerfield Beach, who was allowed to stay up past her bedtime last month to watch the Republican National Convention. She said she wrote Palin that she was happy
she was running and sorry she couldn't vote for a few more years.

On Monday afternoon, Rachel's dad, Don, was shopping when his cell phone
rang. It was Palin, he said, and she wanted to thank Rachel personally for the
letter. When Don explained how close they live to Boca Raton, she invited them to the fundraiser.

Rachel showed up in a pretty dress with a big smile. She was nervous to meet Palin and said she shook her hand and said, "I want to say good luck."

Another great example of why voters like Sarah Palin so much: because she is so down-to-earth. It's refreshing to see this quality in someone immersed in politics.

Monday, October 06, 2008

THe Obama-Ayers Connection

Turns out that Barack Obama's connection to domestic terrorist Bill Ayers is deeper than everyone originally thought:

By 1995, Barack Obama had known Bill Ayers at least eight years since their shared involvement in the Alliance for Better Chicago Schools, if not longer. Bernardine Dohrn, once labeled “the most dangerous woman in America” by none other than J. Edgar Hoover, was also well known as the inspiration for the 1988 movie Running on Empty. Subtle terrorists they were not.

As noted in the New York Times, Obama has tried to minimize his relationship with Ayers, dismissing him as “a guy who lives in my neighborhood” and “somebody who worked on education issues in Chicago that I know.”

Axelrod also tried to excuse the extent of Obama’s involvement with Ayers, stating,
“Bill Ayers lives in his neighborhood. Their kids attend the same school. … They’re certainly friendly, they know each other, as anyone whose kids go to school together.”

It’s an obvious fiction pitched by Axelrod, since the Obama children are presently in elementary school, while Ayers’ children are all grown adults, but the Ayers-Obama family connection doesn’t stop at the imaginary connections between the children.

Bernardine Dohrn, Ayers’ wife, has largely escaped recent scrutiny, but that lack of attention doesn’t reduce her role as either a leader — and some may argue, the leader — of the Weathermen. Nor can it mask her ties to both Barack and Michelle Obama. It’s now a family affair.

The whole piece is worth reading as it goes into extensive detail about the Obama-Ayers alliance that has not been previously reported. Media apologists for Senator Obama have tried to downplay the connection but the fact remains that such friendships cast serious doubts on the Senator's judgement. And Senator Obama is going to have a hard time convincing the public that he didn't know Bill Ayers wasn't a terrorist when Ayers has never hidden his past.