Archive for August, 2008

Please, Don’t Let it be Romney

August 28, 2008 2 comments

I’m earnestly hoping that the McCain campaign doesn’t drop-kick the election by selecting Romney.
Yes, I’m well aware that Romney was a Massachusetts Governor (anyone want to see how his Health care plan is working now?), and was key to turning around the Salt Lake Winter Olympics.

He would also be about the most uninspired choice imaginable. For the life of me, I don’t understand why some of the Social Conservatives, particularly the Evangelicals, are such cheap dates. Romney is a guy who wan essentially a Lincoln Chafee campaign against Ted Kennedy, and now is this hard-core conservative? How does that work?

Not to mention of the fact that he spent scores of millions of his own money, for what? A win in Michigan, where he grew up? Utah, where he has a natural affinity? Why is he the natural choice?

McCain came into this race with innumerable handicaps. The fact that he’s even within striking distance is extraordinary, and says more about the Democrats’ misadventures than it does about the GOP. Romney would be about the only Republican who could make Joe Biden look inspired.

McCain has so many other choices that would be better fits. I’m a huge fan of Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and think that he would be a major asset. He was also a lonely supporter of McCain last year during the nadir of McCain’s run.

If for some reason Pawlenty doesn’t make the cut, how about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin? Bright, attractive, with a record of reform. She would blow the doors off of Biden. Kay Bailey Hutchison would be more effective than old Mitt. A name that doesn’t get mentioned is Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. While New Orleans devolved into a wet version of Dante’s inferno after Katrina, Barbour set about rebuilding his state, drawing high marks in the process.

Selecting a run-of-the-mill rich guy with a history (deserved or not) of cutting lots of working-class jobs is not what McCain needs. That’s not a class-warfare argument: it’s an argument based upon practical political considerations.


State of the Race

August 27, 2008 Leave a comment

I come from a long line of political junkies. I remember paying attention to the conventions, and the spectacle of the Roll-Call of the states during the convention, when conventions had some drama, rather than ritual coronations. My favorite TV-viewing day is Election Day. My family knows well enough that I’ll be glued to the set, with a computer in front of me as well.

I’ve watched very little of the DNC coverage this week. I can’t punish myself enough to listen to the caterwauling and ridiculous partisanship of the likes of Amy Klobuchar. How did this woman get elected, and elected handily? Completely beside the point, but I’m in a quandary. I’m trying to decide if Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer looks more like Tom Arnold or Randy Quaid. I’m leaning towards Arnold, but Schweitzer has some quality that evokes Quaid’s wacky brother-in-law in National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Nonetheless, I’m to the point where the most favorable reaction to hearing a political speech is ennui. I’m not inspired, just bored. Case in point: Michelle Obama drew high praise for her speech to the DNC on Monday night. Slate swooned over her, calling her “Brave”. Talk about defining bravery down.

I found nothing particularly brave about the speech. Nor did I find anything compelling. She threw out some nonsense about “journeys” and “threads”, nothing to articulate why her husband is equipped to be the next President.

I suppose she didn’t appear to be as angry and aggrieved as she had during some other speeches. That’s setting the bar awfully low, isn’t it? It’s not as if she came out like Patty Hearst in fully Symbionese Liberation Army regalia. All she had to do was look reasonably gracious, say nice things about her husband and the country, and bring out her kids. We learned that Barack’s a Swell Guy. Not all that complicated.

I’m also not particularly enamored over her husband’s rhetorical gifts, and I’m unnerved by those who are enraptured by them. What, exactly does he say that elicits “the tingle” down Chris Matthews’ leg? It certainly isn’t content. Nor does it have much to do with what I’m looking for in a President.

I also missed Joe Biden’s speech. I suspect that Biden is a hale-fellow-well-met, and might be a swell neighbor. My goodness, however, it wouldn’t take but a few moments to go glassy-eyed after hearing him bloviate. I just heard Tom Brokaw state what a formidable debater that Biden is. There’s a difference between a debate and an imperious Committee Chairman cutting off debate with the pounding of a gavel. I suspect that the more people see of Biden, the more quickly they’ll tire of him.

To me, there’s much less to Obama than meets the eye. He’s reasonably slick with a thin resume. The question is is he more Adlai Stevenson or Jimmy Carter?

Let me be clear on one thing: The Republicans deserve to have their heads handed to them in this election. The current Administration has been dreadful. On virtually every aspect of how a Presidency is evaluated, the current one has been a dismal disappointment. The prosecution of the Iraq war (up until the Surge) was ham-handed. The Hurricane Katrina aftermath was a complete fiasco. Of course the Louisiana politicians were culpable. So what? This administration failed in dealing with this in a coherent manner.

The President gets far too much credit when the economy is humming, and too much blame when it’s struggling. However, this administration has clearly made serious blunders. The Fed kept its boot on the neck of the housing market for far too long, then people were surprised when we’re in the midst of a mortgage crisis. Where were they three years ago? How come a knucklehead such as I could see that we were heading for trouble at least two years before they did? What were they doing?

Then there is foreign policy. This is the administration that wasn’t about the business of nation-building. Suddenly we have builders spread out across the globe. Ido understand and support at least the idea of promoting democracy around the world. It resonated in many countries, and the concept of self-determination is powerful.

However, the process of promoting democracies is tough, slow work. At times it seemed that the administration was caught betwixt the nation of spreading democracies, while slipping back to a sloppy realpolitick when they felt the situation warranted. True, there were few options in those thickets of Iran and North Korea. However, in many cases they have made a hash of it. Remember when the President looked into Putin’s eyes and could see his soul? McCain also looked in Putin’s eyes, and “saw three letters: A K, a G, and a B”. Who looks more sagacious now? How confident are the fledging democracies of the former Soviet bloc?

Lest I come across as someone with Bush Derangement Syndrome, I personally have no animus to him. I’m sure he’s a decent fellow, doing the best as he can. It’s just that the GOP picked the wrong guy 8 years ago.

Of course, the Republicans in Congress deserve as much derision as we can muster. Between Scandal, corruption, fecklessness, and blundering, the Republicans deserved to lose the Congress. Of course, the result of that is that we have the incredibly foolish Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.

The Righties in the media (the Hugh Hewitts, the National Review chaps, among others) all are applauding the GOP for their “Drill Drill Drill” stand. We’re a little behind the curve, aren’t we? Where were they two years ago, as gas prices kept on climbing? Why wasn’t the Executive Order lifted years ago? How come only when we’re facing gas prices of more than $4/gallon do we see any movement? Who was asleep?

Going into this year, John McCain was not my first choice for President. I’m not sure that I had a first choice. Fred Thompson, perhaps? I like Fred, and find him to be an excellent communicator. It was clear, however, that he lacked the will or resolve to run an effective campaign.

Mike Huckabee? The Huckster started off as an unknown, and ran an outstanding campaign with no money. He was engaging, and tremendous in the debates. Besides, he should be elected almost solely based upon the Chuck Norris commercial.

Still, it’s a bit disquieting for a pastor to abandon the pulpit in favor of the often grubby work of politics.

Mitt Romney? As I wrote earlier: Plastic Man, Suit. Unelectable. The Democrats would have a field day with his LBO career. All they would need to do was reprise Ted Kennedy’s Senate campaign.

That leaves us with McCain. There are a lot of things that McCain does that are unappealing. His obsession on campaign finance reform brought forward a system that’s awash in more money than ever before. Besides, why are we trying to limit speech, particularly political speech. All we’ve done is to add more regulation, with more cumbersome laws and rules (We should also blame Bush for this, as he was the one who signed this bad, bad law). McCain’s too much of a Global Warming Alarmist to suit me.

Nevertheless, McCain is a man of stature, of resolve.

Back during the Primary season, it was amazing to see Limbaugh, Hewitt, and those at the Nartional Review selling out for Romney, and seething about McCain. Some of the Evangelical Conservative leaders are such cheap dates. The idea that McCain isn’t conservative is laughable.. He doesn’t march lockstep, and does delight in poking the GOP establishment in the eye. He’s also the only Republican with a chance this year, and a good chance.

While the Democrats will depart Denver claiming to be excited and unified, there’s a fair chance that McCain can win, and it might not be all that close. Obama will get the true believers.and the hard core. Still, he has a lot of baggage that will cause many people to be reluctant to pull the trigger.for him. The pretentiousness, the callowness, the Ayers/Wright/Rezko connections….the nearly complete lack of wise policy ideas.

I’m certainly not a fan of the Imperial Presidency. I am interested in a President who is tough-minded and capable of showing resolve. I’m less interested in a citizen of the world who wants to “heal the planet” than someone who won’t have the USof A trifled with. I’d just as soon as the President isn’t obsessed with “getting things done”, than he is in defending the country and upholding the Constitution.

Be Careful

August 12, 2008 Leave a comment

Some key advice for you if you’re looking for a church:

1. Be careful if the church trumpets its Coffee more than the sermons. Don’t get me wrong- I like coffee. My Lovely Bride may have a serious coffee addiction problem with java (she could quit any time, though she doesn’t wish to). However, it should be a warning sign if coffee is touted.

There’s nothing wrong with a church having coffee. The preaching of the Word of God should be the attraction, not whether or not they offer Designer Coffee. That should take precedence over whether they serve Starbucks or Battery Acid posing as coffee.

2. Be careful if the Church name starts with the article “The”. For instance, “The Voyage”, “The Trek”, “The Exploration”…. I’m not sure that there are churches out there with those names, but there are certainly plenty of churches out there with names along those lines.

First, the journey is not more important than the Destination. The destination is pre-eminent, particularly when we’re talking about Eternity. You could have a wonderful, rich fascinating journey, but if your destination turns out to be Hell, you have a big problem.

3. Be careful if the church has a meaningless name that sounds like a generic subdivision. I’m broadly generalizing here, but what does a name like “WoodPond Church” or “MapleCreek” mean, or what does that church stand for? That doesn’t mean that you should reject it out of hand. I’m sure that there are plenty of It wouldn’t hurt, however, to cast a somewhat jaundiced eye to a place that seems to conceal for what it stands. Many of these churches are either formerly known as Baptist churches, or have spawned from a Baptist tradition. Apparently the Baptist name is toxic. I wonder, however, if in sawing off the Baptist name, are they dropping some of the other distinctives?

4. Run away if the church touts its sermons as “relevant”. I see a lot of church websites that tout their “relevant” sermons. As if the Gospel is somehow irrelevant to the world in which we live.

There is a disquieting trend among Evangelical pastors today, as they seem to lack confidence in the Scriptures. Instead of preaching the gospel, either they lack the confidence in the message of Gospel, or feel that such sermons wouldn’t draw the crowds. What’s more important in the scheme of things: a whimsical story about the pastor’s kid, or God’s Word?

If you can ignore this peculiar video attached to this sight, please read these remarks from Baptist21 about preaching the gospel. Moralism and Legalism seem to be two sides of the same coin. Both are not the Gospel, and indeed are a distraction from the Gospel. Legalism tells you what you can’t do, while Moralism seems to focus on what you must do. In each case the message of salvation by grace through faith alone becomes obscured.

It was a year ago that we found our new church home. Leaving our previous church, the only church I’ve ever attended, was nothing short of heartbreaking for us. We love the people there; We were active, and had many friends. The irony is that our previous church hadn’t gone in the direction with the name change or the coffee house- yet. Neither event would surprise us. We saw (My Bride well before I did) that the direction in which things were heading wasn’t profitable. Again, we love the people, the history, and the Pastor. The Pastor at our previous church is bright, well-spoken, and has a plan. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the plan includes a consistent, strong focus on the Bible.

Nevertheless, it was time to move. The most important aspect to us was to find a church where we would hear the Gospel. That the Pastor preached as if he had confidence in God’s Word.

Having never had to search for a church before, we tried to check out websites, and listened to sermons when available. We rejected some churches out of hand, particularly because of Reasons 1-4 above. However, we found a number of churches that featured excellent, Biblically-based preaching. In another ironic twist, the church where we ultimately called home didn’t even have a website, let alone online sermons. It did, however, have a pastor that believes strongly in expository preaching. We wanted to go to a church where not only our kids would hear the Gospel each week, but so would any friends that would come with us. Sadly, that wasn’t the case at our previous church.

If you’re looking for a church, please stay away from the fads, those churches that attempt to be hipper-than-thou, that try far too hard to be anti-church. Go for the preaching and teaching.

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