Many of these 'artists' have now taken the word rebellion to new lows. I sat and watched a CBS 60 Minutes story last Sunday about how hip-hoppers are telling small kids in urban communities not to cooperate with the police. Here is an excerpt from the show:
In most communities, a person who sees a murder and helps the police put the killer behind bars is called a witness. But in many inner-city neighborhoods in this country that person is called a "snitch."God help us.
"Stop snitchin'" is a catchy hip-hop slogan that embodies and encourages this attitude. You can find it on everything from rap music videos to clothing. "Stop snitchin'" once meant "don’t tell on others if you’re caught committing a crime."
But as CNN's Anderson Cooper reports for 60 Minutes, it has come to mean something much more dangerous: "don’t cooperate with the police – no matter who you are."
As a result, police say, witnesses are not coming forward. Murders are going unsolved. You can read more about this here.
This 8 minute video accents the politics of fear currently being played by candidate Gulliani. Politicians are good at this. Whether the audience is senior citizens concerned about medicare / social security or those concerned about terrorist strikes on our homeland the use of fear is a despicable tactic. Sad that Gulliani has sunk to it.
I'm taking a few moments this morning, the day after Stephen's weightless ride, to share a few of his quotes:
It was amazing, I could have gone on and on. (about his weightless experience)Stephen has suffered for many many years from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease). This flight was the first time in 40 years that Stephen moved freely beyond his wheelchair.
God not only plays dice, He also sometimes throws the dice where they cannot be seen.
I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.
Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.
The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely inspired.
To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit.
When one's expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.
It matters if you just don't give up.
I want somebody that will:What are your requirements? Maybe we can help each other think through the alternatives.
1) Bring the troops home!
2) Get our nation out of debt!
3) Free us from Corporate American tyranny!
4) Support the poor in our nation!
5) Think about the future of social security and medicare!
I don't know if any of the current candidates are up for the job.
"If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them is doing the thinking."
"I have learned that only two things are necessary to keep one's wife happy. First, let her think she's having her own way. And second, let her have it."
In a 2005 speech, Clinton said that religious political officials should be able to "live out their faith in the public square." During her 2000 Senate campaign, Clinton argued that allowing teachers to post the Ten Commandments in schools was a violation of the constitution.
Edwards says he believes in the separation of church and state, but also thinks that there is a role for faith in public life. He said "freedom of religion doesn't mean freedom from religion," but he "would not, under any circumstances, try to impose [his] personal faith and belief on the rest of the country."
As mayor, Giuliani emphasized that believers and atheists alike must tolerate each others' views. During his 2000 senate campaign against Hillary Clinton, Giuliani said the Ten Commandments are ''part of Western civilization,'' and ''if teachers want to emphasize what is in it and talk about it, there shouldn't be some kind of inquisition that they can't do that.''
McCain favors keeping the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance; he has said the nation was founded on "Judeo-Christian values" but added that "political intolerance by any political party is neither a Judeo-Christian nor an American value."
Obama says he believes in the importance of the separation of church and state, but says that a "sense of proportion" should guide how it is enforced. He says that the phrase "under God" in the pledge of allegiance and voluntary student prayer groups on school property are two examples where conflict between church and state has been alleged, but should be less strictly policed.
W. Mitt Romney
Romney says the First Amendment does not mean that no religion should be established, or that secularism should be established in place of religion. He also says Judeo-Christian values helped found the United States and continue to influence it today. Romney supports keeping references to God on U.S. money, in the Pledge of Allegiance and in public places to remind Americans of their heritage.
I have to admit that I am pretty skeptical about how the candidates spin this one. Most candidates seem to play to the middle. Really, who is going to come out in favor of taking God out of our country. Several candidates use the "T" word (tolerance) when speaking of church and state stuff ... maybe that is the word we will use to describe what we need if one of these is elected president.
The story is told of a group of theologians who were discussing the tension between predestination and free will. Things became so heated that the group broke up into two opposing factions. But one man, not knowing which to join, stood for a moment trying to decide. At last he joined the predestination group. “Who sent you here?” they asked. “No one sent me,” he replied. “I came of my own free will.” “Free will!” they exclaimed. “You can’t join us! You belong with the other group!” So he followed their orders and went to the other clique. There someone asked, “When did you decide to join us?” The young man replied, “Well, I didn’t really decide–I was sent here.” “Sent here!” they shouted. “You can’t join us unless you have decided by your own free will!”File this under funny :)
2/12: Cal Thomas recently said:
I Am A Conservationist, Not An Environmentalist.
Environmentalists think "big brother" should control what we eat, wear, drive and how much water we should be allowed to use while taking a shower or flushing a toilet.
It got me to thinking about how little I hear about Conservation anymore. I am not sure where I am on Global Warming but I do know that I support Conservation. Here is a definition of conservation:
The consumer conservation ethic is sometimes expressed by the four R's: " Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, Rethink" This social ethic primarily relates to local purchasing, moral purchasing, the sustained and efficient use of renewable resources, the moderation of destructive use of finite resources, and the prevention of harm to common resources such as air and water quality, the natural functions of a living earth, and cultural values in a built environment.I think that I support that definition. What about you?
3/25: I am sitting here watching Katie Couric interview John and Elizabeth Edwards on 60 Minutes and I decided to blog about the experience. Of course, the interview is all about the Edwards' announcement last week that Elizabeth's cancer had come out of remission and they were once again facing the big C.
Having been through family health issues myself I sat very interested in what this couple had to say. Firstly I have to say "What an impressive couple". As I listen I am sensing a couple that have come out fighting. Here are a few excerpts from the interview:
Elizabeth Edwards:On the whole I think that Katie asked the hard questions and I think that John and Elizabeth answered in a very transparent and vulnerable fashion. Whether they are living in a bit of denial God only knows ... but whether they have courageous hearts seems to be undeniable. My prayers are with them both during this difficult season.
You know, you really have two choices here. I mean, either you push forward with the things that you were doing yesterday or you start dying. That seems to be your only two choices. If I had given up everything that my life was about – first of all, I'd let cancer win before it needed to. You know, maybe eventually it will win. But I'd let it win before I needed to.
I think some people wondered if you were in denial, if you were being realistic about what you were going to be facing here.
I think that it is our intention to deny cancer any control over us.
Cancer took a lot away from us a few years ago. It took a year of my life and a lot of John's. I didn't want it to take this away not just from me but from those people who depend on our having the kind of president he would be.
Here you're staring at possible death...
Aren't we all though.
I think every single candidate for president, Republican and Democratic have lives, personal lives, that indicate something about what kind of human being they are. And I think it is a fair evaluation for America to engage in to look at what kind of human beings each of us are, and what kind of president we'd make.
You can read the entire transcript here.
Of course I do share a last name with them both :)
Please keep praying for the high court.
The Supreme Court reversed course on abortion on Wednesday, upholding the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in a 5-to-4 decision that promises to reframe the abortion debate and define the young Roberts court
The decision, the first in which the court has upheld a ban on a specific method of abortion, means that doctors who perform the prohibited procedure may face criminal prosecution, fines and up to two years in prison. The federal law, enacted in 2003, had been blocked from taking effect by the lower court rulings that the Supreme Court overturned.
Most notable was the emphasis in the majority opinion, by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, on the implication of abortion’s “ethical and moral concerns.”
“The act expresses respect for the dignity of human life,” Justice Kennedy said.
An outspoken supporter of stem cell research, Clinton cosponsored the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005. President Bush vetoed the bill, which would have allowed federal financing of stem cell research on new embryonic stem cell lines derived from discarded human embryos originally created for fertility treatments. She has called the ethics of stem cell research "a delicate balancing act."
Edwards favors expanding federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. He said during the 2004 presidential campaign that with such research, "people like [actor] Christopher Reeve will get up out of that wheelchair and walk again." Bill Frist, a physician who was then Senate Majority Leader, said the comment perpetuated false hope about the potential of stem cell research.
Giuliani supports loosening restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and generally broadening such research.
McCain opposes embryonic stem cell research that uses cloned human embryos, but supports research using human embryos left over from fertility treatments. In 2006, McCain supported a trio of Senate bills designed to increase federal funding for adult stem cell research, ban the creation of embryos for research and offer federal support for research using embryos slated for destruction by fertility clinics.
Obama supports relaxing federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. He voted for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, which was vetoed by President Bush. The bill would have allowed federal funding to be used for research on stem cell lines obtained from discarded human embryos originally created for fertility treatments.
W. Mitt Romney
Romney opposes stem cell research that uses cloned human embryos, but supports research using human embryos left over from fertility treatments. He also believes that embryonic stem cell research should not be funded by the government. Prior to 2005, Romney broadly supported research on embryonic stem cells. He traces the change in his stance to an epiphany during meetings with stem cell researchers.
It seems that 4 of the 6 candidates support expansion of stem cell research with McCain and Romney favoring a more conservative approach to it. While many see this on par with the abortion issue I am not convinced that it is. Where a candidate is on abortion is more important to me than on this kind of research.
04/12 Update: Here is yet another sad statement of how we are becoming a more mercenary military:
"Effective immediately, active Army units now in the Central Command area of responsibility and those headed there will deploy for not more than 15 months and return home for not less than 12 months," Gates said, during a Pentagon news conference.
04/05 Update: Looks like National Guard troops will be doing additional tours of Iraq. About 270,000 of the more than 347,000 Army Guard soldiers have served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
04/02 Update: Some combat troops are returning to Iraq 9 and a half months after they left. More evidence and support for a Mercenary Military and a sad commentary on the lack of concern for our fighting men and women. Given that we aren't leaving Iraq anytime soon: Anyone still think the draft is a bad idea? If so, please provide an alternative means of supplying troops for the current escalation.
03/10 Update: Pentagon struggles to find fresh troops
WASHINGTON - Military leaders are struggling to choose Army units to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan longer or go there earlier than planned, but five years of war have made fresh troops harder to find.
Faced with a military buildup in Iraq that could drag into next year, Pentagon officials are trying to identify enough units to keep up to 20 brigade combat teams in Iraq. A brigade usually has about 3,500 troops.
The likely result will be extending the deployments of brigades scheduled to come home at the end of the summer, and sending others earlier than scheduled. Read more here.
01/28 Update: Pentagon Trying to Cut Forced Extensions
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In an action branded a backdoor draft by some critics, the military over the past several years has held tens of thousand of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines on the job and in war zones beyond their retirement dates or enlistment length. It is a widely disliked practice that the Pentagon, under new Defense Secretary Robert Gates, is trying to figure out how to cut back on.
Gates has ordered that the practice - known as "stop loss" - must "be minimized." At the same time, he is looking for ways to decrease the hardship for troops and their families, recruit more people for a larger military and reassess how the active duty and reserves are used.
"It has created terrible problems of morale," Lobel said last week. "It has in some cases made soldiers feel that they were duped or deceived in how they were recruited." Read more here.
It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I would never have served three years in the US Army if a draft had not been in effect - I am simply not that patriotic or brave. I did serve and I believe that I am a better man for doing it. So I sit here wondering why, with the overwhelming need overseas, that we are so opposed to a national draft.
I say this because I honestly don't know where we will get the troops to wage the war on terror. Anyone have any ideas about how we can wage this war without abusing our troops with ultra-crisis-reaction combat extensions and multiple combat assignments?
As a veteran and dad of a combat veteran I really feel for soldiers and their families. Soldiers today do not serve under the same rules that Vietnam era soldiers served - they are on a yearly rotation (year stateside, year in combat) in combat zones with many on their fourth tour of duty in combat areas. These have no hope for normalcy in their families. Family oriented men and women really have no motivation to make a career of the military.
So I wonder, will future military service be relegated to people who do not want to have families? Will this war on terror change the fabric of military service? Will our Armed forces be comprised mainly of combat mercenaries? Or will we awake to the need of a national draft?
I got the following thought provoking story this morning via email.
The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it's the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it's the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.Stories like this really make you think about what is important to you. I guess that I really feel blessed to have such a loving wife to spend my days with ... maybe that is why I am so protective of my Saturdays :)
A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the garage with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it:
I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind; he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whom-ever he was talking with something about "a thousand marbles." I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say
"Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you're busy with your job. I'm sure they pay you well but it's a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. It's too bad you missed your daughter's "dance recital" he continued. "Let me tell you something that has helped me keep my own priorities." And that's when he began to explain his theory of a "thousand marbles."
"You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.
"Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now, stick with me, Tom, I'm getting to the important part.
It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail", he went on, "and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays." "I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy. So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear."
"Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away. I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life.
There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight."
"Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure that if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time."
"It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band. This is a 75 Year old Man, K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!"
You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter.
Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. "C'mon honey, I'm taking you and the kids to breakfast." "What brought this on?" she asked with a smile. "Oh, nothing special, it's just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. And hey, can we stop at a toy store while we're out? I need to buy some marbles.
Arthur Bryant, the legendary King of Ribs, is the most renowned barbequer in history. He created a sauce that has attracted the likes of former Presidents Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter to his restaurant . . . considered to be the best restaurant in the world by New Yorker columnist Calvin Trillin.
Since 1930 celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, Michael Landon, Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson, Wilt Chamberlain, Bryant Gumbel, Tom Watson and George Brett — and common folk alike — have made the pilgrimage to Arthur Bryant's to enjoy barbeque that's slow-smoked with a combination of hickory and oak woods, mellowed to the peak of flavor, then splashed with Original or Rich & Spicy sauce. Read more about Arthur here.
Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you've got it made.
Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.
I look to the future because that's where I'm going to spend the rest of my life.
I was always taught to respect my elders and I've now reached the age when I don't have anybody to respect.
I'd rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.
If you live to be one hundred, you've got it made. Very few people die past that age.
The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, then having the two as close together as possible.
This is the sixth book I've written, which isn't bad for a guy who's only read two.
Too bad the only people who know how to run the country are busy driving cabs and cutting hair.
You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old.
You know you're getting old when you stoop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you're down there.
- Go to Google,
- Click on “Maps”,
- Click on “Get Directions”,
- In the “Start Address” box, type in “New York”,
- In the “End Address” box, type in “Oslo” (as in, Norway),
- Click “Get Directions”
Lame - yes ... but they do bring back some sweet memories :)
Do you have Prince Albert in a can?
Well, you'd better let him out!
Is your refrigerator running?
Better catch it before it gets away!
Why did the man throw his alarm clock out the window?
He wanted to see time fly!
Last night we rented and watched this intriguing Will Ferrell movie. First off I have to say that it is great to see Ferrell in a thoughtful movie that isn't riddled with gags and potty mouth dialog. I thought that he gave a great performance.
Anyone who has seen the trailer probably knows that the movie is a story about a character in a book that is currently being written by a female author (played by Emma Thompson). That premise and the way that it is developed makes the movie what it is. The plot takes a few very creative turns making the movie a bit suspenseful and interesting. Ann and I both greatly enjoyed watching this one.
Clinton supports comprehensive immigration reform based on strengthening America's borders and implementing new enforcement laws. She advocates providing a path to legal status for undocumented workers already in the U.S. She used the Bible to criticize a Republican plan to make it a federal crime to offer aid to illegal immigrants, saying the proposed policy "is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scripture because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself."
Edwards supports increased border security and a path to citizenship for undocumented workers. He says that immigration reform is central to alleviating poverty in the United States and that domestic policy goals like raising the minimum wage are connected to immigration reform because illegal immigrants make up a "sizeable chunk" of impoverished Americans.
Giuliani supports comprehensive immigration reform that includes a process to "regularize" undocumented immigrants, but insists that he does not believe in amnesty. He also says reforms should strengthen border security and require immigrants to learn English. As mayor, he emphasized the positive contributions of immigrants and called federal immigration laws "harsh and unfair." He also barred New York City employees from reporting illegal immigrants seeking government assistance.
McCain supports comprehensive immigration reform that addresses border security and what he calls the economy's need for immigrant labor. McCain and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) twice co-sponsored a comprehensive reform bill that would double the size of the U.S. Border Patrol. The bill also calls for a border fence, a crackdown on employers who hire undocumented immigrants, a "path to citizenship" for undocumented immigrants and a "guest worker" program offering temporary visas.
Obama supports immigration reform that strengthens border security while creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country. He has been a proponent of guest worker programs that first offer available jobs to American workers. Obama has said that he will "not support any bill that does not provide [an] earned path to citizenship for the undocumented population."
W. Mitt Romney
Romney opposes amnesty for undocumented workers, favors securing the U.S.-Mexico border with a fence and wants to institute an employment verification system through high-tech identification cards. While Massachusetts governor, Romney vetoed a bill that called for lower tuition rates for the children of undocumented immigrants. He "reached an agreement with federal authorities" to give state troopers the power to arrest immigrants who are in the state illegally.
It appears that all candidates support immigration reform of some sort but differ on the means of the reform and on the topic of amnesty for resident illegal aliens. It seems to me that, with all of this reform rhetoric being spouted, we should have had some reform legislation enacted by now.
"Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."According to this article that certainty is being addressed online as most people are currently filing their tax returns online.
Ann and I have used Web Turbo Tax for many years (used it free for the first year or so) and think that this product makes filing a bit easier as it streamlines the entry of information and analyzes the information that you enter before it e-files. Anyone have any positive or negative experiences with online tax filing?
"This man and his opinions are like monkeys flinging what monkeys do. Ignore him and he goes away. Of course maybe that's me being naive."I think that this comment pretty much sums up most of squawk radio and TV ... unless you are fair and balanced of course :)
4/11: Like most people I was saddened when I heard of radio broadcaster Don Imus' insensitive racially charged comments about the Rutgers' womens basketball team. I was also saddened last year by Michael Richards' racist rant at a comedy club. I guess that I have always looked at shock jocks like Howard Stern as the extreme examples of our culture and have never thought that they are at all representative of most Americans. But I am beginning to wonder ... wonder if these episodes might reveal a not-so-subtle and ugly racist underground stream running through our culture.
I guess I also wonder if I am just naive. Have I mistakenly bought into the idea that, unlike our parents, most baby boomers (like me) are more accepting of people who are different than we are? Are these celebrity outbursts more revealing than I want them to be? Are people nastier and more racist than I give them credit for? Cloistered in my suburban home ... going to my mostly-white church ... living out my evangelical-like Christianity ... am I just in denial of the intense racial problems facing our culture?
Clinton has been a longtime advocate of the death penalty. Clinton cosponsored the Innocence Protection Act of 2003 which became law in 2004 as part of the Justice for All Act. The bill provides funding for post-conviction DNA testing and establishes a DNA testing process for individuals sentenced to the death penalty under federal law. As First Lady, she lobbied for President Clinton's crime bill, which expanded the list of crimes subject to the federal death penalty.
Edwards supports the death penalty, saying some crimes "deserve the ultimate penalty." He was a supporter of capital punishment reform while in the Senate and told the Associated Press in 2004 he believes that "we need reforms in the death penalty to ensure that defendants receive fair trials, with zealous and competent lawyers, and with full access to DNA testing."
Giuliani favors the death penalty and has advocated for capital punishment for those who commit treason against the United States. He testified in convicted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui's death penalty trial and urged prosecutors to pursue the death penalty against American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh. Giuliani has said the death penalty is "justified and [an] effective deterrent for other people doing the same thing."
McCain supports the death penalty for federal crimes. As senator from Arizona, he voted to prohibit the use of racial statistics in death penalty appeals and ban the death penalty for minors. He also supported legislation to allow the death penalty for acts of terrorism and has said he would consider further expansion of capital punishment laws for other crimes.
Obama says the death penalty "does little to deter crime" but he supports it for cases in which "the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage." While a state senator, Obama pushed for reform of the Illinois capital punishment system and authored a bill to mandate the videotaping of interrogations and confessions.
W. Mitt Romney
Romney supports the death penalty for deadly acts of terrorism, killing sprees, murders involving torture and the killing of law enforcement authorities. As governor, he filed a bill to reinstate the death penalty in Massachusetts that required verifiable scientific evidence, such as DNA, in order to impose the death penalty. The bill also proposed measures to ensure proper representation for the indigent and allowed jurors who oppose the death penalty to participate in the guilt phase of a trial.
I see little difference in positions on this issue. All candidates support some form of the death penalty. Obama seems to oppose it on some level but ultimately supports using it.
By Megan Rauscher (Reuters)
Bottled water is not necessarily healthier or safer than tap water, Tampa, Florida-based sports nutritionist Cynthia Sass told the American College of Sports Medicine 11th annual Health & Fitness Summit in Dallas. Twenty-five percent of all bottled water is actually repackaged tap water, according to Sass...
Sass points out that an estimated 60 to 70 percent of all bottled water in the U.S. is packaged and sold within the same state, which exempts it from FDA regulation. And 1 in 5 states do not regulate that bottled water. Moreover, tests on 1,000 bottles of 103 different brands of bottled water found man-made chemicals, bacteria and arsenic in 22 percent of the bottles. Read more here.
Clinton opposes vouchers for private schools, instead favoring increased funding for public schools. She says voucher programs exacerbate divisions within communities, and could result in schools that are based on radical religious ideologies. When the Clintons were in the White House, they were criticized for sending daughter Chelsea to a private school while they advocated for public schools.
Edwards says children should be allowed time to pray on their own in schools, but that school-led prayer is inappropriate. He opposes school vouchers because he says they would "divert resources and energy from reform and divert students into the only schools that don't have to meet high standards."
As mayor, Giuliani advocated a school voucher program that would use tax dollars to send students to private schools, including religious schools. He opposes prayer in schools, but defended a teacher fired for praying with students, saying she should have been given another chance.
McCain supports vouchers that would allow students to attend public or private school, including religious schools. He says he believes that only God could have created the earth, but does not believe it was created in seven days. In February 2007, McCain spoke at an event sponsored by the Discovery Institute, a think tank known for promoting the concept of "intelligent design." He says Darwin's theory of evolution is "valid" but students should be "exposed to every point of view."
In a debate during his 2004 senate campaign, Obama said he opposed government vouchers and tax credits to attend private schools because they would undermine efforts to improve the public school system. His opponent, Alan Keyes, criticized Obama for being against school vouchers while sending his two daughters to private schools in Chicago.
W. Mitt Romney
Romney has expressed support for means-tested vouchers – through which households below a particular threshold receive vouchers of equal value – that would fund student attendance at public or private schools, including religious schools. He has advocated giving local school districts increased control over curriculum as long as they do not endorse specific religious beliefs or prayer in schools. As Massachusetts governor, Romney supported abstinence education programs in public schools. He opposes taking the words "under God" out of the pledge of allegiance.
This is an interesting topic that encompasses differing views on vouchers, prayer, evolution, sex education and private schools. I found it interesting that even the staunchest advocates of public schools send their children to private ones. I think that this issue is closely linked to the Poverty issue.
A guy is driving around the back woods of Tennessee and he sees a sign in front of a broken down shanty-style house: "Talking Dog for Sale." The guy goes into the backyard and sees a nice looking Labrador retriever sitting there.
"You talk?" he asks.
"Yep," the Lab replies.
After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk, he says "So, what's your story?"
The Lab looks up and says, "Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA and they had me sworn into the toughest branch of the armed services ...the United States Marines ... you know one of their nicknames is "The Devil Dogs".
In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders; because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running, but the jetting around really tired me out and I knew I wasn't getting any younger.
So, I decided to settle down. I retired from the Corps (8 dog years is 56 Corps years) and signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals.
I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I'm just retired."
The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.
"Ten dollars," the guy says.
"Ten dollars? This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?"
"Because he's a liar. He never did any of that stuff. He was a brakeman on the Railroad!"
Clinton accuses the Bush administration of turning the middle class into "invisible Americans," and says if she is elected president, "they will no longer be invisible." In 2002, Clinton was criticized by liberal groups for supporting an increase in the work requirement for welfare; she said that she supported the measure because it was tied to $8 billion in funding of day care for welfare recipients. She advocated for welfare reform under her husband's administration. As a senator, Clinton voted for an increase in the federal minimum wage.
Edwards has made reducing poverty the signature issue of his presidential campaign, calling it "the great moral issue of our time." He has set a goal of ending poverty in 30 years by lifting one-third of the 37 million currently impoverished Americans above the poverty line each decade through a higher minimum wage, tax cuts for low-income workers, universal health care and housing vouchers for low-income families.
Giuliani advocates requiring welfare recipients to work or engage in job training to receive benefits. New York City's welfare rolls were cut by more than half while Giuliani was mayor, and he touts his overhaul of the city's welfare system as one of his major successes. During his 2000 senate campaign, Giuliani indicated that he would support an increase in the minimum wage if studies showed it would not reduce the number of available jobs.
McCain voted for a 1996 welfare reform bill that required more work for recipients and placed limits on the amount of time they could receive benefits. Although McCain voted for a bill to increase the federal minimum wage in February 2007, he has historically voted against minimum wage increases, arguing that they can hurt small businesses.
In the Illinois Senate, Obama helped author the state earned income tax credit, which provided tax cuts for low-income families. Obama has supported bills to increase the minimum wage. In The Audacity of Hope, Obama describes what he calls America's "empathy deficit," writing that a "stronger sense of empathy would tilt the balance of our current politics in favor of those people who are struggling in this society."
W. Mitt Romney
As Massachusetts governor, Romney proposed a plan requiring more people to work in order to receive state welfare benefits, bringing Massachusetts policy in line with federal welfare reforms. He supports increasing the minimum wage in line with inflation, but vetoed a bill to raise it in Massachusetts, saying it called for increases that were too extreme and too abrupt.
I echo Edwards' sentiments calling poverty "the great moral issue of our time." It is an issue that should, for believers anyway, trump other issues but probably will not because it is not as definable as other issues like abortion and gay marriage. It is sad how, in the past, Republican candidates have aligned themselves with corporate executives and have given the appearance of being pro-business but anti-labor. Possibly that will change in this election.
The Great Theft:
Wrestling Islam from the Extremists
by Khaled M. Abou El Fadl
Hailed as the "first attempt" to explain moderate and extremist Muslim views, this work systematically spells out the differences. The author is right to state that the real clash is not between civilizations but within Islam itself. He says one reason for the conflicted, dysfunctional state of current Islam is that the religion lacks a final authority. Consequently, self-proclaimed experts say anything they want and get away with it. Read more here.
Clinton opposes same-sex marriage and favors civil unions but said she would not stand in the way if New York passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage. In the U.S. Senate, she opposed amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage. While she has solicited and received the support of gay and lesbian groups, many gay activists were alarmed over her March 2007 comment that the morality of homosexuality was up "to others to conclude." She later released a statement saying that she does not believe homosexuality is immoral.
During his 2004 bid for the presidency, Edwards said that he personally opposed gay marriage, but supported civil unions for homosexual couples and said each state should determine its own policy. In 2006, Edwards called gay marriage "the single hardest social issue for me personally," saying that while he supports civil unions and partnership benefits, "it's a jump for me to get to gay marriage."
Giuliani opposes gay marriage and has stated that "marriage should be between a man and a woman." He does not, however, support a federal amendment banning gay marriage. As mayor, he signed legislation recognizing domestic partnerships, marched in gay pride parades, actively supported gay rights and temporarily lived with a gay couple during his divorce.
McCain says marriage should be between a man and a woman and that states should regulate marriage law. He opposed a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, but endorsed an Arizona ballot initiative to limit marriage to a man and a woman. He also supported the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which banned federal recognition of gay marriage and domestic partnerships.
Obama says that he believes "marriage is between a man and a woman" but he wrote in The Audacity of Hope that he remains "open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided ... I may have been infected with society's prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God." He supports granting civil unions for gay couples and opposed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. In March 2007, Obama initially dodged questions about the morality of homosexuality. He later went on to say on national television that he did not believe homosexuals are immoral.
W. Mitt Romney
As Massachusetts governor, Romney actively opposed a decision by the state's Supreme Judicial Court to permit same-sex marriages. He is an outspoken advocate of a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. He says that marriage should be "between a man and a woman" and "all children deserve a mother and a father." Earlier in his political career, Romney supported civil unions and said states should be allowed to decide whether to allow same-sex marriage.
It appears that most of these (maybe not McCain?) support (or have once supported) gay civil unions, oppose a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage but don't endorse gay marriage. I'm not sure I see a big candidate difference on this one.
Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets.
Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.
Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.
Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.
Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
Governments tend not to solve problems, only to rearrange them.
History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.
I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the US Congress.
Man is not free unless government is limited.
People do not make wars; governments do.
While she voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq in 2002, Clinton has since said that she "certainly wouldn't have voted" for the war if she had known then what she knows now. Clinton has advocated a phased redeployment of troops to move them out of harm's way, caps on the number of troops sent to Iraq and conditions for the Iraqi government to continue to receive funds.
While serving in the Senate, Edwards voted in 2002 to authorize funding for the war in Iraq, a vote he has since called a mistake. He is now in favor of a complete withdrawal of troops within 12 to 18 months. He wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece that "the world desperately needs moral leadership from America" and that "part of restoring America's moral leadership is acknowledging when we've made mistakes."
Giuliani supported President Bush's January 2007 decision to increase troops and has said pulling the U.S. military out of Iraq would be a "terrible mistake." He advocates keeping American forces in Iraq for as long as it takes to stabilize the country, but says, "I am not confident it's all going to turn around."
McCain voted for the 2002 invasion of Iraq and remains supportive of President Bush's policies there. He has criticized management of the war, but says pulling out would be a mistake leading to greater instability and future conflicts in the region. McCain has defended the moral justification for the war. He refers to terrorism as "a malevolent force that defiles an honorable religion by disputing God's love for each and every soul on earth" and as "a fight between right and wrong, good and evil."
Since Obama was not a member of the U.S. Senate in 2002, he did not vote on the authorization of the use of force in Iraq. But he was an opponent of the war effort as an Illinois state senator and campaigned against the war in his 2004 Senate bid. In January 2007, Obama introduced the Iraq War De-Escalation Act with a goal of removing all combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008. The bill would allow a limited number of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq for counterterrorism and the training of Iraqi security forces.
W. Mitt Romney
Romney supports President Bush's policy in Iraq, including his January 2007 decision to increase the number of troops in Iraq. He has criticized the planning and management of the Iraq conflict, but says keeping the U.S. in Iraq is the best option for minimizing casualties, securing the country and maintaining a democratic government there.
It is no secret to any reader of this blog that I am pro-soldier but anti-war. I am disappointed that all of the leading Republican candidates support President Bush's Iraq War policies.
In the book of Exodus, we read about how Moses confronted Pharaoh, who was persecuting the Israelite slaves, and demanded, "Let my people go!" But Pharaoh stubbornly refused, even as the wrath of God brought ten plagues to ravage his land.I think that I'll pass on this one
There are also ten plagues in The Reaping, Warner Brothers' new horror thriller. But you don't have to suffer through all of them, or wait for a deliverer. You are not a slave to Hollywood's clever marketing campaigns. You don't have to wait for an usher to yell, "Let my people go!" You can get up out of your theater seat and go free at any time. Or, better yet—you can avoid this movie altogether...
In fact, with a few winks at the audience, this could have become a campy classic, a spoof of noisy horror flicks. But director Stephen Hopkins (TV's Tales from the Crypt) takes this preposterous storyline so seriously that it's just no fun. You may find yourself wishing that boils or locusts would come and put you out of your misery.
For all of its God-talk, The Reaping is just the kind of "faith-based film" we don't need. What hath The Passion of The Christ wrought? With only a few notable exceptions, it hath wrought a plague of exploitative, superficial, theologically confused, audience-abusing movies like Constantine and this big-budget howler.
Clinton says abortion rights are protected by the Constitution but that there is "an opportunity for people of good faith to find common ground in this debate." She says the government should actively try to minimize the number of abortions through better sex education and improved access to birth control. Clinton has praised religious groups for promoting abstinence.
A supporter of abortion rights, Edwards also favors funding for "family planning." Edwards' presidential candidacy has won the support of a prominent abortion rights advocate, Kate Michelman, who is helping the campaign reach out to women.
When asked about abortion in a February 2007 interview, Giuliani said, "I hate it," but added, "I believe in a woman's right to choose." As mayor of New York City, Giuliani approved government funding for abortion and opposed a ban on partial-birth abortion, saying he wanted to "preserve the option for women." Prior to his first campaign for mayor in 1989, Giuliani opposed abortion rights.
McCain supports overturning Roe v. Wade and banning abortion except in cases of rape, incest or threat to the life of the mother. He has an anti-abortion voting record, and has promised, if elected, to appoint justices who "strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States and do not legislate from the bench."
Obama supports abortion rights. In the Illinois State Senate, he voted against a bill to ban late-term abortions. Obama said that he did not support the ban because it did not contain a clause to protect the life of the mother.
W. Mitt Romney
Romney describes himself as "firmly pro-life." He says he believes that abortion should be banned except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Romney acknowledges that earlier in his career, he was "effectively pro-choice," and as governor of Massachusetts, he kept a campaign pledge to protect "a woman's right to choose" despite his personal opposition to abortion.
Unless I am missing something I think that all candidates except one are somewhat pro-choice ... unless you count Romney :)
"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for," Dobson said of Thompson. "[But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression," Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party's conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.The US News article also reported:
While making it clear he was not endorsing any Republican presidential candidate, Dobson, who is considered the most politically powerful evangelical figure in the country, also said that Gingrich was the "brightest guy out there" and "the most articulate politician on the scene today."I think that this is another example of how our Evangelical Leaders are preferring the political voice over the prophetic one.
03/10: James Dobson had a brief interview with Newt Gingrich yesterday on the Focus on the Family radio show. The transcript of that session follows but before you read it I want to ask you this question:
I will give you my thoughts after the transcript ... but ... especially if you are familiar with this ... feel free to skip ahead to my rantings :)
DOBSON: Let me ask you about your family life. This is very, very personal and delicate and I appreciate your willingness to address it again. But you've been married three times under some circumstances that disappointed some of your supporters. And there are some questions associated with that era that remain unanswered with regard to an affair or maybe more than one. Would you take a run at that for our listeners?Mr. Gingrich, like many politicians, believes that the definition of perjury is lying to the courts. It seems that, in his mind anyway, the great sin that President Clinton commited was lying to the courts. I found his focus on perjury to be very telling ... it revealed how he could so righteously pursue and attack President Clinton while he was in the middle of an adulterous affair.
GINGRICH: Yeah. And it's a very painful topic and I confess that directly to you. And it has some elements of it that I'm not in any way proud of.
In fact, some elements that, in the past, you know, I wouldn't … I'm now a grandfather. I have two grandchildren: Maggie who's 7 and Robert who's 5. And I think you get to a point – I'm 63 years old now – and you get to a point in life where you look back and there's some elements you want to caution your children and grandchildren not to follow you on. And things you need to learn. And I was married very young and had my first daughter when I was very young. In fact, at the end of my freshman year in college. I have two wonderful children and we're very, very close. And after a period of time, about 18 years, things just didn't work out and it's difficult. Although we do share both our two daughters and we share the two grandchildren. I then remarried and went through a very difficult time, some of which was covered even in news media coverage, and we had a big difference about public life. And that was, frankly again, very painful.
I think what I found difficult in going through all this is that I don't believe in situation ethics and I don't believe in saying, "Well, this was right and that was wrong" and then changing the rules according to my behavior, according to what … you know, to justify what I've done. And I'd have to say in all honesty, as I said to you the other week, there were times when I was praying and when I felt I was doing things that were wrong. But I was still doing them. And I look back on those as periods of weakness and periods that I'm not only not proud of, but that I would deeply urge my children and grandchildren not to follow in my footsteps.
DOBSON: On that occasion I asked you a pretty bold question. And I appreciate the fact that you didn't seem offended by it. But I asked you if the rumors were true that you were in an affair with a woman obviously who wasn't your wife at the same time that Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky were having their escapade.
GINGRICH: Well, the fact is that the honest answer is yes. But it was not related to what happened. And this is one of the things the Left tries to do and one of the places, where frankly, I think the way this report of the special counsel was written weakened the case.
The president of the United States got in trouble for committing a felony in front of a sitting federal judge. He was involved in a sexual-harassment lawsuit in which his behavior was a direct question of whether or not the woman who had accused him was telling the truth. The president of the United States, who was a Yale-graduated lawyer, had been attorney general of his state, knew better, deliberately committed perjury. Perjury is at the very heart of our legal system. And is very often punished very intently by the courts. I was very aware of this because of the very painful thing you've raised, which is I had been through a divorce. I had been through depositions.
I had once had a lawyer tell me, "Well, you can just fudge on this," and I said, "No! You can't fudge on this!" You're at the very heart of our legal system. If you don't tell the truth under oath the whole system breaks down. And the challenge I was faced with wasn't about judging Bill Clinton as a person. I'm not going to cast the first stone, and I clearly know that I can't cast the first stone.
Because I have, in fact, as I think every member of every jury in America, has had weaknesses and if that was the standard our whole system would collapse. That's not the standard. The standard is in a court of law, should somebody who's popular get away with committing a felony? And if this week it's perjury, and next week it's theft, and the week after that it's having somebody beaten up, then what morning do we end up as a corrupt country like Nigeria where the corruption is so deep that it eats at the very fabric of our society?
And I drew a line in my mind and again, our listeners may not agree with me. But I drew a line in my mind that said, "Even though I run the risk of being deeply embarrassed, and even though at a purely personal level I am not rendering judgment on another human being, as a leader of the government trying to uphold the rule of law, I have no choice except to move forward and say that you cannot accept felonies and you cannot accept perjury in your highest officials."
DOBSON: Well, you answered that question with regard to Bill Clinton instead of referring to yourself. May I ask you to address it personally? You know, I believe you to be a professing Christian and you and I have prayed together, but when I heard you talk about this dark side of your life and when we were in Washington, you spoke of it with a great deal of pain and anguish, but you didn't mention repentance. Do you understand that word, repentance?
GINGRICH: Absolutely. And I answered … maybe it was the way the question was posed in terms of how the cross-parallels of the two things. In terms of my own life, let me say that I was raised initially as a Lutheran and I ended up converting and becoming a Southern Baptist when I was in graduate school at Saint Charles Avenue Baptist Church with Dr. Avery Lee, who was just a great, great preacher and moral leader. And so that's my background.
I believe deeply that people fall short and that people have to recognize that they have to turn to God for forgiveness and to seek mercy. Somebody once said that when you're young you want justice and that when you get older you want mercy. I also believe that there are things in my own life that I have turned to God and have gotten on my knees and prayed about and sought God's forgiveness. I don't know how you could live with yourself and not end up breaking down if you didn't find, try to find, some way to deal with your own weaknesses and to go to God about them.
DOBSON: Well, I appreciate your allowing us to delve into that. Obviously the reason that I ask is that you are a national leader, despite the fact that you're not in public office at this time. And many of the concepts and ideas that you've expressed, last time and today, are things that I agree with, and I think it's really important and will be for many of our listeners to know your responses to that point of disappointment back there someplace. And I really appreciate your willingness to do so.
GINGRICH: Well, if I could just for a second, let me just say that I think that the most important form of leadership is to be a servant. And there are times that I have fallen short of my own standards. There's certainly times when I've fallen short of God's standards and my neighbor's standards.
But I think my job is to try to do for my country and on a very personal level for my children and for my grandchildren and for their future, try to do everything I can to be a servant in helping this country deal both with, with the domestic challenges to our very identity and that's what "Rediscovering God in America" is all about and to foreign challenges to our very survival. And I hope, you know, within that framework, as you know, you and I have worked together for many, many years.
GINGRICH: I hope that people will see me in that context. I'm not trying to be a leader in the sense of rising above my fellow Americans, but I am trying to serve, particularly as a teacher and as a developer of solutions, and as somebody who is trying to find how we get through the next 10 or 15 years in a way that makes us safe and free and prosperous, and gives our children and grandchildren the kind of extraordinary freedom that you and I have had.
DOBSON: Well, it's a pleasure talking to you. I enjoy every time we have a chance to be together and I think our listeners have really learned a lot today and I hope we can continue the dialogue.
GINGRICH: I look forward to it. And I'm always available for you because of the extraordinary work you've done across this entire country.
DOBSON: God's blessings to you, my friend.
GINGRICH: Thank you
Apparently Mr. Gingrich's definition of perjury didn't include (continually) lying to his wife, the country, himself and to God ... how convenient. Mr. Gingrich eventually married the woman (20 years younger than he) after he divorced his wife ... and if I remember President Clinton sought the forgiveness of his wife and reconciled with her. How sad that the Clintons are looked down on by conservatives while Gingrich is the star of many conservative talk shows (like Focus on the Family) ... could it be that our conservative politics have become the proverbial log in our eye that is causing our vision to be impaired?
Another aspect of this interview that I found so troubling is the pass that Dr. Dobson gave Gingrich on this issue and how he allowed Gingrich to speak in generalities about repentance. How is it that he couldn't really get in his business for treating his wife the way he did? Why give him a pass and subtly endorse Gingrich's political aspirations? Why?
I believe that this interview is yet another example of how the church is ceding it's prophetic voice for a political voice. You know, when John the Baptist called out Herod for adultery he was exercising a prophetic voice ... and it got him killed. Many of the Old Testament prophets were also persecuted and killed because of this kind of a prophetic voice.
It seems that, in our nation, Martin Luther King Jr. was our last prophetic voice. After Dr. King all we seem to have is ambitious political Christian leaders who have been very ineffective in bringing any substantial change to America. Interviews like this one with Newt Gingrich are really part of the problem. I am sad that such hypocrisy is supported by an influencial Christian leader.
Saturday morning Ann had a wedding shower brunch in Liberty Missouri. So, after dropping her off, I sped off to Panera Bread to spend some time sipping coffee, munching a bagel and surfing the net on my Centrino powered laptop. Any other WiFi addicts out there?