The Black Pat Robertson

March 16, 2008

I don’t want to give any more coverage to leftist hate-monger Jeremiah Wright than is good for him, but I feel obligated to ask this question. Exactly what is the official media policy towards people who use religion to propagate their own loony political views? I think we need to get something in writing here. I sense a lot of duplicity and pandering.

Andrew Sullivan says it is only “incumbent” on the media to give equal coverage of all the good things Wright’s ministry has accomplished. I agree; the only problem is, the media doesn’t do that with weirdo evangelicals like Pat Robertson. I don’t think I’ve seen Mr. Sullivan, Time Magazine, or any other major news outlet devote an article to the great things the 700 Club has done for people. Mr. Wright would be a first, and a fair question is why does he deserve to be a first?

Those who say race has nothing to do with this have their heads six feet in the sand. Wright is getting preferential treatment because he is so heavily entrenched within the “Black religious experience.” Note Sullivan’s choice of words: “intemperate,” rather than the favorite adjective of the Robertson attack squad, “intolerant.” One means a guy just gets too angry sometimes; the other means he’s a jerk with bad beliefs. I think either of those words would do fine, but they need to appear on both sides.

Either this kind of talk, coming from a white evangelical or a black community leader, is wrong and hateful, or it isn’t. I think it is, so why equivocate on terms?

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Obama spoke on his faith, church, and pastor yesterday:

The pastor of my church, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who recently preached his last sermon and is in the process of retiring, has touched off a firestorm over the last few days. He’s drawn attention as the result of some inflammatory and appalling remarks he made about our country, our politics, and my political opponents.

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Get this. The Southern Baptist Convention has decided to combat global warming.

Southern Baptist Leaders Take Unusual Step of Urging Fight Against Climate Change
NEW YORK (AP) — In a major shift, a group of Southern Baptist leaders said their denomination has been “too timid” on environmental issues and has a biblical duty to stop global warming.

The declaration, signed by the president of the Southern Baptist Convention among others and released Monday, shows a growing urgency about climate change even within groups that once dismissed claims of an overheating planet as a liberal ruse. The conservative denomination has 16.3 million members and is the largest Protestant group in the U.S.

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By its very nature, the death penalty is a tough thing to sell.  It puts the life of the accused in the hands of his peers.  Anytime it is done, you can be sure that decision will be highly contested.   As a result, the question has moved more from a legal one (for the Constitution clearly states that life can be deprived, if due process is given) to an ethical one: is it ever morally permissible for human beings to take life?   

The New York Times came out with an article today concerning the use of the death penalty that says it’s not.  More and more cases, the Times says, are coming before federal juries in the State of New York as prosecutors continue to request civic action.  The problem is, juries are refusing to sign off on the matter.  This sentiment has been paralleled by Supreme Court, which last year issued stays on behalf of all death row inmates, pending the adjudication of a Kentucky case stemming from this incident:

“Ralph Baze is on Kentucky’s death row because in January 1992 he used an SKS assault rifle to ambush a sheriff and his deputy when they arrived at his house to arrest him.

He shot the sheriff three times in the back. The deputy returned fire until he ran out of bullets. When the lawman tried to retreat, Mr. Baze shot the deputy twice in the back. As the deputy lay on the ground bleeding, Baze walked up to him and shot him in the back of the head.”

One must ask themselves the question: had the deputy been able to kill his assailant then, would it have been morally justified?  The answer is yes.  Justice demands retribution; he would have been justified in protecting himself.  And while some argue violence begets violence, it can also been an incentive to refrain from breaking the law.

For the wise parent does not spare their child the rod.  They teach them, rather, that their bad choices demand equally strigent punishments.   The consequence, in effect, becomes a deterrent for future bad behavior.  And younger siblings who observe the reformed behavior of the older are more likely to follow their example, both out of love and fear of retribution. 

While the death penalty is highly contested, it must still be an option left on the table.  The taking of life is a terrible thing, but if taking the life of a guilty man bears even the small hope of saving an innocent, so be it.  To remove the option altogether would be entirely irresponsible on the part of our Federal Government.  It would be an affront to justice herself.

A Bible study on poverty

March 10, 2008

Joseph Farah at WorldNetDaily touches on the Bible and poverty in a recent article. To say the least, I agree with his statement that,

Notice Jesus did not suggest those listening to Him lobby Herod to take care of the poor. Notice Jesus did not suggest this was Caesar’s responsibility. Notice Jesus did not suggest people, listening to His words then or reading them 2,000 years later, should mug the rich and distribute their wealth to the poor.

The Bible does not command us to solve poverty by religious means. Christendom has been an important part of the development of Western civilization, which has brought us capitalism and prosperity to even some of the poorest people.

A poor man in America might drive a old model Chevrolet and a rich man drives a Cadillac, but both people have cars. A car is a car. The same goes for televisions, microwaves, and dozens of other now-necessities of life. Rich people may have a better standard of living but capitalism has lowered the price of goods to where poor people might buy them too.  But back to the topic at hand.

Joseph Farah has it dead on. The Bible does not command redistribution of wealth except by voluntary means. By voluntary giving and charity work, those who will truly benefit from the kind act will be helped. When government mandates, say, unemployment and other forms of welfare, there will be more unemployment and other forms of welfare. Subsidies create more of it.

The solution to poverty is to get the government out of the economy and allow private property in the means of production. Only then will standards of living increase and poor people in America might be rich compared to even some European nations.

No experience needed

March 9, 2008

The New York Times adds their voice to the “Obama Has No Experience” chorus with a cover story detailing Obama’s “minor role” in the Senate.

He went to the Senate intent on learning the ways of the institution, telling reporters he would be “looking for the washroom and trying to figure out how the phones work.” But frustrated by his lack of influence and what he called the “glacial pace,” he soon opted to exploit his star power. He was running for president even as he was still getting lost in the Capitol’s corridors.

Outside Washington, Mr. Obama was a multimedia sensation — people offered free tickets to his book readings for $125 on eBay and contributed thousands of dollars each to his political action committee to watch him on stage questioning policy experts.

But inside the Senate, Mr. Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, was 99th in seniority and in the minority party his first two years. In committee hearings, he had to wait his turn until every other senator had asked questions. He once telephoned reporters himself to draw attention to his amendments. And some senior colleagues were cool to the newcomer, whom they considered naïve.

Determined to be viewed as substantive, Mr. Obama kept his head down, declining Sunday talk show invitations for his first year, and consulted Senate elders for advice. He was cautious — even on the Iraq war, which he had opposed as a Senate candidate. He voted against the withdrawal of troops and proposed legislation calling for a drawdown only after he was running for president and polls showed voters favoring it.

Which of course is the kind of thing that a person like Hillary Clinton would never do.

This the wrong way to attack Obama. The Clinton Machine is doing it, her pundits are doing it, and now big media is doing it. But it’s absurd; you cannot launch “No Substance” missiles from the Hillary Clinton base. Mrs. Clinton embodies celebrity without substance. What has Mrs. Clinton done, in many more years and vastly more opportunities than Obama? What has she accomplished? The answer is nothing. She’s married to Bill Clinton–that is her political magnum opus. Everyone knows this. All these attacks will do is turn on their originators.

One more thing:

Finally, Mr. Obama did what he had done when he first arrived in the Senate, quietly consulting those who knew the institution well — Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Daschle — for advice on whether to run.

They told him that these chances come along rarely. His celebrity was undeniable. And yes, he was green, but that also meant he did not have the burden of a long record.

“For somebody to come in with none of that history is a real advantage,” Mr. Daschle said. “I told him that he has a window to do this. He should never count on that window staying open.”

The point here (and elsewhere in the story) is that Obama has obtained his celebrity prowess (thus, presumably, also his ideas) from veteran Democrats. This is designed to offset the charge made by the Obama campaign that a vote for Hillary is a vote for the [corrupt] political establishment in Washington. If Obama is behind closed doors with the same people Hillary publicly parades herself with, why should he be thought of as truly different?

This, unfortunately for the Obama campaign, is a legitimate criticism. It is very difficult to argue against “the establishment” in politics, particularly when one’s success has come largely from the guidance (as most politicians’ have) of that very establishment. Obama might very well be different, but he’s not a revolution.

Tears for Obama

March 9, 2008

Josh Harris has a deeply affecting blog on his five year old son, Barack Obama, and the most important social issue of our generation.

My five-year-old son, Joshua Quinn, has been following the presidential election with his dad. To him it’s another sport alongside football and NASCAR. Someone wins. Someone loses. He can understand that.

He has seen various candidates on TV and he’s been drawn to Barack Obama. Is it any wonder? Even for a young boy Obama’s words and demeanor are magnetic. But one day I mentioned the fact that Mr. Obama is pro-choice. Joshua Quinn had only recently been informed about the sad reality of abortion. When he learned that Mr. Obama supported abortion, he burst into tears. He was heart-broken.

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There are very few bloggers on the internet that I respect more than Brian LePort. Always thoughtful, never caustic and many times right, Brian’s blog is required reading for anyone interested in some serious theologically cultural thinking. But I think he misses a few things in his recent post dealing with the nature of violence.

Let me first of all I say that I agree with Brian’s main thesis: Violence does beget violence. It’s pretty obvious: Just visit a group of 5 year olds to understand how contagious pushing and shoving can be. Christ taught this principle starting from the inside: That sin within the heart is the source of visible sin, or “violence.”

Where I disagree with Brian is in his line of thinking that seeks to apply these principle to republican government. This paragraph suffices:

On the other hand, whether the words of Jesus concerning the response to violence being “turn the other cheek” are pragmatic, or transferable to all cases of received violence, though debatable, must at least be recognized as a warning to those who believe that violence can somehow stop violence. It cannot.

When 9/11 took place we realized how terrible violence is. Our response? More violence in Afghanistan and Iraq (and now we talk about going further into Pakistan or into Iran). While almost three thousand people died on 9/11, over four thousand coalition soldiers have died in Iraq alone (almost four thousand of those being Americans) and we have lost an addition eight hundred (rounded off) in Afghanistan. The Iraqi death total has almost reached thirty-nine thousand (13x’s that of 9/11!).

Admittedly, the numbers are staggering. But I think his implication is off a bit.

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No place like home

March 8, 2008

An appellate court in California has ruled rather decisively that parents in California have no constiutional right educate their children at home. This, of course, poses some serious problems to the homeschooling families in the state. The written opinion is erudite, lawful, and, apparently, fairly ironclad. One appreciates the clarity of language represented in passages like this one:

The trial court’s reason for declining to order public or private schooling for the
children was its belief that parents have a constitutional right to school their children in
their own home. However, California courts have held that under provisions in the
Education Code, parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their
children.

The opinion spends the overwhelming majority of its space detailing how legal precendent demonstrates that home education by the parents is not recognized as satisfying the compulsory education requirements of the state. The sheer amount of cases alone is difficult to respond to, and any appeal of this ruling will most likely fail.

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The Limbaugh effect

March 5, 2008

Evangelical Outpost:

So Rush Limbaugh is urging people to vote for Hillary. Hugh Hewitt is aghast (“If Hillary ekes out close wins, stays alive, gains the nomination and the White House, will Rush hold the Bible at her Inauguration?”) but I can’t say that I’m really surprised. Rush is an entertainer and for all the hype about his ratings, his audience isn’t that large by show business standards (he has half the audience of Fox’s reality show Moment of Truth). He needs a Clinton presidency to remain relevant and give people a reason to tune in to his daily gasbaggery.

Not really.

As I’ve said before, Rush is every bit just as much as a mirror as a fountain for American conservatism. He reflects what conservatives are already thinking as well as shapes ideas. To not understand this is to miss why Limbaugh is so popular. To that end, conservatives have known for a long time that Hillary has more weaknesses than Barack Obama. She’s unlikable, has a past that someone can actually attack, and would represent a very favorable, establishment-oriented opposition to an establishment-oriented John McCain. The national head to head polls have said this for a long time.

Limbaugh may be dramatizing things, but his principle makes sense. As long as Hillary is in the race, there seems to be more hope for McCain. The popular distrust of Hillary Clinton is no myth; people just don’t seem to buy or like her. Her winning of the nomination would put old Democrats against old Republicans, with probablility favoring McCain.

Limbaugh won’t win Hillary the presidency; that’s not his aim. He wants to defeat the religious-like fervor of the Obama campaign, so that people will get to vote for either an old war veteran or an old, unlikable, failed Senator. When its put that like that, the choice seems pretty clear, no?