What do you do when all the choices stink?

January 31, 2008

The races for the 2008 Presidential nominations have reached a critical mass.  The choices are narrowing, and I can say without equivocation or qualification, I don’t like any of them.

I can stipulate that I was never considering any of the democrat candidates, so my comments about them will be few, other than to say that both of the two who remain are hard left leaning and will sponsor a socialist flavored agenda should they gain the White House.  We should all be thankful that the “executive” is still only one of the three branches of government.  And while the president does exert influence on the other two, there is still some semblance of “checks and balance” remaining in place.

I will say at the outset that Fred Thompson was the man that seemed most qualified to me, and had he remained in the race through March 4 (primary day in Texas) I would have voted for him.  But I also will admit that even as a “fan”, the evidence of his drive and interest in the office was something less than inspiring.  So, adios Fred. 

I know that many people who describe themselves as evangelicals (as do I) have been pleased with Mike Huckabee.  While he remains in the race, he is really NOT a contender and it would seem that his motive now is to be in position to be offered something big, by the ultimate victor.  While I share his faith, politically he holds positions that are way too progressive and liberal for my liking.  His approach to an open borders policy of immigration is completely unacceptable and some of the things he did while Governor of Arkansas, if indicative of his policy making acumen, are equally out of bounds to receive my vote.

Mitt Romney is an attractive candidate, rhetorically.  He says all the right things.  And there in lies the problem.  Here is my brief biography of Mitt. 

He pursued a highly successful professional career in the private sector.  Hooray.  Like it.  That experience stands him alone among all candidates.  

He went on to repair a corrupt and crumbling Olympics Organizing Committee in Salt Lake City and pulled off a successful Winter Games when that outcome was unlikely prior to his involvement.  Good job!  (The cynic in me says that he would not have been offered that position had he not been Mormon.  But that is another topic.) 

Mitt then moved back home to Massachusetts and ran for governor of the most liberal state (actually commonwealth) in the United States.  In order to win, he must have been saying all the right things.  At the time he ran for governor, he was pro-choice, pro-gay, supported the assault weapon bans, supported the Federal Employer non-discrimination act, and government mandated health insurance.  I suspect that he was unelectable if he had not taken those positions in the state that routinely elects Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Barney Frank, among others, as their officials in Washington.

Then Mitt decided to run for president.  And once again, in the context of a political race, he is saying all the right things.  I know that “flip-flopper” is a terribly derisive term that perhaps should be limited to democrats, if for no other reason than charity to the republicans.  But just between you and me, the term fits Mitt like a mitten, oops, sorry, like a glove.  He has reversed himself on every one of those leftist positions, so as to appear to be a full-fledged Reagan-style conservative.  And he claims to have had genuine changes of heart on these matters.  Call me cynical, but come on folks, he’s a politician for crying out loud!  

So, my bottom line on Mitt is, I don’t have a clue who he really is.  I hear very clearly what he is saying now.  But all too recently he was saying just the opposite.  Like literally in the last 3 or 4 years!  How much do we trust a “conservative” who has only been conservative for 4 years?  When will his next philosophical evolution occur and importantly, which direction will it take him?

John McCain…where to begin?  Does anyone recall that at least for a news cycle, the tongues were wagging that John Kerry might select McCain as his running mate in 2004.  Does anyone recall some early-on speculation that McCain might select Joe Lieberman as his running mate in 2008?  John McCain packages himself as a man who can bring the two opposing sides (democrat and republican) together.  And he will point to his legislation as an example.  No one can argue that he has collaborated with democrats to effect legislation.  But none of it is good legislation.  McCain claims, “he reaches across the aisle.”  I would rephrase that to say “he steps across the aisle.”  John McCain is, as they say, a RINO (republican in name only).  John McCain has been wrong on so many occasions, through his opposition to conservative stands and support for liberal ones, that I don’t know how he can be trusted.  In fact, I’ll just outright say he can’t be.  He must be regarded as the one republican that they can count on in the democrat congressional caucuses.  He is probably the one and only republican that the democrats might almost welcome as being the president.  Why, if he were president, the democrats in congress could still have their way with legislation, and with John’s approval.  The result being our continuing move as a country toward socialism will have appeared to have been bi-partisan.

What a stinky dilemma.  Still, I must vote because I subscribe to the notion that you have no right to complain about who has been elected if you yourself did not participate by voting.  So, vote I will.  But I will (figuratively of course), have to hold my nose in order to do it.


Oh, say it ‘aint so Montel!

January 30, 2008

CBS Television Distribution announced today, January 30th, that “The Montel Williams Show” will cease production at the end of this, its 17th season.  Stations will be offered 52 weeks of Best of Montel reruns.  Details were not offered as to whether this was CBS’ decision, Montel’s move, or some combination of the two.

No matter the case, I wonder when Montel’s regular guest, Sylvia Browne knew about this, and what she did about it?


Warning – video contains Fred Phelps…’nuf said!

January 30, 2008

Last week, I commented on the hate-filled approach to ministry that is the drum beat of Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church.  Phelps has now produced a video announcing his protests at the memorial services for actor Heath Ledger.

Phelps ministry appears to focus solely on God’s Law and it has become his “gospel.”  But in so doing, he only preaches half of God’s nature and His interaction with man.  Yes, God is righteous and expects mankind’s obedience to the law.  And God promises judgment for those who offend.  But that same righteous God recognizes our inherent inability for obedience.  So, in His mercy, He provided a way out.  An alternative to our futile efforts to observe the Law.  A means of redemption.  And THAT is the true Gospel, the good news of forgiveness of sins by faith in Jesus Christ.

I certainly have no idea of the spiritual condition of Heath Ledger, and it is entirely possible that he had notcome to a saving relationship with Jesus.  But his damnation was not sealed by playing the role of a homosexual in a movie, any more so than Jim Caviezel is assured of salvation by playing the role of Jesus in Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ.  Fred Phelps’ assurance is not guaranteed by obedience to his “law gospel,” nor by him playing the role of a pastor.

If Heath Ledger escaped Hell, it was by grace and not by obedience to the Law.  If Fred Phelps escapes Hell, it will be by the same means, as will be the case for anyone reading these words.  As long as Fred Phelps preaches obedience to his “law gospel” he will be depriving his hearers or the real Good News.  And he will be depriving them of “faith that comes by hearing the message and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.” (Romans 10: 17)

At the end of the video, Phelps says about Ledger, “he did incalculable harm in his one short life.”  Right back at ya’, Fred.


Schadenfreude

January 28, 2008

Schadenfreude (SHOD-n-froy-duh) is a German expression that is said to not have a direct translation.  However, an adequate definition would be “the satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others.”  Certainly not a charitable attitude.  But I suspect an all too common one nonetheless.  Even reading certain parts of scripture have lead me to comfortably bask in the emotion of schadenfreude.  How can anyone help but be satisfied when the tables are turned on Haman in the book of Esther.  And how can we not cheer the Lord Jesus when we see Satan “getting his” according to the prophesies told in the book of Revelation?

Since misfortune can visit any of us, I think it is probably good policy to minimize the extent to which we allow ourselves to reside with this emotion.  But there is something about the current political environment that brings it out for me.  And when misfortune befalls the Clinton political machine, I find the emotion all the more difficult, if not impossible, to resist.

Today, January 28th, the Kennedy clan announced its endorsement and public support for Barack Obama and his presidential bid.  The Kennedy’s must surely have not come to that decision quickly or easily, as they are effectively betraying the former president by rejecting his wife.  Oprah Winfrey who probably considered herself an “FOB” (friend of Bill) back in the 90’s, voiced her support for Barack early on in the race.  She has done so at the risk of at least appearing to have made her selection based on racial rather than gender considerations.  And last week, during the days leading up to the South Carolina primary, Bill Clinton offended many African Americans by comments about Barack and actions that could hardly be described as anything but pandering.  Even some of the democrat talking heads on TV news programs have expressed their dissatisfaction with Bill and concede that his bad behavior is taking its toll on Hillary’s campaign.  And Barack went on to clean Hillary’s clock in South Carolina.

But two weeks ago during the Martin Luther King Jr. observances, the most delicious morsel of schadenfreude occurred.  Bill Clinton (our country’s first black president) found himself nodding off during some sort of commemorating address.  How well I understand the difficulty in staying awake in certain situation.  But there is something incredibly “schadenfreude” about watching his misfortune in this particular setting.  As the video notes, just like MLK, Bill Clinton “has a dream.”


Happy birthday Legos!

January 28, 2008

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Legos plastic building blocks.  Legos A/S is the Danish company that makes Legos.  The current company’s predecessor was founded in 1932 as a wooden toy maker.  They invented and patented the plastic blocs in 1958.  Since that time, they have made over 400 billion of the blocks.  To commemorate the anniversary, one of the earliest sets called Town Plan, which had 1,000 pieces has been reintroduced. Legos A/V was regarded as THE most respected and trusted company in the world, in a survey done in the middle of 2007 by a NYC based research company, the Reputation Institute.

To recognize the 50th birthday of the toys, Google spelled out their name on their search engine pages using the familiar blocks.

                                google-lego.gif

The name Lego comes from the first letters of the Danish words “leg godt” which  translates into English as “play good”.  I don’t know if this was intended to be a description of the quality of the product, or an admonition to the kids (and sometimes adults…I played with my kid’s Legos) about their conduct.  At any rate, they really are a timeless toy and when compared with some of the other horrid forms of amusement that even young children are provided, Legos A/V should be commended for their ingenuity and their commitment to the continued marketing and production of this line of toys.


An amazing windfall for those left in the race!

January 24, 2008

In a move that is bound to have competing campaign strategist scrambling to capture his former supporter, Dennis Kucinich informally announced today (1/24/08), that he will formally announce tomorrow, that the day after that, (not really, I added the part about “the day after that”) he will give up his presidential hopes for the 2008 Democrat presidential nomination.  What a surprising development considering how well he has competed in the primaries to date.  Kucinich told Cleveland’s Plain Dealer newspaper today that he will be announcing tomorrow that he is “transiting out of the presidential campaign” and will reveal a “new direction.”  Kucinich received a whopping 1% of the vote in the New Hampshire primary.  And in spite of a “devoted following” in Iowa, he was shut out in the caucuses there.

dennis-kucinich.jpg 

Like New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, who dropped out of the race earlier this month, perhaps Kucinich hopes that by withdrawing now, he can avoid any further campaign oriented criticism of either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, which might then be useful to the Republicans in the (highly unlikely) event either of them pick him as their running mate.  Actually the more likely scenario is that he is needing to focus attention on keeping his “day job” as a U.S. congressman, rather than chasing a fantasy.  Apparently he is no shew-in to retain his seat.

Anyone who thinks the Democrat contest is anything other than a two-horse race is bordering on delusional.  Dennis Kucinich may be many things, but at last we can conclude that delusional is not one of them as he has finally come to the realization that he will not be President of the United States.  I wonder when John Edwards will do the same.  Not that I really care one way or the other.


hatemongers.com

January 24, 2008

Fox News is reporting that the Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kansas, which gained notoriety from picketing the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq, will protest the U.S. memorial services for actor Heath Ledger who died on Tuesday.  A spokesperson for Westboro said that their motivation for the protest was the role that Ledger played as a gay cowboy in the movie Brokeback Mountain.  Ledger, himself, was not gay.

The website for Westboro uses the URL “godhatesfags.com”.  The website indicates that they also operate other sites with URL’s such as godhatesamerica.com;  godhatesmexico.com;  godhatescanada.com;  americaisdoomed.com;  yourpastorisawhore.com;  smellthebrimstone.com;  priestsrapeboys.com; and one that seems to sum up the essence of this “ministry”, hatemongers.com !

Westoboro’s leader, Fred Phelps, styles himself and the “church,” nominally, as Baptist.  But this is a hijacking of the term.  While I am not a Baptist myself, I think I can say with some confidence that Baptists, regardless of their convention, stand for the doctrines of orthodox and historical Christianity, and not the apparent expression of some radical fundamentalism that seems to be the motivation of Phelps.

Orthodoxy demands that we first look to our own sinfulness before even considering the sins of others.  So, while Phelps is quick to quote scripture in support of his positions, perhaps he has not recently read chapter 7 of Matthew’s gospel where Jesus teaches about specks and planks and hypocrisy.  Furthermore, orthodoxy would seem to insist that we engage the world as helpful agents of God’s love through Jesus Christ, to encourage repentance from sins rather than acting as judge, jury and executioner.  Only God can condemn.  While many of the issues that Phelps rails against are legitimate matters of sin, his approach to dealing with them seems to transcend discernment and leap immediately to a condemning judgment. 

According to Wikipedia (admittedly, a source of some questionable accuracy) Phelps church lists approximatley “71 confirmed members, 60 of whom are related to Phelps through blood or marriage or both.”  Re-read that last part…related by blood, marriage or both?  What have we got going on there?  In any event, I don’t think it would be incorrect to call this a cult and perhaps a dangerous one at that.  Dangerous at the very least to its members.  Remember Jonestown, Heaven’s Gate and the Branch Davidians?  I don’t think you could completely discount the possibility that someday the news that Westboro makes, is something other than their next protest. 

Phelps and his “church” are certainly not helpful to the cause of Christ.