Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
But what has surprised me are the actors & actresses that have gotten nasty. Oh sure, Tom Cruise and a few others threatened to leave in 2004 if W. was elected (they didn't). But it just seems that more of them have turned out this time.
What makes it worse is that they lose credibility. I love the skits on SNL and (until recently) I liked some of the light night sketches. David Letterman's "Great moments in presidential speeches" took jabs at President Bush's speech patterns. Very humorous. But lately, I've grown to wonder more about how Letterman really feels.
In the past, I've avoided watching light night TV when a political candidate was on. I've made two exceptions: 1) I watched former President Carter on Leno and 2) I watched McCain on Letterman. I was disappointed in both cases.
Two other actors who have lost credibility are Tina Fey and Martin Sheen. I loved Fey's skits on SNL, even the ones poking at Gov. Palin. But after watching her comments on Letterman, I can no longer watch her. She is no longer (probably never was) objective and has no credibility. Same thing with Sheen.
What about you? Have you seen actors and been swayed for/against them because of their credibility? What about businesses?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
So, I'll start with the hard part. If you're interested in my opinion, do I think Sen. Obama is a Christian, here's my final answer. I don't know.
I'm not blessed with the ability to tell who is and who isn't truly saved. When I see the Senator's statements about his faith, they seem to line up with what I expect of a new convert. I wish I could see evidence that he had grown from that initial conversion. Instead, I see a man who believes that everyone gets to choose their own path, a man who doesn't hold infant life in high regard, who has said he sees a human fetus as a burden. I see a man who picks and chooses what he uses from the Word of God and who even ridicules those of us who believe. I also see a sinner. Like me. In first Corinthians 6:11, Paul said I was just as bad as the Democratic candidate.
That said, the next question is, "what difference does it make?" We're not electing a minister, we're electing a president. As I mentioned in part 2, our current president has made theological blunders and I expect the next president will too. Just because someone is, or is not, a Christian won't make them a good (or bad) president.
It does however, speak to the character of the man. If a man (or woman) is a Christian, I can partially anticipate some of their future direction. I firmly believe (like a certain VP candidate) that the next president will be tested (although I have different reasons) in ways we can't imagine. Eight years ago, no one expected 9/11 to happen. The next big event may be a foreign attack or it may be the economic condition we're already seeing. I have certain expectations for a Christian. If I knew more Muslims, I might have expectations about them also.
In Senator Obama's case, he has shown that, while he might be a Christian, he doesn't always follow his faith. That gives me insight (good or bad will not be discussed here) on how I think he will handle the unknown.
So the candidate's faith does make a difference to me, but I won't use that as a litmus test. It's too easy to misjudge what I think a person might or might not do.
But as I wrote these three parts, I was struck with a more important question. While none of us may be able to tell for sure if the next President (Obama or McCain) is truly a Christian, we can tell about ourselves. So the most important question is, ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN?
We are all sinners. I hope that you, like the young man on the south side of Chicago will come to the realization that something is missing. I hope that you will submit yourself to His will, to dedicate yourself to discovering His Truth.
God loves you. Just the way you are. In all your sin. Just as He loved me in my sin. He wants you to turn away from that sin. He wants you to open your heart and to let Jesus take over your life.
Each day I pray that God will continue to open my heart. To continue to expose my sin. To continue to show me His will for my life.
I implore you, just as I implored the candidate Obama, to search the Scriptures to see if what I have said is true. God has already told us everything we need to know, now He wants to show us how He can impact our lives.
I know these three posts were long, I appreciate your reading them. Comments are welcome.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
But there are those who would question his faith. They point out that he supports "a lifestyle that the Bible calls an abomination" and that he "supports the destruction of innocent and sacred life". They point out that he was led to Christ by a preacher who preached a different Gospel, who spoke hatred, promoted (reverse) racism and has now been removed from his church.
In fairness, the Bible does call homosexuality an abomination. And abortion is the destruction of innocent and sacred life. Those issues will not be debated here and Sen. Obama has not debated them (to my knowledge). In fact when question on where life begins, the candidate said that it was "above my paygrade".
On this issue, I'd like to be like a doctor in Obama's speech, who supported him during his senatorial primary, but considered not voting for him in the senate election. The reason was not Obama's view on abortion, but rather Obama's treatment of those with whom he disagreed. He asked Obama for "fair-minded words" and as a result, Obama changed the wording of his pro-choice position, to make it fair to those who disagreed.
With that in mind, I'd like to chastise the candidate Obama about his words "above my paygrade". Senator, if you expect me to pay your salaray as president, it's not above your paygrade. Life and death issues for innocent children is EXACTLY on your paygrade.
Some will say that my comment doesn't belong in a political conversation. But then senate candidate Obama said that "secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square." Religion has as much a place in a political conversation as any other subject. And it should also be noted that the subject isn't just a religious subject, it is as much about violence as "when a gang-banger shoots indiscriminately into a crowd."
But this post isn't about the abortion debate, rather it's about Sen. Obama's faith. While I disagree with him on his paygrade and his indecision on abortion, it doesn't make him any less of a Christian. As a Christian and as an American, he has the right to be wrong.
In fact, he accurately commented that he "was running to be the U.S. Senator of Illinois and not the Minister of Illinois." He seems to recognize that senators and presidents are chosen by the people, ministers are chosen by God. I don't expect the next president to be any better versed in theology than the current president (who while being a strong Christian has made some theological blunders).
But if he is a Christian, why doesn't Senator Obama recognize his spiritual requirement to protect the innocent? I refuse to believe that he adjusts his view to fit the audience. Believing that means that I can't trust him at all and any politcial view he has is just political. Somehow, I can't be that cynical. Instead, I believe that it's simply a matter of lack of education. That if (when) he matures as a Christian, he will come to realize that an unborn child is just as sacred as one that has made it out of the womb and the delivery room. I think that deep down he knows that, but is unwilling to force his views on other people. Indeed, in his profession of faith, Obama said he "dedicated myself to discovering His truth." My hope is that he continues to discover the Truth.
Suppose future President Obama discovers the Truth and decides to reverse his previous opinions on abortion. Will that mean he is imposing his beliefs on the people? (Yes) Would that imposition be wrong? (No) As a country, we elect representatives. We expect them to make decisions that govern us. There is a process of checks and balances and a process of impeachment. I trust our processes to keep sanity on issues like this. If future President Obama produces some executive order that is just flat wrong, I expect our congress and our courts to step up and take action.
Furthermore, if Obama or any other politician hears a message from God and ignores it, I would be very nervous. Yes, I get nervous when someone says they hear a message from God. How can they be sure it's from God and not from a bad batch of tacos? Well, if I may go down this side road for a moment, one thing is for certain, God will not contradict Himself. He's already told us so much in His Bible, that we can always compare those midnight rumblings to His Word. If there's a conflict, it's time to cut out the late night pizza runs. If it matches, then there's a good chance it's from God. And to ignore those messages, is to invite problems.
But back to the main subject, should a future president impose his ideas on us? Well, in fact they do. Senator Obama believes that all Americans should have health care. If elected and if congress and the courts permit, he will impose that view on all of us. He will have to pay for it somehow, taxes in some areas will go up (I'm largely ignoring his tax issues here, they aren't relevant to this subject). There's a good chance that some of those who will pay for the plan will be against universal health care, but he has imposed his views on them. I know this is simplistic in it's view, but it's an easy way to see it.
What of majority rule? Won't future President Obama's policies be supported by the majority? This argument fails for two reasons, 1) there's no guarantee that the policies he implements will be agreed upon by all of his supporters, much less his detractors and 2) majority rule doesn't make something right (take slavery in 1780 as an example). No, the president must implement policies he/she feels are important and face the music for that. He must "sell" his policies to the public and to congress. All of this is to say, that Senator Obama has signed up for a job that forces him to impose his ideas on us (if he wins).
Now to the subject of discovering the truth. In his statement, Senator Obama admitted he did not know the truth and was searching for it. In theological terms, this is called sanctification. This has been several years now, shouldn't he have found the answers by now? Shouldn't there be some spiritual growth?
I won't stand (or sit) here and pretend to be able to answer that question. I will offer one word of advice to the Senator, a word from The Word. Acts 17:11 says that there were those who were of "more noble character" and that they "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true". Senator Obama, if you are indeed a Christian (and I don't mean to imply that I question that), I implore you to be more noble and to continue your search for His Truth."
As to the issue of Sen. Obama's church, I've previously written on this subject (see here). In that post, I said that I respected his position for defending the pastor until he had the details. I would also point other believers to Phillipians 1:15-18 where Paul says that when Jesus is preached, it doesn't matter WHY He was preached, it's good. Even if Rev. Wright preached Jesus for the wrong reasons, if he brought believers to Christ, it's good. I'd also point to Joseph who said in Gen 50:20 that even though things were meant for evil, God turned it into good (rough translation). And finally, I would point to 1 Corinthians 1:13, where Paul addressed the issues of different churches when he asked "Is Christ divided?"
I know this is a LONG post. I appreciate your reading until the very end. I'll post the last part of this article later this week and make my final comments. As always, your comments are welcome.
Friday, October 24, 2008
It has been suggested that I shouldn't blog on this subject. That I was only asking for trouble. And the truth is, I have friends on both sides of the aisle and will likely receive some criticism from them. However, I feel it's an important subject and it's a subject where I have something to say. I typically shy away from religion and politics, but this time I'm going to tackle both at the same time.
As I've done on some past controversial subjects, I'll do this as a multi-part series. First I want to address the issue from a pro-Obama standpoint, to explain why Obama says he is a Christian. Second, I'll address the reasons some people question his faith. And then I'll assert my opinion in the final post. Of course, I won't limit my opinion totally to the last post, I'll interject comments along the way. And I encourage you to interject comments as well.
One difference between this series and previous series is that I intend to write all three parts before I post the first. It's not that your comments won't sway my opinion, it's just that I want to get my thoughts down and make sure they're consistent first. I'll still do some editing on parts 2 & 3 after part 1.
I must start out with some opinion. Basically, it's this - if Obama says something about his beliefs, I HAVE to accept it as truth. Oh, I could think "well, he said this, but he really meant this instead." I can (and will) point to inconsistencies that I find, but if he says he believes the sky is green and the grass is blue, I have to believe that he really believes that. Otherwise, I'd be wasting pixels on the screen and precious bytes of storage.
That said, the key point for determining Sen. Obama's faith issues is his 6/28/06 keynote
address to the "Call to Renewal". (The entire speech can be found here) It's a speech he has referenced several times and his campaign still references. The senator was speaking to a group committed to establishing policies to bridge social and political issues. (see here) The senator offered "some thoughts about how we can sort through some of the often bitter arguments that we've been seeing over the last several years."
In his speech, Senator Obama said "Each day, it seems, thousands of Americans are going about their daily rounds ... and they're coming to the realization that something is missing." Those of us who are born-again will quickly point out that what is missing is Jesus Christ. As has been often said, we are all born with a God sized hole in our hearts, that only God can fill. Today, "thousands of Americans" are seeking a way to fill that hole.
Senator Obama came to realize this himself. After his college years, he worked with churches and recognized what was going on there in people's lives. He also realized that he didn't have what they had. He said "in time, I came to realize that something was missing as well -- that without a vessel for my beliefs ... I would always remain apart, and alone."
One day, at the now famous (or infamous) Trinity United Church of Christ the questions and some of the answers came down on Obama and he realized he had to make a choice. In his own words "kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt that I heard God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth."
As a Baptist, I would call that a profession of faith. Oh sure, there are other words I would have liked to have seen in there - words like "repent", confession that Jesus Christ is Lord and that He is the only Way to heaven. But when a young child accepts Christ as his savior, I accept simple words like Obama's, I can't expect more from another convert.
As usual, comments are welcome and expected. I should note that I have taken an unusual step (for me) and contacted a few individuals and asked for their specific comments. I have no idea if or when they will comment, but that doesn't preclude you from commenting now.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Since the American Dental Association recommends you replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months (I think it's more often if you have a cat), you should have a few laying around your house. So instead of throwing them away, you can follow one of the ideas in this list. (Click here).
My favorite idea? "Make a little "bristlebot". Attach a toothbrush head to a vibrating pager motor and let it crawl around. Make a bunch and race them competitively. " I can see a group of engineers having a britlebot derby. Maybe they should try this on "The Office"? (whaddya think Neil?)
This goes under the category of "even geeks get to have fun once in a while".
Sunday, October 19, 2008
We'll also be voting for senator this year, only two people on the list there, and Representative (3 choices).
I have to check my voter registration card next to determine all of the state offices I can vote for, it looks like many of these are uncontested. One person I know commented back in the spring, that in SC you HAD to vote in the republican primary if you wanted to have a choice in the elections.
I also get to vote in County elections. The main contested battle there is for Sheriff. I'm thinking Matt Dillon is getting a little old to sport his badge, so I need to check out the two candidates there.
And finally, there are three amendments that are on the ballot this year. One would allow the state legislature to set the age of consent for women (no mention of young men). The second has to do with funding public employee pensions and medical benefits (which goes along with a book I just finished) and investing these funds in the stock market. The final amendment is the same as the second amendment, but it relates to local governments.
Over the next few days, I'll be evaluating the various offices and stating my opinion. You can follow along with the ballot at this website: http://www.greenvillecounty.org/Voter_Registration/pdf/candidates_2008.pdf
If you live outside Greenville County, but inside SC, some of the information will still apply to you.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Back in January when I was establishing my political platform for the presidency (I've since withdrawn from the race), I was asked about my opinions on immigration. I responded at the time in this post.
I'd like to take credit for influencing the raid (and maybe rejoin the presidential race?). Seems the ICE officials followed a lot of my ideas. First, they followed my advice by enforcing the laws as they exist today.
An important note is that it was not only the illegal immigrants who were arrested, The Greenville News reported that 12 other employees were arrested/indicted on charges of immigration fraud. Someone at Columbia Farms had to know that this was going on, I'm glad to know they have been arrested also. How deep was the fraud? Well, the HR manager has been charged with "20 felony counts on charges of encouraging supervisors to falsify employment documents."
It should also be noted that ICE agents reviewed 825 I-9 forms "that verify a worker's immigration status -- and of those, 94 percent were found to be falsified" (see here).
So what's next? Well, about 1/4 of those arrested have been released (and will be monitored) to allow them to care for dependent children. And the belief is that "the majority of illegal workers will be administratively processed and deported."
We need to realize that the individuals involved are humans. One commenter noted that "families are going to be broken apart," to the folks at CNN. Also, some of the children, by fact that they were born here, are US Citizens. You may not like this, but it's the law. That's not an excuse to avoid deportation, but it is an indictment on the way we should treat these people: with respect.
I heard a report (unconfirmed) that the day after the raid, there was a line outside House of Raeford's for applications. After all, everyone knew that there were now 330 job openings. Seems the jobs aren't the ones that America won't take. Over a year ago, I commented on that idea (see here). I won't be putting a chicken breast on a machine at the plant any time soon, but I did have a job similar to this in high school. I decided it was something I didn't want to do for the rest of my life and went to college.
So here's my summary: Suspected illegal immigrants have been arrested. A judge will decide if they are illegal (should make Dan Kowalksi, "an Austin, Texas-based lawyer specializing in immigration law" happy). If they are illegal, they will be deported. Families may be affected and we as citizens need to step up to taking care of those who remain. Oh, and there are now some job openings in Greenville, SC
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
When I graduated from high school, I took a summer job working in a manufacturing environment. If you've ever seen a textile mill with cloth running from one machine to another, you've seen some of the large rollers. The company I worked for would take these rollers (after they had worn considerably) and strip all the rubber off of them, then apply new rubber. The new rubber was then sanded smooth, to the exact specifications the customer demanded. Typically, this was within a few thousandths of an inch.
The machine I worked on had the ability to put a "crown" onto a roll. That is, the diameter of the roll was more in the center than on the ends. So, it may have a "crown" of 0.025 inches. The ends had to match each other, the crown had to be in the center and the crown had to be the exact specified amount.
Business was very good in the summer, because textiles took time off. During their lulls, they would send us the work. I start out working 55 hours a week (10 hours/day, 5 hours on Sunday) and kept that up for most of the summer. Top that off with an above-minimum wage pay and I was living! (and spending it all too).
Occasionally, work would get slack. No new orders coming in, so overtime was cut quickly. When the workload dropped even more, we painted lines. The lines were required by OSHA for safety. it showed where forklifts could go, where other equipment could go, etc. When times were very slow, we painted our machines.
So why am I posting this, thirty years later? The company I worked for no longer exists and other than a few scars on my two small fingers of my left hand and some memories, there's nothing left.
Well, here's my point. There are times in your life when things are slow. When this happens, you need to paint lines. If life is slow, your job is boring and things aren't going your way, paint the lines. Study a new topic. Stay in school (or go back). Complete a few projects that you didn't complete when life was hectic. Focus on the essentials. Maybe even (gasp) read a book.
Or if live gets very boring, post a blog entry.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
The movie was slow, as most documentaries are. It's told from McNamara's point of view with him speaking most of the parts. The interviewer seems to be from NPR. In my opinion, the interviewer seems to be trying to pick a fight.
The first 42 minutes of the film discuss McNamara's involvement in WW II. The most significant quote in this part (thanks to IMDB) McNamara's superior Colonel "LeMay said if we lost the war that we would have all been prosecuted as war criminals. " This was in relationship to fire bombing Tokyo and killing 100,00 civilian lives in a single night. So the difference between a hero and a war criminal is who wins the war.
It's clear that McNamara has some bad memories from WW II. Yes, the tactics he recommended saved thousands of American soldiers. But it seems to me that he is haunted by some of the trade-offs.
After WW II, McNamara became one of the "whiz kids" who brought life back to Ford Motor Company. So much life, he eventually became president of Ford. He was the first non-family member to be president. McNamara introduced the Ford Falcon, which became extremely popular. But his stay as president was short, he soon accepted JFK's request to serve in government. This resulted in a MAJOR reduction in pay.
McNamara was secretary of defense during the Cuban missile crisis. He believes that the USA came with "a hair's breadth of war with the Soviet Union on three different occasions." War that would have likely resulted in nuclear weapons. "They'll be no learning period with nuclear weapons. Make one mistake and you're going to destroy nations." McNamara has spoken out against nuclear weapons on many occasions after his service.
Most of the movie focused on the Vietnam War. It may be that he was trying to explain the reasons for the war. In some ways, he was just serving the president. In other ways, he was trying to convince the president what should be done, what he felt was right. But to many Americans, he was a part of the problem. He was a part of the cover-up, explaining how good things were, while knowing how bad they were. During his services, a man named Norman Morrison came to the Pentagon and, while standing beneath McNamara's office, doused himself with kerosene and lit himself on fire. Initially, he was holding his one year old daughter, but bystanders encouraged him to throw the child out, saving her life.
What kind of impact would that have on your life? Knowing that this man opposed your actions so much, he would kill himself and nearly kill his daughter? Knowing that your suggestion to fire-bomb Tokyo cost the lives of many civilians? Knowing that you helped continue the war in Vietnam, the most unpopular war in American history?
Not knowing any details about McNamara, I found the movie interesting. I'm sure there is another side to the story. It seems to me that McNamara is trying to make things right. He's trying to explain how he got where he was, and not all of it was good. But one thing that struck me was that he was serving his country. Something that is amiss in many people today.
Friday, October 03, 2008
But sometimes, the facts need to be brought out. Take for example, Alan Fishman, CEO for Washington Mutual (WaMu). To be fair, Fishman came into a company that was on the way down. Mat McCormick who is a portfolio manager for Bahl & Gaynor Investment Counsel said that WaMu's "goose was cooked long ago."
So when he signed on, he received a decent package. It started with a sign-on bonus of $7.5million. Well, I guess he needs to buy some new suits to match his new job. So he needed that sign-on bonus. His annual salary was only $1million, small in CEO terms. Since the company went under in less than 3 weeks, he will only receive about $60,000. How can anyone expect to live on that?
And since he knew the company was having problems, he planned for the possibility that he may have to leave early. He will receive termination pay of $6.15million.
There are a few unknowns, what about his annual bonus? He was set to receive $3.65million, but since he didn't work a full year, how much will he get? That works out to about $10,000/day, but it's unclear if he will get the whole amount or just a daily amount.
And, if he made it through all of 2009, he was slated to receive a "long term" incentive of $8million. Now that he's being fired, it's not clear if he will receive that. (since when is one year "long term"?)
All totaled, he may receive more than $18million on 3 weeks based on this report. Another report said it was $20million for 17 days.
Regardless which of these figures is right, it's a lot of money. And I would have been glad to do the job for half that amount.
Now, as a free market believer, I say leave this up to the company. Don't buy stock in the company and don't do business with them. The free market works. However, in this case, that's not an option. WaMu is no longer in business. The losses (and extreme pay) will be passed on to JP Morgan Chase, who had no part in the talks. So what's a body to do?
Well, I DO NOT favor CEO pay regulation. Instead, I suggest writing to any company where you own stock and telling them how you feel about CEO pay. Also, research the directors of WaMu (or any other extreme company) and don't let them into any company you do business with. It's a lot of work, but I plan on doing some research along these lines.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
I'm not saying that the movie will change your life, but it might. I'm not saying you have to do anything that is in the movie, but it wouldn't hurt.
If you do go to the movie, you should sit back and enjoy it. Don't get too wrapped up in the details, just see what happens to the couple. Have you been in their place? Do you think the same things happen to "regular" people? Were you happy with the results in the movie? Would you be happy with those results?
After the movie, discuss it with one of your friends. If you think the movie was good suggest that they go see it.
Tomorrow night, we have friends going to see the movie, at our suggestion. We plan to help out by baby-sitting for them. (actually, my wife will be doing most of the sitting, I'll probably be working late). Our plan is to send another couple on Friday night. This time, we'll not only be baby sitting, we'll pay for the tickets. That's my action plan. What's your's?